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Expert commentary on the spiritual, moral, political, social, cultural, and ecclesiastical issues facing Catholics today.

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The Church in Europe: ‘kept in the sacristy’?

Next week COMECE (the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community) will open a three-day conference on the future of Europe. The timing is auspicious: the conference falls on the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which began the construction of the European Union. And it...

Coming soon: our new, improved daily headline message

When we introduced the new look for CWN, many readers expressed dismay that in our daily headline mailing, the individual headlines no longer functioned as links to the news stories. We quickly recognized the difficulty— especially since we had dramatically increased the number of news...

Vatican’s financial-misconduct trial was a step backward on transparency

At last, a Vatican prosecutor has obtained a conviction on financial-misconduct charges. Unfortunately, the conviction looks like a step backward for the cause of financial transparency. For months now, the Vatican has been under pressure to bring criminal charges for financial misconduct. In...

No Respecter of Persons!

I'm concerned that some readers did not understand my recent comments on the sin of “human respect”, so I lead off today with a significant essay entitled: Human respect: Not only a sin in our time, but a theology. Should you read it, you will learn that in the Catholic world,...

Connect the dots

This week brings the sad news that a Cistercian monastery in Germany, founded in 1134, will soon be closed. There aren’t enough monks to keep the venerable institution going. And in other news, across the country in Ravensburg, as part of an ecumenical festival, a Catholic pastor has...

Human respect: Not only a sin in our time, but a theology

Not long ago I described the Book of Jonah as a cautionary tale against “human respect”. I did not consider at the time how confusing this term can be today. I intended “human respect” to be recognized as a grave sin, yet many assume it to be a fundamental good. I need to...

Arts and entertainment: Enriching us spiritually

I spend most of my time on the application of Catholic principles to what we call “the real world”. But this focus on “the real world” can make strong Catholics dismissive of the vital role of the arts as somehow “unreal”. Yet the arts...

The conversion of Russia: maybe not as we expected it

All through the Old Testament and into the New, God surprised his People. We shouldn’t be caught off guard, then, if He still has surprises in store for us today. Elijah encountered God not in wind or the fire or the earthquake, but in the small still voice. [1 Kgs 19:11-13] The Messiah...

Beware of false compassion in implementing Amoris Laetitia

Can you name someone—someone you know personally—who has divorced, remarried, and is now an active Catholic parishioner, receiving Communion regularly? (For now let’s not worry about whether or not these individuals have obtained annulments. You probably couldn’t be certain...

Victimhood and responsibility: Fargo’s critique of feminism

Fargo, Noah Hawley’s anthology series inspired by the classic 1996 Coen brothers film, has been one of television’s most acclaimed dramas since it began its run on FX in 2014. It has rightly been praised for its innovative cinematography, surprising music choices, sharp writing and...

Scrapping the ‘theology of the body,’ and a new model for priestly ministry

Reporting on a conference at Boston College , in which Amoris Laetitia was discussed by an impressive group of liberal Catholics—representing the full range of opinion from A to B—Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter reveals that the group was ready to jettison the...

Francis takes aim at Jonah for rigidity—and misses again.

At Mass on Tuesday, Pope Francis took off on yet another flight of rigidity fancy. Preaching on Jonah’s grumbling efforts to prophesy to the Ninevites, the Pope identified Jonah as the epitome of rigidity—the antihero of all those who fail to appreciate God’s mercy. But the Holy...

The Power and Poverty of Words

All hands on deck, please! We need everyone's help to win the $60,000 challenge grant we have been offered. This week, I ask you to help us knock at least $10,000 off this goal: Let's get it under $50K. Every dollar you donate will be matched. Thanks! Now, the Latest on...

The folly of Kings, 1

The two books of Kings* in the Old Testament are essentially a survey of the history of the tribes of Israel under the monarchy. Actually, this quickly became two monarchies, that of Israel and that of Judah. In general, the focus is on the kings and their lineage, whether they served God or not,...

The Power and Poverty of Words

In his confrontations with the Pharisees, Jesus repeatedly unmasks their hypocrisy—from their personal external observances, designed to be noticed, to their relentless critical evaluations of others. It is easy to pay lip service to God’s commands, but the measure of true obedience is...

Notice something missing?

When Australian bishops huddled last week with Vatican officials, the top item on the agenda was an Australian royal commission’s inquiry into sexual abuse of children. Take a look at the announced list of Vatican officials involved in the discussions. Two top officials from the...

Gratitude where gratitude is due

I am grateful: For our Boosters, who have just announced a matching grant of $57,385 for our 2017 Fall Campaign: Faith, Commitment, Renewal! Your gift now will be matched! For Pope Francis: Given how we struggle to parse what comes out of Rome, I am happy to be...

Catholic Justice: When the Church should not defer to the State

Phil Lawler introduced a legitimate question when he explained on Wednesday Why the Church still operates under a cloud on the abuse issue. In light of the Church’s continued poor handling of abuse cases, and despite frequent promises to do better, Phil commented on the latest scandal as...

Why the Church still operates under a cloud on the abuse issue

The timing is far from perfect. As the Vatican convenes a major international conference on protecting children from abuse, there’s a shadow over the proceedings, caused by the abrupt recall of an official at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, DC. To be more specific, the focus of the...

Come hear Phil speak: at Hillsdale College, October 5

Will you be—or can you be—in the vicinity of Hillsdale, Michigan, tomorrow (Thursday) evening? If so, I hope you’ll attend my talk at Hillsdale College, sponsored by the Dow Journalism Program. I’ll be speaking on “Faithful Catholicism in a Hostile Culture.” That’s Thursday, October 5, at 8 pm,...

Continuing confusion (and/or) hope

In new commentary so far this week, Phil Lawler acquaints us with three excellent columns found elsewhere: Quick hits: Hitchens on Martin, Spaemann on Seifert, Douthat on Hefner. I continue my trip through the books of the Bible. See: Samuel: A spiritual and political tale of two kings. Part...

Samuel: A spiritual and political tale of two kings. Part two: David

I have already identified the two books of Samuel as a tale of two kings, and I have amply demonstrated the constant waffling between good and evil which characterized King Saul. Even in the First Book of Samuel, it was obvious that David was constant in his respect for and service to Saul,...

Quick hits: Hitchens on Martin, Spaemann on Seifert, Douthat on Hefner

Easing back into business after a relaxing weekend, here are a few columns that you shouldn’t miss: Writing in First Things, Dan Hitchens examines the clever rhetorical strategy of Father James Martin, who never quite denies Church teaching on homosexuality (or the ordination of...

No rest for the weary?

In view of the renewed clash between Pope Francis and his critics over the past week, kudos to Thomas V. Mirus for daring to write about something else. The topic is student brothers at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington. See The Dominicana Spirit. Phil Lawler and I have been less...

Francis the Thomist? Do not lose the thread.

Now Pope Francis has claimed that the morality underlying Amoris Laetitia is Thomistic. Please note that I am resisting the temptation to write another of my 10,000 word commentaries. Like the rest of you, I really, really want to have a life. Instead, to make things quicker and easier, I offer...

The Dominicana Spirit

Over the past year, through a number of friends and acquaintances connected with the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, I have become increasingly fond of what I think of as the “Dominican spirit.” Dominican thinking—I say based on no expertise but my limited...

Why does Pope Francis refuse to respond?

As Jeff Mirus has already pointed out, there was never any reason to think that Pope Francis would respond to the “filial correction” made by several dozen Catholics. After all the Holy Father has already received and ignored similar pleas from thousands of concerned lay Catholics,...

Quick hits: the truth about Islam, how AL affects children, and is Francis really the Pope?

Three short essays—unrelated, but all well worth reading—that appeared online today: The unstoppable Father James Schall explains “Why I Believe in Islam” for Crisis magazine. No, he hasn’t left the faith. But he does serious Muslims the courtesy of assuming that...

Promises, promises: but little progress for papal commission on abuse

A week has passed since Pope Francis promised to take “the firmest measures” to stop clerical abuse. Then again, you might say that a month has passed, or three years have passed, or maybe a bit...

Prayer in times of papal infidelity

[Note: I have written this prayer only in the sense that I have sought diligently in Sacred Scripture for the right words. The text is almost entirely Scriptural, as you will see in the blue references. The words, therefore, are mostly inspired by the Holy Spirit, and I deserve no credit. But any...

A limping papacy?

A renewed focus has been placed on problems in Rome. For example, the former Vatican auditor general has charged that he was fired because he had been investigating financial irregularities within the Vatican. Phil Lawler raises the relevant question: Was the Vatican auditor general fired...

The latest effort to correct Pope Francis, for what it is worth

Readers were no doubt startled by Phil Lawler’s assertion yesterday that “the ‘filial appeal’ to Pope Francis was not the most important story that emerged from the Vatican this past weekend.” It may strike some as scandalous that CatholicCulture.org should think the...

Was the Vatican auditor general fired for doing his job?

The “filial appeal” to Pope Francis was not the most important story that emerged from the Vatican this past weekend. Don’t misunderstand me. When the Roman Pontiff is accused of encouraging the spread of heretical beliefs, that’s an important story (about which...

Toward a better pastoral vision

Today I decided to take up the frequent misuse of the term “pastoral” to justify downplaying unpopular teaching of Christ and His Church. See: The pastoral imperative—and when it becomes a sin. Some of the grist for my mill came from earlier commentaries by Phil Lawler....

The pastoral imperative—and when it becomes a sin

From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has placed great emphasis on pastoral care, often using colorful similes and metaphors, such as “the Church is a field hospital” and pastors must “get the smell of the sheep.” This is a salutary emphasis, for we are all...

About Cardinal Sarah’s caution on using an iPhone in prayer

Cardinal Sarah says that “it is not worthy” to pray the Liturgy of the Hours using a smartphone or tablet. He’s right—as he usually is—that the use of a book, dedicated to that purpose, heightens the sense of the sacred. But what’s better: saying the prayers with the help of an iPhone, or not...

Wisdom from departed cardinals: Caffarra on truth and conscience, Müller on the Roman Curia

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra died earlier this month, just days before he was scheduled to speak at a conference in Milan. But Catholic World Report has posted the full text of the address that the Italian cardinal had prepared for the occasion, and it is brilliant! Cardinal Caffarra opens by...

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