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

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Commentary and reflection on Catholic life and ideas.

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Analysis of news events and trends.

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Celebrates positive work by Catholic individuals and organizations.

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Renewal Phase 2: Making the parish central again

Back in the late 1960s, when I first began to see the urgent necessity of renewing the Church, the available options were both few and primitive. The disruption of clerical leadership in dioceses, parishes and religious communities throughout the West was so rapid and thorough that it quickly...

Successful Easter Campaign (says R2-D2)

I am extraordinarily pleased with the results of our Easter Campaign to win a challenge grant of $14,000. We actually received donations of over $16,000. I have posted the list of qualifying donations: 2017 Spring Matching Gifts. Thanks to all who participated! Less optimistically, both...

Pope Francis vs. Venezuela: Historical perspective

Phil Lawler and Catholic World News have provided excellent coverage of the conflict between the Venezuelan government and the Venezuelan bishops. You can search through the news archives to find steady documentation of the problems in Venezuela over the past several years. Recently, closer...

Mounting criticism of Pope’s silence on Venezuelan crisis

“As Venezuela burns, many Latin Americans ask: ‘Where is Pope Francis?’” The headline on a Catholic World Report essay by Samuel Gregg more or less speaks for itself. And Sando Magister of L’Espresso raised essentially the same question a week ago. The Catholic...

Original sin at work

We never have to look far to see the results of Original Sin in our world, but over the weekend I found that some people have odd ideas about it. So let's start with my latest In Depth Analysis: Original Sin: What is it really and why does it matter? Now, perhaps, we can better...

Original Sin: What is it really and why does it matter?

I had a very interesting exchange over the weekend with a man who raised two important questions: First, does the Church teach that the human soul is created at conception? Second, how does the soul contract original sin from Adam? A great deal can go wrong in considering both of these...

And here’s what the Pope didn’t say

During his latest in-flight press conference, on his return flight from Portugal, Pope Francis made important statements on several hot topics: Medjugorje, sexual abuse, his meeting with President Trump, the prospects for regularization of the Society of St. Pius X. Those comments have deservedly...

Fascinating Catholic Issues

This week we have a very diverse set of issues grabbing headlines and commentary. The Catholic way of life never ceases to fascinate! Before I give the highlights, though, I want to ask you to take a moment—if you have not already done so—to help us collect the matching funds...

That nothing may be lost: An engraced path of renewal for the laity

If you’ve been following my recent essays on the difficulties faced by the laity in renewing the Church, you will recall that the chief obstacle is that the laity do not have the sort of ecclesiastical authority necessary to eliminate the influence of those within the Church who reject her...

Is the Vatican’s top canonical official undermining canon law?

My favorite canon lawyer, Ed Peters, has some “Questions in the wake of Cdl. Coccopalmerio’s comments on Anglican orders.” I recommend his analysis highly, for anyone who wants an expert perspective; I happily defer to Peters on the legal issues. Let me add a few comments,...

If the American conservative movement has failed, don’t blame politics

Notre Dame’s Patrick Deneen writes in Modern Age that America’s conservative movement is dying, despite—perhaps in part because of—the election of Donald Trump. He contends that the three “legs” of the conservative movement—anti-Communism, libertarianism,...

Europe on the rocks

Over the past few days, Phil Lawler has brought us all up to date on the continued decline of Europe, including the Church in Europe. See especially these two notable commentaries: Apres moi le deluge Why is a Catholic bishops’ conference cheerleading for the European...

Rigidity and conversion do not mix. But don’t be fooled by double-speak.

When Pope Francis once again rebuked hardhearted Catholics in a homily on May 2nd, all I could do was scratch my head. “This causes suffering in the Church,” the Pope said, “the closed hearts, the hearts of stone, the hearts which do not want to be open, do not want to hear, the...

Quick Hits: Accepting Anglican orders, predicting Macron’s future, distracting a priest/author

“When someone is ordained in the Anglican Church and becomes a parish priest in a community, we cannot say that nothing has happened, that everything is ‘invalid’,” writes Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio in a new book. But isn’t that pretty much what Pope Leo...

Why is a Catholic bishops’ conference cheerleading for the European Union?

Yesterday in this space I remarked on the unsustainable ideology of the European Union, which invents new “human rights” on a regular basis, without recognizing any corresponding duties. Just for example, the European Commission recently promulgated a Pillar of Social Rights,...

Another profile in courage

A smiling Cardinal Sean O’Malley was on hand at the JFK Library last night, as former President Barack Obama was presented with the Profile in Courage award for his work on health-care reform. In his acceptance speech Obama mentioned how wonderful it was to see Cardinal O’Malley...

Apres moi le deluge

As Emmanuel Macron moved toward his landslide victory in the French presidential election, the fashionable media outlets noticed a stunning reality about Europe’s current political leaders: Macron, the newly elected French president, has no children. German chancellor Angel Merkel...

Shhh! Media at work!

It is amazing how important modern means of communication are to the formation of culture around the world. It is no wonder, then, that Pope Francis would like to reform how the Curia communicates with the world. See Phil Lawler's analysis: The obstacles to reform of the...

The obstacles to reform of the Vatican’s communications efforts

Pope Francis was unusually candid in his May 4 address to the staff of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, admitting that the consolidation of the many different Vatican offices involved in the project will require “a little violence.” It will be “good...

Honoring Mary on the 100th anniversary of her apparitions at Fatima

Pope Francis has chosen to honor the Mother of God, and to lend further credibility to her apparitions at Fatima in 1917, by canonizing two of the three visionaries on the hundredth anniversary of the apparitions. Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who died very young, were beatified in the year 2000 by...

Renewing the Church: Yes, we do have a plan.

The reaction of some readers to yesterday’s essay (How can the laity renew the Church?) was that it was a cop-out—a refusal to do the heavy-lifting of actually formulating an effective plan for the renewal of the Church. I was afraid this was going to happen when I wrote: I have not...

From the annals of a civilization in decay...

Which of these news stories is more frightening: A recorded episode of an “educational” television show by Bill Nye has been altered, removing a statement of scientific fact—that chromosomes determine gender—which has now become politically incorrect. Nye, who...

Quick Hits: the disappearance of melody, an app for chant, and more

Does it ever seem like there just aren’t any good melodies in contemporary pop music—say, since the 1970s? Or that there often aren’t any melodies at all? Well, it’s not just your imagination and you aren’t just getting old. Kurt Poterack, organist, composer and...

Back to True Catholic Renewal

Phil Lawler has raised important questions about Catholic renewal in cities that keep closing churches without a decline in the nominal Catholic population. See A pastoral crisis the Church cannot (yet does) ignore. This reminded me that I had not yet proposed an answer to a question I raised a...

How can the laity renew the Church?

In March and April I suggested that what the business world calls rightsizing is absolutely critical to the renewal of the Church. My point was that if the Church does not learn once again to exclude those who, within her own ranks, have rejected her official teachings on faith and morals, then...

Another reality check on WomenPriests news coverage

Quiz for careful readers: Where’s the giveaway in this lede from a Charlotte Observer story? An international group defiantly opposed to the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women priests Sunday ordained its first woman Catholic priest in the 46 counties that make up the Catholic...

A pastoral crisis the Church cannot (yet does) ignore

The Archdiocese of Boston has opened a new church. That news drew headline coverage, in a city that has become more accustomed to stories about church closings. To be perfectly honest, the news stories are a bit misleading. There have been a few new churches opened in Boston in the past 60...

Our political bishops

Yesterday CatholicCulture.org published a special report on a matter which has been undermining confidence in the Church for some months now: Internal documents show split within Knights of Malta. It seems like our bishops are becoming increasingly political. Do they ever ask themselves how...

Three Catholic essay collections, useful in different ways

Recently three different collections of essays crossed my desk, from three different publishers. In some ways, these collections remind me of the various ebook volumes of our own collected essays which CatholicCulture.org makes available as free downloads. But such collections are as different as...

Brace yourself; the Pope is taking another overseas flight

Pope Francis flies to Egypt on Friday. In the past faithful Catholics might have offered up a nervous prayer whenever they heard that the Pope was boarding a plane, because they worried about the safety of air travel. Today most of us feel reasonably confident about planes (although a quick...

God's Love and our Response

I'm very happy to announce that we have a Challenge Grant for the Easter Season. Any new gifts given starting today will be matched up to $14,000. Please be generous! Less happily, Phil Lawler has looked into the operations of the St. Luke Institute, which has played a key role in...

This delicate lover: God rarely embraces us by force

In thinking about Our Lord’s passion, death and resurrection this year, I was struck by the extraordinary delicacy of God’s efforts to make us obedient to His will. I don’t mean to say that the crucifixion was particularly “delicate” or that His miracles should have...

The unhappy leadership history of St. Luke’s Institute

There’s irony in the news that a laicized priest, who once ran a counseling center, has agreed to counseling as a condition of his parole. In case you missed the story, Edward Arsenault resigned from his post as head of the St. Luke Institute in Maryland in 2013, after he was charged...

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