Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

All Commentary

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

Commentary Sections

To view posts by section, make a selection.

On the Culture

Commentary and reflection on Catholic life and ideas by Dr. Jeff Mirus, President of CatholicCulture.org.

On the News

Catholic commentary and analysis on contemporary events and trends by Phil Lawler, Director of Catholic World News.

In Depth Analysis

Extended commentary and thoughtful Catholic essays on complex topics.

The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff, and sometimes light-hearted Catholic commentary, observations and announcements.

Another side of Francis: US-Cuba role shows Pope's diplomatic muscle by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Thursday

Nobody saw it coming. All sorts of things, good and bad, have been written about Pope Francis. But nobody predicted that he would break a 50-year stalemate in relations between the US and Cuba. Cuba was obviously on the Vatican’s diplomatic agenda during the previous two pontificates. Both Popes...

Silly season: a Christmas approaches, a scholar questions whether Jesus ever existed by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Thursday

Christmas is coming soon. How can you tell? Because you notice the nip in the air, the smiles on the faces of shoppers, the merry tunes of carolers… and the silly articles appearing in mass-media outlets, about the “historical” Jesus. But now Raphael Lataster, who teaches religious studies at...

The intrinsic immorality of torture: still not convinced? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Thursday

Many readers continue to write with arguments against my condemnation of torture. I have already tried to answer the most common objections, so I will not belabor the matter. Let me just make one simple point: If torture is intrinsically wrong, then it is wrong under all circumstances. We...

The Complexity of Reforming Religious Communities by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Wednesday

Like many readers, I am disappointed that Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have not taken a harder line with American women religious, following the Apostolic Visitation which began in 2009. On the other hand, as Phil Lawler noted yesterday, there is an ongoing effort to reform the Leadership...

Speaking Softly to Women Religious by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Tuesday

Let me first pause to ask those who have not yet done so to make a year-end contribution to CatholicCulture.org. We must still raise a little over $20,000 to meet our budget for the year! Now on to our new material: As Phil Lawler points out in On the News, In its showdown with American...

In showdown with American sisters, the Vatican blinked by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Tuesday

The Vatican blinked. After a 3-year study of American women’s religious orders, undertaken because of problems that are both grave and obvious, the Congregation for Religious has released a report that avoids direct criticism of religious orders, instead suggesting that the communities should...

Policing, torture, reasons of State, and our Christian mistake by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Tuesday

Consider recent news. A generation or two ago, if I had described a government which jettisoned the natural law in favor of the desire for power, which tried to impose its vision of society through ever-increasing bureaucratic control, which ensured that the ideology of the ruling class was taught...

Can torture ever be justified? Round II. by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Monday

Many readers have responded, with questions and criticisms, to my argument last week that “Regardless of circumstances or results, torture can never be justified.” Let me respond to some of the common concerns.           The Senate report on “enhanced...

The best possible preparation for Christmas by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Monday

Today is “Reconciliation Monday” in the Archdiocese of New York. Cardinal Timothy Dolan explains: In each of the 365 parishes of this archdiocese, priests will be hearing confessions from 4-8 p.m. Our unprofessional polling tells us that last Advent 60,000 people approached the...

Overreacting to what the Pope doesn't say: a case study by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Monday

Today Pope Francis did not denounce baseball's designated-hitter rule.  This is unfortunate, in my opinion, because the DH rule is a violation of natural law. But Pope Francis-- like Pope Benedict XVI, and in fact like every other Pontiff in history-- has never said a word on the...

Dogs go to heaven? The Pope never said that. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Saturday

By now I’m sure you’ve seen dozens of stories about the Pope’s remark that dogs go to heaven. They’re all wrong. He didn’t say it. My friend Richard Chonak has checked the facts-- something that dozens of reporters evidently failed to do. He’s posted the...

Very Catholic Comments by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Dec 12

This has been a banner week for commentary on CatholicCulture.org. Let's simply proceed by author. On Wednesday I noticed a significant trend in Pope Francis' effort to take into account the concerns of his critics within the Church. I explain here: Francis listens to critics, clarifies the...

Financiers can't exploit the Vatican anymore. But politicians can. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 12

“The days of ripping off the Vatican are over,” Cardinal George Pell has announced. The Australian cardinal, who is now the no-nonsense prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, explained that for generations, Vatican officials made their own decisions about money matters, without...

The “Orthodox Practice”: A solution to divorce, remarriage and Communion? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 12

Since the working document for the 2015 Synod on the Family includes, among its points for discussion, the “Orthodox practice” on marriage, we should take a few moments to discover the questions this raises. It is a case of discerning whether the Church can find, in the way the...

'Father Benedict' sheds some insight on his resignation by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 12

If it is accurate--and I have no reason to doubt that it is-- the report that Benedict XVI wanted to be known as “Father Benedict” after his resignation is strange and illuminating. Why? Because today he is not known as Father Benedict. Even before Pope Benedict stepped down, the...

Case Study: How Churchmen impact conscience by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Dec 11

In Pope Francis’ message on climate change, made public today, he implicitly taught and explicitly applied a moral principle. “The time to find global solutions [to global warming] is running out,” Francis wrote. “There is therefore a clear, definite and urgent ethical...

Regardless of circumstances or results, torture can never be justified by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 10

Some moral questions are very complicated. Others are very straightforward. In some cases, the morality of an act depends entirely on the circumstances. But some acts can never be justified, regardless of the circumstances. The Catholic Church teaches quite clearly that some acts are...

The proverbs of Henri de Lubac by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Dec 10

Henri de Lubac (1896-1991), a French Jesuit priest, is widely regarded as the most influential faithful theologian of the twentieth century. De Lubac is most known for his insistence that theologians must escape from the formulaic theology of the Thomist schools and return to the sources. In...

Francis listens to critics, clarifies the issues, and stays his course by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 10

Pope Francis has made a strong effort to take into account the criticisms of “conservative” Catholics which boiled over during the October Synod of Bishops. For example, he has deliberately appointed “conservative” Churchmen to important posts recently, he has explained his...

Action in Rome by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Dec 9

After the long weekend in honor of the Immaculate Conception, we were faced with a big day for news today. For example, a new interview with Pope Francis was published in the Argentine newspaper La Nacion: Pope welcomes criticism as 'very healthy' in new interview. In this interview Francis...

Church Fathers: St. Ignatius of Antioch by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 6

Tradition has it that the church at Antioch was founded by St. Peter himself, who served as its bishop for seven years before moving on to found the church at Rome. (Robert Spencer writes that “Gregory III Laham, the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, has joked that if...

Marriage is the Key by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Dec 5

Good news: We matched the entire $45,000 Challenge Grant on December 3rd. Thanks to all who participated with prayers and donations! Now, let us turn to marriage, which seems to be at the center of everything today. This is not surprising, for Our Lord suggested that it was at the center of...

Surprise! Marriage is the foundation of Catholic social teaching. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 5

When I write about Catholic social teaching, I often highlight key principles such as the universal destination of goods, solidarity, the common good, and subsidiarity. All of these principles fit together to make a seamless whole, with each drawing life from the others. But articulating a series...

We're losing the next generation(s) of Catholics by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 4

In the past few days I’ve spoken to two friends who work as musicians in two different parishes. One friend had a story that sounded very familiar. The older parishioners die, and when their middle-aged children come to bury them, they’re completely lost during the funeral. They...

Two beautiful books to give as Christmas gifts by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Dec 3

Since Advent is now running along fairly briskly, I want to call your attention to two attractive Catholic books which will make perfect gifts for those you love when we celebrate Christ’s birth. One is a new Bible; the other is a coffee-table book about Mary. Both are from Ignatius...

What I wish a bishop would say about marriage by Leila Marie Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 3

During the October meeting of the Synod of Bishops, discussions often centered on the widening gap between the popular understanding of marriage and the Christian ideal. What could Catholic pastors do or say to restore the proper understanding of the family founded on a sacramental union? My wife...

December Moment: A jazz trio's lovely, tasteful take on traditional Christmas music by Thomas Van in "On the Culture" - Dec 2

For working musicians, the season leading up to Christmas presents a twofold artistic challenge. The traditional holiday repertoire, whether sacred or popular, has been played and recorded so many times that creative musicians naturally want to find some new take on the old classics. At the same...

Reading Pope Francis by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Dec 2

As of today, we have just $2,400 left to match to receive the $45K Challenge Grant. The deadline was December 1st, but if we wrap it up fast, we can still get the entire grant. Please offer a final gift quickly, while it will count twice! The Holy Father has been a spiritual gold mine over...

Archbishop Cupich on Face the Nation: A Mixed Performance by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Dec 2

We can learn something about the new archbishop of Chicago, Blase Cupich, from how he answered the questions posed to him during the November 30th episode of Face the Nation. Guests on this program must be evaluated through a kind of television-induced haze of graciousness. The utility of such...

The gift of orthodoxy: A mercy and a challenge to mercy by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Nov 26

It is said that even the Devil is orthodox. I have used this expression myself, and it can be very effective. It is a convenient way to emphasize that orthodoxy does not guarantee the love of God and neighbor which Our Lord identified as the very foundation of the Christian life. So it is a useful...

Getting Marriage Right by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Nov 25

With $8,700 left to match of our $45K Challenge Grant, we have much to be thankful for. But we do need a final burst to win the entire grant. If you haven't yet, please do support us now while it will count twice! I see this week that marriage is back in the news. Phil Lawler gives an...

O Earthly Lord, vouchsafe to us high speed Internet. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Nov 25

Ah, the glories of calling for government expenditures! It seems two USCCB committee chairmen have endorsed a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission for the United States to spend $1.5 billion more per year to ensure that all schools have high speed Internet access. Of course,...

No 'Francis effect' in Strasbourg by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 25

Jean-Marie Guénois, the religion correspondent for Le Figaro (and an old friend), has tweeted several perceptive observations about the Pope’s visit to Strasbourg today. Guénois has been a member of the Vatican press corps for more than 20 years, and been aboard the papal plane for more than 50...

What Pope Francis told European Parliament, and what Pope John Paul II said by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 25

If you are convinced the Pope Francis has made a radical break from the policies and pronouncements of his predecessors, I have two challenges for you: First, read the text of the Holy Father’s address to the European Parliament and pick out a sentence (other than the time-sensitive...

Public perception demands a way of mercy by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Nov 24

In last week’s discussion (It is a failure of mercy to deny sin), I explained how the love and mercy of God are undermined by human efforts to be “nice”. This frequently takes the form of denying or minimizing sins in accordance with the spirit of the times, which obscures our...

A suggestion for First Things: separate civil divorce from Christian marriage by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Nov 24

First Things is a journal with a proud tradition of fostering intellectual debate. (Remember when the late Father Neuhaus hosted a symposium on the question of whether the US government had lost its legitimacy?) Now a new editor, R.R. Reno, has stirred things up again by publishing, and strongly...

Art and theology, beauty and truth, work together in the New Evangelization by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 21

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” But the poet Keats is wrong; that is not all we need to know in life. In an unusual and rewarding new book, Father Robert Imbelli guides readers along the path of beauty toward the realization that all truth, all beauty, and all goodness reflects the...

Anatomy of Conversion by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Nov 21

In a message yesterday, I listed thirteen testimonials to our work from priests, sisters and lay Catholic leaders around the world. I was trying to complete the task of matching our $45,000 Challenge Grant. However, that email was met with what we might loosely call a resounding yawn. (OK, so...

Anatomy of Conversion by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Nov 21

Each person is drawn to God in slightly different ways. There are probably as many “motives of credibility” in the Catholic Church as there are personality types. But as I mentioned yesterday (see It is a failure of mercy to deny sin), most conversion stories turn on a moment when the...

It is a failure of mercy to deny sin by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Nov 20

Previously, I promised to explore how we too often obscure the life-changing mercy of the Gospel, despite our best intentions (see Light of the World: Morality vital, but mercy first). We will discover very quickly that this failure usually arises from our own complacency—our refusal to...

Yesterday's news, tomorrow by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 20

“The Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops will meet on 18 and 19 November…” Thus opens an announcement issued by the Vatican Information Service today—which is November 20. It’s standard operating procedure for Vatican officials to hold a press conference to...

Want more commentary? Visit the Archives.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Another side of Francis: US-Cuba role shows Pope's diplomatic muscle 11 hours ago
Silly season: a Christmas approaches, a scholar questions whether Jesus ever existed 12 hours ago
The intrinsic immorality of torture: still not convinced? 17 hours ago
The Complexity of Reforming Religious Communities December 17
Speaking Softly to Women Religious December 16

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope Francis: Europe seems 'elderly and haggard' CWN - November 25
Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch sign joint declaration, lament persecution of Christians CWN - December 1
Consistory for new cardinals scheduled for February CWN - December 11
Vatican report on US women religious calls for further self-assessment CWN - December 16
Pope brokered deal to open US-Cuba ties CWN - December 17