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

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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.

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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.

New Ebook on Renewal and Evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Monday

We have just released our latest collection of essays from CatholicCulture.org, this time on the subject of renewal. It is entitled Renewal and Evangelization: Person, Church and World. The author is yours truly, Jeff Mirus. The book includes some fifty essays written between 2005 and 2014,...

More evidence that you can't trust the Pill by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Monday

All too often, debates about family planning proceed from the assumption that the Pill is foolproof. Not so. A useful article in the New York Times, complete with an informative graph, compares the effectiveness of various forms of family planning over long periods of time, and makes an...

Did Cardinal McCarrick compare Allah to the Trinity? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Monday

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick began a speech to a Muslim group with the traditional Islamic invocation: “In the name of God, the merciful and compassionate,” according to a report by the Daily Caller. The retired Archbishop of Washington also used a traditional Islamic formula in a reference to...

An intriguing new Catholic publisher: Tuscany Press by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Monday

Some months ago a surprising book came across my desk, a review copy of a novel from a publisher I had not yet heard of—David Beckett’s The Cana Mystery. The story revolves around the discovery of the “lost jars of Cana”, the jars used when Our Lord changed water into wine....

Calvary is a must-see Catholic film by Thomas Van in "On the Culture" - Monday

The first half of 2014 saw the release of a number of high-profile films with religious themes which have ranged in quality from abysmal to decent. I don’t even need to tell you to forget them all, because you probably have already. The only one you need to see came out last month –...

Music to Our Spiritual Ears by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Friday

Perhaps the most striking commentary we have posted this week is the beginning of Thomas Van's fascinating exploration of the role of music in the spiritual life: The Mystery of Music, Part I. Stay tuned for more. Moving from spiritual growth to religious persecution, Phil Lawler looks at the...

Senator Cruz undermined the cause of persecuted Christians by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Friday

For the record, Senator Ted Cruz was not “booed off the stage” when he addressed a Washington conference on persecution of Christians in the Middle East. He left the stage voluntarily. Yes, the Texas senator was booed. And yes, the reaction to his comments was impolite. (Conference...

Addressing the Root Cause of Clerical Homosexual Behavior and Pederasty by Richard Cross in "The City Gates" - Friday

The Church has attempted to address the issue of clerical pederasty—arguably belatedly—as a problem of crime and punishment on the one hand, and personality on the other. The announced appointment of Robert Geisinger, SJ will hopefully address the problem of abuse with a more...

The Mystery of Music, Part I by Thomas Van in "On the Culture" - Friday

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” — Victor Hugo The unique power of music to move the human heart is universally acknowledged. Music is often given a special place among the arts, as in Walter Pater’s claim that...

Successful societies are (always) rooted in the family by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Thursday

Creating the ideal society through individualistic emancipation is a fool’s project. It cannot be done. That is why the more our politics emphasizes the freedom of each individual to pursue his own vision of reality, the more government control is necessary to keep the social order from...

Important New Manual of Catholic Medical Ethics by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Wednesday

A comprehensive guide to medical ethics, based on the teachings of the Catholic Church, has just been released by Connor Court Publishing in Australia. The text was originally assembled and edited by Dutch Catholic professionals, and has recently been published in an English edition under the...

A Smart Move: The Pope appoints a Jesuit to prosecute sex abuse by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Wednesday

The decision of Pope Francis to appoint an American Jesuit to spearhead the Church’s prosecution of clerical sex abuse cases is very likely also a shot across the bows of the Society of Jesus itself. It is an excellent way to buttress forces of renewal within the Jesuits by utilizing one of...

A guide for bishops talking to pro-abortion politicians by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Wednesday

Speaking with John Allen of Crux about the question of whether pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be denied the Eucharist, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said that the American bishops have left that argument behind. “Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the...

French Muslims Denounce Terror by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Sep 9

As we recount in an important news story today, the top leaders of the Islamic community in France have denounced terror against Christians in the Middle East. Such denunciations have been rare or non-existent in the past. Meanwhile, the pressures of Western secular states against Christians...

Insurance Coverage: A Litmus Test for Institutional Catholic Communities by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 8

The University of Notre Dame, which had been fighting the HHS Mandate to provide contraceptive insurance in student health-care programs, has now reversed field. Despite having claimed that such coverage would constitute scandal, the University now intends to offer it. At least two observations...

What lesson can be learned from Cardinal Brady's resignation? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 8

Calls for the resignation of Cardinal Sean Brady began to circulate in Ireland early in 2010. But the Primate of All Ireland resisted the pressure, saying that he planned to serve (note the verb: serve) until reaching the normal retirement age. And so he did. Now the Pope has accepted Cardinal...

Human Knowing and Human Happiness by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Sep 5

Well, I finally did it. I completed a six thousand word essay entitled On Not Settling for Less: The Cognitive Guide to Happiness which I've been working on for some time. This explains the need to respect all the ways a human person knows reality, rather than focusing exclusively on empirical...

Human Knowing and Human Happiness by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Sep 5

Well, I finally did it. I completed a six thousand word essay entitled On Not Settling for Less: The Cognitive Guide to Happiness which I've been working on for some time. This explains the need to respect all the ways a human person knows reality, rather than focusing exclusively on empirical...

On Not Settling for Less: The Cognitive Guide to Happiness by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Sep 4

This essay explores the relationship between human experience, human knowing, and human happiness. It grew to some six thousand words, so I divided it into sections, with a table of contents and links to jump between contents and text. It should be easy to read at intervals, in...

What Pericles might say about the St. Patrick's Day parade by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 4

There are times when the public influence of Catholicism waxes, and times when it wanes. Sometimes everyone wants to participate in Catholic celebrations, and sometimes the majority wants to keep Catholics out of civic affairs. Right now we’re living through a time when the public...

NY archdiocese should sever ties with St. Patrick's Day parade by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 4

You don’t honor a saint by encouraging a sin. No doubt there have been homosexual persons marching down Fifth Avenue every year in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. There was never any ban on their participation; there was no test of sexual orientation for marchers. But next year the...

Challenging Times? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Sep 2

My title today is a play on words: Both Phil Lawler and I have written commentaries which, by sheer coincidence, respond to articles in Time magazine. Phil addresses a misguided opinion piece on Catholic nuns which was posted online on Sunday: Liberal visions of Catholicism: Kickstarter and the...

Reality 101: The fat between our ears by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 2

I had my annual physical exam today, always a pleasant experience for an old man who looks (or perhaps I mean acts) as if he is 25. In the examination room, my doctor pointed out the June 23rd issue of Time magazine, the one with the cover story entitled “Ending the War on Fat”. It...

Liberal visions of Catholicism: Kickstarter and the world's largest NGO by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 1

When pundits set out to criticize the Catholic Church, they sometimes expose more about their own preconceptions than about the alleged failures of the hierarchy. Consider: In a highly tendentious Time essay about tensions between the Vatican and American women religious, Jo Piazza begins with...

The Blessed Book of Beasts by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Aug 30

There is a long-standing Judeo-Christian tradition of using animals to teach moral and spiritual lessons. Jesus used sparrows to illustrate God’s care for his creatures, and the book of Proverbs describes certain animals as wise. The saints John Chrysostom and Francis de Sales often used...

Weekend reading by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 29

Going into the long Labor Day weekend, here are a few thought-provoking editorial columns: David Quinn, writing in the Irish Independent, argues that ”Commercial surrogacy is a disaster and must be banned .” He illustrates his point with a few of the tangled legal issues that inevitably arise...

Frustrating the Moral Law by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Aug 29

Once we start denying the natural law, the complications multiply. Consider the moral complications in this case: New abortion-suicide controversy in Ireland. Consider also the unfortunate confusion among some Churchmen over conflicts between the natural moral law and religious dialogue. Phil...

Weep for slaughtered Christians, not for dialogue with Islam by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 29

Faced with the savage violence of the Islamic State (ISIS), Christians can be tempted toward two unhelpful emotional reactions. On one extreme is the thirst for vengeance. If Muslims extremists kill innocent Christians, intemperate voices suggest that we should kill innocent Muslims. Then we,...

An Appointment that Francis Should Withdraw by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 28

At his Wednesday audience, Pope Francis lamented divisions in Catholic parishes, so often caused by gossip and other sins of the tongue. He also explained that the unity of the Church has its origins in the unity and communion of the Trinity itself. But last December he appointed Bishop Nunzio...

A new approach to Vatican appointments? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 28

Vatican journalist John Thavis makes an interesting observation about today’s news that Pope Francis has appointed Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, to become Archbishop of Valencia. That appointment, Thavis notes, “violated the age-old Roman...

The rising, dangerous influence of 'transgender' ideology by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 27

Stella Morabito, who has been writing perceptive commentary for the Federalist site on the dangers of the trans-gender movement, has made another important contribution with her observation that radical feminists, of all people, are violently opposed to this, the latest offensive of the sexual...

Does the EU flag evoke the patronage of the Virgin Mary? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 27

Have you ever taken a good look at the flag of the European Union. Twelve stars, forming a circle against a blue background. Does that remind you of anything? Philip Jenkins, in a fascinating piece for Aleteia, makes the connection to the Book of Revelation (12:1), and the woman “clothed...

The diocese as corporate sponsor by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 27

Full disclosure, part I: If you come visit the Lawlers, you’ll notice solar panels on the roof of our home. We had them installed because we thought it was a good investment—and, yes, good stewardship of resources. It made sense. Full disclosure, part II: If you are inspired by our example, and...

Lectures on Art and Faith in NYC by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Aug 26

Last fall, Jeff Mirus posted about an upcoming lecture series, The Art of the Beautiful, put on by the Catholic Artists Society in Manhattan. The CAS is an association of artists and media professionals, centered in New York City, working for the greater glory of God and the common good....

Black Mass Thwarted in Oklahoma City by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Aug 26

It seems the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has been successful in thwarting a Black Mass scheduled there for September. How they did it is also of interest. See my latest On the Culture: A lesson in prudence: Stopping the Black Mass in Oklahoma City. Less hopefully, it also seems that large...

A lesson in prudence: Stopping the Black Mass in Oklahoma City by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 26

The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City filed a lawsuit against the group which intended to conduct a Black Mass in the OKC Civic Center Music Hall. The suit was grounded in the claim that the Satanist group could not hold a Black Mass without a consecrated host, and that the group could not possess a...

St. Paul on Helping those in Need by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Aug 25

St. Paul never seems to have done anything by halves, whether he was persecuting or preaching Christ. The same was true of the manner in which he challenged other Christians to live the Gospel. This came home to me again last night while reading the eighth chapter of his second letter to the...

2013-2014 Liturgical Year Volume 6 Released by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Aug 25

I have just released the sixth and final ebook volume of this year's liturgical year series. This series makes available, in ebook form, all the daily information in our liturgical year section. It features the feasts, saints biographies, historical and devotional information, activities,...

Difficult Decisions in the Real World by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Aug 22

This week Pope Francis continued to wrestle with the best course to encourage in Iraq. Phil Lawler analyzes the Pope's position in his latest On the News: In Iraq, the Pope has good reason to seek intervention, but fear unilateral US action. For my part, I again look at the challenges of...

The real reason why divorced/remarried German Catholics are leaving the Church by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 22

From Germany and the Frankfurter Allgemaine Zeitung, via England and The Tablet, comes news that many German Catholics who have divorced and remarried are now formally leaving the Church “because they are afraid that church authorities will find out that they have remarried in a register...

An unexpected surge in confessions? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 21

Have you noticed that when you go to Confession these days, you wait longer in line? I thought perhaps this was happening only in my parish, but friends elsewhere report a similar phenomenon. A friendly priest, with whom I chatted recently, reports that he’s long been in the habit of bringing...

The Problem with Catholic Social Teaching by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 21

Long-time readers will know of my respect for Samuel Gregg, director of research at the Acton Institute. Not only do we have a number of his articles on social-economic-political issues in our library, but I favorably reviewed his book Tea Party Catholic last December (see Political principles...

In Iraq, the Pope has good reason to seek intervention, but fear unilateral US action by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 20

When Pope Francis said that armed intervention is justified to stop the slaughter of Christian refugees in Iraq, he made a distinction that is often missed, I’m afraid, in American discussions of warfare. After saying that “it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor,” the Holy...

As Catholic News Unfolds... by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Aug 19

What I am noticing today is how many significant news stories affecting Christians are unfolding at the same time. For example, the latest defiance of the Vatican by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in America fairly begs for suppression. See my latest On the Culture analysis: It is...

An Iraqi archbishop's warning to the West by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 19

From his temporary lodging in Erbil, Iraq, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Amel Nona of Mosul sent a grim warning to the West, in an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. His words speak for themselves. Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western...

The cause for beatification of Archbishop Romero: BBC botched the story by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 19

Secular journalists frequently get things wrong when they report on the internal affairs of the Catholic Church, and for some reason British journalists have a particular bad track record in that respect. But rarely does a secular outlet get a story so thorough muddled as this BBC report on the...

Church Fathers: The Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 19

The Didache One of the most important sources from the age of the Apostolic Fathers is “The Lord’s Teaching through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations,” commonly referred to by its short name, the Didache (Greek for “teaching”). While the Didache was lost until the...

It is time to revoke the Catholic status of the LCWR by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 18

Today’s news of the LCWR’s closing act of defiance against ecclesiastical authority tells us all we need to know. Those familiar with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious have been painfully aware that the spirituality of the group is rooted in paganism, its cherished causes...

Immigration: first, acknowledge the system is broken by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 18

Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute offers another balanced reflection on the immigration controversy, noting that the Church encourages affluent societies to show generosity toward migrants, while demanding that migrants respect the laws and norms of the societies that accept them. But...

Another glimpse of Tolkien by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Aug 18

On a whim, I recently went to the library and picked up a book that may interest Tolkien devotees like myself. Every year from 1920 to 1943, Tolkien wrote letters to his children in the character of Father Christmas, who sent them not just presents but lovely drawings and stories of his home at...

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