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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.

On the failure of history—and historians—without Christ by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Thursday

When I was a brash young graduate student in the very early 1970s, Professor Lawrence Stone tried to teach me that the English Revolution and civil war were essentially caused by social and demographic factors, and that the previous emphasis on religious differences was essentially laughable. I...

Salvation? No matter who we are, one price. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Wednesday

In reading through the Bible again I’ve ploughed far enough into Exodus to get to the ceremonial material—which is, let’s face it, pretty boring. That’s not to say its emphasis on the holiness of God, and how careful we must be in His Presence, is not enormously important....

Rich Spiritual Instruction by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Tuesday

I have been frustrated in my desire to write articles lately, because we find ourselves in a bit of a fundraising crisis for January. The Action Alert on our website tells the story in brief. It is with considerable frustration that I once again must ask your help. Amazingly, however, Phil...

Snowbound thoughts on natural law by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Tuesday

Here in the northeastern US, the hysteria over the winter storm dubbed Juno began several days ago. It peaked on Monday, as the storm approached, with the Mayor of New York predicting a catastrophe of historic proportions. In fact, the storm breezed through New York, leaving only a genteel...

The best argument against the 'celibate gay Catholics' by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Monday

In the space of a generation, the connotation of the word “gay” has changed radically. To my father, “gay” meant carefree and happy. To my sons, “gay” means homosexual. Any living language is constantly changing, as popular usage gives words new shades of...

Church Fathers: St. Polycarp and St. Papias by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - Saturday

St. Polycarp, Apostolic Father The earliest extant detailed account of the arrest and martyrdom of a single individual is that of St. Polycarp (70-156), Bishop of Smyrna. According to St. Irenaeus, who had listened to Polycarp as a child, Polycarp himself had learned from the Apostle John...

On News Both Good and Fun by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jan 23

Today Phil Lawler raises a question about the strengths and weaknesses of Pope Francis (all popes have them). See Guess who thinks Pope Francis shouldn't give so many interviews? However, since Tuesday's message focused on problems, today let me emphasize recent developments that are either...

Guess who thinks Pope Francis shouldn't give so many interviews? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 23

“Interviews are not my forte,” then-Cardinal Bergoglio once remarked, and for that reason he seldom sat down to speak on the record with reporters. When two journalists sought a formal interview, he advised them to publish excerpts from his sermons and essays instead. (A Call to...

A rare “win” in the Venerable League: Laity 4, Priests and Religious 3 by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 23

The latest announcements from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints are noteworthy because so many laymen are included. Priests and religious are more likely to be canonized, but the latest batch of venerables includes four lay persons out of seven total. There are at least six good reasons...

The Didache Bible Is Here by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 21

I already mentioned the new Didache Bible, before it was actually available, in Two beautiful books to give as Christmas gifts. But I definitely want to call it to your attention again now that you can purchase it. It’s a brand new Bible developed and published jointly by the Midwest...

A Myriad of Problems for the Church? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jan 20

When we scan the news, we encounter a seemingly unlimited range of problems with which the beleaguered Church must cope. I highlight one, theological in character, which causes too many divisions today. I refer to mistaken ideas about the Gospel. See my latest On the Culture: Christ freed us...

A revealing book recommendation from the Pope by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 20

Twice now, Pope Francis has recommended Robert Hugh Benson's apocalyptic novel, Lord of the World. It’s interesting that an English novel—written more than a century ago, and no longer easy to find—would figure prominently in the public remarks of a Pontiff who is not fluent...

Christ freed us from our sins! But this is not enough. Really. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 19

I have known a number of Catholics who were able to speak very eloquently about the forgiveness of our sins and our freedom in Christ. They had a knack for helping others realize how much God loved them, so that they could be unburdened by fear, doubt and guilt. Unfortunately, in some cases, they...

Growing Divisions, or Signs of Growth? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jan 16

While it is never difficult to find good news among the followers of Christ, it seems clear that we are living through a time when political and social pressures against the message of Christ are growing stronger. This actually creates a paradox as the West increasingly lives in denial of...

How do we react when the Pope fails to express our top concerns? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 15

Pope Francis’ in-flight interview on January 15th touched on a number of issues that have profound social implications: Freedom of religion, reconciliation among different religious groups, freedom of speech, the exploitation of children, and the misuse of nature, including climate...

Free speech and civility post-Charlie Hebdo by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 15

Two unreasonable positions: We must never say anything that could possibly be offensive to Muslims. We should say everything we can think of that will be offensive to Muslims. In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo killings we have seen both of these unreasonable positions advanced—usually...

Islamic militants have a cause they believe in. Do we? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 15

Newt Gingrich, of all people, should be familiar with the lesson that I was taught as the First Law of Politics: You can’t beat somebody with nobody. So I’m surprised that in a column appearing in today’s Wall Street Journal, on why we’re losing the battle against radical Islam, the former...

Theater of the absurd? Our cultural and social choices by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jan 13

It seems we are constantly faced with bad alternatives. For example, over the weekend, Phil Lawler attempted to make sense of the Hobbesian choice which afflicted so much coverage of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack. Do we really have to choose between blasphemy and terrorism? See Murder,...

Our Paradoxical Times: An economy of waste, a culture of the absurd by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 13

Anyone who has read John Steinbeck’s harrowing novel The Grapes of Wrath, or anyone who knows anything about the marketing of both baby formula and cigarettes in the third world, or anyone who examines military contracts, knows the lengths to which businesses will sometimes to go to enhance...

False dichotomies dull our Catholicism by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 13

I would hate to try to trace a pattern through all the affected issues, but I think I’m on to something when I suggest that the world too often sees false dichotomies where the Church sees unities. To take an example I’ve already discussed, there is the marked tendency of...

News flash: the Pope doesn't tell God what to do by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 12

No doubt it’s a mistake to expect theological clarity in a statement by Elton John. Still when a friend called my attention to Sir Elton’s proclamation that Pope Francis is a saint, my eye was caught by the rock star’s assessment: “He is a compassionate, loving man who...

Murder, blasphemy, and the limits of intolerance by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 10

Let’s stop the posturing, shall we? You say, “je suis Charlie.” But would you have published the cartoons that made the editors of Charlie Hebdo the target of jihadist killers? Would you publish them even now? Let me put the question differently. You say that you will fight...

Evangelizing the Culture for Marriage and Family by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Jan 9

Those who wish to deepen their understanding of marriage and the family, and of the contemporary issues involving them, may be interested in a six-part miniseries on EWTN which begins on January 12. The episode schedule: RESOLVING CULTURAL CONFUSION ABOUT MARRIAGE- Monday, January 12 Learn...

Sin and judgment in Breaking Bad by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Jan 9

I’m not the first person to claim that Breaking Bad, which concluded its five-season run in 2013, is a deeply moral television series. Catholic NYT columnist Ross Douthat blogged about it extensively, and sources both Christian and secular have suggested that the show embodies an...

On Faith in God and Giving the Pope a Break by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jan 9

I thought it humorous but not unexpected that Phil Lawler felt the need this week to write about Pope Francis' pending encyclical on human ecology. It's the latest conceptual crisis of the Catholic chattering classes. As usual, Phil was right on target: Could we postpone debate on the Pope's...

Liturgical Year Volume 2 Released: Advent before Lent by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 9

The second volume of our ebook series for the 2014-2015 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This is a relatively brief volume for the current liturgical year, covering the brief period of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent, from January 12 through February 17. It...

Why believe in God? And why are some answers so unbearably thin? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 8

I just spent a very enjoyable couple of hours reading a collection of essays from religious artists answering the question of why they believe in God. By religious “artists”, I mean religious persons who are involved in the arts—creative writing, the visual arts, and music. The...

Our critical need for regular monthly support, and how you can help by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 7

CatholicCulture.org is planning a move to a more powerful and more stable technical infrastructure which will maximize both our uptime and our ability to serve growing numbers of users with maximum speed. Our current servers and software are now somewhat dated, and both stability and speed became...

Could we postpone debate on the Pope's encyclical until it appears? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 7

At The Catholic Thing, Robert Royal has serious misgivings about the Pope’s forthcoming encyclical, which will tackle the issue of climate change. But the Crisis site, Rachel Lu tells us that we shouldn’t lose sleep about...

Christmas Reviewed: Looking behind and ahead by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jan 6

In this first Insights message of 2015, the most important thing to note is that we Catholics should be still celebrating Christmas. How quickly we forget! So let's remember: Christmas does not end until The Baptism of the Lord on January 11th. Why not do at least three things to keep the...

The Ecumenical Imperative: Intrinsic to the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 6

In late November, Pope Francis told the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity that ecumenism—the quest for unity among Christians—must be an ever-present concern for the Church. Acknowledging problems created by new divisions over moral and doctrinal issues, the Pope emphasized the...

A flood of closing churches by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 5

Church closures have reached flood stage in northern Europe. According to the Wall Street Journal (“Europe’s empty churches go on sale”, unfortunately available only to subscribers), some 515 Catholic churches have been closed in Germany over the last decade and it is estimated...

No more 'princes of the Church'—the Pope's new model for the College of Cardinals by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 5

Whenever a Pope announces a consistory, and names a new set of cardinals, commentators hasten to interpret the papal choices. But on Sunday, when Pope Francis identified his latest selections, most commentators—myself included—drew a blank. To be quite honest, among the 20 names...

Aid for Christians in Iraq and Syria by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Jan 5

If you read CatholicCulture.org regularly, you’re probably aware of the suffering of Christians in Iraq and Syria, who have been displaced from their homeland by Islamic extremists. Pope Francis has repeatedly asked Catholics to pray for our beleaguered brethren in the Middle East. Aside...

The Hobbit Party: Tolkien and the Social Order by Thomas Van in "On the Culture" - Jan 5

It is well-known even among non-Catholic readers that J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic and that his Catholicism deeply informed his fiction. Indeed, there is something of a cottage industry in Catholic interpretations of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. But Tolkien also had a unique...

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Recent Catholic Commentary

On the failure of history—and historians—without Christ 7 hours ago
Salvation? No matter who we are, one price. January 28
Rich Spiritual Instruction January 27
Snowbound thoughts on natural law January 27
The best argument against the 'celibate gay Catholics' January 26

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