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

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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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Benedict XVI faces his toughest critic: himself

Toward the end of his 4th (and presumably final) book-length interview with Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, Last Testament, journalist Peter Seewald asked the now-retired Pontiff to name his own greatest weakness. Benedict replies: “Maybe clear, purposeful governance and the decisions that...

Spiritual growth under pressure

Sometimes spiritual growth occurs under pressure from others to become holy, and sometimes it occurs under the pressure to abandon holiness. Once we grow to love God, of course, absolutely everything can spur us to greater holiness. The fallout over Communion for the divorced and remarried will...

St. Thomas More’s razor-sharp Dialogue of Comfort

I feel privileged to have read another book written by St. Thomas More while he was in the Tower of London awaiting execution: A Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation (see my comments last November on The Sadness of Christ). More remained extraordinarily calm under fire for his refusal to...

The Maltese bishops’ message: something lost in translation?

Archbishop Charles Scicluna, answering critics of the Maltese bishops’ guidelines on Amoris Laetitia, insists that they did not say that divorced and remarried Catholics could receive Communion if they feel “at peace with God.” He has a point. The Maltese guidelines stipulate...

The Maltese bishops lower the bar

Here are some headlines that you haven’t seen recently: Bishops of Malta: Mafia hitmen should receive Communion if ‘at peace with God’ Bishops of Malta: pedophiles should receive Communion if ‘at peace with God’ Bishops of Malta: IRA terrorists should receive...

The tone of life, and of evangelization

I found myself thinking today about the various ways we speak to people about our faith, and I realized that we don't use any sort of a prophetic voice any longer. That is a style of speech that we have to be careful with, but surely it cannot always be wrong. See Denunciation, condemnation...

Quick hits: encouraging trend in France, interviewing Ratzinger’s interviewer, the Pope’s governing style

There are very encouraging developments in the public life of France, from a Catholic point of view, observes Samuel Gregg in a First Things essay. The presidential candidacy of Francois Fillon, who unabashedly appeals to Catholic principles, is confirmation of a revival in Catholic influence...

Denunciation, condemnation and dire warnings: Can these be Christian?

You would be hard-pressed to find a Catholic today who would dare to denounce or condemn anyone for their failure to accept the Gospel and live accordingly. Such harsh speech is part of the larger secular culture, but it has generally faded from what we might consider Catholic culture. Most often...

Have someone in mind?

Peter Seewald, who has worked with Pope-emeritus Benedict on several book-length interviews, spoke to Catholic World Report about the former Pontiff, whom he characterizes as “one of the most misunderstood personalities of our time.” The world saw Pope Benedict (through the eyes of the...

If the English cannot live in accordance with moral values, are they free?

If you want to see how darkened the human intellect can become through sin, look no further than the remarks of Dame Louise Casey in the United Kingdom. Casey holds a dubious position which apparently puts her in charge of “community integration”, perhaps the better to ensure that...

Questioning Mary?

We Catholics are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. Pope Francis has offered special indulgences throughout the entire anniversary year, from November 27, 2016 through November 26, 2017. If you are interested in taking advantage of this spiritual...

A cinematic rendering of the Ten Commandments

I had the opportunity to see Dekalog, Krzysztof Kieslowski’s acclaimed series of ten hour-long films based on the Ten Commandments, when it was released in theaters in a newly restored version last fall. Made for Polish television in 1989, Dekalog is generally regarded as his best work...

Going with the flow: Amoris Laetitia and the secular temptation

Imagine three Catholic priests, each with his own parish: Father X has lost his faith. He continues serving as a pastor, going through the motions, because he’s accustomed to the work and he thinks he helps people. That is, he thinks he helps people, with his counsel and encouragement....

Mary holy for only nine months?

In a bizarre post by the standards of First Things, Peter J. Leithart attempts to explain the meaning of St. Matthew’s statement that Joseph “took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son.” Leithart, who is a minister in the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches,...

Quick Hits: A devastating rebuttal on Amoris Laetitia, propaganda for Silence, trouble with the Knights of Malta

Last week Crux posted an argument in support of the Kasper proposal, presented by Father Paul Keller in the form of a fictitious case involving an immigrant woman who was abandoned by her (first) husband. Canon lawyer Edward Peters quickly responded with the most devastating rebuttal...

Gearing up for the New Year

The Catholic year begins in Advent, but there is something about the rhythm of the Christmas holidays that causes us to feel the need to gear up for the new year in early January. I tried to gear up for 2017 fundraising by improving our pledge-tracking system. That was supposed to take about...

Fantasy and reality in the ‘Kasper proposal’

The debate on Amoris Laetitia has been simmering steadily since my last entry on the subject. Father Raymond de Souza has helped put that debate in perspective, with a clear and compelling summary—easily the best that I have seen—of where the argument now stands. At this point the...

Liturgical Year Volume 2 Released: Ordinary Time before Lent

The second volume of our ebook series for the 2016-2017 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This volume covers the initial period of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent, from January 10 through February 28. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following...

Spadaro’s irrational faith

Father Antonio Spadaro, the Italian Jesuit who has been identified as “the Pope’s mouthpiece,” frequently uses his Twitter account(s) to belittle all those who have questions about Amoris Laetitia. But this gem from yesterday might have a boomerang effect: Theology is no #Mathematics. 2 + 2 in...

Pope Francis: Hope through the Sacrament of Penance

Whatever concerns we may have about how Pope Francis is handling access to the Eucharist by those in invalid marriages, there is a common theme in nearly everything he says and does. I refer to the Pope’s emphasis on the Church as a field hospital in which the chief method of healing is the...

An Undelivered Christmas Homily

In a J.F. Powers short story written shortly after the Second Vatican Council, a priest is asked, “Father, how can we make sanctity as attractive as sex to the common man?” It’s a provocative question and worthy of a thoughtful answer—perhaps not from the pulpit. After all,...

Quick Hits: Scorsese’s Silence, leftists look to the Pope, ‘room at the inn’ in the Bronx

A few last-minute reading assignments before the Christmas break: Steven Greydanus, an insightful film reviewer with a reliably Catholic perspective, offers his thoughts on Silence, the new Martin Scorsese film based on the novel by Shusaku Endo. The novel is heart-wrenching, profoundly...

John Labarbara’s surprising take on “knowing God’s love”

This afternoon I skimmed through a book recently published by Sophia Institute Press. The title is Knowing God’s Love, and the subtitle is “8 Essential Truths Every Catholic Should Know”. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found that author John Labarbara shifts his discussion...

Shifting gears for Christmas

A great Catholic truth is how hard it is to set spiritual priorities in Advent when so many practical matters must be resolved before Christmas. I'm sure Our Lord understands, but Jennifer Gregory Miller is here to help with The Jesse Tree, Part 2: Finding the Essential for the...

The scandalous concreteness of the Gospel

It always astonishes me how prone we humans are to making up our religion as we go along. Of course, many of us do not realize there is anything else we can do. Left to our own devices, we are faced with the task of explaining our yearning for transcendence. But we do not see clearly enough to do...

The absurd argument of the dubia critics: an illustration

One more quick comment on the dubia debate, and then—I hope, unless I’m unduly provoked—I’ll turn my attention to happier thoughts of Christmas. The argument against the dubia, if I understand it correctly (which is not certain, since it is never made explicit), runs...

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