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Accentuating the Positive

I guess Bing Crosby had it right in his hit song “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive”. Or perhaps Johnny Mercer had it right, as he wrote the lyrics to this Harold Arlen tune and was the first to record it in October of 1944. But Bing and the Andrews Sisters recorded it again on the...

In a Nutshell: Protecting your children in a digital world, in 2017

Now that “connected” devices are ubiquitous—and not just through an easily controllable home network—parents may not know what they can do to monitor their children’s use of online media, including social media. And what about calls to and from their personal phones?...

Quick Hits: a ‘mystery donor’ to the Knights of Malta, Pope’s questionable historical references

The complicated struggle for control of the Knights of Malta has become even more mysterious, after Albrecht von Boeselager, restored to power as chancellor of the Order, spoke with the German journal Bild. The focus of the interview was a massive donation to the Knights of Malta charity, from...

Family-based catechesis for home and parish: A breakthrough

Sophia Institute has recently published the materials for the first year of a new four-year religious education program which is firmly rooted in family life. This is an important development in catechesis. As one parent put it, “I’m so happy that we’re now treating our Faith as...

Lenten listening: two new Benedictine albums of Marian chant

Lent is an ideal time to get back in touch with the Church’s patrimony of Gregorian chant (particularly for those of us who aren’t blessed to hear it regularly at Mass). The penitential season motivated me to get caught up on a couple of recent albums—both, interestingly enough,...

Vatican reform on sexual abuse has stalled

Three weeks have passed since Marie Collins resigned from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM), complaining that the group’s work has been thwarted by resistance from within the Roman Curia. A few days after her public announcement, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the...

Hope continues to bloom in Africa

You may have noticed that an African theologian has said that the issue of Communion for the divorced and remarried was settled in the negative there a long time ago: African Catholics reject Communion for divorced/remarried, theologian reports. This reminded me again of how different the...

Out of Africa: The Church’s need for living rules

When Fr. Paulinus Odozor told Crux that African Catholics had long since settled the question of Communion for the divorced and remarried, he gave us a glimpse of a younger and far more vibrant Church. It was this reality that I had in mind when I suggested the successor to Pope Francis might well...

Struggling with the saints

I was sad to see that L'Osservatore Romano has published another attack on the integrity of those who are confused by the way Pope Francis is handling marriage, divorce, annulment and Communion. Now we are being accused of dissent! I believe it is time to remind everyone of what lies at the...

Quick Hits: Happiness that endures, the message of a great cathedral, another outrage at Trinity University

In a beautiful eulogy, David Warren says that his friend Mary Scheer was “the embodiment of a happy person.” Not because there was no sadness in her life—in fact he says that she was “often dealing with circumstances that would test anyone’s strength of mind”—but because her strong faith enabled...

Let’s get this straight: Concern about Pope Francis is not rooted in dissent, but in dismay.

One wonders where Pope Francis finds the people who provide articles to L’Osservatore Romano which attack those who raise questions about his leadership. The latest is Father Salvador Pié-Ninot, who has criticized what he calls “dissent in the form of public criticism” of...

St. Patrick: the patron saint of parish closings?

(This column, written five years ago, is re-posted by popular demand.) Needless to say, there is no patron saint of parish closings. The closing of a parish is a tragedy. A parish church is more than just a building. It is a repository of memories: of the children baptized there, the happy...

... and about that St. Patrick’s Day dispensation...

Just as a footnote to yesterday’s lament about the corned-beef dispensation, let me reproduce the statement from my own bishop, which I think is fairly typical. But if you don’t mind, I’ll add my own emphasis. This year the Liturgical Memorial of St. Patrick, March 17, falls...

The dispensation is big news. The fast? Not so much

What is this week’s biggest story in the Catholic media? Corned beef. It’s not even close. Scores of American bishops have issued dispensations, allowing the faithful to eat the “traditional” corned-beef-and-cabbage tomorrow, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day....

And now, fake weather forecasts

Here on the East Coast, we were hit with a major snowstorm on Tuesday. You probably read about it, even if you live somewhere else; the forecasts were all over the national news, with predictions of a potential disaster. Then something very interesting happened. In the last hours before the...

Understanding Mercy—with pointers from the Apostolic Penitentiary

It’s one of those little things that make all the difference. Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, addressed students in a course on the internal forum following the Jubilee of Mercy. Here is the last sentence of our brief news story: Cardinal Piacenza offered...

Catholic news that speaks volumes

Before we get to several highly interesting news stories, let me highlight the intriguing connections Phil Lawler draws in his latest Quick Hits: The EU in crisis, the genocide in the Vendée, the opioid epidemic. Let me also introduce a note of literary criticism. It can be far more...

Putting your hand to the Plough, with Gerard Manley Hopkins and Dorothy Day

Plough Publishing House is a Christian publisher focused primarily on a particular subset of Christian concerns: Solidarity with the poor, non-violence, the gospel of life, and simple Christian living. While Plough has published a number of authors famous in other contexts (from C. S. Lewis to...

Abridging Herman Melville’s faith, and perhaps our own

There are benefits to giving up reading mysteries for Lent. For one thing, I finally finished a project that both Phil Lawler and Thomas Van recommended when they learned that I had never gotten around to reading Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. That was a Catholic gap I was loath to...

Quick Hits: The EU in crisis, the genocide in the Vendée, the opioid epidemic

The European Union is in trouble. The vision that guided its creation—provided mostly by men with a deeply Catholic sensibility—has been swept away by the rising tide of secularism. The economic interests of member-nations have diverged, putting strains on the alliance. EU leaders...

Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving

Arguably a good Lent involves a personal plan for the three old standbys. We need to spend more time in prayer, discipline our appetites, and increase our generosity to those in need. CatholicCulture.org cannot take food off your table, but this week we do have some advice from Fr. Jerry...

Prayer and Puppies

In preparation for the Olympics held in Greece in 2004, thousands of possibly dangerous stray dogs were poisoned. But the stray dog problem continues to this day. A few years ago during a religious pilgrimage to Greece, our tour bus was confronted with a pack of wild canines emerging from the...

A Vatican whodunnit

In Agatha Christie’s classic Murder on the Orient Express, the great detective Hercule Poirot faces an unusual challenge. There are too many suspects—too many people with obvious motives for committing the crime. That’s how I feel about the news that Archbishop Charles Brown,...

In a nutshell: Liberalism and Modernism

There are nearly as many definitions of Liberalism and Modernism as there are forms of propaganda in the wide world. As the Church uses these terms, however, they may be roughly defined as follows: Liberalism: The belief that the human person is the ultimate source of freedom and goodness,...

Cardinal Wuerl goes off

A very small number of people, whose voices have been amplified by some of the Catholic media, have challenged the integrity of Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. Thus does Cardinal Donald Wuerl begin an essay defending the papal document—and, far...

Dissent, Prayer, Hope

Lent is a time for us to reflect on our own resistance to grace, whether a reluctance to commit to greater virtue or, worse, an unwillingness to accept the teachings of the Church Christ founded for our salvation. It is in this spirit that I offer a very serious reflection on Pope Francis...

Quick Hits: Things worth fighting for—a saint’s body, a woman’s honor

Have you been following the news of the contest between the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Peoria over the remains of Archbishop Fulton Sheen? That dispute has delayed the cause for the late archbishop’s beatification, and many people find it appalling that Catholic prelates...

Pope Francis and Bernard Häring: The literally infernal cheek of dissent

During his discussions with the General Congregation of the Society of Jesus in November, Pope Francis praised the Redemptorist theologian, Fr. Bernard Häring, for being one of the first to try to revive an ailing moral theology following the Second Vatican Council. This was reported at the...

Prayers for Pope Francis—now more than ever

This week Pope Francis is on retreat, along with leaders of the Roman Curia. Because most Vatican offices will be quiet this week, while their top officials are on retreat, we can expect much less news from Rome. Meanwhile, as the Holy Father and his most important colleagues take stock of...

Church Fathers: The Lesser Alexandrians

Though Clement and Origen were by far the most important members of the School of Alexandria, a number of other associated figures from the third and early fourth centuries are worth mentioning. Their writings are only extant in fragments, if at all. Ammonius was probably a contemporary of...

Food for thought in Lent

OK, maybe the word food shouldn't be stressed during this season! This Lent is likely to be penitential in two ways: Somehow we must turn increasingly bad news about the leadership of the Church into an opportunity for self-sacrifice leading to greater union with God. This is not easy....

On the role of the Holy Spirit in papal elections

A common question among Catholics today is: “What was the Holy Spirit doing during the conclave that elected Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis?” The answer, of course, is that the Holy Spirit was doing what He is always doing, prompting all involved to cast their votes for the good of...

Quick Hits: News that demands comment on matters of life and death

The task of following news of interest to Catholics is probably safe only for bald people, who have no hair left to tear out. Here are some recent stories which cry for comment: The Pontifical Council of Death: I stole the name from one of the sources of this story, but it seems that the...

Quick Hits: A sensational story from Rome; help for insomniacs; the Americans left behind; and a special treat

Quite a variety today: enjoy! You’ll probably soon see references (if you haven’t already) to a report in the London Times with a sensational title: Anti-reform cardinals ‘want the Pope to quit’. Proceed with caution. Based entirely on a story by Vatican journalist...

This Disastrous Papacy

Something snapped last Friday, when Pope Francis used the day’s Gospel reading as one more opportunity to promote his own view on divorce and remarriage. Condemning hypocrisy and the “logic of casuistry,” the Pontiff said that Jesus rejects the approach of legal...

Lent is upon us!

I like to joke that Lent is the only liturgical season that is also a four-letter word, but it remains a great spiritual opportunity. Tomorrow, of course is Ash Wednesday. The message I've been hearing from the pulpit is that we need to have a plan. That's Jennifer Gregory Miller's...

What has Mary Magdalene to do with Arturo Sosa Abascal, SJ?

A helpful reader, who is very good at spotting our typos, has also called my attention to C. C. Pecknold’s excellent critique of the relativist slush spewed out recently by the Black Pope. You may recall that the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, was a...

News reports show impotence of papal sex-abuse commission

Talk about burying the lede! Credit the indispensable Terry Mattingly with noticing that in yesterday’s story about the Pope’s willingness to ease penalties on pedophile priests, AP put the most remarkable information in the last paragraph. So the biggest news was trimmed out of the...

Tell me more about the population explosion...

... and meanwhile I’ll call your attention to the Spanish government’s decision to appoint a “sex czar” to encourage people to make more babies. Because in Spain, as in most of the “advanced” countries of the Western world, fertility rates have dropped well...

Quick Hits: The case for rigor; the New Jansenists; Pope Benedict’s birthday strudel

On the theory that late is better than never, let me call attention to an excellent little essay by Father Gerald Murray, for The Catholic Thing, debunking the notion that some of God’s commands are “ideals” that we cannot be expected to meet. “God does not permit, let...

A resurgence of infidelity?

Today I took a close look at a serious problem in the Church which some of us are tempted to ignore. That's because the root of the problem is so unsettling. See Why is there a resurgence of infidelity among Catholic leaders? Please note that the importance of our Catholic mission is...

Why is there a resurgence of infidelity among Catholic leaders?

Earlier this week, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus stressed the need to “discern” the meaning of Christ’s teachings rather than simply accept the way Catholic doctrine states these truths. This triggered an email from an obviously same-sex attracted reader who...

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