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

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On sex abuse, the Vatican still sends badly mixed signals

The New York Times notes that on the very day when he apologized to Chileans for the Church’s handling of the sex-abuse scandal, Pope Francis concelebrated Mass with Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, who was named by the Pope to head the Osorno diocese despite complaints about his long...

Demoting papal controversy?

I am considering reducing emphasis on controversial news and commentary about Pope Francis by placing it nearer to the end of these messages. Like Cicero, who often began a speech by saying “There is no need for anyone to tell you” about whomever he was about to skewer, I think...

Born That Way

We might imagine Ebenezer Scrooge settling down after the spooking he received over Christmas. He’s benign, no longer is indifferent to injustice. He continues to be frugal, but he’s no longer greedy. He has become a man of justice but does not go beyond the basic demands of justice....

Tobit and Tobias? Their lives are just like ours!

At first glance, the Book of Tobit is one of the most charming and even fanciful in the Old Testament. Tobit, along with Judith and Esther, are known only through the Greek Bible. They were used and regarded as canonical by the earliest Christians and by the Church herself. Commentators often...

The Amoris debate: Is it really a matter of confusion? (Part II)

Last week in this space I argued that Amoris Laetitia definitely has caused confusion (claims to the contrary notwithstanding), and that actually to call the situation “confusing” should be recognized as a display of respect for the Pope’s authority. In closing that short...

The ‘hands-on’ Pontiff, and what that implies

In an interesting Crux column, John Allen argues that Pope Francis is a remarkably “hands-on” Pontiff, who keeps himself extremely well informed about what is happening in the universal Church and especially inside the Vatican walls. To illustrate his point, Allen cites a revealing story about a...

Pontifical Academy for...Life?

Sadly, Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia is very much in the news again. A new appointee to the Pontifical Academy for Life has now asserted, based on arguments in that Exhortation, that not only is artificial contraception within marriage not immoral in all cases, but in...

The Amoris debate: Is it really a matter of confusion? (Part I)

Critics of Amoris Laetitia say that it is confusing. Defenders of the papal document say that there is no cause for confusion. This state of affairs is, I’m sorry to say, confusing. Stepping back from the substance of this particular controversy, let’s take a few minutes to examine...

Slip-sliding along on contraception (or a poetic homage to Fr. Maurizio Chiodi)

Contraception sometimes morally required, argues member of Pontifical Academy for Life —news from January 10, 2018   Reflections on Genesis 3:5 I went to confession in ‘52; the priest asked, “What’s the matter with you? Catholics know that God...

Making movies and houses: Apostolic work you should know about

There are many great things that lie beyond the usual scope of CatholicCulture.org. Let me stretch a little to call attention to two of them here. Making Movies with St. Michael A request to make the work of St. Michael Movies better known has been in my In Box for far longer than I care to...

Praise and Blame

Recent developments have once again raised the question of when to praise and when to blame Church leaders. A perfect case involves nearly 2,000 converts from Islam who took exception to Pope Francis’ constant positive portrayals of that religion. Pope Francis routinely insists that...

The priorities of Catholic leadership today, and how they must influence praise and blame

A reader raised a thorny problem the other day: Since there is good reason to criticize many things that Pope Francis says in order to dispel confusion and avoid spiritual discouragement, is it also right and proper to praise Pope Francis when he says or does something very good? The reader had in...

The best books we read in 2017

Dr. Jeff Mirus, Phil Lawler and I thought it would be fun to do a review of our favorite reading of 2017. This doesn’t only include the specifically Catholic material we would ordinarily cover for this site, but also reflects our broader range of interests that our readers might not be aware...

Economics, religion and culture: how Luther failed, again

Though I am no longer a libertarian philosophically (having followed a similar path to Edward Feser), most of my past political reading has been from that camp. I am still in some respects a sympathizer, particularly in the realm of economic theory. Just for that reason, I found it helpful to get...

Quick Hits: the Pope’s mysterious ties with the Jesuits; inching toward ad orientem

Naturally it caught my attention that Sandro Magister of L’Espresso began his latest column with a reference to my book, Lost Shepherd, which will be on the bookstore shelves late in February. Magister notes that the book is “making a stir” even before its appearance. But the...

Liturgical Year Volume 2 Released: Ordinary Time before Lent

The second volume of our ebook series for the 2017-2018 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 9th through February 13th. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following...

ALERT: Fix your PCs and phones

Epiphany is this Sunday, and you should bless your home. But instead of a normal Insights message today, I am writing to help protect you in a different way. There are newly-discovered design flaws in the computer chips you use every day. Everyone who uses CatholicCulture.org depends on...

Christmas: Not Over Yet!

The Christmas Season lasts through the Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord (on January 8th). Since we shouldn't waste it, here's help: First, Fr. Jerry Pokorsky trims the hills and fills the valleys with his latest homiletic essay,...

What I learned from the Bible on Christmas (or “Why was Zechariah struck dumb?”)

This year I decided to reread the infancy narratives each day during the Octave of Christmas. I included for this purpose Mt 1:1–2:18; Lk 1:5–2:40; and (abnormally) Jn 1:1-18. (Mark, incidentally, says nothing about Our Lord’s birth.) Surprisingly, by doing this I learned...

Expecting Perfection

It’s a charming to consider that Jesus, like any son, carried the physical characteristics of his mother as well as some of her —and Joseph’s—mannerisms. The Incarnation is so wonderfully human, encouraging us to approach Him without fear. As we consider the beauty of the...

A prayer for Europe

In the Memoriale of St. Pierre Favre, I recently came across the passage below. The great Jesuit saint (considered by St. Ignatius himself to be the best director for the Spiritual Exercises) was apparently writing about the people of Speyer, having just left that city for a new assignment. But he...

Cardinal Maradiaga’s explanation does not compute

A Catholic university in Honduras has been sending $40,000 or more monthly to Cardinal Maradiaga, who chairs the Council of Cardinals. Hmmm. Don’t worry; the archdiocese explains; the funds were not intended for the cardinal’s personal use; they were for the general needs of the...

The Francis effect?

How popular is Pope Francis? With the public? With bishops and priests? With young seminarians? Ask different people, and you’ll get different answers. It’s hard to gain an accurate reading. But here’s a remarkably revealing clue, nearly hidden in a feel-good story about an...

Another topless demonstration for women’s dignity?

Are you puzzled by the women who run around topless in public, saying that they are doing it to promote the cause of women's dignity? Let's try to understand. If a woman, normally dressed, tried to steal the Baby-Jesus figure from the crèche in St. Peter's Square, what would you think of her. Be...

Mixed message? No, sin and redemption!

Today we will have to have enough joy in our hearts to weather a few Vatican storms—but then you will be rid of me. During Christmas week, our staff will be on a reduced schedule, and there will be no Insights messages. But let's start on a positive note. I'd like to...

A preview of the next big scandal?

Eighteen months have passed since I predicted that the next Vatican scandal would involve financial affairs. Is this it? Too soon to tell. But it’s coming. Pope Francis reportedly learned in May about Cardinal Maradiaga’s high-flying financial affairs. Also in May, the...

Encountering the Heart of Jesus, Now

In her Liturgical Year commentary on Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Jennifer Gregory Miller identified Tim O’Donnell’s Heart of the Redeemer as “one of the best books” on the subject—as indeed it is. That’s why Trinity Communications published the book...

Cardinal Bernard Law, RIP: seeking a balanced perspective

The late Cardinal Bernard Law was not the ogre that his many detractors make him out to be. It is appalling to see abuse victims celebrating his death and cursing his memory, with the gleeful encouragement of the Boston media. Nor was he the stalwart Church leader his remaining defenders would...

Vatican enforcement: Why does the Church lack teeth?

It’s just not the thing. It just isn’t done. The Catholic Church does not enforce its own laws. This is, of course, the mark of a very badly run institution. It isn’t clear to anyone in the Church—priest or layman, bishop or religious, cardinal or deacon—what it...

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