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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.

In Depth Analysis

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.

Talk to your kids about porn! by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Friday

Parents typically find it easy to talk to their young children about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, peer pressure and “stranger danger.” So why is it that so many parents are so afraid of or uncomfortable with talking about sex? It could be because sex is the most personal of all of...

Showing the Courage to battle homosexual impulses by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Thursday

For an apostolate dedicated to helping people live out the Christian virtue of chastity despite a same-sex attraction, “Courage” is a particularly apt name, for two reasons. In our sex-saturated society, it takes some courage to say that one might have sexual urges that should never be...

In other words, to be a Christian means this: by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Thursday

After reading my three part exploration of Hans Urs von Balthasar’s trenchant book, Who Is a Christian?, some have wanted a more precise explanation of how to be a truly devout Christian. Here is the best advice I can offer. The virtue of devotion is nothing other than a general...

Wanted: a balanced Catholic perspective on immigration by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Thursday

For a Christians, it seems, immigration is—or should be—a complicated issue. On the one hand, charity compels those of us who are comfortable to help those who are in need, including those who seek to escape from poverty, crime, or persecution. On the other hand, a legitimate concern...

Renewal with God before Us: Christ Determines All by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Wednesday

As I outlined previously, Hans Urs von Balthasar found the main lines of Catholic renewal sullied by various human evasions—by our pervasive eagerness to soften our goals according to human standards. It is in the third section of the book we have been discussing that he finally sets forth...

Sons of Dominic Prepare for Family Synod by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Tuesday

I was delighted to learn that a group of Dominican theologians have published a theological study of pastoral proposals aimed at those who are divorced and remarried. This sets forth, for use at the upcoming synods on the family, the clear Catholic parameters within which such proposals must be...

Dominican theologians assess proposals for divorced and remarried by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Tuesday

A group of eight Dominican theologians in the United States has released what I believe is a seminal study in preparation for the 2014 and 2015 synods on the family. The title of this important study is “Recent Proposals for the Pastoral Care of the Divorced and Remarried: A Theological...

The ‘Pope Francis effect’—changing the way the world sees the papacy by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Tuesday

A long-overdue reform of the Vatican’s media operations is still only in the planning stages, yet the “Pope Francis effect” has already become evident in the way the Vatican handles the news. Take a look at today’s statement from the Vatican Information Service (VIS),...

Renewal with God Behind Us: Man Determines All by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Monday

In the first section of Who Is a Christian?, Hans Urs von Balthasar discusses the difficult situation the Church finds herself in today (or, to be more precise, in 1983 when the book was published; for background, see the previous installment, Hans Urs von Balthasar on Renewal that Matters). He...

Introducing the Church Fathers by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - Sunday

Several years ago, CatholicCulture.org processed and made available online a set of the writings of the Fathers of the Church. In order to make our readers aware of this under-used resource, and because the Fathers are still too little known despite their importance as a font of authentic...

Straws in the Wind by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 25

Here are some pretty significant straws in the wind from the news of the last two days: ‘China’s aging millions look forward to bleak future’: Another nation learns the hard way that openness to life is a key to socioeconomic health.Vatican plans to clarify language of canon law regarding abuse...

Hans Urs von Balthasar on Renewal that Matters by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jul 25

The brilliant Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905 – 1988) was for a long time a controversial figure. Perhaps in some circles he still is. During his formation and education as a Jesuit, von Balthasar encountered Henri de Lubac and Jean Daniélou, and so found himself drawn...

Wrongheaded diocesan legal defenses in abuse cases by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 24

A Missouri judge observes that when the Kansas City diocese suggests that it might want to reconsider an agreement with sex-abuse victims, it “sends a bad message.” It sure does. Yet it’s a message that Church leaders keep sending. In Minnesota, another judge rejected a...

New HHS Mandate must truly eliminate complicity by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jul 23

It will be interesting to see what the White House comes up with next, now that the HHS Contraceptive Mandate in its present form has been shot down. The most likely outcome would be a proposal which keeps contraceptive, abortifacient and sterilizing procedures covered by medical insurance without...

Self-Esteem: Beyond Pop Psychology by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - Jul 23

There are words and concepts in certain disciplines – philosophy, theology and psychology come to mind – which, as they enter the popular lexicon and become operative in daily life, lose their power to illuminate and require immediate clarification in order to retain their...

Government Crackdowns on God and Nature by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 22

The big news here in the States is President Barack Obama's addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to the non-discrimination rules governing the American government and its contracts. The USCCB has protested vehemently: USCCB decries Obama’s LGBT executive order as ‘unprecedented...

A legislative mockery: Massachusetts lawmakers rush to replace unconstitutional 'buffer zone' bill by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 22

You might think that, when a state law is struck down as unconstitutional, by a 9-0 decision of the US Supreme Court, the legislators who passed that law would feel chastened. Not in Massachusetts. Reacting with almost comical haste to the unanimous Supreme Court decision that overturned a...

Gay and Transgendered: What Comes Next? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jul 22

In 1965, Lyndon Johnson prohibited Federal discrimination in hiring based on race, religion, gender and nationality. President Obama’s latest executive order amends that to include sexual orientation and gender identity. In 1969, Richard Nixon prohibited any sort of discrimination in Federal...

Obama's executive order and the danger of reliance on federal contracts by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jul 22

Just as American Catholic bishops were volunteering to help President Obama—by handling the thousands of children from Central America who are entering the US illegally—the White House has announced that the President doesn’t want help from the Catholic Church. How else should...

May God Bless our Readers! by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 18

Today is the last day of my vacation. My wife and I will be driving home from Maine to Virginia over the weekend. I'll be back at my desk next week, and will resume the normal Insights messages on Tuesday. May God bless you for your interest in and support of CatholicCulture.org! Jeff...

What's Wrong with the Pope's latest interview? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 15

I'm on vacation at the moment, in a small "camp" on the shore of Moosehead Lake in Maine. I've got WiFi (of course), but I'm also doing only absolutely necessary work for this one week. So this Tuesday message will be abbreviated. There is, of course, a brouhaha over Pope Francis' second...

What was wrong with the Pope's latest interview? A lot. by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jul 15

In the messy aftermath of yet another papal interview, how shall I explain what went wrong? There were so many different problems, it’s hard to know where to begin. One might start with the odd habits of Eugenio Scalfari, the veteran Italian journalist who has now had three such sessions...

Fool me once... by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 14

Back in October a 90-year-old Italian journalist published an “interview” in which he published some provocative quotations from Pope Francis. Only later did we learn that he hadn’t taken notes, and the “quotations” were reconstructed from his own memory of the...

Crowdfunding can change lives by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Jul 11

A professor at Christendom College has started an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to pay for psychological counseling for students who cannot afford it. The campaign, which has reached a third of its monetary goal with 34 days remaining, will provide a $1,500 course of treatment for two...

The Seal of Confession Defended by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 11

From a spiritual point of view, I would say one of the most important documents this week is the official Catholic response to the Louisiana Supreme Court's effort to crack the privacy of the Sacrament of Penance: Official Statement of the Diocese of Baton Rouge Regarding Order for Priest to Break...

The 'papal World Cup rivalry' story has now jumped the shark by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 11

“World Cup final pits Pope Francis versus retired Pope Benedict,” shouts the headline on the CBC site. Hmm. A 77-year-old man with a limp against an 87-year-old man with a cane. Playing soccer. No offense to either Pontiff, but if that’s what they’re showing on TV this Sunday, I think I’ll...

Living the Faith prescriptively by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jul 11

In yesterday’s On the Culture essay (Preoccupation with salvation inhibits love), I talk about the problems of living the Faith prescriptively, as a series of tricky external requirements, the fulfillment of which guarantees salvation. In response, koinonia raised a point in Sound off! which...

Preoccupation with salvation inhibits love by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jul 10

Our Lord spoke about eternal salvation. I do not mean to say that He didn’t. “Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus told Zachaeus (Lk 19:9). To the woman who washed his feet with her tears, he said, “Your faith has saved you” (Lk 7:50). As the Good Shepherd,...

Hot (news) flash: the Pill suppresses fertility by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 10

Something’s seriously wrong with the headline on this story: Birth control pills may damage women’s fertility, experts say If you take blood-pressure pills, and find that your blood pressure is lower, you aren’t upset, are you? I mean, the purpose of blood-pressure pills is to suppress blood...

Catching up on summer reading by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 10

A flood of important recent news stories, many of them calling for some careful analysis, has left me with little extra time in the past week or two. So instead of commenting on some of the thought-provoking articles that I have found on other sites, I have set them aside for future notice. Now...

Lay theologians on board? Two applications of the sensus fidei by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jul 9

In yesterday’s In Depth Analysis on the new document from the International Theological Commission (The ITC’s compelling exploration of the sensus fidei—the sense of faith), I focused mostly on what is required for a member of Christ’s faithful to participate effectively in...

Will the next benchmark case be Supreme Court v. reality? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jul 8

"Let me be absolutely clear," wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in her vigorous dissent from the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Wheaton College case. “I do not doubt that Wheaton genuinely believes that signing the self-certification form is contrary to its religious beliefs....

The Catholic's Sense of the Faith by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 8

The Church's International Theological Commission has published enlightening studies on many questions. The latest is an exploration of the sensus fidei (sense of the faith) which enables the baptized to perceive what pertains to the faith of the Church. For my commentary on this interesting...

The ITC’s compelling exploration of the sensus fidei—the sense of faith by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jul 8

The International Theological Commission has just issued a study of “the sense of the Faith”—Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church. The Commission, composed of up to thirty of the best theologians from around the world, each with a five-year term, was established by Pope Paul VI...

Image Journal: Reconciling Faith and Imagination by Thomas Van in "On the Culture" - Jul 7

My favorite thing about Pope Francis, from day one, has been his insistence that Catholicism cannot be reduced to an ideology or a moral program. The chief reason for this is that such a reduction leads us to neglect the person of Jesus Christ. But there is another, related way in which...

Reading Scripture with St. Augustine: A Return to God by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jul 7

There are all kinds of reasons for reading Scripture. These vary from person to person, culture to culture, age to age. But for the Fathers of the Church in general, the purpose of reading and meditating on Scripture was (as I mentioned in Augustine’s two rules for reading the Bible) to find...

Today America Needs Evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 4

Given that the United States celebrates its founding today, we at CatholicCulture.org are enjoying what amounts to a partial holiday. We want to join in the fellowship of family and friends, but this is not a religious feast! Now me, I am sitting on the side of Lake Champlain, wondering when...

Independence Day: No future without evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jul 4

If you are a reflective American, I’d imagine you find it hard to observe Independence Day. It is simply too hard to avoid this question: “Independence from what?” At one time, the answer was political and the question referred to Britain. Today, the answer is fundamentally...

The war(s) on women by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 4

So I guess all Americans face a choice. If you're not prepared to wage all-out war on women's reproductive powers, you're engaged in a war on women. By the same logic, if you learn that a certain pesticide prevents trees from bearing fruit, and you urge the government not to...

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