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

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Commentary and reflection on Catholic life and ideas.

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Analysis of news events and trends.

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Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

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Book and media reviews.

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Celebrates positive work by Catholic individuals and organizations.

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The Reason for Human Reason

There is no contradiction between faith and reason, faith and science. Both share the same Author. Without contradiction, faith grasps truths that are beyond the reach of science. There can be no earthly scientific proof of the Resurrection of Jesus, for example, just as there can be no...

The Vatican auditor resigns—another crushing blow for financial reform

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to follow the sequence of events leading up to the resignation of the Vatican’s auditor general Libero Milone. In May, Milone and Cardinal George Pell co-signed a letter to Vatican officials, telling them that they need not comply with a directive from the...

The sins of the Church?

Grappling with the alleged “sins of the Church” is very difficult. Too often no distinction is made between the Church as body and bride of Christ and the Church as represented by her individual members, all of whom are sinners. Keep this in mind as you read Phil...

Quick Hits: Lay involvement in choosing bishop? Assisted suicide vs. manslaughter; A political prediction

As a chaotic week (for me, at least) comes to a close, forgive me if my thoughts are a bit disconnected. But: The word from Rome is that Pope Francis wants lay Catholics to be involved in the process of choosing new bishops. But which lay Catholics would be invited to take part in the...

No, not every lifestyle is sinful

“Pretty much everyone’s lifestyle is sinful,” Father James Martin told the New York Times. That statement is outrageous. In a sane world, Father Martin’s Jesuit superiors would order him to apologize. We are all sinners; we are all sinful. But we are not all engaged...

The persistent influence of Cardinal Sodano

At the ripe old age of 94, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray—the 3rd-oldest living cardinal—has finally been replaced as vice-dean of the College of Cardinals. But Cardinal Angelo Sodano, whose own 90th birthday is coming in November, continues in his role as dean. The vice-dean of the...

A request to the priest-homilist

If you find yourself using the phrase “in a very special way” during your homily, please stop and ask yourself whether it might be better to explain what’s so “special,” and why. If you find yourself saying “in a very special way” twice during your...

Questions affecting Catholic renewal

Announcement: I'll be visiting family between June 13th and June 26th, so I'll be on a seriously reduced work schedule. I will probably send only one Insights message each of the next two weeks. Today, however, I took up a vexing question in the Church's efforts to address...

Quick Hits: Biochemistry of sex, native martyrs, music & film

There is so much we don’t know about our own bodies, and none of it gets taught in sex ed. For example: A man gets vasopressin, a bonding hormone, when he has sex with a woman. This is not up to him; whether he thinks it is no-strings sex or not, he is now hormonally bonded to that...

The Catch-22 of Christian witness by those who are same-sex attracted

We ought not to kid ourselves about the difficulties same-sex attracted people face in bearing witness to the positive ways they have found to deal with their temptations, including the help they have received from their Lord and Savior and His Church. This issue is coming to the fore as Catholic...

The (not so) secret formula for attracting men to the priesthood

Are you surprised by today’s report that 69% of the American men being ordained to the priesthood this year had made a habit of praying the Rosary before entering the seminary? Or are you, like me, surprised that apparently 31% had not? For any Catholic with a devotion to Our Lady, the...

One year later: still waiting for the Vatican policy on negligent bishops

The short piece that appears below was originally posted on this site one year ago: on June 6, 2016. The references are now dated (when I refer to “last June,” for instance, it’s now the June before last; and the motu proprio now more than year old), but the logic still holds....

Quick Hits: Coming to Cardinal Pell’s defense, Still waiting for Vatican reform

Cardinal George Pell, the prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, is suffering through an extended trial-by-media in his native Australia, and a few fair-minded observers recognize that the process has become grotesque. Amanda Vanstone—who has quarreled with the...

Called and gifted for glory

Over the weekend I found myself surprised by a message I found very close to the beginning of the Old Testament. See: Called and gifted for glory: An unlikely lesson from Exodus? Interestingly, Pope Francis has been sounding a similar theme, especially in his addresses to participants...

Called and gifted for glory: An unlikely lesson from Exodus?

When we read Scripture repeatedly, we almost always find something spiritually significant that we had not noticed before. The Holy Spirit enlightens us in different ways at different times. Over the past few days I’ve had this experience with the Book of Exodus. The first thing I noticed...

The closing of the Catholic mind

In How conservative ideas are censored, and how to break that barrier, Phil Lawler explains the need to escape mere politics and put more energy into education and culture. Catholic ideas cover a broader range, but most often they are rejected as well. Worse, they are too often drowned out from...

Don’t worry: The Black Pope is just a symbol of the zeitgeist.

I have added the head of the Society of Jesus to my list of alleged persons who cannot possibly be real. It was not enough that Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal insisted in February that we must discern the meaning of Christ’s teachings for ourselves, and that the Holy Spirit might lead us to an...

How conservative ideas are censored, and how to break that barrier

Back in the 1980s, a young staff member at a Christian public-interest group in Washington created a bit of a sensation during a television appearance. I’m sorry that I don’t recall the details—the names and the places—but the general outline of the incident remains clear...

The YOUCAT Bible: A Fresh Overview of the Word of God

The YOUCAT Foundation has published another outstanding reference for Catholic young people. Having released question-and-answer versions of both the Catechism (2011) and Catholic social teaching (2016), the Foundation has now issued what it calls the “youth Bible of the Catholic...

The Pope’s enigmatic words on resignation

In his homily at Mass on Wednesday morning, commenting on St. Paul’s farewell to the Church at Ephesus, Pope Francis said: A shepherd must be ready to step down completely from his church, rather than leave in a partial manner…. All shepherds have to step down. There comes a...

Back at my desk, in a terrible rush...

It is 6:30 pm, I'm being called for dinner, and I've barely had time to catch up on the things that piled up while I was away for the Memorial Day weekend. Who hasn't been in this situation? So, with apologies for brevity, I will have to take the easy way out, and simply list the...

A new legalism denies the moral content of moral rules.

Guess what? The dismissal of moral norms is a modern form of legalism. This point was made brilliantly last week by Russell Shaw writing in the Arlington Catholic Herald: The old legalism is a morality of young children, for whom being good means doing what parents and other authority figures...

When parochial schools make a policy to accept ‘transgender’ students

“Wherever possible, enrollment is the goal.” That’s the principle that guides a proposed policy in the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri for deciding whether students from “non-traditional families” (that euphemism covers same-sex and cohabiting couples) should attend parish schools. A cynic...

Quick Hits: Francis & Kasper vs. Ratzinger/Benedict; finding harmony in 20th-century music

The fear that Pope Francis is deliberately trying to undo the work of his predecessors, and particularly the work of Benedict XVI, is an increasingly common theme for Catholic writers. Matthew Schmitz made an important contribution to that body of analysis last week with his short essay,...

When the Pope’s silence speaks clearly

Last Friday I remarked that John Allen had provided us with a very interesting way to measure the intentions of Pope Francis. The results are now in. Allen observed (near the end of a column mostly devoted to Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti) that during his May 27 visit to Genoa, the Pontiff would...

Quick Hits: reading the Pope’s intentions; censored PP video; packing College of Cardinals

At Crux, John Allen has a profile of Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, the new president of the Italian bishops’ conference. That’s interesting enough in itself, but Allen adds a good deal of spice by explaining how, on his visit to Genoa this weekend, Pope Francis “may accent the...

Ebook for Ordinary Time after Easter Released

We have just released the fifth volume in the 2016-2017 Liturgical Year series of ebooks. Volume five covers the first half of the long stretch of Ordinary Time between the close of the Easter Season on Pentecost and the beginning of Advent. Like all CatholicCulture.org ebooks, this volume is...

Freak Shows

It seems age brings an increase in flashbacks to childhood. My most recent childhood memory was that of the annual county fair during the hot and humid days of August, just before the beginning of the new school year. It was a favorite time: walking through the barns, checking out the champion...

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