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Toward a better pastoral vision

Today I decided to take up the frequent misuse of the term “pastoral” to justify downplaying unpopular teaching of Christ and His Church. See: The pastoral imperative—and when it becomes a sin. Some of the grist for my mill came from earlier commentaries by Phil Lawler....

The pastoral imperative—and when it becomes a sin

From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has placed great emphasis on pastoral care, often using colorful similes and metaphors, such as “the Church is a field hospital” and pastors must “get the smell of the sheep.” This is a salutary emphasis, for we are all...

About Cardinal Sarah’s caution on using an iPhone in prayer

Cardinal Sarah says that “it is not worthy” to pray the Liturgy of the Hours using a smartphone or tablet. He’s right—as he usually is—that the use of a book, dedicated to that purpose, heightens the sense of the sacred. But what’s better: saying the prayers with the help of an iPhone, or not...

Wisdom from departed cardinals: Caffarra on truth and conscience, Müller on the Roman Curia

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra died earlier this month, just days before he was scheduled to speak at a conference in Milan. But Catholic World Report has posted the full text of the address that the Italian cardinal had prepared for the occasion, and it is brilliant! Cardinal Caffarra opens by...

Father Martin and his allies: intolerance masked as a plea for tolerance

See if you recognize this rhetorical strategy: Say that the people who disagree with you are motivated by hatred. Say that they’re dangerous extremists, a threat to civil society. Say that you are interested in genuine debate, but your opponents won’t allow it. Compare your...

Looking for the Inquisition? Check the mirror.

When you see a New York Times column with the title, “Expect the Inquisition,” what you don’t expect (well, I don’t, anyway), is this sort of thoroughly reasonable analysis of arguments within the Catholic Church. Reflecting on incidents involving Josef Seifert and...

Disturbing trends?

Earlier today, Pope Francis issued a motu proprio revising the name and the purposes of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. The Institute is just thirty-six years old. This latest change may or may not be a cause for alarm, depending on whether you...

Making up for—and regretting—lost time

I spend at least some portion of most of my days doing what we call “making up for lost time.” All the things that have not quite gotten done as quickly as they should have—or worse, as quickly as I expected them to be done—claim extra hours from another day along with...

The complexity of life in Christ

It seems it should be simple to know how to act in any situation, if we are rooted in Christ. But sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. When it is simple, we often introduce our own obstacles of obscurity. Phil Lawler offers examples in Wednesday's column on trends in the...

Samuel: A spiritual and political tale of two kings, part one

There are no fewer than six books in the Old Testament which cover the period of the monarchy: The first and second books of Samuel (sometimes called the first and second books of Kings), the first and second books of Kings (called the third and fourth books of Kings when the title...

If celibacy is the cause, why do non-celibates have the problem?

In Australia, two former Catholic priests have released a report saying that the root causes of sexual abuse by Catholic priests are—the things the two ex-priests don’t like about the Catholic Church. Since what they don’t like about the Catholic Church matches what the secular media don’t like,...

Responding to Magnum Principium, to anti-Catholicism, to the Belgian brothers’ defiance

In a busy week of news, a few thoughts on: How the US bishops should respond to the motu proprio Anti-Catholicism in the Senate The Belgian brothers’ challenge to the Pope How the US bishops should respond to the motu proprio Now that the nation’s episcopal conference has primary...

Spotlight on Colombia

Since Pope Francis has just completed his apostolic journey to Colombia, we should step away from our own commentary to acquaint everyone with the Pope's points of emphasis on this trip. Before we get to his addresses, however, let me report the very good news that the Indian...

Changing the times, for the better

I am happy to call your attention to news director Phil Lawler's Next Big Thing, a project to warm every Catholic's heart. See: ‘Re-evangelizing New England’—my next campaign. Phil also offers his thoughts on the trashing of Catholicism in the American public...

‘Re-evangelizing New England’—my next campaign

“Sometimes a single encounter with what is healthy and ordinary—I use the word advisedly, with its suggestion that things are in the order that God by means of his handmaid Nature has ordained—is enough to shake you out of the bad dreams of disease and confusion.” Thus...

Previewing confusion? The Pope’s new book-length interview

On Thursday, the French edition of a new book-length interview with Pope Francis was published and available for sale on Amazon, if you have $49.95 to spend on a paperback. Catholic News Service (the news agency of the American bishops) announced and previewed the book on September 1st,...

Dogma lives loudly, but bishops are silent?

The US bishops’ conference has reacted quickly and angrily to Steve Bannon’s charge that the bishops have economic motives for supporting immigration. Good. Now can we expect an equally quick robust response to the insinuation by US Senators that a faithful Catholic cannot be...

Dangerous ideas at Google and the pain of Jordan Peterson

In June, Stephanie Gray was invited to Google HQ and gave just about the best pro-life talk I’ve heard, “Abortion: From Controversy to Civility”. Gray uses the Socratic method, drawing out the traits people admire in those who inspire them, and then showing how the traits admired...

God doesn’t need our advice

There is no servile veneration of Peter in the Gospels. Certainly, he’s first among the apostles. But he also suffers the harshest of the Lord’s rebukes. The rebuke takes place not long after Peter witnesses to the divinity of Christ and Christ responds by identifying him as the first...

Feinstein and Durbin: the only good Catholic is a bad Catholic?

Article VI of the US Constitution states: The Senators and …all executive and judicial Officers… shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United...

Preparing to live well

I suspect our lives will not get better until each of us more fully incorporates the rhythms of the Liturgical Year into our personal and family lives. (See September overview.) So let me remind you that we have just entered the second half of the long stretch of Ordinary Time which ends the...

Ruth shows family to be at the center of God’s plan

The Book of Ruth in the Old Testament is very short, only about three times the length of this little essay. It is a charming account of how Ruth, a Moabite who had married one of Naomi’s sons, accompanied her mother-in-law back to her ancestral home in Bethlehem after both her husband and...

Bearing false witness: the defining sin of our era?

Could a society have its own defining sin? My wife Leila addressed that question on her own blog recently, and as usual I think she’s right. By a “defining” sin I don’t mean to suggest that a particular society is prone to only one type of moral failing. All Ten...

Transcending the need to apologize?

This week I felt compelled to write a critique of the Church's recently-acquired habit of apologizing for alleged past sins. See Curmudgeon’s Corner: The case against Catholic apologies. Of course, one way to “transcend the need to apologize” is not offer an apology...

Quick Hits: Getting away from pathological activism and pathological art

At his Bad Catholic blog, Marc Barnes recently commented on the self-indulgence and counter-productivity of Antifa’s methods of confronting white nationalists: “If justice is ‘fun,’ you’re probably not practicing justice. If works of justice fulfill elemental...

Quick Hits: The Nashville Statement, the crisis of British monarchy, Democrats nod to pro-lifers

The Nashville Statement, released this week by a group of Evangelical leaders to affirm Biblical teachings on sexuality, has provoked an angry backlash from liberal commentators. Most notable among them is the persistent Father James Martin, who unleashed a Tweet storm in support of...

Curmudgeon’s Corner: The case against Catholic apologies

One of my very few disagreements with Pope St. John Paul II—to whom I pray each and every day—was over his introduction of the habit of formally apologizing for past failures and errors of the Catholic Church. This is a prudential question; good Catholics can disagree about it. But...

Doing what is right in our own eyes?

Today I continue my series on Sacred Scripture with a look at the book of Judges. It could hardly be more relevant: Judges: Every man did what was right in his own eyes. Yesterday, Phil Lawler extended his commentary on a point Pope Francis made recently concerning the reform of the...

Judges: Every man did what was right in his own eyes.

The Biblical book of Judges makes a remarkable point which is just as relevant today as it was before Saul established the monarchy in the eleventh century before Christ: “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg 17:6). But this may...

How an ‘irreversible’ claim might be reversed

Father Anthony Ruff, who holds forth on liturgical matters on the PrayTell blog, doesn’t often (if ever) agree with me. So it’s not surprising that Father Ruff was pleased with the Pope’s “magisterial” announcement that “the liturgical reform is...

Skeletons in Our Closets

It is fair to suggest that in time, most people have occasion to look back at their lives with regret for behavior that may rise to the level of an embarrassing “skeleton in the closet.” Robert Penn Warren, author of All the King’s Men, exploits the primordial fear of...

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