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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.

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Extended commentary and thoughtful Catholic essays on complex topics.

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Brief, off-the-cuff, and sometimes light-hearted Catholic commentary, observations and announcements.

The gift of orthodoxy: A mercy and a challenge to mercy by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Wednesday

It is said that even the Devil is orthodox. I have used this expression myself, and it can be very effective. It is a convenient way to emphasize that orthodoxy does not guarantee the love of God and neighbor which Our Lord identified as the very foundation of the Christian life. So it is a useful...

Getting Marriage Right by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Tuesday

With $8,700 left to match of our $45K Challenge Grant, we have much to be thankful for. But we do need a final burst to win the entire grant. If you haven't yet, please do support us now while it will count twice! I see this week that marriage is back in the news. Phil Lawler gives an...

O Earthly Lord, vouchsafe to us high speed Internet. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Tuesday

Ah, the glories of calling for government expenditures! It seems two USCCB committee chairmen have endorsed a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission for the United States to spend $1.5 billion more per year to ensure that all schools have high speed Internet access. Of course,...

No 'Francis effect' in Strasbourg by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Tuesday

Jean-Marie Guénois, the religion correspondent for Le Figaro (and an old friend), has tweeted several perceptive observations about the Pope’s visit to Strasbourg today. Guénois has been a member of the Vatican press corps for more than 20 years, and been aboard the papal plane for more than 50...

What Pope Francis told European Parliament, and what Pope John Paul II said by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Tuesday

If you are convinced the Pope Francis has made a radical break from the policies and pronouncements of his predecessors, I have two challenges for you: First, read the text of the Holy Father’s address to the European Parliament and pick out a sentence (other than the time-sensitive...

Public perception demands a way of mercy by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Monday

In last week’s discussion (It is a failure of mercy to deny sin), I explained how the love and mercy of God are undermined by human efforts to be “nice”. This frequently takes the form of denying or minimizing sins in accordance with the spirit of the times, which obscures our...

A suggestion for First Things: separate civil divorce from Christian marriage by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Monday

First Things is a journal with a proud tradition of fostering intellectual debate. (Remember when the late Father Neuhaus hosted a symposium on the question of whether the US government had lost its legitimacy?) Now a new editor, R.R. Reno, has stirred things up again by publishing, and strongly...

Art and theology, beauty and truth, work together in the New Evangelization by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 21

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” But the poet Keats is wrong; that is not all we need to know in life. In an unusual and rewarding new book, Father Robert Imbelli guides readers along the path of beauty toward the realization that all truth, all beauty, and all goodness reflects the...

Anatomy of Conversion by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Nov 21

In a message yesterday, I listed thirteen testimonials to our work from priests, sisters and lay Catholic leaders around the world. I was trying to complete the task of matching our $45,000 Challenge Grant. However, that email was met with what we might loosely call a resounding yawn. (OK, so...

Anatomy of Conversion by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Nov 21

Each person is drawn to God in slightly different ways. There are probably as many “motives of credibility” in the Catholic Church as there are personality types. But as I mentioned yesterday (see It is a failure of mercy to deny sin), most conversion stories turn on a moment when the...

It is a failure of mercy to deny sin by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Nov 20

Previously, I promised to explore how we too often obscure the life-changing mercy of the Gospel, despite our best intentions (see Light of the World: Morality vital, but mercy first). We will discover very quickly that this failure usually arises from our own complacency—our refusal to...

Yesterday's news, tomorrow by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 20

“The Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops will meet on 18 and 19 November…” Thus opens an announcement issued by the Vatican Information Service today—which is November 20. It’s standard operating procedure for Vatican officials to hold a press conference to...

Light of the World: Morality vital, but mercy first by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Nov 19

I doubt anyone has forgotten the famous words of Pope Francis in his premier interview with Antonio Spadaro, SJ of La Civiltá Cattolica back in September of 2013. Many were struck especially by this comment: We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of...

Nuances of Leadership by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Nov 18

Once again, let me begin by asking your continued support of our key effort to match our Challenge Grant. We have just $14,000 left to match by the end of the month! If you have not yet done so, please donate while it will count twice. Moving on, many have said that Pope Francis' homilies...

American influence at the Vatican and in the Synod by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 18

With the departure of Cardinal Burke from this role as head of the Apostolic Signatura, there is now not a single US prelate in a leadership position in the Roman Curia. Nor is there an American holding the #2 spot in any Vatican congregation or pontifical council (although Archbishop Augustine...

Advent-Christmas Ebook Released by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Nov 18

The Advent and Christmas ebook volume for the 2014-2015 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This is the first volume of the coming new liturgical year, which begins on November 30th, the First Sunday in Advent. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following...

Standing against the culture: Pope Francis, since Friday, on life, marriage and the Gospel by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Nov 17

1. On Human Life: To Association of Italian Catholic Doctors, November 14. The dominant thinking sometimes suggests a "false compassion", believing that it is: helpful to women to promote abortion; an act of dignity to obtain euthanasia; a scientific breakthrough to...

This year's best interview with an American cardinal by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 17

No, I don’t mean the troubling “60 Minutes” interview with Cardinal O’Malley. About that, the less said, the better. If you’re interested in a wide-ranging interview with an influential American cardinal who actually speaks his mind (and if you don’t want to be interrupted by commercials for...

The Foundation of Prayer for Priests by Thomas Van in "On the Culture" - Nov 17

In 2007, in light of increasing attacks on the priesthood from within and without, and particularly after the scandals that had done such damage to the Church, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy saw the need to begin a global movement of prayer for priests. To that end, the...

Chastity and Catholicism by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Nov 14

With just over $22,000 left to match in our Challenge Grant, we have passed the halfway point! If you haven't yet, please donate any amount while it will be doubled! In our top commentary this week, Phil Lawler explains Why Cardinal Burke cannot lead a 'loyal opposition'. It is important to...

Replacing problems with persons: Eve Tushnet’s new book, Gay and Catholic by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Nov 14

Over the last three days I’ve read Eve Tushnet’s remarkable book, Gay and Catholic. Tushnet, who is now in her mid-30s, realized that she was “gay” in middle school, admitted it to herself at age thirteen, and told her parents shortly thereafter. But while in college she...

Adding Trust to your Christmas list by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Nov 13

For those who love the Church's revived emphasis on Divine mercy, a beautiful and touching Christmas gift would be the new coffee table book on St. Faustina, simply entitled Trust. Anyone familiar with the enormously popular Divine Mercy Chaplet will understand the importance of St. Faustina...

An American martyr, overdue for recognition by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 13

Exactly twelve years have passed since the brutal slaying of Mary Stachowicz. Seven years have passed since I suggested the opening of a formal cause for her beatification. My own opinion doesn’t count for much, but Bishop Thomas Paprocki (who knew her well) agrees that “she died...

How many devils can dance on a pinhead? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Nov 12

Though permission was granted on our comment form, simple charity demands that I withhold the name of the reader who submitted the following email in response to this story from November 4th: New York bishop bans travel to west Africa, citing Ebola threat. See if you can count the number of...

Another Significant Vatican Reform by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Nov 11

With the deadline for our Challenge Grant on December 1st, we definitely need to step up the pace. We have $25,000 left to match. If you haven't yet, please contribute now while your gift will count twice! You'll recall that one reason Pope Emeritus Benedict resigned was that his strength...

Why Cardinal Burke cannot lead a 'loyal opposition' by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Nov 11

In the quiet little New England town where we live, we’ve just been through an unusually contentious local election. The aftermath has reminded me of an important lesson that I learned years ago. When the votes were counted in our local contests, one losing candidate issued a gracious statement...

Helping troubled marriages; making good marriages stronger by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Nov 11

With Pope Francis and the recent Synod of Bishops attempting to place marriage and the family at the heart of evangelization, it is an excellent time to consider the ways in which we can strengthen and protect our marriages against the stresses, misunderstandings and conflicts that tend to break...

Catholicism, evolution and young earth creationism by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Nov 10

Pope Francis’s recent remarks that evolution and Catholicism are compatible caused great deal of excitement in the secular media. While this compatibility will come as no surprise to educated Catholics, it is not the same as saying that Catholics cannot be creationists. However, in an...

New Vatican Policies by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Nov 7

Once again, necessity forces me to beg you to support our Fall Campaign, if you haven't yet: We have almost $28,000 left to match, so your gift will count twice. Today Phil Lawler explains the significance of the new Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, under Cardinal George Pell. See New...

New economic standards: Pope Francis' most important reform? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Nov 7

Don’t look now, but the most important reform of this pontificate may have been introduced this week. Did you notice? Many nervous Catholics are still discussing the fallout from the October meeting of the Synod of Bishops, worrying that when the Synod meets again next year, there could...

Catholic controversy and serenity of faith by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Nov 7

We have just gone through a month or so of rather heated controversy in the Church, primarily surrounding the Synod of Bishops. This was amply reflected in our writings and discussions here. Sometimes tensions ran high. In some quarters they are still running high. For example, in the last...

Conservative prelates needn’t panic by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Nov 7

I have my own take on the question of whether Pope Francis is purging conservative prelates, and it may be useful to suspend my dislike of the terms “conservative” and “liberal” as Catholic descriptors just long enough to make my point. In the recent controversy over the...

Bergoglio’s List: Pope Francis and political oppression in Argentina by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Nov 6

Within hours of the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the papacy, the world press began to retail stories that Fr. Bergoglio may have been complicit in serious human rights violations under the military regime which ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1983. This innuendo was based primarily on...

Is the Pope purging conservatives? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 5

“Does Pope Francis have an enemies list?” That’s the eye-catching headline on John Allen’s column for the Crux site. Allen notes that three bishops have recently placed under scrutiny by the Vatican: Bishops Rogelio Livieres Plano in Paraguay, Mario Oliveri in Italy, and Robert Finn in Kansas...

Radio silence? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 5

Don’t you immediately see the problem with this headline from St. Louis Public Radio? Priest Silenced By Vatican Shares His Story If Father Tony Flannery is “sharing his story” on the air, he isn’t being silent, is he? As a matter of fact, if the Irish priest is traveling across the ocean...

Three Catholic thinkers on 'the rules' of art by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Nov 5

1. G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man: There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds. 2. Étienne Gilson, Forms and Substances in the Arts: Everything can legitimately be tried, given up, revived, varied, adorned or stripped of its adornments, for in...

Two bishops take on the SSPX by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Nov 4

I hate to have to emphasize this so much, but I have no choice. We still have $30,000 to go to match our Challenge Grant by the end of November. If each person who receives these messages could contribute just $5, we would easily solve this problem. Of course not everyone can help. If you...

Episcopal action on the SSPX: A basic strategy for unity by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Nov 4

In the past few days, two bishops have been reported as announcing the excommunication of Catholics who attend Masses offered by priests of the Society of St. Pius X. First we heard from Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy, who reaffirmed the policy of his predecessor. Today there are...

Emphasis on the wrong syllable by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Nov 3

Every time a son or daughter of the Church criticizes a priest’s contradiction of Church teaching from the pulpit, for example, or rejects a self-proclaimed Catholic politician who supports abortion, “liberal” Catholics rally around and emphasize that such persons are wonderfully...

Yet another revealing 'error' in a Vatican translation by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 3

Surprise, surprise! When the Vatican finally released an English-language version of the final report from the Synod, the translation contained at least one blatant omission. And I bet you can’t guess what effect this “error” will have on readers’ understanding. Credit...

Standing 'gradualism' on its head by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 3

Father Frank Brennan, an Australian Jesuit who is currently teaching at Boston College Law School, is disappointed with the final document from the Synod. He was hoping for more dramatic changes. So he writes: For the moment, I would not see much pastoral point in sharing this document with...

Putting Our Best Foot Forward by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Oct 31

The Vatican made the English text available yesterday of the final statement of the recent Synod of Bishops: Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization. Such texts are not intended to be world-shaking events, but skimming over this one will give a more accurate...

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Recent Catholic Commentary

The gift of orthodoxy: A mercy and a challenge to mercy November 26
Getting Marriage Right November 25
O Earthly Lord, vouchsafe to us high speed Internet. November 25
No 'Francis effect' in Strasbourg November 25
What Pope Francis told European Parliament, and what Pope John Paul II said November 25

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