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Why Be Catholic? 2: Freedom

Among the great issues addressed by Christianity, two generally strike each of us as more than merely academic. These are the issues of suffering and freedom, which touch us so very personally. Many would give the issue of suffering the first place. After all, suffering is a profound riddle...

Renewal in Ordinary Time

I'll be away from my desk from now until July 13th. Part of that time will be spent in Rome visiting my oldest son's family, and—God willing—passing through the Holy Door. During this time, these Insights messages will be irregular. It is also inescapable that I will be...

Why Be Catholic? 1: Revelation

There are plenty of reasons to be a Catholic, and the mix of motivations can have as many variations as there are people. For me, however, the very first reason that comes to mind is that Catholicism is the only religion in the entire world that has a logical and consistent approach to the problem...

Episcopal conflict, in public

As Phil Lawler points out today, it is both good and remarkable that Archbishop Wenski of Miami has publicly taken Bishop Lynch of St. Petersburg to task for blaming the Catholic Faith for the Orlando massacre in a gay bar: Archbishop Wenski delivers a deserved rebuke to a fellow bishop. Phil...

Archbishop Wenski delivers a deserved rebuke to a fellow bishop

When a priest criticizes a bishop by name, that's unusual. But when one American bishop criticizes another, in a public statement, that's nearly unprecedented.  Writing for Catholic World Report, Father Mark Pilon has explained why Bishop Lynch should be forced to resign his...

Chastity and the natural thirst for happiness: A follow-up

In response to the sixth part of my series on Gender Ideology—Gender Ideology 6: The common denominator of chastity—one reader posted a Sound Off! comment that raised interesting questions: Without a concrete description of what God's grace actually looks like, advice to trust...

Catholic institutions cleared the path for the latest assault on religious freedom

As a result of the latest federal ruling against religious freedom—and pending the result of what seems an inevitable court challenge— Catholic churches in California are now required to provide abortion coverage in their employees’ health-insurance programs. The US Catholic...

What Catholics can learn from Orthodox disputes

The Pan-Orthodox Council opened in Crete this week with a plea from the Ecumenical Patriarch for unity: a unity that is conspicuously absent. For more than 50 years, Orthodox leaders had been working toward this historic event: an unprecedented meeting, that was to offer a vivid illustration...

Is marriage a trap? Our preoccupation with nullity

It would be very difficult to assess all the conditions which impact a couple’s readiness for marriage. It is equally difficult to determine how unfavorable cultural factors may influence this readiness. We can discern adverse cultural trends, but there are many subcultures, and there are...

Is criticism mere griping?

Some users have taken strong exception to our slightly increased criticism of Pope Francis over the last week or two. I understand that concern, believe me. But I also believe we are holding a stable and productive course. I explain in: On criticizing bishops—or even the Pope. We...

Dan Brown's theories at Harvard Divinity School: the tale of a scam

If you enjoy a good real-life detective story, I strongly recommend this excellent article from The Atlantic, by Ariel Sabar. It’s a fine piece of investigative journalism, exposing an astonishing scam. The scam was possible, I submit, only because so many people—and particularly people who...

On criticizing bishops—or even the Pope

Since Phil Lawler and I have devoted a little more space to criticism of Pope Francis in the past week or so, some readers have wondered whether we misunderstand the Pope or whether, in any case, we might do more harm than good by openly criticizing the Vicar of Christ. These are fair questions;...

Pope Francis amends himself

The last few days have witnessed a new high in ill-considered impromptu remarks by Pope Francis; fortunately, he has himself amended some of them in the official Vatican reports. The fact that he has done so suggests it is not wrong to express a continuing concern about this problem. For a...

The damage done (again) by the Pope's statements on marriage

During an address to a diocesan congress in Rome yesterday, Pope Francis was quoted as saying: that some priests are “animals,” that pastors should not be “putting our noses into the moral life of other people,” and that the “great majority” of...

Caring for truth

Speaking of papal homilies, there is this: It is true that the Church always has a duty to try to obtain a deeper understanding of the unfathomable mysteries of God (which are so rich in their saving effects) and to present them in ways even more suited to the successive generations. However,...

A different perspective on the Syrian refugee crisis

Most of the people who were living in Syria in 2011 are now refugees. That's the stark message of a new report from the Pew Research Center. The impact of the Syrian refugee crisis is unprecedented in our era, Pew reports. Iraq was never like this. Even Rwanda, during the bloodbaths of...

The archbishop's failure of charity

Archbishop Cupich has written to the LGBT community of Chicago, announcing that they should "know this: the Archdiocese of Chicago stands with you. I stand with you."  If you find that statement disturbing and even scandalous, as I did, read this excellent piece by Elliot...

Gender Ideology 6: The common denominator of chastity

One of the more common arguments in favor of gender ideology is that sexual pleasure is a key to human fulfillment, and so it is a moral duty to facilitate whatever use of the sexual faculties gives pleasure to each particular person. My critics will immediately protest that today’s emphasis...

Quick Hits II: The autonomous individual who creates himself and kills himself

Robert Reilly can write with impressive authority on a variety of topics. He is the author of what might be the best currently available books on radical Islam (The Closing of the Muslim Mind), modern music (Surprised by Beauty), and the campaign for acceptance of homosexuality (Making Gay...

Is another Catholic scandal brewing?

We all hope that the Curia can get its financial house in order without fresh scandals, but Phil Lawler has his doubts. Late Friday, Phil examined the latest changes to the Vatican's audit procedures. He warns that any secrecy is going to carry a huge price: The next Vatican scandal. A...

Quick Hits I: A caution on letting the states decide, a prophetic statement on violence against homosexuals

In years of debate over the Roe v. Wade decision, some earnest American pro-lifers argued that the best resolution would be to restore the power of the individual states to regulate abortion. More recently, defenders of marriage have made the same argument: step aside from a heated national...

The serious danger of idealizing the Christian life

If the teachings of Christ are ideal, which they certainly are, why is it misleading to refer to Christian morality as “an ideal”? It’s all in the definition of the word. It is true that the term “ideal” (as a noun) means “a conception of something in...

The next Vatican scandal

Another scandal is brewing at the Vatican. This time the subject will not be sex, but that other rich lode of corruption: money. Shady deals at the Vatican bank, the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), have brought disgrace on the Holy See in the past (if you don’t know what I mean,...

Is confusion the greatest Francis effect of all?

We have had too many papal homilies which appear to denigrate those concerned about the difference between truth and error. Even if we give the benefit of the doubt to each of them, it is beginning to wear very thin. Everyone knows how important I believe it is to avoid insisting that we know...

On speaking the truth: Is confusion the chief “Francis effect”?

Speaking the truth is perfectly compatible with charity. To think otherwise is to mistake charity for mere “niceness”. It is also to miss the point of Pope Benedict’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth) (2009). In fact, the failure to tell the truth to those who are...

Troubles facing the Pan-Orthodox Council confirm the need for the Petrine office

In preparations for the Pan-Orthodox Council that is scheduled to open in Crete on June 19, Orthodox leaders have underlined the importance of the event by saying that such a meeting has not been held for over 1,000 years. Yes, and something else has been true about the Orthodox churches for the...

Gender Ideology 5: Subversion of the social order

Having examined how gender ideology undermines human wholeness (or integrity), it is time to look outward to see its inescapable impact on society as a whole. The fundamental principle here is that a healthy social order must always be rooted in male-female complementarity. In the passionate...

If gravity caused Creation, Who caused gravity?

This is an old story, but somehow it popped up again in my news feed today: In his book The Grand Design (co-authored by Leonard Mlodinow), the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking argues that there's no need to posit the existence of God in order to explain Creation, because the birth of...

Don't blame Benedict for the 'two-pope' confusion

Jeff Mirus rejects the theory-- tentatively suggested in an interview by Archbishop Georg Gänswein-- that Benedict XVI continues to serve in the Petrine office, albeit now in a quiet, contemplative way. There can be only one Pope, Jeff argues. George Weigel emphatically agrees. And Ed Peters...

The Holy Spirit still guides the Church

Not long ago I saw a bizarre story on Archbishop Georg Gänswein’s description of the new communal nature of the Papacy since Pope Benedict’s resignation. Sorry, I'm not buying. See Thinking incorrectly about Pope Emeritus Benedict. Even so, we are witnessing slow developments...

Thinking incorrectly about Pope Emeritus Benedict

A couple of weeks ago, there was a report on the Veritas Vincit website suggesting that the Petrine ministry now has two components—an active element embodied in Pope Francis and a contemplative element embodied in Pope Benedict. If the reporting is accurate, this idea was...

Another new policy, but we're still waiting for definitive Vatican action on negligent bishops

The new motu proprio is entitled Come una Madre Amorevole, but it might just as well have been named "And This Time We Really Mean It.” The papal document does not (despite what you might have read in the headlines) create a policy for removing bishops who neglect evidence of sexual...

Closely linked: Marriage, Mercy, Mary, Meaning

I am very happy to see the appearance of fresh resources for engaged couples. This is one vital step toward creating a rich and vibrant culture of life. See A better marriage preparation (and preparation for a better marriage). Unfortunately, there is a growing confusion about gender, to the...

A better marriage preparation (and preparation for a better marriage)

In the furor over the recent apostolic exhortation on marriage (Amoris Laetitia), few commentators have paid much attention to the most important point made in the entire text. In the first paragraph in the section on “The logic of pastoral mercy”, Pope Francis wrote: To show...

Notes on the sorry condition of Irish Catholicism

Ireland, once a great bastion of Catholicism, is in our news today for several reasons—none of them good. When Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam remarks that the Church “is no longer the dominant intellectual influence in society,” that seems a considerable understatement. Bishop William Crean of...

The thing about mercy…

…is that you have to want it. It is an offer. You have to be willing to reorder your loves to receive it. Pope Francis has increased the emphasis on mercy which was begun by John Paul II, and that’s a good thing. But at times we lose sight of the fact that the purpose of...

Gender Ideology 4: The scourge of our inner life

In rounding out this series on gender ideology, I could go in two different directions. I could look inward at what we might call the disruption of personal wholeness in those who fall victim to this ideology. Or I could look outward at the disruption of social integrity which characterizes...

The only ultimate disaster control

A group of Boston dissidents, which had been occupying a closed church in defiance of their bishop, has now decided to found their own church. See Phil Lawler's comments on A twofold disaster in a breakaway Boston parish. In his latest Quick Hits, Phil also touches on the disaster that is...

Quick Hits: Gender ideology destroys freedom, Catholic apologetics needed, a liberal writer fears conspiracy

Catching up on some important essays from last week: Stella Morabito has set herself the important but unhappy task of warning us about the dangerous consequences of gender ideology and especially “transgender” ideology. Her latest offering, A De-Sexed Society is a De-Humanized...

Neutral Catholic bishops: The real eighth wonder of the world?

Here’s a story that deserves to be imitated widely throughout the hierarchy of the Church: British religious leaders: vote to stay in EU. Why is this worthy of note? Because the Catholic bishops of England and Wales are officially neutral on the question. What you will find if you...

A twofold disaster in a breakaway Boston parish

My former colleague Domenico Bettinelli hits several nails on their heads in his commentary on the long-overdue surrender of a dissident group in Scituate, Massachusetts, which had maintained a squatters’ vigil for 12 years at a parish church that was closed by the Archdiocese of Boston....

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