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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.

An unexpected surge in confessions? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Thursday

Have you noticed that when you go to Confession these days, you wait longer in line? I thought perhaps this was happening only in my parish, but friends elsewhere report a similar phenomenon. A friendly priest, with whom I chatted recently, reports that he’s long been in the habit of bringing...

The Problem with Catholic Social Teaching by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Thursday

Long-time readers will know of my respect for Samuel Gregg, director of research at the Acton Institute. Not only do we have a number of his articles on social-economic-political issues in our library, but I favorably reviewed his book Tea Party Catholic last December (see Political principles...

In Iraq, the Pope has good reason to seek intervention, but fear unilateral US action by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Wednesday

When Pope Francis said that armed intervention is justified to stop the slaughter of Christian refugees in Iraq, he made a distinction that is often missed, I’m afraid, in American discussions of warfare. After saying that “it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor,” the Holy...

As Catholic News Unfolds... by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Tuesday

What I am noticing today is how many significant news stories affecting Christians are unfolding at the same time. For example, the latest defiance of the Vatican by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in America fairly begs for suppression. See my latest On the Culture analysis: It is...

An Iraqi archbishop's warning to the West by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Tuesday

From his temporary lodging in Erbil, Iraq, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Amel Nona of Mosul sent a grim warning to the West, in an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. His words speak for themselves. Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western...

The cause for beatification of Archbishop Romero: BBC botched the story by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Tuesday

Secular journalists frequently get things wrong when they report on the internal affairs of the Catholic Church, and for some reason British journalists have a particular bad track record in that respect. But rarely does a secular outlet get a story so thorough muddled as this BBC report on the...

Church Fathers: The Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - Tuesday

The Didache One of the most important sources from the age of the Apostolic Fathers is “The Lord’s Teaching through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations,” commonly referred to by its short name, the Didache (Greek for “teaching”). While the Didache was lost until the...

It is time to revoke the Catholic status of the LCWR by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Monday

Today’s news of the LCWR’s closing act of defiance against ecclesiastical authority tells us all we need to know. Those familiar with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious have been painfully aware that the spirituality of the group is rooted in paganism, its cherished causes...

Immigration: first, acknowledge the system is broken by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Monday

Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute offers another balanced reflection on the immigration controversy, noting that the Church encourages affluent societies to show generosity toward migrants, while demanding that migrants respect the laws and norms of the societies that accept them. But...

Another glimpse of Tolkien by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Monday

On a whim, I recently went to the library and picked up a book that may interest Tolkien devotees like myself. Every year from 1920 to 1943, Tolkien wrote letters to his children in the character of Father Christmas, who sent them not just presents but lovely drawings and stories of his home at...

Eyes of Faith by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Aug 15

Everything, for Christians, must be seen through the eyes of Faith. Let us view recent news in this way. Thus the response to Pope Francis' Apostolic Visit to Korea is bittersweet: China blocks young Catholics from attending papal Mass; arrests fearedNorth Korea fires test missiles in show...

A Rose for the Assumption by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Aug 15

How lovely is this Dawn of the everlasting day, who, carried into heaven, seems only to grow in the blessedness of her incomparable glory. May the secrets of eternal sweetness wafting upon those who love her always fill our hearts, and may we always rejoice in the blessings prepared for the souls...

How we should and should not think of the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 14

Between about 1960 and 1985, some remarkably weird theories about the nature of the Church emerged in fashionable theological circles. As a general rule, these theories were mirrors of the prevailing Western cultural euphoria. Indeed, they were based almost exclusively on wishful thinking. All of...

Riches...in my absence by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Aug 13

I apologize for the appearance of my so-called Tuesday message on Wednesday this week. A combination of being out of town for two days and having to do some emergency programming for CatholicCulture.org's financial processing system led to the delay. This also means I have not written new...

No, the Vatican has not endorsed the US military action in Iraq by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 12

Several internet sites are reporting that Pope Francis has endorsed the US bombing campaign in Iraq. Those reports are inaccurate. Some leading Church officials—not including the Pope—have spoken in support of military action to prevent the continued slaughter of Christians. But...

The bogus popularity of the LCWR by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 11

Back sometime around 1970, a mischievous pollster conducted a 3-question survey that conclusively demonstrated the ignorance of American voters. Similar polls have been taken several times since then, always with the same result. The three questions go like this: Are you satisfied or...

Iraq's Christians under Siege by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Aug 8

Most readers know about the growing disaster for Christians in Iraq as the Islamic State gains ground. Pope Francis is distraught and the American Bishops have slated August 17th as a day of prayer for our Iraqi brothers and sisters. Here are three relevant news stories, posted...

Private Schools in Uganda: Taxing, Very Taxing by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Aug 7

I appreciate the remarks made by the Ugandan bishop of Kasana-Luweero when he objected to the government’s repeal of tax-exemptions for private schools. But in his zeal to present private schools as an ally of government, Bishop Paul Ssemogerere may have fallen into a subtle trap. Bishop...

Oklahoma’s Black Mass: Untethered art or Satanic overreach? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 6

So far this year in the United States, we know of two efforts to stage a public Black Mass. The one scheduled to take place at Harvard University in May was ultimately cancelled as Catholics rallied to a Eucharistic Holy Hour. But a new plan in Oklahoma raises even deeper questions. I would not...

Comments We Just Had to Make... by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Aug 5

Two small but intriguing stories have provoked commentary over the past few days. For example, it has just been announced that last year's special collection produced $24 million for retired religious. Without intending to diminish anyone's charity, I can't help but comment on this in On the...

$24 million for retired religious? Therein hangs a tale. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 5

Should I write about this? I’m concerned about retired religious, and I have even donated from time to time to help them. And yet the special collection in American churches to assist with the care of retired religious remains something of an insult to the laity. What could I possibly mean...

Another argument for reform in the Roman Curia by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 1

Next time someone asks you why we need reform of the Roman Curia, you might point out that it took the Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW) nine years to decide that the Sign of Peace should be exchanged with dignity. How difficult is it to imagine an organization efficient enough to reach that...

A Diocese in Paraguay by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Aug 1

The controversy surrounding the Diocese of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay is fascinating, and now the Vatican has suspended priestly ordinations there. Consider these two news stories: Vatican confirms suspension of ordinations in troubled Paraguay dioceseParaguay: diocese defends bishop, says...

Apologies: The danger in lamenting what everyone laments by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 1

Pope Francis has apologized for the past hostility of Catholics to Evangelicals (and the one Evangelical pastor he spoke to has apologized for past Evangelical hostility to Catholics). I am prepared to admit that this actually addresses a significant problem where Pope Francis hails from, in Latin...

Talk to your kids about porn! by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Aug 1

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" - Jul 31

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...

In other words, to be a Christian means this: by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jul 31

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" - Jul 31

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" - Jul 30

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" - Jul 29

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" - Jul 29

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" - Jul 29

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" - Jul 28

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" - Jul 27

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...

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Recent Catholic Commentary

An unexpected surge in confessions? 15 hours ago
The Problem with Catholic Social Teaching 20 hours ago
In Iraq, the Pope has good reason to seek intervention, but fear unilateral US action August 20
As Catholic News Unfolds... August 19
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