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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from January 2008

Benedict’s Theme: Build Christ’s Kingdom of Light Through Mary by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 2, 2008

It doesn’t take a genius to forecast Pope Benedict’s most important theme for 2008. In his first address of the new year, he emphasized the need for the Church to find a fuller understanding of her mystery in the person of the Mother of God so that Christians can replace the contemporary darkness...

Cats! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 4, 2008

What makes Pope Benedict XVI like T.S. Eliot? Probably more than one characteristic, actually. But Gerald Augustinus names...

Apologetics and Faith: Different Convictions by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 4, 2008

Over the twenty centuries of the Church’s life, Christians have advanced all kinds of arguments to convince non-Christians to accept the Faith. Some systematic apologists have come perilously close to arguing that every truth contained in Revelation can be proved by natural reason. Others have...

political science by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 4, 2008

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has produced a new text warning against the terrible danger that someone, somewhere, might not entirely accept evolutionary theory. Scientific understanding of evolution is "so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter it," according to...

Evangelicals in Iowa by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Jan 5, 2008

Columnist Michael Medved thinks it's a mistake to assume that Evangelicals voters were solely responsible for the Huckabee win in the Iowa Republican caucus. A good point, I think. More emphatically, Medved argues that bias against Mormons was not a major factor in Romney's defeat in Iowa. Good...

New Year's resolution by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 7, 2008

Bishop Bruskewitz says: If St. John Chrysostom is correct when he says that the road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops, it would be a mistake for any bishop or priest to miss this...

math lesson by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 7, 2008

Today, class, we'll be doing a simple problem involving statistics. An American Research Group poll, released on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, shows Senator Obama leading Senator Clinton among the state's likely Democratic voters, by a margin of 11%. A Franklin Pierce University...

Letting Gibbs Be Gibbs by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 8, 2008

Washington Redskins fans (among whom I count myself) joked about the second coming of Joe Gibbs when he returned to coaching four years ago after eleven years away from the game. The Redskins franchise was in disarray, with only one playoff game since Gibbs had left. We all wanted a new round of...

How to Choose among Presidential Candidates, I by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 8, 2008

A kind reader suggested that I offer an analysis of all the presidential candidates in order to assist voters in making the right choice. Unfortunately, despite the shrill denunciations of modernist Catholics who insist that my opposition to abortion proves I am a shill for the Republican Party, I...

How to Choose among Presidential Candidates, II by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 8, 2008

To recap, my first voting principle is the sovereign importance of limiting and ultimately eliminating the abortion license (see How to Choose among Presidential Candidates, I). My second principle is a refutation of the mistaken opinion among some pro-life leaders that it is immoral to support...

humorless? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 9, 2008

My guess is that Slovakian broadcast regulators. are probably "not the best experts" on discerning what constitutes humor. But let the record show that Uncle Di does not live or work in that country-- where, apparently, Vatican advice on driving is taken with the same seriousness as defined...

the low-key family by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 9, 2008

He's divorced. He's had a highly publicized adulterous affair with the wife of a subordinate. He canceled a trip to Rome to protest Church teaching against same-sex adoption. He has unilaterally approved marriage licenses for homosexual couples, and issued a proclamation honoring a gay porn...

better business by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 9, 2008

Imagine that you own a business. Let's say you manufacture widgets. It's a legal business. You pay your employees a good wage. You pay your taxes; you don't bother the neighbors. And you make a nice profit. Good for you! Now let's suppose that the government raids the plants of some other...

a jesuit thaw? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 10, 2008

As the Society of Jesus begins its General Congregation in Rome, there are signs of a new openness to criticism of Jesuit policy on the part of Jesuits themselves. National Catholic Reporter columnist John Dear admits he has "mixed feelings about the Jesuits," the order to which he belongs, which...

when charity means it's on the House by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 10, 2008

Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) is celebrating the 1st anniversary of its campaign to cut the poverty level in half by 2020, and the the group reports that the early results have been good. Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, said that the response of the Catholic Charities...

Ruthless Certainty? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 10, 2008

On the “Beliefs” page in Newsweek’s inaugural issue for 2008, Lisa Miller wrote an essay entitled “Moderates Storm the Religious Battlefield.” The essay was accompanied by two teasers. First, in the table of contents: “Among Faithful and Nonbeliever Alike, a Welcome Uncertainty”. Then, atop the...

license and registration, please by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 11, 2008

The Anglican bishop of Labrador and Eastern Newfoundland has told his priests that they should resign if they are still loyal to his predecessor. As you may have guessed, the issue here is homosexuality. Former Bishop Donald Harvey opposes same-sex marriage, and has led some clergy into a...

the religious test by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Jan 11, 2008

As I have noted before, the media have trouble dealing with the religious beliefs of Mike Huckabee. It's happening again-- or perhaps I should say still. [Disclaimer: In what follows I do not intend to imply my support for Huckabee. The fact is, I don't support him-- as a presidential...

significant, Yes; new, No by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 13, 2008

There's one glaring error after another in the Reuters story. (Go ahead; test yourself. If you can't identify at least 8 errors, you need to read CWN stories more carefully.) Let's just take the introductory sentence: Pope Benedict celebrated parts of Sunday's Mass with his back turned on the...

The Pro-Life Decision Tree Revisited by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 14, 2008

In two brief blog entries on January 8th I set forth a decision tree for How to Choose among Presidential Candidates. While most readers seemed to respond favorably to my argument that the life issues had to be the first branch of the decision tree, a few objected strenuously. There were two kinds...

something stronger by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 16, 2008

When they think about political causes, some Catholics tend to fixate on minor considerations, such as the wholesale destruction of human life. Others-- their souls purified by labyrinth walks and enneagram workshops, their intellects trained by studies with Sister Joan, their wills tested by...

stall tactics by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 16, 2008

Under what circumstances would the American Civil Liberties Union come to the aid of a conservative Republican legislator? Under what circumstances could someone claim that making an unsolicited pass at a perfect stranger, in a public place, qualified as "private" conduct? Oh. We're talking...

drudgery by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 17, 2008

Ten years ago today, a news aggregator and part-time journalist named Matt Drudge broke the story of President Bill Clinton's liaison with intern Monica Lewinsky -- or, more precisely, he published on his website the fact the story had been spiked by Newsweek (the Times of London has a good...

The Cautionary End of the Spirit of Vatican II by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 17, 2008

A priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Fr. Paul Stanosz, has written a fascinating article for Commonweal on clerical morale, but it is fascinating only because it reveals far more than the author intends (see The Other Health Crisis: Why Priests Are Coping Poorly, 11/23/2007). As Commonweal...

financial life after death by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 18, 2008

What does it cost to run a parish? About $10,000 a month, according to a Boston Globe report. But that's for a very select group of parishes: parishes that have been closed. That's right, closed. No parochial schools. No priests. No parish bulletin-- but then you wouldn't need to check the...

still a way to go yet by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 19, 2008

Church of England deaconess Cindy Kent debuts in the inaugural issue of Thinking Faith, the inauspiciously-named on-line journal of the British Jesuits. Bearing in mind that nothing is wasted, my hope and prayer is that we will build on what we've learned in the past, be prepared to take off...

What if CTA issued a press release in the forest,... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 19, 2008

For months the leaders of Call to Action have been collecting signatures on a petition to the US bishops' conference, demanding action against Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, who has refused to play along with the "audits" required by the Dallas Charter. Pause here for a bit of...

a funny feeling by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 19, 2008

Prior to his election as superior general of the Jesuits, Father Adolfo Nicolas admitted to an uneasy feeling about the Society of Jesus: I have a feeling, still imprecise and difficult to define, that there is something important in our religious life that needs attention and is not getting...

La Sapienza and the Problem of the University by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 21, 2008

Between January 15th and 20th, the world witnessed a masterstroke in Benedict XVI’s handling of opposition at Rome’s La Sapienza University. The Pope succeeded in transforming a run-of-the-mill academic protest into a fundamental question about the university itself. Pope Benedict was scheduled...

backs to the future by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 22, 2008

The name "Adolf" says nothing about his politics, but it dates him as a child of the 1930s -- born before the war that made the name unbestowable. The Jesuits' choice of 71-year-old Adolfo Nicolás as their Superior General is a conscious return to the past -- ironically (yet markedly) more so...

multitudes, multitudes by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 22, 2008

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision. -- Joel 3:14 In view of today's anniversary of the 1973 Roe v Wade decision, perhaps it won't be amiss to link yet again to Bill Cork's graphic that so strikingly illustrates what we've lost in the past 35 years, and what's behind the gathering...

Emphasizing the Black in “Black Pope” by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 22, 2008

I had mentioned in one of my recent messages to users that the Prefect for the Congregation for Religious had been pretty pointed in his demand that the Jesuits take advantage of the retirement of their Superior General to recommit themselves to faithful theology and faithful service to the Holy...

a small but perceptible shift by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 22, 2008

Now this is a change-up: an even-handed and non-sneering story, in the Washington Post, about pro-life college students assembling for the annual March. The paper's ideological style-sheet still makes itself felt (it's an "anti-abortion" gathering), but the usual edge is missing: Ellie Baum, a...

not too close, please by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 23, 2008

President Bush semaphored his support of yesterday's marchers on the Mall. At a noon rally, President Bush spoke to the crowds via a telephone hookup from the White House, in what has become an annual greeting. Can somebody explain this to me? Why is it that, in the final year of his second...

non-explanation by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 23, 2008

Maybe you're wondering, too: Why don't the Catholic bishops of Georgia support the pro-life amendment proposed for that state? So you read the bishops' public statement on the question. And you're left with only one question: Why don't the Catholic bishops of Georgia support the pro-life...

ecumenism in action by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 23, 2008

During this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity it's distressing to see that another Protestant leader in Northern Ireland (is it something in the water there?) has denounced the Pope as anti-Christ. But cheer up; the (Anglican) Church of Ireland has released this comforting...

Civility in its Proper Context by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 23, 2008

Back in November of 2007, the Catholic Civility Project released “A Catholic Call to Observe Civility in Political Debate.” The effect of this statement, perhaps unintended by some of the signatories, was to discourage Catholic laymen and ecclesiastics alike from making specifically Catholic...

two jesuits, two ways by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 23, 2008

Here's what Jesuit Father Adolfo Nicolás, newly elected the Superior General of his order, had to say in 2005 about the "liberating ways of religious wisdom": The real spiritual Masters of all ages are more keen in teaching the way to God, than in giving answers to questions about God. Asia has...

Do you smell sulphur? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 24, 2008

As he blessed a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Albany, New York yesterday,... ...the Rev. Larry Phillips of Schenectady's Emmanuel-Friedens Church declared the ground "sacred and holy ... where women's voices and stories are welcomed, valued and affirmed; sacred ground where women are...

A letter to ESPN columnist Pat Forde: Coach Majerus and Archbishop Burke by Peter Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 25, 2008

You can read Forde's article on the clash between Coach Rick Majerus and Archbishop Raymond Burke here: Majerus: 'Good for your soul to be involved in this process' Here is my response to Pat Forde. Pat, With respect, both you and Coach Majerus have missed the point. As a Catholic, you...

The New Jesuit Mission by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 25, 2008

I have tried mightily to avoid a third column in a row which serves primarily to critique the ideas of others. But I have also followed the election of Adolfo Nicolás as the new Superior General of the Society of Jesus. I have speculated on how well he can be expected to respond to concerns...

mum's the word by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 27, 2008

The Spanish daily El Pais supplies some background on the new Jesuit General Adolfo Nicolás Pachón. Family lore has it that Adolfo was first picked as a Pedro Arrupe avatar by none other than Arrupe himself: Modesta Pachón died in the certainty that Adolfo, the third of her four sons, would...

in their own words by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 28, 2008

The NARAL website, in celebration of last week's Roe v Wade anniversary, gives its viewers a glimpse into the world of pro-choice bloggers. Like turning over a dead log after a rain, the exercise briefly reveals some hard-to-categorize and distinctly unlovely specimens emergent from the political...

help is on the way by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 28, 2008

Fr. Raymond A. Schroth, S.J., wants Catholics to revisit the issue of women's ordination. Does the church need woman priests? The evidence rises that it does. The evidence begins in the New Testament: the prominence of women at the cross and resurrection, Christ's friendship with Mary and...

déjà vu by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 28, 2008

Americans of a certain generation will recognize photos of street conflict in Birmingham, Alabama, as clearly as today's children recognize jpegs of Abu Ghraib. Indignation at the images of Sheriff Bull Connor's police dogs and fire hoses loosed on largely peaceable marchers gave rise to a...

di's dating service by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 29, 2008

You may have noticed that Lent is soon approaching, and that Easter (for the Latin Church) comes on the very early date of March 23rd. It gives me satisfaction to find that some benevolent madman has provided us with a complete listing of Easter dates from the year 326 through 4099 -- an...

The Dominicans, the Priesthood, and Celibacy by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 29, 2008

In the case of the Dutch Dominicans vs. the Church in Holland (see The Mass and the Dominicans in Holland), there is good news and bad news. The good news is that the Dominican leadership in Rome, prompted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has finally corrected the three Dutch...

signs of... something by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 30, 2008

It's the end of January, and there's been no snow in New York. There has, however, been snow in Jerusalem. Go...

Why Don’t Popes Discipline? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 30, 2008

After my recent columns pointing out some of the problems in our oldline religious orders, a reader asked me why the Holy See doesn’t use discipline to restore Catholic order. I believe this question has a seven part answer. We live in an age in which discipline usually increases sympathy for...

dogging the hatches by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 31, 2008

As I opened the hatch, I found myself looking into a raging inferno which pushed me back. It was impossible to enter. The screams and cries of those many Army troops in there still haunt me. Navy regulations call for dogging the hatches to preserve the integrity of the ship, and that's what I did....

protecting women's bodies by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 31, 2008

Let's see if we understand this properly: If you're a woman who's pregnant and doesn't want to be, the US Food and Drug Administration doesn't think you should worry about taking the abortifacient drug RU-486, because there's no evidence the drug is dangerous. There is evidence that the only...

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