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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from January 2009

'A Church of Memory' by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 2, 2009

 Anthony Esolen, whose work is always worth reading, outdoes himself with a piece entitled "A Church of Memory," appearing now on the Inside Catholic blog. Esolen explains how a society, and a Church, suffers when it fails to pass down its cultural heritage: We call it...

12 full days, cont. by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 2, 2009

The cultural gap widens. New Year's Day has come and gone, and now the stores are putting up their Valentine's Day displays. The arbiters of secular culture have already forgotten Christmas.  Yet we Christians are still celebrating the Lord's birth. Aren't we?  What are you doing...

smoke signals from London by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Jan 2, 2009

 London's Daily Mail reports that a prominent Benedictine abbot, Dom Hugh Gilbert, has declined the Pope's invitation to become the next Archbishop of Westminster, succeeding Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor as the leading prelate in the English Catholic Church. According to Daily Mail...

the Kennedy connection by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 3, 2009

 Writing for the Wall Street Journal in anticipation of Caroline Kennedy's appointment to the Senate, Anne Hendershott, the author of The Politics of Abortion, helpfully explains "How Support for Abortion Became Kennedy Dogma." She has the story right: liberal Democrats recognized...

now where do I go to get my reputation back? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 3, 2009

 The Boston archdiocese has reinstated Father James Power, who was suspended nearly 7 years ago because of sex-abuse allegations for which, in turns out, the archdiocese cannot find supporting evidence.  What do you say to a priest who's been barred from pursuing his vocation for 7...

The Financial Crisis and the Politics of Knowing by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 6, 2009

In an interesting article on Democratic Capitalism in the latest issue of First Things, Michael Novak argues that the present financial crisis was caused by failures in the three interdependent systems which make up a free society: the political, the economic, and the moral. It is hard to argue...

The Grinch of the liturgical calendar by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 6, 2009

 By ordinary reckoning today, January 6, is the feast of the Epiphany. In the US the celebration has been transferred to the closest Sunday-- for this year, last Sunday, January 4. The feast is the same, of course, but the celebration is just a bit different.  There are-- remember? I...

New faces in 2009 by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Jan 7, 2009

What sort of episcopal appointments can we expect in 2009? Ordinarily we don't indulge in forecasting at CWN.  Where Vatican decisions are concerned, the old adage usually holds true: "Those who know don't tell, and those who tell don't know." But without attempting to predict...

roger and out by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 8, 2009

The weirdness continues. Modalist heresy fans will remember that, back in 2004, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith made known the results of its examination of Jesuit Father Roger Haight's book Jesus Symbol of God.  In the course of its examination the CDF dealt not with Haight...

on this special day, age-old values by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 8, 2009

Ashley Anne Stegman, age 9, from Girl Scout Troup 363 in Warren, Michigan, offered the following invocation at the opening of the 111th Congress:  Dear friends, let us remind ourselves in this special place, on this special day, that we are in the presence of God. Lord, we praise You at...

Richard John Neuhaus, 1936 - 2009 by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 8, 2009

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, editor in chief of First Things, died this morning, January 8th, shortly before 10:00 am. He had been diagnosed with a serious form of cancer last November, with only modest hope of successful treatment, but he came down with a complicating disease over the Christmas...

Action item by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 9, 2009

In Dignitatis Personae (35), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith addresses the vexing moral question of how the faithful should respond to the fact-- and unfortunately it is a fact-- that some useful medicines are manufactured from tissues derived from aborted babies. The Vatican...

Nature and Culture: God’s Grandeur by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 9, 2009

In my notice of the passing of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, I suggested that one of his great gifts was a constant awareness that all of us—and all natural things with us—have been redeemed. All of nature is fundamentally good; it is designed by God to be perfected, not obliterated, by grace. In a...

martin on moral evil by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 10, 2009

In the course of a television interview, Dublin's Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is given a splendid chance to witness to the integrity and truth of Catholic teaching. So here's the Successor of the Apostles in action:  Interviewer: You can say yes or no to my question: do you think that...

sun so hot I froze myself by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 11, 2009

 We interrupt the discussion of global warming to bring you this headline from Pravda:  Earth on the Brink of an Ice...

Irrevocable Commitments by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 12, 2009

In an entertaining “On Science” column in the January 12th issue of Newsweek, Sharon Begley comments on the rarity of scientists changing their minds in the face of new evidence. In her own survey of scientific literature, Begley has found what all those who have examined the...

semper fi, sometimes by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 13, 2009

"Cornerback Pollard Decommits from Irish" announces an article about a Notre Dame football prospect who decided to play for UCLA.  I confess the verb "decommit" was new to me. Linguists tell us that languages spontaneously produce the words required to deal with new...

Last words from Father Neuhaus by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 13, 2009

 The February issue of First Things has just arrived in my mailbox, reminding me to say another quick prayer for the repose of the soul of the magazine's founder and guiding light, Father Richard John Neuhaus.  In his reflections on the life of this great man, Father George Rutler...

singing the improv Credo by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 13, 2009

In Colorado last Saturday, Episcopalian Bishop Robert O'Neill ordained Mary Catherine Volland, who is a "partnered lesbian."  You won't find an announcement of the ordination on the diocesan web site. There are reports that the bishop wanted to keep things quiet, perhaps in...

the counterculture, neither hot nor cold by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 14, 2009

 "Faith will often be counter-cultural," says Cardinal Sean Brady as he offers some suggestions for coping with what some less subtle commentators have termed the "culture wars." The cardinal continues: The first step is to acknowledge the many signs of God’s...

Celebrating the Family by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 14, 2009

Starting today the Church is hosting the 6th World Meeting of Families in Mexico City. Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, is hoping for a massive turnout at the religious observances and celebrations which will extend through Sunday, January 18th. Over...

Readers Write: The Keys to Culture by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 15, 2009

In the weeks since we started emphasizing the creation of authentic Catholic culture, readers have offered a variety of insights and suggestions. I would divide these into two sections: What we can’t do, and what we can. Many readers have emphasized that we cannot hope to succeed in...

scare quotes by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 16, 2009

 AP tells us: A Vatican office that evaluated U.S. Roman Catholic seminaries says the schools have made improvements in halting what they call "homosexual behavior" among students. Pay attention to those scare quotes. We're talking about what they-- those crazy Catholics-- call...

Seminary Visitation: Bishops, Si; Religious Superiors, No by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 16, 2009

I can recall when the Vatican decided in the 1980's that it was going to have to do a visitation of American seminaries. Many of us hoped this would be the beginning of the end for both heterodoxy and the lavender mafia in the Church in the United States. As I recall, however, the results of the...

full adherence by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 16, 2009

 The Dublin archdiocese is displeased that "many anonymous sources" have dared to suggest that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin backpedaled away from an opportunity to provide a clear statement of Catholic teaching on the immorality of homosexual acts during a recent television interview....

Opportunity knocks by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 16, 2009

 For 500 years the Church MIlitant has worked, prayed, and suffered in the effort to draw Anglican clerics back into full communion with the Catholic Church. Now scores of Anglican priests, realizing that they can no longer recognize the Church of Christ in the contemporary Church of England,...

It's about power by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 19, 2009

"In terms of religious outreach, [the Obama White House] will be as inclusive as anything you've ever seen," one observer tells the Washington Post, in the course of an article on the president-elect's religious background. Inclusiveness is not just a policy for Obama; it's a...

The Petrus Rumor: Hot News or Hoax? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 19, 2009

Last Tuesday (January 13, 2009), I called attention to a lengthy report from the Italian journal Petrus which asserted that Benedict XVI was close to promulgating strict new guidelines for the screening of alleged Marian apparitions. Because Petrus has generally been a reliable source of...

privilege by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 19, 2009

 Oh, never mind the US Senate. Why not move straight to immediate canonization? That's the net effect-- quite obviously the desired effect, anyway-- of a front-page story in the New York Times about the aspirations of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. As an example of out-of-control,...

timing is everything by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 20, 2009

 As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama drew support from a broad range of voters, including people who embrace very different beliefs. Now, in the White House, he faces the challenge of holding that coalition together. It won't be easy.  One clear indication of the difficulties that...

Pride in Defeat: Thoughts on the Inauguration by Phil Lawler in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 20, 2009

Make no mistake: I am not happy that Barack Obama is our President. Still on this Inauguration Day-- as on every Inauguration Day-- I am proud to be an American. Although I have profound differences with President Obama on matters of policy, I cannot deny that he is a fine orator, and the...

Putting on the Flak Jacket by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 21, 2009

Sometimes I’m still surprised by the strange email messages we receive at the CatholicCulture.org contact address. The reaction to the perpetual rosary for President Obama and his Administration is a case in point. I was both surprised and saddened by the number of people who wrote in to say...

Praying for Obama-- and Kennedy by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 22, 2009

Like Jeff, I have been taken aback by the readers-- relatively few in number, I'm happy to say-- who have written to protest our campaign of prayer for President Obama. We can all find ourselves making excuses for our failure to pray as much as we should (I'm busy, I'm tired, I'll do it later,...

Bishop Williamson, making trouble again by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 22, 2009

If the reports from Rome are accurate, within the next week Pope Benedict will lift the excommunication of the bishops who lead the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X. That would welcome news, promising a long-awaited resolution of a rift within the Church.  By lifting the decree of...

what if a tree falls in a forest,... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 23, 2009

 Did you see the New York Times story about yesterday's March for Life? That's funny. Neither did I.  Which is odd, because on Inauguration Day the Washington bureau reporters for the Times were able to detect protests staged by as few as a half-dozen activists. Somehow the tens of...

Religion, the Church and Politics in America by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 23, 2009

One of the contrasts frequently drawn between American and European culture is that to attend church in Europe is to make a countercultural statement, whereas in America belonging to a church is a means of joining the cultural mainstream. Partly for this reason, immigrants to the United States...

Lifting of Excommunication: Mixed Feelings by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 26, 2009

In a decree dated January 21st, Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication imposed upon the four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X whom the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre illicitly ordained to continue his Traditionalist movement. The bishops are the current head of the Society, Bishop...

who's more inclusive now? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 27, 2009

 On the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield offers a balanced perspective on the Pope's decision to lift the excommunication on the SSPX bishops, despite the Bishop Williamson's loathsome statements about the Holocaust.  Hirschfield sensibly takes it for...

un-American-- or at least unorthodox by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 28, 2009

 The late J. Edgar Hoover directed FBI agents to probe the  background of the late Father Robert F. Drinan. In reviving that old story, the Boston Globe also provides Hoover's explanation for the investigation: "I had doubted Father Drinan's authenticity as a Catholic priest...

Bishop Hermann's clarion call by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 28, 2009

 Whether or not you have seen the CWN headline coverage of the powerful homily delivered by Bishop Robert Hermann at the pro-life Mass in St. Louis, I urge you to read the entire text. (Only a portion of the homily is available on the web site of the St. Louis archdiocese, but somehow Judie...

Thank your Catholic senators for the end of the Mexico City policy by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 29, 2009

 When President Obama ended the "Mexico City policy" he cleared the way for the use of American taxpayers' dollars to promote and subsidize abortion in other countries. The President took that action by himself, by means of an executive order. However, Congress had an opportunity...

the 'pro-choice' side may yet discover choice by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 30, 2009

 Stop the presses! Columnist Ellen Goodman is tired of the stale old debate about abortion. Actually she's been tired of the debate for at least 20 years, but that hasn't stopped her from churning out column after column on the topic. But now she's achieved a breakthrough; she's found a...

worth a try? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 30, 2009

 In Los Angeles the US attorney, frustrated that Cardinal Mahony has escaped legal punishment for his role in the sex-abuse scandal, is using a novel legal theory as the basis for his grand-jury investigation. That novel theory might not work in the courtroom; even if he proceeds with an...

Benedict's Hermeneutic of Continuity by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 30, 2009

With respect to the implementation of both the Second Vatican Council and the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, Benedict XVI has repeatedly called for a “hermeneutic of continuity” rather than the too prevalent “hermeneutic of rupture”. In discussions here at CatholicCulture.org, I’ve found that...

diversity comes to Islam by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Jan 30, 2009

You really don't need to watch the BBC video report (in fact I don't recommend it); the caption says it all: A special Koran prayer school has been set up in Yoyakarta where transgender Islamic Indonesians can pray. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that this Islamic school is probably...

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