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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from January 2012

A New Year’s Resolution: Charity in Discussion by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 2, 2012

When I reflect on my own interaction with critics over the past year, I recall those occasions when I was decidedly not conciliatory. And in surveying various discussion groups, including some consisting only of dedicated Catholics, I’ve overheard my share of vitriolic exchanges. We’ve...

Ten Years Later, the Church in Boston Struggles to Recover by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 5, 2012

Ten years have passed since the Boston archdiocese was engulfed in scandal, as the result of investigative reporting by the Boston Globe. Today the faithful in Boston are still struggling to shake off the lingering effects of that scandal. But a full recovery is delayed because of two popular...

Saint Death, Churches, and Catholic Scholarship by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 6, 2012

As I finished skimming R. Andrew Chesnut’s new book on the Mexican/Mexican American cult of Santa Muerte (Saint Death), I happened to notice that the first cover blurb was from Thomas Tweed, author of another book in my stack, America’s Church. The latter book is good scholarship on the National...

On birth and death and debt and hope: a last-minute Christmas meditation by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 6, 2012

Before the Christmas season ends, let me call your attention to an excellent column by that excellent columnist, Mark Steyn. Writing just before Christmas, Steyn made the observation that the birth of Jesus was preceded by the birth of St. John the Baptist to Elizabeth, a woman who was thought to...

Two Books: Devoted to Death and America's Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 6, 2012

R. Andrew Chesnut's Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, The Skeleton Saint and Thomas Tweed's America's Church: The National Shrine and Catholic Presence in the Nation’s Capital, both recently out from Oxford University Press, are reviewed together in our In Depth Analysis item, entitled Saint...

Ghosts of Christmas Past by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 6, 2012

The Week magazine of December 30th did a good job of briefing its readers on the Puritan opposition to celebrating Christmas which afflicted America well into the 19th century. The Pilgrims who began settling New England in 1620 argued that the very concept of holy days implied that there were...

Papal Diplomacy, Values, and Ourselves by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 10, 2012

Each year during the Christmas season, the Pope addresses the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. In this address, he highlights the concerns which should animate the mutual efforts of the temporal powers throughout the world. This year, the Pope emphasized that the key to...

Ignorance, Ideology, Sovietology and Provisional Politics at Home by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 11, 2012

In dipping into a series of essays on ideology and totalitarianism, I’ve been reminded of the ludicrous ways in which Soviet Communism was conceptualized, explained and assessed throughout the twentieth century, from 1917 until the fall of the system in 1991, and perhaps beyond. This is a classic...

On same-sex marriage, who are the real ‘extremists’? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 12, 2012

Last weekend in New Hampshire, during a debate among the Republican presidential candidates, host George Stephanopoulos asked—and asked, and asked, and asked—a question about contraception. Framing his question as a matter of constitutional law, Stephanopoulos asked whether the...

Self-Abandonment in the Winter of Our Discontent by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 12, 2012

Shakespeare’s Richard III begins with Richard lamenting the triumphal accession of his brother, King Edward IV, to the throne of England. His words are intended bitterly: “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York.” Richard, an ugly...

Banning Contraception? The Art of the Possible by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 13, 2012

Phil Lawler’s brilliant essay on contraception and gay marriage (On same-sex marriage, who are the real ‘extremists’?) reminds me of why we are so fortunate to have him as part of the team that runs the show here. Two recent pieces in which I try to make broader and more abstract points about...

Now why does that sound familiar? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 13, 2012

When Andrew Brown wrote in the Guardian, chastising the Reuters news service for a slanted report on the Pope’s “State of the World” speech, L’Osservatore Romano was...

Challenging the Limitations of Church Authority over Politics by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 16, 2012

My In Depth Analysis (Banning Contraceptives? The Art of the Possible) occasioned two Sound Off! comments which merit further discussion. One criticizes the limitations I set on the “vocational competence” of the Pope; the other questions limitations I set on the authority of the...

My Catholic Call, and Yours by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 18, 2012

The first readings at Mass the last two mornings are favorites of mine. Both involve the call of God, one to Samuel, the other to David. David, of course, received a call when Samuel anointed him King of Israel, the youngest of Jesse’s sons. But today’s reading was about a different sort of...

The Pope's alarming message on American religious freedom by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 19, 2012

Is it humiliating for American political leaders to read that Pope Benedict sees an erosion of religious freedom in our country? It should be. If there is one boast that Americans have traditionally made before the world, it is the claim that our country is a bastion of freedom. And of all the...

Is Homosexuality Biologically Determined? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 20, 2012

We’ve been trained by the media to believe that same-sex attraction is biologically determined, that it is unchangeable and damaging to attempt to change it, that it has no correlation whatsoever with decreasing mental health, and that homosexual relationships are equivalent to heterosexual...

Pope & US bishops team up to put religious freedom on the political agenda by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 20, 2012

On Thursday, Pope Benedict warned visiting American bishops that religious freedom is being threatened in the United States. By the end of the day, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) had issued a statement welcoming the Pope’s remarks and encouraging lay Catholics to become...

Obama team gives religious freedom a combination punch by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 20, 2012

This is a one-two punch against religious freedom: The Obama administration refuses to exempt religious institutions from a new rule requiring contraceptive coverage in health-care plans, but cynically allows those institutions a one-year “exemption” from the rule—so that this...

On Life Day, Obama Defies Reality...Again by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 23, 2012

It should come as no surprise that President Obama has once again used the day of the March for Life to signal his direct and strenuous opposition to the goals of the marchers. In a brief statement, the President recalled the importance of the Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion and...

The Mitch Daniels moment by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 24, 2012

Many months ago, looking at the way the presidential race was shaping up, I made a prediction. I said that Mitt Romney would be the overwhelming Republican favorite—right up until the voting began. From that point forward, I said, the odds of his winning the nomination would fall...

Art Masterpieces Teaching Church History by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 25, 2012

Duquesne University Press has done something noteworthy by publishing two new full-color books which present masterpieces of art with accompanying text to illustrate key moments in the history of the Church, and also the lives of the saints. The books, originally published in French and authored...

Demand action—not just rhetoric—on school choice by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 26, 2012

This week is School Choice Week. Since it’s an election year, it’s also nearly time for Republican candidates to proclaim their devotion to the cause of school choice. In every presidential contest since 1968 (and perhaps further back: my active memory only stretches that far), the...

Chastity, seen as a threat by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 27, 2012

Do you see what’s wrong with this lede from a news story in the Toronto Sun? Catholic school students deserve protection from bullying based on sexual orientation, but the publicly-funded education system will continue to teach children that chastity, marriage and procreation are the way...

Declining birth rates make the Islamic world more dangerous by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 27, 2012

David Goldman, who writes online under the pseudonym Spengler, has a new book out: How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too). While I haven’t yet read the book, I recently happened across Goldman’s preface, and it’s brilliant. It’s a longish piece, and not always...

Archbishop Dolan’s Letdown, and Job One by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 27, 2012

What’s wrong with this picture? The leader of the American hierarchy, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, said in an interview that he was “terribly let down, disappointed and disturbed” by President Obama’s decision to force insurance coverage of contraception and...

Back to the Future in Ireland by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 30, 2012

I doubt things have deteriorated quite enough for this to go anywhere, but the logic of a recent hate crime complaint in Ireland is intriguing. Humanist John Colgan argued that a recent homily of Bishop Philip Boyce of Raphoe constituted a hate crime under an act passed in 1989. Before I point...

De-Baptism and the Records of the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 31, 2012

It’s a short story with big consequences: A French diocese appeals order to remove baptismal record. A similar case occurred in Spain regarding membership records kept by Opus Dei. There are four reasons for the Church to categorically refuse such demands. 1. History: The records we create...

Catholic Superheroes, Revisited by Peter Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 31, 2012

I went to an Opus Dei “circle” yesterday evening, and some of the themes touched upon in the talk reminded me of a fun article I wrote for this site in 2004: Catholic Superheroes. If you really think about it, we Catholics live on the edge. We're a radical bunch — composed of...

Torture by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 31, 2012

One of our users asked in a Sound Off! comment whether the Catholic Church had a clear teaching on torture and on the use of coercive means to obtain information. The Second Vatican Council (Gaudium et Spes 27) included torture in the list of evils it used to illustrate the concept of intrinsic...

Love and Marriage by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 31, 2012

I was listening to the third track of the Classic Sinatra II album, and I suddenly did a double-take. The song was “Love and Marriage” by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, which became a huge hit by Frank Sinatra in 1955, just 57 years ago. Here are the lyics: Love and marriage,...

Discovered: 116,000 square miles of 'missing' polar ice cap by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 31, 2012

Non-scientists like me can often feel helpless in the public debate about climate change. We have neither the skill nor the training to rebut the latest claims by certified scientific “experts” who tell us that the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible. Yet we notice that...

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