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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from January 2013

iPad meets Blackberry in the confessional by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 2, 2013

A woman goes to Confession. As he offers his counsel, the priest consults his iPad to cite some verses from Scripture. The penitent replies: I’m sorry, I said, I don’t have a pen and paper, I may not remember what you say. Wait—I’ve got my BlackBerry. “Tell me...

It's not really news when a retired cardinal dies, but... by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 2, 2013

Like any prominent man with a wide circle of acquaintances, Pope Benedict XVI is constantly sending out short notes of congratulations, condolences, encouragement, and sympathy. Ordinarily the Vatican doesn’t bother to mention these missives. But today the press office announced that the Pope had...

There is No Substitute for the Light of Christ by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 4, 2013

An article in the January-February issue of Catholic Answers Magazine sets forth what the cover calls “the non-religious case against abortion”. In “Forty Years Is Long Enough”, staff apologist Trent Horn expresses serious concern about the acceptance of the abortion status...

Divinizing the State: A Blind and Dangerous Pedagogy by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 7, 2013

One does not have to look far in today’s headlines to see the growing problem of totalitarianism in the West. For example, I note today that the French government has sought to ban discussion of same-sex marriage in Catholic schools. The triad of totalitarianism is complete in this one small...

Unprofessional by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 9, 2013

Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas, has announced that a priest of that diocese has been laicized, “due to a history of professional misconduct as a priest…” Professional misconduct? Was he a professional, then? God save us from professional...

Not Enough Children in California by Peter Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 9, 2013

I found this news item from the Wall Street Journal hardly shocking. "Declining migration and falling birthrates have led to a drop in the number of children in California just as baby boomers reach retirement, creating an economic and demographic challenge for the nation's most populous...

Models of Apologetics by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 9, 2013

In some situations, apologetics is more valuable to believers than to non-believers. Most believers—especially young believers in the process of internalizing their faith—go through periods of questioning, and unanswered questions can lead to doubt. At the same time, of course,...

Time travel. Or, a disingenuous argument for new abortion legislation in Ireland by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 11, 2013

Columnist Paddy Agnew of the Irish Times leans heavily on cliché in his column criticizing Catholic Church opposition to proposed abortion legislation. Church leaders are “charging at windmills,” he warns. The Church—stop me if you’ve heard this one...

Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and the band played on by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 11, 2013

Oh, good. The US bishops announce that they remain in “dialogue” with the heads of Catholic colleges and universities about the implementation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Their report tells us: Clarity about Catholic identity among college and university leadership has fostered substantive...

Excommunication? Let the punishment fit the crime by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 11, 2013

My favorite canon-law blogger, Edward Peters, is unhappy with the Rockford Pro-Life Initiative for demanding the excommunication of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, an advocate of same-sex marriage. Peters does not agree with Quinn—not by a long shot. On the contrary, he believes that Quinn should...

The 4th-oldest Pontiff by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 14, 2013

As of today, Pope Benedict XVI is the 4th-oldest Pope to lead the Church in the past 7+ centuries—that is, in the years since reliable records have been available. Pope Benedict is now 85 years and 270 days old: exactly the same age that Blessed Pius IX had reached when he died in...

Chesterton via Ahlquist: Marvelous by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 14, 2013

Here is a book which took me by surprise: Dale Ahlquist’s explication of the thought of G. K. Chesterton in The Complete Thinker. Subtitled “The Marvelous Mind of G. K. Chesterton”, Ahlquist’s book explains Chesterton’s writing not only through many apt quotations but...

Vatican II on religious freedom: doctrinal novelty or development? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 15, 2013

When traditionalist Catholics argue that Vatican II marked a break from traditional Church teachings, they usually cite Dignitatis Humanae, the decree on religious freedom. That document is a central point of contention in talks between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X; the...

The media's strange obsession with Archbishop Gänswein's looks by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 16, 2013

Yes, I know that Archbishop Georg Gänswein--the Pope’s private secretary and now the Prefect of the Pontifical Household as well—is on the cover of Vanity Fair. Yes, I know that Italian reporters refer to him as “Gorgeous George,” compare him with George Clooney, and delight in the fact that he...

Why are India's Catholic leaders recommending sex education? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 16, 2013

By recommending sex-education programs as a response to the public outrage against rape, Indian Catholic leaders seem to be inviting trouble in two separate ways. First, Church leaders are saying that a proper sort of sex education, emphasizing the gift of sexuality and the dignity of the human...

How liberal ideology undermines religious freedom by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 16, 2013

For the 2nd day in a row (refresh your memory here) Catholic World Report carries an interesting commentary on religious freedom. Benjamin Wiker identifies Benedict Spinoza as “the father of modern political liberalism.” While Spinoza claimed to advance the cause of religious freedom,...

Do abortionists deserve 'conscience clause' protection? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 16, 2013

The New England Journal of Medicine has published an article exploring the outer limits of pro-abortion advocacy. Lisa Harris argues that if laws protect the consciences rights of doctors who do not wish to be involved in the slaughter of the unborn (although that’s not how she puts it), the law...

Catholic Social Thought? Not Your Father’s Encyclopedia! by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 16, 2013

Would it not be wonderful to have an encyclopedia of Catholic social thought? I’m not referring to something like the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church issued in 2004 by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace—which is available in the CatholicCulture.org library....

Why the French--of all people--resist the redefinition of marriage by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 17, 2013

Would you ever have suspected that France would be the Western country where popular opposition to the redefinition of marriage finally coalesced? The momentum toward legal recognition of same-sex unions continues in France, despite the demonstration that drew nearly 1 million people onto the...

Graceless: Being Human without God by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 17, 2013

The email mafia has done it again. Yet another “unregistered visitor” has sought to correct us through the Contact Form. In this case, the message consisted only of a quote from Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Mrs. Samuel H. Smith on August 6, 1816, a few years...

What Sort of Second Coming? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 17, 2013

I made a reference to William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) in my essay earlier today, Graceless: Being Human without God. The reference was to his brilliant poem, “The Second Coming”, which was written in 1919 in the aftermath of World War I. The poem went through a...

The Precepts of the Church: An Invitation to Life by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 18, 2013

We all know the Ten Commandments, or I think we do. I notice we do not have a handy copy of them on our website, but there is an excellent Scripture-based table of the Ten Commandments in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Among other things, the Commandments are an excellent basis for...

Thinking again about organ donation by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 21, 2013

When you renew your driver’s license, you’ll probably be encouraged to check off a box to enroll as an organ donor. (At least you’ll be asked; in some places the government would make the decision for you, and you’d be enrolled as an organ donor without waiting for your...

A Vatican spokesman's misguided statement on gun control by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 21, 2013

Let’s make something clear right away. Pope Benedict has not endorsed the Obama administration’s gun-control plans. The Pope has said nothing on the subject. But Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office—has released a statement on gun control, in his...

G. K. Chesterton, Jane Austen, and Politicians by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 22, 2013

Good writing often depends on imaginative connections. Thus when G. K. Chesterton noticed a writer in a leading daily paper rhapsodizing about the new attitudes of women which would make a difference in the General Election of 1930, he was immediately struck by the writer’s citation of Jane...

55 million legal abortions? The number is actually much higher by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 22, 2013

This week I've seen dozens of comments on the 55 million abortions that have been performed in the US in the years since Roe. Shocking as it is, that estimate is much too low. There have been roughly 55 million surgical abortions. The government doesn't keep good statistics on the number of...

Mythbusters: Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 22, 2013

You may recall the appointment of Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in July of last year. The announcement created a tempest in a teapot as both Traditionalists and Modernists loudly denounced the new prefect’s theological...

A subtle but powerful pro-life argument presented in (!) the New York Times by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 22, 2013

Today’s New York Times carries a stunning op-ed piece by Chuck Donovan on abortion statistics. I say it’s “stunning” for two different reasons, which apply to two different categories of readers. Some readers will be stunned to learn that the federal government does not...

Ashanti McShan: Beware of Little Masquerading as Big by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 23, 2013

You may think the Burger King settlement with Ashanti McShan was a triumph of justice, but there is an important sense in which it was not. The issue was the firing of McShan, a Pentecostal Christian teenager, because her religious convictions required her to wear a long skirt instead of slacks at...

Why Cardinal Mahony should have resigned 10 years ago by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 23, 2013

In 2002, when Pope John Paul II called the leaders of the US bishops’ conference to Rome for a discussion of the sex-abuse crisis, one cardinal, speaking to the Los Angeles Times under cover of anonymity, said that the prelates would push for the resignation of Boston’s Cardinal...

DC reporters struck deaf, blind! by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 24, 2013

Hundreds of news reporters and assignment-desk editors in Washington, DC, are suffering from the onset of a disease that causes partial deafness and blindness.  For reasons that doctors have been unable to explain, nearly all of the victims of this disease work in the news business--although...

If you hate the light, close the hatches! by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 24, 2013

One grows tired of world government. Even as the UN Human Rights Council presses toward declaring abortion a human right, the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child is trying to put an end to “life windows” throughout the world. Life Windows, or Baby Hatches, are...

Bishops must shoulder their responsibility in the pro-life struggle by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 25, 2013

Cardinal Sean O’Malley is certainly right to call for fasting and prayer this week, as we sadly observe the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The abortion issue—the ongoing slaughter of countless millions of innocent children—is not just another ordinary political question like...

2012-2013 Liturgical Year Series: Lent by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 25, 2013

I’ve just released the third volume of our 2012-2013 Liturgical Year Series, which covers Lent. That season begins this year on February 13th. Currently, of course, we’re in Ordinary Time before Lent, which is the second volume. These eBooks include all the days of...

Does your diocese/parish advertise in the National 'Catholic' Reporter'? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 28, 2013

If the National Catholic Reporter does not deserve to be called a “Catholic” publication—if in fact the Reporter has been calling itself “Catholic in defiance of the local bishop for more than 40 years—why do so many Catholic dioceses and parishes still advertise in...

Please, stop grousing about media coverage of the March for Life by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 28, 2013

A word of advice for my fellow pro-lifers: Stop complaining about media coverage of the March for Life. Sure, the coverage is paltry. Yes, the stories are biased. The same media outlets that give front-page coverage to protests involving a few hundred demonstrators virtually ignore a mass march...

Clean House! by Chris Pelicano in "The City Gates" - Jan 28, 2013

A client of mine creates and sells products that help families to know and grow in the Catholic Faith. His customer base is as enthusiastically and unapologetically Catholic as he and his staff are. He recently told me that while writing some promotional copy for his products he seriously...

A child with 3 genetic parents? It's a daunting possibility by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 28, 2013

What would be the moral implications of producing a child with three biological parents? The National Catholic Register offers a disturbing but thought-provoking analysis of that question—which, unfortunately, is no longer far-fetched. Scientists in Oregon have discovered a way to...

The Pope on Social Media: The Same Yet Different by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 28, 2013

When Pope Benedict commented on social media in his message for the 47th World Communications Day, it was perhaps somewhat predictable. Ever since the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Means of Social Communications (Inter Mirifica) in 1963, the Church has made a point of reminding her...

Of same-sex marriage and male lactation by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 29, 2013

“Legislating for the right for people of the same sex to marry is like legalizing male breastfeeding,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said in an interview with the Catholic Herald of London. With all due respect to the archbishop—whose overall defense of...

The campaign to discredit Bishop Finn is not going to stop by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 30, 2013

Bishop snared in abuse scandal criticizes Catholic newspaper That was the headline for a Los Angeles Times story on Bishop Robert Finn’s statement that the National Catholic Reporter does not deserve to be described as a “Catholic” publication. The gist of the...

No time for the Pope by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 30, 2013

If you are less than 38 years old, only one US president in your lifetime has allowed a full 4-year term to lapse without having his Secretary of State visit the Pope. Or put it this way: Since 1974 only one Secretary of State (acting/deputy secretaries don’t count) has not made time to meet...

Magisterium of the Theologians? That's twice now.... by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 31, 2013

Are we in the midst of a Modernist surprise attack? (But no, “surprise” and “Modernist” can hardly be used in the same sentence.) Anyway, twice recently people have emailed me to make fun of something on CatholicCulture.org, and when I’ve replied with some citation or...

How to Reach People? Christopher West on filling hearts. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 31, 2013

We fail so often to “get through” to others with the love and joy of our Faith that we all have to wonder if there is a better way. I discussed several different approaches recently in Models of Apologetics. That title may seem to blur the question, because it implies argument,...

A Day of Salvation that Wasn’t: On Reading Catholic Writers by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 31, 2013

I read two rather strange articles in the February 2013 issue of First Things last night, and all I can say is that I am grateful to the authors for stimulating thought. That’s an important function of a magazine which explores religion and public life in an ecumenical setting. Very often,...

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