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All Catholic commentary from January 2015

The Hobbit Party: Tolkien and the Social Order by Thomas V. Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 5, 2015

It is well-known even among non-Catholic readers that J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic and that his Catholicism deeply informed his fiction. Indeed, there is something of a cottage industry in Catholic interpretations of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. But Tolkien also had a unique...

Aid for Christians in Iraq and Syria by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 5, 2015

If you read CatholicCulture.org regularly, you’re probably aware of the suffering of Christians in Iraq and Syria, who have been displaced from their homeland by Islamic extremists. Pope Francis has repeatedly asked Catholics to pray for our beleaguered brethren in the Middle East. Aside...

No more 'princes of the Church'—the Pope's new model for the College of Cardinals by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 5, 2015

Whenever a Pope announces a consistory, and names a new set of cardinals, commentators hasten to interpret the papal choices. But on Sunday, when Pope Francis identified his latest selections, most commentators—myself included—drew a blank. To be quite honest, among the 20 names...

A flood of closing churches by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 5, 2015

Church closures have reached flood stage in northern Europe. According to the Wall Street Journal (“Europe’s empty churches go on sale”, unfortunately available only to subscribers), some 515 Catholic churches have been closed in Germany over the last decade and it is estimated...

The Ecumenical Imperative: Intrinsic to the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 6, 2015

In late November, Pope Francis told the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity that ecumenism—the quest for unity among Christians—must be an ever-present concern for the Church. Acknowledging problems created by new divisions over moral and doctrinal issues, the Pope emphasized the...

Could we postpone debate on the Pope's encyclical until it appears? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 7, 2015

At The Catholic Thing, Robert Royal has serious misgivings about the Pope’s forthcoming encyclical, which will tackle the issue of climate change. But the Crisis site, Rachel Lu tells us that we shouldn’t lose sleep about...

Our critical need for regular monthly support, and how you can help by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 7, 2015

CatholicCulture.org is planning a move to a more powerful and more stable technical infrastructure which will maximize both our uptime and our ability to serve growing numbers of users with maximum speed. Our current servers and software are now somewhat dated, and both stability and speed became...

Why believe in God? And why are some answers so unbearably thin? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 8, 2015

I just spent a very enjoyable couple of hours reading a collection of essays from religious artists answering the question of why they believe in God. By religious “artists”, I mean religious persons who are involved in the arts—creative writing, the visual arts, and music. The...

Baptism Begins a Continuing Catechesis: Special Needs for Communion by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jan 9, 2015

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on Sunday (or Tuesday in the Extraordinary Form) marks the end of the Christmas season. The Church changes to green vestments and begins Tempus Per Annum or Ordinary Time (or Time after Epiphany in the Extraordinary Form). This feast can be a reminder of each...

Sin and judgment in Breaking Bad by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 9, 2015

I’m not the first person to claim that Breaking Bad, which concluded its five-season run in 2013, is a deeply moral television series. Catholic NYT columnist Ross Douthat blogged about it extensively, and sources both Christian and secular have suggested that the show embodies an...

Evangelizing the Culture for Marriage and Family by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 9, 2015

Those who wish to deepen their understanding of marriage and the family, and of the contemporary issues involving them, may be interested in a six-part miniseries on EWTN which begins on January 12. The episode schedule: RESOLVING CULTURAL CONFUSION ABOUT MARRIAGE- Monday, January 12 Learn...

Murder, blasphemy, and the limits of intolerance by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 10, 2015

Let’s stop the posturing, shall we? You say, “je suis Charlie.” But would you have published the cartoons that made the editors of Charlie Hebdo the target of jihadist killers? Would you publish them even now? Let me put the question differently. You say that you will fight...

News flash: the Pope doesn't tell God what to do by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 12, 2015

No doubt it’s a mistake to expect theological clarity in a statement by Elton John. Still when a friend called my attention to Sir Elton’s proclamation that Pope Francis is a saint, my eye was caught by the rock star’s assessment: “He is a compassionate, loving man who...

False dichotomies dull our Catholicism by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 13, 2015

I would hate to try to trace a pattern through all the affected issues, but I think I’m on to something when I suggest that the world too often sees false dichotomies where the Church sees unities. To take an example I’ve already discussed, there is the marked tendency of...

Fitting Resolutions by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jan 13, 2015

From the end of December into January, everyone is abuzz about making  New Year's resolutions. Most resolutions revolve around health of the body: lose weight, exercise more, change bad eating habits. As we enter the third week of January, so many resolutions are already forgotten,...

Our Paradoxical Times: An economy of waste, a culture of the absurd by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 13, 2015

Anyone who has read John Steinbeck’s harrowing novel The Grapes of Wrath, or anyone who knows anything about the marketing of both baby formula and cigarettes in the third world, or anyone who examines military contracts, knows the lengths to which businesses will sometimes to go to enhance...

Islamic militants have a cause they believe in. Do we? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 15, 2015

Newt Gingrich, of all people, should be familiar with the lesson that I was taught as the First Law of Politics: You can’t beat somebody with nobody. So I’m surprised that in a column appearing in today’s Wall Street Journal, on why we’re losing the battle against radical Islam, the former...

Free speech and civility post-Charlie Hebdo by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 15, 2015

Two unreasonable positions: We must never say anything that could possibly be offensive to Muslims. We should say everything we can think of that will be offensive to Muslims. In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo killings we have seen both of these unreasonable positions advanced—usually...

How do we react when the Pope fails to express our top concerns? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 15, 2015

Pope Francis’ in-flight interview on January 15th touched on a number of issues that have profound social implications: Freedom of religion, reconciliation among different religious groups, freedom of speech, the exploitation of children, and the misuse of nature, including climate...

Christ freed us from our sins! But this is not enough. Really. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 19, 2015

I have known a number of Catholics who were able to speak very eloquently about the forgiveness of our sins and our freedom in Christ. They had a knack for helping others realize how much God loved them, so that they could be unburdened by fear, doubt and guilt. Unfortunately, in some cases, they...

Carnival Part One: A Season of Contrasts by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jan 19, 2015

Lent is a month away. The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time is exactly 31 days before Ash Wednesday. The Church has entered Tempus ad Annum, "The Season Throughout the Year," most commonly referred to as "Ordinary Time" and will soon enter the six-week period of Lent culminating...

A revealing book recommendation from the Pope by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 20, 2015

Twice now, Pope Francis has recommended Robert Hugh Benson's apocalyptic novel, Lord of the World. It’s interesting that an English novel—written more than a century ago, and no longer easy to find—would figure prominently in the public remarks of a Pontiff who is not fluent...

The Didache Bible Is Here by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 21, 2015

I already mentioned the new Didache Bible, before it was actually available, in Two beautiful books to give as Christmas gifts. But I definitely want to call it to your attention again now that you can purchase it. It’s a brand new Bible developed and published jointly by the Midwest...

Receiving Holy Communion Under Special Circumstances: Continuing the Conversation by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jan 23, 2015

Earlier this month I wrote about how formation and catechizing our children can go beyond the simple Q&A catechism and continues, especially in special needs for receiving the Eucharist. (See Baptism Begins a Continuing Catechesis: Special Needs for Communion.) Very soon after writing my...

A rare “win” in the Venerable League: Laity 4, Priests and Religious 3 by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 23, 2015

The latest announcements from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints are noteworthy because so many laymen are included. Priests and religious are more likely to be canonized, but the latest batch of venerables includes four lay persons out of seven total. There are at least six good reasons...

Guess who thinks Pope Francis shouldn't give so many interviews? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 23, 2015

“Interviews are not my forte,” then-Cardinal Bergoglio once remarked, and for that reason he seldom sat down to speak on the record with reporters. When two journalists sought a formal interview, he advised them to publish excerpts from his sermons and essays instead. (A Call to...

Church Fathers: St. Polycarp and St. Papias by Thomas V. Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 24, 2015

St. Polycarp, Apostolic Father The earliest extant detailed account of the arrest and martyrdom of a single individual is that of St. Polycarp (70-156), Bishop of Smyrna. According to St. Irenaeus, who had listened to Polycarp as a child, Polycarp himself had learned from the Apostle John...

The best argument against the 'celibate gay Catholics' by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 26, 2015

In the space of a generation, the connotation of the word “gay” has changed radically. To my father, “gay” meant carefree and happy. To my sons, “gay” means homosexual. Any living language is constantly changing, as popular usage gives words new shades of...

Snowbound thoughts on natural law by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 27, 2015

Here in the northeastern US, the hysteria over the winter storm dubbed Juno began several days ago. It peaked on Monday, as the storm approached, with the Mayor of New York predicting a catastrophe of historic proportions. In fact, the storm breezed through New York, leaving only a genteel...

Salvation? No matter who we are, one price. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 28, 2015

In reading through the Bible again I’ve ploughed far enough into Exodus to get to the ceremonial material—which is, let’s face it, pretty boring. That’s not to say its emphasis on the holiness of God, and how careful we must be in His Presence, is not enormously important....

On the failure of history—and historians—without Christ by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 29, 2015

When I was a brash young graduate student in the very early 1970s, Professor Lawrence Stone tried to teach me that the English Revolution and civil war were essentially caused by social and demographic factors, and that the previous emphasis on religious differences was essentially laughable. I...

Can Islam confront its problem with violence? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 30, 2015

Is Islam truly a religion of peace? The president of Egypt apparently doesn’t think so. Writing in Crisis, William Kilpatrick calls attention to a speech in which the Egyptian leader, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, called upon his country’s Muslim leaders to lead a “religious revolution” in the Islamic...

Conscientious objection to vaccinations by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 30, 2015

Following an outbreak of measles that was traced back to Disneyland, public-health authorities are ramping up their campaign to persuade all American parents that their children should be vaccinated. This campaign places pressure on some parents who have moral objections to the use of certain...