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All Catholic commentary from January 2017

Spadaro’s irrational faith by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 6, 2017

Father Antonio Spadaro, the Italian Jesuit who has been identified as “the Pope’s mouthpiece,” frequently uses his Twitter account(s) to belittle all those who have questions about Amoris Laetitia. But this gem from yesterday might have a boomerang effect: Theology is no #Mathematics. 2 + 2 in...

Liturgical Year Volume 2 Released: Ordinary Time before Lent by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 6, 2017

The second volume of our ebook series for the 2016-2017 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This volume covers the initial period of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent, from January 10 through February 28. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following...

Fantasy and reality in the ‘Kasper proposal’ by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 6, 2017

The debate on Amoris Laetitia has been simmering steadily since my last entry on the subject. Father Raymond de Souza has helped put that debate in perspective, with a clear and compelling summary—easily the best that I have seen—of where the argument now stands. At this point the...

The Diversity of Epiphany by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jan 8, 2017

From the archives, January 2015. The home blessing link is updated for 2017, and includes a printable form. For Catholics living in the United States attending mass in the Ordinary Form, January 3 is the transferred Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Elsewhere, such as in Rome, Epiphany is...

Quick Hits: A devastating rebuttal on Amoris Laetitia, propaganda for Silence, trouble with the Knights of Malta by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 9, 2017

Last week Crux posted an argument in support of the Kasper proposal, presented by Father Paul Keller in the form of a fictitious case involving an immigrant woman who was abandoned by her (first) husband. Canon lawyer Edward Peters quickly responded with the most devastating rebuttal...

Mary holy for only nine months? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 9, 2017

In a bizarre post by the standards of First Things, Peter J. Leithart attempts to explain the meaning of St. Matthew’s statement that Joseph “took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son.” Leithart, who is a minister in the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches,...

Going with the flow: Amoris Laetitia and the secular temptation by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 10, 2017

Imagine three Catholic priests, each with his own parish: Father X has lost his faith. He continues serving as a pastor, going through the motions, because he’s accustomed to the work and he thinks he helps people. That is, he thinks he helps people, with his counsel and encouragement....

A cinematic rendering of the Ten Commandments by Thomas V. Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 10, 2017

I had the opportunity to see Dekalog, Krzysztof Kieslowski’s acclaimed series of ten hour-long films based on the Ten Commandments, when it was released in theaters in a newly restored version last fall. Made for Polish television in 1989, Dekalog is generally regarded as his best work...

If the English cannot live in accordance with moral values, are they free? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 11, 2017

If you want to see how darkened the human intellect can become through sin, look no further than the remarks of Dame Louise Casey in the United Kingdom. Casey holds a dubious position which apparently puts her in charge of “community integration”, perhaps the better to ensure that...

Have someone in mind? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 13, 2017

Peter Seewald, who has worked with Pope-emeritus Benedict on several book-length interviews, spoke to Catholic World Report about the former Pontiff, whom he characterizes as “one of the most misunderstood personalities of our time.” The world saw Pope Benedict (through the eyes of the...

The New Year: Redeeming the Time by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jan 13, 2017

I find it hard to believe that the month of January is almost halfway over. Since Advent began it has been very busy in my family, including the flu taking down various members this week. But time continues. The Church celebrated Christmas and now has entered tempus per annum or Ordinary...

Denunciation, condemnation and dire warnings: Can these be Christian? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 13, 2017

You would be hard-pressed to find a Catholic today who would dare to denounce or condemn anyone for their failure to accept the Gospel and live accordingly. Such harsh speech is part of the larger secular culture, but it has generally faded from what we might consider Catholic culture. Most often...

Quick hits: encouraging trend in France, interviewing Ratzinger’s interviewer, the Pope’s governing style by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 13, 2017

There are very encouraging developments in the public life of France, from a Catholic point of view, observes Samuel Gregg in a First Things essay. The presidential candidacy of Francois Fillon, who unabashedly appeals to Catholic principles, is confirmation of a revival in Catholic influence...

The Maltese bishops lower the bar by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 14, 2017

Here are some headlines that you haven’t seen recently: Bishops of Malta: Mafia hitmen should receive Communion if ‘at peace with God’ Bishops of Malta: pedophiles should receive Communion if ‘at peace with God’ Bishops of Malta: IRA terrorists should receive...

The Maltese bishops’ message: something lost in translation? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 17, 2017

Archbishop Charles Scicluna, answering critics of the Maltese bishops’ guidelines on Amoris Laetitia, insists that they did not say that divorced and remarried Catholics could receive Communion if they feel “at peace with God.” He has a point. The Maltese guidelines stipulate...

St. Thomas More’s razor-sharp Dialogue of Comfort by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 17, 2017

I feel privileged to have read another book written by St. Thomas More while he was in the Tower of London awaiting execution: A Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation (see my comments last November on The Sadness of Christ). More remained extraordinarily calm under fire for his refusal to...

Benedict XVI faces his toughest critic: himself by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 18, 2017

Toward the end of his 4th (and presumably final) book-length interview with Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, Last Testament, journalist Peter Seewald asked the now-retired Pontiff to name his own greatest weakness. Benedict replies: “Maybe clear, purposeful governance and the decisions that...

When 300% growth is not enough: the measure of African evangelization by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 19, 2017

This news item from Nigeria today is food for thought. Archbishop Mathew Man’Oso Ndagoso of Kaduna is concerned, because he sees “no sense of urgency to proclaim the Gospel.” The archbishop fears that “complacency, lethargy, and nonchalance” are choking off the...

Grace under fire: How a false gradualism undermines resistance to temptation by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 19, 2017

There has been much talk of “gradualism” over the past generation or two, and most of it has been rather foolish. Whenever the term is used to describe the normal process by which a person grows in spiritual understanding, in the love of God, and in virtue, gradualism is a descriptive...

Why the Knights of Malta resist the Vatican—and the Knights of Columbus should have done the same by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 20, 2017

The escalating dispute between the Vatican and the Knights of Malta brings to mind a somewhat similar debate from years past. During the 1980s, as the abortion issue gave rise to the most contentious arguments on the American political scene, the Knights of Columbus (KofC) faced a tough...

Inauguration Day thoughts: Shining City on a Hill by Fr. Jerry Pokorsky in "On the News" - Jan 20, 2017

Without God we labor in vain; so saith the Psalmist. Most of us, I suspect, easily forget the everyday need for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. So it is helpful to add the phrase, “with God’s grace” to our daily imperatives to remind ourselves that we can do nothing without Him. On...

Quick hits: the illusion of Catholic feminism and more by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 20, 2017

Pro-life feminist groups have been in the news this week because of their pointed exclusion from the Women’s March on Washington. While we should reach out for common ground with anyone who is fighting abortion, the idea of Catholic feminism is problematic. The Catholic feminist movement is...

Recommended: Challenge yourself with Pope Francis’ latest interview by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 23, 2017

Each person responds to a homily, address or interview by the Holy Father in his or her own unique way. Most often, the question in our minds is: “Did the Pope respond to my primary concerns in a helpful manner?” Thus, we start by being concerned about something based on our own...

Connected In Christ by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jan 24, 2017

This past Friday I visited my cousin. While a family visit is usually an everyday event, this was an important family get-together. You see, my cousin is dying from cancer. She is only fifty years old, fifteen months older than I am. Growing up we were very close. I would say we were as close...

Scorsese’s Silence is a contemplative masterpiece by Thomas V. Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 24, 2017

Warning: this review contains spoilers. Perhaps the most frequently noted characteristic of Silence—both book and film—is its ambiguity. Some revel in it, while others are deeply uncomfortable at best. (It is not necessary here to enter into psychoanalysis of the critics.) Most...

Here’s how Trump could energize the pro-life movement by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 25, 2017

If I were advising President Trump (which I am not), I’d tell him to start leaking the name of his Supreme-Court nominee on Friday, during the March for Life. The President has said that he’ll announce the nominee next week. That’s fine; hold to that schedule. Actually...

The ideological purge at the Vatican by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 25, 2017

For most of us, who are not Knights of Malta, the resignation of the group’s grand master will have little immediate impact. But the unprecedented papal intervention into the affairs of that venerable body fits into a pattern that should, at this point, worry all faithful Catholics. Under...

Combatting the dictatorship of relativism, one soul at a time by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 25, 2017

As an intellectual exercise, anyone who can think his way out of a paper bag immediately recognizes that relativism is a hopeless tautology. It affirms without a shadow of a doubt that truth does not exist, thereby proclaiming what would be, if it were possible, a very important truth. As a...

The Vatican purge, continued: packing the College of Cardinals by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 26, 2017

Yesterday, writing about how Pope Francis has packed the College of Cardinals with prelates who share his particular point of view, I cited the words of Father Tom Reese, who said that if Pope John Paul II or Benedict XVI had done the same thing, “Frankly, I would have been outraged.”...

In Potentia: Donald Trump’s Upside, and Donald Trump’s Downfall by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 27, 2017

It is hard to imagine (but easy to hope) that Donald Trump’s presidency will dramatically alter how politics works in America. Like many other Catholics who voted for Trump, I had to hold my nose as I entered the voting booth. Trump’s crassness, including all the negative publicity...

Pope Francis has become a source of division by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 27, 2017

Every day I pray for Pope Francis. And every day (I am exaggerating, but only slightly), the Pope issues another reminder that he does not approve of Catholics like me. If the Holy Father were rebuking me for my sins, I would have no reason to complain. But day after weary day the Pope upbraids...

Quick Hits: new perspectives on the abortion debate and on Amoris Laetitia by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 27, 2017

Among many excellent analyses published in time for the March for Life, “When Abortion Suddenly Stopped Making Sense,” by Frederica Mathewes-Green, deserves special mention. The arguments are familiar—how could they not be, after 44 years?—but she offers some new...

More on Trump’s wall: The danger of overreach by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 31, 2017

I suggested on Friday that President Trump’s 2,000-mile wall could well turn out to be the kind of ill-considered commitment which sends voters back across the aisle in 2020. The risk does not arise from any intrinsic immorality connected with building a wall, but from the likelihood that...