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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from October 2008

Envoy Institute: Apologetics at Belmont Abbey College by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 1, 2008

Over the past few years, under the leadership of Dr. William K. Theirfelder, Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina has recommitted itself to the Church's vision for Catholic higher education. The College has hired new faculty, recruited students who are serious about their faith, and...

Encyclical delayed-- a lot by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 2, 2008

 Just a couple of days ago I pointed out that the Ignatius Press site listed Caritatis Veritate, the 3rd encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, as "available September 2008." But September was ending, and the long-awaited encyclical still wasn't available. Things have changed. The...

another bishop stands up by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 3, 2008

 The Stuart Country Day School in Princeton, New Jersey is a Catholic institution-- or so they tell us-- run by the Society of the Sacred Heart. The nuns take pride in training girls for important roles in society, and so the school established a Women in Leadership Forum, inviting prominent...

Desecration of the Eucharist: a story not worth telling by Phil Lawler in "In Depth Analysis" - Oct 3, 2008

As a journalist, ordinarily I don't like to ignore the facts. Sometimes the news is disconcerting, even depressing. But I generally believe in airing the facts, however sad they may be, and trusting in Providence that the truth will prevail, and the truth is on our side. There are exceptions,...

how we've grown by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 5, 2008

 Former Notre Dame president Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, that venerable fraud, gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal recently in which he expressed himself on questions of topical import. Addressing the "leadership" issue, Hesburgh said  I have no problem with females...

Another factor in the financial crisis by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 6, 2008

 The US economy is in crisis because the real-estate market is crashing. But why is the real-estate market crashing? One major factor-- among many, to be sure-- is abortion. How's that, you ask? It's a simple matter of supply and demand.  In the first decade following Roe v. Wade,...

Book-banning by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 6, 2008

Although it happened back in April, the decision by the rector of the National Shrine to cancel my appearance at a book-signing, and then to pull my book, The Faithful Departed, off the bookstore shelves, is just now stirring controversy. First the Washington Times carried a story, then National...

respect, honor, and ignore by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 7, 2008

 Announcing that the Stuart Country Day School had decided to cancel a scheduled speaking appearance by New Jersey's former Governor Christine Todd Whitman, the headmistress, Sister Frances de la Chapelle, explained that "as a Sacred Heart School, we respect and honor the views of...

Guests and good manners by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 7, 2008

Yesterday's appearance by Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen before the Synod of Bishops was an unprecedented event:  that assembly had never before invited a Jewish leader. So it's unfortunate that most news coverage of the Israeli rabbi's talk centered on his public opposition to the beatification of...

Good News for the Liturgy by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 7, 2008

For liturgical changes over the past generation or so, official preparation of the faithful has been minimal. The vacuum has too often been filled by professional liturgists and liturgical publishing houses with their own agendas, agendas sometimes at odds with the unbroken Tradition of the...

your problem, not mine by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 7, 2008

Father Stephen Foley, once a police chaplain in the Hartford, Connecticut archdiocese, is now on the run. The Hartford Courant reports that he has been living in Virginia, but his exact whereabouts are unknown. At least they are unknown to the Connecticut judge who has been trying to persuade...

upstaged by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 8, 2008

 Seeking wisdom that might be applied to our national's political campaigns, the National Catholic Reporter cast about for an appropriate analyst and found-- now here's a surprise-- Rev. Richard McBrien, the "noted theologian" who has spent the past 30 years shuffling from Call...

Is More a bore? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 9, 2008

Is it heresy to whisper that the sainted Thomas More is a bit of a bore? Thus begins a New York Times review of a Broadway revival of Robert Bolt's memorable Man for All Seasons: the play that became the still-more-memorable movie. No, it's not heresy. A saint could, in theory, be a dull subject...

The Loss of Scriptural Imagination by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 9, 2008

At the Synod of Bishops in Rome this month, Francis Cardinal George of Chicago addressed his brother bishops on the loss of Scriptural themes in the popular imagination. This year’s Synod is devoted to “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church” and Cardinal George,...

a new low in Boston Church leadership by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 10, 2008

Back in July, the Massachusetts legislature repealed a law that barred out-of-state gay couples from coming to Massachusetts to marry.  Catholic Church leaders had been curiously quiet about the effort until the 11th hour; just before the State House vote, the heads of the state's four...

Was Shakespeare a Catholic? Should We Care? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Oct 10, 2008

The long-running debate over whether William Shakespeare was a Roman Catholic has heated up again recently in the Catholic press. Some months ago I pointed readers to what I regard as the finest summary of the state of the argument in Robert Miola’s “Shakespeare’s Religion”, which appeared in the...

Scripture and the Word of God by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 10, 2008

 This month the Synod of Bishops is discussing the Word of God. Notice: not just the Scriptures, but the Word of God. The distinction is critical to understanding the Catholic approach to the Bible. When Protestants say that the Bible is the Word of God, Catholics readily agree. But if you...

Does heaven hear the music of sinners? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 11, 2008

 Jeff's Commentary article on whether Shakespeare was a Catholic put me in a speculative frame of mind. We don't know for sure whether Shakespeare was Catholic-- although it's an interesting debate. But we do know that he wasn't a martyr.  We do know with certainty, as a matter of...

the company they keep by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 11, 2008

 The McCain-for-President campaign is linking Barack Obama to the community-action group ACORN.  So it's interesting that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the official anti-poverty effort of the US Catholic bishops, gave over $1 million to ACORN last year. GOP strategists...

an accomplice of injustice by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 14, 2008

 When the Bishop of Fresno, California, wrote a pastoral letter opposing same-sex marriage, Father Geoffrey Farrow faced a moral quandary.  Farrow, who is homosexual, thoroughly disagreed with the stand taken by his bishop. The bishop was merely reiterating Catholic Church teaching, of...

a slight setback in inter-religious dialogue by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 14, 2008

A radical Islamic leader in Pakistan has reportedly condemned the country's president, Asif Ali Zardari, for "indecent gestures, filthy remarks, and repeated praise of a non-Muslim lady wearing a short skirt." The incident in question occurred at UN headquarters in New York, where...

Those Damn Republicans by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 14, 2008

I had said in an earlier commentary article that, ultimately, those Catholics who want to vote pro-choice will justify it by citing any available reason, no matter how trivial. (See Defending Ourselves Against the Absolute.) Since then, users have acquainted me with several more of these straws at...

once a scam artist by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 15, 2008

When is a plea bargain not really a bargain? When the perp who cops the plea has "deeply religious" reasons for wanting more favorable treatment. An attorney for Raffaello Follieri, the convicted con artist who raised millions of dollars for a fraudulent real-estate business and then...

Clarification coming soon? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 15, 2008

 A long-awaited "clarification" of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum will be released in January 2009, according to a blog report. Pontifex, an Italian Catholic news site, reports that the clarification will be signed by Pope Benedict in December and released early in the new...

The frightening power of God's love by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 15, 2008

 On this feast of St. Teresa of Avila, I find myself thinking about the great mystics and their ability-- or should I say their willingness?-- to float away on the sea of God's love. God's love is like an ocean, not only because it is immeasurably deep but also because it is infinitely...

an unconscious plug for the other side by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 16, 2008

 Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore, in a column for his archdiocesan paper the Catholic Review, laments the public image of the pro-life movement: How unfortunate it is that the pro-life movement comes across to some as angry, reproachful or excessively judgmental.  "Comes...

A date to remember by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 16, 2008

 Hard to believe, isn't it, that on this date in 1978 most Catholic Americans-- no, make that virtually all of us-- woke up in the morning completely unfamiliar with the name "Wojtyla." We had barely learned the name "Luciani," and fully expected to hear another Italian...

Benedict the Blogger? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 16, 2008

At the Synod the other day, a lay participant suggested that Pope Benedict XVI start a blog with his personal reflections on the daily Scripture readings. Such a blog would undoubtedly be extraordinarily good, at least as good as the Pope’s brilliant impromptu responses to questions when he...

obviously by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 16, 2008

 Last week Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, told John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter that he would "obviously" vote for Barack Obama if he were an American citizen. Obviously? Forgive me for being dense, but why is it obvious that an African prelate would...

Cold comfort by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 16, 2008

 Are you suffering from anxiety gridlock? Don't know which things you should be worrying about the most? Here's some good news.  Remember the concerns about the melting of the polar ice cap, which was cited as evidence of runaway global warming? Right now there's 28.7% more ice in...

seeing things by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 17, 2008

 The soaring wisdom of columnist Ellen Goodman has reached a dizzying new height:  Because we rarely see real women, it's easy to forget that one out of every three American women has had an abortion by the time she's 45. Could've sworn I saw a real woman just yesterday. Might have...

hey, lighten up! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 17, 2008

 The American bishops have generally agreed that political candidates who favor unrestricted legal abortion should not be given opportunities to speak at Church-sponsored events.  unless the events raise $5 million for Catholic Charities unless the events are hosted by the...

Oh Well, We Can Always Pray by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Oct 17, 2008

There are so many things wrong with the world that it is a wonder we are not overwhelmed. But as Chesterton had King Alfred say in his Ballad of the White Horse, we Christians generally have more heart to fight and die than pagans have to live. Thus does the Christian King Alfred, defeated and...

flight of the bumblebee by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 20, 2008

 The Delaware News Journal has persuaded Senator Joe Biden to speak directly about how he reconciles his Catholic faith with his support for legal abortion. (Hat tip to American Papist for bringing the exchange to our notice.)  You can read the full interview if you like, but don't try...

Want to sign a pro-life petition to the UN? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 21, 2008

The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute has joined with other pro-life groups in the US and abroad in a petition to the UN, calling for protection for the unborn. The petition asks the UN member-states to interpret the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as conferring the right to life on...

Render unto Caesar by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 21, 2008

Archbishop Charles Chaput has written an outstanding book on Catholic citizenship. The book deserves the widest possible audience, and should be required reading for Catholic politicians. Entitled Render unto Caesar and subtitled “Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in...

no standing by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 22, 2008

"We claim no standing in telling Catholics whom to honor as a saint," announces the Jerusalem Post in an editorial about the cause of Pope Pius XII.   Can you guess what the next sentence...

from someone who knows, take it by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 22, 2008

Are you looking for financial advice? These days, who isn't? So it's comforting to know that there are experts available to address your concerns. Reliable folks, who advertise in the parish bulletin and-- who knows?-- might have strong connections with the Church. Best of all, it's good to...

Some Quotes to Remember by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 23, 2008

John McCain: “I have stated time after time after time that Roe v. Wade was a bad decision, that I support…the rights of the unborn. I have fought for human rights and human dignity throughout my entire political career. To me it is an issue of human rights and human dignity.”...

Keeping bishops in place? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 24, 2008

A Spanish-language Catholic blog, La Buhardilla de Jeronimo, reports a hot rumor around Rome: that the Pope will soon raise the normative retirement age for bishops from 75 to 78.  (Hat tip to Rorate Caeli for bringing this to our attention.) There are always rumors floating around the...

Our Man Martino by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Oct 24, 2008

I’ve had frequent fantasies about three things: (1) Being Superman; (2) Being a walk-on player for the Washington Redskins who saves their season; and (3) Being a bishop who travels around his diocese in disguise, revealing his identity and taking immediate action whenever he encounters a serious...

A Church, not a business by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 27, 2008

 Tom Szyszkiewicz, a fine Catholic journalist who wrote for me frequently when I edited Catholic World Report, has an interesting piece in Business Week, on the work of Geoffrey Boisi and the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management (NLRCM)-- a group of corporate executives who...

“Pitiful Diatribes on Exterior Forms” by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 27, 2008

If you argue endlessly about this or that form of the liturgy and can be satisfied with nothing less than what you regard as ideal, Pope Benedict wants to yank your chain. The comments in question were made in his preface to the first volume of a German language edition of his complete works, a...

Democratic dhimmitude by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 27, 2008

 The Democratic Party is actively recruiting pro-life candidates, the New York Times informs us. Why, this year there are 12 identifiably pro-life Democrats running for seats in the US Congress. "That is the highest number of anti-abortion candidates the party has fielded in recent...

Converting the Average Catholic by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 28, 2008

In his outstanding book Render unto Caesar, Archbishop Charles Chaput describes the utterly miserable state of Catholic life in the United States: “By our actions, many of us witness a kind of practical atheism: paying lip service to God, but living as if he didn’t exist. Many of us...

Bishop Gracida responds by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 29, 2008

Bishop Rene Gracida has written in response to my Commentary article, When Bishops Disagree, and given permission to reproduce these comments: Phil, I would like to offer a few of observations to complement your article. First, while it is true that each Ordinary is the teacher on faith and...

When Bishops Disagree: Contradictory Statements on the US Presidential Race [Updated] by Phil Lawler in "In Depth Analysis" - Oct 29, 2008

Is it reasonable to think that in one American diocese it would be morally justifiable for a voter to cast his ballot for Barack Obama in this year's presidential election, but for a Catholic voter in another diocese the same vote would be sinful? Is it possible that the moral principles...

oh so subtle by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 29, 2008

Treachery and cowardice rarely fly their own flags. If I plan to betray you, I won't announce my intentions in advance. If you're afraid of a bully, you'll probably come up with some excuse to duck the confrontation rather than admitting you're scared. Sometimes a man who claims to be your ally...

autopsy first, death later by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 31, 2008

 The patient is still breathing, but the post-mortem analysis has already begun. On the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal-- in a column entitled Potomac Watch, which suggests that the writer has special expertise in Washington's political affairs, Kimberly Strassel tells us that the...

and don't they make the trains run on time? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 31, 2008

 A Scottish solon is outraged that Cardinal Keith O'Brien would dare to compare embryo research with Nazi genetic experimentation. It's all very well for the prelate to oppose the practice,  says Tavish Scott, but "language about Nazis could put Scottish jobs at risk."...

Canonization, Flashpoints and John Henry Newman by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Oct 31, 2008

The impending beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman, though no date has as yet been announced, has become a flashpoint of controversy, as beatifications and canonizations often are. Newman was one of England’s greatest literary and spiritual figures. When and if he is canonized, he will be...

Grave and manifest: an archbishop's odd logic on withholding Communion by Phil Lawler in "In Depth Analysis" - Oct 31, 2008

In a a fine column that appears this week in the archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Review, Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore has joined dozens of other American bishops in affirming that the protection of innocent human life is the paramount political issue of our time. For that...

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