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All Catholic commentary from October 2016

The flower of the Holy Spirit, with photos by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Oct 3, 2016

Here is a little instant inspiration, in the form of a particular type of orchid found in Central and South America. Named “The Flower of the Holy Spirit”, this orchid looks like praying monks before blooming, and then opens into a flower that in many cases looks remarkably like a...

Evangelizing, Converting, Proselytizing: What’s in a Name? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 4, 2016

Speaking on relations between Catholics and the Orthodox while in the Eurasian country of Georgia, Pope Francis touched on the question of conversion: Let the theologians study the abstract realities of theology. But what should I do with a friend, neighbor, an Orthodox person? Be open, be a...

Another confusing papal statement, this time on gender ideology by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 4, 2016

Another papal trip, another in-flight press conference, another statement to confuse and dismay the faithful. Last Saturday, in Tbilisi, Georgia, the Holy Father denounced gender ideology in ringing terms. “Today there is a world war to destroy marriage,” he said, and gender theory...

The Pope’s confusing statement on gender theory: a follow-up by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 5, 2016

Several readers have written to me overnight, saying that I was mistaken in saying that Pope Francis had sent mixed messages about gender theory. Let me respond to that concern. When he spoke in Tbilisi, Georgia, the Pope was admirably clear in his denunciation of gender theory. (I said that...

What’s missing from this list? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 5, 2016

In an October 5 statement to a UN conference on security challenges involving young people in the Mediterranean region, the Vatican’s representative, Msgr. Janusz Urbanczyk, offered these thoughts: Root causes that promote violent extremism, radicalization and terrorism among the young must be...

Crucified “Christa”: A sign of faith lost by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 5, 2016

One can only marvel at the “evolving, growing, learning church” touted by New York’s Episcopalian Bishop Andrew Dietsche. He says that’s why Episcopalians can now welcome the crucifix portraying Christ as a woman, which they rejected some 30 years ago. But this is not a...

Quick Hits: secularism, liturgy, and belief by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Oct 6, 2016

The influential Catholic philosopher Charles Taylor suggested that living in a secular age means not so much that people are less religious but that even for those who consider themselves religious, truth itself seems unstable, uncertain, up for grabs. James K. A. Smith, another philosopher who...

On the feast of St. Bruno, remembering a visit with the Carthusians by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 6, 2016

Fifteen years ago, to celebrate the 900th anniversary of their founding, the Carthusian monks in the US decided to let one reporter—one—visit their community and report on their life. I was honored to be chosen, and my visit to the charterhouse in Vermont was unforgettable. The strict...

Jewish Humor by Fr. Jerry Pokorsky in "On the News" - Oct 7, 2016

Jewish humor is prevalent in our culture, or at least at one time it was. Many of the great comedians are Jewish: Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Groucho Marx, Jerry Lewis—the list seems endless. Humor, of course, is possible because the contrast of human behavior—whether sinful or just...

Christianity as stumbling block: The great scandal of an Incarnational life by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Oct 7, 2016

When I wrote on Wednesday about the scandalous concreteness of Christianity, I didn’t tell the half of it. My argument was that because its essence is found in the Word made flesh, Christianity possesses a particularity or concreteness that resists our all too human temptation to invent...

Pope’s choice of new US cardinals underlines commitment to ‘irreversible’ change by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 10, 2016

With his selection of 17 new cardinals, Pope Francis has left no doubt about his determination to bring permanent change to the Church. “You have to realize that he is aiming at reform that is irreversible,” one of his closest advisers said last year. With his additions to the group...

Have pro-lifers become the GOP’s second-class citizens? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 10, 2016

Hadley Arkes, who has been an effective pro-life battler in Washington’s trench warfare for years, is worried that Pro-lifers Settle for Dhimmitude these days. His argument is, I think, unanswerable. The only serious discussion of abortion in this year’s presidential race swirls...

The Pius Wars? No longer a slur on Pius XII, but the Pope’s own war against Hitler by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 11, 2016

Do you recall the Pius wars? The conflict over the legacy of Pope Pius XII is probably best known from John Cornwell’s highly-biased book Hitler’s Pope, a title that is also a shameless bit of name-calling. But that was in 1999. Since then so many scholars have leapt to the...

Socially acceptable Catholics by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 11, 2016

In a revealing email exchange that was made public today by Wikileaks, Jennifer Palmieri, the communications director of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign explains why many influential conservatives are Catholics: I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable politically...

Democrats trying to change Church teachings? Nothing new. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 12, 2016

“We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good,” wrote John Podesta, the chairman of the Clinton campaign. He was responding to a supporter who had suggested a campaign to bring change within the Catholic Church, to “demand the end of a middle ages...

Catholic social teaching and the Third Reich by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Oct 12, 2016

One thing I chose not to mention in yesterday’s review of Mark Riebling’s brilliant and exciting book, Church of Spies, was the careful attention paid by key figures to Catholic social teaching. This was another factor which made it impossible for a moral attempt to assassinate Adolf...

The danger of appointing like-minded cardinals by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 13, 2016

“Once, he was sentenced to death. Now, he’ll be a Catholic cardinal.” That was the headline on a Washington Post report on the Pope’s decision to award a red hat to Father Ernest Simoni, who survived almost 30 years in forced-labor camps under Albania’s brutal...

Quick Hits: the prophetic encyclical that inspired Humanae Vitae, Esolen on the ‘pronoun wars’ by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 13, 2016

1. What’s Cardinal Pell been doing recently? Well, among other things, he’s been writing an introduction to my wife’s new book. It’s possible that I’m not perfectly objective, but I think the book is terrific. For nearly 50 years now, loyal Catholics have been...

Confidence in the Church: What do we do when we want to cry? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Oct 14, 2016

It’s been a difficult year for deeply-committed Catholics, by which I mean those who accept all that the Church teaches and who sincerely try to conform their lives to Christ in accordance with Divine Revelation and natural law—of which the Church alone is the custodian. This is the...

The anti-Catholic Catholics (and the bishops who support them) by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 14, 2016

Yesterday Ross Douthat of the New York Times embarked on a lengthy Tweetstorm —21 tweets in all—questioning whether it’s accurate to refer to the leaked emails from the Clinton campaign as evidence of “anti-Catholic” bigotry. Douthat—who is no friend of the...

Feast Day Highlights: The North American Martyrs by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Oct 17, 2016

October 19 is the memorial of Sts. Isaac Jogues and John de Brebeuf, priests and martyrs and companions, otherwise known as the “North American Martyrs.” These saints include: Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf (or Jean), Gabriel Lalemant, Noel Chabanel, Charles Garnier, Anthony Daniel,...

Confidence in the Church: Our position of strength by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Oct 18, 2016

When I outlined the suffering we experience when confronted with any form of infidelity in a pope (or a bishop or a pastor), I concluded that we should not expect the life of a Catholic to be free of such hardships, any more than we should expect our best pastors to be free of suffering induced by...

A Vatican enemies list? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 19, 2016

Last week the Vatican Insider—ordinarily a solid source of news and reasonable analysis from Rome—published a remarkable piece with an inflammatory headline, “Catholics who are anti-Francis but love Putin.” The article is troubling, for several reasons: The article...

Augustine Institute announces scholarship competition by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Oct 19, 2016

The Augustine Institute, which offers Masters of Arts degrees in both Theology and Leadership for the New Evangelization, has announced its fourth annual scholarship competition. Each year, the Institute selects four applicants to receive its John Paul II scholarships, which cover the cost of...

Quick Hits: More cautionary thoughts on Amoris Laetitia by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 19, 2016

Writing in Catholic World Report, Samuel Gregg remarks that Amoris Laetitia steers around the discussion of “intrinsically evil acts.” This is unfortunate, he writes, because in all the discussion of showing mercy to troubled souls, there is no clear indication that “mercy...

The message behind the burqa by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 20, 2016

In his excellent speech at Notre Dame (about which more anon), Archbishop Charles Chaput makes an interesting point about Muslim women who wear the hijab or burqa: Some of my friends are annoyed by that kind of “in your face” Islam. But I understand it. The hijab and the burqa say...

Religion in public? Our modern political stupor by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 20, 2016

Well, well, I was looking for something to write about…and there it was right in our news list: “France’s Le Pen: ban religious symbols in public”. When the leader of France’s third-largest political party proposed a ban on all personal manifestations of religious...

Persecution and apostasy: two tough challenges by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 20, 2016

Archbishop Charles Chaput pulled no punches in an October 19 address to a symposium at Notre Dame. In fact the archbishop actually spoke about punching, reminding his audience that “we can’t overlook the fact that the flesh and blood model for our Church—Mary as mater et...

Al Smith is spinning in his grave by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 21, 2016

Has the Al Smith Dinner Ceased to Be a Worthwhile Event for the Catholic Church? That’s the question raised by Thomas McArdle in a column that appears in the National Catholic Register. Is there anyone out there who wouldn’t answer Yes? Sure, the white-tie dinner raises lots of...

Explaining the spiritual works of mercy: An opportunity for Pope Francis by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 21, 2016

At his general audience on October 12th, Pope Francis announced that he was about to begin a new series in his continuing catechesis on mercy. He plans to devote fourteen audiences to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Pope Francis believes a commitment to these works can change the...

St. John Paul II: Top Ten Connections by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Oct 21, 2016

In honor of the feast of St. John Paul II, this is a repost from October 2014 archives: Recently my husband and I watched The Roosevelts: An Intimate History by Ken Burns. When the film reached Franklin Delano Roosevelt dying after serving as president of the United States for 12 years, there...

Little Italian Grandmothers by Fr. Jerry Pokorsky in "On the News" - Oct 24, 2016

One of the most memorable homilies I’ve heard was given by a New York City priest when I was in the seminary. He introduced his homily with a droll comment about “little Italian grandmothers” and their big families. The details escape me. But his quip drew twitters of chuckles...

Pope Francis: Two moments of much-needed inspiration by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 25, 2016

On October 23rd and 24th Pope Francis offered the kind of encouragement that can go a long way toward renewing the confidence of serious Catholics who lament the most obvious features of his pontificate. We have had rare flashes of such counter-cultural encouragement in the past, and it is...

Here’s an idea: just cancel the Al Smith dinner by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 25, 2016

You say you weren’t happy about the Al Smith dinner? Neither was I. Neither was John Gehring. Yes, I’m writing about that John Gehring, the liberal political operative who did PR work first for the US bishops’ conference, then for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, the group that...

Corporal and spiritual works: From mechanical provisioning to acts of love by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 26, 2016

The Pope’s renewed emphasis on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy could not be more timely. One of the points I hope Francis will make is that the two categories—corporal and spiritual—are inseparable. There are two reasons for this: Those in a position to perform...

Why Democrats choke on the words ‘under God’ by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 27, 2016

Introducing Hillary Clinton at a rally, a speaker tells the cheering audience that only the Democratic standard-bearer can bring America together as “one nation, un....” and then she breaks off, pauses, and continues with remainder of the familiar phrase from the Pledge of Allegiance:...

Cancel the Al Smith dinner: Round 2 by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 28, 2016

Readers have responded very favorably to my suggestion that the Al Smith Dinner should be discontinued, and when George Weigel seconded the motion, the responses to his column were favorable as well. But New York’s Cardinal Dolan thinks differently, and he will cast the decisive...

November Octave and Novena by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Oct 30, 2016

Although it is not quite November, the “triduum” of All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween), All Saints Day and All Souls Day begins tomorrow. November 1 begins the “Poor Souls’ octave” during which a plenary indulgence for the Poor Souls in Purgatory can be gained each...

The importance of words: The key to our Catholic mission by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Oct 31, 2016

I notice that Piero Doria has written a new book (in Italian) on the history of the Second Vatican Council. As an historian who works in the Vatican’s Secret Archives, he probably had access to a good deal of information about what was going on behind the scenes at the time. So I hope it...