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All Catholic commentary from November 2015

All things to all men: Pope Francis on the Gypsies, but what of the Gypsy Church? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Nov 2, 2015

The news a few days ago that Pope Francis had come under attack by Gypsy activists is in some way humorous. While the Pope has been a strong supporter of the rights of Gypsies, he said in an audience in October 26th that they themselves could help repair their public image if they are “good...

Do artists have moral responsibility? by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Nov 2, 2015

I revisited parts of the Thomistic philosopher Jacques Maritain's wonderful book The Responsibility of the Artist (which you can read at Notre Dame's Maritain Center) a few days ago. There are so many wonderful and inspiring insights I could share, but based on having read it...

Is post-Synod confusion better than the alternatives? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Nov 3, 2015

Ross Douthat of the New York Times has argued forcefully that Pope Francis has created dangerous fissures within the Church by supporting the Kasper proposal. But now Douthat suggests that the Pope could head off a crisis by issuing a post-synod exhortation in which he would “just leave...

'Vatileaks II' and the enemies of reform by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Nov 4, 2015

In his novel Shoes of the Fisherman, Morris West has an old Vatican hand give this advice to a newly elected Pope from a country far away from Rome: “Don’t try to change the Romans, Holiness. Don’t try to fight or convert them. They’ve been managing Popes for the last nineteen hundred years and...

No, China did not 'abolish' the one-child policy. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 4, 2015

For some reason nearly every news outlet (except CWN), used the same word in its headline, proclaiming that China has “abolished” its one-child population policy. That’s not the case. My friend Rev. John Ensor, who is on a global mission to spread the Gospel of Life,...

The letter vs. the spirit of the law? That's not how the Psalmist sees it. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 5, 2015

A lot of talk these days from the Vatican (I’d say from the apostolic palace, but the Pope has moved out) suggests that there is a natural, unavoidable tension between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. The law is portrayed as an encumbrance, a burdensome obligation, while the...

Our mental prison: The myth of “objective” knowledge by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Nov 5, 2015

One of the most powerful myths of modern times is the belief that “scientific” knowledge is purely “objective” or “impersonal”, whereas everything else is “subjective” or “personal”, that is, a matter of opinion. But as every...

Catholicism and Evolution: not so compatible after all? by Thomas V. Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Nov 5, 2015

Recall your frustration when the media reported Pope Francis’s remarks in favor of evolution as though they represented a total reversal of the Church’s teaching on the subject. Sheer annoyance with the media is enough to explain why educated Catholics responded by emphasizing that...

A feisty reporter's book corrects for the Hollywood bias of Spotlight by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Nov 6, 2015

In the new film Spotlight, which opens this weekend, the investigative reporters of the Boston Globe are portrayed as brave underdogs who dared to confront the overwhelming power of the Boston archdiocese, and thus exposed the sex-abuse scandal. It might make for a good movie (I wasn’t...

The power rivalry behind the latest 'Vatileaks' by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 9, 2015

Vatican journalist Andrea Gagliarducci has the best insights that I’ve seen to date on the new eruption of leaks from the Vatican. As you might have suspected, the story involves a power struggle within the Vatican bureaucracy. For years, powerful men inside the Vatican exchanged small...

Through a glass darkly: When science becomes a mirror by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Nov 9, 2015

A friend who read my critique of ideological scientism (Our mental prison: The myth of “objective” knowledge) shot me an email with this comment: “You probably could strengthen your argument by pointing out how politicized modern science has become, e.g., the whole climate...

The 'persecution' of Msgr. Charamsa by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 12, 2015

At roughly the same time that Christians in Syria were being beheaded and crucified by the Islamic State, Msgr. Krzysztof Charamsa was seated comfortably at an upscale restaurant in Rome, speaking with a public-relations expert about his plans for a public campaign against persecution. Not the...

Proved? Children formed by religion are less moral. (UPDATED) by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Nov 12, 2015

In an article in The Guardian on a new study of moral behavior in childhood, it seems as if religious children have been proven to be less moral through a simple redefinition of terms. This, of course, is the same thing that has been going on for a few generations now in society as a...

The Pope on Christian Humanism: To understand, we need concrete applications. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Nov 12, 2015

In a major address to the Italian bishops on Tuesday, Pope Francis outlined his vision of the Church in terms of “Christian humanism”. We now have a translation of the entire text, though the quotations in this commentary are from the substantial excerpts provided by Vatican...

To know as we are known: Maritain on human subjectivity by Thomas V. Mirus in "On the Culture" - Nov 13, 2015

For several years, I’ve been a student of Jacques Maritain’s philosophy of art. I treasure books like The Responsibility of the Artist and Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry. Maritain is known for a lot more than his aesthetics, though; and to get a sense of his contributions in...

Selective compassion: the dangerous step the Pope might take by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Nov 13, 2015

Sometime soon—we know not when—Pope Francis will issue a document concluding the work of the Synod on the Family. One question looms over all others: Will the Pope endorse the Kasper proposal? Father Raymond de Souza predicts that he will. “He has steadily prepared the Church...

Father Rosica on Islam: 180º from reality by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 16, 2015

"Allahu akbar" was never a call to violence & destruction. That astonishing quote comes from the Father Thomas Rosica, the English-language attaché of the Vatican press office, in response to the terrorist attacks in Paris. What is “astonishing” about...

Another clue as to how the Pope is thinking about Communion for divorced/remarried by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 16, 2015

If you’re still wondering how Pope Francis will answer the question of divorced/remarried Catholics receiving Communion, take careful note of what he told a Lutheran woman who wants to share Communion with her husband. “Speak with the Lord and go ahead. I dare not say any...

The Pope's advice to a Lutheran woman with a Catholic husband on receiving the Eucharist by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Nov 16, 2015

Personally, I would prefer Pope Francis to be less prone to shifting spiritual questions to the internal forum in order to escape a clear and consistent exposition of the principles involved. That’s how I’m built. But I can anticipate violent reactions and glaring headlines in response...

What Can We Do? by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Nov 17, 2015

In 2001 we said we would never forget. Fourteen years later a younger generation now feels the outrage of terrorist attacks on innocent people. France is not a war-torn country, but a popular place, where many people visit, and almost everyone seems to have some connection or memory related to the...

A refreshing look at the proper role—and enormous power—of women in the Church by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Nov 17, 2015

For well over a generation, questions about the role of women in the Catholic Church have generated angry debates without producing satisfactory resolutions. In the 1980s the US bishops’ conference, having tackled such controversial topics as nuclear weaponry and economic policy, set out to...

The consecrated life really is a love story. by Thomas V. Mirus in "On the Culture" - Nov 18, 2015

We live in a curious age when God will call someone to the consecrated life via YouTube. That’s what happened to 21-year-old college student Lauren Franko, who went to play her favorite song and, instead of the lyrics to “Only Hope,” heard the words “Will you marry...

Obama is wrong; persecuted Arab Christians should be given priority for asylum by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Nov 18, 2015

With thousands of refugees from the Middle East clamoring for entry, President Obama has said that it is “shameful” to suggest that Christian refugees should be given preference. That statement is wrong: legally, politically, and morally wrong. Although Obama condemns “religious tests” that...

Francis on Communion: The Pope's deeper questions, and ours by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Nov 19, 2015

In responding to the Lutheran woman who asked how she could receive Communion with her Catholic husband (see my earlier analysis), Pope Francis raised a profound question. It is a question which could easily stimulate further development in the Church’s understanding of the Eucharist...

Some necessary information about the refugee process by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Nov 19, 2015

I hate to say it, but sometimes there's nothing like a big pile of facts to make a philosophical argument unnecessary. Claims and counter-claims, either side seizing moral high ground, security vs. compassion, all of it becomes quite irrelevant in the face of the Cato Institute's analysis,...

Feastday Highlights: Solemnity of Christ the King by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Nov 20, 2015

This post was originally written in 2014. This Sunday the Liturgical Year ends not in a sad or a small way, but culminates in the celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. During November the liturgy has been keeping an eschatological theme and this feast...

How the 'church tax' corrupts German Catholicism by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Nov 20, 2015

“There is always a danger of corruption within the Church,” Pope Francis said in a November 20 address to visiting bishops from Germany. “This happens when the Church, instead of being devoted to faith in our Lord, in the Prince of Peace, in joy, in salvation, becomes dominated...

A response to my critics: Has Pope Francis poisoned the well? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Nov 23, 2015

Regarding my essay “Francis on Communion: The Pope’s deeper questions and ours”, the vast majority of the responses were negative. The oddest thing about the responses, however, was that most of them criticized me for positions I did not take. When something like this happens,...

Good news, at last, about the future of Catholicism in France? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 23, 2015

Some good news, for a change, about the state of Catholicism in France. Samuel Gregg writes for Catholic World Report about the growing influence of the “neoCatholics” who are ready and willing to do battle—especially intellectual battle—with the secular culture. But not only the secular...

The choice for the West: help root out Muslim extremism, or face a worldwide confrontation with Islam by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 24, 2015

When gunmen charged into a hotel in Bamako, Mali, last week, they were shouting “Allahu Akbar”. It’s probably safe to conclude that they were not familiar with the writings of Father Thomas Rosica. But that’s not why they stormed the hotel. The gunmen—who left 22 people dead—evidently believed...

Big personnel changes coming at the Vatican? An important new role for the ultimate 'airport bishop'? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 25, 2015

In the National Catholic Reporter, Robert Mickens predicts a host of important personnel changes coming soon at the Vatican . I’m always hesitant to send readers to the Reporter, and I do not vouch for the accuracy of those predictions (in most cases I sincerely hope they are wrong) but I can’t...

The danger isn't generic terrorism; it's Islamic terrorism by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 25, 2015

After another suicide bombing by Islamic radicals, this time in Tunis, the director of the Pontifical Mission Society in Tunisia insists: “We can not speak of a clash among religions. The victims of Tunis are all Muslims.” True, it’s an oversimplification to say that we’re caught up in a...

The Spirit of Advent: Listening to Christ by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Nov 28, 2015

Even before the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone, the new Liturgical Year begins. The First Sunday of Advent is this Sunday, November 29. It is a little difficult to transition from Thanksgiving into Advent; I am still putting away the table decorations, restoring our downstairs and cleaning up...

Understanding why the 'Vatileaks II' trial isn't just about press freedom by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Nov 30, 2015

Here’s an interesting perspective on the ‘Vatileaks II’ trials, from Vatican-watcher Andrea Gagliarducci. This is not a bid to limit freedom of the press, he argues, much less a punishment for whistle-blowers. (The documents were not linked in order to expose current abuses; they...