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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from December 2008

Another vivid illustration of the need for reliable sources of Catholic news by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 1, 2008

In Brisbane, Australia, Archbishop John Bathersby is nearing a showdown with a dissident parish community. What are the facts? The Australian offers one version: Church liberals believe the Vatican is under pressure to close St Mary's by members of the ultra-conservative Opus Dei grouping, which...

What the Vatican Hopes From Doha by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 1, 2008

The purpose of the current UN conference at Doha, Qatar is to promote international cooperation for economic development through the revision of a preliminary agreement reached at Monterey in 2002. In case you didn’t know, Qatar is a small, oil-rich nation occupying a peninsula jutting off...

The End of Newsweek by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 2, 2008

It was nice while it lasted. For the past year, I’ve been writing occasional commentaries on items I’ve culled from Newsweek for no other reason than it was the source I had chosen to keep up with what the American mainstream is saying. In addition to its news coverage, the magazine...

Your Finances, and Ours by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 3, 2008

If you’re wondering why I never talk about money, you’ve been living in a cocoon. Still, we do receive many emails each year from people who wonder why a web site needs money at all. Perhaps it is time to shed a little light. One of the reasons I moved into online communications in...

What's wrong with Catholic voters, Continued: answering readers' arguments by Phil Lawler in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 4, 2008

Nearly a month ago, immediately after the US presidential elections, I wrote a column in this space lamenting the failure of Catholic voters to unite in opposition to the "culture of death." That column--What's wrong with Catholic voters? What's wrong with Catholics?"--drew more responses from...

Noticing a tragedy before it happens by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 4, 2008

 Years ago, when Yugoslavia was still a single country, a veteran religious-affairs correspondent in Europe warned me to keep an eye on Kosovo. At the time I had never heard of the province, but I did a bit of research, and became acquainted with the long history of religious conflict in that...

Not so hot by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 5, 2008

 The year 2008 will be the coolest of this decade, scientists tell us. But the same scientists hasten to add that the low temperatures are "absolutely not" an indication that we should question the danger of global warming. "If we are going to understand climate change we need...

Overloaded again by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 5, 2008

Back in early November, when I wrote a Commentary column on the election results, I was deluged with reader's comments, and couldn't possibly respond to everyone. I mentioned that yesterday, when I wrote a follow-up Commentary piece.   Guess what happened? I'm both delighted and embarrassed...

politically motivated by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 5, 2008

 Dr. Robert Blum has placed his rubber-stamp of approval on a new oh-so-very-scientific study concluding that women who procure abortions do not have significant psychological after-effects. The study was done by scholars at Johns Hopkins University, in a program that is subsidized by Planned...

The Clinton style returns to US diplomacy by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 5, 2008

 During the years of the Clinton presidency, US foreign-policy officials were frequently at odds with the Vatican, and the battles were sometimes brutal. Writing on The Catholic Thing, Austin Ruse recalls the memorable battles over the Cairo conference and the gratuitous slaps at the Holy...

The Case for Original Sin by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 5, 2008

At his weekly Wednesday audience on December 3rd, Pope Benedict suggested that the Catholic doctrine of Original Sin is an alternative to a “vision of despair”. At first glance, this does not appear to be an argument in favor of accepting the doctrine, and I don’t think the Pope...

muscular Christianity by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 6, 2008

What's the most famous punch ever thrown? C'mon, you boxing fans; you must have your opinions.  Was it the quick right cross from George Foreman that staggered Smokin' Joe? Or the jab the made Roberto Duran say "No mas?" Or maybe the phantom punch ("I saw that punch; it...

rorschach exegesis: the bible as gay manifesto by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 8, 2008

The current Newsweek has an article by Lisa Miller pretending to take seriously the idea that the Bible looks favorably upon homosexual love and is properly used in support rather than rejection of same-sex marriage.  Here's the final paragraph.  My friend the priest James Martin...

Gay Marriage in the Bible? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 9, 2008

Newsweek continues its herculean effort to redefine marriage in its December 15th issue, through Lisa Miller’s cover story, Gay Marriage: Our Mutual Joy. Miller, who is also Newsweek’s religion columnist, argues that conservative Christians are wrong when they cite the Bible against...

in the Jesuit tradition by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 9, 2008

The newly elected US Congressman: was once a former Jesuit novice, before realizing that his calling was to marriage and a secular career. remains an active Catholic layman-- in fact, served a term on the National Advisory Council to the US bishops' conference. won a...

ineffable by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 9, 2008

 According to the official Vatican translation, in a message about the Christian heritage of European culture, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged reflection upon "the ancient roots in which abundant lymph has flowed over the course of the centuries." Lymph?  Hey, look: I know it...

The 'Little Ratzinger' by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 10, 2008

The new prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Antonio Canizares, is widely known as "the little Ratzinger." How did he acquire that nickname? Vatican-watcher Paolo Rodari (as relayed by Father Z) tells us:   The nickname "little Ratzinger" was born...

Catholic Advertising by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 10, 2008

Some of the daily decisions we make about how best to serve our users involve advertising. You might be surprised at what goes into this. There are a great many different ways to earn advertising revenue and some of them have a noticeable spiritual or moral impact. Here are a few of the...

Health Care, Catholic Care, and Catholic Culture by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 12, 2008

Though people differ on the remedy, nearly everyone agrees that health care in the United States is broken. As a company owner who provides top insurance coverage to his employees, I find that health care is not really broken for us. It’s just very expensive. But I hear plenty of horror stories...

How I survived the ice storm-- and more by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 15, 2008

 Having been out of touch unexpectedly for a few days, I think I owe you all an explanation. And boy, do I have an explanation! Let me tell you about my weekend. It began early: at about 5 Friday morning, when I fell down the stairs. This was not just a little slip-and-slide. It was a...

The Risks and Benefits of Naming Names by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 15, 2008

In my recent weekly column, Health Care, Catholic Health Care, and Catholic Culture, I talked about the essentially limited and concrete character of culture. The corollary of this point is that it is impossible to have a thorough discussion of Catholic culture without exploring its very specific...

Give 'em the boot by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 16, 2008

 What is it about shoes? Is there some hidden psychological nexus between footwear and anti-American sentiment? Nikita Khrushchev pounded the table with his shoe. Now Muntadhar al Zeidi has hurled his shoes at President Bush-- and thereby, in the words of one admirer, "expressed the...

Professor Humbug by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 16, 2008

Every year, as Christmas and Easter approach, a handful of obscure professors emerge from their dusty carrels to seize their 15 minutes of fame. During those few weeks each year the media is paying attention to religion, and an ambitious academician can leap in front of the spotlight by advancing...

iBreviary by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 16, 2008

Would you like to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, but you're confused by all the options for the day's prayers? There may be a solution at hand. Do you have a friend who spends all his time with his iPod, and you wish he'd spend more time at prayer? There may be a solution at hand. An Italian...

if it ain't broke, let's bust it by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 17, 2008

  "I divide my officers into four classes. The man who is clever and industrious is suited to high staff appointments. Use can be made of the man who is stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy is suited to the highest command -- he has the nerve to deal with all situations....

all the rage by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 18, 2008

 INAUGURAL PICK SPARKS GAY FURY claims a Fox News headline.  The "gay fury" commonplace prompted me to wonder: when was the last time gays were "mildly vexed" by some turn of affairs, and expressed "measured...

Guys in the kitchen by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 18, 2008

 This morning I saw the umpteenth front-page picture of Paulson and Bernanke looking very serious, and suddenly I realize what it reminded me of. Are you familiar with "Guys in the Kitchen Night?" The general idea is that sorority sisters all invite their boyfriends to dinner, and...

red meat and quiche by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 18, 2008

David Gibson of the Commonweal crowd is surprised that Rick Warren will be offering an invocation at the Obama inaugural. So am I. But Gibson's ways are not my ways, and whereas I'm surprised that Pastor Rick accepted the invitation, Gibson is surprised that the invitation was extended by...

Misleading questions and 'gotcha' journalism by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 18, 2008

Several CWN readers have written to protest an inconsistency in our Analysis piece on 'Emergency Contraception and the Betrayal of Catholic Principles in Boston.' That article criticized both NARAL and the Boston Globe for basing a story on the work of a "researcher" who posed as a...

lest we forget by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 19, 2008

Today, comrades, is a bittersweet anniversary. 'Twas ten years ago that the House of Representatives impeached President William Jefferson Clinton of perjury before a grand jury (by a 228-206 vote) and obstruction of justice (by a 221-212 vote).   Readers who followed the Clinton...

Sigrid Undset in this Vale of Tears by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 19, 2008

Sigrid Undset (1882 – 1949) is regarded by many to have been the greatest novelist who ever lived. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928 primarily for her signature work, Kristin Lavransdatter, a trilogy focused on the life of a Catholic woman in medieval Scandinavia. Undset herself had...

Camelot on reruns by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 22, 2008

For many Catholics -- particularly in the Northeast -- the Kennedys are held somewhere just short of the Pope in terms of esteem.   Thus Chris Cilizza, writing in the Washington Post about the desire of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg to be handed a seat in the US Senate. And you find...

Sign Up and Log In? What a Pain! by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 23, 2008

OK, everybody’s noticed it. You have to log in now to read our materials. Registration is no longer merely encouraged; it’s required. And no longer can you get at our resources without specifically exercising your registration privileges by logging in. But please note: If you have...

fixated by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 23, 2008

 In his annual address to the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict mentioned that the Church cannot accept "gender ideology" because it is contrary to God's design for the human person. No one even vaguely familiar with Church teachings could possibly have been surprised by the Pope's...

Magisteriumism and Other Myths by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 23, 2008

I am indebted to a sharp-eyed reader for referring me to the treatise on the heresy of Magisteriumism posted by Ronald Conte on his Catholic Planet web site. The burden of this treatise is to warn people against adhering to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church as if it alone exhaustively...

Restoring a Catholic Culture: Where do we start? by Phil Lawler in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 23, 2008

Shortly after the US presidential elections I wrote a column in this space lamenting the failure of Catholic Americans to join in a strong political bloc supporting a culture of life. Many readers responded enthusiastically to that column, and especially to these words: To repair the damage,...

12 full days, please by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 26, 2008

 Today-- December 26-- is the day when you see the definitive break between two cultures: one guided by Christianity, the other by consumerism.  Up until Christmas Day, the shopping malls and the TV networks lay their claims to the Christmas spirit, and if you ignore some tasteless...

change of pace by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 29, 2008

In an interview with Richard McBrien, Michael Paulson of the Boston Globe feeds the dissident theologian a steady diet of softball questions until, remarkably, he tosses one that has a little mustard on it. The conversation has reached the point-- it comes in any McBrien interview--...

Vatican appointments worth noticing by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 30, 2008

 Today the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict has appointed 14 new consultants to the Congregation for the Clergy. Four of those appointed-- including the one layman, psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbon-- are associated with Opus Dei. That can't be a coincidence. Opus Dei is rightly known for...

Toward an Incarnational Culture by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 30, 2008

In a recent article on Catholic health care and Catholic culture, I referred to Catholic culture as the “incarnation of Catholic ideas in the concrete circumstances of the social order.” I used the word “incarnation” advisedly, for Catholicism possesses a supremely incarnational vision of reality....

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