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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from December 2010

Catholic Novels: The Big Question by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 1, 2010

There has been a spate of “Catholic novels” published recently, and I’ve taken review copies of five of them so that I can consider not only the value of these particular works but also the nature of the “Catholic novel” itself. I'll raise an initial...

Catholic Novels: Necessary Heartbreak by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 1, 2010

The first of my four remaining recent “Catholic Novels” is Necessary Heartbreak by Michael J. Sullivan, a first novel by a sports journalist. It was published by Gallery Books, an imprint of the secular publisher Simon and Schuster. Subtitled “a novel of faith and...

when the news isn't news by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 2, 2010

Act I, Scene I: The newsroom of a major metropolitan daily Reporter: Hey, boss! We’ve got a story here. Says the Pope might have allowed a priest who was accused of abuse to work in a parish while he was Archbishop of Munich. What should we do with it? Editor: Did the Pope personally...

Catholic Novels: Theophilos by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 3, 2010

The title and subject matter for Theophilos, a novel by Michael D. O’Brien published in 2010, are taken from the beginning of St. Luke’s Gospel, where the evangelist writes: “It seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an...

when prudence dictates silence by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 3, 2010

 “Never write when you can talk, never talk when you can nod your head.” That advice was offered to political neophytes by “The Mahatma,” Martin Lomasney, a famous Boston ward boss of the early 20th century. Lomasney had his own good reasons for wanting to be sure...

Catholic Novels: The Shroud Codex by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 6, 2010

Jerome Corsi’s novel The Shroud Codex is a sustained examination of the evidence for the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. Unfortunately, this evidence is presented in a work of fiction, so the reader has no way of knowing if the evidence is real or fanciful. This is a dubious way to...

Pray for Shabhaz Bhatti by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 7, 2010

As reported yesterday, terrorist organizations associated with the Taliban have issued a fatwa against Shabhaz Bhatti, the Pakistani Minister for Religious Minorities. This fatwa, or proclamation by an Islamic religious leader, provides for the assassination of Bhatti for aiding and abetting...

Catholic Novels: Looking for the King by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 7, 2010

Joseph Pearce describes it as a “superbly gripping novel”. This is blatant hyperbole from a fellow Ignatius Press author, but the rest of his cover blurb is more accurate: “Lewis and Tolkien come alive.” So too says Thomas Howard: “All Inklings lovers will be highly...

Catholic Novels: What Are They? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 8, 2010

I began my series on recent Catholic novels with a question: Must the Catholic novel present the Christian message explicitly and more or less entirely so that the reader, through the characters in the book, is forced to acknowledge it and either accept it or reject it? In other words, is it the...

set your watch ahead by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 10, 2010

In an interview with John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, the editor of L'Osservatore Romano, Giocanni Maria Vian, explains why he doesn't think it was a mistake to publish that famous controversial excerpt from Pope Benedict's interview, and he doesn't think he was guilty of breaking an...

pursuing poverty in style? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 10, 2010

 Sister Marie Thornton, the former financial vice-president of Iona College, faces criminal charges for allegedly milking $1.2 million from college funds. According to one report, the embezzled funds helped to finance her penchant for trips to the casinos of Atlantic City. Prosecutors had no...

Who's the leader of the band that's made for you and me? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 13, 2010

Bishop John Noonan, who will be installed as Orlando's fifth bishop Dec. 16. And some people say that miters make bishops look...

Wikileaks and the Vatican: proceed with caution by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 13, 2010

The Vatican has quite rightly called for "great prudence" in reading the Wikileaks cables regarding Vatican policy. Unfortunately, the cautionary message from the Holy See is written in the opaque language that characterizes such official statements. Let's try again, in plain...

A Resounding Rejection of the Kennedy Legacy by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 13, 2010

On December 4th, Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts sponsored a symposium on “St. Thomas More and Statesmanship: The Proper Role of Catholic Politicians”. The symposium featured addresses by former Senator Rick Santorum; Ray Flynn, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See; and judicial...

Evangelicals, Gays and Success in the Culture Wars by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 13, 2010

In the December issue of First Things (“Bearing Better Witness”), Ron Sider argues that Evangelicals as a group have missed a huge opportunity by failing, in general, to reach out in love to homosexuals, to minister to AIDS victims and to encourage gay men and women to come to worship...

Why do we need a new translation of the Mass, anyway? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 14, 2010

In English-speaking countries, the First Sunday of Advent was traditionally known as “stir-up Sunday”—not only because housewives were expected to “stir up” the plum pudding that would be served with Christmas dinner, but also because of the opening prayer for the...

Who wrote the gospels? How do we know? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 14, 2010

We know more about the authors of the four gospels and when they wrote from tradition than from any other source, but on the whole the best efforts of Scripture scholars over the past two hundred years have done very little to challenge, and much to support, the reliability of the...

Papal infallibility—or, the prisoner of the Vatican by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 14, 2010

Reading Light of the World, the book-length interview in which Pope Benedict XVI reveals so much about himself, one is frequently reminded of the title that Pope Gregory the Great preferred: The Roman Pontiff is the servus servorum Dei: the servant of the servants of God.  Secular...

Parenting and Business Relationships by Peter Mirus in "The City Gates" - Dec 16, 2010

Our society is afflicted by the loss of true parenthood. The trust that we feel and owe towards a true father and a true mother leads to confidence in the information that they provide. By extension, the child trusts others whom the parents have commissioned to provide an aspect of his care,...

And the Jesuits must be reformed. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 16, 2010

Apparently Cato the Elder was so sick and tired of the baneful influence of the Carthaginians that he ended all of his speeches with the statement “Carthage must be destroyed”—using variations on the famous phrase Carthago delenda est. At a somewhat more modest level, I confess...

St. Juan Diego: the paradox of humility by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 16, 2010

Can you name 5 people who lived in Mexico in the early years of the 16th century? Probably not. Neither can I. When I try to make out a list, the project stalls after I write down a single name: St. Juan Diego. Virtually nothing is known about Juan Diego, apart from the story of his encounter...

Apostolic Authority and the Selection of the Gospels by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 17, 2010

In his fine book Who Chose the Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy, the Protestant New Testament professor C. E. Hill debunks the widespread contemporary myth that the four gospels we know today were imposed by one or more dominant figures in the fourth century, presumably in order to...

Who Chose the Gospels? A Review by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 17, 2010

Please note that my extended review of C. E. Hill's excellent 2010 study from Oxford University Press, entitled Who Chose the Gospels, is available in our In Depth Analysis section: Apostolic Authority and the Selection of the...

a fresh new approach to banning abortions by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 17, 2010

Defenders of Obamacare argue that the broad health-care program, with its requirement for every American to purchase insurance, is constitutional because it is not a compulsion but a tax.  Writing on the Atlantic site, Megan McArdle uses the logic of that argument as a springboard for a novel...

Authority Both Apostolic and Petrine by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 20, 2010

In my review of C. E. Hill’s Who Chose the Gospels (Apostolic Authority and the Selection of the Gospels), I suggested that the author missed an opportunity to consider how apostolic authority would have been exercised if there had been a serious dispute about which gospels were authentic. Hill...

From Scandal to Catholicism by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 21, 2010

In one of his major statements of the year, the Christmas address to the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict XVI was (as our Catholic World News Service put it) unsparing in his analysis of the sex abuse scandal. By this we mean that he put full blame on all the bishops and priests who played any role in...

dirty words by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 21, 2010

In a live broadcast, NIna Totenberg of National Public Radio revealed that she "was at-- forgive the expression-- a Christmas party."  Shocking! There might have been innocent children listening when those words were broadcast. Imagine the psychological damage that might have been...

And in the twisted-reporting category... by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 21, 2010

Today's award for the most flagrantly misleading reporting goes to... (drumroll, please)... Actually we have a tie. Amanda Lee Myers, who wrote the AP story on Bishop Olmsted's statement that Joseph Hospital cannot be considered a Catholic health-care institution, shares today's award for...

gone but not forgotten by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 22, 2010

Back in July, novelist Anne Rice announced that she was finished with Christianity. Not quite, apparently. Yesterday the National Catholic Register posted a story by Jimmy Akin, on Bishop Olmsted's announcement that a hospital in Phoenix could no longer be considered Catholic.  What does...

a Christmas gift from Bishop Olmsted: bold episcopal leadership by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 22, 2010

Yes, it’s a very busy time of the year. But if you can spare just a few minutes from your last-minute shopping and decorating and wrapping and cooking, watch the video of the press conference in which Bishop Thomas Olmstead of Phoenix explains his decision to strip St. Joseph’s...

Receiving Glory by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 22, 2010

I stumbled over a particularly disturbing passage in St. John’s Gospel the other night (no, I do not go looking for these things). Christ was debating with his Jewish critics and faulting them for their lack of Faith. And then He told them exactly why they lacked faith. Here is what He...

indiscrimination by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 23, 2010

Over on the America magazine site, Father James Martin is rejoicing that Congress chose—in a “respectful, compassionate and sensitive act of justice”-- to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He argues that all good Catholics should join in the...

an interesting health-care connection by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 23, 2010

Were you surprised when the Catholic Health Association (CHA) came to the aid of Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), rather than Bishop Thomas Olmsted, in the dispute over ethical standards at St. Joseph’s Hospital? You shouldn’t have been.  The CHA has a track record for...

Catholic Health Care I: The ACLU Question by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 23, 2010

I have two points to make as a follow-up to Phil Lawler’s excellent commentary on Bishop Thomas Olmsted’s recent courageous defense of Catholic health care (see a Christmas gift from Bishop Olmsted: bold episcopal leadership). It seems to me that there will inevitably continue to be...

Catholic Health Care II: The CHA Question by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 23, 2010

Having examined The ACLU Question, I wish to take up a second argument against Bishop Olmsted’s stand on Catholic health care, an argument we are already hearing from ostensibly Catholic groups such as the Catholic Health Association. These groups hold that an overly strict interpretation of...

Payback time: a Christmas story by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 24, 2010

Some people say I’m a cynic. But no one can remain a cynic on Christmas Eve. As my early Christmas present to faithful readers, I offer an old column, which originally appeared in the July 2001 issue of Catholic World Report. This isn’t a Christmas story, except insofar as the...

why I'm having trouble concentrating on my work today by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 27, 2010

No, it's not the snow. We're prepared for snow. I plowed a bit, shoveled a bit. We're fine. No, it's not the Christmas presents. Not exactly. It's a present that arrived just a few hours after Christmas Day had ended.  To be perfectly honest, yesterday I was so busy being happy that I...

Hope from the Holy Innocents by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 28, 2010

We ought to draw considerable hope from the example of the Holy Innocents as we celebrate their feast today. These were the children two years old and under whom Herod ordered killed in and around Bethlehem when he learned from the magi that a new king had been born. Although ancient liturgical...

The most eye-opening book of 2010 by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 31, 2010

If ignorance really is bliss, then no one should read The Closing of the Muslim Mind. But since I prefer to know the truth, even when it is distressing, I found Robert Reilly’s study of Sunni Muslim thought to be the most enlightening book of 2010. Reilly tells the sad story of how a great...

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