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All Catholic commentary from December 2014

Archbishop Cupich on Face the Nation: A Mixed Performance by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Dec 2, 2014

We can learn something about the new archbishop of Chicago, Blase Cupich, from how he answered the questions posed to him during the November 30th episode of Face the Nation. Guests on this program must be evaluated through a kind of television-induced haze of graciousness. The utility of such...

December Moment: A jazz trio's lovely, tasteful take on traditional Christmas music by Thomas V. Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 2, 2014

For working musicians, the season leading up to Christmas presents a twofold artistic challenge. The traditional holiday repertoire, whether sacred or popular, has been played and recorded so many times that creative musicians naturally want to find some new take on the old classics. At the same...

What I wish a bishop would say about marriage by Leila Marie Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 3, 2014

During the October meeting of the Synod of Bishops, discussions often centered on the widening gap between the popular understanding of marriage and the Christian ideal. What could Catholic pastors do or say to restore the proper understanding of the family founded on a sacramental union? My wife...

Two beautiful books to give as Christmas gifts by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Dec 3, 2014

Since Advent is now running along fairly briskly, I want to call your attention to two attractive Catholic books which will make perfect gifts for those you love when we celebrate Christ’s birth. One is a new Bible; the other is a coffee-table book about Mary. Both are from Ignatius...

We're losing the next generation(s) of Catholics by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 4, 2014

In the past few days I’ve spoken to two friends who work as musicians in two different parishes. One friend had a story that sounded very familiar. The older parishioners die, and when their middle-aged children come to bury them, they’re completely lost during the funeral. They...

Surprise! Marriage is the foundation of Catholic social teaching. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 5, 2014

When I write about Catholic social teaching, I often highlight key principles such as the universal destination of goods, solidarity, the common good, and subsidiarity. All of these principles fit together to make a seamless whole, with each drawing life from the others. But articulating a series...

Recognizing the True St. Nicholas by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Dec 5, 2014

The feast of St. Nicholas on December 6 is a favorite highlight of the Advent season. Remembering one of our favorite childhood traditions, over the years my family has gathered with my siblings and their families to bake

Church Fathers: St. Ignatius of Antioch by Thomas V. Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 6, 2014

Tradition has it that the church at Antioch was founded by St. Peter himself, who served as its bishop for seven years before moving on to found the church at Rome. (Robert Spencer writes that “Gregory III Laham, the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, has joked that if...

Straws in the Manger -- Preparing Our Hearts for Christ's Birth by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Dec 6, 2014

Of all the Advent traditions, the one that my family practices annually is the French custom of preparing the manger for Christmas. This is the tradition of making Baby Jesus' bed soft by adding straws in the manger. The straws reflect extra spiritual efforts made during Advent. In my...

Francis listens to critics, clarifies the issues, and stays his course by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 10, 2014

Pope Francis has made a strong effort to take into account the criticisms of “conservative” Catholics which boiled over during the October Synod of Bishops. For example, he has deliberately appointed “conservative” Churchmen to important posts recently, he has explained his...

The proverbs of Henri de Lubac by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Dec 10, 2014

Henri de Lubac (1896-1991), a French Jesuit priest, is widely regarded as the most influential faithful theologian of the twentieth century. De Lubac is most known for his insistence that theologians must escape from the formulaic theology of the Thomist schools and return to the sources. In...

Regardless of circumstances or results, torture can never be justified by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 10, 2014

Some moral questions are very complicated. Others are very straightforward. In some cases, the morality of an act depends entirely on the circumstances. But some acts can never be justified, regardless of the circumstances. The Catholic Church teaches quite clearly that some acts are...

Case Study: How Churchmen impact conscience by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Dec 11, 2014

In Pope Francis’ message on climate change, made public today, he implicitly taught and explicitly applied a moral principle. “The time to find global solutions [to global warming] is running out,” Francis wrote. “There is therefore a clear, definite and urgent ethical...

'Father Benedict' sheds some insight on his resignation by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 12, 2014

If it is accurate--and I have no reason to doubt that it is-- the report that Benedict XVI wanted to be known as “Father Benedict” after his resignation is strange and illuminating. Why? Because today he is not known as Father Benedict. Even before Pope Benedict stepped down, the...

The “Orthodox Practice”: A solution to divorce, remarriage and Communion? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 12, 2014

Since the working document for the 2015 Synod on the Family includes, among its points for discussion, the “Orthodox practice” on marriage, we should take a few moments to discover the questions this raises. It is a case of discerning whether the Church can find, in the way the...

Financiers can't exploit the Vatican anymore. But politicians can. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 12, 2014

“The days of ripping off the Vatican are over,” Cardinal George Pell has announced. The Australian cardinal, who is now the no-nonsense prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, explained that for generations, Vatican officials made their own decisions about money matters, without...

Dogs go to heaven? The Pope never said that. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 13, 2014

By now I’m sure you’ve seen dozens of stories about the Pope’s remark that dogs go to heaven. They’re all wrong. He didn’t say it. My friend Richard Chonak has checked the facts-- something that dozens of reporters evidently failed to do. He’s posted the...

Overreacting to what the Pope doesn't say: a case study by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 15, 2014

Today Pope Francis did not denounce baseball's designated-hitter rule.  This is unfortunate, in my opinion, because the DH rule is a violation of natural law. But Pope Francis-- like Pope Benedict XVI, and in fact like every other Pontiff in history-- has never said a word on the...

The best possible preparation for Christmas by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 15, 2014

Today is “Reconciliation Monday” in the Archdiocese of New York. Cardinal Timothy Dolan explains: In each of the 365 parishes of this archdiocese, priests will be hearing confessions from 4-8 p.m. Our unprofessional polling tells us that last Advent 60,000 people approached the...

Can torture ever be justified? Round II. by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 15, 2014

Many readers have responded, with questions and criticisms, to my argument last week that “Regardless of circumstances or results, torture can never be justified.” Let me respond to some of the common concerns.           The Senate report on “enhanced...

Policing, torture, reasons of State, and our Christian mistake by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 16, 2014

Consider recent news. A generation or two ago, if I had described a government which jettisoned the natural law in favor of the desire for power, which tried to impose its vision of society through ever-increasing bureaucratic control, which ensured that the ideology of the ruling class was taught...

O Come!! The O Antiphons by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Dec 16, 2014

[This entry was originally written in December of 2013; in December 2014, I wrote a more comprehensive essay: Rejoice, the Lord is Near! Gaudete Sunday, Ember Days and O Antiphons.] Although not highlighted on most calendars, I consider December 17 as a red letter day. This date marks the...

In showdown with American sisters, the Vatican blinked by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 16, 2014

The Vatican blinked. After a 3-year study of American women’s religious orders, undertaken because of problems that are both grave and obvious, the Congregation for Religious has released a report that avoids direct criticism of religious orders, instead suggesting that the communities should...

Rejoice, the Lord is Near! Gaudete Sunday, Ember Days and O Antiphons by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Dec 16, 2014

See my post from 2013, O Come!! The O Antiphons for further reflection on the O Antiphons. The Advent liturgy is so rich, varied and beautiful. Every time the liturgical cycle repeats, it is another opportunity to enter more deeply into the Church's liturgy as She prepares for Christmas....

The Complexity of Reforming Religious Communities by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Dec 17, 2014

Like many readers, I am disappointed that Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have not taken a harder line with American women religious, following the Apostolic Visitation which began in 2009. On the other hand, as Phil Lawler noted yesterday, there is an ongoing effort to reform the Leadership...

The intrinsic immorality of torture: still not convinced? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 18, 2014

Many readers continue to write with arguments against my condemnation of torture. I have already tried to answer the most common objections, so I will not belabor the matter. Let me just make one simple point: If torture is intrinsically wrong, then it is wrong under all circumstances. We...

Silly season: a Christmas approaches, a scholar questions whether Jesus ever existed by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 18, 2014

Christmas is coming soon. How can you tell? Because you notice the nip in the air, the smiles on the faces of shoppers, the merry tunes of carolers… and the silly articles appearing in mass-media outlets, about the “historical” Jesus. But now Raphael Lataster, who teaches religious studies at...

Another side of Francis: US-Cuba role shows Pope's diplomatic muscle by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 18, 2014

Nobody saw it coming. All sorts of things, good and bad, have been written about Pope Francis. But nobody predicted that he would break a 50-year stalemate in relations between the US and Cuba. Cuba was obviously on the Vatican’s diplomatic agenda during the previous two pontificates. Both Popes...

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Advent by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Dec 19, 2014

(With my apologies to the author Judith Viorst.) How does your Advent grow? How does mine grow? Thanks for asking. I'd say it isn't growing too much. Christmas still comes on the 25th, ready or not. And I'm not ready, either on the interior or exterior. The decorations are...

Federal debt as a social-justice concern by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 19, 2014

If the head of an ordinary household deliberately and continually spends much more than the family earns, we describe him as irresponsible—yes, and sinful. So Father Jerry Pokorsky asks why the same moral standards are not applied to government spending. Writing for The Catholic Thing, Father...

The cardinal who can't let go by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 22, 2014

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has resigned his post as the camerlengo, the official with primary responsibility for handling the temporal affairs of the Holy See in the interim after a Pope’s death. The duties of the camerlengo are not arduous, and Cardinal Bertone could surely fulfill them. Still...

Facing entrenched opposition, Pope Francis plows ahead on Vatican reform by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 22, 2014

The Pope’s Christmas address to the Roman Curia is traditionally the occasion when the Pontiff lets his closest associates know about his top priorities. In 2005, for example, Pope Benedict XVI used the occasion to give his famous talk against the “hermeneutic of discontinuity and...

Which American archbishops—if any—will receive red hats at the February conclave? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Dec 23, 2014

Sometime early in the new year, Pope Francis will reveal the names of the new cardinals who will be elevated at a consistory in February 2015. How many American prelates will be on the list? Quite likely, none at all. There are currently 18 US citizens in the College of Cardinals. The only...

Contemplating the Christmas Mysteries: He is Light and Peace by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Dec 27, 2014

After all the Advent preparation and strife, we finally reach the climax of the solemnity of the Nativity of Christ and attend Mass for Christmas. The church decorations of evergreen, poinsettias and crèche are so beautiful and inspiring. Unfortunately, the entire time in church can be...

Tear me down, Lord! by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 29, 2014

If I must reduce my New Year’s resolutions to just one, I guess it would be to do a better job of pointing to Christ without blocking the view. Every one of us has personality characteristics which, despite our best intentions, tend to shout “look at me!” instead of “look...

URGENT! Raising Funds for a New Platform by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Dec 29, 2014

In the Summer of 2013, CatholicCulture.org was victimized by a hacker exploit from China which took advantage of a bug in our older software to disrupt the website. We implemented necessary upgrades on our servers, without changing the servers themselves. This enabled us to beat back the attack...

St. John Chrysostom on wealth redistribution by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Dec 31, 2014

Updated February 13, 2017: It has since come to my attention that the quote on wealth distribution discussed in this article may not be authentic. Its original source is a collection of John Chrysostom quotes by Robert Van de Weyer titled On Living Simply, but apparently Van de Weyer does not...