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All Catholic commentary from December 2015

The other side of the Francis effect: Hypersensitivity and hysteria? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 1, 2015

David Bentley Hart has expressed his perplexity over the “anxiety, disappointment, or hostility” Pope Francis inspires “in certain American Catholics of a conservative bent.” Hart is the typically profound and often entertaining writer of “The Back Page” essay...

If you hope to see us in 2016, please act now. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 1, 2015

As everyone has surely noticed, CatholicCulture.org has entered its peak fundraising season. The Fall Campaign makes or breaks us each year, and November is the key month in the campaign. CatholicCulture.org lost about $10,000 last year after three years of meeting the budget. As of...

Stop treating mass murderers like celebrities! by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 1, 2015

Has the New York Times ever run your life story? No, you say? They haven't run mine, either. Have you ever gone on a shooting spree and killed several people? No? That's something else we have in common. And that's why the Times doesn't pay attention to us.  Today's...

A welcome inquiry into sexual abuse, and a new honesty by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Dec 2, 2015

In one sense, any inquiry into sexual abuse should be welcome. But there has been such a strong preference for investigating Catholic institutions—which are an easy target for huge financial settlements—that many people seem to think the whole mess is primarily a Catholic problem. And...

Gay rights as a Western obsession: Exhibit A by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 2, 2015

You might think it’s too early to measure the results of last week’s papal voyage to Africa. But Paul Vallely disagrees, in a New York Times column that carries the assertive title: “The Pope’s Failure in Africa.” Vallely seems to have unbounded confidence in his...

The obscene focus on killers: don't cooperate! by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 3, 2015

Here’s a quick follow-up to my argument that we shouldn’t give free publicity to mass killers. This morning I read Facebook messages (posted last night) that gave at least ten different names to the San Bernardino shooters. Why? What do you gain if you are the first person to name...

Links 12/4/2015 by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Dec 4, 2015

Two Catholic writers comment on the recent Planned Parenthood shooting: In The Week, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry shows how unfair and disingenuous it is for progressives to blame the pro-life movement. Meanwhile, responding to those who say pro-lifers...

How do we know we are transcendent beings? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 4, 2015

The second volume in Fr. Robert Spitzer’s “quartet” on human happiness is now out from Ignatius Press. I described the overall project and reviewed the first volume back in July (see Fr. Robert Spitzer on happiness: An effective approach to God?). Entitled The Soul’s Upward...

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception Opens the Jubilee Year of Mercy by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Dec 8, 2015

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patronal feast of the United States and a holyday of obligation. This day also marks the opening of the Holy Door and the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.  The choice of this feast day to open the...

Sing of Mary, 3: Living the Rosary by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 8, 2015

The Rosary is a mainstay of Catholic devotion, typically regarded as the most powerful form of prayer after the Mass. Most of us carry a Rosary with us in purse or pocket, and certainly many who read these words have already made it a part of their daily prayers. When in distress, Catholics cling...

Sharing the Gift of Mercy with Our Brothers and Sisters by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Dec 9, 2015

December 12 marks the second anniversary of my open heart surgery. Such a short sentence doesn't capture all the inconvenience, pain, emotion and healing involved before and after the surgery. For me and my family, this was a pivotal moment in our lives. I have brushed the face of death but...

The environmental(ist) degradation of St. Peter's by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 9, 2015

Almost as soon as the Year of Mercy was formally opened, the concept of Divine Mercy was trivialized by a light show, with images of the environment displayed across the façade of St. Peter’s basilica. Pope Francis took pains, in Laudato Si’, to draw a connection between the...

Cherry-picked statistics don't conceal the collapse of American women's religious communities by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 9, 2015

Setting a high standard for cherry-picking statistics, the “Global Sisters Report,” a project of the National Catholic Reporter, happily announces: “The number of vowed women religious in the United States today is approximately the same as it was a century ago — just under 50,000.” So...

Can we accommodate a refusal? The limits of mercy by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 10, 2015

Under the influence of the last three popes, I have found myself trying to embody mercy more fully. In doing so, I become increasingly aware of the widespread abuse of mercy in the modern world. On the one hand, I know enough about myself to realize I have some anti-merciful tendencies. On the...

Going to see Spotlight? Debating people who have seen it? Here's essential background reading. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 10, 2015

Have you seen Spotlight? Although I had serious reservations about the hype surrounding the film, I found Spotlight to be an excellent movie. It is a powerful, and surprisingly accurate, retelling of the story of how the sex-abuse scandal exploded: with a Boston Globe investigation of the...

Will a climate change goal change anything? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Dec 11, 2015

Stories on the proposed cap on global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius are typically vague about what this means. This is true of our own story on the Holy See’s support for this cap, and even of the more detailed story from a climate organization to which our story links. In fact, you can...

A case study in the development of doctrine by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 12, 2015

The trouble with master narratives of history is the air of inevitability they lend to events that could have gone very differently. Historians are the ones who construct narratives, yet it is also their job to disrupt them, or at least to go beyond them so that rather than taking the past for...

To chew on: We were undesirables once. by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Dec 12, 2015

Most people in the U.S. have no idea of this country's long history of anti-Catholic bigotry. This reached a peak in the nineteenth century, when we were considered to be untrustworthy, loyal to a foreign power and unassimilatable to American culture and values. (If only!) Kudos, then, to...

On the 'conversion' of Jews: The new Vatican statement by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 15, 2015

Our initial news story on the recent document issued by the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews was somewhat misleading (see New Vatican document: Catholics should not seek to convert Jews). The term “convert” in this context is usually used to describe the...

Tastes in spiritual reading and devotional books (mostly mine) by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 16, 2015

I confess that, for spiritual reading, I don’t use much but Scripture any longer. This is hardly an indication of virtue, though it could be a sign of approaching death. Over the years I’ve read quite a few of the most famous spiritual works by saints and doctors, some of them more...

Observing the O Antiphons by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Dec 16, 2015

December 17 begins the “O” Antiphon Days, my very favorite part of Advent. These are ancient antiphons that all begin with “O” found in the liturgy from December 17-23. They are particularly in the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office) before the Magnificat in the Evening...

Cardinal Wuerl and the critic who won't let go by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 17, 2015

George Neumayr, the former editor of Catholic World Report, has been hounding Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl, asking questions about the expensive “penthouse apartment” that now serves as the cardinal’s residence. Neumayr’s posted remarks about Cardinal Wuerl have been extremely negative, and...

Too bad King Canute wasn't at the Paris summit by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 17, 2015

So our world leaders have pronounced that the world's temperatures may not rise more than 2°. I trust Mother Nature has been put on notice. The Paris climate-change agreement did not include any compliance mechanism. Which is just as well, because if Divine Providence has plans for an...

The single most disturbing statistic by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 17, 2015

America faces a danger every bit as serious as terrorism, and it’s not being discussed by presidential candidates. The Pew Research Center points to it, in a new report, “The American Family Today.” …in 1960, the height of the post-World War II baby boom, there was one...

The Synod 2015 Final Report: Just how good is it? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 17, 2015

When George Weigel finally wrapped up his “what really happened” account of the 2015 Synod on the Family, it was predictable that he would give it a positive spin if he honestly could. Those who follow my own comments on Catholic affairs know that I try, whenever possible, to do the...

With apologies to Lewis Carroll, was today’s news created by the Mad Hatter? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Dec 18, 2015

I can’t help but notice a pattern in today’s news stories. Most of them report on intrinsically self-contradictory situations which seem to characterize the modern world. Consider: The Prime Minister of Canada will try to get the Pope to visit Canada to issue an apology for the...

Old Earl's Christmas by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 21, 2015

I had known Earl for as long as I can remember, though he was my senior by thirty-seven years. He was a hard-working, reliable man, an excellent provider for his family, always responsible and deeply trustworthy. Born in 1911, he had already lived through the Great Depression and two world wars...

Under-the-radar signs of progress in Vatican reforms by Phil Lawler in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 22, 2015

Have you noticed that as Christmas approaches, you spend less time reading news headlines? There are two reasons for that phenomenon. First, you have other things on your mind; you’re busy with your last-minute preparations for the great feast. Second, the people who usually make the...

Our heart is wide: Christians distinguished by Christmas; Christmas distinguished by mercy. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 22, 2015

The Devil is very clever. He stirs up just enough misguided Christians to acts of violence to make it easy for the world to condemn all religions as hothouses of terrorism—and all deep religious commitment as “fundamentalism”. A striking example is found in the recent violence in...

Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus! by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Dec 23, 2015

As I finalize the preparations for Christmas, my thoughts go back to Christmases past, both from my childhood and my own family. Through all the years at Grandma's house, or recovering from surgeries, there are two traditions for our children that have stayed constant, even if was a...

Payback time: a Christmas story by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 23, 2015

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, and was posted here 5 years ago. This isn’t a Christmas story, except insofar as the climax occurred during the Christmas season. Still...

Payback Time: A Christmas Story by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Dec 23, 2015

As an early Christmas present to faithful readers, I offer an old column, which originally appeared in the July 2001 issue of Catholic World Report, and was reproduced on this site, in slightly different form, five years ago. This isn’t a Christmas story, except insofar as the climax...