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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from February 2008

the ongoing struggle for survival by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 1, 2008

Elderly, Poor Hardest Hit by Switch to Digital TV-- headline in the Newburyport (MA) Daily News Dry the starting tear, folks. If the Catholic Campaign for Human Development isn't on the case already, it soon will be. Tip to James...

synecdoche by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 1, 2008

Father Richard John Neuhaus of First Things has charged CWN editor Phil Lawler with committing synecdoche, and since makes the accusation twice in the course of a short online review of Phil's new book, it can't be ignored. But after a quick trip to the dictionary I'm confident that Phil won't...

On Power and Authority by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Feb 1, 2008

Almost everything these days is seen in terms of power, and almost nothing in terms of authority. To put this another way, our first question is too often about what we can do, and too seldom about what we are. This attitude both animates and confuses many complex issues. From politics to...

all your backlash are belong to us by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 3, 2008

Fr. Richard McBrien shares some thoughts on Archbishop Piero Marini's recent book on the liturgy, originally titled As Legs That Are Shaven. We have to stop short of calling McBrien's column a "review," as he does not claim to have read Marini and it's not clear that he's done so. In any event,...

gather me in by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 4, 2008

A Californian, perhaps unsurprisingly, takes the congregationalist heresy to its logical conclusion. The Rev. Paul Breton founded St. Aelred's Catholic Church in 1989 -- Breton was ordained in the liberal Orthodox Catholic Church of America -- to minister to gays and lesbians and their family...

Fish on Fridays by Leila in "Off the Record" - Feb 4, 2008

You don’t have to be a Catholic, no. But the reason people in Wisconsin have this really fun thing to do is because a bunch of people, at one time, were Catholic, and just lived their lives with their families as Catholics, and now there is something that means being from Wisconsin and loving...

could we please change the subject? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 5, 2008

What's the problem with the "consistent ethic of life"? Nothing, in the abstract. Every participant in moral discourse has a duty to be consistent (i.e., not to advance contradictory claims). Yet why do we Catholics get repeated calls for a consistent ethic of life -- and not, say, for a...

non sequitur by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 5, 2008

And speaking of prudential judgments on political matters (see the post below), consider this passage from a statement just released by Catholic Charities USA: As demand for services continues to increase at Catholic Charities across the country, it is critical that Congress take concrete...

tragedies versus statistics by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 5, 2008

Historian and Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum is something of a maverick in her interest in and success at making the history of Soviet atrocities known to a generation of intellectuals uneasy at learning bad things about Leftists. Her book Gulag: A History (2004) introduced many people...

glimmer by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 5, 2008

A surprising admission from the learned professions: fathers are sometimes a positive influence in the rearing of young: The presence of the father in a group gave the daughters a jump-start on sexual maturity, a measure of fitness, the researchers said. "For young females, because their major...

No more waiting! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 6, 2008

Phil's new book has arrived, and Amazon is now...

The Political Rain in Spain by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 6, 2008

Things are getting interesting in Spain, where the second-ranking political leader has threatened reprisals against the Catholic Church because the bishops recently issued guidelines for voters. José Blanco is the President of the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers Party, second in command to the...

the other shoe drops by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 7, 2008

"In his 14 years as pastor, Father Moynihan has dedicated himself to deepening the faith of his parish family and displaying a genuine concern for the spiritual welfare of both young and old." If those words look familiar, perhaps that's because you have seen them here before. They're taken...

The Field of Candidates and the Catholic Vote by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 7, 2008

With the erosion of Rudy Giuliani’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination, we are left once again with what has become the standard contemporary divide between the Republicans and the Democrats. The Republicans (Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Ron Paul) are all pro-life. The Democrats...

the single-issue voter by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 7, 2008

Are you curious to know how Ray Flynn (former Mayor of Boston, former US ambassador to the Holy See, former president of the Catholic Alliance, former president of Your Catholic Voice, current chairman of Catholic Citizenship) voted in the Massachusetts presidential primary on Super...

Parodist visits Georgetown, falls on sword by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 8, 2008

Last October, the president of America's oldest Catholic university revealed that he was wondering: What are the resources that the Catholic moral tradition brings to the core work of providing an educational environment in which every individual can flourish? Which ways of working towards...

oops! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 8, 2008

If you were laboring under the inaccurate impression that the Vatican Information Service is infallible, you probably didn't catch today's announcement: This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Costa Rica, who have just completed their "ad...

dim bulbs by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 8, 2008

Two Anglican bishops-- Richard Chartres of London (not to be confused with the cathedral) and James Jones of Liverpool-- are encouraging their flocks to undertake a "carbon fast" during Lent, for the sake of the ozone layer and the poor and maybe even (although they don't mention it) their souls....

Biotechnology and the Destiny of Man by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Feb 8, 2008

We live in an age in which it has become possible to speculate on the type of beings we would like to become. Advances in genetic engineering and bio-technology are gradually enabling us to “improve” on human nature, which gives rise to the question of whether we should or should not do so. This...

understatement of the week by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 11, 2008

In the Super Tuesday Democratic primaries, the New York Times reports, Catholic voters swung heavily toward Hillary Clinton. Why? The Times offers a few theories, including the Clinton edge with Hispanic voters and the possibility that Catholics, educated by nuns, may be more likely to accept...

the liturgist's lament by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 12, 2008

Having (finally!) been relieved of his duties as the Vatican's chief liturgist, Archbishop Piero Marini-- not to be confused with his successor at that post, Msgr. Guido Marini-- has written a little book defending his approach and denouncing his critics. If you enjoy liturgical dance,...

Don’t Worry, Every Day is Like This! by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 13, 2008

So today we started with an ice storm which prevented some of our staff from getting to work on time. What’s worse, power was out at one of our major clients so that all their computer services were down. Then we had a management meeting where we spent most of our time rethinking and changing the...

not-so-free speech on the Catholic campus by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 14, 2008

In San Antonio, devout Catholics complained to the archbishop when St. Mary's University hosted a campaign rally for Senator Hillary Clinton. Clinton's support for abortion, same-sex marriage, and embryonic stem-cell research are a matter of public record, they pointed out. The archbishop was...

Not guilty. But innocent? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 15, 2008

A Cincinnati priest has been reinstated after a long suspension. He had been accused of raping a boy, but both an Ohio prosecutor and a Vatican panel agreed that the accusations were not credible. "I believe in Father Larger's innocence and am thankful that the clearing of his name makes...

silence by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 16, 2008

A Las Vegas abortion clinic with the cheerily macabre name of the A to Z Women's Center boasts not only of having "FREE Pregnancy Testing" and "One Day Service" but, on a somewhat more self-conscious note, "Silent Suction Equipment." Now why, I wonder, would silence be such an attractive...

Eucharistic Lives of Love by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Feb 17, 2008

At Eucharistic Adoration the other night, I was reminded again of how central the Eucharist is to Catholic life. It is the key to the right ordering of both our interior and our social lives. It is nourishment for the journey and a foretaste of eternal life. It is at once the means by which we...

transfigured by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 18, 2008

Below is Fr. Andrew Greeley's homiletic "background" to yesterday's gospel of the Transfiguration. It's a fine illustration of progressivist discourse, and will explain the dread that grips believing Catholics whenever their pastor climbs into the pulpit. The story of the Transfiguration of...

... then their hearts & minds will follow by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 19, 2008

The BBC site has a slide-show on the career of Fidel Castro captioned by the following text: Many liberal Cubans considered him an oppressive dictator. Thousands fled their homeland for the US, often on dangerous makeshift rafts. But Fidel Castro retained enough public support to become one of...

the meaning of lent made plain by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 19, 2008

"I would suggest that we all relax a bit on our Lenten resolutions," rumbled Rembert Weakland in a deplorably ill-timed letter he issued back in March 2002, "The bombardment in the public forum about pedophilia in the Church has provided enough penance for everyone this year." Lent is a...

Saints as Popular Heroes by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 19, 2008

During the first thousand years of Church history, saints were declared more or less by popular acclaim. Holy souls developed a reputation for sanctity in this life, people began to pray to them after their deaths, and as favors and miracles were attributed to their intercession, their cults grew....

the choice of the pro-choice pros by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 20, 2008

Lifesite's Peter Smith reports that Frances Kissling, former director of Catholics for a Free Choice, is endorsing Obama for president. The reason? Dead isn't dead enough. Red-in-tooth-and-claw Hillary is not sufficiently pro-abortion: [Kissling] agreed that both Clinton and Obama would...

weigel on the jesuits by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 21, 2008

George Weigel has a very incisive column titled "Questions for Father General," in which he challenges the Jesuit Superior to put to rest the skepticism of many Catholics about the Jesuit claim to remain the Pope's loyal servants. Thus Weigel: Last month, the 35th General Congregation of the...

post-Catholic Boston by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 21, 2008

This year St. Patrick's Day falls during Holy Week: a fact that calls for some shuffling of liturgical calendars. Not even a beloved saint-- not even the patron saint of the New York and Boston archdioceses-- takes precedence over Holy Week observances. In South Boston, however, the annual St....

Ironies of Faith by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 21, 2008

I promised to comment on Anthony Esolen’s fine book, Ironies of Faith: The Laughter at the Heart of Christian Literature, published last year by ISI Books. Esolen is a professor of literature at Providence College specializing in the classical, medieval and Renaissance periods. He translated...

another medical breakthr.... oh wait by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 21, 2008

For the first time, stem cells taken from human embryos have produced gains in treatment of diabetes-- in mice. (Now stop and think about that for a moment before we continue. We're delighted that the mice are feeling better. But at the cost of a few human lives?) Proponents of embryonic...

lost in translation by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 21, 2008

Pope Benedict delivered a stern, no-nonsense message to Jesuit leaders on February 21. The CWN coverage of the Pope's talk was not terribly different from the accounts carried here and here and even here. If you read Italian,...

Politics 101: Belonging to Nature's God by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Feb 22, 2008

“In this great experiment that is American democracy, ‘secular’ is the only word we have to describe the idea, handed down by the Founders, that our leaders do not belong to God, they belong to us.” Thus ends another of Lisa Miller’s infamous “Belief Watch” columns in Newsweek (2/25/2008). In this...

what does not destroy me makes me strong by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 24, 2008

The New York Times gives us a harrowing retrospective of the mean streets of Park Ridge, Illinois. "Hillary is incredibly tough -- she grew up with two brothers and a strong father in the Midwest, so she knows a challenge," said Ms. Solis Doyle, the former campaign manager, who has worked for...

serial delusion by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 24, 2008

Remember that Serial Dilution technique you learned in high school chemistry? You mix one part base with nine parts solvent, and then use that solution as the base to which you add nine parts solvent, and so continue as long as you wish. Each step results in a ten-fold reduction in the...

and remember: act natural by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 24, 2008

The Religious Right is what Lefties call believing Christians during an election year. Believers are generally loathed by the glitterati, but there's votes in them thar hills, and every four years, in order to score higher in the southern states, the Democratic leadership makes tardy and risibly...

the facts of life & the culture of death by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 26, 2008

"Papa loved Mama, so they got married and had babies." Thus does my earnest four-year-old summarize the mysteries of marital love. For scientific purposes that statement is terribly incomplete. For philosophical purposes, it hits the bull's eye. With those words Phil Lawler began a Wall Street...

olson & shaw on the jesuits by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 26, 2008

Carl Olson points us to a Catholic Insight article by Russell Shaw called Can the Jesuits Be Saved?. He begins by recounting an incident told him by a friend who attended the screening at a Jesuit university of a video on the life of the Jesuit Superior General Pedro Arrupe (1965-1983). Shaw...

The Pope and the Jesuits: Explaining the Problem by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 26, 2008

In my last Insights message I linked to an excellent Catholic World News story on Pope Benedict’s final words to the General Congregation of the Society of Jesus in Rome on February 21st (see Remember 4th vow, Pope urges Jesuits). The Pope’s message is even more striking when you...

What's a little mercury when you're saving the environment by Leila in "Off the Record" - Feb 27, 2008

Yesterday's Globe carried a rather sinister note on how to deal with one of those twisty compact fluorescent bulbs in case it breaks. Apparently, this isn't one of those events you should just snooze through, especially if you are an infant, child, pregnant woman, or pet. If you don't happen...

need to know by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 28, 2008

An exasperated Michelle Malkin vents her disgust at the way abortion providers have put in place an asymmetrical "culture of callousness" that amplifies the voices of hedonism and blacks-out dissent: It's not just jaded abortion providers and medical assistants, AWOL counselors, and MIA parents...

complementarity by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 28, 2008

Mark Steyn backhands the Brits for their capitulation to political Qur'ectness: You can't (for the moment) marry multiple wives within the United Kingdom, but if you contract a polygamous marriage in a jurisdiction where polygamy is legal, such as certain, ahem, Muslim countries, your better...

let it bleed by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 28, 2008

The egregious Bishop Gumbleton, who seldom passes up the chance to take a clear teaching and make it murky, muddies the waters yet again in his most recent effort at doctrinal sabotage: When I think of how our church acts sometimes, and maybe without our knowing it, any one of us as an...

sua eccellenza mary ann by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 29, 2008

U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Prof. Mary Ann Glendon presented credentials at the Vatican today and got a gracious, and diplomatically pointed, welcome -- which you can read here. She's not the first woman to hold the post, of course, but I suspect she's more than usually aware of the paradox...

curses by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Feb 29, 2008

Some time ago Jimmy Akin brought to our attention a quote from His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman, taking issue with the Catholic League's William Donohue: "To regard it as this Donohue man has said -- that I'm a militant atheist, and my intention is to convert people -- how the hell...

Why the Faithful Departed, and How to Get Them Back by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Feb 29, 2008

It’s a powerful book that forces you to understand the grim malaise of the Catholic Church in the United States. It’s about much more than the sex abuse scandal. It’s about bishops who see the Church primarily as a public institution to be governed and protected by political strategies. This book...

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