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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from February 2013

What All Parents Should Want for Their Children by Peter Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 1, 2013

Over the past month I have been reflecting with particular focus on cooperating with grace and allowing that cooperation to transform my private and public life. So perhaps it was providential that this morning, as I picked a bible off the bookshelf to study a passage in Matthew’s Gospel,...

Obama's latest 'compromise' offer on the mandate is a Trojan Horse by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 1, 2013

Last July I predicted that President Obama would offer a new “compromise” to soften Catholic opposition to the HHS mandate. My timing was wrong; I thought it would be a pre-election promise, a campaign ploy. But I think my analysis was fundamentally right. Bottom line: Obama’s ultimate goal is...

Newman, a Model for Converts by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 1, 2013

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman set himself to the task of defending the Catholic character of the Anglican Church in what is now known as the Oxford Movement. But as he continued to study the Fathers and the early history of the Church, he saw that the early heretical sects were in the...

At last an American prelate addresses the real problem in the sex-abuse scandal by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 1, 2013

Electrifying? Yes. Exhilarating? That too. But above all encouraging. ”Finally!” I shouted to myself when I heard the news from Los Angeles. For more than a decade, since the explosion of the sex-abuse crisis, American Catholic bishops have been issuing apologies, promising changes,...

Cardinal Mahony’s Therapeutic Excuses by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 4, 2013

Call me naïve, but I was somewhat surprised to see Cardinal Roger Mahony issue an open letter to Archbishop José Gomez in which, at this late date, he seeks once again to excuse himself for his irresponsible handling of sexual abuse by his clergy, especially in the late 1980s....

Sexual Abuse: Confusing Circumstances, Same Conclusion by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 5, 2013

That I believe Catholic bishops have no justification for recycling priests guilty of sexual abuse is clear from yesterday’s essay, Cardinal Mahony’s Therapeutic Excuses. But this does not mean there is nothing to be said on the other side. Let me list some of the ancillary...

More Evidence for Academic Irrelevance by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 6, 2013

Academic publishing—especially niche market academic publishing, such as specifically Catholic academic publishing—seems to be in serious trouble. I realized this again while looking through some book flyers enclosed in the latest mailing from the Society of Catholic Social Scientists....

Cardinal Mahony, Archbishop Myers keep the scandal alive by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 6, 2013

Last Friday I was rejoicing over the news that one American archbishop, at least, finally seemed to “get it” regarding the sex-abuse scandal. Now I’m afraid I was celebrating too soon. Within hours the smile had been wiped off my face, by two separate incidents that showed how...

The lighter side of a bishop's life by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 7, 2013

Even as I mourn the death of Bishop John D’Arcy, I can’t help remembering the morning that we had breakfast together, and I saw a different side of the life of a Catholic bishop. It was a Monday: October 20, 1986. (How do I remember the date? Read on.) I had moved to Indiana almost a...

Sede Vacantism: A Conspiracy to Waste Your Time by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 7, 2013

A friend passed along a message from someone arguing that recent popes have not really been popes at all—in other words, that the See of Peter is vacant—which conveniently explains all the problems we have. The theory is called sede vacantism (from sede vacante, or empty chair). I...

For the Love of Morality: Keep Government Minimal by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 8, 2013

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati went up against Judge S. Arthur Spiegel when it tried to fire Christa Dias, a Catholic school employee, for using artificial insemination to become pregnant. Spiegel ruled against the Archdiocese on the grounds that there may be evidence of pregnancy discrimination in...

RIP Mike Schwartz, happy warrior of the pro-life movement by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 8, 2013

If you have been active in the American pro-life movement—in any capacity, at any time since 1973—you have been influenced by Mike Schwartz, whether you know it or not. Most of the movement’s leaders are acutely aware of Mike’s influence, and many have paid tribute to him...

The medicinal value of capital punishment by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 8, 2013

In a short but powerful essay on capital punishment that appears in Crisis magazine, Father George W. Rutler reminds readers that the Catholic Church has traditionally taught, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church ( 2267) still teaches, that the state’s rightful authority to punish...

Now more than ever, accurate Vatican coverage is essential by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 11, 2013

Brace yourself for a deluge of inaccurate stories in the mainstream media about the pontificate of Benedict XVI, ill-informed speculation about the papal succession, and generally misleading coverage of Catholic affairs. If you want accurate, reliable information and analysis, stick with Catholic...

What do you call an ex-Pope? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 11, 2013

Among the many questions raised by the resignation of Pope Benedict, this one isn’t in the top 20. But since it has already been asked, and the director of the Vatican press office has admitted that he doesn’t know the answer, let’s give it a moment’s thought: Question:...

Benedict: Far from the First Pope to Resign by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 11, 2013

Now that Pope Benedict has announced his resignation effective February 28th, it makes sense to review a little Catholic history. The resignation of a pope is a rare event but not an unprecedented one, as some early reports would have had us believe. During the third and fourth...

In India, cardinals praise new book by CWN contributor by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 11, 2013

Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Evangelization, led the chorus of praise for a new book by frequent CWN contributor Anto Akkara. Cardinal Telesphore Toppo referred to the book as “prophetic.” The book, Early Christians of 21st Century, recounts the...

Who will be the next Pope? Advice for oddsmakers by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 11, 2013

1. Don’t waste your time reading about the bookies who are already taking bets. The bookies are just trying to stir up a little action. 2. Don’t pay too much attention to the stories in the mainstream press about the “leading candidates,” either. Some offer a...

Don't blame Benedict XVI for the sex-abuse scandal by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 11, 2013

Among the many inaccurate stories that have circulated in the wake of Pope Benedict’s resignation, one in particular should be nipped in the bud. This pontificate has not been scarred by a failure to address the sex-abuse scandal. The claim that Pope Benedict ignored sexual abuse is a...

The Tuft-less Titmouse by Chris Pelicano in "The City Gates" - Feb 11, 2013

How do you know when you are being deceived? It depends, in part, on the nature of the deception. Some deceptions are direct, bold-faced statements or assertions contrary to the truth. Some deceptions are more sins of omission, so-called half-truths, that mislead by appearing to be complete and...

The challenge Pope Benedict has left for his successor—and for ordinary Catholics by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 11, 2013

Although Pope Benedict caught nearly everyone by surprise when he announced his resignation, we can’t say that he didn’t give us fair warning. In an interview in 2010, the Holy Father explained at some length why a Pope should resign when he no longer had the strength to carry out his...

Junk Reporting on Electing a Pope by Peter Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 11, 2013

Around the news sites and blogosphere, you have begun to see only the first of the many inaccurate, meaningless, irresponsible, and completely misinformed (not to mention heretical, in some cases) reporting on Pope Benedict's resignation and the election of a new pope. Talking heads, so called...

The Conclave and the Papal Election: Rollup of All News and Commentary by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 12, 2013

Here is a list of all of our news and commentary on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of his successor, in reverse chronological order. Items marked “Catholic World News” are news stories; items marked with a personal name are commentaries by that...

Epistemic Authority: Preferring the True and the Good to the Self by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Feb 13, 2013

Catholics who have made a deep commitment to their faith find the modern world puzzling. Every time they try to argue a position they are met not so much by counter-arguments as by ridicule. This ridicule takes the form of dismissing out of hand all those who permit a religious authority to...

The first misstep among the papabili by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 13, 2013

The possibility that Cardinal Peter Turkson will be elected Pope—never terribly likely—has become more remote with the publication of the Ghanian cardinal’s statement that he would be prepared to accept election. Cardinal-electors generally frown on anything that could be...

That's sooooo 1968! by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 13, 2013

If you read the Daily Telegraph interview with Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, you could be forgiven for thinking that contraception is the toughest issue facing the Catholic Church today. I’d phrase the problem somewhat differently. The toughest issue facing the Catholic Church today is the...

Mike Moroski’s State of the Church Address by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 14, 2013

When assistant principal Mike Moroski was fired by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for publicly supporting gay marriage, naturally the press wanted to talk to him, and he wanted to talk to the press. The result is what I call Moroski’s State of the Church address. It is probably safe to...

Religion as Sentiment? Newman Speaks by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 14, 2013

While reading Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski’s Epistemic Authority, I couldn’t help thinking of Blessed John Henry Newman. It was Newman who gave us the most comprehensive description of how the human person legitimately attains certainty, especially in religion. He did this in his seminal...

Popular misconceptions: Benedict's resignation and choice of successor by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 14, 2013

The mainstream media are suddenly taking a keen interest in Vatican affairs, sending reporters to process the latest unfounded rumors from Rome. Meanwhile self-proclaimed experts on Catholicism are flooding the internet with their own theories. As a result, thousands of inaccurate stories are...

Perceptive Commentary: On the resignation—Bernardo Cervellera, John O'Sullivan, Michael Kelly by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 14, 2013

Among the scores of editorial commentaries that have appeared since Pope Benedict announced his plans to resign, a handful have been particular insightful. Among the best: ”Benedict XVI’s decision for the Church's mission and the truth of the world.” Father Bernardo...

Papal health rumors expose more Vatican PR blunders by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 15, 2013

Since Pope Benedict announced his plans to resign, enterprising reporters—understandably anxious to explore any possible medical explanation—have ferreted out the facts that the Pope had the battery on his pacemaker replaced recently, and hurt his head in a fall during his trip to...

The real story behind the Pope's resignation by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 15, 2013

What is the real reason for Pope Benedict’s decision to resign? What’s the story behind the story? Like thousands of others, I have been asking myself those questions since Monday morning. After a week of intensive reporting, and weighing the theories put forward by others, I have...

Perceptive Commentary: Warren, Douthat, Henneberger, Horowitz, Oko by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 18, 2013

Several informative and/or provocative commentaries on the Pope’s resignation and the impending papal conclave appeared over the weekend. There were many inaccurate reports and misleading columns as well, of course. But for now let's call attention to some of the best: ...

Presidents’ Day: Fame and the Law of the Gift by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 18, 2013

Today is Presidents’ Day in the United States, a holiday which began its history as “Washington’s Birthday” on February 22nd, and gradually morphed into a convenient Monday holiday to honor America’s Presidency in general. Those of us who believe no useful work can be...

Popular misconceptions, II by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 19, 2013

With the caveat that we can’t possibly keep up with all of the mistakes being made by reporters in their rush to cover the papal resignation and the coming conclave, here are a few more corrections of errors that have cropped up in multiple reports. Once again I encourage readers to treat...

Is the Default Position Shifting to Subsidiarity? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 19, 2013

Not so long ago, most ecclesiastical officials and Catholic academicians emphasized solidarity as a political ideal. Owing to a common misunderstanding of both government and solidarity, that emphasis was almost always at the expense of subsidiarity. In recent years, however, the tide in favor of...

A caution on new reports regarding Peru by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 20, 2013

Today’s CWN headlines include a report on an intriguing Vatican contretemps regarding the rebellious “Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.” (I use the “scare quotes” because the Vatican has determined the institution does not deserve to be known as either...

Don’t Let Them Attack Your Autonomy! The Trick of Debunking Religion by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 21, 2013

The modern world speaks a great deal about autonomy, and the more the modern secularist emphasizes his or her autonomy, the more the faithful Catholic doubts its value. However, as I pointed out in my review of Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski’s recent book (see Epistemic Authority: Preferring the...

On the Requirement to Raise Children as Muslims by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 22, 2013

The agreement between the governments of Spain and Morocco requiring Spanish adopters of Moroccan children to raise them as Muslims is both troubling and, in the end, wrong. The agreement will include a monitoring system to ensure that no Moroccan child converts away from Islam before the age of...

Homosexual network at the Vatican, Yes; reason for the Pope's resignation, No by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 22, 2013

Is there a network of homosexual clerics working within the Vatican? Undoubtedly, Yes. Was the discovery of that network a major factor motivating Pope Benedict to resign? Undoubtedly, No. Rome is abuzz with reports about a story that appeared in two Italian publications, La Repubblica and...

Perceptive commentary: Zuhlsdorf, Weigel, Quinn, Paprocki by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 22, 2013

As a service to our readers, once again we call attention to some of the most interesting commentary that has appeared on other sites regarding the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the prospects for the March conclave. For our efforts to correct some of the less astute commentary, see our...

Benedict’s Resignation: The Prisoner of the Vatican Thesis by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 25, 2013

Yesterday my extended family celebrated the ninth birthday of one of my granddaughters. In the course of some wonderful family conversation, one of my children quietly asked me if I thought there was anything to the speculation that Pope Benedict was resigning either because he was so often...

Popular misconceptions: III by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 26, 2013

As the date of the Pope’s resignation draws near, thousands of “news” stories are posted about a confidential Vatican report on the “Vatileaks” scandal and on the likely candidates for the papacy. Let me caution readers once again about putting any credence in these reports. The “Vatileaks”...

How many bishops has Pope Benedict persuaded to resign? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 26, 2013

If the only news you read comes from popular commentators in the secular media, you might think that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning because he could not make any progress in fighting corruption within the Church. Those who follow Catholic news carefully know better. In our news coverage yesterday...

The Homosexual Network: News, No News, and Exploitation by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 27, 2013

A few Catholic organizations are suddenly very excited about “having the goods” on the so-called “gay mafia” within the Church. They seem to believe an epic story has broken, and they are apparently jostling with each other to appear to be the first to convey this momentous...

After resigning, Pope Benedict hopes to disappear by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 27, 2013

“I am not returning to private life,” Pope Benedict XVI said at his final general audience on February 27. Some commentators have interpreted that phrase as a signal that the Pope intends to remain a public figure, even after he steps down tomorrow evening. That is a complete...

CatholicCulture.org on LifeSiteNews by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 28, 2013

We have received some inquiries about my criticism yesterday of the way some Catholic media organizations handled Fr. F. Dariusz Oko’s paper, “Standing with the Pope against Homoheresy” (see The Homosexual Network: News, No News, and Exploitation). The most important question is...

The next Pope won't be another Benedict XVI...or John Paul II by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 28, 2013

Cardinal Dolan was very perceptive, I think, in his comment that the cardinals need to “work through some grief” before they can concentrate on the task of selecting a new Pope. It will take a few days, at least, to adjust to the reality that Benedict XVI is really gone. One’s first instinct...

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