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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from February 2014

Bishop Conley on Rolling Stone and the bid to exploit Pope Francis by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 3, 2014

Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska has a brilliant little piece on the First Things site, explaining how secular culture seeks to exploit the popularity of Pope Francis. Using the cover story in Rolling Stone as an example, Bishop Conley remarks that the magazine’s coverage is loaded with...

How secular media exploit the 'Francis effect'-- another prime example by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 4, 2014

Yesterday I called attention to a very perceptive critique, by Bishop James Conley, of the Rolling Stone cover story about Pope Francis. The purveyors of pop culture aren’t interested in reporting what Pope Francis thinks, Bishop Conley warned; they’re interested in promoting...

The Church’s Mark of Catholicity, on the Surface and in its Depth by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 5, 2014

The third of the Church’s marks, as enumerated in her creeds, does not trace back to the life of the Trinity quite as obviously as do unity and holiness, nor even so easily to the life of our Savior Himself. Yet the connections are there. With the help once again of Figuring out the...

The Courage to Live by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Feb 6, 2014

For all the popularity in pro-life rhetoric of the phrases “culture of life” and “culture of death,” it seems as though the majority of words in pro-life literature have been spent making moral and political arguments against abortion, rather than exploring the meaning of...

People who live in glass houses by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 6, 2014

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which has instructed the Vatican on proper treatment of children, includes representatives from Ghana, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Russia, and Sri Lanka. Would you rather have your child raised at the Vatican or in one of those countries? The UN...

German bishops should emphasize mission, not change rules by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Feb 6, 2014

The assessment of attitudes on sexuality, marriage and family life by the bishops of Germany, while not surprising, is extraordinarily telling. In the end, the bishops ask for rule changes to admit divorced and remarried Catholics to Communion, as well as formal blessings for such couples. Some...

Charismatic grace does not produce holiness by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 7, 2014

I was reminded this morning of an important fact about grace while reading about the results of the Apostolic Visitation of U.S. women religious conducted in 2009 and 2010. Apparently, a final report is nearly complete and will be released soon. In speaking with reporters about the...

Please, some honesty from the Vatican about the health of religious life by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 7, 2014

The life of consecrated religious communities worldwide “is really enjoying good health at this moment,” Archbishop José Rodriguez Carballo, the secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Religious, has reported. His evidence? The archbishop told an EWTN interviewer that in his travels...

The Church’s Mark of Apostolicity, the Preservation of all the Rest by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 11, 2014

When it comes to the marks of the Church identified in the Nicene Creed (one, holy, Catholic and apostolic), the mark of apostolicity is by far the most straightforward. The fullness of Revelation in Jesus Christ was entrusted to the apostles, who were commissioned to carry on his mission in the...

On transparency in handling abuse charges, Vatican is facing a big test by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 11, 2014

Reacting vigorously to a nasty public attack by a hostile UN committee, Vatican officials have repeated that the Holy See has nothing to hide on the issue of sexual abuse. That’s good to hear. But after a decade of scandal, a skeptical world wants to see action to back up those...

Bishop Bossuet: Get him before Lent begins by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 12, 2014

I haven’t read it, but you can still get it before it is too late. I’m talking about the new book from Sophia Institute Press, Jaques-Bénigne Bossuet’s Meditations for Lent. So far, I know Bossuet by reputation only, but that is exactly why I am going to use this book for...

PhotoShop your troubles away by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 12, 2014

Critics of the Vatican (and concerned friends, for that matter) have reason to keep a close eye on the Dominican Republic in the coming weeks, as I explained yesterday. So it was alarming, at first, to hear that the bishops of that country altered a group photo, to make the former papal nuncio,...

How contraception undermines our national security by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 12, 2014

“There are signs,” observed Muammar Qaddafi in 2006, “that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe—without swords, without guns, without conquests.” Qaddafi himself is now dead, the victim of the Islamic fervor he helped to arouse. But his prophecy may be coming true...

Lent eBook Available for Download by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 14, 2014

Lent, my very dear friends, starts on March 5th. Please do not shoot the messenger. But please do note that the Lent 2014 volume of our Liturgical Year series of ebooks is now available for download in our ebook center. As I have mentioned in the past, our Liturgical Year ebooks include the...

Childbirth after brain death? Something wrong there by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 14, 2014

“Brain-Dead Woman Gives Birth To Son,” reads the news headline. It’s a nice story, on the surface, about life emerging from the shadows of death. But there’s something wrong with the headline, don’t you think? A dead woman can’t give birth. Dead people...

On Gay Marriage: Piling it Higher and Deeper in Virginia by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 14, 2014

Where we live in northern Virginia, our major problems are relatively infrequent, unless you count traffic. But this week we were faced with two of them, one right after the other. On Wednesday night, mother nature dropped twelve to fifteen inches of snow, ensuring that most of Thursday was spent...

A bit of fair treatment, please, in handling accusations against priests by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 14, 2014

TheMediaReport.com is offering 5 practical suggestions for journalists covering the sex-abuse story as it relates to the Catholic Church. TheMediaReport is a site that doggedly defends the Church against accusations, and in some cases, I think, ends up defending the indefensible. But in this case,...

Archbishop Myers sends the wrong message again by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 17, 2014

Newark’s Archbishop John Myers was handled roughly by the media last year. First there were the stories about a priest who, after a plea-bargaining agreement that he would not work in youth ministry, was in fact involved with youth ministry. Then the stories about the $1.35 million the Peoria,...

Everybody wants to speak with authority, but how? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 17, 2014

In a delightful article in the February issue of First Things, entitled “Bloodless Moralism”, Helen Rittelmeyer enjoys skewering our contemporary desire to buttress every moral argument with data from the social sciences. It’s a bad habit to reduce morality to statistics, she...

Pope Francis inherits the problems of the Legionaries by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 17, 2014

In his official debut as a columnist for the Boston Globe, John Allen, the longtime Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, remarks that (to quote the headline) “Legionaries are Pope Francis’ problem now.” It’s a fair point. The scandal within the Legion of Christ festered...

The Children’s Guide to the Papacy by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 18, 2014

Magnificat and Ignatius Press have teamed up to publish a striking children’s book entitled Our Holy Father, the Pope. As the subtitle indicates, it briefly covers “the Papacy from Saint Peter to the Present”. The text is by Don R. Caffery, a father who decided to write this book...

Vatican could run for 2.5 years on sum LA archdiocese has paid to settle abuse suits by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 20, 2014

St. Peter’s basilica is enormous. I wonder how many American Catholics assume that, just as the Vatican basilica is larger than their diocesan cathedral, the Vatican bureaucracy must also be much larger than the diocesan staff. Not so. Actually the Vatican is a relatively lean operation. Although...

God, Character, and Literature: Paula Huston’s Land without Sin by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Feb 20, 2014

As longtime readers may have noticed, I occasionally pick up and review newly published examples of what we loosely call “the Catholic novel”. Unfortunately, since Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy passed from the scene, there seems to have been a dearth of top-tier Catholic...

An impenitent penitent and his political supporters by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 20, 2014

During a sacramental confession, a priest says something to which the penitent objects. The penitent lodges a complaint. The priest, bound by the seal of confession, cannot defend himself; he cannot say anything at all. If the angry penitent can find someone willing to listen to his complain, it...

An Aquinas Primer by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Feb 21, 2014

Sophia Institute Press has published a new popular presentation of the philosophy and theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas’s work defined Catholic theology for the greater part of the past millennium, guaranteeing that any properly catechized Catholic will have been influenced by the...

Pope Francis insists on renewed attention to the Constitution on the Liturgy by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 21, 2014

I was very happy to see Pope Francis insist on a renewed commitment to the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium). The history of the late 20th-century liturgical renewal involved several steps backward in practice, and it has taken some time for...

The dangerous pressure for change in Church teaching on divorce and remarriage by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 24, 2014

As the October meeting of the Synod of Bishops draws near, we’ll hear more and more about one question: Whether Catholics who are divorced and remarried should be allowed to receive the Eucharist. Clearly this is the question on the minds of reporters, the question being posed by liberal bishops,...

A special note to readers in Oklahoma and the Dallas area by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 24, 2014

Do you have a parish, school, club, or other group that might be looking for a speaker sometime at the end of May? I don’t travel often, but I’ll be in Oklahoma at the end of that month (exact dates not yet certain) to give a couple of talks. I’d be happy to add another date or...

Does the Times think religious freedom violates the First Amendment? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 25, 2014

How did I miss this? A New York Times editorial stood the First Amendment on its head, and I didn’t even notice. Apparently not many other people noticed, either, because it’s only now been brought to my attention by a friend, three weeks later. Does that mean people have stopped paying attention...

Vatican Reform: Time for a New Inquisition by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 25, 2014

Do you remember the Roman Inquisition? Unfortunately, when people today think of “the Inquisition”, they think of the Spanish Inquisition, which was unduly influenced by the Spanish crown. Even so, its weaknesses were horrendously exaggerated by hostile English historians in what has...

On the 'sense of the faithful,' Bishop Lynch is exactly wrong by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 25, 2014

Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida has drawn a lot of attention with his report on how the Catholics of his diocese responded to questions about marriage and family life. The artful Bishop Lynch doesn’t say that he agrees with the responses from the...

The rush to accept same-sex marriage: the most radical change in American history by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 27, 2014

Say what you will about the latest survey showing a growing public acceptance of same-sex marriage. Any such poll can be scrutinized for bias: in the wording of the questions, in the selection of prominent results. But it’s impossible to ignore two clear facts: First, public attitudes are...

Why should you support our campaign for 500 gifts? (And fast!) by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 27, 2014

Right now, we’re running a campaign to receive a total of 500 donations in any amount during the last ten days of February. As of this writing, we have 299 to go. (The current number is on the Action Alert banner at the top of the page.) The number was chosen because by February 15th, we...

Against Circumcision: A Classic Out-of-Context Danger by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 27, 2014

Recently someone brought to my attention a quotation from the Council of Florence in 1442, and asked if I could explain it in a manner consistent with current Catholic practices and attitudes. Here is the quote: “Therefore it [the Church] commands all who glory in the name of Christian,...

When pregnancy is viewed as the most dangerous disease by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 28, 2014

The “news item” that follows is not accurate. I have taken an actual lead paragraph and altered it in a small but critically important way, which I will disclose below. In a new study, researchers found an increased risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) among women who have taken...

Financial pressures on priests to avoid controversy by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 28, 2014

In an interesting piece that appears today on The Catholic Thing, Father Mark Pilon makes an interesting point about the collapse of catechesis in Germany. The same point might apply in the US and other countries as well. As you will recall, the German bishops have announced that most...

The Casuistry of Divorce and Remarriage by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 28, 2014

At daily Mass this morning, Pope Francis contrasted the reality of marriage as upheld by Jesus Christ with the casuistry of the Pharisees. Casuistry is the application of moral principles to particular cases so as to determine the required course of action. But abuse has given the word very...

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