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All Catholic commentary from February 2016

Presentation of the Lord: A Light for the Nations by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Feb 1, 2016

February 2nd, in the Ordinary Form, is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord; in the Extraordinary (1962) Calendar the feast is known as the Purification of Mary. This is traditionally called "Candlemas" because of the blessing of candles before Mass on this day. As I was putting my...

The quest for religious unity: The natural must not eclipse the supernatural. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 2, 2016

As a first step to considering more deeply the relationship between the quest for religious unity and evangelization, we need to distinguish their ends. We will see that the quest for greater religious unity has a natural end, whereas the end of evangelization is supernatural. Once we grasp this...

NPR discovers the 'secret' that pro-lifers have been sharing for a generation by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 3, 2016

Congratulations to National Public Radio for discovering what Steven Mosher has been telling the world for the past 35 years: that China's brutal "one-child" population policy led to flagrant and widespread human-rights abuses, including millions of forced abortions, and produced a...

To preach, to sanctify, and... Is something missing? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 3, 2016

Pope Francis knocked me off balance, and prompted some new thoughts about the state of the Catholic Church, with something he said in a recent homily. Or rather, to be more accurate, he stunned me by what he did not say—by leaving out part of a very familiar series. Let me explain first...

Is God humble? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 3, 2016

A few weeks ago, I jotted down a question I thought might be worth writing about: How can God be considered humble? I remember that the question occurred to me while I was reading Scripture, but if I had a blazing insight I wanted to share, I have completely lost it now. Still, the question...

LGBT...ETC: The Code of the In Crowd by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 4, 2016

First there were gays; then there were lesbians and gays; then there were lesbians, gays and bisexuals—a long enough list to require the initialism LGB; then there were lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBT). When the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke recently about the...

The 'traditional' same-sex wedding by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 5, 2016

In this spectacularly lopsided article for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Joel Connelly is determined to show that it is unreasonable for a Catholic high school to refuse to publish a notice of a graduate’s same-sex wedding. Connelly blames the refusal on the “chilly, hard-line...

Praying with the Church by Fr. Jerry Pokorsky in "On the News" - Feb 5, 2016

When I read the works of scholars who suggest, “The early Church placed on the lips of Jesus…” my inner alarm bells go off. The implication is clear. The early Church placed its own words on the lips of Jesus to proclaim a message that is either generally in line with the...

Quick Hits: Absurd public-health directives, a rude papal adviser, unresponsive diocesan bureaucracies by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 5, 2016

This week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that young women should use contraception if they plan to drink alcohol-- any amount of alcohol. The logic of the CDC’s argument is this: Scientists don’t know what level of alcohol will be harmful to an unborn child, so...

Religious unity, evangelization and the salvation crisis by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Feb 8, 2016

Having examined the fundamental difference between the quest for religious unity and evangelization, it seems sensible to ask what, in the modern period, has caused evangelization (with its supernatural end) to so often be subordinated to religious unity (with its natural end). If we can...

Lenten sacrifices: What about Sundays? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 9, 2016

One of the priests in our parish frequently tries to get us to be tougher when it comes to a willingness to sacrifice. Each year around this time he speaks repeatedly about the desirability of extending our Lenten practices throughout all the days of the Lenten season. He is unimpressed by the...

Entering the Season of Lent by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Feb 9, 2016

Having Ash Wednesday begin so early in February makes it difficult to me to get into gear. Every year I make some decisions on what areas to focus on during Lent, but even as I choose them, I always wait for God to send me His penance for me for Lent. He knows just what I need. And when Lent...

Ash Wednesday, the New Hampshire primary, and the limitations of politics by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 10, 2016

On Ash Wednesday, the internet is abuzz with reactions to the New Hampshire primary. This year’s calendar, placing the start of Lent immediately after the opening ballot of the presidential campaign, prompts some thoughts on the relative importance of political and spiritual battles. Let...

Quick Hits: Seven Gifts, female spirituality, Escape from Nihilism, Thomistic Evolution by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Feb 11, 2016

Catholic pianist-composer Mark Christopher Brandt has now released the second in a series of four fully improvised piano recordings. Seven Gifts (available as a CD or DVD) is based on the same concept as the first installment, Seven Moons, so you can visit my review of the earlier...

Quick Hits: Pope's impact on SC primary, Ukrainian Catholics nervous about summit, trends behind priest shortage by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 11, 2016

Prediction: Pope Francis will be a major factor in the South Carolina presidential primary. The Pope heads for Mexico tomorrow (stopping in Cuba—more on that below), and his last scheduled appearance in that country is at Ciudad Juarez, where he will visit the US border and speak about...

The Labouré Society: Building the Church one vocation at a time by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 11, 2016

Did you know that nearly half of all Catholic Americans who are actively discerning a priestly or religious vocation are prevented from entering a seminary or a novitiate because they have educational loans? I was not aware of this until a friend of one of my sons called it to my attention. His...

The humble Pope by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 11, 2016

Three years ago today, Pope Benedict XVI stunned the world by announcing his plan to resign. In a really beautiful piece recalling the former Pontiff, John Allen of Crux says that this was “history’s greatest act of papal humility.” Allen goes on to remark that Benedict...

How is this possible? Mercy and Justice are the same in God. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 12, 2016

In the sixth of his Wednesday catecheses on mercy, Pope Francis explained that “God’s justice is mercy.” This is not a new idea, but it is worth our reflection. And since it is part of the mystery of God, there are definitely multiple ways of looking at it. The particular...

Is liturgy all just a matter of preferences? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 12, 2016

Are you frustrated when people tell you that you should not object to liturgical abuses, because questions about what’s appropriate in the liturgy are merely questions of taste? Of course you are; aren’t we all? But do you know how to answer that argument persuasively? Proper...

Vatican did not tell bishops to avoid reporting abuse-- and reporters missed the real story by Phil Lawler in "In Depth Analysis" - Feb 12, 2016

This week I read dozens of headlines about a new Vatican document that allegedly instructed bishops not to report sex-abuse complaints to the local police. For example: Catholic Church Tells Bishops They Are Not Obliged to Disclose Child Sex Abuse: Report (Time) New Catholic bishops told...

Following the Roman Lenten Stations by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Feb 13, 2016

Although I would never consider myself a Pollyanna, I try to remain positive when writing on the Church’s Liturgy and Liturgical Year. The Council of Vatican II brought many changes to the Liturgy, and although the closing of the Council occurred 51 years ago, I see the Church still...

Lenten Ember Days by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Feb 15, 2016

This post was originally written in 2014, updated for Lent 2016.  This Wednesday, February 17, within the First Week of Lent marks the beginning of the traditional dates of the Lenten Ember Days. With the reorganization of the Liturgical Year by Vatican II, the Ember Days were retained...

The essential posture of evangelization: We are all adopted. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Feb 15, 2016

This is the fourth installment of my series on the relationship between the quest for religious unity and evangelization. A large part of what I have been trying to get at may be summarized in a simple comparison between how the relationship of Catholics to those in other religions was viewed five...

Quick Hits: Scalia's charity, the controversial nuncio, judging the Pope-Patriarch summit by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 16, 2016

Much has been written about the late Justice Antonin Scalia, and how his Catholic faith helped to shape his judicial philosophy. But Justice Scalia’s faith was not just an abstract thing; it didn’t only influence how he thought. Jeffrey Tucker tells a very different sort of story,...

Another way of understanding the Missionaries of Mercy by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 16, 2016

My friend Father Roger Landry has posted an excellent explanation of the role of Missionaries of Mercy (of whom he is one), who have been commissioned by Pope Francis to make a special effort as confessors and “persuasive preachers of mercy” during the Jubilee Year. Reading his...

What’s this about a Solidarity Campaign? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 16, 2016

Some may think CatholicCulture.org always has a gimmick to raise funds. I don’t know how gimmicky it is; mostly I just beg incessantly because we need a certain amount of revenue each and every month. We don’t have any financial angels. We rely entirely on those who actually use...

The meaning of Islam, and the deeper problem we must face by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 18, 2016

When a leading Lebanese Muslim argued that extremists misinterpret Islam, he raised a much larger question than he realized. The points he made are exceedingly important. But they must be considered on two levels. Muhammad al-Sammak is the Secretary-General of the Christian-Muslim Committee for...

The damage done—again—by the Pope's interview by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 18, 2016

How damaging was the latest papal interview? Let me count the ways. Tomorrow, no doubt, the Vatican press office will go into its now-familiar “clarification” mode. Loyal Catholic defenders of Pope Francis will argue that the Holy Father’s words were taken out of context. But...

Responding to the papal interview as if truth matters by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Feb 19, 2016

I don’t want to belabor the point; Phil’s commentary on the latest papal interview is outstanding as it stands (The damage done—again—by the Pope’s interview). We may wish at some point to further discuss the Pope’s incautious moral characterization of Donald...

Is the Vatican a walled city? Yes and No. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 19, 2016

OK, let’s set the record straight. First Pope Francis said that the urge to build walls rather than bridges “is not Christian.” Next Donald Trump shot back that the Vatican is “completely surrounded by walls.” Then the New York Times,

Four responses to the human condition by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Feb 19, 2016

"Every great moral system...is in reality an effort to ask man, in one manner or another and to one degree or another, to go beyond his natural condition in some way." So writes Jacques Maritain in his 1964 book Moral Philosophy. In the concluding remarks of this work, he examines...

The “common good” de-perplexed by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Feb 21, 2016

A dictum of Catholic social thought that has perplexed and occasionally frustrated me for some time: the common good, we're told, is not just a collection of individual goods. So, we probably assume, it must be the good of the whole (which is somehow not reducible to the sum of all...

Pope Paul VI and the nuns in the Congo: an illusory precedent by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 22, 2016

Well now, did Pope Paul VI authorize nuns in the Belgian Congo to use contraceptives as a defense against rape? The short answer, it appears, is probably No. But even if he did, for several different reasons, it is wrong to claim that Paul VI set a precedent of the sort suggested by Pope Francis...

In this corner, Pope Francis; in that corner…Donald Trump? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 22, 2016

As I mentioned in last week’s more serious piece on the question of contraception (Responding to the papal interview as if truth matters), “We may wish at some point to discuss the Pope’s incautious moral characterization of Donald Trump.” Loath as I am to defend Trump, who...

Oops! The PC censors let a revealing headline slip through. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 23, 2016

Notice anything interesting about this headline in the (online version of the) Washington Post? Justices to hear abortion-related case that focuses not on fetus but on mother Did you see it? If not, try again, with the opening sentence of the full article: When the Supreme Court...

Effective evangelization: Initiation into the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 23, 2016

We are beginning to grasp the proper relationship between the quest for religious unity and evangelization. The quest for religious unity and ecumenism are the logical way to break down barriers, to stimulate mutual understanding, and to forge friendships. They are therefore a kind of prolegomena...

Did “powerful forces” try to stop the meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 24, 2016

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has stated that “there are powerful forces that did not really want” the recent meeting between himself and Pope Francis to take place. While Kirill refused to name names, we do not need to look very far in the same news cycle to guess the name of at...

Quick Hits: Pope was tough on Mexico, Archbishop Sample's focus on liturgy, argument against religious tolerance by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 24, 2016

Regular readers may recall that before Pope Francis arrived in Mexico, I predicted that Pope Francis would become a factor in the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina. That prediction came true, thanks to the Pope’s answer to a reporter’s question about Donald...

Reasons for skepticism about the Pope's meeting with Patriarch Kirill by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 25, 2016

“Finally!” Pope Francis said when he embraced Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. “Now things are easier,” came the reply. How much easier? Two weeks after that historic meeting in Cuba, do the prospects for warmer ties between Rome and Moscow seem much improved? There are...

Lentitude Adjustment by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Feb 26, 2016

The Church is nearing the end of the Second Week of Lent. I find the first two weeks the hardest. Once a personal plan of prayer and penance is chosen, it takes some time to adjust to the change of outlook and habits for the next six weeks. For a weak sinner like me, being only two weeks into the...

Contrary to popular belief: Relativism cannot enlighten; it can only darken the mind. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 26, 2016

We live in a culture in which people brag about their enlightenment. The logic for this self-delight is surprisingly thin. There is the fallacy of progress, of course, which leads us to assume that the latest developments in human thought and attitudes are invariably the best. And of course there...

The irony behind the Oscar for Spotlight by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 29, 2016

What's wrong with this picture? - Spotlight has won the Oscar for Best Picture of 2015. - The Oscar is presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).  - Spotlight is the story of how, in 2002, the Boston Globe exposed sexual abuse of children in the Boston...