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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from March 2008

what -- in the cult of rhea silvia too? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 1, 2008

EX-VESTAL PRIEST FACES SEX CHARGES-- headline in the (Binghamton, NY) Press & Sun-Bulletin Threw me for a second as well. Turns out the miscreant was pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows in the Diocese of Syracuse. We're on a learning curve...

attaboy, tom by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 2, 2008

Even recently, Pope Benedict rewrote the prayer for Good Friday in which, in those long petitions that we use, we pray for the Jewish people, God's chosen people. It was revised after the Vatican Council because the prayer before that was very insulting to Jewish believers. But now the Pope has...

not all religions are equal by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 3, 2008

Careful readers of Off the Record will remember the story of a 10-year-old Nepalese girl, worshipped as a goddess in her native land, who caught some attention in the English-speaking press during a trip to the US last year. You could probably figure out for yourself that the girl in question...

Ideology, Totalitarianism, and the Public Schools by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 3, 2008

An order by the 2nd Appellate Court in Los Angeles that Philip Long and his wife must cease home-schooling their children has raised serious concerns among California home-schooling families. The Court did not find that the parents were negligent in providing for the education of their children....

still more scenes from a marriage by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 4, 2008

[In his homily at the beginning of the conclave, Cardinal Ratzinger] spoke of the church as a "little boat of Christian thought" tossed around on waves of "extreme" modern tendencies. And he spoke of the world as a "dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain." It...

more scenes from a marriage by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 4, 2008

"The Pope's statement that God's revelation is complete is rank heresy," a leading Jesuit theologian told me in Rome. "The fullness of revelation, according to orthodox Christian doctrine, must await the second coming." The priest scholar faced me across the table of a restaurant in the old...

scenes from a marriage by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 4, 2008

"These days I have found things in the press which are helpful, but also things that are not helpful. Among those that are least helpful, for example, is the search for conflict between Jesuits and the Holy Father, between Jesuits and the Vatican. I do not believe this to be true. The Society of...

Secularism, Acculturation and Creeping Totalitarianism by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 5, 2008

I wanted to follow up on my comments concerning the California home-schooling case (see Ideology, Totalitarianism, and the Public Schools) because it raises another question: At what point is totalitarianism recognized by the citizenry? Bear with me a moment. I am not arguing that the United...

sweet charity by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 6, 2008

"Like most violent controversialists, he believed himself to be the pattern of meekness and good temper." So wrote Ronald Knox about the Jansenist Antoine Arnauld. No stranger to violent controversy, your Uncle Di is neither meek nor good-tempered, but he doesn't sneer at those who...

snake oil by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 6, 2008

Imagine that a slick salesman knocks on your door and tells you that he has devised a medical program guaranteed to prevent cancer. He has an honest face, so you shell out a few dollars to buy the pamphlet he's peddling. As he disappears over the horizon, you settle down to read it, expecting to...

your witness by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 7, 2008

Today is the memorial of Saints Felicity and Perpetua, martyred in Carthage on March 7, A.D. 203, in the reign of the emperor Septimius Severus. This detail in the Catholic Encyclopedia article is interesting: Felicitas, who at the time of her incarceration was with child (in the eighth...

the oh-so-compassionate me by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 7, 2008

It's back in style: the political fashion of issuing official "apologies" for wrongs committed by others -- especially long-dead others -- in order to cash-in on the compassion sweepstakes and dutch rub the opposition in the process. Australia's Labour Government apologized to the aboriginals...

The Pope, Reform and Discipline by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Mar 7, 2008

Since I began writing regular commentary for CatholicCulture.org, I’ve occasionally pointed out the need for reform and renewal in the Church. Often these remarks have focused on bishops, religious superiors, and their respective administrative staff. For the past 30 years, Pope John Paul II...

in the tradition by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 9, 2008

The Jesuits have just concluded their 35th General Congregation, and your Uncle Di spent half an hour bouncing around the website constructed for the occasion. The home page has links directing us to photos, news releases, interviews, blog postings, and oddly opaque notices about forthcoming...

Scandalizing the Faithful? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 10, 2008

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has reported that most dioceses are in compliance with the policies the Conference developed at its famous meeting in Dallas in 2002 to deal with the sex abuse crisis. Notably absent from the statistics are the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska and four Eastern...

damned if you don't by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 11, 2008

Several years ago already the Lutheran scholar Martin Marty gave a lecture entitled "Hell Disappeared. No One Noticed." His subject was the remarkably sudden and thorough elimination of a key doctrine from Christian discourse. It wasn't that hell had been formally repudiated by the mainstream...

no Baptism, no worry by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 11, 2008

Suppose a child is presented for Baptism, and the priest pours the water, saying: "I baptize you in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier." Is that a valid Baptism. On February 29, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith gave us a simple, straightforward...

bigots by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 12, 2008

Wisconsin's Bryan Hathaway is a Thinking Catholic. That's to say, he doesn't check his brains at the door and conform to the Church's one-size-fits-all morality, but creatively explores non-traditional and holistic ways of expressing his sexual self. As a consequence (Wisconsin being an...

the bishop who believes by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 12, 2008

Excellent observations by Amy Welborn on the upcoming papal visit. Some excerpts: Over the next two months, before the Pope arrives in our country, there is going to be a constant battle, it seems to me, to communicate clearly and authentically what this man is all about. There are a great...

another slippery slope by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 12, 2008

If the bishops of England and Wales have not already persuaded you to oppose the pending legislation on embryo research and assisted reproduction, consider this BBC report: New fertility legislation will make it illegal to use embryos with a known genetic abnormality in IVF treatment when ones...

The Wave of the Future by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 12, 2008

I was too busy at the time to comment on it, but in February Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor may have started the wave of the future for the Catholic Church in the First World. He dismissed the entire board of directors of the hospital of St. John & St. Elizabeth in London. I believe this marks...

the world is flat by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 12, 2008

For 40 years, give or take a bit, children in American public schools have been immersed in a comprehensive sex-ed curriculum. This was necessary, parents were told, to prevent teen pregnancy and the spread of venereal diseases. Now we can see the results. The federal agencies which have been...

contrary to nature by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 13, 2008

Several recent OTR posts touch on the inroads that aggressive secularism has made into contemporary moral life. Viewed collectively, this aggression would appear to be aimed at human nature, sometimes as a campaign to change that nature, sometimes as a denial that there is any fixed nature to...

more than a model by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 14, 2008

Edward Peters, whose "In the Light of the Law" weblog regularly provides reliable and often revealing commentary on canon-law issues, says that he would like to cite Archbishop Burke's announcement as a textbook illustration of proper disciplinary action. But he can't, he explains. Why not?...

Lies, Union and Prayer by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Mar 14, 2008

God is radically different from ourselves. “My thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, says the Lord” (Is 55:8). Sometimes God’s unfathomable condescension, by which He became like us in all things but sin, leads us to forget just how radically different God is. But it also gives us...

academies of easy virtue by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 15, 2008

Pity the family of high-rent hooker Ashley Dupre, having to endure the spectacle of her harlotry splashed by the media nationwide and beyond. Things could be worse, though. Had she lost all sense of shame, were she wholly incapable of blushing, their daughter might have become a university...

designed to last forever by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 15, 2008

Are you worried that the techniques of assisted reproduction and genetic manipulation will tempt parents to ask for custom-designed babies? You shouldn't worry too much, according to Debora Spar, who studies the ethics of reproduction. Spar, a professor at Harvard Business School (not Medical...

tough love by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 15, 2008

Archbishop Burke of St. Louis has announced two more excommunications-- bringing his total to 5 in two days. The pain these moves cause to a conscientious shepherd of souls is evident in the archbishop's public announcements, and his handling of the cases is-- as we have observed before (and...

island of shaints and shcholars by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 15, 2008

A survey by RTE the Irish public-broadcasting network, shows that for everyone planning to celebrate St. Patrick's Day by going to church, there are nearly two people planning to go drinking. It isn't a scientific poll by any means. But it isn't reassuring,...

Meeting the Jihadist Threat by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 17, 2008

It isn’t fashionable to say so, but an important element within Islam is radically committed to the complete destruction of non-Islamic societies, the “Christian” West in general, and the United States (“Satan”) in particular. It is time to think seriously about our civilization, what values it...

timely & relevant by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 20, 2008

Now here's a bright new idea that deserves to be forgotten. Some forward-thinking C of E bishops are updating the imagery of the Last Supper footwashing by giving free shoe-shines in front of the news cams: Bishops are getting down on their knees this Maundy Thursday to shine the shoes of...

the anti-bigot by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 20, 2008

The top aide to New York's new governor, Charles O'Byrne, is a former Jesuit priest, the New York Times helpfully reminds us. O'Byrne left the Jesuit order and the priesthood because he doesn't approve of the Church's stand on-- now brace yourself for a shock-- sexuality. He explored his own...

Fiddler on the Apse by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 20, 2008

If only for the sake of your blood-pressure reading, particularly if your local liturgist is likely to tamper with the rubrics, you really must check Father Z's blog today. From the Musical: Fiddler on the Apse (a parody of "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," from Fiddler on the Roof) Yenta:...

The Conversion of the Jews? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Mar 20, 2008

Pope Benedict’s efforts to expand the use of the Tridentine Mass have raised Jewish concerns about the traditional Good Friday liturgy. At issue is the prayer for the conversion of the Jews, which is one of the intercessory prayers for those belonging to various non-Catholic religious groups....

Bravo! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 23, 2008

"Bravo" says a Boston Globe reviewer in his drive-by review of Phil Lawler's book, The Faithful Departed. Now to be perfectly honest, if you trouble yourself to read the whole thing, you might question whether "bravo" captures the essence of the review. Indeed you might wonder whether your...

five years on by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 24, 2008

Off The Record has now been in existence for a span of five years and to the extent of forty-six hundred postings, and it may be opportune to do what we've heretofore left undone, namely, to explain what we think we're up to. Though sub-tagged "Notes from the Newsroom," OTR had its beginnings...

at the deepest level by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 25, 2008

There are people who instead of listening to what is being said to them are already listening to what they are going to say themselves. -- Albert Guinon OK, it sounds like two angry drunks at a bar, each nursing a private grievance. But it's not. In fact, we have the word of the The...

otr dashback: 03-21-04 -- a great awakening? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 25, 2008

The problems currently vexing the United Methodists can in fact be detected in all the main anglophone Christian communities: an overwhelming majority of traditional layfolk is at odds with a highly ideologized clerical bureaucracy spiritually indistinguishable from Cher. The irony is that many...

your mama's culling by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 25, 2008

Wesley Smith’s latest in the Weekly Spectator is titled Politically Correct Eugenics. Steps taken to ensure genetic purity are much more acceptable in polite society when the inferior stock is eliminated one surgical procedure at a time. With the development of prenatal genetic diagnosis, the...

otr dashback: 11-7-05 -- laywoman issues statement on bishops’ response to rioting in France by Leila in "Off the Record" - Mar 26, 2008

Sue Brown, a homeschooling mother of eight, kicked the dishwasher closed with one foot while she reached down to tie her three-year-old son’s shoe. As she pushed the hair out of her eyes, she exclaimed, “While, as the French bishops put it, ‘recent urbanization, difficulties for young people in...

so where is weigel wrong? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 26, 2008

About a month ago, George Weigel made public some reasons to think the new Jesuit General over-estimated the Society's deference to the Holy See. This provoked a heated and defensive reaction on the part of certain Jesuits, obliging Weigel to repeat, for the benefit of the offended parties, a...

otr dashback: 11-4-03 -- news item by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 26, 2008

SCHOLARS, ARTISTS CONDEMN GAY ORDINATION by Julie Segert, CDN Staff Writer LONDON. (4 Nov 03) CLAIMING TO BE "very gravely concerned by recent developments," a Cambridge don deplored last Sunday's consecration of the Reverend Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire (U.S.A.), calling the move "a...

putting children first -- or, "mom, what color's a perp?" by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 28, 2008

Back in 2002, after the President of the USCCB confessed "we have all been enlightened" at the revelation that "sexual abuse of minors is a crime," the bishops launched a combination public relations/child protection campaign for which OTR provided the motto "Working to Rape You Less!" The signal...

otr dashback: 7-2-05 -- why operation rescue is indispensable by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 28, 2008

Imagine a new religion, whose devotees call themselves Sciuridans. The most distinctive characteristic of Sciuridans is their belief that the creatures the rest of us call "squirrels" are, in reality, abandoned human children. Sciuridans are convinced that there is a witch who casts a spell on...

Understanding Proselytism by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Mar 28, 2008

If you look up the verb “proselytism” in most dictionaries, you’ll find it defined as any effort to persuade a person to give up one point of view in favor of another. The word is sometimes used in a political sense, but most often it is used religiously. The most common synonym for “proselytize”...

things no one else is saying by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 29, 2008

Unbelievable. The year is 2008. The scene is Notre Dame University. And the faculty hacks who defend the production of the V Monologues are still pretending that feminism is a marginal voice in the American university that takes special courage to assert against the Goliath of patriarchy. I...

ots dashback: 4-17-04 -- ain't love grand? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 29, 2008

Last month OTR made the half-serious suggestion that nothing in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's same-sex marriage decision prevents two cellmates from being joined in holy matrimony and in the privileges thereunto appertaining. Now the other half of the seriousness has made its...

the one true church, new & improved by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 29, 2008

Thinking of trading in that old time religion for a newer model? The NCR classifieds seldom let you down. This week's selection includes the Transformational Catholic Church, which (its founder, animator, sole pastor, and presiding bishop assures us) "will have no other Canons or mandated...

otr dashback: 5-15-04 -- bishops in the eyes of bishops by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 30, 2008

Msgr. Ronald Knox's brother Wilfred (himself an Anglican priest) once proposed a Christian ethics in two volumes, the first volume to be titled Respect for the Clergy, the second, simply, Other Virtues. Knox's tongue-in-cheek proposal showed, in a characteristically English way, how lightly...

double negative by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 30, 2008

Lefty Dem Susan Estrich laments the rise in Hillary's negatives: According to the polls, Obama's supporters right now dislike Clinton even more than Clinton's dislike Obama. Among Obama voters, Clinton's disapproval rating is a significant 43 percent; among Clinton voters, Obama is viewed...

otr dashback: 5-14-03 -- talking about tapping by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 31, 2008

[Excerpt from the Empower Our Children Program™ -- All rights reserved.] Let's see how the girl in our story used the Two-Tap Rule. This is Caitlin. She likes to sing and to play in the wading pool when the weather is hot. One day Father Willie asked her to "play blankey" on the patio...

In Egypt, Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman Goes to Jail by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 31, 2008

If those trying to throw sticks in the spokes of secularism sometimes have it rough in America, those facing the opposite problem have it rougher in Egypt, and in most of the rest of the Islamic world. Consider the case of a 23-year-old law student, Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, who blogs under...

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