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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from March 2010

a happy ending by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 1, 2010

Gay-rights activists in the Netherlands were outraged when a Catholic church denied Communion to a flamboyant homosexual, BBC reports:  Several hundred demonstrators, dressed in pink wigs and clothes, left the church in protest.  Setting aside the rest of the story, which is not at...

Vatican rumor: an American prelate in play? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 1, 2010

Cardinal Roger Mahony celebrated his 74th birthday on Saturday, and at his suggestion the Los Angeles archdiocese has already begun praying for his successor: a coadjutor archbishop whose appointment is expected in the near future. It will be a very important appointment, so naturally the rumor...

Vatican II on the Church: The Mystery by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 1, 2010

The central purpose of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) is “to unfold more fully to the faithful of the Church and to the whole world its own inner nature and universal mission” (1). The first two chapters clearly build toward the document’s great third...

the anti-democratic option by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 1, 2010

 "Gay rights by law, not vote" reads the headline on a Boston Globe editorial. Reading it for the first time, one might wonder how else laws are established in a democracy, if not by vote. But the subject of the editorial is same-sex marriage, so the usual rules of logic, rhetoric,...

Fat America, Online Catholic Education, Rich People’s Money by Peter Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 2, 2010

Each Lent I wonder about the morality of deliberately indulging in practices that jeopardize (or deteriorate) your health, including (surprise, surprise) one’s dietary habits. Of the many aspects of the national health debate that are grabbing the headlines, national obesity is one that has...

The Sacred Made Real in Art by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 3, 2010

Those who live in the greater Washington, DC area have a unique opportunity between now and May 31st to view a special exhibit of religious painting and sculpture from the 17th century. The exhibit is on display at the National Gallery of Art. It is called “The Sacred Made Real”, and...

Revitalizing Your Priesthood by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 3, 2010

St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, spent his whole ministry as the pastor of the small parish at Ars in France. He was known for his sanctity in his own lifetime, he performed many miracles, and he could read souls. Having died in 1859 at the age of 73, he was declared...

the ninnies who educate Catholic children by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 4, 2010

Fact: The National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) has invited Garrison Keillor to address its annual convention.  Fact: Garrison Keillor has referred to pro-lifers as "shrieking ninnies and pompous blowhards."  The charitable conclusion to be drawn from this is that...

the Culture Project unveiled by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 4, 2010

After much thought and careful planning, we've launched our Culture Project. Please take a look. Browse through the background material (if you haven't already read it), and then plunge into the main topic for discussion on the Introductory Project: a short but challenging essay by...

Sailing Forever? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 4, 2010

Since I enjoy small boat sailing, a good deal of my recreational reading involves that topic: The virtues and vices of different boats in the 12 to 28 foot range; “how-to” boat improvement tips; articles on sailing techniques and safety; travelogues of various lakes, rivers and bays;...

investing in the future by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 5, 2010

 "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing — they believe in anything." That adage is attributed to G.K. Chesterton, and while there's some question as to whether he ever said it, it certainly sounds like his work. In any event, whether it's...

The Nature of Infallibility by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Mar 5, 2010

I’ve alluded frequently enough to the four basic arguments that establish the teaching authority of the popes (for a brief summary see my 2005 blog entry on The Primacy of Peter). But the topic of papal infallibility concerns me again just now in a somewhat more precise way, especially in...

hot potato by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 5, 2010

What was the first thought that came into your head when you woke up this morning? Of course. I know. I was thinking the same thing: When will the Vatican finally take a stand on the genetically modified potato? The inexplicable silence of the teaching magisterium on this pressing moral issue...

The trail that doesn't lead to the Vatican by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 5, 2010

For more than a decade, some journalists have been trying to trace the responsibility for the sex-abuse crisis to the Vatican, and preferably to the Pope. They haven't found a connection yet, but they're still trying. At times their efforts would be comical, if they weren't so mean-spirited. Take...

St. Bernard’s Thoughts on Humility, Applied to Business by Peter Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 8, 2010

When you make it a point in life to think about sound business principles and to think about sound spiritual principles, you are bound to notice obvious correlations. As many readers know, I have been rereading In the Steps of Humility by St. Bernard of Clairvaux. This small book introduces a...

Vatican II on the Church: The Bishops by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 8, 2010

In his Angelus message of October 22, 1995, Pope John Paul II called Lumen Gentium “the keystone of the Council’s whole Magisterium”. In many ways its most important chapter was the third, “On the Hierarchical Structure of the Church and in Particular on the...

Teaching with Blood by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 9, 2010

Yesterday’s news story about the decision of a Denver Catholic school not to accept a child being raised by two lesbians makes me nervous (Denver Catholic school: Lesbian couple’s child may not re-enroll). The decision was both correct and well-explained, as it makes no sense for the...

never change a winning game by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 10, 2010

 Two more American archbishops have joined the list of prelates who would prefer to try gentle persuasion on pro-abortion Catholic politicians rather than impose canonical discipline. Leaving aside the obligation that canon law imposes on Eucharistic ministers, let's ask a cold practical...

Vatican II on the Church: Lay Holiness by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 10, 2010

If the first two chapters of Lumen Gentium contain the most controversial passages and the third contains the Council’s most important doctrinal exposition, the fourth and fifth are vital to the Church’s mission in a very different sense. These chapters address a topic too often...

lights out by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 10, 2010

For Lent, Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley announced an initiative to bring Catholics back to the sacrament of reconciliation. He asked all pastors of the archdiocese to arrange for confessions every Wednesday evening between 6:30 and 8. The program, with the theme "The Light Is On for...

On Prudence and the Tyranny of Tolerance: A Case Study by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Mar 11, 2010

Our coverage of the decision of a Catholic school not to enroll a student being raised by lesbians has stimulated a vigorous exchange of ideas (see Denver Catholic school: Lesbian couple’s child may not re-enroll, and Archbishop Chaput defends school’s decision not to re-enroll lesbian’s children...

purported priests by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 11, 2010

Charged with fraud, Byron Canada pleaded guilty. So it's understandable that people look upon him with suspicion. The headline in the South Bend Tribune read: Purported priest pleads guilty to fraud in South Bend federal court The...

hate crime by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 11, 2010

A pro-life activist is dead. The man who shot him says that he wanted to kill the man because of his pro-life signs. But thanks to the First Amendment-- not the "emanations from the penumbra" but the words of the amendment itself-- it's legal to hold up signs even when some people...

Vatican II on the Church: Eschatological Identity by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 12, 2010

I can see now that it was a mistake not to include Chapter 6 of Lumen Gentium, on “Religious”, in the previous entry (as I had done in my preparatory notes), because the chapter really covers that form of consecration which represents the universal call to holiness (Chapter 5) in a...

Hugh O’Flaherty: The Vatican Pimpernel by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 12, 2010

Daniel Heisey's article on Msgr. Hugh O’Flaherty (1898 – 1963) in the current issue of Homiletic & Pastoral Review reminds me to recommend a fine movie called the The Scarlet and the Black. It stars Gregory Peck as O’Flaherty, Christopher Plummer as his Nazi nemesis Col....

The effort to implicate the Pope by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 12, 2010

Count on the London Times to offer the most sensational coverage of a news story involving the Catholic Church. The headline on today's report by Richard Owen screams:  Pope knew priest was paedophile but allowed him to continue with ministry That's grossly misleading, downright...

devout atheists by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 12, 2010

If you're in Australia this weekend, and you think you hear the sweet strains of Gospel music, sung by a church choir, stop a minute and listen carefully. It might not be what you think. There's a new sort of revival going on. The BBC reports: More than 2,000 atheists from around the world are...

If God Wants It to Happen, It Will Happen? by Peter Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 14, 2010

I tend to inwardly bridle (more or less, depending on the day) when I hear “If God wants it to happen, it will happen” in regards to business dealings (including apostolic work). This is primarily because it is a fact that God allows us to fail. In my experience, it is atypical for God...

Vatican II on the Church: Mary by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 15, 2010

The final chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church is devoted to “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God in the Mystery of Christ and the Church”. This is the only chapter divided into sub-sections. It had been originally planned that the Council would issue a separate...

the no-vote vote by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 16, 2010

Just read the Fox News headline, and you know something fishy is happening: Pelosi Plan to Pass Health Care Without Traditional Vote Riles Critics The word that should capture your attention is "traditional." What's a traditional vote? That, we learn, is the kind of vote in which...

The Demise of Representative Government by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 16, 2010

Diogenes’ comments on a healthcare reform strategy which involves bypassing a vote altogether (see the no-vote vote) highlights the gradual erosion of representative government in the United States over the past forty years. This is a point that has often been raised in relationship to...

What did the police know, and when did they know it? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 16, 2010

In Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady is under heavy criticism-- justified, in my view-- for having failed to notify law-enforcement officials about reports that a priest was abusing children. The priest, Father Brendan Smyth, went on to become a notorious predator, was eventually convicted, and died in...

just wondering... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 17, 2010

Why would a homosexual couple want to work with a Catholic adoption agency?  This isn't really about equal access, is it? This is about closing down institutions that present a different point of...

Give Me That Supply-Side Religion by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 17, 2010

While we’re on the topic of articles in First Things, I note that John Lamont has some serious fun with “The Prophet Motive” in the April 2010 issue (not yet online). He argues that supply-side economics provides a good explanation of why so many Americans go to Church. Religion...

Why Be Catholic? 10: Reason by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 18, 2010

At first glance, a title which makes “Reason” a point in favor of Catholicism may look odd to modern eyes. We’re accustomed, after all, to thinking of reason as a faculty which we must use independently of faith to solve human problems, something that faith obscures. It has been...

Health Care: How to Contact Your Representatives by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 19, 2010

Some users have asked for further information on how to contact their representatives in Congress to express their views on health care reform. The Senate version of the health care reform bill permits the funding of abortion, and it does not protect conscience rights. With a vote pending in the...

Self-Analysis: A Beginning by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Mar 19, 2010

Yesterday I added to my “Why Be Catholic” series with an entry on “Reason”. Among other things, I pointed out how prone we are to intellectual failings because of our fallen human nature, failings that include sloth, prejudice, passion and, let’s face it, befuddlement. The point in that essay was...

10 Spiritual Classics No Catholic Should Be Without by Peter Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 21, 2010

Here are ten spiritual classics that, in my opinion, no Catholic should be without. These are books that will make a profound difference to both your personal and business life! If you don't have one of them, consider picking it up through Amazon.com using one of the links below. Or...

bribed with a $3 bill by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 22, 2010

In order to persuade reluctant Democrats to endorse his favored health-care reform bill, President Obama promised to issue an executive order stipulating that the legislation does not allow for funding of abortion. Readers who are not familiar with the American form of government might wonder...

Health Care Outcome: Too Close to Call? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 22, 2010

I may be going out on a limb here, but my sense is that the ultimate outcome of the U.S. health care reform situation is still too close to call. I understand that the Senate bill was voted into law by a narrow margin and with a very dubious “compromise” in the form of an executive...

Is Bishop Chaput Leading a Counter-Attack? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 23, 2010

I said yesterday that I expected the U.S. Bishops to be displeased at open opposition within the allegedly Catholic ranks, and that they would have a strong psychological incentive to make sure this doesn’t keep happening. Today Archbishop Charles Chaput began the counter-attack against...

Health Care in the Senate: Not Over Yet by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 24, 2010

There is still time for pro-lifers to secure legislative gains in the health care legislation which passed the House on Sunday. This is because the reconciliation process used to pass the bill requires the Senate to vote on the final reconciliation package approved by the House, and there is one...

They were pens, I tell you; not pieces of silver! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 24, 2010

When he signed the health-care reform bill, President Obama gave commemorative pens-- the traditional gifts for people who were instrumental in securing the passage of legislation-- to 18 members of Congress and of his administration, and just 2 outsiders. They were: Vicki Kennedy, the widow of...

the dice aren't straight either by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 24, 2010

The official, authorized, expert studies of the sex-abuse crisis in the US have discerned "no clear pattern of homosexual behavior." It's odd, therefore, that the latest statistics continue to show that over 80% of the victims are males. Of course we've been instructed: “

Health care: the 'Catholic' vote by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 24, 2010

In the US House of Representatives there are 132 members who describe themselves as Catholics. If only half of those Catholic members had followed the guidance of their bishops, and voted against the health-care reform bill, it would have been defeated; the vote would not have been close. As...

getting the help you can't afford by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 24, 2010

The US bishops spent $104.4 million last year on sex-abuse settlements. You know that already; you saw today's top news headline. But now take another look at the numbers. Of that $104.4 million, a bit more than one-fourth-- $28.7 million-- was for legal fees. For every $2 handed over in damages...

Newman’s Inner Life by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 24, 2010

I’m a great admirer of John Henry Cardinal Newman. Ever since it became clear that his beatification was highly likely, I’ve prayed daily for his intercession. I’m a layman, married, and fairly insensitive—opposite characteristics to those of Newman—but when it comes...

The Pope and the Murphy case: what the New York Times story didn't tell you by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 25, 2010

Today's front-page story in the New York Times suggests that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), under the direction of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, failed to act against a Wisconsin priest who was accused of molesting scores of boys at a school for the deaf. Is the story...

The Annunciation and the Measure of Spiritual Progress by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Mar 25, 2010

As serious Catholics, we are often troubled by our inability to pray effectively. We are distracted at prayer; we fail to concentrate as we should; we feel indifferent or even cold; we finish our prayers unsatisfied; and often our prayers seem to be ignored. There is much that could be said about...

Sexual abuse is society's problem, too by Phil Lawler in "In Depth Analysis" - Mar 25, 2010

Catholic bishops were not the only people who covered up evidence of sexual abuse. Public schools, police departments, families, media outlets, non-profit associations--not to mention other religious denominations--all were guilty of their own cover-ups. (Note: The fact that other...

fire him-- and give him a gold watch by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 25, 2010

After Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of Cloyne's Bishop John Magee, who had thoroughly botched the handling of sex-abuse complaints, Cardinal Sean Brady, the Primate of All Ireland, issued a statement, which is herewith reproduced in its entirety. “I wish to...

Historic Vatican Documents Now Online by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 26, 2010

The Vatican has announced that the contents of the Acta Sanctae Sedis (Acts of the Holy See), which covers the years 1865 – 1908, and the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (Acts of the Apostolic See), which covers the years since 1909 have been made available through 2007 in PDF format on the Vatican...

Rembert passes the buck by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 26, 2010

In July 1996, Archbishop Rembert Weakland wrote to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about a problem that, he said, had "only recently… come to light"-- the charges against Father Lawrence Murphy. Only recently? That was 40 years after the first complaints against...

understatement by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 26, 2010

Five years after the Vatican ordered Father Marcial Maciel to withdraw from ministry into "a reserved life of prayer and penitence," one year after the revelations that Maciel had led a double life, the Legionaries of Christ have announced: "We accept that, given the gravity of...

So you want to criticize the Pope? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 27, 2010

It's the responsibility of a diocesan bishop-- not the Pope-- to discipline priests under his jurisdiction who are guilty of misconduct. It's the responsibility of the Pope, however, to remove and replace bishops who are manifestly unfit to handle their duties. So if you want to criticize the...

Two Business Meditations for Holy Week by Peter Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 28, 2010

Here are two challenging business meditations as we move through the conclusion of Lent. First Meditation It is a rare and blessed occasion when business activities are executed exactly as planned, resulting in the desired consequences. While a sense of purpose, determination, and steadfastness...

Vatican II on Eastern Catholics by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 29, 2010

The fourth document issued by the Second Vatican Council, on November 21, 1964, was the Decree on the Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite (Orientalium Ecclesiarum). This is a very brief decree designed to set down the basic principles for the proper understanding and operation of Eastern Rite...

the usual suspects by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 29, 2010

Desperate for new witnesses who will join in the calls for the Pope's resignation, the media have rediscovered Hans Küng, who-- having honed his skills through decades of complaints that his old faculty colleague is responsible for all the world's ills-- sure, enough, thinks the Pope should...

Cui Bono? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 30, 2010

One question too seldom asked in the debates over Obamacare was why, if the Health Care Reform bill already kept taxes from paying for abortion, was Planned Parenthood so vehemently in favor of the bill? After all, Planned Parenthood makes its money primarily from performing abortions. Of...

hail the bipartisan bishops by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 30, 2010

The US bishops lobbied long and hard on the health-care reform issue, to no avail. Now it's time for a post-mortem. Conservative Republicans were never with the USCCB, since the bishops were enthusiastically in favor of the overall goals of Obamacare, which conservatives could not...

Holding the New York Times accountable by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 31, 2010

"It doesn't seem right that the Catholic Church is spending Holy Week practicing the unholy art of spin," writes Maureen Dowd, in another of her toxic columns for the New York Times. Well, Maureen, the Church wouldn't be answering charges this week if irresponsible journalists weren't...

a cold day in hell by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 31, 2010

Newsweek's religion editor Lisa Miller doesn't believe in Hell. Why not? Because of the poll numbers. Hell isn't popular these days. Respondeo: Hell has never been terribly popular-- least of all with its residents. President Obama isn't doing well in the popularity polls these days...

if she's good enough for the Jesuits... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 31, 2010

Christian activists are rightly distressed by President Obama's nomination of Chai Feldblum, a radical lesbian activist, to a seat on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. But it will be tough to persuade the US Senate to block the appointment. Right now Feldblum is a professor at...

Catholics need not apply; funds cheerfully accepted by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 31, 2010

Remember Martha Coakley, the Massachusetts attorney general and sometime Senate candidate who memorably suggested that Catholics probably shouldn't be working in hospital emergency rooms? Coakley's unsuccessful Senate campaign had the enthusiastic backing of Ralph de la Torre, the head of the...

A Catholic Attitude toward Government by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Mar 31, 2010

From time to time we receive emails from those who, having no reservations about big government whatsoever, accuse us of being knee-jerk conservatives and state things like: “Much of the world has nationalized health care and it works just fine.” But we receive just as many emails from those who,...

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