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All Catholic commentary from March 2016

To what is relativism relative? On the inescapable tyranny of desire by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 1, 2016

The question raised by Phil Lawler resonates. On Monday, in “The irony behind the Oscar for Spotlight”, Phil drew attention to the credibility gap between AMPAS giving child-abuser Roman Polanski an Oscar with a standing ovation in 2002 while giving Spotlight the Oscar for Best Picture...

A Peek into our Daily Roman Walk by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Mar 1, 2016

Two weeks ago I shared our plan for our daily Lenten journey following the Roman stations. I thought I would share our progress and what it looks like in our home. My sons are ages 8 and 12 and are at an age of transition. The daily countdown calendar to...

Pope Francis tells exploitative employers to keep their donations: Questions? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 2, 2016

Continuing his catechesis on mercy at his Wednesday audiences, today Pope Francis emphasized that true conversion is “not the ritual of sacrifice but rather of justice.” And, indeed, this message appears again and again throughout both the Old and New covenants. The Pope went on to...

In Cardinal Pell's testimony, a breakthrough for accountability by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 3, 2016

For nearly 15 years, I have been waiting for a Catholic bishop to say, for the record, that another bishop’s handling of the sex-abuse scandal had been negligent. This week it finally happened. Think about that. Heaven knows there has been plenty of evidence of negligence. Some bishops...

How I won’t grow spiritually, but you might: New efforts to keep it simple. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Mar 3, 2016

There are three elements in spiritual reading which will generally put me off. I am going to enumerate them because your own case may be very different. These elements are characteristic of five otherwise perfectly fine new books on spiritual growth from three publishers which have been sitting on...

Strange ally: a left-wing journalist's unconvincing critique of Spotlight by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 3, 2016

Joann Wypijewski is a left-wing journalist, who has worked for Mother Jones, The Nation (where she was responsible for the “Carnal Knowledge” column), and CounterPunch. She is not someone you would expect to defend the Catholic hierarchy against critics in the media. Yet she has done...

More Italians named venerable. Again. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 4, 2016

In our story on the latest progress of candidates toward beatification and canonization, we find that out of eight new “venerables”—lo and behold—no fewer than seven are Italians. Thinking back over the various times when I’ve actually run the numbers on nationality,...

The calls for Pell's resignation show the double standard of media judgment by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 4, 2016

In four days of hostile questioning, an Australian investigating commission produced no evidence that Cardinal George Pell had covered up sexual abuse. Could he have been more diligent in following up on complaints? Absolutely; he admitted that himself. But among the many bishops who mishandled...

Justice for persecuted Christians in India by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 7, 2016

In 2008, a frightening burst of anti-Christian violence broke out in India’s remote Kandhamal region, leaving more than 100 dead and driving more than 50,000 people from their homes. Anto Akkara, a frequent contributor to Catholic World News, has won international acclaim for his dogged...

In Africa, a Catholic explosion! by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 7, 2016

Let’s be honest: statistics can be dull. But sometimes a number leaps off the page (or the screen). That happened to me this morning, with our CWN headline story about the growth of the world’s Catholic population. During that time period, the Catholic population soared by 41% in Africa and 20%...

Quick Hits: Catholic growth, exceptions on contraception, the BenedictINE option, NCR hits a new low by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 7, 2016

  Today’s Catholic World News headlines include two encouraging stories about the growth of the Church, across the world, and in Singapore . I’ve already commented on the worldwide statistics, and how they show astonishing...

Liturgical Press Academic Catalogue: SO hard to take seriously... by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 8, 2016

The Liturgical Press Academic catalogue for Spring 2016 sits lonely and forlorn on my desk. I say forlorn, because it is shunned by all the other books, magazines and publisher catalogues which litter the surface. No matter how much I rearrange things, a gap opens up between this and everything...

The Mexican response to perceived papal criticism: A shot in the foot? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 9, 2016

An editorial on the website of the Archdiocese of Mexico City blames bad advisors for the Pope’s insistence that the Mexican bishops should not be like “princes”. I suspect this reaction was prompted by skewed interpretations in the media of the Pope’s remarks, because...

Reclaiming Catholic Universities: The Challenge of Phase 1 by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 10, 2016

Clearly we are in the first phase of reclaiming prominent nominally Catholic universities for Christ. In this first phase, bishops—including the local bishop—feel free to speak out against the more obvious decisions of the university administration that undermine the Faith. This...

Vatican faces new credibility test on abuse policy by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 10, 2016

After simmering for more than a decade, could the sex-abuse scandal within the Catholic Church be ready to boil over once again? There are signs that it could. No, I am not referring to the release of a scalding grand-jury report about the Diocese of Altoona, Pennsyvlania earlier this month....

Deal breakers in the quest for religious unity and evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Mar 11, 2016

In my series on the relationship between the quest for religious unity and evangelization, I touched only lightly on two particular issues which very much affect how we ought to approach both activities. The first issue is the balance on our part between openness and risk; the second is the...

Quick Hits: Portrait of Cardinal Sarah, a Catholic hero of Quebec, Europe's loss of will by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 11, 2016

An African prelate who was once the world’s youngest bishop, who was on the “hit list” of a corrupt dictator, who recharges himself with three-day fasts, and who now, from a powerful Vatican post, leads the defense of orthodoxy. Doesn’t that sound like someone...

What's missing from that Pennsylvania grand-jury report by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 14, 2016

For anyone who has been following the sex-abuse scandal in the American Catholic Church, the Pennsylvania grand-jury report on the failures of the Altoona diocese follows a depressingly familiar pattern. There are the priests who molest adolescents (virtually always boys), the treatment centers...

Sign the petition! by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 15, 2016

The president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked us all to sign the petition urging the State Department to recognize the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East as a form of genocide. As the Obama administration dithers, hesitating to affirm the obvious, over 100,000 people...

Quick Hits: Would Notre Dame honor Bill Cosby? Father Schall on America's political decline by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 15, 2016

While Bishop Rhoades scolds Notre Dame for honoring Vice President Biden, Randall Smith raises a provocative question in Catholic World Report: what if Notre Dame decided to give the Laetare Medal to Bill Cosby? Cosby could be cited for his work in entertainment and his philanthropy. But...

Will the Justice Department now protect religion? Let’s see. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 15, 2016

It used to be that government itself could be routinely guilty of hate crimes. But for that to be the case, there has to be a standard of morality higher than human law. Since our government no longer recognizes anything higher than its own laws, the US Department of Justice’s new initiative...

What the Church says about worshiping today’s new images of perfection by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 16, 2016

The following account of recent events in the United States, similar to those in other nations, was read in all Catholic churches today (Wednesday of the fifth week of Lent): Now the President and his Court made a false image of perfection and set it up for all to see. Then the President sent...

Beware the great foot-washing scandal! by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 17, 2016

I confess that I find the brouhaha over whether women can have their feet washed on Holy Thursday to reflect rather badly on Catholics who let this get under their skin—either way. Now that this is an approved option, I’d like to explain why there is no reason to be upset about it on...

How to end the 'Vatileaks II' imbroglio by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 17, 2016

John Allen has a useful suggestion on how the Vatican can close out the "Vatileaks II" scandal and avoid another public-relations debacle.  Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda has already admitted leaking the confidential documents, and his explanation—that a woman had lured him into...

Quick Hits: St. Patrick's in the Caribbean, the formality of ancient liturgy, recovering holy friendship by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 17, 2016

Did you know that on an island in the Caribbean, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated as a public holiday for a whole week? At the Register, Peter Jesserer Smith tells the story of how many of the Irish who were forced into indentured servitude under Cromwell were put to work in the British...

Pope to 'fire' nuncio in Washington? Nonsense! by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 18, 2016

There's a rumor going around the internet—conveyed mostly by "news" sites that know nothing about Catholic affairs—that Pope Francis is going to "fire" the apostolic nuncio to the US, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. That's nonsense. The expanded version of...

Celebrating St. Joseph by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Mar 18, 2016

Every new year, I like to check the calendar for upcoming dates for the Liturgical Year. I start turning the monthly pages to see when is Ash Wednesday, is Easter early or late, etc. One thing in particular is to see what part of Lent do the solemnities of St. Joseph and the Annunciation...

George William Rutler, always attentive to words—and to the Word—made flesh by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 18, 2016

With intense enjoyment, I’ve just finished reading Ignatius Press’ new collection of essays by George William Rutler, convert, priest and man of letters. The name will be familiar to most readers through his fame as a preacher and his many recorded talks. As a writer, Fr....

Debunking the debunkers: how the best scholarly evidence confirms the Gospels by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 18, 2016

Any day now, a major media outlet will release a feature story which, with a great deal of promotional ballyhoo, will claim to call into question the ordinary Christian understanding of the Gospel story. It’s become an annual tradition: as Easter approaches, and secular journalists look for...

Holy Week in the Home by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Mar 19, 2016

Holy Week is aptly named because it is the holiest week of the Liturgical (and calendar) year. But it is also one of the busiest weeks of the year for our family, so I annually review my plans and revise according to our changing needs. There is more time spent in church due to the...

Church Fathers: Origen’s Theology by Thomas V. Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Mar 20, 2016

It is appropriate to begin this brief summary of Origen’s theology with a reminder that many of the more imaginative aspects of his “doctrine” were presented as his personal speculation and distinguished from the truths taught by the universal Church which all were obligated to...

On praising Obama and other relativists: Is a discreet silence really so bad? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 22, 2016

One tires of L’Osservatore Romano, whose editors too often seem overeager to ingratiate themselves with our world’s cultural elites. Over the past few years, we have seen the paper find reasons to praise the legacy of various musicians, writers and entertainers who have no significant...

Holy Week viewing: Pasolini's Gospel According to St. Matthew by Thomas V. Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 22, 2016

How is it that a man who was an atheist, a Marxist, and homosexual came to make what is considered by both secular critics and the Vatican to be one of the greatest Jesus movies ever made? It was the fruit of Pope St. John XXIII’s invitation to dialogue with non-Catholic artists. Inspired...

Quick Hits: Chaput on the Benedict option, L'Osservatore on Obama, Reilly on dialogue with Islam by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 23, 2016

Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput confirms his status as the most important thinker/writer/speaker in the American hierarchy with this challenging address, delivered to an audience at Brigham Young University. The archbishop tackles head-on the fear that (as Charles Murray put it)...

This Holy Week, let us end the complacency of our do-it-yourself Christianity. (Yes, ours.) by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 23, 2016

The great thing about Revelation is that it takes the guesswork out of religion. The great thing about a Revelation which includes the establishment of an infallible authority is that it takes the guesswork out of Revelation. And the great thing about eliminating the guesswork, is that it reduces...

Traditions of Holy Thursday by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Mar 23, 2016

Wednesday of Holy Week is pivotal because it marks the end of Lent. Holy Thursday begins the sacred Triduum -- the holiest days of the Church year. The liturgy reflects the beauty of the Paschal mystery and the Passover Feast of Christ. But how is this day spent in popular piety? What do...

Contemplating Good Friday and the Annunciation by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Mar 25, 2016

Today the world recalls the passion and death of Jesus. There is sadness and mourning in the air. This year our family has decided to spend the three hours from noon to 3 at church, attending the Seven Last Words and then Stations of the Cross, and then the Celebration of the...

Can a Muslim be a Christian martyr? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 28, 2016

Last week John Allen raised an interesting question as to whether Father Vincent Machozi could be recognized as a Christian martyr. Father Machozi was almost certainly not killed out of “hatred for the faith”—the ordinary standard for martyrdom. He was killed because of his social activism; but...

Hollywood Extras by Fr. Jerry Pokorsky in "On the News" - Mar 28, 2016

“Christ is risen! Alleluia!  You there! You in the back row yawning. Yeah, I’m talking to you. You’re not listening to my homily are you? Can’t you just pretend to listen? Or at least cover your mouth when you yawn? You’re not...

The man who saved a billion lives by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 28, 2016

On this year’s liturgical calendar March 25, when we ordinarily celebrate the feast of the Annunciation, was Good Friday. This rare convergence gave the date such awesome significance in salvation history that I hesitate to mention a far less important secular commemoration. Still I think...

On the proper transformation of Islam, in light of India by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 30, 2016

The effort to interpret Islam in a manner consistent with our natural understanding of human dignity has been underway for some time. It is a feature of American policy, of course, which is hardly rooted in a respect for truth. But a challenge to Muslims to find ways to blend reason into Islam was...

Reading tea leaves on the Pope's post-Synod document by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 31, 2016

America's leading Vatican-watcher John Allen thinks that it could be significant that Pope Francis has enlisted Cardinal Christoph Schöborn to headline the press conference at which his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia will be introduced. Cardinal Schönborn was identified...