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All Catholic commentary from March 2017

This Disastrous Papacy by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 1, 2017

Something snapped last Friday, when Pope Francis used the day’s Gospel reading as one more opportunity to promote his own view on divorce and remarriage. Condemning hypocrisy and the “logic of casuistry,” the Pontiff said that Jesus rejects the approach of legal...

Quick Hits: A sensational story from Rome; help for insomniacs; the Americans left behind; and a special treat by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 2, 2017

Quite a variety today: enjoy! You’ll probably soon see references (if you haven’t already) to a report in the London Times with a sensational title: Anti-reform cardinals ‘want the Pope to quit’. Proceed with caution. Based entirely on a story by Vatican journalist...

Quick Hits: News that demands comment on matters of life and death by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 2, 2017

The task of following news of interest to Catholics is probably safe only for bald people, who have no hair left to tear out. Here are some recent stories which cry for comment: The Pontifical Council of Death: I stole the name from one of the sources of this story, but it seems that the...

On the role of the Holy Spirit in papal elections by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 3, 2017

A common question among Catholics today is: “What was the Holy Spirit doing during the conclave that elected Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis?” The answer, of course, is that the Holy Spirit was doing what He is always doing, prompting all involved to cast their votes for the good of...

Church Fathers: The Lesser Alexandrians by Thomas V. Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Mar 5, 2017

Though Clement and Origen were by far the most important members of the School of Alexandria, a number of other associated figures from the third and early fourth centuries are worth mentioning. Their writings are only extant in fragments, if at all. Ammonius was probably a contemporary of...

Prayers for Pope Francis—now more than ever by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 7, 2017

This week Pope Francis is on retreat, along with leaders of the Roman Curia. Because most Vatican offices will be quiet this week, while their top officials are on retreat, we can expect much less news from Rome. Meanwhile, as the Holy Father and his most important colleagues take stock of...

Pope Francis and Bernard Häring: The literally infernal cheek of dissent by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 7, 2017

During his discussions with the General Congregation of the Society of Jesus in November, Pope Francis praised the Redemptorist theologian, Fr. Bernard Häring, for being one of the first to try to revive an ailing moral theology following the Second Vatican Council. This was reported at the...

Quick Hits: Things worth fighting for—a saint’s body, a woman’s honor by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 7, 2017

Have you been following the news of the contest between the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Peoria over the remains of Archbishop Fulton Sheen? That dispute has delayed the cause for the late archbishop’s beatification, and many people find it appalling that Catholic prelates...

Cardinal Wuerl goes off by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 8, 2017

A very small number of people, whose voices have been amplified by some of the Catholic media, have challenged the integrity of Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. Thus does Cardinal Donald Wuerl begin an essay defending the papal document—and, far...

In a nutshell: Liberalism and Modernism by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 8, 2017

There are nearly as many definitions of Liberalism and Modernism as there are forms of propaganda in the wide world. As the Church uses these terms, however, they may be roughly defined as follows: Liberalism: The belief that the human person is the ultimate source of freedom and goodness,...

A Vatican whodunnit by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 9, 2017

In Agatha Christie’s classic Murder on the Orient Express, the great detective Hercule Poirot faces an unusual challenge. There are too many suspects—too many people with obvious motives for committing the crime. That’s how I feel about the news that Archbishop Charles Brown,...

Prayer and Puppies by Fr. Jerry Pokorsky in "On the News" - Mar 9, 2017

In preparation for the Olympics held in Greece in 2004, thousands of possibly dangerous stray dogs were poisoned. But the stray dog problem continues to this day. A few years ago during a religious pilgrimage to Greece, our tour bus was confronted with a pack of wild canines emerging from the...

Quick Hits: The EU in crisis, the genocide in the Vendée, the opioid epidemic by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 13, 2017

The European Union is in trouble. The vision that guided its creation—provided mostly by men with a deeply Catholic sensibility—has been swept away by the rising tide of secularism. The economic interests of member-nations have diverged, putting strains on the alliance. EU leaders...

Abridging Herman Melville’s faith, and perhaps our own by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 13, 2017

There are benefits to giving up reading mysteries for Lent. For one thing, I finally finished a project that both Phil Lawler and Thomas Van recommended when they learned that I had never gotten around to reading Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. That was a Catholic gap I was loath to...

Putting your hand to the Plough, with Gerard Manley Hopkins and Dorothy Day by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 14, 2017

Plough Publishing House is a Christian publisher focused primarily on a particular subset of Christian concerns: Solidarity with the poor, non-violence, the gospel of life, and simple Christian living. While Plough has published a number of authors famous in other contexts (from C. S. Lewis to...

Understanding Mercy—with pointers from the Apostolic Penitentiary by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 15, 2017

It’s one of those little things that make all the difference. Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, addressed students in a course on the internal forum following the Jubilee of Mercy. Here is the last sentence of our brief news story: Cardinal Piacenza offered...

And now, fake weather forecasts by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 16, 2017

Here on the East Coast, we were hit with a major snowstorm on Tuesday. You probably read about it, even if you live somewhere else; the forecasts were all over the national news, with predictions of a potential disaster. Then something very interesting happened. In the last hours before the...

The dispensation is big news. The fast? Not so much by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 16, 2017

What is this week’s biggest story in the Catholic media? Corned beef. It’s not even close. Scores of American bishops have issued dispensations, allowing the faithful to eat the “traditional” corned-beef-and-cabbage tomorrow, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day....

... and about that St. Patrick’s Day dispensation... by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 17, 2017

Just as a footnote to yesterday’s lament about the corned-beef dispensation, let me reproduce the statement from my own bishop, which I think is fairly typical. But if you don’t mind, I’ll add my own emphasis. This year the Liturgical Memorial of St. Patrick, March 17, falls...

St. Patrick: the patron saint of parish closings? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 17, 2017

(This column, written five years ago, is re-posted by popular demand.) Needless to say, there is no patron saint of parish closings. The closing of a parish is a tragedy. A parish church is more than just a building. It is a repository of memories: of the children baptized there, the happy...

Let’s get this straight: Concern about Pope Francis is not rooted in dissent, but in dismay. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Mar 17, 2017

One wonders where Pope Francis finds the people who provide articles to L’Osservatore Romano which attack those who raise questions about his leadership. The latest is Father Salvador Pié-Ninot, who has criticized what he calls “dissent in the form of public criticism” of...

Quick Hits: Happiness that endures, the message of a great cathedral, another outrage at Trinity University by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 17, 2017

In a beautiful eulogy, David Warren says that his friend Mary Scheer was “the embodiment of a happy person.” Not because there was no sadness in her life—in fact he says that she was “often dealing with circumstances that would test anyone’s strength of mind”—but because her strong faith enabled...

The Oases of Lent: Celebrations of St. Patrick, St. Joseph, Annunciation and Family Days by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Mar 17, 2017

We are now in the beginning of three feasts of March (almost always in Lent) that are not part of the Lenten Season. Two are included in the Sanctoral (saint) Calendar, and only one is integral to the Temporal Calendar (following the life of Christ). These are stand-alone feasts that provide a...

Out of Africa: The Church’s need for living rules by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 21, 2017

When Fr. Paulinus Odozor told Crux that African Catholics had long since settled the question of Communion for the divorced and remarried, he gave us a glimpse of a younger and far more vibrant Church. It was this reality that I had in mind when I suggested the successor to Pope Francis might well...

Vatican reform on sexual abuse has stalled by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 22, 2017

Three weeks have passed since Marie Collins resigned from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM), complaining that the group’s work has been thwarted by resistance from within the Roman Curia. A few days after her public announcement, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the...

Lenten listening: two new Benedictine albums of Marian chant by Thomas V. Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 23, 2017

Lent is an ideal time to get back in touch with the Church’s patrimony of Gregorian chant (particularly for those of us who aren’t blessed to hear it regularly at Mass). The penitential season motivated me to get caught up on a couple of recent albums—both, interestingly enough,...

Family-based catechesis for home and parish: A breakthrough by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 23, 2017

Sophia Institute has recently published the materials for the first year of a new four-year religious education program which is firmly rooted in family life. This is an important development in catechesis. As one parent put it, “I’m so happy that we’re now treating our Faith as...

Quick Hits: a ‘mystery donor’ to the Knights of Malta, Pope’s questionable historical references by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 23, 2017

The complicated struggle for control of the Knights of Malta has become even more mysterious, after Albrecht von Boeselager, restored to power as chancellor of the Order, spoke with the German journal Bild. The focus of the interview was a massive donation to the Knights of Malta charity, from...

In a Nutshell: Protecting your children in a digital world, in 2017 by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 24, 2017

Now that “connected” devices are ubiquitous—and not just through an easily controllable home network—parents may not know what they can do to monitor their children’s use of online media, including social media. And what about calls to and from their personal phones?...

More clear signs that the papal abuse commission is adrift by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 27, 2017

A Crux interview with Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM), includes at least three eye-popping admissions: Cardinal O’Malley explains that the PCPM sought a clear means of ensuring that bishops will be held...

Father Gabriel, Detective by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 27, 2017

Just because I gave up reading mysteries for Lent does not mean you should not be allowed to know of Ignatius Press’ latest foray into the mystery market. The publisher has considerable experience with mysteries, of course, having published works on the mysteries of Our Lady of Guadalupe and...

Quick Hits: Why the pro-life movement lags in Europe, how nationalism may guard freedoms by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 28, 2017

Literally millions of Americans have been involved in pro-life activism over the years, but the pro-life movement has never drawn the same sort of mass support in Europe. Does that show that social conservatism is weaker on the continent? Not at all; grassroots efforts to defend marriage were much...

The first requirement of Church renewal in our time by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 28, 2017

The Catholic Church has often been called “the Church of here comes everybody”. The reason is very basic: You typically do not find the Church to be representative of just one ethnic group, nationality or social class. Membership in the Catholic Church is rarely based on encouraging...

The givenness of things (a positive exchange on Facebook, for once) by Thomas V. Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 29, 2017

Over the past few years, I’ve waged an ongoing and mostly successful battle with myself to reduce the number of Facebook discussions (or really, debates) I get bogged down in, especially with people who don’t share my basic worldview, no matter how annoying I find much of the opinion...

What Trump’s success should teach Church leaders by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 30, 2017

Donald Trump is in the White House today, for better or worse*, because he dared to address two hot topics that other leading politicians had assiduously avoided: immigration and militant Islam. American voters were looking for a leader, and leadership involves the willingness to confront tough...

Cardinal Turkson sees China as model for environmentalism. Seriously? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 30, 2017

Cardinal Peter Turkson has suggested—apparently with a straight face—that when it comes to protecting the environment, the US might look to China for leadership. This astonishing statement came during a meeting with reporters, at which the prefect of the Vatican’s new dicastery...

Do. Not. Miss. This speech by Cardinal Sarah by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 31, 2017

If you have time to read just one article over the weekend, here’s what it should be: Cardinal Sarah’s Address on 10th Anniversary of “Summorum Pontificum” Catholic World Report has done a great service by posting this address in its entirety, in an excellent English...

The bishops and moral pragmatism, with immigration as a case study by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 31, 2017

Phil Lawler made an important point in What Trump’s success should teach Church leaders. He highlighted the damage that is done when bishops appear to foreclose complex prudential discussion by repeating platitudes. As two excellent examples, Phil chose Trump’s wall and Islamic...