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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from April 2011

Government: A Pervasive Expectation by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 1, 2011

It’s a little thing, and it comes innocently out of daily life. I was adjudicating a student essay contest for a small and deeply-committed Catholic high school. The vast majority of the school’s families are strong Catholics who, as you might expect, tend to be conservative...

The (shock horror!) baseball heretic by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 1, 2011

Readers sometimes question why we link to columns by John Allen, who writes for the National Catholic Reporter. The Reporter, our friends remind us, is a hotbed of theological dissidence. Why should we trust a reporter whose outlet is so often at odds with the teachings of the Church? It’s a...

Episcopal Rhetoric: Precision Matters by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 4, 2011

The bishops of Arizona have joined their confreres in many other states by calling for the end of the death penalty. Neighboring New Mexico eliminated the death penalty last month, also with the support of the State’s Catholic bishops. Many other states had already done the same. We have no...

scare quotes, properly used by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 5, 2011

Do you notice something unusual about the lede on this news story? CAMDEN—Rutgers University in Camden will host a woman theologian next week whom the university describes as a “female Catholic bishop.” Did you catch it? The report on Phillyburbs.com puts “scare...

The poor misunderstood theologian by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 5, 2011

Last week the US bishops’ conference released a detailed critique of a book by Sister Elizabeth Johnson. The bishops’ doctrinal committee found that Quest for the Living God “contains misrepresentations, ambiguities, and errors that bear upon the faith of the Catholic Church as...

Caring, Inclusive, and Afraid: A Case Study by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Apr 5, 2011

One could hardly fail to notice the doctrinaire rhetoric of St. Columban’s College in Caboolture, Queensland, Australia. It seems the school (similar to an American high school) was forced to defend its values by withdrawing permission for a Protestant group to use its facilities for a talk on how...

A Crescendo of Understanding: Finishing Benedict’s Second Volume by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 6, 2011

I have already noted that the great gift of Benedict’s two volume study, Jesus of Nazareth, is his ability to teach us something about the combination of intelligent investigation and deep faith which can enable us to open Scripture to our thirsty souls (see Ratzinger’s Gift:...

In New Hampshire, an intemperate legislator, a disgraced bishop by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 7, 2011

David Bettencourt, the Republican majority leader in the lower house of the New Hampshire state legislature, has now apologized for calling his bishop a “pedophile pimp.” Bettencourt and Bishop John McCormack have met, their spokesmen say that the meeting went well, and both have...

Overthrowing the Tyranny of Language by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 11, 2011

I was favorably impressed with Archbishop Charles Chaput’s comments on homosexual civil unions last week. Listen closely to a key portion of his statement: The civil unions debate is finally about securing legitimacy for social arrangements and personal behaviors that most societies...

Are You Growing Holier? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 12, 2011

We want to be holy and we pray and work toward that end. But if we are honest and self-aware, we also realize that we do some picking and choosing among the various paths and regimens of holiness, selecting those which are most congenial to our personalities, and avoiding what we find too taxing...

Counting the Costs of the Scandal by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 12, 2011

Look at the latest official figures on the cost of the sex-abuse scandal, and what do you see? For every dollar spent last year on therapy for the victims of priestly abuse, American dioceses have spent $5.29 on lawyers’ fees. For every dollar spent on therapy for the victims, another...

The Other Side of the News by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 13, 2011

Sometimes—usually, in fact—it pays to think about the implications of what is reported in the news. Often the implications are more important than the facts. That’s the case, I believe, with at least three of yesterday’s stories in our Catholic World News roundup. Exhibit...

Socio-Economics from the Outside by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Apr 15, 2011

There is a certain paralysis that can afflict socio-economic discussions even among committed Catholics. For example, the other day I thought of adding my two cents to the discussion list for the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, where every member must sign a statement of fidelity to the...

Brace yourself for the annual media assault on Christian orthodoxy by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 15, 2011

Holy Week is nearly upon us. Brace yourself for the media onslaught. All eyes will turn toward the Church during this coming week. For believing Christians, that means an intense period of prayer. For most major media outlets, it means another chance to throw darts at a favorite target. Each...

The most 'Catholic' university that isn't Catholic by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 16, 2011

Cardinal William Levada will celebrate Mass for the graduation ceremony at Ave Maria University in Florida on May 7. The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the highest-ranking American prelate ever to serve in the Roman Curia: that’s a nice coup for a young, small...

Get Ready to Pay Twice if You Want Change by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 18, 2011

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has criticized British Prime Minister David Cameron’s “Big Society” program, which is designed to promote the development of local and volunteer initiatives. As Cameron has stated, “We know instinctively that the state is often too...

The Predictablity of the CTSA by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 19, 2011

When the Bishops issued a critique and cautionary statement on Sr. Elizabeth Johnson’s book Quest for the Living God (see The poor misunderstood theologian), it was predictable that the Catholic Theological Society of America would issue a defense of Sr. Elizabeth. It was predictable because...

Father Reese on accountability by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 19, 2011

Father Tom Reese has discovered the Pew Forum’s figures showing a startling exodus from the Catholic Church in the US. Writing in the National Catholic Reporter, the former editor of America sums things up: One out of every 10 Americans is an ex-Catholic. If they were a separate...

Crying with Saint Francis by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 21, 2011

It’s the kind of story that brings a tear to the eye. Sister Michael Marie is off again on an international mission, this time to save stranded pets in Japan. The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart sister wants to be of service to all God’s creatures. A photo with the news story in the...

Mercy and sacrifice: thoughts for Good Friday by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 22, 2011

The bite of the Scriptures, sharper than any two-edged sword, can sometimes come from an unexpected direction. During the last few weeks of Lent, a particular passage has been playing on my mind because of what began as a distraction, and continued as an almost deliberate mistranslation, until it...

Extinction, accepted in 'the Jesuit tradition' by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 26, 2011

The Washington Post has noticed the phenomenon to which we called your attention last week: the precipitous drop in the number of American Jesuits. The Post story is short, and generally friendly. But it doesn’t avoid the bottom line: “Jesuits are vanishing from the Washington area,...

Gay-rights bullying by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 26, 2011

King and Spalding, one of the world’s more powerful international law firms, has reneged on a commitment, dropping a client because of political pressure. You might want to know: Who is this 97-pound weakling, who has been kicked to the curb by more robust political forces? Answer: the US...

Why is John Paul II on trial in the media today? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 27, 2011

Do you remember the death of Pope John Paul II? Could you ever forget it? For several days, during that first week of April in 2005, the attention of the entire world was riveted on the Vatican. Television networks kept vigil during the Pope’s last hours, and when he finally died, there was...

What Are We Sacrificing for Another Government Fix? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 27, 2011

I could not help but investigate our news story proclaiming that the USCCB had made a major new commitment to helping the unemployed. Will the American Church extend its charitable activities to provide as never before for those who are unable to find work? Actually, no. Instead, what...

Want to be lovable? Then love! by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 28, 2011

Several years ago Madeline Nugent sent me a book she had co-authored with Julian Stead, OSB, entitled Love-Ability. The book was published in 2007 by the New City Press, which is the North American publishing house of the highly-regarded Focolare Movement. The Movement’s charism is rooted in...

Getting to Know St. Paul by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 29, 2011

From his complicity in the martyrdom of St. Stephen to his own martyrdom in Rome thirty years later, Paul of Tarsus was a figure to be reckoned with in the growth of the early Church. He was also the most prolific writer in the New Testament and without doubt the most impressive of inspired...

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