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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from April 2014

Kudos to Archbishop Gregory; he 'gets it' by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 1, 2014

Hats off to Archbishop Wilton Gregory for making a simple, sincere, manful apology when he realized that he had caused scandal by spending over $2 million on a new residence. The archbishop could have attacked his critics, saying that the complaints about his building plans were motivated by...

Knowing Less than We Think: Dieting, Global Warming, Morality, Revelation by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 1, 2014

One of the gravest deficiencies of our modern worldview is that we are completely unaware of how little we know. There are both special and universal reasons for this. One of the special reasons, for example, is the rapid technological advance of the past two centuries, which has tended to give us...

New “Liturgical Day” newsletter brings total to Four by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Apr 2, 2014

You probably know you can sign up to receive what we call email newsletters from CatholicCulture.org. We have just added a new one, featuring the Liturgical Day. This joins the daily news headlines, the biweekly Insights messages, and the two-week look-ahead for the liturgical year sent out each...

Easter eBook Released by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Apr 2, 2014

Please note that the Easter volume for the 2013-2014 Liturgical Year has been released and is now available for download in our ebook section. You have to be registered and logged in to download. To register, simply subscribe to one of our email newsletters. This will create a user account for...

Yearning to Escape Ourselves, and the Example of John XXIII by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Apr 2, 2014

I can relate to Pope Blessed John XXIII’s desire to get away from the Vatican occasionally. Probably most of us can. It is a strange quirk of our humanity that we benefit from a change of scene. Quite often, the problems and tensions we associate with one place fade away when we get away to...

Pelosi's piety wins Obama's approval by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 3, 2014

Some of my friends are shocked that President Obama, on his return to DC after a visit with Pope Francis, gave a set of rosary beads blessed by the Pontiff to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the lawmaker honored by Planned Parenthood for her “outstanding contributions to the reproductive health and...

What the Charlotte controversy reveals about the acceptance of Catholic teaching by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 3, 2014

News coverage is now available for the resolution of complaints about Sister Jane Dominic Laurel’s controversial presentation at a Catholic high school in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Nashville Dominican sister spoke at a school assembly about Church teaching on marriage, divorce,...

Western rationalism vs. the commitment of the whole person to God by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Apr 4, 2014

Not long ago a Jesuit priest posted a reflection about the Catholic approach to truth in his personal blog. I am not going to quote, and I am not going to identify the Jesuit. It was an off-the-cuff sort of reflection (always a grave risk when blogging), and I have no desire to hold him to the...

Sister Jane Dominic: one strike and she's out? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 7, 2014

We still don’t know exactly what Sister Jane Dominic Laurel said at Charlotte Catholic High School to provoke such an angry reaction. No recording has been produced; no text of her talk has been released. We have only second-hand reports. We do know that the school and the Charlotte...

As the family goes, so goes the nation by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Apr 7, 2014

When he met bishops of Tanzania making their ad limina visit, Pope Francis outlined the keys to success in a country characterized by too much poverty and an AIDS epidemic: “By promoting prayer, marital fidelity, monogamy, purity and humble service of one another within families, the Church...

Fighting the Devil: Dangerous Emotions at Work by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 8, 2014

Late last week I had an unusual experience. I found myself getting impossibly angry over the situation in Charlotte, North Carolina, about which I had written twice and Phil Lawler once (see list of essays at the end). I realized I was experiencing an unpredictable emotional reaction which was not...

In Ontario, Catholic schools are welcome; Catholic education is not by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 8, 2014

Catholic schools are free to operate in Ontario, as long as they don’t provide religious education. That’s the message that seems to be coming from the Ontario Superior Court, which has ruled that Catholic high schools cannot require students to attend Mass. In its immediate impact, the...

The Surprising Implications of Man’s Natural Ends by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Apr 9, 2014

Recently I’ve revisited the massive shakeup of Catholic theology occasioned by Henri de Lubac’s remarkable study Surnaturel (French for "supernatural"), published just after the close of World War II. The whole episode demonstrates the immense consequences that can...

Divorce is the most prevalent form of child abuse. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 10, 2014

We have a donor who occasionally posts in Sound Off!, offering insight into current issues from a psychological point of view. This is not surprising. His Sound Off! alias is Shrink and he is, in fact, a psychologist. I call your attention to a trenchant comment he made following my second essay...

What Bishop Jugis did NOT say about Sister Jane Dominic's talk by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 10, 2014

Charlotte’s Bishop Peter Jugis has finally issued a statement regarding the unseemly controversy at Charlotte Catholic High School. In that statement the bishop clearly affirms the teachings of the Catholic Church. But he does not affirm Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, whose presentation of...

Atheists and the historical method by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Apr 10, 2014

Strange Notions, a website devoted to respectful dialogue and debate between Catholics and atheists, has re-posted an interesting piece by atheist blogger Tim O’Neill, entitled “Why History isn’t Scientific (And Why it Can Still Tell Us About the Past)." O’Neill has a...

The papyrus that proves nothing, 'resurrected' in time for Easter by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 10, 2014

How can you tell that Holy Week is approaching? Well, I hope that you’ve been observing Lent, and that you always keep an eye on the liturgical calendar. But even if you don’t, you can tell we’re getting close to Easter because a secular publication has given prominence to a...

Theological Bias, or, What’s our news department thinking, anyway!? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 11, 2014

We get the darnedest emails. In this case I’m referring to the one which accused us of cherry-picking what we wanted, rather than what happened, in our coverage of Pope Francis’ advice to students at the Gregorian University in Rome. Our headline was: “Do theology on your knees,...

How same-sex marriage erodes personal freedom and enhances state power by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 11, 2014

Stella Morabito has done us all a real service, with her readable and cogent analysis of the drive for same-sex marriage, now appearing on the Federalist site. This whole argument isn’t really about allowing homosexuals to marry, Morabito explains. It’s about abolishing marriage as an...

Smaller Church, Bigger Faith? The Problem of the New Evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 14, 2014

It seems to me that the Church faces a critical obstacle to the New Evangelization, an obstacle which arises inescapably because this is in significant part a re-evangelization. I am referring to the profound deficiency in Christian witness within the Church herself. Again, I beieve this...

Smaller Church, Bigger Faith, 2: The Impact of Grace by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 15, 2014

I suggested in the previous installment that the Church’s membership ought to consist not just of anybody who happens to have acquired the name of “Catholic” but of sinners who recognize the mission of the Church and fully accept the need for that mission in their own lives. At a...

James Carroll strikes (at the Church) again by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 16, 2014

In the years since he deserted the priesthood, James Carroll has contributed dozens of op-ed columns attacking the Church in the pages of the Boston Globe. Like an angry young man who posts embarrassing photos of his ex-girlfriend on the internet, Carroll seems determined to persuade the outside...

Russia's demographic recovery + US demographic decline = danger by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 16, 2014

In a quiet development, unnoticed by the major media, the the birth rate in Russia has inched higher than in the US. Thirty years ago the Soviet Union was a crumbling empire. At the time, most people in the West did not notice its internal decay. But the nation’s fertility rate, well below...

Journey to the Sun: A Strange Biography of Junípero Serra by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 16, 2014

Gregory Orfalea’s biography of the great missionary to California, Junípero Serra, is exceedingly strange. In the good sense of the word, it is genuinely foreign and fascinating. The author has a gift for telling an exotic story with plenty of intriguing detail, even when the evidence...

The Holy Spirit and Evangelization: A Primer by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Apr 16, 2014

One thing I have come to realize over the past few years, especially during the reign of Pope Francis, is that in a culture hostile to religious orthodoxy, it is easy for Catholics to fall into the trap of treating orthodoxy as an end in itself. When Francis warns us not to become a...

Smaller Church, Bigger Faith, 3: Ecclesiastical Discipline by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 17, 2014

In the previous installment emphasizing the “impact of grace”, I noted the problematic nature of any kind of institutionalized program to press deficient Catholics to select themselves out of the Church. Once again, I am referring to those who claim the Catholic name but do not fully...

Round Trip to the present moment: a Catholic jazz artist's latest offering by Thomas Van in "On the Culture" - Apr 22, 2014

“Art is not something that has ceased to be created.” Michael Levey began and ended his History of Western Art with these words, and what with the tendency of modern Catholics towards cultural pessimism, we could always do with a reminder. Of course, since a mere assertion will not be...

Relax; the Pope didn't change Church teaching with a phone call by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 24, 2014

At times, rather than reporting all the known facts about a news story, it would be easier to report all the things we don’t know. The Pope’s telephone conversation with a woman in Argentina is a conspicuous example. We know that Pope Francis spoke with Jaquelina Lisbona. That much has been...

Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism by Thomas Van in "On the Culture" - Apr 24, 2014

For as long as atheism has existed as a significant intellectual movement, there have been attempts by atheists to psychoanalyze religious belief – to explain it or explain it away not with regards to its inherent truth or falsehood, but rather in terms of psychological needs, as...

Iniquitas radix malorum: The Pope's tweet is a variation on a familiar theme by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 28, 2014

Today’s comment on the Pope’s Twitter account has economists all excited. In the English-language version, the comment is: “Inequality is the root of social evil.” That’s a fairly radical statement, as an a piece of economic analysis a very simplistic one. But before economic conservatives go...

False contrasts between the two new saints by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 28, 2014

How soon they forget. At the funeral of Pope John Paul II, when hundreds of people in St. Peter’s Square began shouting, “Santo subito!,” I didn’t hear dissenting voices. Certainly the huge crowds in Rome testified to the love that the Catholic faithful bore for him. But his influence was not...

Smaller Church, Bigger Faith 4: The Challenge of Preaching by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 28, 2014

In the preceding installment of this series, I had to acknowledge certain limitations on the Church’s ability to reform her own membership, the deficiencies of which not infrequently pose obstacles to the New Evangelization. To take just one example, while effective discipline is absolutely...

Is Catholic-Muslim dialogue possible? Yes, but... by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 28, 2014

Robert Reilly, who gave us The Closing of the Muslim Mind, which I described as ”the most enlightening book of 2010,” has done another great service by applying the lessons of that important work to the field of inter-religious affairs. The Prospects and Perils of Catholic-Muslim...

Of Douthat and Kasper, divorce and schism by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 29, 2014

On his New York Times blog, Ross Douthat has an excellent summary of the debate among Church leaders about admitting divorced and remarried Catholics to Communion. If by chance you haven’t been paying attention to this discussion, or if (more likely) you know someone who wants to be brought...

Vatican diplomacy on Iraq looks better in hindsight by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 29, 2014

Writing for the National Catholic Reporter (I know, I know), Sister Maureen Fiedler reports on an interview with Francis Rooney, who served as US ambassador to the Holy See under President George W. Bush: I asked Rooney specifically about the Iraq War because the Vatican was strongly opposed...

Will the Matching Grant propel CatholicCulture.org forward? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Apr 30, 2014

Through the generosity of four key supporters, Trinity Communications has secured a matching grant of $25,000 to stimulate gifts from other donors during our Easter Campaign. Between now and Pentecost (June 8th), all new donations for CatholicCulture.org will be matched up to the amount of the...

Smaller Church, Bigger Faith 5: Social Services and Universities by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 30, 2014

I predicted one final installment to this Smaller Church, Bigger Faith series, but I have since thought of a separate penultimate point which should not be passed over. I mean the need to reform the Church’s ancillary institutions, such as her semi-official social service organizations and...

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