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All Catholic commentary from April 2016

Ask yourself: who would take fake bombs onto an airplane, and expect to get away with it? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 1, 2016

Just try to imagine this scenario—and No, this is not another April Fool joke: A woman boards an airplane, having checked a bag that contains items which appear to be bombs, including three sticks labeled “dynamite.” Security officials quickly secure the area, evacuate...

A Catholic sci-fi classic: Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun by Thomas V. Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 4, 2016

Published in four volumes between 1980 and 1982, Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun is considered by many to be the greatest science fiction novel ever written, and by some to be one of the great works of twentieth-century literature. It is also well known to be a significantly Catholic work....

Praying with Mother Angelica by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Apr 4, 2016

Mother Angelica died on Easter Sunday at the age of 92 and Pope Francis is convinced she is in heaven. If you were a fan, you may wish to continue to pray with her by using a well-crafted prayer book published by EWTN entitled “Praying with Mother Angelica.” This is a reworking of...

The scandal of the particular: The Christian essence of human culture. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 4, 2016

Pierre Manent is regarded by many as the foremost socio-political theorist of our time. He retired from his directorship of L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris in 2014. Since then he has been finishing up a book entitled Beyond Radical Secularism: How...

Quick Hits: Will Amoris Laetitia make a difference? Why Vatileaks trial is not a press-freedom case by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 4, 2016

As we await the publication of the apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, the question everyone is asking is whether or not Pope Francis will make some provision for divorced-and-remarried Catholics to receive Communion. Vatican-watcher John Allen takes an unusual approach to that question,...

Islamic terrorism: the topic only one world leader has addressed by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 5, 2016

"Islamic terrorism." President Obama can't make himself say those words. But Obama isn't alone. Pope Francis, too, has been extremely reluctant to mention any connection between Islam and terrorism.  In fact, what world leaders have spoken out frankly on the...

Jeremiah’s message: A tough sell by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 6, 2016

I am going through Jeremiah again, and I find it easy to see why the Jews of his day didn’t listen. You will doubtless recall that in the seventh and sixth centuries before Christ, Israel boasted whole companies of prophets. It was apparently nice work if you could get it, and the vast...

The Joy of Dread by Fr. Jerry Pokorsky in "On the News" - Apr 6, 2016

There are many words now forbidden in polite society. “Adultery” comes to mind. It’s either an unmentionable or has been replaced with the phrase “divorced and remarried.” “Promiscuity” and “lewd and lascivious conduct” have been...

In Massachusetts, a difficult, dangerous religious-freedom test case by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 6, 2016

The political climate is not favorable to the Catholic Church these days, particularly in Massachusetts. So I cannot be confident that the Supreme Judicial Court will reach the right decision in the case mentioned in yesterday’s CWN headline story: the suit by a Catholic shrine to recover...

In Georgia's religious-freedom debate, Catholic bishops sit on the sidelines by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 7, 2016

Last week, under heavy pressure from powerful corporations, Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal vetoed legislation that would have protected religious institutions from being required to approve same-sex marriages or to hire openly homosexual employees. In his veto statement the governor...

Divorce and remarriage: Why has Pope Francis chosen to leave one door open? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 8, 2016

I haven’t finished reading Pope Francis’ synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. It is a sweeping document, and I want to take my time with it. But I can suggest one very understandable reason for Pope Francis’ decision to emphasize a case-by-case approach to integrating...

The Pope's confused message undermines his own pastoral program by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 8, 2016

Amoris Laetitia is not a revolutionary document. It is a subversive one. Pope Francis has not overthrown the traditional teachings of the Church, as many Catholics had either hoped or feared that he would, in this post-Synod exhortation. Instead he has sought to carve out ample room for a...

The Controversy at the Heart of Amoris Laetitia by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Apr 11, 2016

If Catholics who have divorced and remarried without obtaining an annulment can in some cases be given permission to receive communion, will this do more harm than good? That’s the question at the heart of the controversy over Pope Francis’ post synodal apostolic exhortation,...

Gresham's Law and the flaw in the Pope's pastoral program by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 13, 2016

Does Gresham’s Law apply to pastoral practices in the Catholic Church? I think it does—with unhappy consequences that we can see all around us. Gresham’s Law (for those readers who have not studied economics) states that bad money drives out good money. Let me...

Latest study confirms: the threat is Zika, not children by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 14, 2016

“There is no longer any doubt that Zika causes microcephaly,” Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, told reporters during a briefing on April 13. He was reporting on a new study confirming the suspected link between the virus and the birth defect. Frieden might have...

Caution for a priest-confessor: giving bad advice can be a canonical crime by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 14, 2016

My favorite canon-law expert, Ed Peters, has called attention to an article he published in the June/July 2011 issue of Homiletic and Pastoral Review, entitled When bad advice in confession becomes a crime. This article is especially relevant today in light of… Well, I’ll let you...

Political hijinks at the Vatican this week by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 14, 2016

Two conferences with disturbing political overtones have taken place at the Vatican this week. 1. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in cooperation with Pax Christi, has held a conference on non-violence. Or perhaps, in light of the report issued at the conclusion of the meeting it...

The deeper meaning of Amoris Laetitia, and the challenge it presents by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 15, 2016

Suppose you lived in a place and time when the faithful had great confidence in the orthodoxy, charity, zeal and even counter-cultural courage of their bishops and priests. Now suppose the Pope issued a statement exhorting the faithful to closely examine the difficulties facing those in broken...

The best and worst columns on Amoris Laetitia by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 15, 2016

After a week of reading commentaries on Amoris Laetitia, I’m ready to name the columns that seem to me the best and the worst of this week’s offerings: From London and the Catholic Herald comes this somewhat lengthy but very insightful column by Father Mark Drew. He recognizes problems with the...

The Spirit of the Liturgy, Part One: Mental Exertion by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Apr 17, 2016

This Lent I joined Leila Lawler in reading of The Spirit of the Liturgy by Romano Guardini. Although I haven't been able to keep up with the discussions, I've been reading on my own, hoping to find some time to share my thoughts. I'm looking forward to reading together the next...

Quick Hits: Benedict as the Great Reformer, Crux as an objective source by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 19, 2016

What were you doing on this date, April 19, eleven years ago? After a quiet morning, I spent the afternoon joyously celebrating the election of Pope Benedict XVI-- and also frantically wondering when the CWN site would recover, after our early headline, “White Smoke!” drew so much...

The modern university: When truth becomes a personal attack by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Apr 20, 2016

Molly Oshatz nails it in a little essay in the May 2016 issue of First Things called “College Without Truth”. Right now you can’t read the entire essay without subscribing or paying $1.95, but that would be cheap at twice the price. This is more than another spin on the...

Catholics Rising: Why Catholicism cannot be stopped by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Apr 20, 2016

Perhaps it is time to state the obvious. The Catholic Faith, and the Church that announces and nourishes this Faith throughout history, cannot be stopped. This is a matter of Divine guarantee. Speaking of the Church built on Peter the rock, Our Lord promised: “The powers of death shall not...

By Vatican standards, there are human-rights violations in American schools by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 20, 2016

Reading the address by a Vatican envoy to an OSCE meeting on religious minorities, your first inclination is probably to think that Msgr. Janusz Urbanczyk is speaking primarily about Christians in Islamic countries. No doubt he is. Still, as I read his defense of the rights of parents in the...

The drive for Vatican reform has stalled by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 21, 2016

The news that the Vatican has suspended an external audit might appear to be only a minor administrative matter, interesting only to accountants. But as an indicator of the trends in Rome today, it is as significant of Amoris Laetitia. It is, in my view (and I am by no means a financial...

The one-way argument for human rights by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 22, 2016

Ryan Anderson admits that ESPN has the right to fire Curt Schilling because he thinks men should be barred from women’s restrooms. But that right applies to others, too, Anderson reasons: ESPN didn’t want to be associated with Curt Schilling’s message. The same is true for the bakers, florists,...

Sex education? No, we're witnessing the pursuit of ignorance on matters of sexuality by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 22, 2016

If you can trace your family tree back far enough, you'll probably encounter people who had no formal education, owned no books, perhaps couldn't read and write. But your uneducated ancestors knew what "marriage" meant-- which is more than you can say for the typical Ivy League...

The Don and Hil Show: Overcoming our addiction to politics by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 26, 2016

When I recommended that we should avoid wasting our energies on the 2016 US presidential campaign, I didn’t say much about the common good. I didn’t mention it in my initial salvo, Politics is dead: This year, avoid the quadrennial silliness. And I mentioned it only once in...

Rehabilitating a disgraced priest: a thought-experiment by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Apr 26, 2016

After it emerged that a priest with a history of sexual abuse is serving as a pastor, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City is “assessing the situation.” With all respect to Archbishop Coakley—for whom I have generally had a high opinion—I think he should be assessing...

Quick Hits: Science and its enemies, choral music for the Novus Ordo, the Armenian genocide by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 26, 2016

Now and then a scientific discovery comes with a breath of poetry, as in the Daily Telegraph headline : Bright flash of light marks incredible moment life begins when sperm meets egg. It’s sad that in our age, impervious to the beauty of nascent life, the report continues with the...

The Spirit of the Liturgy, Part Two: Liturgy and Popular Piety by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Apr 28, 2016

I’m continuing my discussion on Romano Guardini’s The Spirit of the Liturgy with Leila Lawler. In Part One I considered Guardini’s discussion of our work or "mental exertion" so as to receive greater benefits...

In defense of the 'doctors of the law' by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 28, 2016

Back in 1983, when the new Code of Canon Law was promulgated, I picked up a copy. This was my first real encounter with Church law, and as I leafed through the book I was struck by how often the canons obviously reflected the fruit of painful experience.  That's how laws commonly come...

Personal testimonies: Effective ways to deepen faith by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 28, 2016

I suppose everyone is interested in personal religious testimonies, whether conversion stories or anecdotes which provide glimpses of the presence of God. Such accounts have a personal element which is not typically present in apologetical arguments or academic theology. For most people they are...

The painfully slow reform of the Vatican's communications operation by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Apr 29, 2016

Almost exactly one year ago I wondered aloud whether a plan to streamline the Vatican's communications efforts might be sidetracked. Today I'm happy to notice that my concern may have been misplaced. The head of the new Communications Secretariat reports that the plans are moving...

Crazy Joe, spare me your praise of the Pope. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Apr 29, 2016

I suppose this is a bit of a rant, but I’m tired of all the posturing. The latest is U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s praise of Pope Francis earlier today, when he addressed a conference at the Vatican. Predictably, Biden praised Francis for his “compassion”. He claimed...