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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from May 2010

Keep Treading Water, and Give Thanks! by Peter Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 2, 2010

To put it bluntly, sometimes in life it is just darn impossible to know whether or not you are making headway. Sometimes you just feel like you are treading water, and as everybody knows, you can’t tread water forever—you have to make it to shore, or go under. In this economy, a lot...

home cooking by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 3, 2010

It's odd that Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York doesn't know where Andrew Cuomo stands on abortion, yet he does know that legislators in Arizona have passed a "mean-spirited bill of doubtful constitutionality that has as its intention the expulsion of the immigrant." We know that...

When Two Wrongs Make a Right by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 3, 2010

Apologists have often noted that it is a motive of credibility for the Church that she is constantly attacked from opposite sides for opposite things. A case in point is the New York Times analysis of the conclusion of the Vatican’s Visitation of the Legion of Christ, in which the Times...

gimme a break by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 3, 2010

"Pope takes break from scandal, visits Turin Shroud," read the AP headline, which was dutifully passed along by dozens of newspapers. The headline conjures up the image of a weary Pontiff pushing himself away from a desk cluttered with dossiers of abusive priests, rushing off to Turin...

... and about that rumor,... by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 4, 2010

If this piqued your interest last week… VATICAN CITY, 30 APR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia.  … you may be interested to learn that

the grass roots magisterium by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 4, 2010

When you see a sentence like this one, it's time to tighten your seatbelt, because you're in for a wild ride: No organization has done more to elevate the moral stature of the Catholic Church in the United States than The Boston Globe. Not the Sisters of Charity. Not the Holy Name Society....

uncanny coincidence by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 5, 2010

It's not often that your Uncle Di has occasion to report the news from Park City, Utah. So what are the odds that when a priest there criticizes the Vatican for its handling of the sex-abuse problem, he just happens to be the same Father Bob Bussen who, some months back, was blaming the Vatican...

Up to Date on the Shroud by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 6, 2010

With the Holy Shroud on display in Turin until May 23rd, it makes sense to comment on some of the newer ideas concerning its authenticity. Tradition holds that the Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, and bears the miraculous imprint of his body. Readers may remember that...

objective news, seen through crystal ball by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 7, 2010

There's a battle within the Catholic Church in England, with theological liberals and conservatives struggling to claim the mantle of Cardinal John Henry Newman, reports Ruth Gledhill of the London Times. As she explains the conflict, see if you can guess which side Ruth is on: Next week, the...

definitely not the worst by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 7, 2010

Hans Küng thinks it is "complete nonsense" to classify Pope Benedict XVI as the worst Pontiff in centuries.  Küng, who rarely misses an opportunity to criticize the Pope-- and sometimes manufactures opportunities when none present themselves-- wants it understood that he...

Vatican II on Bishops: The Bishops Themselves by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 7, 2010

The sixth document issued by Vatican II—the first coming out of its 1965 sessions—was the Decree Concerning the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church (Christus Dominus), promulgated on October 28th. I’ll cover this in two parts. Since the most highly-developed section of...

Vatican II on Bishops: Episcopal Collaborators by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 7, 2010

After a very brief sub-section in which the Council comments on the need to revise the boundaries of dioceses to take into account current population patterns and pastoral needs, The Decree Concerning the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church proceeds to the third section of its central...

no resignation without a question by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 7, 2010

Two Irish bishops have resigned. The Vatican announcement explained that the two-- Bishop Joseph Duffy of Clogher and Bishop Francis Lagan, an auxiliary in Derry-- had reached the mandatory retirement age of 75. All very simple and straightforward, right? Wrong, in the eyes of the New York Times,...

sexual abuse before the Great Enlightenment by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 7, 2010

In January 2002, speaking about sexual abuse in his capacity as president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, then-Bishop Wilton Gregory uttered the memorable words: "We have all been enlightened." In the months that followed, as one diocese after another was shaken by revelations...

a first step toward disenfranchising Catholics by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 7, 2010

Today's CWN headline story from Wisconsin provides an illustration of how critics of Catholicism might move to silence the public voice of the Church. It's a frightening episode. Begin with a piece of legislation that was framed to allow more lawsuits by abuse victims-- with the Catholic Church...

comparative headlines by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 10, 2010

When one influential cardinal openly criticizes another, that's a legitimate headline story. The question is what the headline should say. The facts are not in dispute. The Archbishop of Vienna criticized the cardinal who was the #2 man at the Vatican, the Secretary of State, until Pope Benedict...

Free or Low-Cost Books to Jump-Start Catholic Friends and Family by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 11, 2010

The Dynamic Catholic Institute was founded by writer Matthew Kelly to do its part in the rejuvenation of Catholicism in the English-speaking world. Eight years ago Kelly published his book Rediscovering Catholicism, and it is the mission of the Institute to place a copy of this book in the hands...

Animal Rights: A Primer by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 11, 2010

In its April issue, Catholic World Report published a fascinating interview with Wesley J. Smith, a Senior Fellow in Human Rights and Bioethics at the Discovery Institute. The subject was animal rights, and how the animal rights movement constitutes a sort of pseudo-religion and an assault on...

The issue that won't go away by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 11, 2010

It's early, but I'm already prepared to submit my nomination for the stupidest headline of the month: Abortion could be sleeper issue in Supreme Court confirmation process Sleeper issue? When in the last 37 years has abortion not been a dominant issue—no, the dominant issue—in...

rash judgment by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 11, 2010

In submitting my nomination for the stupidest headline of the month, I acted too soon. Just minutes after posting that item, I saw a new report from the inimitable Ruth Gledhill of the London Times:  Pope's move on abuse mirrors lead taken by English and Welsh...

Church-state relations: a wall of separation or a one-way street? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 12, 2010

"I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute," said John F. Kennedy in his famous "Houston speech" of 1960. The future president went on to say that in his ideal America, "no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be a...

The Mindset of Priestly Sexual Abuse by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 12, 2010

A few weeks ago, when it became known that he had abused a boy (his nephew) in the 1980’s, Bishop Roger Vangheluwe of Bruges resigned. Since then 270 new allegations of abuse have been made before a Belgian commission investigating sexual abuse by clerics. It is important to note that 90% of...

Theology by Happenstance by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - May 13, 2010

I’m sitting here staring at a new book, The American Catholic Revolution: How the Sixties Changed the Church Forever by Mark S. Massa, SJ. It is an “uncorrected advance reading copy”, as the book has not yet been released, and this is at least a temporary mercy. The author...

get away from it all by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 14, 2010

Why did Pope Benedict travel to Portugal this week? To pray at the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima? To rally the faithful there in the face of rising secularism? To discuss the 3rd secret? Not according to the AP headline writers: Pope's Portugal trip a bid to move beyond scandal  So let's...

the US bishops reprise a losing political strategy by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 14, 2010

Regardless of where you stand on proposed immigrant reforms, you should recognize something familiar about the stance of the US bishops. In his statement for support for a reform bill, Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, who chairs the US bishops' committee on immigration, encouraged Congress...

Department of Icy Timelessness, Office of Unintended Consequence Management by Leila Marie Lawler in "Off the Record" - May 14, 2010

I credit Rick Weiss for a precisely articulated characterization of an unforeseen difficulty in the deceptive promise of in vitro fertility treatment--one that delivers the shock of reality: More than anything, experts said, the large number of embryos being preserved in icy timelessness is an...

if you're looking for Leila's post... by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 14, 2010

As much as I love my wife, she's not me. And though we two are one flesh, it just won't do to have my portrait popping up on a column she wrote. (Trust me: she's a lot better looking.)  Earlier today I inadvertently posted Leila's brilliant comment, Department of Icy Timelessness of...

If You Are the Boss, You Make the Rules by Peter Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 15, 2010

Obviously, business owners and executives are supposed to make the rules. One of the hallmarks of a bad manager is a lack of knowledge of how to effectively make and apply rules. Here are some rules for making charitable, effective rules! Decisions should never be made in a...

Contraception: A Prisoner's Dilemma? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 17, 2010

In an article entitled “Bitter Pill” in the November issue of First Things, economist Timothy Reichert deliberately uses the language and tools of modern social science to argue that contraception is socially damaging. He does this in the interest of providing a common ground for...

The Complexity of Church-State Relations by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 18, 2010

A current legal case, in which sexual abuse victims are attempting to include Pope Benedict XVI as a defendant, demonstrates just how complex the relationship between Church and State really is. When I last commented on this complexity (see When Should a Bishop Expose a Priest to Civil Authority?...

Does Celibacy Contribute to Clerical Sex Abuse? by Richard Cross in "In Depth Analysis" - May 19, 2010

The John Jay Report indicated that 4.0% of all priests in the US between 1950 and 2002 had been accused of sexual abuse of a minor. This datum, and the numerous commentaries surrounding the horrific news of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, have been cited as evidence against the discipline of...

The Limits of Civil Rule with Respect to the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 19, 2010

In light of my comments yesterday on The Complexity of Church-State Relations, perhaps we can now see that the contemporary lack of understanding of what it means to be a Church tends to put the Church between a rock and a hard place. If the Church allows herself to be prosecuted in national...

Would YOU buy an eBook from this man? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 20, 2010

One suggestion we’ve received recently is to publish eBooks containing thematic compilations of our commentaries and news. Today I sent a message to all registered users explaining the idea and asking for feedback. You can also provide feedback through this blog entry. The idea is that this...

of Knights and bishops... and getting rooked by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 20, 2010

When I think of knights, I think of lances and armor, jousting and swordplay. I think of heroic quests, and yes, even of crusades. Or else I think of the Knights of Columbus. That's a different matter altogether, unfortunately.  Knights are--or should be--men oriented toward a mission, and...

the non-story of a non-priest by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 21, 2010

 What's wrong with this story? Janinie [sic] Denomme who was ordained a Catholic priest in April last year has died of cancer. The Archdiocese of Chicago is refusing to allow her to be buried at her Catholic parish. And this one? ...

Vatican II on Religious Life by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 21, 2010

The seventh document issued by the Second Vatican Council, on October 28, 1965, was the Decree on Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life (Perfectae Caritatis). It is one of the shorter documents, chiefly because it deals only with the broadest guidelines. This has led many to consider the...

A 'liturgist' need not be a liberal by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 21, 2010

No doubt you've heard the joke: Q: What's the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist?A: You can negotiate with a terrorist. Mention that a priest is a "liturgist," and a typical conservative Catholic will recoil. Years of liturgical experimentation have left the faithful...

The Knights of Columbus reply by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 22, 2010

 In response to my comments on the presence of abortion supporters within their ranks, the Knights of Columbus have made this statement: Membership in the Knights of Columbus  Patrick S. Korten, Vice President for Communications Knights of Columbus Supreme...

The Knights of Columbus: Forgetting What it Means to be a Man? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - May 24, 2010

Reading the explanation by the Vice President for Communications of the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus tells us nothing we did not already know about the Knights’official refusal to countenance the suspension of members who publicly work against the principles of the Catholic Faith. It...

the story we're not covering today... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 24, 2010

 ... is a story about disruption of Pentecost Sunday Mass at the cathedral in Chicago. Because there wasn't a disruption. Homosexual activists of the Rainbow Sash organization had threatened to confront Cardinal Francis George during the Mass. Instead, they claimed victory after they...

Brother Knight by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 25, 2010

So the Knights of Columbus won't go further than the bishops go. If the bishop hasn't excommunicated Senator Mengele, the Knights won't suspend his membership. If the bishops say it's OK, it's OK with the Knights. So if the K of C had been active in England in the 1530s, following the same...

not standing on ceremony by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 25, 2010

Hats off to Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. The man doesn't take offense lightly. When he arrived in Rome for a state visit, a band was playing at the airport welcoming ceremony, and the Bulgarian flag was flying-- upside down. Then he met with Pope Benedict XVI, and Vatican TV carried a...

Executive Coaching: What It Is, and What It Ain’t by Peter Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 25, 2010

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to directly receive executive coaching. I’ve seen executive coaching and leadership training in action before, but only as an observer—not as a subject. So this has been a good opportunity to deepen my sense of its value. Here’s what...

Attacking Transubstantiation by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 25, 2010

Good Jesuits must be gritting their teeth as a prominent member of their Order does it again. Fr. Michael Kelly, the Jesuit leader of the Asian Catholic news agency, is uncomfortable with the forthcoming liturgical translations, which more closely match the Latin text and strive for a greater...

Knights of Columbus Communications Flawed by Peter Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 25, 2010

CatholicCulture.org’s breaking news piece and following commentary (On the News) regarding the Knights of Columbus’ reluctance to suspend the membership of dissident Knights, has generated its fair share of controversy as well as a formal response from the KofC itself. Both the...

Copernicus re-buried: an interesting but misleading story by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 25, 2010

An interesting AP story is making the rounds this week, reporting that the Catholic Church has finally given due honors to Copernicus. Unfortunately the story is chock-full of statements that are severely misleading if not downright wrong.   Start with the opening sentence: Nicolaus...

Timing is Everything by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 26, 2010

Some say image is everything, but if I have to pick something other than God and grit, I’ll place my bets on timing. There is a significant mystery involved in why some things catch on at one time and not another, and there is a significant talent (or what some would call luck) in discerning...

If only priests could have shotgun weddings! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 27, 2010

They are used to secrecy, to hiding their feelings, to waiting in the shadows for their men. But now a group of women who have had intimate relationships with Catholic priests has decided to speak up against celibacy. Give these women credit for consistency: what they say matches what they...

No sexual abuse? Then it's no story by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 28, 2010

If Italian authorities deported two young Muslims, saying that they were conspiring to kill the Pope, would you consider that a significant news story? So would I. So did CWN. But most American media outlets ignored the story entirely. Writing on the GetReligion blog, journalist Terry Mattingly...

either God's mistake or PC culture's by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 28, 2010

The new Oberammergau Passion Play, with its PC Stamp of Approval, offers what is now a conventional-- indeed predictable-- comment on the Catholic faith: Jesus is OK but the Church is nasty. An actor who plays the lead role gets the picture exactly: You can see from the play that Jesus was...

Religious Relativism at Work by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 28, 2010

I always find it intriguing to monitor the news for indicators of religious relativism. There has been no shortage in the supply over the past few days, affecting Catholicism, Anglicanism and even Islam. Each case is instructive. The uproar in Quebec over Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s recent...

too good to miss by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 28, 2010

In an excellent column explaining how the excesses of ambitious social engineering have contributed to a worldwide economic crisis, Mark Steyn makes an observation that's too good not to pass along: In his book The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism (La tyrannie de la...

a ringing-- well, maybe jingling -- defense of conscience by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 28, 2010

 At an April panel discussion at Boston College on "conscience clause" exemptions for health-care workers, Father J. Bryan Hehir spoke first. The priest who frames public policy for the Boston archdiocese delivered this message, as reported in Boston College Magazine: If we don't...

A noted Catholic journalist extrapolates from current trends to Future Church by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 28, 2010

Predicting the future is a risky and futile enterprise. We don't know what surprises tomorrow will bring, and it's foolish to pretend that we do. However, extrapolating current trends into the future, and trying to recognize their likely implications, is a valuable endeavor. That's how prudent...

none so blind by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 31, 2010

The challenge for American seminary rectors, the New York Times tells us, is "deciding whether gay applicants should be denied admission under complex recent guidelines from the Vatican that do not explicitly bar all gay candidates but would exclude most of them, even some who are...

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