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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from May 2013

Hoist on their own petards by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 1, 2013

In two different stories covered by today’s CWNews headlines, a rebuke from a Catholic bishop prompts a truly absurd defense. Consider first the case of Carnegie-Mellon University, whose administrators are not yet ready to concede that an undergraduate should be disciplined for parading on...

Carnegie-Mellon: Community Bankruptcy? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 2, 2013

Then there’s this from our Catholic World News service yesterday: “At a campus parade sponsored by the Carnegie-Mellon art department, a female undergraduate marched wearing a costume meant to resemble that of the Pope, while naked from the waist down. She distributed condoms along the parade...

Sin, the Devil, and Pope Francis by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 2, 2013

Veteran reporters (myself included) are wrestling with the question of how to cover the homilies delivered by Pope Francis at Mass each day in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. We’re all accustomed to seeing formal statements from the Pontiff, but these daily meditations, delivered...

Pope Benedict, cats, and red shoes by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 2, 2013

The next time someone tells you that Benedict XVI was an authoritarian Pontiff, or that he lived in luxury in the papal apartments, remind him that the former Pope, a renowned cat-lover, didn’t keep a cat during his pontificate. Why not? Because he was told cats weren’t allowed in the...

Released: Ordinary Time After Easter by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 2, 2013

Volume 5 of the current 2012-2013 liturgical year series has just been released. It covers the first half of the long stretch of Ordinary Time between Easter and Advent, namely May 20 through August 24th. The final volume 6 will be released in early August. You can purchase and download any...

Proper Theological Method Prevents Enormous Problems by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - May 3, 2013

The late Fr. William Most—the theologian and Scripture scholar represented in our special Most Collection—influenced me in many ways. One of the most valuable lessons he taught me was a fundamental principle of theological method in resolving apparent differences in Magisterial...

Criticizing cardinals for things they never said by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 6, 2013

For reasons I don’t fully understand, weekends always seem to bring out the most egregious distortions in media coverage of the Catholic Church. Consequently, on Mondays I often feel obliged to warn readers about stories that are misleading, or just plain false. Today I’ll highlight...

In a preposterous Vatican statement, one important revelation by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 7, 2013

Today’s bizarre public statement from the Vatican press office, denying what any intelligent observer recognizes as the truth, does contain one nugget of reality. The statement denies that there has been any difference of opinion between Cardinal Braz de Aviz and Archbishop Müller,...

The One Very Substantial Key to the New Evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 7, 2013

If you treasure your Faith, you never want to lose it. Your Faith is the pearl of great price, the guide and goal of your very existence, the one thing you simply cannot do without. And this means you find it difficult to understand the immense indifference toward the Christian Faith on the part...

If only the Vatican were open to the Gospel… by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 7, 2013

The defense of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious by the president of the International Union of Superiors General would be funny if it were intended as a parody. Read the story and you’ll see what I mean. According to Sister Mary Lou Wirtz, the problem is simple: Since Vatican...

If the pastor is asked to resign, what about the archbishop? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 8, 2013

A pastor in the Trenton diocese has resigned--apparently at his bishop’s request—because he allowed Father Michael Fugee to join in youth-ministry activities, despite an agreement with prosecutors that barred Fugee from unsupervised contact with children. There might be a message...

Phil Lawler's new book at steep discounts! by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 9, 2013

Would people in your parish/school/organization enjoy a beautifully illustrated book about Pope Francis and the conclave that chose him? Are you looking for appropriate gifts for graduates? For a Confirmation class? Do you want to stock up early on Christmas and/or birthday presents? A Call to...

Christ Loved the Church: Francis Throws Down the Gauntlet to Religious by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - May 9, 2013

Pope Francis has begun his assault against the secularization of religious life, attacking the late-20th century tendency to separate religious commitment from the Church in order to serve the spirit of the world. We have seen this tendency in the shift to purely secular service among women...

$3 billion and counting: the sex-abuse scandal continues by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 10, 2013

If you read today’s top CWN headline quickly, you might have come away with the impression that the total costs of the sex-abuse scandal to American dioceses has been $2.62 billion. That’s not quite right. If you read the headline carefully, you’d notice that the $2.62 billion...

What It Means to Center Evangelization on Christ by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 10, 2013

My effort to pinpoint The One Very Substantial Key to the New Evangelization elicited some very interesting comments. In several cases, the comments were at the same time critical and not critical, or perhaps I was simply not sure of the point. (When I’m unsure of the point for a Sound Off!...

Pope Francis: Counter-Cultural? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 13, 2013

Please read and reflect on our little story about Pope Francis refusing to allow photo-ops to communicants guilty of public scandal. You may recall that, under different circumstances, this is exactly the issue which both Phil Lawler and I raised when USCCB President...

Is Invoking the Saints Dangerous? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 14, 2013

While still an Anglican, Blessed John Henry Newman had some trouble coming to a Catholic appreciation of the role of the saints in Christian life. He seems to have understood from the first that the saints were wonderful witnesses to Divine realities and a superb inspiration to us all, but he...

The 'smell of his sheep'-- the earthy language and practical wisdom of Pope Francis by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 15, 2013

Today Pope Francis acted like a cheerleader. At his regular weekly audience he asked the 80,000 people in St. Peter’s Square if they would pray daily to the Holy Spirit, and when they answered, he tried the old crowd-rallying technique. “I can’t hear you!” he said, and...

Abstinence-Only Sex Education: A Caution by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - May 16, 2013

Being a 65-year-old curmudgeon, I sometimes have to be reminded that social media has its uses, despite the fact that CatholicCulture.org maintains two different Facebook pages (see www.facebook.com/catholicculture and www.facebook.com/liturgicalyear). Heck, I even tweet the appearance of most of...

What capitalists should learn from the Pope's critique by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 16, 2013

By the end of the day I expect to hear at least a half-dozen complaints that Pope Francis has sided with socialists, because of his Thursday address denouncing the “cult of money.” The same problem arises whenever a Pope—or any other Christian leader—denounces selfishness...

Too many missing funds: Catholic institutions need tighter financial controls by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 16, 2013

Frankly I’m tired of reading stories like this one, about people who have stolen money from Catholic dioceses, parishes, and schools. It’s time—it’s long past time, actually—for some tighter financial controls. For years I served on the board of an ecumenical initiative: a pregnancy-help...

The case for change in Irish abortion law: based on a framework of falsehood by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 17, 2013

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has outdone himself with the claim that the legislation advanced by his government, which would allow for legal abortion in some circumstances, “obviously doesn’t change the legislation on abortion.” The proposal advanced by Kenny obviously does...

Learning from the sick, and from the death of a child by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 17, 2013

This past Tuesday we buried Sheila Catherine Beirne, a sweet 6-year-old girl who succumbed to Leigh’s Disease. The Beirnes are a big happy Catholic family, with a deep faith and a wide circle of friends. The church was packed for the funeral, with brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and...

An exorcism? No, a blessing. You'd think reporters would know the difference. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 21, 2013

As you watch, a priest places his hands on a man’s head and prays silently for a few seconds. What did you just witness? A blessing, right? That wasn’t a tough question. Pretty basic, for anyone with even a passing knowledge of Catholic practices. But that’s not how reporters...

Making Sense of Society: The Ebook by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 21, 2013

We've released a new ebook at shop.catholicculture.org. It is a collection of my essays over the past six years on Catholic social teaching and the problems we face in orchestrating the social order. See Making Sense of Society. Downloaded from our ebook sales site, the ZIP file contains all...

Against a Facile Assurance of Salvation, the Need for Mystery by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 21, 2013

It is likely that too many Catholics think too little about their own salvation, but perhaps not only for the most obvious reason. My own first thought is that such a dearth of due diligence concerning salvation is a result of secularization. We are part of a culture which more or less...

That impromptu exorcism again by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 22, 2013

Yesterday I remarked on the apparent inability of some Vatican reporters to distinguish between an exorcism and a blessing. Only later did I come across this priceless headline in the English tabloid, The Sun: Exorcism? Pope Francis caught on video performing strange ritual on fan Exorcism...

The sad decline of self-government by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 22, 2013

When I was very young, sometime in my grammar-school years, I had the habit of going with my father to the annual Town Meeting. I found it fascinating to watch as the people settled the business of our town. I believed then, and still believe today, that a New England town meeting is one of the...

The Ideal of Pope Francis: the Servant Church by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 23, 2013

“When the Church becomes closed up on itself it gets sick.” With that single sentence, uttered during a prayer vigil before Pentecost, Pope Francis summed up the most important theme of his pontificate. Before the conclave that elected him, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio reportedly...

The Rise and Fall of the (American?) Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - May 23, 2013

Writing about the rise and fall of the Catholic Church in the United States is a very tricky thing, and Russell Shaw has done a fine job of it in his new book from Ignatius Press, American Church: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America. The task is...

Fr. Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly: Your Letter May Help by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 24, 2013

Fr. Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly needs your support. At age 67, having suffered two strokes and now with a brain tumor, this courageous Catholic priest languishes in a Vietnamese prison for his advocacy of a peaceful transition to democratic rule for his country. An organization called Freedom Now,...

The Russell Ford problem by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 24, 2013

Russell Ford produced some outstanding work—fine essays on apologetics and evangelization—while he was a long-term prisoner in an Alabama jail. Now finally released after 25 years behind bars, he has redoubled his efforts to promote evangelization. For all this we should be...

The buck stops... over there! by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 27, 2013

Today’s news headlines prompt a couple of quick thoughts: When a priest was found ministering to young people, in apparent violation of a court order, there were howls in Newark for the resignation of Archbishop John Myers. Now the vicar general of the archdiocese has stepped down. Do you...

Warning: An SSPX Priest Is Incapable of Absolving You from Sin by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 27, 2013

In certain sources which I refuse to publicize, it is being strenuously argued that sacramental absolution given by the priests of the Society of St. Pius X is perfectly valid. On this basis, one might suppose that the faithful may confess their sins to an SSPX priest and be assured of God’s...

On marriage, the French take the lead by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 28, 2013

Years ago, a French friend visiting the US remarked that he was struck by the energy and persistence of the American pro-life movement. There was nothing like it in France, he said. There were French pro-lifers, of course, but they didn't have the strength in numbers and the organizations needed...

Pope Francis a liberation-theology buff? That's a misconception by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 28, 2013

By now it should be clear that every time Pope Francis speaks about the needs of the poor—and he speaks on that topic frequently—secular commentators will rush to announce that the Pope has embraced leftist political principles. If you often find yourself in conversations with people...

Why did a Jesuit priest have $1,600 available for porn? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 29, 2013

What’s wrong with this picture? Federal agents raid a Catholic university in the state of Washington, and find a trove of child pornography, purchased with the credit card of a professor—who happens to be a Jesuit priest. Father Gary Uhlenkott is now on leave, as the federal...

The Spiritual Peril of Our Own Sensibilities by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - May 30, 2013

Our “sensibilities” are our receptiveness to the impressions made on us by our environment. They manifest themselves as feelings based on these impressions, making us emotionally responsive either for or against the source of the impressions. When our...

The Catholic Guide to Depression: Start Here by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 31, 2013

If you’ve ever experienced even a little bit of prolonged depression, or you have a close friend or family member who has, you know how devastating depression can be. It is a growing problem in the modern world but, thankfully, there is enough understanding of it in our culture to avoid...

Father Greeley's secret by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 31, 2013

Matt Abbott reminds readers on the Renew America site that in his book Furthermore! Memories of a Parish Priest--published in 1999, well before the sex-abuse scandal reached its peak—the late Father Andrew Greeley made a sensational charge. Some priests in the Chicago area were involved in a...

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