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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from May 2014

What? A papal tweet without a furor?! by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 1, 2014

The Pope’s Twitter message for today is: I ask everyone with political responsibility to remember two things: human dignity and the common good. Thus far I haven’t seen anyone, on the Catholic right or left, claiming that this is a radical departure from traditional Church teaching. But...

The Pope as loose cannon: a balanced view by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 2, 2014

For several months now, on my daily tours through the Catholic blogosphere, I’ve read posts by the persistent critics of Pope Francis: the people who are appalled, outraged, and insulted by nearly every statement the Holy Father makes. It’s disheartening to see so many Catholics who jump at each...

Smaller Church, Bigger Faith 6: Our Responsibility by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 2, 2014

I intend here to complete my series on improving the Church’s membership. The improvement is to be desired both for the sake of the members and—in the particular context of this series—so that the Church is not so often her own worst enemy for the New Evangelization. In the...

Mexican evangelists making gains in Ohio by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 2, 2014

In Columbus, Ohio, a campaign of door-to-door evangelization, conducted by a small group of religious sisters from Mexico, has produced remarkable results in bringing lapsed Catholics back to church. Working in Hispanic neighborhoods, the sisters bring a contagious enthusiasm for the faith, Father...

Another first for Episcopalians by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 5, 2014

Gene Robinson is now the first member of the Episcopalian hierarchy who has divorced one partner of each sex. So he speaks from experience, if not from authority, when he offers this curious testimony to the revised understanding of marriage: Love can endure, even if a marriage...

The Church’s Jurisdiction Today: Action Trumps Inaction by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 5, 2014

Two stories in the news today demonstrate problems with the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church as it is currently understood and implemented. The first concerns attacks on the Vatican by a UN Panel charged with implementing the UN Convention against Torture. The second concerns the rebellion...

Divorce, remarriage, Communion, and the sense of the faithful by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 6, 2014

Some critics of Pope Francis (and some critics of yours truly) seem to think that it’s only a matter of time before Pope Francis endorses the the Kasper proposal, and gives the green light for Catholics who are divorced and remarried to receive Communion. Some traditionalists are already...

Should the Church refuse court-mandated abuse settlements? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 6, 2014

From time to time I’ve emphasized that the Church is a public institution in her own right, with a legitimate spiritual and moral jurisdiction not only over her own members but over every single human person. She is, after all, the continuation of Christ’s mission on earth, His ongoing...

Tortured reasoning: the UN case against the Vatican by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 6, 2014

In the Wall Street Journal, two former officials of the US Justice department make a powerful argument against the claim that the Vatican should be held responsible, under the UN Convention against Torture, for sexual abuse by Catholic priests. David Rivken and Lee Casey see the obvious wisdom in...

Bishops can't always be blamed for abusive priests [updated] by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 7, 2014

From Seattle comes this unusual story about a priest who, when removed from public ministry because of sexual abuse, ignored the order from his archbishop and continued functioning as a priest. Apparently the Seattle archdiocese only recently learned about his disobedience. But even if the...

Cardinal Kasper's public support for dissent undermines his own proposal by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 7, 2014

In a May 5 interview broadcast by WYNC radio in New York—in which he was repeatedly identified by host Brian Lehrer as “the Pope’s theologian”—Cardinal Walter Kasper made the striking statement: “The Church is not against birth control at all.” As...

I can see clearly now: The gifts of the Holy Spirit by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 7, 2014

Have you ever wondered why whole systems of thought can seem to be internally consistent but lead to exactly the wrong conclusions? The current justification of gay marriage, based on a theory of rights, is a good example. Or have you noticed how whole cultures can be blind to fundamental human...

Are 50% of Marriages Invalid? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - May 8, 2014

In his updated essay on Cardinal Kasper’s public support for dissent, Phil Lawler reports Kasper’s claim that Pope Francis thinks 50% of today’s marriages are invalid. Along with Phil and Edward Peters, “I am stunned by the pastoral recklessness of such an assertion”...

Misunderstanding? No, Vatican understands the LCWR all too well by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 9, 2014

Commenting on the blunt scolding they recently received from the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, representatives of the Leadership Conference of Women religious have acknowledged that “mistrust has developed” in their dealings with the Vatican. And how could that...

The difference between divorce and annulment by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 9, 2014

A great many people have trouble understanding the difference between divorce and annulment. Some even refer to annulments as “Catholic divorce”. The confusion has been exacerbated by abuses in the annulment process. Whenever the discontents of the couple after marrying lead a...

Douthat, Kasper, and Communion—continuing a conversation by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 10, 2014

Ross Douthat, whose thoughts prompted one of my several recent reflections on the Kasper proposal, has continued the discussion with another good post, in which he asks and tentatively answers this important question: When it seems that the pope is considering what seems like a doctrinal...

Tonight at Harvard: the answer to Satanism by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 12, 2014

Paul Dudley may be spinning in his grave this evening. An astonishing event will be happening at Harvard. No, make that two astonishing events. Dudley, who was attorney general of Massachusetts some 300 years ago, endowed a series of annual lectures at which a leading religious scholar was to...

Have the Popes Written Enough? A Sharp Turn in Renewal by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 12, 2014

In a discussion with family members gathered for Mother’s Day yesterday, the question arose as to why modern popes have tended to write so much. One of our number suggested that perhaps enough had been written, and it was time for something else. The discussion then turned to whether Pope...

Victory at Harvard: Satan defeated, the Eucharist enthroned by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 13, 2014

Against all odds, last night became a great victory for the Catholic faith in the Archdiocese of Boston. Rather than a desecration of the Eucharist, the most noteworthy public event in Cambridge was a Eucharistic procession that stretched for several blocks. At Harvard, St. Paul’s church was...

The ongoing absurdity of WomanPriests by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 14, 2014

A CBS report on Roman Catholic Womanpriests in Los Angeles avoids some of the usual pitfalls, acknowledging at the outset that the Catholic Church does not recognize the women as priests. Still the report only runs a few paragraphs before tumbling into absurdity: These devout Catholics, who...

The practical dangers of the Kasper proposal by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 14, 2014

Last week when I insisted (not for the first time) that Pope Francis is not going to change Church teaching on remarriage and Communion, one reader gently suggested that I might be answering the wrong question. “I believe,” he tweeted, “the main concern is not that Francis will...

Making Gay Okay: Robert Reilly Explains How and Why by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 14, 2014

Ignatius Press has recently published an excellent book by Robert R. Reilly, entitled Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything. The focus is on the extraordinary rapidity of the change from social rejection to social affirmation of homosexuality. The author...

Young Catholics were the driving force for Eucharistic adoration at Harvard by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 15, 2014

A young priest who participated in the Eucharistic procession across Cambridge on Monday night has an interesting perspective on the event. As excited as he was about the “big event,” Father David Barnes suggests that it should remind us all to be more careful about the “little” events that...

The Myth of the Consent of the Governed by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 15, 2014

Recently I came across an effort to demonstrate the immorality of slavery based on natural rights. The text read as follows: “No feeling can justify the enslavement of another human being, because a human being has the inalienable right to consent in his rule. This, of course, is the problem...

Surprise: The Kasper book doesn't really argue for the Kasper proposal! by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 15, 2014

You know that Cardinal Kasper has advanced a proposal that seems to call for a radical change in Church teaching on marriage. You’ve heard that Pope Francis has praised Cardinal Kasper’s new book. So you conclude, not illogically, that Pope Francis agrees with the German cardinal’s proposal. I’m...

Why I can't identify with Bishop Galantino by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 19, 2014

So Bishop Nunzio Galantino can’t “identify with the expressionless person who stands outside the abortion clinic reciting their rosary”? Well, I can’t identify with Bishop Galantino. If the people praying on the sidewalks don’t look jolly, maybe it’s because...

What’s Wrong with Historical Criticism of the Bible? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - May 19, 2014

When Pope Benedict XVI wrote his trilogy of works on Jesus of Nazareth, one of his purposes was to blend the useful aspects of historical criticism with a neglected tradition of Patristic exegesis. He wanted to suggest the limits of modern historical criticism and call new attention to the...

Cardinal Bertone under investigation? The Vatican's not-so-complete denial by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 20, 2014

I have no information about the report that Cardinal Bertone is being investigated for possible embezzlement. My hunch is that the report, aired by Bild, is vastly overblown. Still I can’t help noticing that the Vatican’s response is not a clear blanket denial. “There is currently no...

The Church on Marriage and Family: Joining Battle by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 20, 2014

I confess that I was surprised by the response of Manila’s Cardinal Tagle to the preparatory work for the Synod on the Family. For Cardinal Tagle said he was “shocked” by the results of the worldwide pre-Synodal questionnaire, which revealed that in most places Catholics do not...

Is a call to 'update' Church teaching a call for doctrinal change? Nope. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - May 21, 2014

From time to time you’ve probably noticed a news story on this site with the parenthetical note that the story has been “updated.” Did you think, when you saw that note, that we were repudiating our earlier version of the story? I hope not. When we say that we’re “updating” a story, that note...

The limits of academic freedom: final thoughts on the 'black mass' episode at Harvard by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - May 22, 2014

“The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason.” —T.S. Eliot.  Harvard University President Drew Faust did the right thing when she announced that she would attend a Eucharistic holy hour on the evening when a black mass was...

“You can always try to shoot a famous person”: Collin Raye on country music and the folly of seeking stardom by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - May 22, 2014

Anyone who listened to country music radio in the 90s has probably heard a song or three by Collin Raye, who had a string of chart-topping hits as well as a number of platinum-selling albums. Raye’s rich voice is best-known from ballads like “Little Rock” and “Love,...

Entering the Kingdom of God: What Does This Mean? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 22, 2014

The Kingdom of God is a fairly difficult concept to pin down. The phrase does not occur in the Old Testament, but we find it directly referenced some sixty times in the books of the New Testament, with even more references in slightly different terms. Five of the NT writers—Matthew, Mark,...

Sin vs. Attachment to Sin: A Critical Distinction by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 23, 2014

In yesterday’s On the Culture essay (Entering the Kingdom of God: What Does This Mean?), I cite several passages in St. Paul’s letters which indicate that certain classes of sinners cannot enter the Kingdom of God. But we are all guilty of at least some of the sins Paul identifies, and...

Ebook for Ordinary Time after Easter Released by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 26, 2014

We have just released the fifth volume in the 2013-2014 Liturgical Year series of ebooks. Volume five covers the first half of the long stretch of Ordinary Time between the close of the Easter Season on Pentecost and the beginning of Advent. Like all CatholicCulture.org ebooks, this volume is...

Patriotic Holidays: Catholic Misgivings by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 26, 2014

Each year in the United States, on both Independence Day and Memorial Day, I have decidedly mixed feelings. This is especially true at Masses which emphasize American “freedom” and honor all those in the armed forces who have “died for our freedom”. There is a certain...

The Same Government Makes Domestic and Foreign Policy by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - May 27, 2014

It’s an odd thing. In the United States, as a broad rule, liberals are certain that US social programs are good and that US military actions are evil. By the same broad rule, conservatives are typically certain that US social programs are evil and US military actions are good. These...

Sensitive Topics, Myself, Bishops, and Removing All Doubt by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 28, 2014

After several years of self-restraint, I finally gave voice to misgivings about what I regard as abuses in the otherwise legitimate celebration of patriotic holidays. In each previous year, I had decided not to borrow trouble. This year, on the US holiday of Memorial Day, I thought I could avoid...

Ideology vs. individual: a novel of ideas by Thomas Van in "On the Culture" - May 29, 2014

One of the tragedies of World War II is that, as much as it was “the good war,” many of its winners never completely understood what they were fighting for. This is true even in an external sense – the British and Americans were simply unaware of much of what was going on in...

The Discernible Features of the Kingdom of God...in Us by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - May 29, 2014

Last week in Entering the Kingdom of God: What Does this Mean?, I reviewed the relevant New Testament texts to suggest an answer to my title question. “Put simply,” I concluded, “entering the Kingdom of God means receiving the Holy Spirit.” And then I asked: What...

A serious take on popular music by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - May 29, 2014

Musically inclined readers may be interested in a new blog, Critic's Corner, by Dr. Kurt Poterack, a composer who directs the choirs and the Minor in Sacred Music at Christendom College. Poterack worked as an editor on The Adoremus Hymnal and edited the journal Sacred Music for several years,...

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