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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from June 2012

The HHS Whitewash and the Obliteration of Moral Distinctions by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 1, 2012

When I criticized Maureen Dowd’s take on the American bishops’ opposition to the HHS Mandate (as did Bishop John Wester a day later), I posed a number of questions. One of them was this: If, as a Gallup Poll cited by Dowd suggests, 82% of Catholics think that birth control is morally...

Payoffs? Bonuses? Nonsense! Milwaukee archdiocese offered severance payments. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 1, 2012

Let’s say you run a business. You discover that several of your employees have engaged in gross misconduct. Naturally you want to fire them. But it’s complicated. You have contractual obligations to these workers. If you stop paying them immediately, they could sue. You’d probably win in court,...

Surviving Hitler: A Memoir of the Austrian Chancellor’s Son by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 4, 2012

Kurt von Schuschnigg was the devoutly Catholic Chancellor of Austria when Hitler invaded and took control of his country. For several years prior to the invasion, von Schuschnigg negotiated desperately both with Hitler and with potential allies in an effort to preserve Austrian independence. He...

Jockeying for position, in Rome and at home by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 4, 2012

The continuing Vatileaks problem should surprise nobody over the age of about thirty-five; in other words, nobody who has significant experience working within groups of highly-committed people. As one of the founders of Christendom College, I was certainly deeply committed to the Faith, and...

Does compassion require truth? Sister Margaret Farley by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 5, 2012

In 2006, Sr. Margaret Farley, now professor emerita at Yale Divinity School, published a book which contradicts, confuses or undermines Catholic teaching on, among other things, “masturbation, homosexual acts, homosexual unions, the indissolubility of marriage and the problem of divorce...

The Logos of Sacred Music by Paul Jernberg in "In Depth Analysis" - Jun 5, 2012

[Editor’s introduction: Composer Paul Jernberg wrote his Mass of St. Philip Neri as a choral setting for the new English translation of the Roman Missal. In the essay that follows, he explains not only his approach to the challenge of composing music for the liturgy, but—more...

New Apologetics Volume by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 5, 2012

The third volume of my collected Essays on Apologetics is now available in our eBook store, in the Kindle store, and in the Nook store. When you purchase from shop.catholicculture.org, of course, we get the full benefit of your expenditure, and you get the book in all three supported formats...

Sacred Music and Religious Music, a Distinction by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 6, 2012

I hope you’ll read Paul Jernberg’s In Depth Analysis on The Logos of Sacred Music. By way of introduction, let me note that Jernberg’s presentation is made all the more relevant by a recent essay by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, Singing the Mass, which has been published in several...

Another Time, Another Place by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 7, 2012

Count on Catholic World News and CatholicCulture.org for some of the greatest journalistic writing on the planet. Consider the close of today’s story, Australian bishop who called for discussion of women’s ordination resigns: In 2010, Bishop Power called for “total systematic...

Disposable babies by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 7, 2012

Doctors may soon be able to screen unborn children for 3,500 different genetic disorders, London’s Daily Telegraph reports. The testing won’t even be invasive: a blood test from the mother, a cheek-swab from the father. If the tests were done for the benefit of the babies—if there were some...

Washington Post columnist critiques Vatican for something it didn't say by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 7, 2012

Washington Post columnist Lisa Miller has produced a hilarious piece. But I’m afraid the humor is unintentional. Miller takes Vatican officials to task for using the term “radical feminist” to describe some American women religious. The title of her column tells the story:...

Emergency contraception, pseudo-science, and media bias by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 7, 2012

Here’s an interesting case study in news coverage of scientific issues: The New York Times has given prominent attention to a report that “emergency contraceptive" pills may not be abortifacient. Setting aside the merits of the argument, the Times story is significant in itself...

Marriage: The Old, the New, and the Normative by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jun 8, 2012

The Week magazine has a standard “briefing” page, which it devotes to providing background on a particular issue each week. On June 1st, the briefing was on How marriage has changed over the centuries. The subtitle aptly expresses the point of the briefing: “Critics of gay...

The SSPX and the 'official' Church by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 8, 2012

How ironic it is that Bishop Bernard Fellay of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) refers to the Vatican as “the official Church.” Did you notice? “So the attitude of the official Church is what changed; we did not.” And again: “The official authorities do not want to acknowledge the errors of...

With this ring I me wed by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 11, 2012

Well, why not? If a woman can marry another woman, why shouldn’t a woman by able to marry herself? Once you start tinkering with the definition of marriage, there’s no clear bright line at which you have to stop. “I feel very empowered,” said Nadien Schweigert after she pledged lifelong...

Bishop Fellay’s Rhetoric by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 11, 2012

Last Friday’s headline, Bishop Fellay: ‘total acceptance of Vatican II’ no longer prerequisite for full communion with Holy See, has provoked a variety of reactions. What the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X has said is undoubtedly face-saving and even to some degree...

Vatileaks: an interesting French perspective by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 12, 2012

If you want an interesting perspective on the current upheaval at the Vatican, and you read French comfortably, I strongly recommend this detailed analysis by my old friend and sometime colleague, Jean-Marie Guénois of Le Figaro. Having spent more than 20 years covering the Vatican, Guénois...

Bishop Blair pounds the facts; LCWR pounds the table by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 12, 2012

You know the old lawyer’s advice to a new practitioner? “If the law is on your side, pound the law. If the facts are on your side, pound the facts. If neither the law nor the facts are on your side, pound the table.” Liberal Catholics have been pounding the table recently in their defense of...

One-Eyed Liberals by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 12, 2012

According to the psychological research of Jonathan Haidt, liberals are capable of seeing only about half of the factors which conservatives appreciate when making moral judgments. Haidt, now a professor of social psychology at the University of Virginia, was quite certain as a graduate student...

Free Society, or Artificial Restriction? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 13, 2012

In a letter in the June/July 2012 issue of First Things, James Stoner argues that “the legal case for the suppression of obscene pornography in a free society cannot rest on spiritual crisis and the need for confraternal prayer, but on the social costs of the use of pornography, its...

Another very predictable 'surprise' by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 14, 2012

From Dublin comes the news that the crowds at the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) are greatly exceeding expectations. For some oversubscribed events, organizer have been forced to put up giant TV screens, to relay the speeches to the people unable to squeeze into the assigned sites. For...

SNAP's anti-Catholicism is showing... by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 14, 2012

Out of compassion for young people who were sexually abused, maybe you were initially sympathetic toward SNAP. As the weeks and months and years wore on, and SNAP continued to churn out denunciations of the Church, maybe your sympathy was tested. Eventually you began to wonder whether SNAP was no...

The second collection: Vatileaks and the arrogance of church bureaucrats by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 14, 2012

How can we explain the disgraceful behavior of the Church officials behind the “Vatileaks” scandal? Ranking prelates, who (you’d like to think) should have a highly developed moral sense, have been doing things that a schoolboy would instantly recognize as unethical: betraying...

Cardinals involved in Vatileaks? Why not? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 15, 2012

Italian news reports have said that two cardinals have been implicated in the Vatileaks scandal. The Vatican press office insists that’s mere speculation. Could it be true? Could princes of the Church be guilty of violating confidences? It sounds shocking. But… When they enter a conclave...

On Saving Everybody by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 15, 2012

It’s summer now, schools are closing for the year, and those with a little free time are beginning to travel. I’m on the road already, having driven my wife’s mother from Manassas, Virginia to Rochester, New York yesterday so that she can attend a wedding of a somewhat distant...

The question stated simply: Has the LCWR gone off the reservation? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 15, 2012

Earlier this week I commented on the refreshing candor and clarity of comments by Bishop Leonard Blair, defending the Vatican’s call for reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). Today there is even more candor and clarity, this time coming in an interview with Cardinal...

Has the CHA switched sides on Obamacare? Or just adopted new tactics? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 18, 2012

The Catholic Health Association (CHA) has finally stopped beating the drums in support of Obamacare . But before you begin celebrating, and welcoming the CHA back into the fold, take a moment to read this sobering analysis from the Cardinal Newman Society. It turns out that the CHA is calling for...

Outed by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 18, 2012

The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) is very unhappy with Cardinal Dolan’s report on the Pontifical Irish College. In a report to the Vatican after his apostolic visitation of the Irish seminaries, Cardinal Dolan reportedly said that some faculty members should be replaced. (The...

New Evidence of the Dark Side: Hubris and the SSPX Rejection of the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jun 19, 2012

I am indebted to one of our readers for pointing me to the homily preached by Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais on the occasion of the ordination of priests and deacons for the Society of St. Pius X. The event took place on June 15th at the SSPX seminary in Winona, Minnesota. Bishop...

Pope Benedict the preacher, at his very best by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 19, 2012

Sandro Magister of L’Espresso calls attention to a homily on Baptism delivered by Pope Benedict XVI on June 11, describing it as “one of the highest moments of that masterpiece which his homilies on Baptism are.” A friend had sent me a copy of the same homily, with a one-word commentary:...

An editorial for the (comic) archives by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 20, 2012

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has a short editorial about what it sees as a “larger, overarching crisis” in the Catholic Church. There’s the Vatileaks mess, and some people think that’s a major scandal. Then the president of the Vatican bank was ousted. That’s it?...

Cardinal Dolan's useful new book by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 21, 2012

For those who want to participate in the “Fortnight of Freedom” but aren’t sure how to begin, here’s a suggestion: Download a copy of Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s new eBook, True Freedom: On Protecting Human Dignity and Religious Liberty. Written in an uncomplicated,...

The Fortnight for Freedom Prayers by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 22, 2012

This morning I had my first taste of the devotions published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop for its Fortnight for Freedom. The Fortnight is an effort to raise awareness and seek Divine assistance for the cause of religious liberty in the United States, particularly with...

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, for Freedom by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 22, 2012

The day before yesterday I spent several hours reprogramming our main Catholic World News page, which is the section page you should bookmark if you visit CatholicCulture.org primarily to catch up on Catholic news. We had some new ideas about how to display information on that page, and...

...and on a personal note... by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 22, 2012

Twice in the past month, I’ve escorted a daughter into church to meet her waiting bridegroom—in both cases, thank God, a young man I not only like but admire. Yes, it’s been a busy month. (And I trust you’ll understand if I haven’t been writing as much commentary as usual.) It’s difficult to...

Even if Obamacare is overturned, the Fortnight for Freedom must continue by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 22, 2012

Sometime next week, roughly halfway through the “Fortnight for Freedom,” the US Supreme Court will deliver its ruling on the Obama health-care reform. If the Court rules—as it should—that the legislation is unconstitutional, the threat of the contraceptive mandate will be...

Fortnight? What fortnight? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 25, 2012

A friend just contacted me: a reporter for a secular media outlet. At an editorial conference, he had suggested some coverage of the Fortnight for Freedom, and drawn blank stares from his colleagues. Fortnight for what? None of the other reporters or news editors had heard anything about the...

Fortnight for Freedom Variations by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 26, 2012

It is interesting and encouraging that so many different groups are running their own Fortnight for Freedom programs around the country, some of them going beyond the USCCB materials, but often in the same spirit. I’ll single out just three examples that we’ve been alerted to here...

Two Americans will play key roles at Vatican by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 26, 2012

The early days of summer are always a season for speculation around Rome, and this year especially so. With a flurry of appointments, is Pope Benedict XVI sending important signals about his policies and priorities? Yes, he is. Ordinarily I avoid predictions about Vatican affairs. As the old...

A priest answers protesters by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 26, 2012

Here's an excellent example of a pastor responding skillfully to a difficult situation.  Confronted by a group of angry protesters at the cathedral in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Father Ted Martin shows intelligence, pastoral sensitivity, wit, and an extraordinary amount of patience as he answers...

What did the Vatican really decide in Father Pavone's case? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 28, 2012

The “victory” of Father Frank Pavone in his appeal to Rome illustrates something seriously wrong with the ordinary application of canon law. The word “victory” belongs in quotation marks above because we don’t know whether the Congregation for Clergy accepted all, or...

After the Supreme Court defeat... by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 28, 2012

Two quick thoughts on today’s astonishing, disastrous, incomprehensible Supreme Court ruling: Now it’s up to us. It would have been nice if the Supreme Court had eliminated the latest and greatest threat to religious freedom in America. But it didn’t happen. Now either we Catholics Americans...

More Religious Liberty Initiatives by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 28, 2012

Today’s Supreme Court ruling suggests we have a long fight ahead of us on not only religious liberty but on liberty in general. The Court upheld the health insurance mandate which lies at the core of Obamacare, justifying it under the power of the Congress to levy taxes. So it is just as...

Is Christopher (the novel) a myth? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 28, 2012

The number of Catholic writers attempting fiction appears to be growing by leaps and bounds. Among a handful of novels which have come across my desk over the past six months—which I am admittedly very slow to get to—is one that I managed to finish a couple of weeks ago. Then I let it...

Governing Politics by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jun 29, 2012

How are we to keep politics under any kind of legitimate control? The question is not simply a matter of political legitimacy, for the legitimacy of any specific political authority is fairly murky. It is easy enough to see why political authority in general is always part of the human experience....

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