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All Catholic commentary from June 2014

Exemptions to the HHS Mandate? Exchanging “beliefs” for reality is too high a price by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 2, 2014

In the current (June/July) issue of First Things, Professor Hadley Arkes points out the absurdity of the effort to create exemptions from civil law based on religious beliefs (see Recasting Religious Freedom). Arkes, who teaches jurisprudence at Amherst College and is a noted pro-life strategist,...

The limits of episcopal expertise by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 3, 2014

It’s official: the bishops of the Philippines are not taking any official position on their country’s new military agreement with the US. Although the statement issued by the bishops’ conference is odd—the bishops are officially taking the position that they will not take a position—there is...

John Allen’s Take on the Catholic Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 3, 2014

Our readers have sometimes wondered why we make occasional references to the reports and insights of veteran Rome correspondent John Allen—considering that he was employed for so many years by that scurrilous rag, the National Catholic Reporter. Our excuse has always been the same: Allen is...

A happy epilogue for the Cold War by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 3, 2014

One of the most enduring visual images of the Cold War—one of the early signs that the Soviet empire was doomed—was the sight of General Wojciech Jaruzelski, the Polish strongman, literally shaking as he addressed the enormous crowd that gathered to greet St. John Paul II on his...

Ukraine: Orthodox Territorialism Skews Spiritual Judgment by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 4, 2014

I see in the news today that the chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department of External Church Relations has complained that the Ukrainian Greek Catholics have been spiritually destructive in their response to the current crisis in Ukraine. In contrast, the Ukrainian Orthodox...

Gregorian Chant Camp for Children by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 4, 2014

A reader, Daniel diSilva, sends us this short video he made about a musical summer camp at St. Anne Catholic Church in San Diego, CA. The camp immerses young people from age seven and up in the Church’s musical heritage of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony. Watching the video, I was...

Needed: speed-bumps on the road to divorce by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 6, 2014

The “empty-nest divorce” threatens to become a familiar rite of passage in American life. During the first few years after graduation from college we are regularly invited to the weddings of our classmates and friends. A few more years pass, and we hear about the birth of their...

The Solemnity of Pentecost: An Element-ary Feast by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jun 6, 2014

Since the feast of the Ascension, the Church has been liturgically preparing for Pentecost. The universal Church is back to her regularly scheduled program, with all the Church celebrating the same liturgy, unlike the Ascension week. The Solemnity of Pentecost is the birthday of the...

Remembering D-Day, with help from Ronald Reagan by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 6, 2014

It’s 70 years since D-Day, and it’s 30 years (believe it or not) since President Ronald Reagan delivered his memorable speech in Normandy about “The Boys of Pointe du Hoc.” If you’ve never seen it—or haven’t seen it recently—it’s well worth a few minutes, as a reminder of what American soldiers...

The Will of the People: Dangerous Political Rhetoric? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 6, 2014

The comments of the bishops of Oregon on the Supreme Court’s refusal to stay same-sex marriage there demonstrate the limits of political rhetoric. Recalling the 2004 referendum in which Oregonians approved an amendment to the State Constitution defining marriage as the union between a man...

Defending the Catechism against the Calendar by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 10, 2014

It is noteworthy that Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller defended the Catechism of the Catholic Church in a recent address at St. Patrick’s College Seminary in Maynooth, Ireland. And it is telling that he spent a significant amount of his speech refuting two false ideas: (1) That the...

Archbishop Carlson, don’t insult our intelligence! by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 10, 2014

Please, Archbishop Carlson, don’t insult our intelligence, and we won’t insult yours. You have testified, under oath, that in the 1980s it was not clear to you that sexual abuse of children was a crime. Do you expect us to believe that? Do you want us to believe it? If you...

Principles of family life: A grandparent speaks by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jun 11, 2014

This past weekend, my oldest son, Christopher, arrived with his wife, Ellen, and their two-year-old son, Jeffrey Mirus, who (as you might wildly guess) is named after yours truly. They also have a new baby on the way. It’s their first visit here since Jeffrey was born, up from Irving, Texas,...

Return to Tempus Per Annum or Ordinary Time by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jun 11, 2014

On Sunday we celebrated the end of the Easter Season with the Solemnity of Pentecost. The reorganization of the Liturgical Calendar in 1969 removed the octave, so the day after Pentecost we entered into Tempus per Annum or Ordinary Time, also known as "Time after Pentecost" in the 1962...

Too many Italian saints? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 12, 2014

One doesn’t like to grumble. But, really, the Italians seem to have it all over everybody else when it comes to canonizations. Now we have another case in point, as Pope Francis will canonize six new saints in November. It should come as no surprise that two-thirds of them are Italian. It...

A nun becomes a star; a star becomes a nun by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 12, 2014

For the past month or so we’ve been hearing a great deal about an Italian nun who made herself a pop star. Here’s an opposite case: a young Spanish woman who is a star, but has decided to become a nun. As I’ve said before, I wish Sister Cristina Scuccia...

Feastday Highlights: St. Anthony of Padua by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jun 12, 2014

June 13th is the memorial of St. Anthony of Padua. Although Portuguese by birth, he is also (unfortunately?) "adopted" by the Italians and a special saint of the Franciscan order. Nicknamed the "Wonder Worker of Padua," St. Anthony is most known for the prayers and miracles...

The mistaken defense of Archbishop Carlson by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 13, 2014

With his customary bravado, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League claims that “Archbishop Carlson Has Been Framed” and says that criticism of the archbishop’s testimony (including mine, presumably) can be attributed to “malice, ignorance and laziness.” Strong words....

St. Augustine on our sins in the enjoyment of the Mass by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 13, 2014

It is hard to read Augustine’s Confessions without understanding human nature better, and particularly our own weaknesses. Writing in the form of a prayerful reflection on his life and a general confession of his faults to God, Augustine carefully describes the course of his life from his...

So now will Nancy Pelosi excommunicate Archbishop Cordileone? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 16, 2014

Nancy Pelosi—who recently accepted an award named after a notorious racist and eugenicist, and bestowed by the America’s largest abortion provider—is now chiding her archbishop for his failure (in her eyes) to show that “every person is a child of God, possessed of the...

Beneath a religion teacher’s dismissal, the madness of the modern world by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 16, 2014

My interest was caught by the recent case in which the European Court of Human Rights upheld a Spanish bishop’s decision to dismiss an ex-priest from his position as a teacher of Catholic religion at a public school. The bishop’s decision was a sound one, so the Court’s decision...

Curmudgeon Alert: Ratzinger Foundation Prizes by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 17, 2014

In response to many requests, Pope Benedict established a Vatican Foundation in 2010, named for Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI, to foster the work of theologians, including the study, development and application of the special contributions to the field which, as a professor, Joseph Ratzinger had...

Catholic and Orthodox in Ukraine: The Rest of the Story by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 17, 2014

You’ll recall (of course you will) that on June 4th, I pointed out the remarkably self-serving statements of the Russian Orthodox Church regarding the situation in the Ukraine. The chairman of that church’s Department of External Church Relations praised the Ukrainian Orthodox Church...

Slow news day? Then worry about the Pope's health by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 18, 2014

Recent days have seen a new flurry of speculation about the health of Pope Francis. Last week he cancelled a few audiences and postponed others as he rested to recover from a "mild indisposition" after a tiring week of public events. Early this week he postponed another audience, later...

Speaking clearly about dangerously imperfect communion with the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jun 18, 2014

Two recent stories involving membership in the Church have been at once consoling and troubling. Their titles appear in the following links: Archbishop Cordileone responds to critics on March for Marriage Following same-sex ceremony, Michigan man barred from parish ministries In the...

A seminar for journalists covering the Church by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 18, 2014

The Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome is offering an intensive one-week English seminar for foreign journalists who write about the Church. The seminar, which goes from Sept. 8-14, is titled The Church Up Close: Covering Catholicism in the Age of Francis. According to the website,...

The Church, climate change, and the shadow of Galileo by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 19, 2014

Do you want to know what I think about climate change? You shouldn’t. My formal training in the sciences ended 45 years ago, with an introductory course on geology. I do not attend scientific conferences; I do not read scientific journals. I do not understand the methodologies of...

Is politics the key to human development? An olfactory question by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 20, 2014

The United States Bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development has announced its 2014 grants. Our news story summarizing the grants suggests that a very large number of them fund political advocacy. It would be very interesting to know what percentage. As compared with what? Well, as...

Feastday Highlights: Solemnity of Corpus Christi by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jun 20, 2014

The Thursday (or Sunday in the United States) following the feast of the Holy Trinity is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Latin title Corporis et Sanguinis Christi). This feast is traditionally referred to as Corpus Christi, as there were originally two separate feast days,...

Exercising human authority in a vacuum: This must stop. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 20, 2014

An Italian court has struck down a ban on the use of donated eggs and sperm in assisted reproduction. According to the court, a couple’s right to reproduce must be preserved even if the couple is infertile. In exactly the same way, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has...

Mid-Summer Feasting: The Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jun 22, 2014

Merry Christmas! I know it’s not December, but June 24, Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, is often referred to as “Summer Christmas” because it is exactly six months from Christmas. The cult of St. John the Baptist, the Precursor of Christ is very ancient, which...

The Tuam orphanage 'scandal' and the AP 'apology' that comes too late by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 23, 2014

The Associated Press has issued a correction for stories that ran earlier this month, reporting that several hundred babies had been buried, unbaptized, in a septic tank near an Irish orphanage. The correction reads in part: The Associated Press incorrectly reported that the children had not...

Pope Francis fails the litmus test of the Left by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 23, 2014

The subhead for wild diatribe against Pope Francis on the Salon site gives you a pretty accurate indication of what to expect: Don't buy his populist rhetoric. The new pope is every bit the sexist homophobe as his predecessors Anna March is an angry, angry woman. She has just discovered...

And this week's Comical Coverage of Catholicism Award goes to... by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 24, 2014

Sometimes the misleading news reports about the Catholic Church are disturbing. Other times, they’re merely comical. Take for example this entry from KTVI, the Fox affiliate in St. Louis: Catholic priests to vote on whether married men can be ordained It turns out that the...

Pope Francis: Some “Catholics” are not really Catholics by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 24, 2014

Considering the subject of my last In Depth Analysis (Speaking clearly about dangerously imperfect communion with the Church), Pope Francis’ statement last Thursday that mobsters are excommunicated calls for additional comment. What did the Pope say, and how is it to be understood? The...

Great news! I've made the major leagues! by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 24, 2014

All my life I have wanted to play shortstop for the Boston Red Sox, and at last my dream will come true! I am in the starting lineup for tonight’s game, which will be played on the field behind the library. We’ll be using a Wiffleball, and playing with 4 men on a side, in accordance with the new...

Two experts' views on the diplomatic approach of Pope Francis by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 26, 2014

Two of Rome’s most influential Vatican-watching journalists have recently offered different perspectives on how Pope Francis has changed Vatican diplomacy. Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa observes that when this Pope has traveled abroad, the destinations that he has chosen indicate his...

More on Communion with the Church from Pope Francis by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 26, 2014

In his second Wednesday catechesis on the Church, Pope Francis continued explaining what we might call the ecclesiality (or churchiness) of the Christian faith. You will recall that in a homily on June 19th, the Pope emphasized that it was possible for people to break their communion with God and...

Feastday Highlights: the Hearts of Jesus and Mary by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jun 27, 2014

The final weeks of June are full of multiple feasts, including several solemnities. If you are one for adding dessert to celebrate special feast days, this time can be hard on the waistline! We end this week with the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus which falls the third Friday after...

What about false prophets? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 27, 2014

A Sound Off! comment raised a good question about my most recent discussion of Pope Francis’ teachings on the Church (More on Communion with the Church from Pope Francis). I had touched briefly on the ways in which non-Catholic Christians and even non-Christians can be joined to the Church....

Augustine’s two rules for reading the Bible by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 30, 2014

St. Augustine, whom most consider the greatest of all the Church Fathers, spends the last three “books” of his Confessions interpreting the spare outline of the Creation recorded in Genesis. The result is a moving tribute to Divine Love, and to the surpassing fulfillment each soul...

The enduring myth of pro-life violence at abortion clinics by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 30, 2014

In a Boston Globe column decrying what she sees as the negative effects of the Supreme Court decision that struck down a Massachusetts law establishing a 35’ “buffer zone” outside abortion clinics, Yvonne Abraham suggests that sidewalk counselors impose terrible burdens on...