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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from August 2009

Another Epic Battle in the American Culture Wars? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 3, 2009

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Princeton's Robert George alerts us to the danger that the US Supreme Court could leap into the political debate on legal recognition of same-sex marriage. There is, unfortunately, a precedent for that sort of judicial activism: the Court's infamous Roe v. Wade...

sophomoric by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 4, 2009

Hurry! It's not too late. If you can rush over to the Jesuit Spiritual Center at Milford, you can still catch at least part of the show by the Wise Fools and Happy Stewards, who will regale you with "spiritual analogies illustrated by juggling, guided imagery prayer, clowning,...

Join the Protest against YouTube Censorship of a Pro-Life Message by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 4, 2009

Live Action, a bold and imaginative pro-life group, has produced several videos that expose the underside of Planned Parenthood. Posing as a teenage girl, a Live Action volunteer tells a Planned Parenthood counselor that she has been impregnated by her adult boyfriend, and doesn't want to get him...

Abortion and the Obama Health-Care Plan: the Essential Facts by Phil Lawler in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 4, 2009

The following information-- which is not my own work, but the work of astute friends in Washington, DC-- provides all you need to know about the Obama White House plans regarding abortion and health-care reform: From the latest polls: 51% of Americans self-identify as pro-life (Gallup Poll,...

Social Prejudices—and Social Work by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 4, 2009

It is a curious problem. Many of those who do not agree with the strongly pro-life political positions taken by CatholicCulture.org accuse us of being intellectual hostages of the right, and of not caring about the poor. No matter how strong the Catholic principle upon which a particular...

The Nature of Marriage by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 5, 2009

Many people can no longer see why marriage should be defined as an exclusive union of a man and a woman. Have you ever wondered why? It’s because in the post-Christian west we don’t take our bodies seriously. Perhaps that sounds a bit odd considering how much we pamper our bodies and...

paranoid or just plain crazy? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 6, 2009

When he sent out the daily CWN headlines last night, our editor felt obliged to debunk a nasty rumor. For the benefit of those who missed it, here's what he said: Yesterday the news media (and the internet) carried quite a bit of analysis and speculation on the coverage of abortion in the Obama...

OK, then pray for clement weather by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 6, 2009

 Once the residents of two little villages in Switzerland prayed that the massive Great Aletsch glacier would not crush their homes. The danger was a steadily advancing glacier, so the villagers prayed that it would not keep growing. Now, 350 years later, the glacier is melting, and the pious...

Tough Questions by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 6, 2009

 The mainstream American media is shocked-- shocked!-- to learn that the Vatican has questions about the doctrinal orthodoxy and religious practice prevalent among some women's religious orders.  Wait a minute. We're reading this story in early August. Didn't we read the same story in...

Without Sacrificing the Production of Economic Value by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 6, 2009

In section 37 of Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict asserts: “Space also needs to be created within the market for economic activity carried out by subjects who freely choose to act according to principles other than those of pure profit, without sacrificing the production of economic value...

The Better Portion in a Confused Life by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 7, 2009

Life is a funny thing, always pitching things at you, and with lots of curves. Few of us get to predict in any detail how our lives will unfold, though anyone reading this has the opportunity to determine what his life’s ultimate end will be. After all, in the final analysis it is our union with...

Sexual Wisdom: The Right Education for Teens by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 10, 2009

Richard Wetzel, MD runs a non-profit corporation called Sex Education for Advanced Beginners, Inc. (SEFAB). Through this corporation, he has published a number of outstanding educational resources which provide a thoroughly Catholic view of human sexuality. He has also filled a much-needed gap by...

Is you is or is you ain't pro-Obamacare? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 10, 2009

In response to inaccurate online media reports, Catholic Charities USA states unequivocally that it does not support any plan to reform health care and/or any proposed legislative provision that allows or promotes the funding of abortions or that compels any health care provider or institution to...

Respecting the Right to Choose Death by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 10, 2009

I’ve heard it twice this week. In a boating magazine, a reader wrote to lament the passing of a noted sailboat designer while “respecting the decision he made to end his life”. And in a reasonably thoughtful essay in Time (as such things go), columnist Nancy Gibbs raised serious...

PR advice by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 11, 2009

 Admit it: If someone came pounding on your door at 1:30 in the morning, you might not be cheery and hospitable, either. But here's a bit of advice: If the person who wants your attention was gravely wronged by someone who was under your supervision, and if you're trying to convince the world...

pot, meet kettle by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 11, 2009

Anthony Stevens-Arroyo-- who for obscure reasons is employed by the Washington Post as a regular Catholic contributor to an "On Faith" blog-- asks the question: Is It a Sin to Listen to Rush? He concludes, generously, that it is not necessarily sinful to listen to Limbaugh; it's only...

Pretenses, False Pretenses and Spiritual Prudence by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 12, 2009

When we review web sites, we rate them for their fidelity, resources, and usability. The fidelity rating, as you can imagine, is the most controversial—and the most important. Let’s consider what constitutes “fidelity” in the CatholicCulture.org rating system before...

Does Curing a Disease Thwart God's Will? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 13, 2009

Peter Ungar from New York got my point about euthanasia (Respecting the Right to Choose Death) even though he hasn’t read The Lord of the Rings and doesn’t care much for Tolkien. But he wondered whether we were thwarting God’s will not only in killing people prematurely but in...

Setting the record straight: Just who ignored the Holocaust? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 14, 2009

 The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, has come in for some richly deserved criticism in recent months, publishing articles that have ranged from the inane (tributes to Michael Jackson and Easy Rider) to the damaging (a claim that Barack Obama is not pro-abortion). Still let's give...

the secret ingredient by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 14, 2009

 John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter makes another interesting observation, this time about the fact that some American religious orders are growing while others are contracting: One sign of which way the winds are blowing: Just one percent of women’s communities belonging to...

Catholic Charities, health-care reform, and the abortion issue by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 14, 2009

Reader Otto S. of Los Altos, California, writes to raise, in succinct form, a question that many readers have asked: The web site of Catholic Charities USA refutes all reports about CCUSA supporting any health care plan which would include abortion, euthanasia, etc…. What's the truth? As...

Abortion and the Isolation of Women by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 14, 2009

It may be that nobody cares enough to change, but writers across the spectrum have pointed out how divorce impoverishes women. More often than not, the woman retains custody of the children. Frequently the woman has devoted significant amounts of time and energy to homemaking while the man has...

what feminists want by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 14, 2009

 A Vermont woman named Patricia Blair has suffered a tragedy: Her unborn twins were killed in an auto accident. Blair-- who survived, obviously-- thinks that the driver who caused the accident should be prosecuted for the death of her children. But you see the problem: If it's a crime to kill...

(holy day of obligation) * -1 by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 14, 2009

 At the parish closest to where I live, this week's bulletin announces that since the American bishops have decided that the feast of the Assumption should not be a holy day of obligation, there won't be a vigil Mass on Friday afternoon, August 14.  Because of the shortage of priests in...

All a matter of perspective by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 17, 2009

 Father Michael Place-- once an adviser to the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, later the head of the Catholic Health Association-- explains his support for health-care reform in an article for America magazine. There are hurdles, he concedes, on the route to reform. For instance: There is a...

Persecution today: not an abstract idea by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 17, 2009

From Mumbai, India, reader Alex Kannattumadom writes: We acknowledge and appreciate the efforts you put up for a good cause. It is high time you look beyond your own territories to see, especially, the Church in India. She is going through a very precarious situation. You see the media headlines:...

the enemy of my enemy is my friend by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 18, 2009

Frances Kissling, doyenne of the virulently anti-Catholic group that is laughingly known as "Catholics" for a Free Choice, hold firmly to the belief that the only good Catholic is a bad Catholic. So it's interesting to note that she shows a great deal of sympathy for the Leadership...

Could Justice take a dive? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 18, 2009

 Let's imagine that you've been charged with a serious crime. You hire a good lawyer and prepare to mount a vigorous defense. You're innocent, naturally, and you plan to prove it. Then, just before the trial begins, you hear that your lawyer has told colleagues that people like you...

knowing when it's time to leave by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 18, 2009

 Change is coming to the archbishop's residence in Baltimore. Archbishop Edwin O'Brien is moving in; Cardinal William Keeler is moving out. But wait, you say. That's very stale old news. Archbishop O'Brien was installed in Baltimore, and Cardinal Keeler resigned, in July 2007. True. But...

The Split between the Gospel and Culture by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 18, 2009

Pope Benedict’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate was written for the fortieth anniversary of Paul VI’s landmark social encyclical, Populorum Progressio. As such, Benedict is at considerable pains to call attention not only to Populorum Progressio but to the other documents issued by Paul...

The Beginning of a Catholic Culture by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 19, 2009

People often wonder where Catholic culture begins. I’ll tell you. In his beautiful chapter on new life in Christ in Ephesians, St. Paul interrupts his commentary on the nature of the Church as the body of Christ to talk about what this means for our lives in general: Now this I affirm and...

Liturgical Recovery: a 14-Step Program by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 20, 2009

Writing for Inside Catholic, Arlene Oost-Zimmer and Jeffrey Tucker offer “Fourteen Easy Ways to Improve the Liturgy.” Their goals are to encourage reverence, avoid distractions, and recover the beauty of the Catholic liturgical tradition. Of their 14 suggestions, I would...

Beauty by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 20, 2009

Now here’s a vast subject. Any point you make about beauty can be probed and discussed endlessly, always with considerable profit. Any point can also be argued endlessly, often with considerably less profit. And there are a great many points to be made. The difficulty with the subject is that...

L'Osservatore Romano: at least we're paying attention by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 21, 2009

Just over 20 years ago, I took over as the editor of an archdiocesan newspaper that had, I'm afraid, acquired a reputation as a sleepy house organ. My short tenure there was very controversial; it's an understatement to say that not everyone liked my approach. But people did pay attention to the...

dueling excommunications? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 24, 2009

 Roy Bourgeois doesn't want to be a member of the Catholic Church-- at least, not the Church as we know it. “I will never be at peace being in any organization that would exclude others," the excommunicated Maryknoll priest told an audience in suburban Boston.  He really...

heresy, 5 centuries later by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 24, 2009

 Is there something about the late-August heat and humidity that makes it difficult to keep denominational lines straight? This weekend, while an excommunicated priest was denouncing the Vatican, an article in the Catholic press discussed "the slide of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in...

Live and Let Live: The Neutrality Myth by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 24, 2009

If we had a better sense of humor, we could laugh at the absurdities uttered by those who, for one reason or another, want the Church to butt out. The Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, has decried high profile evangelization efforts by Christian groups as dangerous to the social...

The Perils of Making a Point by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 25, 2009

Recently we added to our library a fine little article from The Adoremus Bulletin by Matthew Peszek on Sacred Art as a Pedagogical Tool . The author uses Caravaggio’s painting of the call of St. Matthew as his case in point. But when looking at it for the second time, I noticed a problem in...

The Generational Disconnect in Religious Life by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 26, 2009

A new report on recent vocations to religious life in the United States by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate found that the preponderance of new vocations occurred among those who especially value strong community life, common prayer, the sacramental life of the Church and forms of...

A Simple Guide to Faith, Culture and Public Life by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 28, 2009

Recently I’ve taken up the role of religion in the formation of culture, and in particular the ways in which our own personal faith is supposed to shape the larger culture around us (see, for example, two recent blog entries, The Split between the Gospel and Culture and The Beginning of a Catholic...

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