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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from August 2010

Population Consequentialism by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 2, 2010

Consequentialism—or the idea that the morality of an act is determined solely by its consequences—is not a viable moral theory, but sometimes it can come in handy. This is particularly true when one can draw a clear connection between certain practical problems and bad moral...

Population Trends: The Prisoner’s Dilemma by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 2, 2010

The problem with contemporary population trends in the developed world (see Population Consequentialism) is that they present a classic prisoner’s dilemma. Such a dilemma occurs whenever a group of disadvantaged persons (such as prisoners) could benefit if they all acted in a certain way,...

theatre of the absurd by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 2, 2010

 At a secret ceremony held in a “rented church in Serra Mesa” on July 31, a California woman named Nancy Corran claimed to be ordained as a priest. You say that it’s impossible for a bishop to ordain a woman? No matter; there wasn’t a bishop in attendance. Corran was...

Another American prelate goes to Rome by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 2, 2010

Today's news from Rome brings the announcement that Father Joseph William Tobin-- soon to be Archbishop Tobin-- has been named secretary of the Congregation for Religious. The Redemptorist priest  will be joining a large and growing group of Americans holding influential posts in the Roman...

Vatican II on Divine Revelation by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 3, 2010

What is the purpose and nature of Divine Revelation? That is the question which the Second Vatican Council set out to answer in its eleventh document on November 18, 1965, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum). As the Council’s second dogmatic constitution, Dei Verbum...

the pro-life 'crime' caught on videotape by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 3, 2010

The Creative Minority Report offers this video of the incident that resulted in the arrest of a pro-life activist in Chicago. Joseph Holland was charged with disorderly conduct for… Go ahead: watch the video and see if you can find the criminal infraction. The law says that Holland could...

auditions? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 3, 2010

Another month, another birthday. Cardinal Paul Poupard, the former president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, will turn 80 this month (August 30), and become ineligible to participate in a papal conclave. In September, three other cardinals (De Giorgi, Daoud, and Giordano) will pass the...

what might have been by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 3, 2010

For years it’s been a simple decision for Catholic-bashers in the broadcast media. You want someone who will appear on TV wearing a Roman collar and say nasty things about the Pope? Father Richard McBrien is your go-to guy.   But alas the years pass. None of us is getting any younger....

leave your atheism in the cloakroom by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 3, 2010

 Fact: Australia’s new Prime Minister Julia Gillard is an avowed atheist.  Fact: Archbishop Barry Hickey of Perth has observed that Christian voters might be uncomfortable with atheist leadership. Fact: Liberal columnists have charged Archbishop Hickey with...

Pelosi's split personality by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 4, 2010

A pesky young pro-life journalist confronts Nancy Pelosi with a tough question. Jane McGrath of CNSNews.com reminds the Speaker that she had referred to Jesus as the “Word made Flesh.” When did that event occur, McGrath asked? That is, “when did the Word get the right to...

on message by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 4, 2010

Archbishop Donald Wuerl has challenged the Knights of Columbus to be “champions of new evangelization.” It was an excellent, powerful address, echoing one of the key themes of Pope Benedict XVI. Good solid stuff.  Just by the way, Phil made a good point yesterday,...

an injustice averted by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 4, 2010

Thank God for videotape. The Thomas More Society, which had provided legal defense of Joseph Holland after the pro-life activist was arrested on a spurious charge of blocking access to an abortion clinic, has announced that all charges have been dropped. Pressing charges against Holland became...

The Consequences of . . . Consequentialism by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 4, 2010

It's really about whether the end justifies the means. In response to Population Consequentialism, one of our users asked if I could provide a brief outline of what was wrong with consequentialism as a moral theory. He noted that, on the practical level, the notion that “you reap what...

the damage done by one misplaced word by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 5, 2010

 In his otherwise excellent statement responding to the judicial overthrow of California’s Proposition 8, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz includes this questionable sentence: “Marriage is more fundamental and essential to the well being of society than perhaps any other...

unfit to serve? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 5, 2010

 Today the universal Church celebrates the dedication of the Roman basilica of St. Mary Major. And critics of the Vatican celebrate another opportunity to denounce the continued presence of Cardinal Bernard Law as archpriest of that basilica.   It’s an optional memorial on the...

Why we're losing the arguments on same-sex marriage by Phil Lawler in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 5, 2010

The restriction of marriage licenses to male-female couples, Judge Vaughn Walker tells us, reflects “an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation.” The 7 million California citizens who voted for Proposition 8 presumably thought there was a rational reason to define...

some useful perspectives on Judge Walker's decision by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 5, 2010

Plowing through dozens of responses to Judge Walker’s ruling on Proposition 8, I found several perspectives particularly helpful in putting the question in focus. National Review pointed out that Judge Walker’s argument was based primarily on social science rather than legal...

Salvation for Non-Catholics: Not a New Idea by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 5, 2010

The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) cites St. Paul’s letter to the Romans when it asserts the possibility for salvation for non-Catholics and even for non-Christians. The assertion is made in the process of explaining the stages of Revelation. I’ve argued many...

Question for discussion: Should a bishop defend a priest convicted of crime? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 6, 2010

Baltimore’s Archbishop Edwin O’Brien has voiced his objection to a deal that could allow a convicted child-rapist to leave prison, having served a 15-year term. The convict, John Merzbacher—who had been a teacher in a Catholic school—was originally sentenced to four life...

all in the (redefined) family by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 6, 2010

How nice that US Catholic would carry an essay encouraging us to expand our understanding of what constitutes a family. And what a coincidence that the essay would appear on the very day that a judge in California instructed us that there is no rational explanation for defining the family as we...

the fiercely independent Judge Walker by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 6, 2010

By ruling that there is no rational basis for the traditional definition of marriage, Judge Vaugh Walker earned a flattering profile in today's New York Times. The headline of the story-- which drove home the point that he was a Republican (George W) appointee to the federal bench-- described him...

Scalia the prophet by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 6, 2010

Back in 2003, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia saw the handwriting on the wall. In his vigorous dissent from the Court’s majority decision in the Lawrence case—which struck down a Texas law against sodomy-- Justice Scalia wrote If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is...

just don't tell by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 9, 2010

For about a week, America's mainstream media outlets ignored a story that was widely circulated in the British press: that Private Bradley Manning, the suspected source of the damaging Wikileak documents exposing American military policy in Afghanistan, is an "out" homosexual. Now the...

The Christian Science Monitor's flight of fancy by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 9, 2010

The Christian Science Monitor rounds up the usual suspects—liberal Catholic theologians—to testify that Pope Benedict XVI has been working for years on a nefarious project to “reassert conservative Catholicism.” To simplify matters, let’s concede that from the...

the very best way to provide for the elderly: have children by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 9, 2010

Reflecting on the priorities of the US government, as evidenced in the federal budget, columnist Robert Samuelson makes a critically important point that most economists fail to notice: Our society does not -- despite rhetoric to the contrary -- put much value on raising children. Present...

Sound Off! Comments on Salvation for Non-Catholics by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 10, 2010

The Sound Off! comments on Salvation for Non-Catholics: Not a New Idea have been on point and very helpful. I want to call particular attention here to what they add to the discussion. Steve214 and jimgrum697380 both make the point that the real problem concerning the possibility for salvation of...

The 'media bias' argument is bound to lose by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 10, 2010

Writing for London’s Catholic Herald (which he once edited), William Oddie argues that the available evidence makes it abundantly clear that sexual abuse is a problem throughout society—not just in the Catholic Church. As he puts it: This is a problem we share with everyone, though...

the murder of a non-person? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 10, 2010

In Wyoming, a man faces an unusual set of criminal charges: Authorities have charged Gilford with first-degree murder and intentional homicide of an unborn child in the death of Kristine Gilford, 35, who was five months pregnant and had been sharing a Villa Park apartment with her 3-year-old...

when unrestricted abortion isn't enough: the back-up plan by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 10, 2010

 An Australian Olympic athlete, Keli Lane, faces charges that she murdered her own baby. According to prosecutors, Lane was driven by her ambition to play water polo in the 2000 Olympics. So when Ms Lane became pregnant five times between 1992 and 1999, she allegedly resolved to avoid the...

Salvation for Non-Catholics and Limbo by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 11, 2010

Continuing my survey of Sound Off! comments on Salvation for Non-Catholics: Not a New Idea, I see that Laudeturjc1162 notes a similarity in this discussion with the problems surrounding the salvation of unbaptized infants and the theory of limbo. This is worth pursuing. In this context, limbo is...

the trouble with democracy by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 11, 2010

Costa Rica's highest court has ruled against a move to hold a nationwide referendum on recognizing civil unions for homosexual couples.  Should we applaud? Did the court reason that a popular vote cannot re-define the institution of marriage? Nope. The court stopped the referendum because--...

that'll fix 'em by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 11, 2010

 An Irish woman wants to organize a boycott of Sunday Mass by “the faithful women of Ireland.” Her effort, and the front-page treatment accorded by the Irish Times, raise several questions: If these women are “faithful,” why would they voluntarily absent...

The Catholic Side of Salvation by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 12, 2010

If non-Catholics can be saved, why does it matter if we become Catholic or remain Catholic, or try to convert others to Catholicism? After following our discussion here on the possibility of salvation for non-Catholics, one of our readers suggested that it would be very useful to address that...

what if the constitution is unconstitutional? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 12, 2010

Thank goodness Judge Walker has enlightened us. All those years we thought that marriage was a union of a man and a woman, but now we know that was "an irrational classification." Not just irrational but harmful. Not just harmful but unconstitutional. But there's a problem with Judge...

foreign aid as if people matter by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 12, 2010

For years UN officials and Planned Parenthood activists have been promoting contraception and abortion in Third World countries, saying that these steps are necessary in order to cut down the unacceptably high rate of maternal mortality. With that propaganda campaign in mind, take another look at...

The Mind of the Church on the Novus Ordo by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 13, 2010

In recent weeks, several severe critics, opponents and denigrators of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite have claimed that they are simply following the lead of Pope Benedict XVI when he was a cardinal, and they have cited one or more writings of Joseph Ratzinger in which he...

the coming splits among women's-ordination advocates by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 13, 2010

There's no reason to reinvent the wheel. Since Father Zuhlsdorf has already made the argument, I won't attempt to make it myself, but simply direct readers to his excellent analysis.  Here's the story in a nutshell: In a recent column for the National Catholic Reporter, the radical feminist...

by return mail? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 13, 2010

The Vatican thinks in centuries, we're often told. Thus a decision that you and I could make in a nanosecond might take 24 hours in Rome. OK, time's...

another building at Ground Zero by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 16, 2010

All the public attention is directed toward the proposed mosque. Meanwhile the Greek Orthodox parish of St. Nicholas, destroyed by the bombing on 9/11, is still plodding through the process of obtaining legal permission to rebuild the church that was once on the site. Nine years later, the City of...

more arguments for a consistory by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 16, 2010

The indispensable Catholic Hierarchy site has posted a few graphs that help to illustrate why most Vatican-watchers expect Pope Benedict to call a consistory, and name new cardinals, sometime in the very near future. Today the number of cardinal-electors is headed toward the lowest figure it has...

Joy in the Battle for Europe by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 16, 2010

As of July 23rd nineteen countries in the European Council had backed Italy in its desire to keep crucifixes in the nation’s classrooms. In Lautsi v. Italy, commonly known as the Crucifix Case, the European Court of Human Rights had ruled that Italy must remove all crucifixes from...

don't be confused by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 17, 2010

Janice Sevre-Duszynska, who identifies herself as a "Roman Catholic womanpriest," has chastised the Vatican in an op-ed column written for the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader. The title encapsulates her demand: "Don't equate women priests with pedophiles." Actually I agree...

the 'bad guy' wears a white miter by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 17, 2010

The Boston Globe is displeased with Pope Benedict for failing to accept the resignations proffered by two Irish bishops. The Globe, which likes nothing better than a good old-fashioned episcopal resignation—ask Cardinal Law—laments in an editorial that the Pope’s decision as a...

Friends? No Wonder You Have So Few! by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 17, 2010

One is reminded of St. Teresa of Avila. Having moved to new digs and given up my access to a fully-furnished office, I needed a passable all-in-one device for my new home office. You know what I mean: Print, copy, scan, and fax, including support for legal sized paper and duplexing, in both color...

On the Campaign for Islamic Prayer in a Cathedral of Mary by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 18, 2010

The Archbishop of Cordoba has refused permission for Muslims to practice formal Islamic prayer in his cathedral, which is dedicated to Saint Mary of the Assumption. According to Mansur Escudero, who is leading the campaign for Islamic worship in the cathedral, the purpose of the campaign is not to...

America's enduring pro-life majority by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 18, 2010

Does it surprise you that the overwhelming majority of Americans voice moral objections to abortion?  Does it surprise you that women are more likely than men to express pro-life views?   Does it surprise you that the American voters who think abortion is too easy to...

a salesman who doesn't like the product by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 19, 2010

You know the only story about the pastor who explained his relationship to the hierarchy by saying, "I'm not in management, I'm in sales?" That's not a very elevated vision of priestly ministry, but it's not entirely inaccurate, either.  So let's imagine that a man named Larry...

Friday quiz- updated by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 20, 2010

An Episcopalian bishop has been restored to authority in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, despite an earlier suspension for his gross mishandling of sex-abuse complaints. An ecclesiastical tribunal found that the bishop could not be deposed for his misconduct, because it occurred 35 years ago and the...

Providence, Sin and Love, for Jews and Christians by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 20, 2010

In the last issue of First Things, J. H. H. Weiler portrays “The Trial of Jesus” (June/July 2010) not only as the trial of Jesus himself but as a Divine test of Jewish fidelity. Would the Jews remain faithful to the Law even in the face of temptation by a prophet who tried to draw them away from...

the enemy of my enemies by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 20, 2010

To be honest with you, I couldn’t get worked up about Bill Donohue’s campaign to persuade the owners of the Empire State Building to light up the tower on the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s birth.   Yes, it would be nice if the Empire State Building honored Mother...

Apples, meet oranges. Theories, meet cases. by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 20, 2010

In an interesting interview with Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo, Texas, about the US bishops’ response to the sex-abuse scandal, Joan Frawley Desmond of the National Catholic Register asks a very good question and gets a non-responsive answer: Question: Did you address the ongoing...

Massachusetts: the limits of gender equality by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 23, 2010

A Massachusetts man who showed an inordinate interest in a woman’s foot—if you really must know, the story is here—faces charges for “annoying a person of the opposite sex.” Yes, there really is a law in Massachusetts that prohibits annoying a person of the opposite...

more consistory speculation by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 23, 2010

Malta Independent Online has leapt into the speculation game with a prediction that the leading prelate of the little island nation, Archbishop Paul Cremona, will be measured for a red hat by the end of this year. “Although there were no formal announcements, the speculation is...

hangin' in there after 2 strikes by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 23, 2010

Father Joe Pat Breen has apologized for telling the world that the Church “made a mistake on birth control” and arguing that Catholics are not obligated to obey the Pope, the Nashville diocese tells us. In making that announcement, the diocese also lets it slip that Father Breen is a...

The Right to Be Perverse by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 23, 2010

What are we up against in fighting the public facilitation of sexual perversion? We’re up against nothing less than a global culture which regards a person’s desired form of sexual expression as a basic human right. I don’t mean that everyone in every country views things this...

Tweaking a Losing Argument by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 24, 2010

Since we’re losing the arguments on same-sex marriage, perhaps we can at least tweak our strategy as we go along. When The Week summarized representative mainstream commentary on Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling striking down Proposition 8 in California (issue of August 20, 2010, p.6), the...

promise them anything by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 24, 2010

Read all the mainstream-media coverage of Judge Royce Lamberth’s decision to stop federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, and you may notice that two major themes emerge. Neither theme is inaccurate, yet both are misleading. First, the conventional accounts remind readers that...

who wants a 2nd-class priesthood? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 25, 2010

Do you really think it’s likely that Pope Benedict will travel to London, see an advertisement on the side of a bus—“Pope Benedict – Ordain Women Now!” – and suddenly decide to change Catholic doctrine? Never mind the theological issues. Even the strategy for...

whatever you do, don't mention the science by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 25, 2010

Regarding the legal case that prompted Judge Royce Lamberth to block federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, the Los Angeles Times wants readers to know that the two lead plaintiffs have been involved in other controversies. James Sherley was involved in a tenure battle at MIT. Theresa...

The time is now for reform of the CCHD by Phil Lawler in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 26, 2010

For more than 25 years, since the days of the Reagan administration, conservative Catholics have complained that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the official “anti-poverty” effort of the US bishops’ conference, has become too closely allied with leftist political causes—in some...

A man walks into a bar... by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 27, 2010

So this guy walks into a bar. He's inside for a few minutes, and then he sees two bartenders doing a trick involving fire-breathing. The guy’s a fire investigator, so he arrests the two for violating the state’s Fire Code. Under the Code, it is a felony to manufacture an explosive...

artful ambiguity? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 27, 2010

Catholic Charities USA is holding a gala “Centennial Gathering” in September to celebrate its 100th birthday. Among the highlights will be the presentation of the Centennial Medal to honor “valuable contributions of individuals and organizations to the reduction of poverty in the...

a quick read to lift the spirits by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 28, 2010

Want to read a really positive, uplifting piece about a practice that doesn't ordinarily get much attention, but is absolutely crucial to the lives of the people involved?  I'm talking about adoption: in this case, international adoption.  There's a lot to like in this piece. My...

be prepared by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 30, 2010

 Today Cardinal Godfried Danneels is in the headlines, with the revelation that he urged a victim of sexual abuse to keep quiet until his molester, another Belgian bishop, was safely ushered into retirement. Speaking through a spokesman, the retired cardinal allowed: "Looking back I...

a journalist's trip down memory lane by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 30, 2010

 A friend called my attention to this interesting item from the Boston Herald, appearing in the column written by the gossip columnists who are accustomed to dealing with “ordinary” celebrities. When you’re covering the President of the United States—even when...

Vatican II on the Lay Apostolate: Mission by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 30, 2010

What role do the laity play in the Church’s apostolic activity? Are they simply to follow the detailed instructions of those set over them in the Church hierarchy? Do they have an apostolic mission in their own right? These are the questions answered by the Second Vatican Council’s...

no foul no harm by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 30, 2010

 A British gay-rights activist is pushing to lower the age of consent for sexual activity to 14. Peter Tatchell argues that the move would reduce the rate of criminal molestation of children. You understand the reasoning, no doubt. If you raise the speed limit on the local highways to 100...

Vatican II on the Lay Apostolate: Implementation by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 31, 2010

The first part of my summary of the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (Apostolicam Actuositatem) covered the special mission of the laity, as discussed in the document's first three chapters. The document continues in its final chapters to consider the various forms, relations,...

Why do editors tolerate misleading reports? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 31, 2010

Granted, secular newspapers are not in the business of settling theological disputes. But they are—or should be—in the business of providing their readers with accurate information. This headline from the Arizona Republic can only mislead readers: Catholic church ordains woman as...

Back by Peter Mirus in "The City Gates" - Aug 31, 2010

I didn’t write in this blog during my summer hiatus (the last 30 days, or so), which involved an intense period of business development for my company and a trip to Lake Champlain in upstate New York (where God lives). The time away was very beneficial. Intense business development is by...

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