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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from August 2012

The Obama argument: only churches—not individuals—can claim religious freedom by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 1, 2012

Arguing against Hercules Industries—the Colorado firm that won an injunction against the HHS contraceptive mandate--lawyers for the Obama administration made the stunning claim that “for-profit secular employers generally do not engage in any exercise of religion protected by the First...

Obama says: speak out! by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 1, 2012

The State Department’s Religious Freedom Report for 2011 reminds us that as citizens of the world, we all have a duty to condemn injustice. “As President Obama said, they ought to ‘bear witness and speak out’ when violations of religious freedom occur.” So here we stand on August 1: the day...

Correcting History Personally: Stages on the Road by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 1, 2012

How shall I interpret my title? It could be a call to sanctity, certainly. But I have in mind the remarkable work that Sigrid Undset did in Stages on the Road. As you may already know, Undset was a Nobel prize-winning Catholic novelist in the first half of the twentieth century, the author of such...

GOP silence: day 2 by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 2, 2012

As the HHS contraceptive mandate went into effect yesterday, did you hear the stinging denunciations issued by national leaders of the Republican Party, condemning this gross assault on religious liberty by the Obama administration, and signaling that this would be a major issue for Republican...

After Chick-fil-A day, don't be out to lunch by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 2, 2012

August 1 was the first day of implementation of the HHS contraceptive mandate. What did Christian Americans do to protest this grossly unjust policy? Thousands of them… went to lunch. At Chick-fil-A. Don’t get me wrong. I have no complaint with Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day (except...

Chicken Sandwiches and Kindred Spirits by Chris Pelicano in "The City Gates" - Aug 2, 2012

I just came back from a long lunch with friends I didn't know. Yes, I went with my wife and a couple of our kids to Chick-fil-A for lunch. So did a lot of other people—not only in my small town but all across the country. We parked in an overflow parking lot, waited for an hour inside the...

What's in a Name? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Aug 3, 2012

Do you see a resemblance between the line drawing at left and the photograph below? They look pretty much like the same guy to me, though sixty-four years apart. The little guy's initials are JAM; my initials are JAM. The little guy's first name is Jeffrey; my first name is Jeffrey. The little...

Glued to the Games by Chris Pelicano in "The City Gates" - Aug 5, 2012

I have never been accused of being an avid sports fan, but I always enjoy watching the Olympic Games. The breadth of ordinary humanity engaged in such an extraordinarily wide range of athletic endeavors at such high levels of performance is truly amazing. Also amazing, and just as appreciated, is...

What do bishops want? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 7, 2012

One day the US bishops’ conference is urging Congress to take action to undo the contraceptive mandate. The very next day the conference is urging Catholics to lobby their Congressmen for more funding for food stamps. Can anyone fail to notice that the second message dilutes the impact of...

The Al Smith Dinner: Good Humor? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 8, 2012

President Obama’s appearance at the Al Smith Dinner is confirmed. He was invited by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. This annoys (and in many cases alarms) serious Catholics everywhere. What can be said about it? As our news reports emphasize, the invitation is...

Final Liturgical Year eBook Available by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Aug 8, 2012

We’ve just released the sixth and final volume of our eBook series for the 2011-2012 liturgical year, Ordinary Time Completed. The current volume (5) ends on September 1st, and the new volume (6) covers the remainder of the liturgical year, Ordinary Time from September 2nd through December...

Liberal women's religious orders aren't worse off. Or are they? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 8, 2012

Claims that liberal women’s religious orders are dying out “are not based in fact,” according to an analysis by two women religious in America magazine. Yet the article cites statistics that actually buttress the conservative claim. Sisters Mary Johnson and Patricia Wittberg...

The Al Smith dinner: the cardinal and the tax collector by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 9, 2012

Jesus ate with tax collectors. And Cardinal Dolan plans to eat with President Obama—who, Chief Justice Roberts tells us, has imposed a “tax” on employers who refuse to subsidize contraception. But there’s a difference. When Jesus sat with tax collectors, the dinners were...

The Crystal Cathedral: Center of Culture? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Aug 9, 2012

“We can create the most significant Catholic cultural center in the world outside of the Vatican.” Thus did Hank Evers of the Orange Catholic Foundation enthuse when visiting Catholic dignitaries toured the newly-purchased Crystal Cathedral in California. Would that it were so easy!...

After Liberalism, the Deluge? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 9, 2012

With the great social experiment of the Enlightenment crumbling all around us, we may well wonder what guiding principles will inform the culture of the future. In other words, what comes after liberalism? The subject is worth serious thought, and not long ago First Things sponsored a...

Intermediary Institutions Represent, Preserve and Shape a Robust Culture by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 10, 2012

Those who read After Liberalism, the Deluge? will see that once again I call for the formation and strengthening of culture through “intermediary institutions”. Some might say: “This sounds grand and noble, but what does it really mean? What can we concretely do to form and...

The LCWR Needs an Ecclesial Mission by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 13, 2012

Apparently the “good times” are over. The new normal for Catholic priests and religious, and for official Catholic organizations, is that if you don’t take the mission of the Church seriously, you’re going to draw unwanted attention and pressure from Rome. At least...

Slandering Ryan by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 14, 2012

Since charity begins at home, we can count on the bloggers of the Catholic left to treat their fellow Catholic Rep. Paul Ryan with respect, even if they disagree with him. Right? Wrong. A National Catholic Reporter blogger sets the tone, comparing Ryan with Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Suggesting changes...

Have you ever had too much good news? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 14, 2012

How much good news can a family absorb in the space of two weeks? The Lawler family has been testing the limits. I hope you won’t mind if I share the “burden.” It all began at the beginning of August, when our son-in-law returned from Afghanistan. Lt. Philip Turner had finished...

The Assumption, Tradition, and a Pledge for You and Me by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 15, 2012

The Feast of the Assumption calls to mind the importance of Tradition as a source of Revelation, and the importance of the Magisterium as the only authority that can determine what is part of Sacred Tradition, and what is not. There is, of course, a strong argument for the...

The Moral Downside of Climate Change by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 16, 2012

Now that parishes and Catholic schools are being urged to show a documentary on climate change, perhaps it is time to comment on the wisdom of attempting to turn climate change into a moral issue. This is a danger currently being courted by those who portray climate change both as a disaster...

Climate Change and Moral Knowledge by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 17, 2012

Since writing yesterday’s On the Culture entry, The Moral Downside of Climate Change, I’ve received quite a bit of email, including some from Catholic climate scientists, contesting and, in some cases, misunderstanding the point I was trying to make. Let me say at the outset that,...

The Challenge of Getting Things Right by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 21, 2012

Hopefully, when it comes to serious personal decisions—such as claims about God, fundamental moral values, the behavior of our spouses and children, our personal vocations, or the best way to invest our life savings—we actually investigate thoroughly in order to differentiate truth...

Scientific Disagreement about Climate Change by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 22, 2012

In my previous essays on the moral dimensions of climate change (see The Moral Downside of Climate Change and Climate Change and Moral Knowledge) I promised to write something about the actual scientific disagreements concerning climate change, for this is a case where moral...

Topsy-Turvy Morality in Politics by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Aug 22, 2012

I can’t help but reflect that, in the correspondence we receive here, those who criticize liberal political leaders typically say things like, “He is pro-abortion.” And those who criticize conservative political leaders typically say things like, “He doesn’t care...

John F. Kennedy in Retrospect: A Damnable Privatization of Religion by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 22, 2012

When John F. Kennedy was running for President in 1960, he faced considerable opposition from those who believed a Catholic could not be a good national leader, because he would be controlled by his Church (a Church which was regarded by the majority of Americans as not only a foreign but an alien...

The unseemly competition to condemn Rep. Akin by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 22, 2012

Why are so many pro-lifers rushing to condemn the moronic public remarks by Rep. Todd Akin about “legitimate” rape? Pia de Solenni characterizes Akin’s comments as “idiotic” rather than “moronic,” but she asks the same question. Granted, what the Missouri...

Paul Ryan’s Flash Mob by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Aug 23, 2012

In a recent Insights message, I mentioned that two American bishops had spoken out positively about Paul Ryan, the Republican candidate for Vice President. Thanks to notes from both Thomas Vaughan and Br. Timothy Combs, OP, I now know that the day before I wrote, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver...

Musing on the unpredictability of birth and death by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 24, 2012

The birth of a delightful new grandson, and then the death of an esteemed old friend, have prompted me to think about how unpredictable these events usually are. Many of life’s other important moments—Baptisms and First Communions, weddings and ordinations, graduations and retirements, awards...

Because I Love God by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 24, 2012

I found myself thinking about temptation the other night, and I concluded that, among all the motivations in the world, ultimately I would choose not to do certain things simply because I love God. Then it came into my mind how this would sound to someone who does not believe in God, or at least...

No Right to Choose Wrongly by Chris Pelicano in "The City Gates" - Aug 24, 2012

The "freedom to choose" has grown out of all proportion in American culture over the last several decades. "I have a right to choose for myself," seems to have become the definitive (and way-overused) response to any issue at hand. And even though free will is a defining human attribute, it is not...

And Rick Warren won't be hosting the Al Smith dinner, either by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 27, 2012

Do you remember the presidential debate that Rick Warren, the pastor of the Saddleback Church in California, hosted in 2008? The famous Evangelical leader had planned a similar event this year. But now he has withdrawn his invitations to Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Warren explains that “it...

A Warning from Eastern Europe by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Aug 27, 2012

A recent column by Jacek Zakowski in Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza was selected by The Week magazine as one of the best columns in Europe for the issue of August 3rd. Zakowski expressed his displeasure that Poland was gradually giving up the liberties it had fought so hard to gain after the fall...

Public Trust and the Libor Scandal by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Aug 27, 2012

Now that Barclays (the second largest bank in Britain) has admitted that it routinely rigged the London InterBank Offered Rate (Libor), the condemnations are starting to pour in. Libor determines the price of $800 trillion in financial instruments, affecting the prices of such common things...

I hate PowerPoint by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 28, 2012

Do you share my distaste for PowerPoint presentations? Do you share my distaste for PowerPoint presentations? (Do you share my distaste for PowerPoint presentations?) Here’s my complaint. Here’s my complaint. (Here’s my complaint.) The fellow doing the presentation The...

Without the dogma, the values wilt by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Aug 28, 2012

The final section of Sigrid Undset’s Stages on the Road (see my review Correcting History Personally: Stages on the Road) is filled with cultural and religious wisdom about marriage. This section is entitled “Reply to a Parish Priest”, and it deals with the question of why, even...

A Mostly Pro-Life Romney? Pro-lifers Do a Body Count by Peter Mirus in "The City Gates" - Aug 28, 2012

There are several ways in which you might look at Romney’s views on abortion, which allow what I call “the usual three exceptions” (rape, incest, health/life of the mother). The first is that Romney is not “principled pro-life,” meaning that he is really pro-abortion...

Cardinal Dolan and the Problem of Partisanship by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 28, 2012

The news that Cardinal Dolan will offer the closing prayers at the Democratic national convention followed by a few days the announcement that he would lead the closing prayers at the Republican convention. Naturally, some on each side have condemned the Cardinal’s involvement in the other...

Cardinal Dolan in Charlotte: a looming disaster for Democrats by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Aug 29, 2012

Say what you will about the prudence of Cardinal Dolan’s decision to offer a prayer at the Democratic convention. What about the tactical judgment of the Democratic Party leaders who will welcome him? Jeff Mirus has questioned whether Cardinal Dolan should have made the offer to deliver closing...

Romney, abortion, and the 'health of the mother' exception by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 29, 2012

Pro-lifers take note: In a CBS television interview, Mitt Romney went further than any previous Republican presidential nominee has gone toward accepting legal abortion. "My position has been clear throughout this campaign," Romney said. "I'm in favor of abortion being legal in the...

Newman: On Writing Style, and on Original Sin by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Aug 30, 2012

I said elsewhere that I wanted to be John Henry Newman when I grow up (see Newmanesque), although I realized the other night that, as an essayist, I wouldn’t mind also being Sigrid Undset. Anyway, in continuing to read through Fr. Saward’s anthology of The Spiritual Tradition of...

A friendly question for pro-life Romney enthusiasts by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Aug 31, 2012

If you were already so certain that Mitt Romney is a great champion of the pro-life cause, why are you exulting over a single sentence in his speech? “As president, I will protect the sanctity of life.” That was it. One sentence—9 words—in the course of a 38-minute speech. Not a developed...

Practical Economics: How Things Work, Why There is Room for Morality, Where to Go from Here by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 31, 2012

There is a great deal of debate over the economy in the current Presidential election. Indeed, the Republican ticket has focused the election on economic issues, and particularly on government spending, by adding Paul Ryan as its Vice Presidential candidate. This enables the Democratic Party to...

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