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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from September 2009

de mortuis by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 1, 2009

NARAL bids farewell to a friend FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 26, 2009   Pro-Choice Leaders Pay Tribute to Sen. Kennedy's Legacy of Support for Women's Equality and Privacy Washington, D.C. -- Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Andrea Miller, executive director of...

Our Man Martino: When Lack of Explanation Is a Scandal by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 2, 2009

Okay, I admit it. I was one of those who admired the (publicly visible) work of ex-Scranton bishop Joseph Martino. I’m miffed that the bishop I praised last October (see Our Man Martino) should be forced out of office less than a year later. Full disclosure: This doesn’t look good on...

transparency by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 2, 2009

 Monday's press conference announcing the resignation of Bishop Martino was held at an "undisclosed location," with attendance by invitation only. Really. I'm not making this up.  Look up "press conference" on Wikipedia, and you'll learn: There are two major reasons...

The Kennedy Funeral: Boston's Latest Scandal by Phil Lawler in "In Depth Analysis" - Sep 3, 2009

A week after the death of Ted Kennedy, the relevant question is not whether the Massachusetts Senator deserved a Catholic funeral, but whether he deserved a ceremony of public acclamation so grand and sweeping that it might, to the untutored observer, have seemed more like an informal...

I've got a little list by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 3, 2009

 Like it or not, the departure of Bishop Martino is a done deal. So now we know that a Catholic bishop can be fired-- or at least pressured to resign-- in America today, if powerful colleagues agree that he can't handle the job.  Does that give you any ideas? Offhand I can think of...

reading comprehension by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 3, 2009

Good morning, class. Today we're going to see how well you understand what you read. Please read carefully through the blog post in which Cardinal O'Malley justifies his participation in the canonization funeral of Ted Kennedy. Then answer the following questions in the time provided. 1. Who...

Prospecting for Subsidiarity by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 3, 2009

Many of us have long been sifting through episcopal socio-economic recommendations over the past thirty years or so in the hopes of discovering some valuable nuggets of subsidiarity. There is a kind of Trinitarian genesis for Catholic social teaching in that it all revolves around three core...

two scoops by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 4, 2009

 Ben and Jerry's has renamed one of their popular ice-cream flavors. The concoction once known as "Chubby-Hubby" will now be called "Hubby-Hubby." It's Ben and Jerry's way of celebrating the recognition of same-sex marriage in Vermont, where their company started. Funny...

no scandal this time by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 4, 2009

Gennaro Angiulo was laid to rest yesterday, after a funeral at St. Leonard's church in Boston's dear old North End. The funeral, like the wake that preceded it, was a high-profile affair. "Junior" Patriarca was there, as was "Cadillac Frank" Salemme. "Cheese Man"...

Scandal Spelled Out by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 4, 2009

 Responding to my Commentary article on the Kennedy funeral, reader Elizabeth Rhode Martin writes: This is a wonderful article,very thorough, and I agree completely with your observations However, my heart is wringing it's hands, if such were possible, because we have two grown...

Soap Operas and Seismic Shifts by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 4, 2009

 John Allen, the leading Vatican-watcher in the English-speaking world, offers some perceptive comments on the sensational public dispute centering on the editor of the newspaper published by the Italian bishops' conference. It's more than a matter of mudslinging, he argues; it's a sign...

funerals in Madison are fancier, I guess by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 5, 2009

 Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, assures us that we should not be disturbed by the funeral of Ted Kennedy, especially because the ceremony was so "subdued." Honest.  The only aspects of the Funeral Rites which were not low key were those on the guest-list, where...

'Self-secularization' by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 7, 2009

 Pope Benedict has added a useful new term to the Catholic lexicon: "self-secularization."  It's a problem when society lurches toward secularism, and begins to fear any public expression of religious faith. But it's an even greater problem when Church leaders, too, begin to...

Imagine: If Ted Kennedy had recanted by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 8, 2009

 My Commentary article on the Kennedy funeral has drawn a huge outpouring of comments from readers, with the vast majority applauding the piece. Almost invariably, those who criticized the piece argued that it is wrong to deny a Catholic funeral to any member of the faithful. But in the very...

puppet regime by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 8, 2009

 The puppeteers of St. Agatha's parish in Milton, Massachusetts invite you to sample their artistry: Puppet Ministry provides opportunities for young and old to share their faith and work together to create an effective method of outreach through the use of puppets. Light entertainment for...

Self-Secularization: Hard to Prove? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 8, 2009

In his ad limina address on Monday to a group of bishops from Brazil, Pope Benedict XVI coined a new term, self-secularization, in describing an unfortunate post-Vatican II tendency among Catholic thinkers and Church leaders to explain the Faith and justify Christian action in largely secular...

it's mutual by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 9, 2009

 The irrepressible Father Richard McBrien sees a dangerous backward trend in American Catholicism: Notwithstanding Pope Benedict XVI's personal endorsement of eucharistic adoration and the sporadic restoration of the practice in the archdiocese of Boston and elsewhere, it is difficult to...

What should be said at a funeral? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 9, 2009

The latest scandal in Boston has prompted many of us to think about what should-- and should not-- be said at a funeral. When I die, I don't want the homilist at my funeral saying nice things about me. Kind words will do me no good. I won't be there to hear them. My family and friends will be...

if people are the problem... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 9, 2009

 A study from the London School of Economics concludes that the best way to make the earth safe for future generations is to eliminate future generations. That's not quite how the authors would frame their argument, of course. But it is a natural extension of their logic. The problem,...

Self-Secularization and the Whole Truth by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 9, 2009

Pope Benedict’s concern about “self-secularization” in the Church can be approached from several different perspectives, but a basic grasp of the problem requires one principle above all. When we approach things in a natural or rational way, advancing ideas and explanations that...

Blame America, fight the Church by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 9, 2009

American movie stars may fawn over liberal politicians, and contribute millions of dollars to Democratic candidates, but they've apparently met their match-- at least-- in the radical-chic habitués of the European film scene. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez got a standing ovation as he...

Abortion and health-care reform: the truth, please by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 10, 2009

In his Wednesday-night address to Congress, President Obama flatly denied that his preferred health-care reform proposal would provide government funding for abortions. Here are his words: One more misunderstanding I want to clear up - under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund...

The Self-Secularization Process by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 10, 2009

I want to begin here with the closing statement of my last installment: “Self-secularization does not always involve direct falsehood, nor is it found only in formal presentations, such as speaking, writing, preaching or teaching.” (See Self-Secularization and the Whole Truth.) When I...

VOTF: fair and balanced by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 10, 2009

 Those energetic souls at Voice of the Faithful, who eschew all ideological ties, seeking only what it good for the Church, have some new events on their calendar. True to form, the VOTF events will feature speakers whose views cover a broad range of Catholic belief, stretching from the far...

What the Elderly Know about Health Care by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Sep 11, 2009

The things Newsweek will print! The September 7th issue featured a column by Jacob Weisberg under the provocative title “Death, Republican Style” and with this tag line: “It’s the GOP that’s out to get Granny.” The thesis of the article is that Republican policies which fail for whatever reason to...

Self-Secularization, the State, and Prudence by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 11, 2009

In my previous entry (The Self-Secularization Process), I mentioned two important concepts which assist Catholics in acting properly in complex situations without being guilty of self-secularization. These two concepts are the distinction between the state and society and the interplay between...

Newspapers are dying by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 11, 2009

Newspaper are dying. Not just a few newspapers: the whole industry. As a former newspaper editor, I take no pleasure from making this announcement. But it's true. The news business has changed enormously in the past few decades, and newspapers haven't been able to adapt. I don't think they can....

doctor's orders by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 11, 2009

 A researcher from the University of Ulster is presenting a paper to the British Psychological Society arguing that medical patients who put their faith in prayer may be jeopardizing their own recovery. As BBC explains, Dr. Tony Cassidy reasons that "some people who put their trust in...

mismatch by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 14, 2009

 Give Dan Brown credit for this much: the author of The Da Vinci Code has an amazing knack for publicity. Over the past several years he has managed to convince dozens of gullible American reporters that he is locked in a ferocious struggle with the Vatican-- despite the fact that Vatican...

The USCCB gambit on health care by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 14, 2009

 Last week, in response to President Obama's speech on health-care reform, Richard Doerflinger-- a veteran staff member for the US bishops' pro-life committee-- said: We especially welcome the President’s commitment to exclude federal funding of abortion, and to maintain existing...

...and watch your language, you #@!#!‡°?#!! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 15, 2009

 Father Tom Rosica, of Salt and Light Television, dislikes intemperate language. We know that, because in his comments on the Kennedy funeral, the influential Canadian priest decried the "vicious attacks launched on blogs," and the "self-righteousness, condemnation and...

The Sacred Music of Nicholas Wilton by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 15, 2009

If you like the sacred music of the 16th century (and if you don’t like Palestrina, it is time to cultivate your musical sensibilities), but you also value contemporary composers who extend rather than merely repeat our Catholic patrimony, then look no further. Nicholas Wilton, an...

Women Religious: Few Options Left by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 17, 2009

As reported by Catholic World News on April 16th, the Vatican is conducting a doctrinal investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. For the past forty years, the LCWR has deliberately shaped religious life along a path of dissent and apostasy, emerging now finally as an advocacy...

defunding the Left, one step at a time by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 17, 2009

After the latest scandal involving ACORN-- the report that the Alinsky-style community-organizing group was willing to provide support to local entrepreneurs setting up a brothel-- the US Senate voted 83- 7 to cut off funding for the group. The House of Representatives is likely to follow suit...

you belong to the government by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 17, 2009

 You can count on Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, to support any fashionable liberal cause. Roughly a year ago your Uncle Di observed: When he is not referring to the late Saddam Hussein as a "tragic figure" or announcing...

and now, when nobody's listening,... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 17, 2009

 Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, has announced that he plans to participate in the March for Life next January.  Maybe while he's in Washington, he'll finally get an opportunity to confront President Obama directly, and demand that the President explain his...

Splitting social and life issues? Can't do it. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Sep 18, 2009

Have you noticed that those who are pro-abortion always attempt to seize the moral high ground when it comes to social issues? They may favor widespread contraception, abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and euthanasia, but that doesn’t prevent them from presenting themselves as more...

Whose side is the Pope on? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 18, 2009

 It's just a small, unassuming item in today's  list of papal audiences... This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy, and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference. ...but wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall when...

'The poor in spirit' by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 18, 2009

 This morning at Mass, the Responsorial Psalm prompted me to reflect-- not for the first time-- on that intriguing phrase: "Blessed are the poor in spirit." Those last two words, "in spirit," give the Lord's words an extra dimension. Jesus is speaking about the virtue of...

The friendly opponents of same-sex marriage by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 19, 2009

 Just a month ago, writing in this space, I expressed concern that the US Justice Department, under President Obama, was not likely to mount a vigorous case to support the Defense of Marriage Act against a court challenge from homosexual activists. It's not that the Justice Department would...

Musing on spam by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 21, 2009

Spam is strange stuff. It's obnoxious, certainly, and I'm all in favor of prosecuting anyone who is caught flooding our email in-boxes with the junk. Still I can't help but shake my head, sometimes, at the messages that somehow survive the winnowing process imposed by my industrial-strength spam...

protecting the flock by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 21, 2009

Cardinal Keith O'Brien tells The Tablet of his new crusade:   Not to act on the credible scientific evidence of global warming would be morally reprehensible, argues the Cardinal Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, who is leading a delegation to the United Nations ahead of the Copenhagen...

Twenty-One Faithful Catholic Colleges by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 21, 2009

The Cardinal Newman Society now includes twenty-one colleges and universities on its list of “faithful Catholic colleges”. This list may not be utterly exhaustive, but the Cardinal Newman Society is in a good position to know what’s what, and their rankings are trustworthy....

the perfect prelate by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 21, 2009

 Cardinal Mahony may be in a spot of trouble for failing to report a sex-abuse complaint against a priest with a past, but loyal staff members are rallying to his aid. The AP story relates: Calls after business hours to two archdiocese attorneys and archdiocese spokesman Tod...

What Caiaphas might say about health-care reform by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 21, 2009

Writing for America magazine, Michael Sean Winters professes not to understand why Archbishop Raymond Burke is worried about abortion coverage in the health-care reform bill: According to Archbishop Burke, the bill "provides for the provision of abortion, so it’s simply not...

The R word by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 22, 2009

You know the smear. If you're white and disagree with Obamacare, you're a RACIST. If you're black and disagree with Obamacare, you're an Uncle Tom, and deserve a beating for being an uppity negro. If you're a free range bishop who disagrees with Obamacare, you’re a REPUBLICAN. Read...

racism at the USCCB? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 22, 2009

Why did so many Catholics object to Notre Dame's decision to honor President Obama? That's easy: racism. That, at least, was the message that Bishop J. Terry Steib of Memphis delivered to an audience in Philadelphia last week.

Did the Pope send a signal? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 22, 2009

 Last Friday, when the papal schedule showed an evening private audience with Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the president of the Italian episcopal conference, I remarked that this might not be just a routine meeting. In light of the continuing controversy between the Italian bishops and the...

The Argument from Conscience by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 22, 2009

In his Grammar of Assent, John Henry Cardinal Newman attempts to explain how human persons come to assent to both ideas and realities, including both the idea and the reality of God. In the course of his study he persuasively explains the significance of the faculty we call...

not his field by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 23, 2009

 Remember when Rick Warren asked Barack Obama when an unborn child acquired human rights, and the presidential candidate replied that the question was "above my pay grade?" Now Obama has company. Asked whether a health-care reform bill should be amended to exclude abortion...

On Waffling, Tradition, and the Magisterium by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Sep 23, 2009

Over the past week or two, I’ve had a fascinating yet frustrating exchange with a priest on the question of whether CatholicCulture.org is “waffling” on Church affairs when it is willing to criticize prudential decisions and strategies of modern popes and bishops while fully accepting the modern...

Ron Paul and the Immorality of Income Tax by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 24, 2009

I know that Ron Paul is a popular figure with those who are sick to death of big government, huge deficits, uncontrolled bureaucracy, runaway courts, and social engineering. But as with any political figure, one has to pay attention to underlying principles. In Time magazine’s “10...

Really, Why Support CatholicCulture.org? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 24, 2009

The bottom line is that you can’t get what CatholicCulture.org offers anywhere else. This is a case we need to make effectively to our users if we expect them to dig deep to support this Catholic apostolic work. Let me make that case now. No potential supporter will doubt the...

The convenient timing of the Swedish TV broadcast by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 24, 2009

Thanks to Father Z for calling this odd coincidence to my attention: In January, a Swedish TV station broadcast a report that called worldwide attention to the extreme views of Bishop Richard Williamson. The report, based on an interview with the traditionalist prelate, just happened to air at...

Eliminating Left and Right: An Economic First Step by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Sep 25, 2009

In my last commentary on Caritas in Veritate (Splitting social and life issues? Can’t do it.), I promised to critique the “sure recipe for blindness” typically followed by the Western mind in reading Catholic social encyclicals. At the same time, I said I’d address the...

and even a blind squirrel sometimes finds an ACORN by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 25, 2009

 Have no fear! This year, the money you toss into the pre-Thanksgiving collection won't be going to ACORN. Nor will it be going to two California groups that favored same-sex marriage. (One of the groups also favored the legalization of prostitution: a policy option that ACORN staff members...

Showdown time for abortion coverage in health-care reform by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 25, 2009

 The US Senate's financial-services committee has scheduled votes for next Tuesday, September 29, on a series of proposed amendments that would eliminate abortion funding from the Baucus health-care proposal. This will be a critical test of President Obama's promise to advance legislation...

First sighting by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 28, 2009

 Today-- that's September 28, for the record-- I saw my first front-page reference to this year's Christmas shopping season. Can anyone beat that?  Or perhaps, in keeping with the totally secular spirit of the thing, I should refer to the Xmas shopping season, since this phenomenon...

Actual Participation in the Mass by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 28, 2009

Over the past generation, there has been considerable confusion over what it means to fully participate in the Mass as called for in Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. The Council Fathers emphasized the need for the laity to participate in the Sacred Liturgy in a manner which...

when silence means consent by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 29, 2009

It's Tuesday morning. You throw open the window to get some fresh air, and can't help overhearing the conversation on your neighbor's porch. Skip, the high-school junior, is talking with his parents. Skip: Can I go out with the guys Friday night? Father: Sure, son, sure. Oh, I remember my own...

fear stalks Africa by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 29, 2009

The poor people of Africa face many grave dangers: Hunger. War. Natural disaster. AIDS. Now Tanya Gold, writing in The Guardian, has identified another. First a bit of background. Tanya Gold doesn't like the Pope. She is, she tells us, "repelled" by the prospect of a papal visit to...

Cause and effect by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 29, 2009

Watching American religious developments from across the Atlantic, Irish commentator Niall O'Dowd notices the sharp rise in the number of Americans with no religious affiliations, and shows a special interest in the fact that Irish Catholics comprise the largest number of people leaving the church...

Speaking Truth to Power by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 30, 2009

On Tuesday, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, warned the UN’s General Assembly against “abuse of power”. Noting that “development necessarily involves an integral respect for human life which cannot be disconnected from the development of...

The Abuse is Homosexuality by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 30, 2009

These newer UN Observers are right on top of things (see previous entry, Speaking Truth to Power). Now we learn that Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, has taken the sex-abuse bull by the horns....

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