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All Catholic commentary from September 2015

Famous actors bring the New Testament to dramatic life in this audio Bible by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 1, 2015

Hearing Scripture read aloud is, in some ways, more enriching than reading it on the page. It can be less of an “intellectual” experience—one has to give up the control that comes from being able to stop and think, go back, or skim. It is simply the Word of God coming at you in...

Ezra the Odd: A Lesson in Fidelity? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 2, 2015

The book of Ezra has to be one of the more unusual in the Old Testament. The first several times I read the Bible, I didn’t really notice it, but this time I did. That’s one of the arguments for reading the Bible again and again. Still, Ezra is decidedly odd, both book and man. The...

Please, don't read the headlines by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 3, 2015

This week's headlines in the mainstream news media have driven me close to despair over the inability of secular reporters to provide accurate, or even minimally competent, coverage of news about the Catholic faith. And it's only going to get worse. Later this month, when the Pope...

The dispensations of the Jubilee Year are a two-edged sword. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 4, 2015

I want to add to what Phil Lawler has already written on the special dispensations Pope Francis has announced for the Jubilee Year of Mercy (December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2015). Actually, I was prompted to do this by a friend who has heard some Catholics discussing priestly absolution of the...

Hey! Pope Francis just dropped a strong hint about the Kasper proposal. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 4, 2015

Last October, when the Synod of Bishops debated the “Kasper proposal,” proponents of the change said that pastoral considerations must come first. Opponents replied that pastoral practice can’t be separated from doctrine. Today, in a message to a theological conference in his native Argentina...

Our votes belong to God. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 4, 2015

I’ve been thinking again about the very large number of Catholics who vote for pro-abortion (and now pro-gay marriage) politicians. A great many of these simply support the fashions of popular culture against the clear teaching of the Church. But some who recognize the truth of Catholic...

Why secular liberals can't tolerate Kim Davis by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 4, 2015

Granted, Kim Davis is not a martyr. She’s still alive, among other things. Granted, she could have resigned her position rather than risking a jail sentence. No one has the right to hold public office, and if it turns out that in the Brave New America, believing Christians are barred from...

What if everyone acted like Kim Davis? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 7, 2015

Kim Davis has become a symbol of resistance to same-sex marriage for two reasons. First, she stands alone. Well, not quite alone. There are other public officials who have vowed not to give their approval to same-sex marriages, but for various reasons they have not (yet) faced legal...

Tomorrow's Vatican documents: annulment reform, with the Synod in mind? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 7, 2015

There’s big news coming from Rome tomorrow: Pope Francis will release two canonical documents, reforming the process for marriage annulments. We don’t yet know just what those documents will say. Nearly every Vatican-watcher expects that the Pope will make it easier for Catholics...

Why Kim Davis should not have resigned by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 8, 2015

So if she could not, in good conscience, issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, why didn’t Kim Davis resign from her job as county clerk? I’m not privy to her reasoning, but I have my own reasons why she should not be expected to resign. Ordinarily, when a public official...

Streamlining the annulment process: A good thing by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 8, 2015

Throughout the years of my active presence on the Internet, I have received quite a few heart-rending emails from men and women who found themselves in one of two positions: Either a judgment of the nullity of their marriage had been reached despite their moral certainty that the marriage was...

How St. Augustine replaced philanthropy with charity by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 8, 2015

Lapham's Quarterly has published a superb essay by Peter Brown, a leading authority on the society and culture of late antiquity, about how Christianity in general, and St. Augustine in particular, worked to transform the way the rich gave their money. The model of giving inherited...

A canonist's critique of the new 'fast-track' annulment process by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 9, 2015

As soon as the Pope’s annulment reforms were announced, knowledgeable observers began watching for the commentary from that invaluable canon-law expert, Ed Peters. It’s here. (Actually Peters posted a quick response almost...

Recognizing the Humanity of Our Faith by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Sep 10, 2015

Last Saturday our family returned from a week-long beach vacation in the Outer Banks. It was an unparalleled week of perfect weather, especially considering it was the end of August and beginning of September. As I sat on the shoreline recharging my "batteries", contemplating the...

Trusting our shepherds: A healthy Church requires true bishops, not branch managers by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Sep 10, 2015

I have noticed again, in discussions of Pope Francis’ reform of the annulment process, that some people fear the empowerment of bishops. Their instinct is that it is much better for Rome to take care of contentious issues (such as marriage annulments) for the entire Church. I make no...

Making Our Case: Is CatholicCulture.org Worth Supporting? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 11, 2015

I am a firm believer that the support of apostolic work should stand or fall on whether a large number of people find it valuable. It sometimes happens even in Catholic work that the availability of substantial funds from a small group of financial angels can obscure this usefulness...

Louis Bouyer’s Memoirs: A portrait of the twentieth-century Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 14, 2015

Louis Bouyer (1913-2004) was another one of those fine French minds of the mid-twentieth century who were relegated to the outer darkness by the secularism that overtook the Church in the West in the 1960s. In this he joined such men as Henri de Lubac, Yves Congar, Jacques Maritain and Etienne...

The Sins of the Fathers: Will Msgr. Paul Garrity be disciplined? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 15, 2015

Boston is not known as a hotbed of orthodoxy, but Msgr. Paul Garrity has crossed a line. To write in the diocesan paper that the Church’s teaching on the permanence of marriage is “ridiculous”, “untenable” and “disrespectful” is, in effect, a direct attack...

Is “Love the sinner, hate the sin” insincere? by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 16, 2015

Lately, I’ve noticed that more and more people sneer at the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin”—particularly in the context of debates over same-sex marriage and religious liberty. For someone who thinks there is no way to hate someone’s behavior (especially when...

The Kasper proposal should be DOA when the Synod meets by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 17, 2015

In light of the new streamlined annulment procedures announced by Pope Francis last week, the Kasper proposal should be stamped ‘Dead on Arrival’ when the Synod of Bishop convenes in October. Cardinal Walter Kasper himself will be on hand again to...

This couldn't be just a coincidence by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 17, 2015

On the opening day of the Synod meeting in October, the Gospel reading will drive home a very timely message: ...What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.... Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband...

St. Robert Bellarmine, Galileo and Heliocentricity by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 17, 2015

Today’s saint, Robert Bellarmine, was a brilliant Jesuit theologian (1542-1621) who was assigned to lecture on controversial topics at the Roman Collage and was eventually appointed to the Holy Office (what we now call the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith). By about 1605, he was...

A defense of Catholic teaching appears in a Catholic newspaper. Should we applaud? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 18, 2015

Here’s two cheers for the Pilot, the Boston archdiocesan newspaper (which—full disclosure—I once edited), for publishing a column by a priest defending Church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. This comes a week after the Pilot printed another column, by another...

The real cost of changing Catholic teaching on marriage by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 18, 2015

Many Christian bodies change their teachings fairly frequently. We have been acutely aware of this pattern in the Anglican Church over the past century, but many other denominations have also changed their position on such things as divorce, contraception, abortion, homosexuality and gay marriage....

Memorable Saint Stories by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Sep 19, 2015

After just a few years of practice, following the Liturgical calendar within your Domestic Church can become second nature to the family; it can become an inseparable part of the family's organic routine. In our family, there are certain feasts and saints that we highlight annually, whether it...

Three criteria to help us understand Pope Francis's vision of reform by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 19, 2015

A friend of mine at Blackfriars Media (a division of the Dominican Order) has filmed a brief interview with British Catholic journalist Austin Ivereigh which gives what I think is a very helpful perspective on Pope Francis's idea of reform. Ivereigh looks at Francis through the lens of one of...

Catching up on outside reading by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 21, 2015

Before we’re all inundated with news about and analysis of the Pope’s visit to the US, here are a few interesting posts of recent vintage: thoughts for the last moments of reflection before the tsunami: Eric Banecker explains in First Things, how Planned Parenthood is like a protection racket....

Catholicism & Pelosi: Us vs. Them by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 22, 2015

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi styles herself as a devout Catholic, and the New York Times happily promotes that myth with a puff piece whose title drives home the editorial point: In Pelosi, Strong Catholic Faith and Abortion Rights Coexist. But it’s Pelosi...

The unchanging Church teachings which you must not cite by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 22, 2015

In a Bloomberg interview, retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick cautiously agrees with the premise that conservatives are mounting “resistance” against Pope Francis. How? “Citing past pontiffs’ positions.” Later in the same interview, Cardinal McCarrick speaks about the nature of papal...

How Christian relationships create authority by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 23, 2015

Consider the problems. Contemporary Western men are taught not to exercise authority lest they diminish the status of their wives or other women. Feminists see authority exclusively in terms of political power, regarding themselves as powerless if they are not given prestigious positions. The...

America's New Saint, Junípero Serra by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Sep 24, 2015

...[W]e declare and define Blessed Junípero Serra to be a Saint and we enroll him among the Saints, decreeing that he is to be venerated as such by the whole Church. Yesterday Pope Francis, with these words, canonized Junípero Serra. This humble Spanish Franciscan friar is one of...

Under-specifying the truth: A case study of inefficiency by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 24, 2015

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of First Things magazine. It’s published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life as a broadly ecumenical project pooling the best ideas of those who take religion seriously, especially as an important factor in shaping the social order. It is...

A hidden gem in the Pope's speech to Congress by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 24, 2015

Toward the end of his address, Pope Francis summed up the anti-family mentality in two sentences: At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture...

Why does Pope Francis back liberal causes directly, conservative causes subtly? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 24, 2015

Pope Francis challenged Americans of both liberal and conservative political sympathies in his historic address to Congress on September 24. But his objections to conservative stands were clear and direct, while his criticism of liberals subtle and oblique. Why? The Holy Father made no bones...

Pope Francis: Not so much do as I say as do as I do. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 24, 2015

For my money, the most important thing Pope Francis has done so far while here in the United States has been to make a surprise visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor, who are busy fighting the HHS Mandate. That visit, if it were understood, would focus more attention on the key problems facing...

Why didn't the Pope invoke the name of Jesus? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 24, 2015

After the Pope’s official reception at the White House on Wednesday, I tweeted: Notice something missing from Pope's talk at White House? The name of Jesus. Some friendly critics protested that I was being too critical. The White House reception was a diplomatic function, they...

Flashback: a different sort of papal address to the UN by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 26, 2015

Almost exactly twenty years have passed since St. John Paul II addressed the UN on October 5, 1995. His message then contrasted vividly with the one delivered this week by Pope Francis, and the difference is not only a matter of calendar references. Notice this paragraph: As a Christian, my...

I saw the Pope. Yes, THAT Pope. by Thomas V. Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 27, 2015

On Friday, I lined up with tens of thousands of people to catch a glimpse of the leader of the free world as he rode through Central Park. (And I ain’t talkin’ ‘bout POTUS.) It went down thusly: The Pope’s motorcade was set to begin at 5 PM, but there was a massive...

What is the theme of Pope Francis’ pontificate? It’s the family. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 28, 2015

It is a great mistake, I think, to sell Pope Francis short when he does not say exactly what we wish he would say. I’ve written about this before. (See, for example, How do we react when the Pope fails to express our top concerns? in January and Pope Francis: Get it? Got it? Good! in June.)...

A conspiracy to elect Pope Francis? Don't believe it. by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 28, 2015

Did a powerful group of cardinals conspire to unseat Pope Benedict XVI and elect Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio—Pope Francis—in his place? That sensational claim has been circulating in conservative Catholic internet sites. But the available facts don’t support the sensational...

Links: Papal prog-rock, Robert George smacks Bill Nye upside the head, and more by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 28, 2015

After a big weekend of commentary, it's now time to catch up on links. Strangest news first: Pope Francis is releasing a music album. Well, that’s not the strange part—the strange part is the genre of music represented on the one track released so far. While the album,...

Synod of Bishops might resist machinations of leadership by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 29, 2015

In the promising new series of Letters from the Synod, edited by the pseudonymous Xaiver Rynne II, George Weigel opens things with an intriguing and encouraging historical comparison. In the months leading up to Vatican II, according to the standard historical narrative (for now, we need not...

The Ignatius Press conspiracy to control the synods on the family by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 29, 2015

While we’re on the topic of conspiracies, I think we have to be perfectly honest. Ignatius Press, a bastion of intelligent orthodoxy, has been trying to control the course of the synods on the family for the past two years. So when Ignatius published its own allegations of...

Prayers for the Synod fathers by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 30, 2015

With the Synod of Bishops opening its crucial meeting this coming Sunday, it’s time for some concerted prayers. There’s no good reason not to join in the Adopt a Synod Father initiative, and pray for one of the bishops who will be participating in the discussions....

Maria Goretti comes to the United States by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 30, 2015

The relics of St. Maria Goretti are on tour in the United States. They have already been shown in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and they are currently being displayed in and around New York City. St. Maria Goretti is the patroness of purity. But as the tour website (mariagoretti.com) points...

How Christianity spreads around the globe by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 30, 2015

The history of Christianity is full of mystery. The apostles, according to the traditions we have, went just about everywhere to preach the Faith, but it took root first in the Mediterranean basin. As the Roman Empire went into decline, with increasing divisions between East and West, enormous...