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Expert commentary on the spiritual, moral, political, social, cultural, and ecclesiastical issues facing Catholics today.

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On the Culture

Commentary and reflection on Catholic life and ideas by Dr. Jeff Mirus, President of CatholicCulture.org.

On the News

Catholic commentary and analysis on contemporary events and trends by Phil Lawler, Director of Catholic World News.

In Depth Analysis

Extended commentary and thoughtful Catholic essays on complex topics.

The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff, and sometimes light-hearted Catholic commentary, observations and announcements.

Government Crackdowns on God and Nature by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Tuesday

The big news here in the States is President Barack Obama's addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to the non-discrimination rules governing the American government and its contracts. The USCCB has protested vehemently: USCCB decries Obama’s LGBT executive order as ‘unprecedented...

A legislative mockery: Massachusetts lawmakers rush to replace unconstitutional 'buffer zone' bill by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Tuesday

You might think that, when a state law is struck down as unconstitutional, by a 9-0 decision of the US Supreme Court, the legislators who passed that law would feel chastened. Not in Massachusetts. Reacting with almost comical haste to the unanimous Supreme Court decision that overturned a...

Gay and Transgendered: What Comes Next? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Tuesday

In 1965, Lyndon Johnson prohibited Federal discrimination in hiring based on race, religion, gender and nationality. President Obama’s latest executive order amends that to include sexual orientation and gender identity. In 1969, Richard Nixon prohibited any sort of discrimination in Federal...

Obama's executive order and the danger of reliance on federal contracts by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Tuesday

Just as American Catholic bishops were volunteering to help President Obama—by handling the thousands of children from Central America who are entering the US illegally—the White House has announced that the President doesn’t want help from the Catholic Church. How else should...

May God Bless our Readers! by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Friday

Today is the last day of my vacation. My wife and I will be driving home from Maine to Virginia over the weekend. I'll be back at my desk next week, and will resume the normal Insights messages on Tuesday. May God bless you for your interest in and support of CatholicCulture.org! Jeff...

What's Wrong with the Pope's latest interview? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 15

I'm on vacation at the moment, in a small "camp" on the shore of Moosehead Lake in Maine. I've got WiFi (of course), but I'm also doing only absolutely necessary work for this one week. So this Tuesday message will be abbreviated. There is, of course, a brouhaha over Pope Francis' second...

What was wrong with the Pope's latest interview? A lot. by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jul 15

In the messy aftermath of yet another papal interview, how shall I explain what went wrong? There were so many different problems, it’s hard to know where to begin. One might start with the odd habits of Eugenio Scalfari, the veteran Italian journalist who has now had three such sessions...

Fool me once... by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 14

Back in October a 90-year-old Italian journalist published an “interview” in which he published some provocative quotations from Pope Francis. Only later did we learn that he hadn’t taken notes, and the “quotations” were reconstructed from his own memory of the...

Crowdfunding can change lives by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Jul 11

A professor at Christendom College has started an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to pay for psychological counseling for students who cannot afford it. The campaign, which has reached a third of its monetary goal with 34 days remaining, will provide a $1,500 course of treatment for two...

The Seal of Confession Defended by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 11

From a spiritual point of view, I would say one of the most important documents this week is the official Catholic response to the Louisiana Supreme Court's effort to crack the privacy of the Sacrament of Penance: Official Statement of the Diocese of Baton Rouge Regarding Order for Priest to Break...

The 'papal World Cup rivalry' story has now jumped the shark by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 11

“World Cup final pits Pope Francis versus retired Pope Benedict,” shouts the headline on the CBC site. Hmm. A 77-year-old man with a limp against an 87-year-old man with a cane. Playing soccer. No offense to either Pontiff, but if that’s what they’re showing on TV this Sunday, I think I’ll...

Living the Faith prescriptively by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jul 11

In yesterday’s On the Culture essay (Preoccupation with salvation inhibits love), I talk about the problems of living the Faith prescriptively, as a series of tricky external requirements, the fulfillment of which guarantees salvation. In response, koinonia raised a point in Sound off! which...

Preoccupation with salvation inhibits love by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jul 10

Our Lord spoke about eternal salvation. I do not mean to say that He didn’t. “Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus told Zachaeus (Lk 19:9). To the woman who washed his feet with her tears, he said, “Your faith has saved you” (Lk 7:50). As the Good Shepherd,...

Hot (news) flash: the Pill suppresses fertility by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 10

Something’s seriously wrong with the headline on this story: Birth control pills may damage women’s fertility, experts say If you take blood-pressure pills, and find that your blood pressure is lower, you aren’t upset, are you? I mean, the purpose of blood-pressure pills is to suppress blood...

Catching up on summer reading by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 10

A flood of important recent news stories, many of them calling for some careful analysis, has left me with little extra time in the past week or two. So instead of commenting on some of the thought-provoking articles that I have found on other sites, I have set them aside for future notice. Now...

Lay theologians on board? Two applications of the sensus fidei by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jul 9

In yesterday’s In Depth Analysis on the new document from the International Theological Commission (The ITC’s compelling exploration of the sensus fidei—the sense of faith), I focused mostly on what is required for a member of Christ’s faithful to participate effectively in...

Will the next benchmark case be Supreme Court v. reality? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jul 8

"Let me be absolutely clear," wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in her vigorous dissent from the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Wheaton College case. “I do not doubt that Wheaton genuinely believes that signing the self-certification form is contrary to its religious beliefs....

The Catholic's Sense of the Faith by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 8

The Church's International Theological Commission has published enlightening studies on many questions. The latest is an exploration of the sensus fidei (sense of the faith) which enables the baptized to perceive what pertains to the faith of the Church. For my commentary on this interesting...

The ITC’s compelling exploration of the sensus fidei—the sense of faith by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jul 8

The International Theological Commission has just issued a study of “the sense of the Faith”—Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church. The Commission, composed of up to thirty of the best theologians from around the world, each with a five-year term, was established by Pope Paul VI...

Image Journal: Reconciling Faith and Imagination by Thomas Van in "On the Culture" - Jul 7

My favorite thing about Pope Francis, from day one, has been his insistence that Catholicism cannot be reduced to an ideology or a moral program. The chief reason for this is that such a reduction leads us to neglect the person of Jesus Christ. But there is another, related way in which...

Reading Scripture with St. Augustine: A Return to God by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jul 7

There are all kinds of reasons for reading Scripture. These vary from person to person, culture to culture, age to age. But for the Fathers of the Church in general, the purpose of reading and meditating on Scripture was (as I mentioned in Augustine’s two rules for reading the Bible) to find...

Today America Needs Evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 4

Given that the United States celebrates its founding today, we at CatholicCulture.org are enjoying what amounts to a partial holiday. We want to join in the fellowship of family and friends, but this is not a religious feast! Now me, I am sitting on the side of Lake Champlain, wondering when...

Independence Day: No future without evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jul 4

If you are a reflective American, I’d imagine you find it hard to observe Independence Day. It is simply too hard to avoid this question: “Independence from what?” At one time, the answer was political and the question referred to Britain. Today, the answer is fundamentally...

The war(s) on women by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 4

So I guess all Americans face a choice. If you're not prepared to wage all-out war on women's reproductive powers, you're engaged in a war on women. By the same logic, if you learn that a certain pesticide prevents trees from bearing fruit, and you urge the government not to...

Corporate Victory over HHS Mandate by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 1

The US Supreme Court ruled yesterday that closely-held corporations cannot be forced by the government to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees. This is a huge step in eliminating the HHS Mandate for abortion, contraception and sterilization from Obamacare. Please see our Catholic...

Bad biology, bad policy in the Hobby Lobby reactions by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jul 1

In the aftermath of the Hobby Lobby decision, feminists have complained that the Supreme Court has made it impossible for women to control their own fertility. Am I missing something? The Catholic columnist Michael B. Dougherty reacted to the ruling—or rather to the panicky...

The enduring myth of pro-life violence at abortion clinics by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 30

In a Boston Globe column decrying what she sees as the negative effects of the Supreme Court decision that struck down a Massachusetts law establishing a 35’ “buffer zone” outside abortion clinics, Yvonne Abraham suggests that sidewalk counselors impose terrible burdens on...

Augustine’s two rules for reading the Bible by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 30

St. Augustine, whom most consider the greatest of all the Church Fathers, spends the last three “books” of his Confessions interpreting the spare outline of the Creation recorded in Genesis. The result is a moving tribute to Divine Love, and to the surpassing fulfillment each soul...

Plans for the Synod Move Forward by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jun 27

As I announced yesterday, the working document for this Fall's Synod on the Family has now been released. It was significantly influenced, as Pope Francis wished, by responses to the questionnaire circulated around the world. So now we have a good idea of the Synod's agenda: Vatican issues...

What about false prophets? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 27

A Sound Off! comment raised a good question about my most recent discussion of Pope Francis’ teachings on the Church (More on Communion with the Church from Pope Francis). I had touched briefly on the ways in which non-Catholic Christians and even non-Christians can be joined to the Church....

More on Communion with the Church from Pope Francis by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 26

In his second Wednesday catechesis on the Church, Pope Francis continued explaining what we might call the ecclesiality (or churchiness) of the Christian faith. You will recall that in a homily on June 19th, the Pope emphasized that it was possible for people to break their communion with God and...

Two experts' views on the diplomatic approach of Pope Francis by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 26

Two of Rome’s most influential Vatican-watching journalists have recently offered different perspectives on how Pope Francis has changed Vatican diplomacy. Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa observes that when this Pope has traveled abroad, the destinations that he has chosen indicate his...

When a Catholic is not a Catholic by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jun 24

In a remarkable homily in Calabria last Thursday, Pope Francis did not hesitate to say that some people make commitments which break their communion with the Church. It is amazing how this ties in with the In Depth Analysis essay I mentioned last Friday. Today I explain the significance of the...

Great news! I've made the major leagues! by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 24

All my life I have wanted to play shortstop for the Boston Red Sox, and at last my dream will come true! I am in the starting lineup for tonight’s game, which will be played on the field behind the library. We’ll be using a Wiffleball, and playing with 4 men on a side, in accordance with the new...

Pope Francis: Some “Catholics” are not really Catholics by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 24

Considering the subject of my last In Depth Analysis (Speaking clearly about dangerously imperfect communion with the Church), Pope Francis’ statement last Thursday that mobsters are excommunicated calls for additional comment. What did the Pope say, and how is it to be understood? The...

And this week's Comical Coverage of Catholicism Award goes to... by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 24

Sometimes the misleading news reports about the Catholic Church are disturbing. Other times, they’re merely comical. Take for example this entry from KTVI, the Fox affiliate in St. Louis: Catholic priests to vote on whether married men can be ordained It turns out that the...

Pope Francis fails the litmus test of the Left by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 23

The subhead for wild diatribe against Pope Francis on the Salon site gives you a pretty accurate indication of what to expect: Don't buy his populist rhetoric. The new pope is every bit the sexist homophobe as his predecessors Anna March is an angry, angry woman. She has just discovered...

The Tuam orphanage 'scandal' and the AP 'apology' that comes too late by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 23

The Associated Press has issued a correction for stories that ran earlier this month, reporting that several hundred babies had been buried, unbaptized, in a septic tank near an Irish orphanage. The correction reads in part: The Associated Press incorrectly reported that the children had not...

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