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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.

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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.

Using the figure of Pope Francis for evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Wednesday

Pope Francis is often illuminating, yet sometimes frustrating. His words and actions are never bland; in fact, they are nearly always pointed. This accounts for the continued preoccupation of the media, and for the enormous attention he has garnered from Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Those...

If Catholic priests never preach on sexual morality, be suspicious by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Wednesday

So now we know why Bishop Kieran Conry never preached about sexual morality. What about the umpteen other bishops and priests who never come near the subject? Do they, too, have something to hide? Think about it. What are the possible reasons for a pastor’s silence on issues of sexual...

On Bishops and Jesuits, Saints and Angels by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Tuesday

It is good to see Pope Francis continue the policy of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, by which I mean proactive Apostolic Visitations. This is an excellent way to foster renewal in religious communities and dioceses throughout the world. The latest example, and one that I confess causes me a bit of...

Bishop Finn in Kansas City: Not quite up to date? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Tuesday

Frankly, I was among the most vigorous supporters of Bishop Robert Finn when he took over the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in May of 2005. It did not take this “Opus Dei” bishop long to start making the kinds of changes which are so critical to both Catholic renewal and the New...

Oh, that sort of misconduct by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Monday

Bishop Kieran Conry has resigned, admitting to personal misconduct. Although he has not been specific, it seems likely that he’s referring to some form of sexual misconduct. Fair enough. We don’t need to know the details. But there are some things that we do know about Bishop...

Don’t worry about terrorism; worry about workplace violence? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Monday

The Oklahoma beheading, analysts solemnly tell us, was an act of workplace violence, not terrorism. They explain that the killer acted on his own; he was apparently not in contact with any terrorist group. Why doesn’t that reassurance make us feel any better? Because if you’re...

Doing Great Things for Christ by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Monday

Support is picking up as we enter the Fall, but CatholicCulture.org still has about $8,000 to raise to meet September expenses. I know you value our Catholic news and analysis, balanced Catholic commentary, spiritual and resources, and massive library of Catholic documents. Your gift between...

Two steps forward, one step back: mixed signals from Vatican on abuse and accountability by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Friday

Yesterday, buoyed by the latest news from the Vatican, I concluded a happy comment by observing that with the removal of a Paraguayan bishop: The message from Rome is loud and clear: It doesn’t matter what else you do; if you don’t protect children from abuse, you’re out. Today the Vatican...

The Annulment Question, and Much More by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Friday

Pope Francis recently affirmed that the Church's ban on the reception of communion by divorced Catholics who remarry outside the Church is rooted in Christ and cannot be changed. This being so, it seems wise to consider the dispositions with which we approach the question of annulment. This is...

Legitimately Fuzzy Grounds for Annulment by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Friday

When I wrote about motivations for annulment yesterday, I concentrated on the dispositions which all those who take marriage seriously as a sacramental vocation should have when it comes to entering the process. One of the practical reasons a proper disposition is essential for both the...

The Mystery of Music, Part III by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - Friday

In the next world I shan’t be doing music, with all the striving and disappointments. I shall be being it. —Ralph Vaughan Williams Our experience of beauty and mystery is often most intense when dissimilar things are united; the supreme example of this is the Incarnation, in which...

Another giant step forward in the Vatican's fight to stop abuse—and demand accountability by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 25

Just yesterday I made the observation that Pope Francis has ratcheted up the intensity of the drive against clerical abuse, by authorizing the arrest and prosecution of former papal nuncio Josef Wesolowski. Today, with the removal of Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano, the ratchet clicked several...

Annulment Motivation: The Crux of the Matter by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 25

It created a stir on our Facebook page when Phil Lawler called attention to Edward Peters’ argument that, on annulments, the process is not the problem. One person became so heated in his castigation of Peters that I felt obliged to delete the entire thread so the discussion could start...

Criminal trial for defrocked archbishop: Vatican ratchets up intensity on abuse by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 24

For Pope Benedict the first major test was Father Marcial Maciel. For Pope Francis it is the former papal nuncio (and former archbishop), Josef Wesolowski. Both Pontiffs passed the first test. Father Maciel, the founder of the Legion of Christ, was still riding high in Rome in 2005. Protected...

Those 'inclusive' invocations at inter-faith events: are they really Christian prayers? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 24

When asked to say a blessing at an inter-religious gathering, how many Catholic priests carefully avoid any mention of Jesus? Even a prayer offered to the “Father” might trouble adherents of those faiths that believe in a deity infinitely removed from the human estate. But “the...

The implicit “if” in Catholic social teaching on climate change by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 24

The Vatican Secretary of State’s moral endorsement of a Herculean effort to deal with climate change is a perfect example of why Catholic social teaching is best offered conditionally. In the realm of social teaching, any concrete moral imperative X applies only on the presumption that the...

The Kasper proposal: a friendly amendment by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 24

An old friend recently wrote to me with a suggestion that seems so practical, it deserves broad consideration: I find in myself growing sympathy for Cardinal Kasper's concern for a "pastoral solution" to the problem of admitting divorced and remarried Catholics to Communion, and I...

The Salvific Unity of the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Sep 23

It is not for nothing that we have culture in our name! I am happy to announce that the second installment of Thomas Van's review essay on The Mystery of Music has just been released. It seems that music has its own role to play in uniting us with God. I am also glad that negotiations...

SSPX adherents pose an obstacle to reconciliation by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 23

I am delighted that the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X are talking again. This means that hope for a reconciliation of the SSPX with the Church has not been abandoned. But in thinking about this today, I realized something quite significant. Because the SSPX is not territorial in nature,...

On annulments, the process is not the problem by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 23

Canon-law expert Edward Peters makes a compelling argument that while there may be serious problems regarding annulments, the canonical process is not the problem. Peters observes that Catholics are unhappy about annulments for two quite different reasons: There are basically two groups...

Eucharistic Adoration, a Sure Sign of Catholic Renewal by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 22

In a large church, Eucharistic Adoration is normally held in a side chapel. The number of adorers is seldom great at any one time. In fact, often people deliberately spread themselves thin to cover an around-the-clock cycle. Not so yesterday in the State of Oklahoma. In Oklahoma City, the...

The Mystery of Music, Part II by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - Sep 22

Speak, you who are older, for it is fitting that you should, but with accurate knowledge, and do not interrupt the music. —Sirach 32:3 The task Labat sets about in The Song That I Am (see The Mystery of Music, Part I) is to consider “music as a language communicating an...

Our Spiritual Destiny and the Horror of War by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Sep 19

It seems appropriate to write about war today. Pope Francis reminded us of the sheer indifference at the heart of war when he spoke last Saturday at an Italian cemetery: The Shadow of Cain Looms over History from 1914 to the Present. Though war has often been waged among nominal Christians, it...

The Islamic roots of terrorism must be addressed by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 19

“Now let’s make two things clear,” President Barack Obama said in his televised address to the American people on September 10. First, he said, “ISIL [the Islamic State] is not Islamic.” But that’s precisely what is not clear about the Islamic State and about...

Each of us is destined to marry Jesus Christ by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 18

Long ago and far away (I mean the mid-1970s in North Carolina), I wrote a book. Trained as an historian but always more interested in evangelization, I decided to do a sort of popular survey of history from creation to the end of the world. The purpose was to trace the action of God in His plan of...

From simple husband to ascetical priest by Richard Cross in "In Depth Analysis" - Sep 18

In my previous comments on asceticism (see Addressing the Root Cause of Clerical Homosexual Behavior and Pederasty), I proposed that each bishop live an ascetical life, and by his own example and directives, oversee the ascetical discipline of his priests. Ascesis, or the practice of...

St. Augustine's warning to pastors by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 18

If you’re a Catholic pastor—and especially if you’re a bishop—today’s Office of Readings, from St. Augustine’s sermon On Pastors, isn’t easy to dismiss lightly. The defects of the sheep are widespread. There are a very few healthy, fat sheep – that is, those that are made strong by feeding on...

Side effects of the Pill? Oh, don't worry. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 17

Count on it: Within a few weeks there will be a new study assuring women that they should not worry about links between the Pill and multiple sclerosis. The question in my mind, however, is whether women of child-bearing age will have time to not worry about the possible connection between the...

Scotland demonstrates the provisional nature of sovereignty by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 17

The campaign for Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom draws to a close today. While I am sure this question is enormously important to many in Scotland, when viewed from a distance it best serves to illustrate the principle that political entities have no absolute character. By...

Targeting the Pope? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Sep 16

Amid reports that the Islamic State may attempt to kill Pope Francis, we should obviously ramp up our prayers. But the Vatican is not changing its plans for the upcoming papal visits to Albania and Turkey, which may be danger points. Even the chief priest of the Roman Catholic Church must...

Gregory the Great, Christ, the Church and the Soul in the Song of Songs by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 16

The Song of Songs is a fascinating book of Sacred Scripture, and one that has an equally fascinating interpretive history. It has the form of an erotic poem of love between a man and a woman, but nearly all commentators have understood it as an allegory of the love between God and His people. For...

New Ebook on Renewal and Evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 15

We have just released our latest collection of essays from CatholicCulture.org, this time on the subject of renewal. It is entitled Renewal and Evangelization: Person, Church and World. The author is yours truly, Jeff Mirus. The book includes some fifty essays written between 2005 and 2014,...

More evidence that you can't trust the Pill by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 15

All too often, debates about family planning proceed from the assumption that the Pill is foolproof. Not so. A useful article in the New York Times, complete with an informative graph, compares the effectiveness of various forms of family planning over long periods of time, and makes an...

Did Cardinal McCarrick compare Allah to the Trinity? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 15

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick began a speech to a Muslim group with the traditional Islamic invocation: “In the name of God, the merciful and compassionate,” according to a report by the Daily Caller. The retired Archbishop of Washington also used a traditional Islamic formula in a reference to...

An intriguing new Catholic publisher: Tuscany Press by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 15

Some months ago a surprising book came across my desk, a review copy of a novel from a publisher I had not yet heard of—David Beckett’s The Cana Mystery. The story revolves around the discovery of the “lost jars of Cana”, the jars used when Our Lord changed water into wine....

Calvary is a must-see Catholic film by Thomas Van in "On the Culture" - Sep 15

The first half of 2014 saw the release of a number of high-profile films with religious themes which have ranged in quality from abysmal to decent. I don’t even need to tell you to forget them all, because you probably have already. The only one you need to see came out last month –...

Music to Our Spiritual Ears by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Sep 12

Perhaps the most striking commentary we have posted this week is the beginning of Thomas Van's fascinating exploration of the role of music in the spiritual life: The Mystery of Music, Part I. Stay tuned for more. Moving from spiritual growth to religious persecution, Phil Lawler looks at the...

Senator Cruz undermined the cause of persecuted Christians by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 12

For the record, Senator Ted Cruz was not “booed off the stage” when he addressed a Washington conference on persecution of Christians in the Middle East. He left the stage voluntarily. Yes, the Texas senator was booed. And yes, the reaction to his comments was impolite. (Conference...

Addressing the Root Cause of Clerical Homosexual Behavior and Pederasty by Richard Cross in "The City Gates" - Sep 12

The Church has attempted to address the issue of clerical pederasty—arguably belatedly—as a problem of crime and punishment on the one hand, and personality on the other. The announced appointment of Robert Geisinger, SJ will hopefully address the problem of abuse with a more...

The Mystery of Music, Part I by Thomas Van in "On the Culture" - Sep 12

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. —Victor Hugo The unique power of music to move the human heart is universally acknowledged. Music is often given a special place among the arts, as in Walter Pater’s claim that “all art...

Successful societies are (always) rooted in the family by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 11

Creating the ideal society through individualistic emancipation is a fool’s project. It cannot be done. That is why the more our politics emphasizes the freedom of each individual to pursue his own vision of reality, the more government control is necessary to keep the social order from...

Important New Manual of Catholic Medical Ethics by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 10

A comprehensive guide to medical ethics, based on the teachings of the Catholic Church, has just been released by Connor Court Publishing in Australia. The text was originally assembled and edited by Dutch Catholic professionals, and has recently been published in an English edition under the...

A Smart Move: The Pope appoints a Jesuit to prosecute sex abuse by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Sep 10

The decision of Pope Francis to appoint an American Jesuit to spearhead the Church’s prosecution of clerical sex abuse cases is very likely also a shot across the bows of the Society of Jesus itself. It is an excellent way to buttress forces of renewal within the Jesuits by utilizing one of...

A guide for bishops talking to pro-abortion politicians by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 10

Speaking with John Allen of Crux about the question of whether pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be denied the Eucharist, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said that the American bishops have left that argument behind. “Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the...

French Muslims Denounce Terror by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Sep 9

As we recount in an important news story today, the top leaders of the Islamic community in France have denounced terror against Christians in the Middle East. Such denunciations have been rare or non-existent in the past. Meanwhile, the pressures of Western secular states against Christians...

Insurance Coverage: A Litmus Test for Institutional Catholic Communities by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Sep 8

The University of Notre Dame, which had been fighting the HHS Mandate to provide contraceptive insurance in student health-care programs, has now reversed field. Despite having claimed that such coverage would constitute scandal, the University now intends to offer it. At least two observations...

What lesson can be learned from Cardinal Brady's resignation? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 8

Calls for the resignation of Cardinal Sean Brady began to circulate in Ireland early in 2010. But the Primate of All Ireland resisted the pressure, saying that he planned to serve (note the verb: serve) until reaching the normal retirement age. And so he did. Now the Pope has accepted Cardinal...

Human Knowing and Human Happiness by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Sep 5

Well, I finally did it. I completed a six thousand word essay entitled On Not Settling for Less: The Cognitive Guide to Happiness which I've been working on for some time. This explains the need to respect all the ways a human person knows reality, rather than focusing exclusively on empirical...

Human Knowing and Human Happiness by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Sep 5

Well, I finally did it. I completed a six thousand word essay entitled On Not Settling for Less: The Cognitive Guide to Happiness which I've been working on for some time. This explains the need to respect all the ways a human person knows reality, rather than focusing exclusively on empirical...

On Not Settling for Less: The Cognitive Guide to Happiness by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Sep 4

This essay explores the relationship between human experience, human knowing, and human happiness. It grew to some six thousand words, so I divided it into sections, with a table of contents and links to jump between contents and text. It should be easy to read at intervals, in...

What Pericles might say about the St. Patrick's Day parade by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Sep 4

There are times when the public influence of Catholicism waxes, and times when it wanes. Sometimes everyone wants to participate in Catholic celebrations, and sometimes the majority wants to keep Catholics out of civic affairs. Right now we’re living through a time when the public...

NY archdiocese should sever ties with St. Patrick's Day parade by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Sep 4

You don’t honor a saint by encouraging a sin. No doubt there have been homosexual persons marching down Fifth Avenue every year in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. There was never any ban on their participation; there was no test of sexual orientation for marchers. But next year the...

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Recent Catholic Commentary

Using the figure of Pope Francis for evangelization 18 hours ago
If Catholic priests never preach on sexual morality, be suspicious 18 hours ago
On Bishops and Jesuits, Saints and Angels September 30
Bishop Finn in Kansas City: Not quite up to date? September 30
Oh, that sort of misconduct September 29

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