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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.

Suffering Christians by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Tuesday

The news over the past few days has been very grim. Today a third undercover video has provided more evidence of procurement and sale of fetal tissue by Planned Parenthood. But some major news outlets are framing their coverage to justify the practice. See Phil Lawler's latest commentary:...

New York Times propaganda piece on fetal-tissue sales by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Tuesday

Today’s New York Times report on the sale of fetal tissue is the journalistic equivalent of a diet pill: a “news” story designed not to satisfy, but to suppress, the reader’s appetite for information. Let’s start with the photo at the top, because although it is not part of the story, it sets...

God the Designer: Yes or No? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Tuesday

Two weeks ago we saw how Fr. Robert Spitzer explored the nature of human happiness as a means of opening others to both the presence of God and a relationship with Him. I reviewed his book in Fr. Robert Spitzer on happiness: An effective approach to God? Today I will examine a different way to God...

Monday-morning musings by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Monday

The PR flacks of Planned Parenthood tell us—with straight faces!—that they don’t “sell” fetal tissue; they only ask for “compensation”—that is, enough to cover their costs, plus a little extra (for the Lamborghini). When you go to the...

But WHY are these videos so damaging to Planned Parenthood? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Saturday

It's odd, isn't it, that Planned Parenthood has been hurt so badly by revelations about the sale of fetal organs? We already knew that unborn babies are killed, by the tens of thousands, in PP clinics. Isn't the killing a worse offense? If I told you that I planned to chop you up...

A Vatican conference with a pronounced leftward political tilt by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Friday

If we had the name of a Republican politician who was invited to attend last week’s Vatican conference on climate change and human trafficking—any Republican, just one Republican—we might feel just a bit better about the result. But the strongly partisan cast of the final...

Bearing witness to the Truth by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Friday

Happy St. Sharbel Makhloof day! St. Sharbel was a 19th-century Lebanese monk who lived a life of devotion to Mary as a hermit. Going further back in time, I am happy to announce that Thomas Van has posted the latest in his series on the Fathers of the Church. See Church Fathers: St. Irenaeus of...

Church Fathers: St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Part I by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - Thursday

As we have seen, the problem of heresy became an increasingly pressing issue for Christians towards the end of the second century. Popes and bishops excommunicated the inventors and adherents of heresies and wrote pastoral letters warning the faithful. Among these protectors of the flock were the...

Recreating a true home: John Cuddeback at work by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Thursday

Professor John Cuddeback, head of the Philosophy department at Christendom College, is particularly interested in family life and the importance of the “household”. Drawing on sources both philosophical and practical, Cuddeback maintains a website devoted to the philosophy and practice...

Father Barron's departure: bad news for Chicago by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Thursday

The headline on a Crux story says it all: “With the Rev. Robert Barron headed to LA, Archbishop Cupich can further reshape Chicago.” Many Catholics who know his work are rejoicing at the news that Father Barron, an outstanding evangelist, will become a bishop. Unfortunately...

Call me Troglodyte: The Cross and carbon credits by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jul 22

At the recent Vatican conference on climate change and human trafficking, Governor Jerry Brown of California accused powerful U.S. corporate interests of denying climate change. He said these “interests” use their money and influence “to keep from office people such as yourselves...

NOW channels Groucho Marx by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 22

Give NOW credit for consistency. The group always defends abortionists. So it’s no surprise that NOW has defended Planned Parenthood against criticism fueled by the latest damaging undercover videos. Those videos, NOW charges, are...

Pope Francis: Bemusing? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 21

Every pope has his own unique personality, but Pope Francis introduces characteristics which may be unusual in so high an office. Partly for this reason, he continues to fascinate. Even the Pope's chief spokesman finds Francis “different”, as he indicated in a recent interview. Phil...

If the Vatican's main spokesman doesn't know what the Pope's doing, who does? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jul 20

Don’t let the understated headline fool you. There’s dynamite in this CWN headline story. It’s not big news that the director of the Vatican press office admits he is “confused” by Pope Francis. We’re all confused. Join the club, Father Lombardi. But when...

Monday-morning reading by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 20

Some more interesting essays, gathered from other sites, which you shouldn’t miss: The late Father Silvano Fausti, who was spiritual director to Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, made some waves with an interview shortly before his death, in which he revealed that Cardinal Martini advised...

Clarifications on the political enforcement of faith and morals by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jul 20

In response to my exploration of the limitations of the religious liberty defense, some readers raised the question of whether government is morally bound to recognize the Catholic Church as the source of the true religion and to enforce some portion of the Catholic Faith. The answer to this...

The Issue of Religious Liberty by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 17

I've had to be out of town all day today, and have just returned at 6:00 pm, so this Friday message will be brief. You'll recall from Tuesday's message the news story on the court decision refusing an insurance exemption for the Little Sisters of the Poor. Thus they are forced to cooperate, in...

Cooperation, accommodation, and the contraceptive mandate by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 17

Imagine that you’re running a small business in Germany in the 1930s. A government official comes to your office and tells you to fire all your Jewish employees. You refuse, saying that it be immoral to do so. OK, the Nazi official says. Tell you what; I’ll make an...

What we don't know by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 16

Several readers have written to voice their dissatisfaction with our headline story about the Brazilian Archbishop Antonio Carlos Altieri, whose resignation the Vatican announced yesterday. If it’s any consolation, we’re dissatisfied, too. The Vatican announcement, as usual, provided no...

The religious liberty defense can, and probably will, obscure the truth. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jul 15

To build on Phil Lawler’s comments on the plight of the Little Sisters of the Poor (The Little Sisters case: being forced by government to act against one's principles), I’d like to take a brief but hard look at why religious liberty is such a weak basis for moral political action....

Summer Reading by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 14

I know, I know. When on vacation, one is tempted to read mystery novels or books on the hobby of one's choice, rather than catching up on Catholic issues. There is something to be said for that! Still, Phil Lawler and Thomas Van are making it fairly easy for you to keep up with very little...

The new North American 'martyrs'—Jesuit missionaries for a very different cause by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jul 14

America magazine, the Jesuit weekly, has a painstakingly balanced editorial in response to the Obergefell decision. A stranger to the argument could read the editorial from stem to stern and still not know, with any degree of certainty, whether the editors think the Supreme Court was right or...

The Little Sisters case: being forced by government to act against one's principles by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 14

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, in its decision that would require the Little Sisters of the Poor to comply with the Obamacare contraceptive mandate, used a revealing argument to dismiss the Little Sisters’ claim that the mandate infringes on their religious freedom. Some background is...

Fr. Robert Spitzer on happiness: An effective approach to God? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jul 14

Those of us who consider it important to know and love Jesus Christ find ourselves frustrated by the difficulty of convincing others. Over the centuries, a great many Catholic thinkers have turned their attention to questions of apologetics, spiritual development and conversion in the hope of...

Post-vacation links by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Jul 14

I've just returned from a two-week vacation, so it's time to catch up with a few things that caught my interest during the first half of June. First, a topic near to my heart: In Dominicana, the official journal of the St. Joseph Province of the Dominican Order, Br. Bonaventure...

Three more short must-read essays by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 13

As Pope Francis ended his trip to South America—during which he had made some memorable statements on economic affairs—Samuel Gregg observed that the Pope’s rhetoric had a familiar ring; it was uncomfortably close to that of some notable Latin American demagogues, including the...

Catholics thinking outside the box, again by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 10

Pope Francis tends to think outside the box on social issues, taking the problems we would all prefer to ignore, but placing them in the context of the Christian Faith. We have yet another example in his recent addresses in Boliva. In my latest On the Culture essay, I try to draw out the...

Weekend reading roundup by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 10

From around the web, a few interesting insights to start a summer weekend: Pope Francis has suggested that the world’s Christians should reach an agreement on a common date for the celebration of Easter, ending the confusion that arises when Catholic and Orthodox churches celebrate on...

Pope Francis: Change rooted in local realities, not imposed from above by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jul 10

If you haven’t read our news story on two dramatic addresses Pope Francis gave today in Bolivia, you owe it to yourself to do so. The Pope insisted on a change of heart, on the development of a society in which we enter into the lives of others, rather than permitting ourselves to be ruled...

Intimations of Immortality, again by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jul 9

In his famous ode “Intimations of Immortality”, William Wordsworth (1770-1850) reflected on the incomparable beauties of nature and the bitter sweetness of human passing. He wrote: We will grieve not, rather find       Strength in what remains behind;    ...

A modest proposal—did I say proposal?—regarding consent before sex by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 8

The Affirmative Consent Project is encouraging American college students to sign a contract affirming their mutual agreement before having sexual intercourse. The contract—the group helpfully provides a form—can be memorialized with a Smartphone photo, since sometimes it’s hard...

Remember how much snow there was in Boston last winter? Guess what. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 8

Back in February, did you see me complaining about the record-breaking snowfall? Yes, as a matter of fact you did. I also wondered a bit about what would happen when it all melted. For us, fortunately, the melting was gradual, not at all dramatic. But in Boston… that’s a...

A Fresh Range of Topics by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 7

In the aftermath of my own vacation and the extended American Independence Day weekend, we have been mostly playing catchup this week. However, I did find some time to offer my thoughts on a complaint we hear too often from readers. See: Through an even darker glass: On knocking the popes for...

Through an even darker glass: On knocking the popes for socialism.... by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jul 7

If I have to read one more email explaining that modern popes have failed the Church by preaching socialism instead of the Gospel, I will not be held responsible for my reply. This complaint surfaces from time to time in orthodox Catholic circles for the simple reason that most politically...

Making Moral Progress? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jul 3

Reactions to the US Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage vary widely. For example, Phil Lawler and I have both commented on David Brooks' suggestion in the New York Times that Christians would be wise to put their energies into non-political projects. In fact, we have emphasized...

Vatican statement clarifies duties of Catholic faithful after Obergefell decision by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jul 2

Twelve years ago, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith anticipated the possibility that some states might recognize same-sex marriage, and said: In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights...

Political battles vs. sacrificial service: The Brooks paradox revisited by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jul 2

My colleague Phil Lawler has identified a problem in David Brooks’ tactical recommendations for social conservatives (see ’Helpful’ advice for social conservatives: ignore causes, deal with effects). I agree that there are grounds for suspicion, but I am not at all sure that...

A Baptist leader with a message the Synod of Bishops should hear by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 30

Having read scores of essays, op-eds, and blog posts about the Obergefell decision, I keep coming back to this outstanding piece by Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s commission on ethics and religious liberty. Moore drives home the point that marriage will...

'Helpful' advice for social conservatives: ignore causes, deal with effects by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 30

New York Times columnist David Brooks offers friendly advice for social conservatives: “Put aside a culture war that, at least over the near term, you are destined to lose.” Brooks makes a point of saying that he admires social conservatives, and wants to see them succeed. He thinks success...

In the Aftermath of Obergefell by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jun 30

It's funny how life works. I'm in the second week of a working vacation, and the biggest problem on my mind ought to be the Obergefell decision mandating recognition of same-sex marriage throughout the United States. But what's really on my mind? The fact that my allegedly waterproof cell-phone...

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Recent Catholic Commentary

Suffering Christians 15 hours ago
New York Times propaganda piece on fetal-tissue sales 18 hours ago
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