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Understanding the Vatican’s structure for financial management

Over the last several years, the effort to make the administration of Vatican funds more transparent—and the administrators more accountable—has reached center stage in the ongoing process of curial reform. Economic and financial reform have become increasingly important with rising...

If not a religious war, what is it?

Secularists routinely ignore—or worse, deny—the influence of religious beliefs on political affairs. So when secular leaders like President Obama deny that terrorists are inspired by Islam, I can almost understand. But when Pope Francis makes essentially the same claim, I am...

Terrorism of Islamic State and Planned Parenthood

The latest bad news is the murder of Fr. Jacques Hamel at Mass in France by members of the Islamic State: French church attacked during Mass, priest murdered. Pope Francis expressed his horror, and Phil Lawler has one request of all of us: Please don't call it 'senseless'...

Will this murder fuel a French Catholic revival?

How will France react to the murder of Father Jacques Hamel? I don’t mean the country’s political leaders, who will naturally condemn this brutal act of violence. I mean the ordinary people of France: a country that was once a great bastion of Catholicism, and is now so thoroughly...

Please don't call it 'senseless' violence

The latest atrocity by the Islamic State—the brutal murder of an elderly priest, carried out during the holy Sacrifice of the Mass—was not a senseless act. Abominable, yes. Disgusting, surely. But senseless? No. It was premeditated. It was intentional. It was part of a larger...

Even mercy can be built on sand. Here’s how to tell.

On the whole, the renewed emphasis on mercy since the pontificate of John Paul II is a very good thing. There was a danger in mid-twentieth century piety of falling into a “who’s in and who’s out” sort of spirituality, with an emphasis on the righteousness of “good...

Repentance and Reform

Let me try to weave our new materials around the very serious theme identified in the title. One can hardly fail to meditate on repentance today. As Jennifer Gregory Miller points out, it is our First Celebration of the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene. In fact, we have been called to repentance...

Where can American Catholics turn after the Trump ascendancy?

“Donald Trump is manifestly unfit to be president of the United States.” So wrote a number of prominent scholars and journalists in An Appeal to Our Fellow Catholics, issued back in March. They made a strong case: His campaign has already driven our politics down to new levels of...

Is your family life an adequate school of marriage for your kids? Think about this now.

Have you had the facts-of-life discussion with your kids? If so, it is just one step along the way. Even more important is giving them the formation they need to properly approach relationships with the opposite sex, including dating, courtship and matrimony. Ideally, sound parental attitudes...

The only way to restore public confidence in Catholic bishops

The revelation that the apostolic nuncio in Washington quashed an investigation into the alleged misconduct of an American archbishop is another damaging blow to the wounded credibility of the Catholic hierarchy. Nearly fifteen years after the sex-abuse scandal destroyed public confidence in the...

Summer Cookouts and Party Politics

Here we go again. As we enter the season for the national political conventions in preparation for the November vote we will once again witness how our politicians-– in large part reflecting the views of the populace-– view the abortion or pro-life “issue.” (Incidentally referring to the question...

Preparing again for Catholic renewal

In a somewhat startling interview, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, announced that his papal service would likely make it impossible to ever serve in a German diocese. Our news story: Archbishop Gänswein says loyalty to Pope Benedict makes him unwelcome in Germany. I believe this teaches us...

Gänswein’s mark of Cain, and what it teaches about Catholic renewal

In a recent interview, Archbishop Georg Gänswain said many Germans view him as having the “mark of Cain” because of his loyalty to Pope Benedict and his service to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He therefore believes it is highly unlikely that he would...

Making religion matter again

The statistics out of Germany are very sad. 180,000 Germans left the Catholic Church last year. But over and above those baptized as infants, fewer than 10,000 entered the Church. Yet Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich insists that the Church in Germany is “a strong force, whose message is...

Quick Hits: Analyzing Trump and the Democrats, questioning Vatican support for internationalism

First Things is not a political journal, yet in the past week the magazine has provided me with two of the most insightful perspectives on a bewildering American presidential race. Matthew Schmitz reminds readers that the religious outlook of Donald Trump was formed by Rev. Norman Vincent...

Should we all face East at Mass?

While I was away, one topic dominated the news. I'm back now, so here we go: The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship recommended in a major address to a liturgical conference that priests begin to celebrate Mass using the ad orientem posture this Advent. Ad orientem means facing...

Ad Orientem: Thoughts on debating the non-essential

When it comes to discussions of the liturgy, some readers find my viewpoint appalling, while others regard it as a breath of fresh air. The reason is fairly simple: I have an extremely “intellectual” piety, which means I find nearly every liturgical form and setting to be a distraction...

Ad Orientem: the battle continues

Cardinal Robert Sarah remains the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship: the Vatican’s top liturgical official. So his suggestion that priests should celebrate Mass ad orientem must be taken seriously, even if (as the Vatican press office so helpfully noted) it is not a...

Quick Hits: Building a cathedral, single-handed

Thomas Van, who is currently fulfilling a different set of obligations overseas, has not lost his knack for finding intriguing Catholic points of interest on the web. The other day, he sent me a link to a brief video about a 90-year-old man who has been building a cathedral in Spain, essentially...

Cardinal Sarah's speech: a stealth success?

You might say—many commentators have said—that with the quick Vatican smackdown of Cardinal Sarah's proposal for ad orientem worship, Rome has spoken and the case is closed. I disagree.  On the contrary, Cardinal Sarah has reopened a much-needed discussion about how to...

Why Be Catholic? 11: Peace

Another one of the many reasons I am grateful for being a Catholic is the peace it brings to my life. The history of the Church and the lives of the saints suggest that this is a universal experience, and we shouldn’t be surprised: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to...

Why Be Catholic? 10: Reason

At first glance, a title which makes “Reason” a point in favor of Catholicism may look odd to modern eyes. We’re accustomed, after all, to thinking of reason as a faculty which we must use independently of faith to solve human problems, something that faith obscures. It has been...

Another costly setback for Vatican financial reform

Here’s what you need to know about the latest reconfiguration of the Vatican’s financial agencies: The Secretariat for the Economy was established to carry out reforms in the wake of financial scandals, to establish transparency and accountability. The proposed reforms irked...

Why Be Catholic? 9: The Fall

It is difficult—it has always been difficult, I think—to find a worldview that makes perfect sense. For example, if we believe the universe is created and governed by an all-loving God, we have trouble explaining natural and moral evils. But if we believe we are not created and there...

Quick Hits: mayor judges prelate, the real Archbishop Cupich, confusion in Brazil

Philadelphia’s Mayor Jim Kenney, who identifies himself as a Catholic, has scolded Archbishop Charles Chaput for confirming the Church’s age-old teaching that Catholics who divorce and remarry cannot receive the Eucharist unless they agree to abstain from sexual intercourse....

Why Be Catholic? 8: Incarnation

There is, in the Catholic vision of reality, a profound understanding of the impenetration of matter by grace which we call the Incarnational principle. The Incarnation of God the Son as Jesus Christ is the bedrock which underlies the Christian vision of the relationship between God and man. In...

Quick Hits: Cardinal Sarah's speech, the Pope and his critics

Yesterday CWN reported-- and I celebrated -- the wonderful suggestion by Cardinal Robert Sarah that priests should celebrate Mass ad orientem. Today there’s more good news: the text of Cardinal Sarah’s...

Why Be Catholic? 7: Tradition

This is not primarily an essay about Sacred Tradition, which is certainly another worthy apologetical topic. Instead, I have in mind here the Catholic Church’s unique vision of human nature, a vision so profound that one particular dimension of it is just now beginning to be grasped in the...

What Polynesian languages teach us about the ad orientem liturgy

Several years ago I wrote that a return to the ad orientem posture would be the single most important reform to enrich Catholic liturgy. So I am delighted that Cardinal Robert Sarah proposed exactly that. This is not just another blue-sky proposal; not a “what if” suggestion....

When the state decides if you're the baby's parents

This Indiana court ruling, requiring the state to list both members of a same-sex couple on a child's birth certificate, nearly escaped our notice. It's not the first such court ruling; it won't be the last. And the implications are frightening. When the Supreme Court unilaterally...

Why Be Catholic? 6: Divine Intimacy

Among all the concepts of God the world has known, only one draws the believer into the most profound intimacy of love. This intimacy is completely dependent upon the unique way in which the Christian God interacts in its three persons, and in which the Catholic God interacts with men. I refer, of...

CatholicCulture.org in my absence...

As I mentioned a week ago, I am in Italy. A few days ago, I passed through the Holy Door at St. Peter's Basilica, miraculously unscathed. Today I am writing from the Catholic Cultural Center in Venice, pretending to have grown in wisdom and virtue without growing in girth. Phil Lawler...

Why Be Catholic? 5: Perfection

Anyone with aspirations to human perfection ought to investigate Catholicism seriously. This is, in some ways, an extension of the second number in this series dealing with personal freedom, for freedom is essentially the ability to pursue one's proper end, which is also the path to...

If the right to life is unalienable, assisted suicide is unconstitutional

When we think of “unalienable rights”—as we often do, on the 4th of July—we usually think of rights that cannot ever be taken away from us without injustice. But an “unalienable” right is something more: it is a right that we cannot give away freely without...

If the Church apologizes to homosexuals, what comes next?

Pope Francis says that the Church should apologize to homosexuals. But how should we go about it? The Holy Father made it clear, in that remarkable statement, that he thought individual Christians, not the universal Church, had mistreated homosexuals. Certainly I should apologize to anyone...

Why Be Catholic? 4: Resurrection

Though I take it up as the fourth in this series, surely the Resurrection of Jesus Christ provides the first and most obvious reason to be both a Christian and a Catholic, for it is Christ’s Resurrection which bears ultimate witness to the truth of the relationship between man and God which...

Debate tactics for embattled Christians: retreat, engage politely, or take the offensive?

My theme for today is debating tactics. What is the most effective way to challenge the reigning liberal/secular ideology, at a time when Christians are being steadily pushed toward the margins? Should we retreat into protected enclaves? Or continue to insist-- politely but forcefully-- on our...

Why Be Catholic? 3: Suffering

The oldest and most painful riddle of human existence is the riddle of suffering. In every time and place, man has sought an answer. Yet apart from Judeo-Christian Revelation, man has had very little to say. Stoic fortitude, Epicurean pleasure-seeking, Buddhist negation, the Utilitarian calculus...

No Ninnies

Do you know what a 'ninny' is? I'm not sure myself. But I get the idea that if you called a red-blooded American boy a "ninny" in a schoolyard in the 1930s you could end up with a bloody nose. World War II was not a war for ninnies. After the landings in Normandy, the...

Why Be Catholic? 2: Freedom

Among the great issues addressed by Christianity, two generally strike each of us as more than merely academic. These are the issues of suffering and freedom, which touch us so very personally. Many would give the issue of suffering the first place. After all, suffering is a profound riddle...

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