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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.

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Extended commentary and thoughtful Catholic essays on complex topics.

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

To talk of many things by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Friday

Lewis Carroll's Walrus has been at work on CatholicCulture.org. This week's commentary touches a wide variety of topics. Perhaps most newsworthy is the recent success in the reform of the Curia. See Phil Lawler's latest On the News item: Pope Francis prevails in Round I of battle for Vatican...

The stumbling block of morality on Self-Deprecation Day by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Friday

I proclaim today Self-Deprecation Day. I like ideas. God knows the reader must look hard to find commentary on concrete and newsworthy circumstances in my collected works. Even when I write about current events, I often manage to evade the responsibility of specific knowledge. Take last...

Opening Ourselves to Meaning and Purpose by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Thursday

If it is true that many or most people in our time are frustrated by a lack of meaning in their lives (see Evangelization and the Gift of Meaning), then it makes perfect sense for Christians to try to open their neighbors to the possibility of meaning. This will serve both as a genuine human...

A thin-skinned Vatican spokesman harms his own standing by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Thursday

Father Thomas Rosica works with the Vatican press office, and is sometimes quoted by the English-speaking media as a spokesman for the Vatican. So you might take it for granted that he has some understanding of the field of public relations. You’d be wrong. Hounded by an obscure Canadian...

Pope Francis prevails in Round I of battle for Vatican reform by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Thursday

Pope Francis has withstood the first major challenge to his campaign for reform within the Vatican. But the battle is not over. The Pope will face more challenges as that campaign continues. By approving the statutes of the Secretariat for the Economy with only a few minor modifications, the...

Social Media’s Vanity Fair: Danger on every side! by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Wednesday

When Russian Patriarch Kirill of Moscow criticized the vanity inherent in social media, he didn’t know the half of it. And that’s not a knock on social media; it’s a knock on life. Listen, there will always be people who go on endlessly about nothing (much as I’m doing...

The Ways of Evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Tuesday

Thomas Van dominated our commentary over the weekend. Most importantly, he has given us the next in his series on the Fathers of the Church: Introduction to the Greek Apologists. This is another stage in spreading and confirming the Faith. I've been thinking about evangelization again, too, and...

Evangelization and the Gift of Meaning by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Tuesday

Ever since Pope Francis said that we don’t need to talk about “these issues” all the time—referring to today’s most contested moral issues—Catholics have thought more deeply about evangelization. Whether we welcomed the comment or were appalled by it (a reaction...

Two links - moral relativism in elementary schools and charges of "genocide" in the Old Testament by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Tuesday

Today I read two articles which should both be of interest to our readers, albeit for different reasons. First, in an NYT blog piece called "Why Our Children Don't Think There Are Moral Facts," philosopher Justin P. McBrayer shows that while we might think young people are...

Don’t touch that Smile! Helping CatholicCulture.org by shopping on Amazon. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Monday

Amazon SMILE is a nice program to support the charity of your choice. But it is all too easy to wipe the smile off the face of your designated charity if you try to help in the wrong way. The reason is that the SMILE program pales into insignificance if your favorite charity is also an Amazon...

Church Fathers: Introduction to the Greek Apologists by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - Sunday

Parallel with the increasing influence of Christianity as a religion distinct from Judaism, the second century saw, along with sporadic State persecutions and anti-Christian riots, the publication of numerous works of anti-Christian literature. While Christianity would in subsequent centuries be...

Ad Imaginem Dei: a gem of a blog on Christian art by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Feb 28

Readers who wish for an entry point into the vast (and sometimes intimidating) domain of Catholic sacred art may want to take a look at Margaret Duffy's blog, Ad Imaginem Dei. The blog, which has been active since 2008, focuses on Western Christian art, taking liturgical readings as a...

The Complexities of Persecution by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Feb 27

I've been thinking a good deal about the situation in Ukraine, and what I chiefly realize about it is that we are foolish to make pronouncements. See Ukraine: A great lesson in thinking like a Catholic. Interestingly, the Major Archbishop in the Ukraine seems to emphasize one thing, and Pope...

Ukraine: A great lesson in thinking like a Catholic. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 27

The current competition for sovereignty in Ukraine is apt to bring out the worst in armchair quarterbacks. I’ve heard Catholics rant on all sides of this issue, but every position seems to me to be determined by preconceptions. The clearest thing about the conflict in Ukraine from a distance...

Notre Dame has lost two contrasting giants by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 27

On successive days, death has claimed two giant figures in the history of America’s most iconic Catholic university: two revered men, with very different ideas about that university’s proper role. The death of Father Theodore Hesburgh on February 26 will claim headline coverage, and...

Two good publishers, six new books for Lent by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 26

I try to follow the new titles coming out from both Ignatius Press and Sophia Institute Press, because I trust the judgment of these Catholic publishers. Particularly in the realm of spirituality, they will typically make sure their authors are firmly rooted in the Catholic tradition, and they...

Another awkward 'clarification' from the Vatican by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 25

Every reasonable person understands what Pope Francis meant when, in a private message to a friend in Argentina, he used the term “Mexicanization” to refer to the troubles of a country torn by drug trafficking. Among other things, we understand that the Pope did not intend this message for public...

Former Israeli ambassador explains how to make 'two-state solution' realistic by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 25

Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the US, has a refreshing perspective on Israel-Palestine peace prospects in today’s Wall Street Journal. International leaders call for a “two-state solution,” Oren writes. But neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority can accept a “two-state...

Solidarity Campaign: Going well, thanks! And how can you help? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 25

When I decided to stress solidarity as the theme for February fundraising, I did not know how popular it would be. The idea is to stress participation rather than wealth. It is not so much how much you can give, but whether you are willing to lend a helping hand to our mission. To emphasize...

Considering the World of Film by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Feb 24

The title is an anachronism, of course, but by film I mean to call attention to the importance of video entertainment in our culture. First, let me note that our solidarity campaign is still going well. We need just 92 more gifts to make our February goal of 700. Small and large count the same....

The dangerous slide toward further US military involvement in the Middle East by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 24

The gruesome record of atrocities committed by the Islamic State, and the urgent need to save our fellow Christians from persecution, explain the growing support for US military action, recorded in this Pew Research survey. Supporters of some sort of US military intervention now outnumber...

NCIS Toes the Pro-Gay, Anti-Catholic Line by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 24

I’m a big fan of NCIS, the most-watched television show in the United States last season. It was also voted America’s favorite show in 2011. It has spawned two popular spinoffs, NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans. As a card-carrying contrarian, I’m not proud of my attraction...

Do Christians need to defend "religion"? by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Feb 24

Over at Aleteia, David Mills comments on the oft-repeated cliche that religion has been the source of manifold evils - wars, persecution, bigotry, superstition, etc. Rather than trying to disprove that claim, Mills points out how absurd it is for Christians (or indeed members of any particular...

Sex in Leviticus by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 23

The Book of Leviticus is a tough read, filled with both ritual and moral prescriptions. The two are closely connected, but it is not always obvious where ritual holiness ends and moral holiness begins. For example, the rule outlawing those who “kill” or “slaughter” an...

Pope Pius XII's Apostolic Exhortations on the Ideal Film by Thomas Van in "On the Culture" - Feb 22

Recently the Catholic Artists Society shared on its Facebook page a link to two Apostolic Exhortations of Pope Pius XII, given in 1955 to representatives of the film industry...

Can the 'new evangelization' succeed while cradle Catholics are leaving in droves? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 20

Writing in the Catholic Herald, Stephen Bullivant suggests that we should “Put the New Evangelisation on Hold until we try to figure out what is causing a mass exodus of cradle Catholics from the Church. Bullivant is addressing a British audience (did you notice the “s” in...

##ashtag by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Feb 20

I continue to be pleased with the results of our solidarity campaign. If you haven't donated in February, a small gift now will count just as much as a large one toward our goal of 700 gifts. We've received 147 gifts over the past three days, and have just 207 to go! Now, what else is new?...

The decline and fall of the Person: Musings on my stack of unread books by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 20

It is no coincidence that there are four new books on my desk which are all centered on the human person. It is not a coincidence because the loss of a clear sense of the person is the overriding tragedy of modern history. This tragedy lies at the root of the gradual collapse of our secular...

More thoughts on the #ashtag meme and the message it sends by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 19

Yesterday—Ash Wednesday—I wrote that I am baffled by the popularity of the #ashtag meme. Maybe it would have been more accurate to say that I am fascinated by the phenomenon. Why do so many Catholics want to show off the smudges on their foreheads? Several kind readers have offered...

Confused California congressmen condemn Cordileone by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 19

Okay, I admit to a fondness for alliteration. But it is just as well. The California lawmakers are not actually congressmen. Five are members of the “assembly” (an A word) and three are “state senators” (an SS word). Moreover, they did not condemn San Francisco Archbishop...

Philosophy as antidote to anger and fear by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Feb 19

At the Huffington Post, Michael Shammas has written an excellent blog piece calling for a renewal of philosophy education in high schools. American politics is increasingly characterized by fear, anger and bitterness; according to Shammas this is caused at root by "the iron certainty we...

I'm not upset about the #ashtag meme; I'm just baffled by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 18

Why is Ash Wednesday—not Easter Sunday, not Christmas, not Good Friday or Pentecost—the day when American Catholics spend the most time talking about being Catholic? Why is it that, after hearing a reading about doing penance in secret, people feel a compulsion to show the world how...

Stocking the Church with...Men by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Feb 17

Before I call attention to the new materials on CatholicCulture.org, let's see what a little solidarity can do. This month we are emphasizing not the bottom line but solidarity in donation participation. We are shooting for 700 gifts in February. If you haven't already made a donation...

THE challenge for the New Evangelization: bringing men back to church by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 17

Here’s a simple formula, tried and true, for getting families into church: If the fathers come, the wives and children will come, too. Steve Wood, who founded St. Joseph’s Covenant Keepers, cites research done by Southern Baptists on bringing families into churches: If a...

Unseemly arguments? Conflict in Rome over financial reform by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 17

Once again we have a news story emphasizing the disagreements among the various cardinals and offices of the Curia when it comes to financial reform. Such conflict at the Vatican—or even just pointed questions—will always be eagerly reported. It is not insignificant; it makes a good...

Upping the Gift Count: A Very Easy Way to Help by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 16

In February of last year, CatholicCulture.org received a total of 607 individual donations. Of these, 288 had come in by today’s date, February 16th. But as it turned out, the sum total of all of these gifts left us about $10,000 short of our budget. This year things are looking a little...

A Snow Victory (a story of the real thing) by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 16

You’ve heard the legends of snow in Buffalo and Syracuse, New York, and in Erie, Pennsylvania. This year, these cities hold three of the top five positions for snowfall. However, as one who lived in the Buffalo area until age twenty, I can testify that these areas of the country cheat;...

Whiteout by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 16

Want to know what’s on my mind? OK, I’ll tell you. Snow. I know what you’re thinking. You know that I’m a Boston native, and you’ve read all about the pounding that Mother Nature has given to the Boston area in the past few weeks. You think I’m going to talk...

The Politicization of Just about Everything by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Feb 13

Our culture seems to have a need to politicize everything, and I think this shows how weak the culture is in so many other respects. Politics has become the key to cultural relevance! In his latest On the News commentary, Phil Lawler worries about the politicization of science, which seems not...

Dear Judge Bariso: How do we recognize disordered desires and actions? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 13

Readers may scream or laugh at Judge Peter Bariso’s ruling that a group offering therapeutic services to homosexuals has committed fraud. The New Jersey Superior Court’s argument is that it is fraudulent to present as disordered something modern science claims is normal. A host of...

Church Fathers: The Shepherd of Hermas by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - Feb 13

The Shepherd (or Pastor) of Hermas, an important second-century Christian text, is categorized as an apocryphal apocalypse; it consists of a series of visions urging repentance and penance in preparation for the end times. It contains of three books containing five Visions, twelve...

Politicized science: the lessons of the Galileo affair by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Feb 12

Sometime in grammar school, we all learned the rules of the scientific method, right? You remember how they go: First, form a hypothesis. Next, devise an experiment to test the hypothesis. If the experiment seems to confirm the hypothesis, launch a public-relations campaign to ridicule...

Honest judges in Italy by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 11

Italy may yet save the world. The top Italian court has found nothing in the Constitution that requires government to recognize same-sex marriage. It observed only that same-sex couples have the same right to legal protection as other unmarried couplies. This is a remarkable decision. In many...

Our most sensational headline ever by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 11

Catholic World News has been in business for 20 years now. What’s the most astonishing headline we’ve run over those years? That’s easy; it was exactly two years ago today: Pope Benedict announces...

A caution: beware misleading reports from Islamic State territory by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Feb 11

For the 2nd time in a week, a Chaldean Catholic archbishop has debunked sensational reports about an atrocity allegedly committed by the Islamic State. This is an odd phenomenon, and one that bears watching. Last week the Chaldean patriarchate dismissed rumors that a Catholic priest named...

More Signs of the Times by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Feb 10

This message is all about reading the signs of the times. Consider, for example, the Canadian Supreme Court's mandate for assisted suicide. This is a clear sign of the death of democracy and the rise of paganism. I explain in my latest In Depth Analysis: O Canada! Assisted suicide, the...

O Canada! Assisted suicide, the Christian meaning of defeat, and King Alfred the Great by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Feb 10

Last week’s news that the Canadian Supreme Court had struck down Canada’s law against assisted suicide is an object lesson. The justices have become the latest poster children for what is wrong with the world. I wish to consider just two of these serious wrongs, and to identify one...

For teachers: Augustine Institute course on Catholic education by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Feb 10

For those who may be interested: the Augustine Institute will be offering a course for Catholic teachers and school administrators during the week of June 22. The course, entitled Philosophy 722: Catholic Education: Ends, Principles and Methods, will be taught at the campus in Denver and also...

Liturgical Year Volume 3 Released: LENT by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 9

Lent (the only liturgical season with a name that is also a four-letter word!) begins on February 18th, and so the Lenten volume of our ebook series for the 2014-2015 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This third volume in the annual series covers the entire season of...

An Emphasis on the Wrong Syllable? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Feb 6

In a continuing effort to clarify the legitimate moral positions involved in the debate over vaccinations made from fetal tissue, I've added my own two cents to the comments by Phil Lawler mentioned in my last message: Thinking morally about vaccinations: My turn!The Pontifical Academy for Life...

Shooting the Messenger, Catholic Style by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Feb 6

A minor brouhaha occasioned by our discussion of morally tainted vaccines is depressingly illustrative of a larger tendency in human nature to shoot the messenger, or perhaps throw the messenger under the bus. It is an almost paradigmatic example, in that some Catholics (though hopefully not most)...

The Pontifical Academy for Life did NOT argue it is morally obligatory to use tainted vaccines by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Feb 5

If I may be permitted one brief follow-up to yesterday’s essay (Thinking morally about vaccinations: My turn!), it would be to single out a particular portion of the 2005 statement of the Pontifical Academy for Life that has led to confusion. Though I realize the PAL text is...

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