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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.

The first steps toward liturgical renewal by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Wednesday

Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, has emerged as a champion of the traditional liturgy. But you don’t need to be a traditionalist to appreciate his list of ten steps to liturgical renewal, presented during a recent talk in Washington, DC. Personally, I would make his...

Boycott Apple? No; the effort is doomed to fail. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Wednesday

Amid the furor over Indiana's religious-freedom law, the expressions of outrage by self-righteous liberal moralists, and the threats to boycott the state, I hear rumblings about a counter-boycott. If Apple Computer is going to boycott a state that respects religious freedom, should religious...

Church Fathers: St. Justin Martyr by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - Tuesday

St. Justin Martyr, generally considered the most important of the Greek apologists, was born between 100 and 110, the son of a pagan Priscus in Flavia Neapolis, Palestine. Justin tells us in his own writings that as a young man, he dallied with a few different schools of philosophy, yet found...

Zooming toward Easter by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Tuesday

In theory, my very dear friends, it is not too late to make this a good Lent. Better souls than you and I have dug in at the last minute! Before we get to Holy Week, however, we do have some less devotional commentary. Late last Friday, Phil Lawler offered his latest round of Insights on the...

Why homosexuals need not worry over the Indiana law by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Tuesday

It’s fashionable this week to hyperventilate about Indiana’s new law protecting religious freedom. So it was refreshing to see a reasonable, sane assessment in an AP piece that began: Religious freedom laws like the one causing an uproar in Indiana have never been successfully used...

Cardinal Marx’s Devastating Misconception of the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Tuesday

Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s unfortunate assertion that the German bishops “cannot wait for a Synod” to approve Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics has drawn severe criticism from two other German cardinals. Clearly, there are significant divisions within the German...

Insights on the enigma that is Pope Francis by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Friday

Two years after his election, millions of Catholics are still trying to understand Pope Francis. Two recent essays have provided useful perspectives: Writing for Crisis, Msgr. Hans Feichtinger, a priest of the Diocese of Passau, Germany, makes the important point that Pope Francis is not, like...

Our Most Characteristic Vice? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Friday

I am grateful for the tremendous support we have received over the past week. Now we need just $2,000 more by the end of March to meet those critical bills that have cast a shadow over our future. If you haven't yet, please help now! Our eleventh-hour needs bring to mind one of the most serious...

Recognizing the Noonday Devil by Thomas Van in "On the Culture" - Friday

If you had to guess the characteristic vice of our age, what would you pick? Some might say lust, and that’s certainly a big one, but it doesn’t seem to get to the root of the problem. The safe choice, perhaps, would be pride. It’s certainly true, but the same could be said of...

Patricia Jannuzzi on gay activists: And the real problem is? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Friday

Anne Hendershott wrote a pretty good column on the Crisis website the other day (A Catholic School Removes Teacher for Defending Faith). She rightly identifies the excessive backlash (both popular and official) against Catholic priests, religious and teachers who put a foot wrong on the question...

Surrogate parenthood = exploitation of desperate women by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Friday

Elle (“The Body”) Macpherson is expecting a baby, the tabloids tell us. The supermodel, who is currently married to a billionaire, is reportedly ready to expand her family. But there’s a problem. Elle Macpherson is now 51 years old: beyond normal child-bearing age. Ah, but...

Scientific Evidence for the Creator by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 26

Back in 2012 I wrote an extensive review of Fr. Robert J. Spitzer’s impressive book, New Proofs for the Existence of God (see Proving God). Spitzer examined both scientific and philosophical proofs, and he did a brilliant job, but his book was not targeted at the casual reader. That’s...

A request for help from our unregistered followers by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 25

CatholicCulture.org faces an unusual challenge this month. We have critical bills that will cripple our apostolate if they are not met by March 31st. But we find ourselves $8,000 short of being able to meet those expenses. Those who interact with us primarily through social media are generally...

Catholic movie watching is more important than watching Catholic movies by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Mar 25

America magazine has published an interview with Catholic film critic Steven Greydanus. Greydanus, now a candidate for the permanent diaconate in the Archdiocese of Newark, writes for the National Catholic Register and 

Cardinal Kasper: Will flattery get him somewhere? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 25

Did you notice the second half of our news story on Cardinal Walter Kasper’s request for prayers? The Cardinal was introducing a new book. Kasper wanted prayers “because a battle is going on”—the battle to shape a position on divorce, remarriage and the Eucharist...

An ecclesiastical battle over Germany by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Mar 24

I hate to begin with a financial worry, but we do have our backs to the wall this month. We are in serious need of $12,000 to pay critical bills. I pray that you can help. Still, I have a job to do. In last Friday's Insights message, I described Pope Francis' personal comments on capital...

Some cardinals may fear blackmail by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 24

Almost exactly a year ago, Robert Mickens was suspended from his post as Vatican correspondent for the London Tablet, after he showed his contempt for Pope Benedict XVI with a Facebook comment that he was looking forward to “the Rat’s funeral.” Usually Mickens was more discreet,...

A blacklist for Catholic universities by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Mar 24

Earlier this month, almost 400 U.S. corporations filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in favor of same-sex marriage. Since many universities give commencement honors to business leaders every year, the Cardinal Newman Society has released a statement urging Catholic schools not to...

Christianity, Poster Child for the Examined Life? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 24

In my last installment in this series on the relevance of meaning to evangelization, I discussed the importance of self-examination as a counter-weight to human fallibility. I concluded that Christianity has a powerful claim to consideration as a source of meaning precisely because, as I put it,...

The Pope's unconvincing arguments against the death penalty by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 23

Full disclosure: I oppose the use of the death penalty in America today, for prudential reasons that I may explain in another essay. When Pope Francis said execution is always inadmissible, I was not dismayed by his conclusion. But I was dismayed by the logic he used to reach that...

The Death Penalty Further Considered by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Mar 20

Pope Francis made news today when he spoke to the International Committee against the Death Penalty. He argued forcefully that, in our time, capital punishment of apprehended criminals must be considered always wrong. Is Pope Francis saying something new? Not necessarily. I explain here: Pope...

Pope Francis on the death penalty by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 20

When Pope Francis addressed the International Committee against the Death Penalty on March 20th, he emphasized: “Nowadays the death penalty is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed.” This raises the question of whether the Pope is prepared to further develop the...

Are atheists afraid? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 20

Writing in the Guardian on March 3rd, John Gray addressed what is becoming an increasingly common theme: The concern among atheists that religion is growing, not diminishing, around the world. Along the way, Gray skewers not only the idea that atheism is the wave of the future but the notion that...

The Church of Williamson and the Futility of the Necessity Defense by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 19

Bishop Richard Williamson’s ordination of a new bishop for his relatively new breakaway church is a case study in the separatist principle, and an illustration of the absurdity of the “necessity defense”. This is not the first splintering among those who fail to understand the...

If a parish worker is under investigation: a pastor's dilemma by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 19

Today’s headline story leaves some key questions unanswered, and the problem outlined below might not apply. So let’s make this a purely hypothetical case: Imagine that you are the pastor of a Catholic church. You are notified by local police that one of the teachers in your...

Easter volume released for this liturgical year by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 19

Easter falls on April 5th this year, and so the Easter volume of our ebook series for the 2014-2015 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This fourth volume in the annual series covers the entire Easter season, from the Easter Vigil (April 4th) through Pentecost (May...

Our Failure to Penetrate Reality: The Role of the Examined Life by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 18

When I explored the nature and sources of meaning in our lives (see What is ‘meaning’ and where does it come from?), I emphasized that the answers were largely self-evident. But if that is so, why do the men and women of our age have so much trouble embracing them? Part of the...

Climate-change heretics and Al Gore's inquisition by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 18

In today’s America, no one—not even one of those nasty old Christian fundamentalists—would propose punishment for people who do not accept the truths of the Bible. Yet Al Gore—who was very nearly elected President of the United States just a few years ago— has now...

The patron saint of parish closings by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 17

(This column, written three years ago, is re-posted by popular demand.) Needless to say, there is no patron saint of parish closings.  The closing of a parish is a tragedy. A parish church is more than just a building. It is a repository of memories: of the children baptized there, the...

Tougher to Stand Firm? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Mar 17

Speaking of the difficulties of standing firm, CatholicCulture.org is having a rough time financially in March (which went quite well last year). I hope very much that you'll step up and help. But that's really not what I mean by suggesting that it is growing tougher to stand firm. Rather,...

The early printing press: not just a means of spreading Protestantism! by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Mar 16

Catholic artist Daniel Mitsui has begun a series of articles "On the Catholic Art of the Printed Book," which illuminates (pun intended) yet another beautiful genre of art from the Catholic late Middle Ages and Renaissance. There are two parts in Mitsui's series so far. The...

The Apostolic Age opens Easter night on NBC by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 16

Following the massive popularity of the 2013 miniseries The Bible, NBC will air a 12-part sequel, A. D. The Bible Continues. The original series, produced by husband and wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, aired in 2013 on the History Channel. A. D. The Bible Continues will premiere this...

Compensation for eugenics victims: Good, but what of present evils? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 16

When the Virginia General Assembly voted to compensate victims of forced sterilization in February, Virginia became the second State to make payments to those who had been harmed by the eugenics laws that were so popular in the early 20th century. Over 30 states forcibly sterilized those they...

The Pope's conservative critics: Douthat's useful taxonomy by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 13

Who Are Pope Francis’s Critics? asks Ross Douthat of the New York Times. At the start of his perceptive analysis, he points out that while the blogosphere is alive with the angry words of conservative/traditionalist Catholics who distrust or even despise the Pontiff, there is no evidence that...

Priests need defense against false accusations by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 13

A Catholic priest who is falsely accused of sexual abuse can’t count on his bishop to defend him. That’s the unhappy conclusion one reaches after reading informative article in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review by David Shaneyfelt and Joseph Maher. Twenty years ago, diocesan...

The Pope Reflects on His Pontificate by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Mar 13

Today is, for the second time in as many months, Friday the 13th. If you give a much-needed donation to CatholicCulture.org, you'll strike a blow against superstition and help keep the Devil at bay! Pope Francis has given another brief interview, reflecting on his pontificate after two years....

Want to fix the liturgical music in your parish? Here's how. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 13

The news that Jean Vanier has won the 2015 Templeton Prize reminded me that my friend Paul Jernberg met Vanier years ago, and the encounter was instrumental (no pun intended) in rousing Paul’s interest in sacred music, and his appreciation of chant. Long-time readers of the Catholic Culture...

What is ‘meaning’ and where does it come from? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 13

I have already argued that we must learn again to trust our own native ways of knowing, our own holistic human perception of reality, if we are going to discover meaning (see Opening Ourselves to Meaning and Purpose). Given a basic acceptance of our own humanity and a corresponding trust in...

And if you don't think things have changed for the better... by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 12

I cannot speak for the entire world, but if you don't think things have changed for the better in the Catholic Church in the United States, all you need to do is read this news story: Virginia bishops back pastor who broke with K of C council over honor for pro-abortion...

Gertrud von Le Fort: Tracing our tangled approach to God by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Mar 12

The Baroness Gertrud von le Fort (1876 - 1971) was a remarkable German Catholic novelist and poet. She studied under the brilliant and highly-influential Protestant philosopher of religion, Ernst Troeltsch, whose works she edited. But von le Fort herself converted to Catholicism in 1926. Her...

Liberal liturgists try to explain away a key appointment by Pope Francis by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Mar 11

Within a few weeks after the election of Pope Francis, rumors began to circulate in Rome that the new Pontiff would appoint Archbishop Piero Marini as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW). For liberal liturgists, these rumors were cause for celebration; for conservatives, for...

Miscellany: on Irish nationalism, no-fault divorce, and a curious Vatican cover-up by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 11

Catching up on some interesting commentaries that have appeared recently on other sites: In the Irish Catholic, the always insightful David Quinn observes that Ireland’s major political parties are alienating Catholic voters, with interesting consequences especially in Northern...

On same-sex marriage, the Irish bishops are inoffensive by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Mar 10

“Marriage is important—Reflect before you change it.” That, believe it or not, is the title of a statement released today by the Irish bishops’ conference, regarding the country’s May referendum on same-sex marriage. Nowhere in the full statement do the Irish...

Blueprint for Education in Catholic Schools by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Mar 10

San Francisco, of all places, is rapidly becoming the source of both the defense of marriage and the purpose of Catholic schools. The archbishop in question is Salvatore Cordileone, who recently addressed his high school teachers in this astonishing and thorough presentation: Knowledge, Virtue,...

On Pope Francis: Getting our heads out of the sand by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Mar 10

Every pope is controversial, but not all are controversial in the same quarters. You may recall how controversial (indeed, how annoying and even appalling) Pope John Paul II was to all those who aspired to worldly sophistication (and to schismatic Traditionalists). How they loved to denigrate the...

To talk of many things by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Mar 6

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" - Mar 6

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" - Mar 5

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" - Mar 5

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" - Mar 5

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" - Mar 4

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" - Mar 3

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" - Mar 3

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" - Mar 3

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...

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The first steps toward liturgical renewal 11 hours ago
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