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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.

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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.

Ignatius Press into the Breach: Trumping the Kasper Proposal by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Wednesday

Ignatius Press deserves the gratitude of English-speaking Catholics for its publication of three books in direct response to the Kasper Proposal, as part of the discussion encouraged by Pope Francis leading up to the synods on the family. These books succeed in refuting the arguments in favor of...

Has the Vatican finally discovered how to avoid inaccurate English translations? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Wednesday

The good news: Nobody has complained about inaccuracies in the English-language translation of the Synod's final document. The bad news: That's because the Vatican hasn't yet issued an English...

The Synod: It's a Wrap! by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Tuesday

Since the 2014 Synod on the Family ended on Sunday, it is only right that we wrap up our coverage here. You'll find the final Synod Message here: Message of the Synod Assembly on the Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization. Pope Francis' final address to the Synod...

A chaotic synod? Not in its results by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Tuesday

Those who read between the lines in both Phil Lawler’s and my own series of commentaries on the recent Synod could probably tell that neither of us was particularly worried in the long run. Phil strove to point out aspects of the synodal process which were counterproductive, and I tried to...

Cardinal Kasper's unsubtle threat by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Tuesday

As I mentioned last week, Cardinal Kasper generally assumes—and rightly so-- that journalists will sympathize with his campaign to change Church teaching. So it would be foolish to ignore his insistence that his embarrassment at the Synod was caused by a dark conspiracy , and now...

When Catholics are less Catholic than non-Catholics by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Monday

The Catholic Church does not settle doctrinal questions by majority vote. And since surveys of Catholic opinion usually record the answers of any respondents who identify themselves as Catholics, we don’t have many reliable indications of what faithful, practicing Catholics think, anyway....

Cardinal Kasper's nose is growing again by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Saturday

First Cardinal Kasper claimed that he had never made those shocking comments dismissing the views of African bishops. Then we heard the conversation. Now the cardinal says that he won’t comment on the taped interview because it was unauthorized and journalist Edward Pentin had not introduced...

Challenge Grant Begins as Synod Ends by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Friday

As the Synod on the Family draws to a close on Sunday, I am pleased announce that the CatholicCulture.org Boosters have provided a Challenge Grant to match all new donations up to $45,000. These matching funds are critical to our success this year. Please visit our Fall Campaign page for more...

What's wrong with this Synod, IV: Unprepared for marriage by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Friday

As the Synod of Bishops continues to focus on troubled marital (and non-marital) relationships, several prominent prelates have speculated that there are probably many Catholics living in marital unions that would, on close inspection, be recognized as invalid. That suggestion cannot be...

No, mainstream religious orders aren't attracting vocations as fast as younger traditional orders by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Friday

Let’s say you have two children. One of them, a little toddler, has put on 5 pounds in the past month. The other, a teenage boy, has also gained 5 pounds over the same span of time. Which one would you say is growing faster? The toddler, obviously. It’s not surprising when a healthy...

The Synod: Is the sky falling? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Friday

I confess I marvel at how many people assume that conflict among bishops at the Synod on the Family must mean that the sky is falling. If one side or the other in a particular dispute employs strategies that seem more appropriate to politics, the fear is that they are evil geniuses destroying the...

A Manichean Luther by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Oct 17

An in-depth article at Unam Sanctam Catholicam takes a look at modern scholarship which reveals that Martin Luther's theology was far less orthodox than is commonly believed: For most of post-Reformation history, it has been axiomatic in theological histories of the controversy to propose...

A chaotic synod? Reason three: Marriage itself by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 16

In my last installment, I concluded that we must still consider why marriage presents the Synod on the Family with the most difficult topic of all. In reflecting on the distinctive nature of marriage, we will soon see more than ever why we should expect the synodal process, stretching over a year...

The trouble with 'gradualism' by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 15

Pope Francis has compared the Church to a field hospital, a place where wounded people come to be healed. Let’s apply that very useful metaphor to the relatio post disceptationem, the interim document from the Synod of Bishops, and in particular to that document’s call for...

Sorting out the Synod by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Oct 14

Yesterday I posted the second part of my explanation of why we should expect the progress of the Synod on the Family to be a bit confused. See A chaotic synod? Reason two: The Church in our time. I hope to complete this analysis tomorrow, with a consideration of the unique problem presented to...

What's wrong with this Synod, III: First World problems by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 14

Perhaps now is as good a time as any for a reminder that the official topic for this extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops is: “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” During these last 10 days we have heard a great deal about divorce,...

A chaotic synod? Reason two: The Church in our time by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 13

The second reason the current Synod on the Family will inevitably seem chaotic is the unique situation of the Church in this period of history. In my last installment, I explained that a certain degree of chaos is integral to the synodal process, and in the third and final installment I will...

About this Synod by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Oct 10

To tell the truth, we know very little about the progress of the Synod on the Family, for reasons Phil Lawler explains in his latest commentary, What's wrong with this Synod, II: Debate is free, open (and censored). Phil thinks we may know enough to seriously wonder whether the bishops are...

A chaotic synod? Reason one: The nature of synods by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 10

It is very difficult to assess what is in the minds of most bishops as they work behind the scenes at the current Synod on the Family. The reports of the proceedings are very scanty, and often couched in terms that can be interpreted in multiple ways. A perceived lack of direction may be more...

What's wrong with this Synod, II: Debate is free, open (and censored) by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 10

Speaking to the Synod of Bishops on its first day of discussions, Pope Francis urged the participants to speak out boldly, “without human respect, without timidity.” The secretary-general of the Synod, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, echoed that message, saying that “discussion at the Synod is to...

Pastoral-needs quiz by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 10

Among the following groups, which does NOT require special pastoral attention and a warm welcome into every Catholic parish? active homosexuals cohabiting couples couples who are divorced and remarried (no annulment) daily communicants who do not contribute to the Bishop’s...

It's safe. Perfectly safe. No need to mention it. by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 10

Researchers at the University of Adelaide, Australia, are questioning whether estrogen in the environment might account for a rise in obesity and a drop in sperm count among men in affluent countries. The Daily Mail helpfully informs us that chemicals similar to estrogen can be found in PVC pipes...

What’s wrong with this Synod, I: Shuffling the deck chairs by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 9

[This is the first in a series of essays on the current Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the family. I should begin with the caveat that my comments are based on public reports from the Synod. The actual discussions may be developing along different lines. I hope so.] Does the Synod of Bishops...

On Supreme Courts, Synods and Evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Oct 7

If you live outside the United States, you may not have heard that the US Supreme Court is permitting gay marriage to become the law of the land by default. One wonders if it is things like this that have driven twenty-three priests to run for office in Brazil. But no, that cannot be, since...

While his cause is stalled: Remembering Bishop Fulton Sheen by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 7

The cause for beatification of the Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen is on hold because of a dispute over Sheen’s body between the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois. Born in 1895, Sheen was ordained for the Diocese of Peoria in 1919, and it is Peoria that has taken...

As the Synod on the Family Opens... by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Oct 3

The Synod on the Family opens on Sunday. There will be a second synod a year from now, so do not expect rapid recommendations. These synods are as important for stimulating courageous and effective episcopal leadership as for anything else. With this in mind, Cardinal Angelo Scola's...

Why the Wesolowski trial belongs at the Vatican by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 3

Suppose you were arrested and told that you’d be facing criminal charges that could lead to a 12-year prison sentence. Would you say that the police were “sheltering” you? I doubt it. Yet a Boston Globe editorial complains that the Vatican is sheltering Jozef Wesolowski, the defrocked...

How ESPN makes Uncle Screwtape happy by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 2

Anthony Esolen is always worth reading. He hits nails on heads. And he comes at his targets from unexpected angles, so that the point is pounded home almost before the reader can see where it’s going. A professional football star is charged with subjecting his child to pitiless physical...

Does the Kasper proposal undermine the New Covenant? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Oct 2

In yesterday’s City Gates piece, Using the figure of Pope Francis for evangelization, I alluded to aspects of Pope Francis’ approach which keep us off balance and raise questions in our minds. But I also wrote that “Catholic doctrine is deep in his bones”. As Francis...

The myth of religious violence by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Oct 2

At CatholicCulture.org we grow weary of hearing so many people who should know better praise our secular institutions for saving us from the violence inherent in religious faith. Nonetheless, we “soldier” on, ministering to ignorance. After all, it doesn’t take more than a...

Using the figure of Pope Francis for evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Oct 1

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" - Oct 1

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" - Sep 30

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" - Sep 30

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" - Sep 29

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" - Sep 29

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" - Sep 29

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" - Sep 26

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" - Sep 26

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" - Sep 26

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" - Sep 26

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...

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Ignatius Press into the Breach: Trumping the Kasper Proposal 15 hours ago
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