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Expert commentary on the spiritual, moral, political, social, cultural, and ecclesiastical issues facing Catholics today.

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Building the Kingdom of God

Last night I dreamed that I had to type “the Kingdom of God” into a computer, as a kind of password, to solve a major configuration problem. Apparently I tried to do this for hours, and I could not type it correctly. I woke up somewhat unsettled. Perhaps that's why I decided to...

On guard against ourselves: The problems of aging leadership

One of the reasons Saint John Paul II was so remarkably popular was because he was a comparatively young man when he was elected Pope. He was just 58 years of age, which in our day falls some years shy of being elderly. Fifty-eight may well be the new forty-five. In any case, while he had many...

The Womanpriests fantasy: installment 614

If you're a regular reader, you know by now that I take a special interest in the contortions that journalists go through when they report on the bogus "ordinations" of Catholic women. Reporters will usually concede that the Catholic hierarchy does not recognize these...

The Peasant Life, Close to Living Water

After last week's writing on obstacles to renewal, Jennifer Gregory Miller leads us back into more positive territory with her reflections: I Would Rather Be a Peasant: Contemplating the Rural Life. Also, after rounding out his recent essays on the shortcomings of contemporary bishops (Is...

The intrusion of secular values: A mysterious case study

I’ve noticed a great many negative cultural trends in the course of my life. In fact, from the Catholic perspective, very few trends in Western culture have been positive. It distresses me that I have not managed to leave a healthier cultural environment to my children and grandchildren. But...

The madness of non-practicing Catholics: boycotting the feast

If you attended Mass today, you probably heard the parable of the king’s banquet. And if you read the CWN news headlines, you learned that Mass attendance has plummeted in the Pittsburgh diocese. This is the story about the life of the Catholic Church in our day. And it isn’t just...

So, is Christianity 'over'?

There are days, I confess, when the news gets me down. But I hope that I’ll never be so discouraged that I’d say this: I think we have to accept the fact that Christianity—in the sense of Christianity as the common religion, with a mass following—is...

Is 'corruption' the right way to describe the dysfunction of the Catholic hierarchy?

Several readers have questioned my use of the term “corruption” to describe the current state of the Catholic hierarchy. Few if any bishops use their positions for illicit gains, my friends write; so it is not accurate to say that they are corrupt. I see the point, but I disagree. Let...

The Catholic Furor over Islam

Last Friday we reported that the President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences challenged Islamic scholars to give a peaceful interpretation of the Qu'ran. He noted that there are passages which make this very difficult. It was surprising, then, that in a debate with Robert Spencer...

Islam: When the Church can speak authoritatively, and when she cannot

This would be hilarious if it weren’t evidence of confusion in the Church. It seems that Relevant Radio carried a debate between Robert Spencer and Msgr. Stuart Swetland on this question: “Is Islam violent?” Spencer runs the website jihadwatch.org and Msgr. Swetland, who holds a...

Reflections on Authentic Renewal

We have been having a great discussion of the possibilities for ongoing Catholic renewal this week on CatholicCulture.org. It began with the piece I mentioned in Tuesday's message, and I've added two subsequent essays in response to questions from readers. Meanwhile, Phil Lawler has...

When everybody else 'gets it'—the bishops' blind spot

My column yesterday, on how bishops “don’t get it,” has prompted some revealing responses. Without a single exception, the lay people who have taken the time to respond to me have agreed with my basic point: that our bishops are unaware of the extent to which they are the...

Episcopal renewal: The thin line, and our response

Two other questions were raised by the correspondent I mentioned yesterday, concerning whether or not the world’s bishops are likely, in the absence of effective papal leadership, to take a greater responsibility for furthering authentic Catholic renewal in their own dioceses. The first of...

Catholic bishops 'don't get it'—the fundamental problem is a corrupt clerical culture

“Who is going to save our Church? Do not look to the priests. Do not look to the bishops. It’s up to you, the laity, to remind our priests to be priests and our bishops to be bishops.”                          ...

Will Catholic bishops really lead an ongoing Catholic renewal?

I wrote yesterday that Catholic renewal is not dead, but that under Pope Francis its center of gravity has shifted from the pope to the bishops. I proposed that the vacuum created at the top of the hierarchy during this pontificate could well spur bishops around the world to take greater personal...

Whither Catholic Renewal?

Facing a concern that Pope Francis will not give clear signals for the continuation of Catholic renewal, quite a few people took the Pope's recent comments on terrorism as another missed opportunity (or worse). See: Phil Lawler: Is Catholic-Muslim dialogue possible? Yes, but... Jeff...

Is there any hope left for the renewal of the Church?

Throughout the West, it is not hard to see how far authentic Catholic renewal still has to go before it can have a significant cultural impact inside or outside the Church. Indeed, the Church very often continues to form a secular culture even among her own children, as she has done since I was a...

Final Liturgical Year volume for 2015-2016 now available

The final ebook for the 2015-2016 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. The sixth volume overall in the annual series, Ordinary Time Completed rounds out the current liturgical year, taking you right up to Advent. This volume covers all the days from August...

On papal language: Fundamentalism, my foot. Or Christ’s feet, hands and side.

At first I tried to laugh off Pope Francis’ remarks about Islamic violence, during the in-flight interview following World Youth Day in Poland. These comments were made in response to a question raised by Antoine Marie Izoarde of i.Media: “Why do you, when you speak of these violent...

Is Catholic-Muslim dialogue possible? Yes, but...

This week began with the striking statement from Pope Francis that Islam should not be regarded as the source of terrorist violence. The Pope's statement, suggesting that Islam is no more or less prone to violence than other faiths (including our own), is one in a long line of simliar claims,...

Three questions on Biden's latest display of contempt for the faith

A Catholic who participates in a ceremony at which a woman claims priestly ordination is subject to the penalty of excommunication, because that ceremony is a parody of a sacrament. So what about a Catholic who participates in—in fact, officiates at—a same-sex wedding, which is also a...

Happiness amid controversy

Controversies in the Church continue to arise. Some are mere differences in opinion or emphasis; others are serious conflicts over the need for authentic renewal. Phil Lawler highlighted two such disagreements recently. In Cardinal Burke's 'unhelpful' suggestion, Phil notices again...

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...

Don’t discount meaning. It leads to happiness.

I’m gazing out a window overlooking Willsboro Bay on Lake Champlain. I have an opportunity to do this for a few days most Summers, because my mother-in-law has a “camp” up here. Each time I do so, I am struck by the beauty of the place. And each time I experience this beauty, it...

Pelosi and Pelosi's God

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a PBS audience this week that white male voters have been stupid: They voted against their own economic interests because of guns, because of gays, and because of God: the three G’s. God being the woman’s right to choose. That last sentence is stunning, isn’t...

Abortion and deportation: not morally equivalent

Explaining why he believes that neither the Democratic nor the Republican party deserves Catholic votes, Bishop Daniel Flores sets out a sound moral premise, but then jumps from it to an unwarranted conclusion. Bishop Flores, you may recall, finds the Democrats unacceptable because they favor...

Ahead of the game: Friday's Insights today!

I like to think I am sending out Friday's Insights message today, though it raises a question of logic. In any case, I'll be on the road tomorrow. I've been running a mini-campaign to raise the remaining funds we absolutely must have this month, and we have just $797 to go. So if...

Cardinal Burke's 'unhelpful' suggestion

In his interview-book Hope for the World, Cardinal Raymond Burke makes the (accurate) observation that Islam envisions a state governed by Islamic law. “In reality, there is no place for other religions, even though they maybe tolerated,” he says. This does not sit well with some...

Ad Majorem [fill-in-the-blank] Gloriam

Much has been made, these last few days, about the Jesuit training of Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee. What does his Jesuit education tell us? Elizabeth Drescher has something to tell us. Drescher is the author of Choosing Our Religion: the Spiritual Lives of...

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...

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