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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.

The political outlook after Obergefell by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Monday

Now what? Now that same-sex marriage is a reality throughout the US—or rather, the legal fiction of same-sex marriage is mandated in every state—what’s next? It should be evident already that the Obergefell decision escalated, rather than concluded, a national debate. Just as...

Good news/bad news on the Vatican PR overhaul by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Monday

The good news: The Vatican has a new streamlined media operation, with one office responsible for coordinating all communications work. The bad news: that office is staffed by four Italians and one Argentinean-- all of whom have been working for the existing Vatican media groups and/or the...

So now is it 'hate speech' to deplore the Obergefell decision? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Monday

The ink was barely dry on last week’s Supreme Court ruling when Father James Martin, SJ, began scolding Catholics who were, from his decorous perspective, too strident in denouncing the decision. ”No issue brings out so much hatred from so many Catholics as homosexuality,”...

Acedia and the Unbearable Lightness of Being by Thomas Van in "On the Culture" - Monday

In his recent book The Noonday Devil, Jean-Charles Nault suggests that one aspect of acedia, or spiritual torpor, in modern society is that man does not want to receive goods that have a source outside and above himself. This leads him to deny the infinite, which in turn leads him to a...

Is Western Politics Dead? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Friday

Today the American Supreme Court issued a new definition of marriage. See US Supreme Court rules all states must recognize same-sex marriage. This is just one of a continuing series of political acts around the world which manipulate human law in defiance of truth. I comment in my latest On the...

On marriage, law, politics and the death of the West by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Friday

Here we go again. The United States Supreme Court has created a new legal definition of marriage and ruled that all states must recognize same-sex marriage. In other recent news, a UN committee has demanded that Ireland hold two referendums—or referenda, according to grammarians of the...

The non-judgmental judge by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Friday

Robert Mickens is not happy about the huge pro-family rally that was held in Rome last weekend. Mickens writes: Without calling into question the good will or intentions of the individual participants, the gathering seemed like an exercise in fear-mongering through the use of...

How often did police join in the cover-up of sexual abuse? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Thursday

Cardinal Sean Brady has apologized yet again for the failure to stop the predatory behavior of a pedophile priest, the late Brendan Smyth. If you’ve been following the story you know that Cardinal Brady—now retired, but once the Archbishop of Armagh, successor to St. Patrick, and...

Pressure on Christians mounts by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jun 23

It seems that each day the pressure on Christians grows a little greater. Of course, we ought always to feel an intense yearning for greater holiness. But there is no lack of unkind reminders of our vocations as saints! In this connection, I find it very interesting that my own Diocese of...

What’s all this about air conditioning? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 23

It never ceases to amaze me that some people who consider themselves good Catholics are ever ready to jump all over the Pope, even with ridicule, whenever he says something that—in their sole and generally ill-considered estimation—is “stupid”. Such persons frequently...

An encyclical about life at the end of an era by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 22

Ross Douthat of the New York Times has an unusual insight on Laudato Si’: he argues that the Pope has taken a clear stand in “the argument between dynamists and castastrophists.” He’s a catastrophist. Douthat explains: Like dynamists, catastrophists can be on the left...

Invoking martyrs for marriage while we wait for the Supreme Court ruling by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 22

As we nervously await a momentous decision from the US Supreme Court, today we celebrate the feast of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher. It’s appropriate to invoke their help, in our prayers that the Court will be guided by right reason in ruling on a case that would re-define...

My favorite podcast: the History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Jun 20

Do you enjoy learning about philosophy? (If not, please leave the premises immediately. Don’t let the Adorno hit your Aspasia on the way out.) I suspect a fair number of our readers would like to know more about philosophy, but find themselves with relatively little time to pursue that...

The new encyclical, and our coverage by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "Insights" - Jun 19

You may already know that CatholicCulture.org has just migrated to new and more powerful servers. Perhaps we should expect occasional glitches! Some users have already noticed that the two hours of down-time we scheduled yesterday for this change ended up being pushed back to 10:30 EST this...

What Laudato Si' is really about by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 19

I have read and heard many comments by politicians and activists on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’. But all the comments focus on the question of human-caused global warming, the reality of which the Pope accepts. Thus comments from “liberals” predictably express...

The challenge of Laudato Si by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 18

We were expecting something big from Pope Francis: something controversial, something that carried a heavy political charge. What he has given us is something bigger. Laudato Si is more provocative, but less political, than what we expected. Those who try to twist the document into one...

Read like a Catholic: Avoid category mistakes in assessing the new encyclical. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 17

Tomorrow we will have a new encyclical. Based on the earlier version leaked to Sandro Magister, it is going to be a fairly long one. Responsible commentators are using the leaked version to be able to respond more quickly to the encyclical when it appears, but they are holding their fire until...

The mountain moved by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 17

Were you aware that Mount Everest has moved—about three centimeters to the southwest? They say it’s because of the April earthquake in Nepal. For my part, I’d be looking for someone with faith the size of a mustard seed. In this case, a biggish mustard seed....

The Dysfunctional Stages of the Interior Life by Fr. Jerry Pokorsky in "On the News" - Jun 17

The PBS American Experience series is fascinating. From Teddy Roosevelt to Vietnam and beyond, the producers report events from various points of view with an admirable attention to historical facts. One such production, “The Summer of Love,” is the story of hippies converging on the...

The 'third rail' of the priestly abuse scandal: the role of homosexuality by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 15

Last week in this space, I argued that by setting up a tribunal to judge bishops accused of neglect in sex-abuse cases, the Vatican has finally addressed the second of three related scandals. Now let’s address the third scandal. The first scandal, as you may recall, was the sexual abuse...

The Conciliar discussion on Divine Revelation, from de Lubac’s notes by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 15

I have just added a new section to Henri de Lubac’s fascinating notes on Vatican II. The addition covers the discussions of the doctrinal schema which would eventually become the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. The proceedings at the Second Vatican Council in mid-November of 1962...

Henri de Lubac's fascinating notes on Vatican II by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Jun 15

Here I explore the notes made by the French theologian Henri de Lubac as he prepared for and participated in the Second Vatican Council. I will gradually add revealing excerpts and comments from successive stages of de Lubac’s involvement. Each stage will be linked below. They will be...

Marion Cotillard in Joan of Arc at the Stake by Thomas Van in "On the Culture" - Jun 13

This weekend, the New York Philharmonic has been performing Arthur Honegger’s oratorio Joan of Arc at the Stake, with the wonderful French actress Marion Cotillard as St. Joan. I was fortunate to attend Friday night’s performance. Honegger, a Swiss composer born in France and...

Holding bishops accountable: Vatican tribunal addresses the 2nd scandal by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 11

By creating a new Vatican tribunal that will judge bishops accused of negligence in abuse cases, Pope Francis has addressed the second of three companion scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church worldwide in the early 21st century. As I explained a decade ago in The Faithful Departed,...

Watching The Diary of a Country Priest: Bresson's film adaptation by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Jun 10

Since I've just finished a series of articles on Bernanos's novel The Diary of a Country Priest, I’d like to say something about the famous film adaptation by Robert Bresson, which deserves its reputation as one of the greatest Catholic films ever made. The film hews very...

Vibrant Catholicism, 3: Unity by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 10

For the third installment in this series, I have been wondering whether I wanted to take up the importance of Catholic consistency in lifestyle decisions, particularly for parents, or instead to focus on the need to exemplify a deep practical unity with the Church. The recent outcry in the...

The real lesson of free speech, surely, is that ungrounded pluralism is doomed. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 9

It’s a complex question, freedom of speech, and it demands prudence on all sides. This was illustrated all too clearly by the imprisonment of Htin Linn Oo, who criticized the behavior of certain Buddhist monks in Myanmar. A well-known writer and member of the opposition to the party in...

Archbishop Nienstedt isn't—and shouldn't be—the sole focus of the criminal complaint in Minnesota by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 8

The criminal charges against the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis are very bad news for Archbishop John Nienstedt. He now becomes the American bishop most clearly in the cross-hairs of Church critics; the calls for his resignation will be louder and more frequent. Like his most recent...

Reading The Diary of a Country Priest: Suffering and Humility by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Jun 8

[This is part of a series of articles collecting insightful passages on various themes from Georges Bernanos's classic novel The Diary of a Country Priest.] Suffering I can understand how a man, sure of himself and his courage, might wish to make of his death a perfect...

Two quick music links: Ennio Morricone and Ted Gioia by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Jun 8

This week the Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone will be conducting a Mass he composed for the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Jesuit order. The Mass is titled "Missae Papae Francisci." Morricone has scored many great films including The Mission, The Good, the...

Pope Francis simply doesn’t take sides. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 5

It’s been an odd last few days. On Wednesday we learned from Cardinal Robert Sarah that Pope Francis charged him, in his leadership of the Congregation for Divine Worship, to continue the goals for the liturgy as envisioned by Pope Benedict. The next day, the news broke that Cardinal...

Against Interfaith-Dialogical Mushiness by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Jun 4

At Good Letters, a blog hosted by Image journal, poet Brian Volck writes on the falsity of the cliché "All religions are really saying the same thing in different words." Volck notes that successful interfaith dialogues, such as the one between the Dalai Lama and...

The vernacular in, Latin out. Why? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 4

I’ve changed my mind about not delving into the liturgical arguments in the discussions on the liturgy at Vatican II. I did not quote many of these in my ongoing extracts from Henri de Lubac’s notes on the Council, because the arguments are pretty much the same now as they were then....

A Vatican official's disgraceful diatribe by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 4

A few weeks ago I worried that the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences was pushing the Vatican into needless and divisive political controversy. Now I’m afraid the same Pontifical Academy is pushing itself into disgrace. The story begins in April, when the Pontifical Academy of Social...

Climate change, Catholic mediation, and taming the wolf by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 3

Over at the Taming the Wolf Institute, Greg Stone offers an interesting approach to the thorny questions raised by the recent support of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences for the moral and political aims of the global warming movement. I commented on this briefly in What was the climate change...

Did sexual abuse prompt a murder? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jun 3

As I read this story from yesterday’s CWN headline coverage, a scenario arose full-blown in my mind. I know nothing about what happened to Father Joseph Kerrigan. I don’t even know whether he was guilty of sexual abuse, as charged. But I can easily imagine what might have happened, in this or...

Reading The Diary of a Country Priest: Hell by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Jun 2

[This is part of a series of articles collecting insightful passages on various themes from Georges Bernanos's classic novel The Diary of a Country Priest.] In the following two passages, the protagonist tries to give a member of his flock some idea of the true horror of...

Vibrant Catholicism, 2: A life of constant prayer by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jun 2

I suspect this series on “vibrant Catholicism” will be the most difficult series I have ever written. There is almost no conceivable topic which could not be taken up and dissected to help us understand the nature of an effectively Catholic response. It is hard to know where to begin,...

Church Fathers: Background on Heresies by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - Jun 1

We are reaching a point in the history of Christianity at which combatting heresy becomes a principal concern of ecclesiastical writers. We will soon be looking, for instance, at St. Irenaeus, whose status as the most important theologian of the second century is due largely to his massive work...

Pope Francis: Get it? Got it. Good! by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jun 1

The older I get, the more I tend to screen out all the “noise” which my lengthening experience has confirmed to be useless. So maybe this is just me. But my impression is that the cacophony of self-serving jabber surrounding the pontificate of Jorge Mario Bergoglio has subsided...

Vatican showdown by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jun 1

What happens when a member of a papal commission engages in irresponsible public criticism of a leading cardinal? We’re about to find out. Under ordinary circumstances there’s no doubt that Peter Saunders would be quickly dismissed from the papal commission. But in the current...

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The political outlook after Obergefell 21 hours ago
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So now is it 'hate speech' to deplore the Obergefell decision? June 29
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