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Commentary and reflection on Catholic life and ideas by Dr. Jeff Mirus, President of CatholicCulture.org.

Russell Shaw’s Book on Clericalism by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 1, 2012

Please note that I have just reviewed Russell Shaw's interesting book, To Hunt, to Shoot, to Entertain: Clericalism and the Catholic Laity. You'll find it in the In Depth Analysis section here:...

De-Baptism and the Records of the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 31, 2012

It’s a short story with big consequences: A French diocese appeals order to remove baptismal record. A similar case occurred in Spain regarding membership records kept by Opus Dei. There are four reasons for the Church to categorically refuse such demands. 1. History: The records we create...

Back to the Future in Ireland by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 30, 2012

I doubt things have deteriorated quite enough for this to go anywhere, but the logic of a recent hate crime complaint in Ireland is intriguing. Humanist John Colgan argued that a recent homily of Bishop Philip Boyce of Raphoe constituted a hate crime under an act passed in 1989. Before I point...

Archbishop Dolan’s Letdown, and Job One by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 27, 2012

What’s wrong with this picture? The leader of the American hierarchy, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, said in an interview that he was “terribly let down, disappointed and disturbed” by President Obama’s decision to force insurance coverage of contraception and...

Art Masterpieces Teaching Church History by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 25, 2012

Duquesne University Press has done something noteworthy by publishing two new full-color books which present masterpieces of art with accompanying text to illustrate key moments in the history of the Church, and also the lives of the saints. The books, originally published in French and authored...

On Life Day, Obama Defies Reality...Again by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 23, 2012

It should come as no surprise that President Obama has once again used the day of the March for Life to signal his direct and strenuous opposition to the goals of the marchers. In a brief statement, the President recalled the importance of the Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion and...

Is Homosexuality Biologically Determined? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 20, 2012

We’ve been trained by the media to believe that same-sex attraction is biologically determined, that it is unchangeable and damaging to attempt to change it, that it has no correlation whatsoever with decreasing mental health, and that homosexual relationships are equivalent to heterosexual...

My Catholic Call, and Yours by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 18, 2012

The first readings at Mass the last two mornings are favorites of mine. Both involve the call of God, one to Samuel, the other to David. David, of course, received a call when Samuel anointed him King of Israel, the youngest of Jesse’s sons. But today’s reading was about a different sort of...

Challenging the Limitations of Church Authority over Politics by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 16, 2012

My In Depth Analysis (Banning Contraceptives? The Art of the Possible) occasioned two Sound Off! comments which merit further discussion. One criticizes the limitations I set on the “vocational competence” of the Pope; the other questions limitations I set on the authority of the...

Self-Abandonment in the Winter of Our Discontent by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 12, 2012

Shakespeare’s Richard III begins with Richard lamenting the triumphal accession of his brother, King Edward IV, to the throne of England. His words are intended bitterly: “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York.” Richard, an ugly...

Papal Diplomacy, Values, and Ourselves by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 10, 2012

Each year during the Christmas season, the Pope addresses the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. In this address, he highlights the concerns which should animate the mutual efforts of the temporal powers throughout the world. This year, the Pope emphasized that the key to...

Ghosts of Christmas Past by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 6, 2012

The Week magazine of December 30th did a good job of briefing its readers on the Puritan opposition to celebrating Christmas which afflicted America well into the 19th century. The Pilgrims who began settling New England in 1620 argued that the very concept of holy days implied that there were...

Two Books: Devoted to Death and America's Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 6, 2012

R. Andrew Chesnut's Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, The Skeleton Saint and Thomas Tweed's America's Church: The National Shrine and Catholic Presence in the Nation’s Capital, both recently out from Oxford University Press, are reviewed together in our In Depth Analysis item, entitled Saint...

A New Year’s Resolution: Charity in Discussion by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 2, 2012

When I reflect on my own interaction with critics over the past year, I recall those occasions when I was decidedly not conciliatory. And in surveying various discussion groups, including some consisting only of dedicated Catholics, I’ve overheard my share of vitriolic exchanges. We’ve...

Fasting for Joy by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 30, 2011

You don’t have to look for long at Catholic news to know that the peaceful practice of one’s faith is hard to come by. Christians seem to be always suffering, and everywhere. Consider these headlines from just the past two days: 26 priests, religious, lay pastoral workers slain...

Even Austrian Darkness Cannot Overcome the Light by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 27, 2011

In February of this year, an Austrian teacher, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, was found guilty of “denigration of religious beliefs of a legally recognized religion” because, during a seminar course on Islam, she stated that “Muhammed had a thing for little girls.”...

Pedophilia: An Obscure Message of Hope by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 22, 2011

It may seem strange to comment on pedophilia in the period leading up to Christmas, when we would all prefer to focus on children, and indeed on the Child, without worrying about the dangers to which they are exposed. But this might actually be a good time to send out a message of hope...

And the master commended them, saying… by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 20, 2011

In my home town, thieves are very active in the copper business. The metal has risen in value so much that the robbers go into empty homes and strip them of their copper piping. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, tubas and sousaphones are disappearing rapidly from high schools. Apparently the...

Jesus Christ: The Singularity of Christmas by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 19, 2011

The Pope’s reflections on the Virgin Birth as a warranty of the divinity of her Son remind me of the events which scientists describe with the term “singularity”. Because a virgin birth cannot be explained by any natural process which precedes it, a Catholic would call it a...

Political Counsel from St. Thomas More by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 15, 2011

In the In Depth Analysis I just wrote, Toward a Realistic View of Society, I make the argument that a realistic assessment of the social order begins with an understanding of the importance of spiritual and moral formation. I stand by that, but I might also have made a point about expectations. We...

Commission on Religious Freedom Indispensable? Oh Come Now... by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 13, 2011

My theory is that if we can’t reduce our Federal deficit by cutting the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, then there is probably nothing at all that we can cut. I know the US Bishops have urged Catholics to lobby to secure new funding for the Commission and I know that...

Pornography—or Persons as Objects by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 6, 2011

Did you know that more than 80% of all pornographic web pages originate in the United States? As with so many other things, we Americans are the chief exporters of pornography to the world. One could make a powerful foreign policy case against pornography, as it is little wonder that cultures...

Growing Up in Catholic Orphanages by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 5, 2011

From all you’ve heard about the Irish Church and abuse problems elsewhere, you might think this is a horror story, but it is not. A man named Edward Rohs, who coordinates mental health services for the New York City Field Office of the New York State Office of Mental Health, has just written...

The Assent Owed to Vatican II by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 2, 2011

What is finally emerging as the sticking point between the Vatican and the Society of Saint Pius X is the question of the assent owed to the Second Vatican Council. This is now the subject of an important essay in L’Osservatore Romano by one of the key negotiators for the Vatican, the...

An Exhortation to the Clergy by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 1, 2011

Are all priests and bishops beset with the evils of concupiscence, covetousness, pride of life and continuous involvement in secular affairs? The answer is “yes” if we mean they are beset with these temptations, but of course it is “no” if we mean they are constantly beset...

An Inside Joke about Teilhard de Chardin by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 30, 2011

Teilhard de Chardin was something of an inside joke himself. A French Jesuit who dabbled in both paleontology and theology in the first half of the twentieth century, Teilhard wrote a variety of small books spinning out a bizarre theory of evolutionary spirituality which, despite a...

A Catholic Shift on Sexual Abuse? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 29, 2011

Saturday’s address by Pope Benedict XVI to the U. S. Bishops of Region II may mark a turning point in the Catholic response to sexual abuse. I’ve been saying for years that the Church has been unfairly singled out and rapaciously prosecuted for what is an extremely widespread social...

The Moral Obligation of Reality by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 23, 2011

If a person feels depressed and wishes to commit suicide, does it amount to a personal attack if I urge him to resist his inclination, to understand that his depression is a disorder, and to seek to remedy it? If a young man experiences an intense desire for a one night stand with every voluptuous...

The Spiritual Tradition of Catholic England by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 22, 2011

Now here’s a real prayer for you: The holy Body of Christ Jesu be my salvation of body and soul. Amen. The Glorious blood of Christ Jesu bring my soul and body into the everlasting bliss. Amen. I cry God mercy; I cry God mercy; I cry God mercy; welcome my maker; welcome my redeemer; welcome...

Cardinal O’Malley, Resisting Gay Pressure, Stands by His Editor by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 21, 2011

Something is very wrong when priests join forces with gay activists in any cause whatsoever. The presumption must be that the priests in question are sympathetic to gay activism, and this constitutes scandal. That’s why I was glad to see Cardinal Sean O’Malley stand by the editor of...

Grace and Rationalization: Closely Linked by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 17, 2011

In studying the Catholic doctrine on grace, a fascinating connection emerges between rationalization and grace—or rather resistance to grace. I believe this explains quite a bit of what we instinctively sense about those who live and foster immoral lifestyles. It explains why those who are...

Catholic Charities: The Bishop of Springfield Gets it Right by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 15, 2011

“The silver lining of this decision is that our Catholic Charities going forward will be able to focus on being more Catholic and more charitable, while less dependent on government funding and less encumbered by intrusive state policies.” One is tempted to emblazon this statement by...

None So Blind: Obedience is an Antidote to Stupidity by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 11, 2011

Except with infallible doctrines, obedience is not an infallible safeguard. But it can go a long way toward knocking the stuffing out of us, by which I mean the sheer stupidity we generally fall into when we are too fond of our own judgment and our own will. To paraphrase Psalm 14:1: The fool says...

Joe Pa, Meet Cardinal Law by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 9, 2011

Nobody knows exactly who is guilty of what in the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. In 2002 a graduate assistant coach saw Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing a ten-year-old boy in the showers. Sandusky was, at the time, a former assistant coach who for a long time had been Joe Paterno’s right...

Continuing in Austria: Modernist Abuse of Vatican II by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 7, 2011

If you look at today’s report of new dissidence in Austria, you’ll see yet another example of the Modernist abuse of the Second Vatican Council. Hans Peter Hurka, the leader of the We Are Church movement there, claims his group will conduct liturgical ceremonies in which lay...

Pope Paul VI on Vatican II by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 4, 2011

From time to time I still see comments to the effect that the authority of the Second Vatican Council is problematic because Pope Paul VI said it did not promulgate any dogmatic definitions. This citation is thought to settle the matter. But it does not settle things in the way those who cite it...

Steve Jobs: A Cure for Restless Hearts? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 2, 2011

The widespread commentary on what Steve Jobs meant to the world following his death last month was as astonishing as it was vapid. And with all due respect to those who mourned at Apple stores, leaving flowers, candles and photos in makeshift shrines, the whole phenomenon seems to indicate little...

Lily: Real Life, Real Literature by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 1, 2011

I agreed to read the Lily Trilogy by Sherry Boas with some misgivings. The promotional literature asserts: “The books have a pro-life thread throughout and also deal with other problems perpetuated by the culture of death” including “the breakdown of marriage, promiscuity,...

Violence Religious and Secular by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 27, 2011

The Pope’s address at the interfaith pilgrimage to Assisi today is must reading. In it he identified two main sources of new forms of violence in the world today. Both are particularly apt topics for an interfaith pilgrimage. The first is the tendency to use religion as a justification for...

The PCJP’s Vision of Polity: The Ideal vs. the Real by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 25, 2011

I should like to add some additional remarks to Phil Lawler’s outstanding commentary on the call of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace for a world economic regulatory authority (see Spare us from Vatican economic analysts). I believe at the heart of the PCJP’s advice is a...

Toward the New Evangelization, with Courage by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 24, 2011

Recently Pope Benedict has highlighted the importance of a new evangelization, something which figured importantly also in the thought of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. On October 16th, the Pope closed a conference on evangelization by announcing a new Year of Faith to begin next...

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