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

The HHS Whitewash and the Obliteration of Moral Distinctions by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 1, 2012

When I criticized Maureen Dowd’s take on the American bishops’ opposition to the HHS Mandate (as did Bishop John Wester a day later), I posed a number of questions. One of them was this: If, as a Gallup Poll cited by Dowd suggests, 82% of Catholics think that birth control is morally...

Words of Wisdom: The Book by Christopher Mirus - May 31, 2012

There is no questioning the importance of Thomas Aquinas for the Catholic intellectual tradition. Nor can one question the difficulty of reading him, in translation, nearly 750 years after his death. Indeed, to read any author separated from oneself by massive cultural and intellectual changes...

The Tiresome Tale of Maureen Dowd by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 29, 2012

One tires of Maureen Dowd. But then one tires of her newspaper, the New York Times, too. Between the two of them, they cannot seem to analyze their way out of a paper bag. Why might this be? A case in point is Dowd’s analysis of the opposition of the American bishops to the HHS Mandate,...

Bishop Blaire, the HHS Mandate, and the Common Good by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 24, 2012

Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California would have preferred a wider consultation on the USCCB’s opposition to the HHS Mandate. He is distressed by the number of individuals and organizations filing lawsuits in the fight against the mandate, and he would have liked to have seen two...

The SSPX, Rome and Armchair Negotiatiators by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 22, 2012

Having seen the news conference and read the reports of the unveiling of a new book on Pope Benedict’s keys to the interpretation of Vatican II, we can now breathe a collective sigh of relief that the negotiations between the SSPX and the Holy See are not in the hands of the books’...

Splintering: The SSPX Dilemma by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 17, 2012

Let me say again that I hope the reconciliation of the Society of St. Pius X to the Church is swift and complete. Sadly, however, current information suggests there is real danger of a split within the organization if SSPX head Bernard Fellay signs an accord with Rome. This should not be...

Catholic Identity in Education: A Long Way to Go by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 8, 2012

I was happy see Pope Benedict return to the theme of Catholic identity in Catholic educational institutions in his May 5th ad limina address to a group of American bishops. The battle for the Faith in Catholic higher education throughout the world was joined by Pope John Paul II in Ex Corde...

War of the Drones by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 7, 2012

I haven’t studied the situation thoroughly, but the ever-increasing use of drones by the United States to “take out” small targets throughout the world is very troubling. President Obama has escalated the use of drones throughout his administration, using them in Pakistan for the...

Modernism Hits the Jackpot, and Loses…Again by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 4, 2012

When the Dean of the Roman Rota said we must learn again to believe in our capacity to marry (see Dean of Roman Rota suggests stricter rule for annulments), the spiritual history of the modern world clicked together for me like the five matching symbols on the original slot machine. Bishop...

Democracies: What They Don’t Do Well by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 30, 2012

In recent years, many interpreters of Catholic social teaching have argued that democratic forms of government are most in keeping with the dignity of the human person. The assumption is that democracies enable people to play a greater role in managing their political, social and economic affairs,...

Celebrating Methodist-Catholic Occasional Theology by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 24, 2012

Sometimes we wonder about the fruits of ecumenism. A case in point is the recent release of the joint Catholic-Methodist statement on the connection between the Eucharist and environmental stewardship (see our news story). The extent of the theological agreement of the parties is that the...

The LCWR: To Be or Not to Be? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 19, 2012

No one is happier than I am with the Vatican’s announcement of the need to reform the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States. The news is somewhat surprising, since the initial signals from Rome following the visitation of American women religious suggested an...

Holiness Rules: How Contemporary Issues Should Drive Us to God by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 16, 2012

Returning to steady work on CatholicCulture.org after a week spent dealing with family issues, I find my perspective sharpened by distance. Having been pulled briefly away from daily commentary on the sacred and secular issues which affect our lives, I return convinced once again that all the...

What We Do Know, and What We Think We Know by Peter Mirus - Apr 12, 2012

In the course of listening to political, philosophical, and theological debate over the past several years, it has struck me how little people know compared to what they purport to know. Some of the leading pundits take good care to be proficient in their areas of expertise, but many more do not....

Oh, the Things People Say...and the Importance of Discipline by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 5, 2012

Pope Benedict went very far out of his way, at the annual Chrism Mass honoring the institution of the priesthood today, to criticize the group of dissident priests in Austria that is formally calling for disobedience to Church discipline and doctrine. Yesterday, Fr. Michael Graham, SJ, President...

Before Holy Week Passes Us By: The Lesson of Lent by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 3, 2012

When I was young, in college and the first few years afterward, I was fairly certain I had discovered the key that so many others had lost. Surely my special Catholic fervor and brilliance would dramatically alter the world. Alas, this was a very primitive Christianity, but I suppose I...

On Holy Days and Holidays by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 2, 2012

There are more and more opportunities, as time goes on, to employ Hercule Poirot’s famous expression that certain circumstances “give one furiously to think.” A case in point is the Cuban government’s declaration that Good Friday will be a national holiday this...

Augustine: Reason and Faith, Philosophy and God by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 30, 2012

Throughout his pontificate, Pope Benedict has argued that faith and reason are both necessary for the human person to understand reality and live properly. In his famous Regensburg address and elsewhere, he has stressed the need for Faith to purify Reason, and for Reason to purify Faith. He has...

The Pope to Cuba: Christ Alone Can Set Us Free by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 29, 2012

At yesterday’s Mass in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolucion, Pope Benedict preached on the regular daily readings to send a clear message to the Cuban people, including the Cuban government: Christ is the key to the truth, freedom and love by which society must be transformed. The first...

Constitutional Issues for Obamacare by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 27, 2012

As the Supreme Court begins hearing arguments on the constitutionality of Obamacare, it may be useful to identify the key issues in play. Essentially, these revolve around the Federal government’s authority (or lack thereof) to compel citizens to make purchases and the Federal...

Going Local by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 26, 2012

We hear with horror of the actions of the Chinese government to force bishops and their staff to take “learning classes” until they become “intelligent enough in their learning” (see Chinese officials detain bishop, compel him to attend ‘learning classes’). But...

Success and Failure in the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 23, 2012

Whenever the problem of parish closings comes up (see, for example, Phil Lawler’s critique in The patron saint of parish closings) I have two very strong reactions. First, I agree wholeheartedly that (under many if not most) circumstances it is a negative judgment on Catholic commitment and...

God: Philosophical Proofs and the Transcendentals by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 22, 2012

In my In Depth Analysis Proving God, I introduced a book by Robert J. Spitzer, SJ, entitled New Proofs for the Existence of God. I concentrated on the scientific arguments, which occupied the first part of the book. I should now like to discuss the philosophical arguments (Part Two) and Fr....

On Ignorance of Islam…and the Bogey Man by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 20, 2012

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran had this to say in a recent interview on the Al Jazeera television network: We succeeded in avoiding the clash of civilizations; let us avoid the clash of ignorance'…. There is fear of Islam, but it is due to ignorance…. When you speak to these...

Immigration: The Contested Principle by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 19, 2012

Recently I’ve tried to articulate an authentically Catholic approach to immigration, an approach which takes full account of what the Church has taught on the subject. I have found this difficult for two reasons. First, as with many controversial issues, people tend to respond based on their...

Catholic Action for Social Change by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 16, 2012

It is the proper right and duty of lay Catholics to take the lead in transforming the social order according to Christian values. As a general rule, it is the role of bishops to nourish and form the laity spiritually and to teach the moral principles which ought to guide the laity in their broader...

The Immigration Paradox: Blindness is Forbidden by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 13, 2012

The migration of large numbers of people is a worldwide problem, as even a casual look at recent news demonstrates. Today we learned that hundreds of thousands of Christians have been ordered to leave Sudan. Last week it was reported that Syrian Christians were fleeing to Lebanon. In February, the...

Roger Dubin: A Novelist in our Ranks by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 8, 2012

Well over a year ago, while I was in the midst of reviewing a series of new “Catholic” novels (beginning with Catholic Novels: The Big Question), a user and supporter of CatholicCulture.org by the name of Roger Dubin kindly sent me an autographed copy of his own novel. He had published...

Are Babies Not Persons? Seeing Patterns by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 5, 2012

A recent article in The Journal of Medical Ethics argued that infanticide is morally equivalent to abortion, and therefore perfectly justifiable. This might have been surprising, except that a month earlier the same journal had published an article arguing that it is morally permissible for...

Global Warming, Global Repentance by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 1, 2012

Uncle Jeffrey’s Law is a simple one: If you are looking for something striking to write about, scan the recent headlines made by bishops. A perfect case in point is Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s joint statement with other Christian leaders requiring all of us to repent for climate...

Breezy, Self-Help Politics…Before It’s Too Late? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 29, 2012

An unusual book slid across my desk the other day. It is the “Ignatius Press Edition” of Indivisible by James Robison and Jay W. Richards. The purpose of the book is to provide a thumbnail guide to how we should understand and respond to many of the cultural and political challenges of...

The Sisters and Universal Health Care: Forgetting What Religion Is by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 24, 2012

You may already have seen our news story, Liberal nuns file brief in support of Obama health-care plan. And you may have wondered, as I have, when something will be done to (a) bring wayward communities of women religious into fidelity to Christ and the Church, and (b) bring so-called Catholic...

On Temptation, Sin, SIN…and Priests by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 23, 2012

Sometimes we don’t know in advance whose toes we’re going to crunch. Such was the case when I had a little fun with the intense moralism of a recent book review in my City Gates item entitled Adultery of the Heart. I confess that I was taken by surprise when several users posted Sound...

Facing Lent Head On by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 21, 2012

Lent is or ought to be the time of year when we stop blaming everybody else for all that is wrong with the Church and start blaming ourselves. It is a time in which we ought to realize that if grace has been lacking or has failed to produce the results we would ordinarily expect, this is most...

Religious Liberty and Conscience Rights: A Caution by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 17, 2012

Both religious liberty and freedom of conscience still have considerable traction in Western culture, and that is not a bad thing. As a political strategy, for example, it is smarter for the American bishops to promote conscience rights than for them to fight the HHS mandate on the basis of...

The Pope on the Financial Sector’s Divinity by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 16, 2012

Watch out: The Pope’s message about the new financial oligarchy is becoming increasingly direct. In an address on a visit to Rome’s major seminary yesterday, Benedict emphasized that the world of finance “has become an oppressive power—one that almost has to be...

Catholic Universities: Steps on the Way Back by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 15, 2012

Three news reports concerning Catholic universities in recent days alert us once again to the depth of their fall from grace. The problems illustrate three aspects of corruption: lack of Catholic commitment among faculty; lack of identity in dealing with the State; and unwillingness to be...

The HHS Mandate and Excommunication by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 10, 2012

The US Bishops have been leading a fight against the HHS contraception/sterilization/abortion mandate now for about two weeks. The news of this effort, and of the swelling opposition to the mandate, has been fast and furious and, on the whole, satisfying. To review what’s been going on, scan...

Salvation vs. Politics by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 9, 2012

Several readers responded to my On the Culture essay on Priestly Fidelity in ways that surprised or intrigued me. In a few cases, I was criticized for missing the point of authentic renewal in stating that three widely-varying levels of Catholic commitment would be helpful in the political...

Priestly Fidelity: The Time to Take Prisoners Has Passed by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 7, 2012

The latest report on Fr. Michael Pfleger in Chicago reminds me that if the American bishops hope to rally the faithful to oppose the HHS mandate, they will have to put priestly fidelity at the top of their agenda. Right where it should have been all along. Cultural pressures have certainly...

A Dream Bishop Rallies His Troops by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 3, 2012

“As your bishop, I come to you with an apology, a prayer, and a mission. We face a grave threat from the government of the United States, the threat of the most powerful government in the world attempting to force Catholics to participate in actions which both Faith and nature teach us are...

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