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Catholic commentary and analysis on contemporary events and trends by Phil Lawler, Director of Catholic World News.

No items posted on March 01, 2012.

Santorum, the media, and the religious test by Phil Lawler - Feb 22, 2012

Of course New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd thinks of Sen. Rick Santorum as a religious fanatic. That’s what one expects from Dowd, whose contempt for the Catholic faith is as strong as her political liberalism. But for the past few days the Drudge Report, ordinarily friendly to...

The Obama strategy: let's talk about contraception by Phil Lawler - Feb 15, 2012

Dick Morris, who was once the hardball political strategist for President Bill Clinton, has an interesting take on strategic reasoning behind the Obama mandate. Morris—who has undergone both political and religious conversions since his salad days in the 1990s— argues that the Obama...

HHS mandate might awaken the sleeping Catholic conscience by Phil Lawler - Feb 3, 2012

"In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences," said New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan about the Obama administration’s new mandate for contraceptive coverage in health-care policies. Sad to say, we Catholics have done it...

Declining birth rates make the Islamic world more dangerous by Phil Lawler - Jan 27, 2012

David Goldman, who writes online under the pseudonym Spengler, has a new book out: How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too). While I haven’t yet read the book, I recently happened across Goldman’s preface, and it’s brilliant. It’s a longish piece, and not always...

Chastity, seen as a threat by Phil Lawler - Jan 27, 2012

Do you see what’s wrong with this lede from a news story in the Toronto Sun? Catholic school students deserve protection from bullying based on sexual orientation, but the publicly-funded education system will continue to teach children that chastity, marriage and procreation are the way...

Demand action—not just rhetoric—on school choice by Phil Lawler - Jan 26, 2012

This week is School Choice Week. Since it’s an election year, it’s also nearly time for Republican candidates to proclaim their devotion to the cause of school choice. In every presidential contest since 1968 (and perhaps further back: my active memory only stretches that far), the...

The Mitch Daniels moment by Phil Lawler - Jan 24, 2012

Many months ago, looking at the way the presidential race was shaping up, I made a prediction. I said that Mitt Romney would be the overwhelming Republican favorite—right up until the voting began. From that point forward, I said, the odds of his winning the nomination would fall...

Obama team gives religious freedom a combination punch by Phil Lawler - Jan 20, 2012

This is a one-two punch against religious freedom: The Obama administration refuses to exempt religious institutions from a new rule requiring contraceptive coverage in health-care plans, but cynically allows those institutions a one-year “exemption” from the rule—so that this...

Pope & US bishops team up to put religious freedom on the political agenda by Phil Lawler - Jan 20, 2012

On Thursday, Pope Benedict warned visiting American bishops that religious freedom is being threatened in the United States. By the end of the day, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) had issued a statement welcoming the Pope’s remarks and encouraging lay Catholics to become...

The Pope's alarming message on American religious freedom by Phil Lawler - Jan 19, 2012

Is it humiliating for American political leaders to read that Pope Benedict sees an erosion of religious freedom in our country? It should be. If there is one boast that Americans have traditionally made before the world, it is the claim that our country is a bastion of freedom. And of all the...

Now why does that sound familiar? by Phil Lawler - Jan 13, 2012

When Andrew Brown wrote in the Guardian, chastising the Reuters news service for a slanted report on the Pope’s “State of the World” speech, L’Osservatore Romano was pleased. So pleased, in fact, that the Vatican newspaper reprinted Brown’s piece nearly...

On same-sex marriage, who are the real ‘extremists’? by Phil Lawler - Jan 12, 2012

Last weekend in New Hampshire, during a debate among the Republican presidential candidates, host George Stephanopoulos asked—and asked, and asked, and asked—a question about contraception. Framing his question as a matter of constitutional law, Stephanopoulos asked whether the...

On birth and death and debt and hope: a last-minute Christmas meditation by Phil Lawler - Jan 6, 2012

Before the Christmas season ends, let me call your attention to an excellent column by that excellent columnist, Mark Steyn. Writing just before Christmas, Steyn made the observation that the birth of Jesus was preceded by the birth of St. John the Baptist to Elizabeth, a woman who was thought to...

Ten Years Later, the Church in Boston Struggles to Recover by Phil Lawler - Jan 5, 2012

Ten years have passed since the Boston archdiocese was engulfed in scandal, as the result of investigative reporting by the Boston Globe. Today the faithful in Boston are still struggling to shake off the lingering effects of that scandal. But a full recovery is delayed because of two popular...

The diminishing value of Bishop Spong’s evolving Bible by Phil Lawler - Dec 29, 2011

Retired Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong, who has made a career of rejecting fundamental Christian doctrines, takes aim at some “misconceptions” about the Bible in a CNN commentary. The Bible isn’t accurate, says the prelate who denies the Virgin Birth. The...

Units of liturgical measurement by Phil Lawler - Dec 26, 2011

Does your computer have one of those convenient functions that provides instant conversion of various units of measurement: length, weight, area, volume, temperature, etc? If so, maybe you could help out some reporters for Newsday, whose report on Christmas Mass at the Rockville Centre cathedral...

What entrepreneurs should learn from Blessed John Paul II by Phil Lawler - Dec 20, 2011

In an era of global enterprise, when some overweight financial firms are deemed “too big to fail,” how should an honest Christian entrepreneur behave? Can the abstract principles of Catholic social teaching be applied to the practicalities of life in the business world? Andreas Widmer...

The headlines say we should be worried about the Pope's health. Why? by Phil Lawler - Dec 19, 2011

This past weekend, dozens of stories appeared in the English-speaking media, reporting that the health of Pope Benedict XVI is slipping. Most of the headlines referred to the same AP report, and the few “independent” accounts seemed obviously prompted by the AP story. Here’s just...

How Catholics might advance the debate on immigration by Phil Lawler - Dec 15, 2011

Since the appearance of my comment on the need for clarity in the debate on immigration, several readers have written to say that immigrants living in the US are not “criminals,” since residing in the US without proper documentation is a civil rather than criminal offense. That’s...

Clarity, please, on illegal immigration by Phil Lawler - Dec 13, 2011

In the letter to immigrants signed by 33 Hispanic American bishops, one sentence cries out for editorial amendment: Despite your contributions to the well-being of our country, instead of receiving our thanks, you are often treated as criminals because you have violated current immigration...

The Pill for nuns? Here's a better idea by Phil Lawler - Dec 9, 2011

Two Australian researchers have captured public attention with their suggestion that Catholic nuns should take birth-control pills—for the sake of their health! The argument, put forward in The Lancet is fascinating: The rate of ovarian, uterine, and breast cancer is significantly higher...

Theologians demand respect from bishops: a one-way street by Phil Lawler - Dec 9, 2011

The College Theology Society (CTS) sees a rift in relations between theologians and Catholic bishops. They blame the bishops, naturally, because it’s a well-known principle that if there are hard feelings between me and you, the fault must lie with you. In their dealings with Sister...

What the media don't tell you and when they don't tell it by Phil Lawler - Dec 6, 2011

If ever there was a day when secular news coverage provided a lesson in the need for a reliable Catholic perspective on the news, today was that day. Consider: A CNN post bore the headline: Federal program denies grant to Catholic group to help sex trafficking victims. So if you rely on CNN...

Why liberal liturgists dislike the new translation by Phil Lawler - Dec 1, 2011

From all available indications, the new English translation of the Mass has been received quietly. The faithful have not rebelled—much to the dismay of those who have spent months fighting a desperate rear-guard action against this translation, and those who saddled us for 40 years with...

The troubling rise of 'Msgr. CB' by Phil Lawler - Nov 30, 2011

Let’s suppose that in the town where you live, a mid-level manager at the largest local corporation was arrested. Let’s say that he was caught in a neighborhood known as a homosexual enclave, suspected by police of cruising for teenage boys—and that his defense was that he had...

The ideal Thanksgiving dinner by Phil Lawler - Nov 23, 2011

Turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce are essential; the rest is negotiable. Pecan pie, apple pie, or pumpkin pie? Whatever you prefer; you can’t go wrong. But that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about the ideal meal, the perfect offering: the Eucharist. Thanksgiving is my...

Downsizing won't save the Irish hierarchy by Phil Lawler - Nov 23, 2011

According to the Irish Catholic, the Vatican is considering a radical reform of the Irish hierarchy, perhaps calling for the elimination of half of the country’s 26 dioceses. George Weigel applauds the idea. I don't understand. The need for some sort of reform in the Irish Church is...

Cardinal Law replaced: the Vatican has sent a message by Phil Lawler - Nov 21, 2011

There’s something very curious about the replacement of Cardinal Bernard Law in his post at a Roman basilica. Cardinal Law is no longer the Archpriest of St. Mary Major basilica. That much is clear from today’s Vatican announcement. Archbishop Santos Abril y Castello now has that job....

A simple solution to unauthorized parish vigils by Phil Lawler - Nov 16, 2011

In the Archdiocese of Boston, plans to close and sell parish churches have been stymied by disgruntled parishioners who have been holding vigil at several churches. This week one such vigil came to an end. Even after the archdiocese sold St. Jeremiah church in Framingham to a local community of...

Another overdue resignation by Phil Lawler - Nov 16, 2011

Yesterday a minor detail in a CWN news story caught my eye. During his visit to Benin this weekend, the story reported, Pope Benedict XVI will visit the tomb of Cardinal Bernardin Gantin. The African cardinal had been Dean of the College of Cardinals, the CWN story reminded us, until he...

Are the US bishops gearing up for a lawsuit against HHS? by Phil Lawler - Nov 15, 2011

If you read one day that the US bishops’ conference had filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration, would you be surprised? Don’t be. You already know (if you’ve been paying attention) that the Department of Health and Human Services declined to renew a grant to the US...

Christian Social Services of Illinois: martyrs need not apply by Phil Lawler - Nov 11, 2011

Remember the Maccabees? And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land…[1 Mac 1:44] Mattathias responded directly: We will not obey the king's words by turning aside from our religion to the right hand...

Penn State sends a message. US bishops, take notice. by Phil Lawler - Nov 11, 2011

At Penn State, a month after the revelation of a sex-abuse scandal, four top executives have been ousted. In the American Catholic hierarchy, a decade after the exposure of hundreds of sex-abuse cases, just one bishop has resigned. So now the American bishops know what it looks like when an...

The Pope's aching joints; the Vatican's odd silence by Phil Lawler - Nov 9, 2011

Today CWN passes along the report that Pope Benedict suffers from a degenerative joint condition in his legs. Although I am sorry for his suffering, I must say that I’m relieved. The news might have been much worse. But if the report is accurate—and the journalist who made the...

The Personhood Initiative: Mississippi voters fail a reality check by Phil Lawler - Nov 9, 2011

Yesterday the people of Mississippi voted not to amend their state constitution to declare that human life begins at conception. Nevertheless the scientific fact remains: Human life begins at conception. Unless I am mistaken the Mississippi constitution is silent on the law of gravity. Perhaps...

An intriguing episcopal appointment. Next: an overdue resignation? by Phil Lawler - Nov 3, 2011

The Vatican announced one intriguing appointment yesterday. I hope that another significant appointment is announced tomorrow. Father Charles Morerod was named on November 3 to become Bishop of Lausanne, Switzerland. A native of Switzerland, Bishop-elect Morerod is certainly qualified: he...

Learning to be grateful while the lights are out by Phil Lawler - Nov 3, 2011

During this week I have had daily—no, hourly—reminders of how much we comfortable Americans take for granted, and how many things we should be grateful for. I hope I remember them all at Thanksgiving. This week, you see, a freak storm wiped out the electrical power in our region of...

Did Bishop Finn deserve indictment? by Phil Lawler - Oct 28, 2011

Two weeks have passed since the indictment of Kansas City’s Bishop Robert Finn. The bishop’s critics are demanding his resignation, while his defenders protest his innocence. Let’s step back a pace, and put the matter in perspective. The indictment of an American bishop is a big...

Spare us from Vatican economic analysts by Phil Lawler - Oct 25, 2011

The Catholic Church does not claim teaching authority on matters of economics and finance. When the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace issues a statement on the world’s financial markets, faithful Catholics are not bound to accept the economic analysis it contains. However, it would...

Time to start worrying about the Pope's health? by Phil Lawler - Oct 24, 2011

Last week I advised CWN readers not to waste time worrying about the news that Pope Benedict was towed down the aisle on a rolling platform when he celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s basilica. It was obviously a concession to his advanced age, I said, but apparently nothing more. This week...

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