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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 June 01, 2012.

US military strategy fails when religious liberty is ignored by Phil Lawler - May 30, 2012

On Memorial Day, appropriately enough, I finished reading a new history of World War II: The Storms of War, by Andrew Roberts. Having examined some of the strategic errors that Hitler made, and traced their consequences, Roberts concludes by reminding his readers that the war could have turned out...

On the mandate, a dangerous crack in the bishops' united front by Phil Lawler - May 25, 2012

The counter-attack has begun. You knew it was coming, didn’t you? For weeks now the American bishops have been marching in lockstep unity, completely unanimous in their opposition to the HHS contraceptive mandate. The Catholic hierarchy has been headed into a showdown with President Obama,...

How Civilizations Die: an ambitious, brilliant book by Phil Lawler - May 24, 2012

Europe is “wounded,” Pope Benedict XVI told an assembly of Italian bishops today. What if the wound is fatal? We know that European culture is in distress. What if it cannot recover? Civilizations rise and fall; they do not last forever. In an ambitious and fascinating book, David Goldman has...

Parish 'ministry' and parish closings by Phil Lawler - May 23, 2012

In the Boston Herald, a report on the latest failed attempt to persuade the Vatican to stop parish closings came with this headline: Minister holds out faith decades-old Hub church will reopen Minister? At a Catholic parish church? The Church’s influence isn’t what it once was in Boston, but...

Is the New York Times protecting dissident Catholic priests? by Phil Lawler - May 16, 2012

The perceptive religion reporter Terry Mattingly noticed something that had escaped me, in a New York Times story about religious attitudes toward same-sex marriage. The Times reported:   The Roman Catholic Church teaches that homosexual behavior is a sin, but there are Catholic priests...

On federal spending, the US bishops' advice fails a moral test by Phil Lawler - May 15, 2012

Do the American Catholic bishops think it’s morally acceptable to bounce checks? Because that’s what will happen, you know, if Congress follows the bishops’ advice on federal spending. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has repeatedly criticized proposed budget cuts in...

On 'brain death,' a response to a rebuttal by Phil Lawler - May 11, 2012

Last month, when I questioned whether “brain death” is a valid justification for removing vital organs for transplant, many readers expressed a keen interest in the debate. Soon thereafter I posted a rebuttal by one reader, Dr. Michael DiPietro, who argued strenously in favor of using the...

USCCB statements on other political topics are harming the campaign for religious freedom by Phil Lawler - May 4, 2012

In March the US bishops’ conference (USCCB) announced that “we will not rest” until Congress ensures that religious freedom is protected in the federal health-care reform program. The USCCB followed up that clear and forceful message a few week later with a new, statement...

Secular commentators completely misunderstand the Vatican-LCWR conflict by Phil Lawler - May 2, 2012

When secular commentators turn their attention to the Catholic Church, they typically make two mistakes. First, they assume that religious questions can be understood in political terms. Second, they assume that the Catholic Church should be placed on the conservative end of the political...

Congressman Ryan and his Catholic (and media) critics by Phil Lawler - Apr 27, 2012

Congressman Paul Ryan spoke at Georgetown about how his Catholic faith informs his political thinking, and thus his budget plan. The headline on our Catholic World News story read, “Ryan defends compatibility of House budget with Catholic teaching.” But the headline on a report from...

A PR blunder by the Irish bishops' conference by Phil Lawler - Apr 26, 2012

Last week the PR office of the Irish Catholic bishops’ conference demanded an apology from a popular radio personality, Ray D’Arcy, for his attack on the Catholic Church. Bad idea. D’Arcy, whose Today show claims nearly a quarter-million listeners, had said that “the...

Seven years ago, and today by Phil Lawler - Apr 19, 2012

Do you remember what you were doing on this date in 2005? I sure do. It was a quiet day here, but I was on edge, jumpy with anticipation, waiting for news from Rome. The papal conclave had just begun, and April 19 would be the first day of actual voting. It seemed unlikely that the cardinals...

European liberals, American conservatives, and the 'social issues' by Phil Lawler - Apr 18, 2012

Now that the contest for the Republican presidential nomination is effectively over, we can expect the presumptive winner, Mitt Romney, to tack leftward as he prepares for the general election in November. While he was wooing the true believers of his own Republican party, and trying to allay the...

On brain death, a reader's rebuttal by Phil Lawler - Apr 11, 2012

My last comment on “brain death” and organ transplants drew a strong response from one reader, Dr. Michael DiPietro, who has considerable expertise in the field. Because his argument was quite cogent, and because my goal here is to stimulate debate on an important subject, I asked for...

Organ transplants, 'brain death,' and Church teaching by Phil Lawler - Apr 4, 2012

Responding to my recent On the News post about organ transplants, reader James Anderson posed a question that requires more than just a quick answer: I thought that I recently read where the Church said that determining when a person is dead falls under the purview of the medical community, not...

Ethical questions about organ transplants by Phil Lawler - Mar 29, 2012

The news that former vice president Dick Cheney has received a heart transplant prompts NPR’s “Morning Edition” to examine one set of ethical issues involving the transplant of vital organs. But there is another deeper, more troubling set of questions to be asked. The questions...

The Pope in Cuba: too many concessions to the Castro regime? by Phil Lawler - Mar 28, 2012

Some analysts worry that Pope Benedict’s trip to Cuba might help prop up the Castro government. Others believe that the papal visit could prove the tipping point that finally leads to the collapse of a bankrupt regime. There are intelligent arguments on both sides. Since the plans for the...

'Creative' publicity for the Obama mandate by Phil Lawler - Mar 21, 2012

When a seasoned politician issues a public announcement late on Friday afternoon, you already know that he’s trying to hide something. Politicians usually want the maximum publicity for their statements. On Friday afternoons, beat reporters are headed for happy hours, chanting...

The patron saint of parish closings by Phil Lawler - Mar 17, 2012

Needless to say, there is no patron saint of parish closings.  The closing of a parish is a tragedy. A parish church is more than just a building. It is a repository of memories: of the children baptized there, the happy couples married, the parents mourned and buried. It is a testimony to...

The betrayal of Father Guarnizo by Phil Lawler - Mar 15, 2012

In an earlier column on all the things we don’t know about the case of Father Marcel Guarnizo, I failed—as many critical readers pointed out—to take account of the apology issued by the Washington archdiocese soon after the fateful incident in which Father Guarnizo refused to...

The removal of Father Guarnizo—what we still don't know by Phil Lawler - Mar 13, 2012

Catholic Culture readers are understandably concerned about the status of Father Marcel Guarnizo, the priest who has been placed on administrative leave by the Washington archdiocese after he denied Communion to a lesbian woman. While I fully share that concern, I submit that it’s...

The noise-to-signal ratio at the USCCB by Phil Lawler - Mar 7, 2012

During the past several weeks the US bishops have been engaged in a critical political battle over the HHS contraceptive mandate, and the USCCB has issued a series of strong statements on that subject. Good. During those same weeks, however, the USCCB has also issued statements on tax cuts and...

US bishops need a new strategy against Obama mandate by Phil Lawler - Mar 2, 2012

This weekend would be an ideal time for the leaders of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to reconsider the political strategy they have adopted in their fight against the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate. In their bid to undo that offensive mandate, the bishops could...

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...

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