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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 November 01, 2012.

Pro-lifers should be strategic voters by Phil Lawler - Oct 31, 2012

  Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help. Psalm 146:3 Every four years, millions of Americans are caught up in the excitement of a presidential race. This is understandable, even desirable; it is the sign of a healthy democracy at work. But in a...

Why name new cardinals now? The Pope's mysterious announcement. by Phil Lawler - Oct 24, 2012

Pope Benedict’s surprise announcement that he is naming 6 new cardinals raises at least three intriguing questions: Why now? The Pope has already elevated 22 prelates to the College of Cardinals this year, at a consistory held in February. Never before in the post-Vatican II era—in...

Televised presidential debates have harmed America by Phil Lawler - Oct 23, 2012

Not many American voters changed their minds as a result of last night’s presidential debate, I feel sure. Voters who favored Barack Obama before the debate generally felt that the President had the better of the discussion; those who favored Mitt Romney thought he was the winner. But then,...

Abortion isn't the only issue: the argument for moral equivalence by Phil Lawler - Oct 13, 2012

In an America magazine commentary—with the curious title, “Don’t Vote for the ‘Better Catholic’”—Father James Martin, SJ, comments on the Biden-Ryan debate. His argument is a familiar one: that abortion is not the only moral issue for Catholic voters. But...

Has the Vatican shut the door on the SSPX talks? Not likely by Phil Lawler - Oct 8, 2012

You may be reading, on various other sites carrying news of the Catholic world, that the Vatican has announced an end to talks with the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Not so. Archbishop Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told a German interviewer that...

A new light on the legacy of Charles de Gaulle by Phil Lawler - Oct 4, 2012

As a young man with a keen interest in world politics, I was always fascinated by the unique character of Charles de Gaulle. While he was enigmatic and often frustrating from an American perspective, it was impossible to dispute the man’s enormous charisma. Try to imagine an American...

The truth about Benghazi, and Obama's dangerous attitude toward Islam by Phil Lawler - Sep 26, 2012

The president has finally acknowledged the truth about the murder of American diplomats in Benghazi. The president of Libya, I mean; not the president of the United States. The attack on the US consulate was not an angry reaction to an anti-Muslim film, President Mohamed Magarief told NBC...

That Coptic papyrus fragment tells us nothing about Jesus by Phil Lawler - Sep 19, 2012

A Harvard Divinity School professor has unearthed an ancient Coptic papyrus fragment that reportedly refers to a wife of Jesus. What does this prove? Absolutely nothing. When Karen King submitted an article about her discovery to the Harvard Theological Review, two of the three scholars who...

A terrific appointment at the US bishops' conference by Phil Lawler - Sep 18, 2012

If you aren’t excited about this news story, you probably don’t understand it. This is big. This is huge. This is exciting! Have you been frustrated, over the years, with the political statements issued by the US bishops’ conference? If so, prepare for a welcome change. Have you...

Review: Coming Apart, by Charles Murray by Phil Lawler - Sep 14, 2012

No democracy is perfect. The principle of “one man, one vote” might apply to the ballot box, but it does not prevent skilled activists from amassing more power than ordinary citizens. The chief executive of a large corporation has more political clout than the night watchman; a...

Will a criminal conviction finally get the American bishops' attention? by Phil Lawler - Sep 7, 2012

So now an American bishop is a convicted criminal. Do you suppose there’s any chance the other bishops will finally get the message? Bishop Robert Finn has been convicted in a court of law for doing what scores of other American bishops have done in the recent past. It’s true that...

Cardinal Dolan in Charlotte: a looming disaster for Democrats by Phil Lawler - Aug 29, 2012

Say what you will about the prudence of Cardinal Dolan’s decision to offer a prayer at the Democratic convention. What about the tactical judgment of the Democratic Party leaders who will welcome him? Jeff Mirus has questioned whether Cardinal Dolan should have made the offer to deliver closing...

The Al Smith dinner: the cardinal and the tax collector by Phil Lawler - Aug 9, 2012

Jesus ate with tax collectors. And Cardinal Dolan plans to eat with President Obama—who, Chief Justice Roberts tells us, has imposed a “tax” on employers who refuse to subsidize contraception. But there’s a difference. When Jesus sat with tax collectors, the dinners were...

The Obama argument: only churches—not individuals—can claim religious freedom by Phil Lawler - Aug 1, 2012

Arguing against Hercules Industries—the Colorado firm that won an injunction against the HHS contraceptive mandate--lawyers for the Obama administration made the stunning claim that “for-profit secular employers generally do not engage in any exercise of religion protected by the First...

Can the Church recapture dissident 'Catholic' universities? by Phil Lawler - Jul 27, 2012

Most Catholic Culture readers, I suspect, were delighted (as I was) to hear the news that the Vatican has stripped the “Catholic” and “Pontifical” titles from the institution known as the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. I was delighted, too. What a refreshing...

From bureaucratic leadership, spare us, Lord by Phil Lawler - Jul 24, 2012

In a thought-provoking Wall Street Journal column William McGurn worries that the net result of the sex-abuse scandal at Penn State will be a multiplication of new rules and regulations rather than a recognition that leadership entails personal responsibility—and a commitment never to...

The SSPX didn't say No. An agreement is still likely. by Phil Lawler - Jul 19, 2012

The Vatican made an offer, and the leaders of the SSPX said No. Or did they? Go ahead: read our CWN news story. Better yet, read the full statement from the SSPX general chapter. Do you see a clear “No” anywhere? Neither do I. There is no “Yes,” either, I admit. And some of the language...

Louis Freeh, I have another job for you by Phil Lawler - Jul 13, 2012

Things look grim for Penn State University this week. After investigating allegations of sexual abuse against a former member of the football team’s coaching staff, former FBI director Louis Freeh issued a scathing report. "Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the...

Obama's 'September surprise' for American Catholics by Phil Lawler - Jul 11, 2012

If Barack Obama is a clever politician, he will soon offer the US Catholic bishops another “compromise” on the HHS contraceptive mandate. Such a gesture could boost the President’s chances for re-election, and obviously Obama would welcome that result. The proffered compromise...

Chief Justice Roberts and his conservative defenders: too clever by half by Phil Lawler - Jul 5, 2012

In the week that has passed since the stunning Supreme Court decision on Obamacare was released, many of my conservative colleagues have tried to explain the opinion by Chief Justice Roberts as a hidden gem: a stealth victory for the cause of limited government. Those explanations—like the...

What did the Vatican really decide in Father Pavone's case? by Phil Lawler - Jun 28, 2012

The “victory” of Father Frank Pavone in his appeal to Rome illustrates something seriously wrong with the ordinary application of canon law. The word “victory” belongs in quotation marks above because we don’t know whether the Congregation for Clergy accepted all, or...

Two Americans will play key roles at Vatican by Phil Lawler - Jun 26, 2012

The early days of summer are always a season for speculation around Rome, and this year especially so. With a flurry of appointments, is Pope Benedict XVI sending important signals about his policies and priorities? Yes, he is. Ordinarily I avoid predictions about Vatican affairs. As the old...

Even if Obamacare is overturned, the Fortnight for Freedom must continue by Phil Lawler - Jun 22, 2012

Sometime next week, roughly halfway through the “Fortnight for Freedom,” the US Supreme Court will deliver its ruling on the Obama health-care reform. If the Court rules—as it should—that the legislation is unconstitutional, the threat of the contraceptive mandate will be...

The question stated simply: Has the LCWR gone off the reservation? by Phil Lawler - Jun 15, 2012

Earlier this week I commented on the refreshing candor and clarity of comments by Bishop Leonard Blair, defending the Vatican’s call for reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). Today there is even more candor and clarity, this time coming in an interview with Cardinal...

The second collection: Vatileaks and the arrogance of church bureaucrats by Phil Lawler - Jun 14, 2012

How can we explain the disgraceful behavior of the Church officials behind the “Vatileaks” scandal? Ranking prelates, who (you’d like to think) should have a highly developed moral sense, have been doing things that a schoolboy would instantly recognize as unethical: betraying...

Bishop Blair pounds the facts; LCWR pounds the table by Phil Lawler - Jun 12, 2012

You know the old lawyer’s advice to a new practitioner? “If the law is on your side, pound the law. If the facts are on your side, pound the facts. If neither the law nor the facts are on your side, pound the table.” Liberal Catholics have been pounding the table recently in their defense of...

Emergency contraception, pseudo-science, and media bias by Phil Lawler - Jun 7, 2012

Here’s an interesting case study in news coverage of scientific issues: The New York Times has given prominent attention to a report that “emergency contraceptive" pills may not be abortifacient. Setting aside the merits of the argument, the Times story is significant in itself...

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...

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