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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 December 01, 2012.

Douthat's excellent critique of American heresies by Phil Lawler - Nov 27, 2012

Ross Douthat will forgive me, I hope, for saying that it is remarkable Bad Religion was written by such a young man. I don’t mean to patronize him. A conservative Catholic writer who has established himself as a regular op-ed columnist for the New York Times doesn’t need a...

Open season on Catholicism by Phil Lawler - Nov 16, 2012

It’s open season on Catholicism. In Ireland and in Australia, public opinion is being whipped into frenzy in crusades against Church teachings. In both cases the arguments are thoroughly irrational. In Ireland, Savita Halappanavar died a horrible, painful, needless death. But rather...

Irish bishops channeling Nancy Pelosi by Phil Lawler - Nov 9, 2012

When questioned about details of Obamacare, Rep. Nancy Pelosi famously remarked that “we have to pass the bill so that we can find out what is in it.” This is the “shoot first, aim later” approach to legislation. Once the bill becomes law, the problems will become...

To fix the American political system, first fix the American culture by Phil Lawler - Nov 8, 2012

Let’s face facts squarely. We have lost an election. We are in grave danger of losing a nation. The 2012 elections were a decisive defeat for the culture of life. But this defeat did not “just happen” on November 6. It was the result of a long trend. If we don’t take...

The Election Day I won't forget by Phil Lawler - Nov 6, 2012

Have you voted yet today? Will you be sure to vote today? Every Election Day, I wonder about the millions of American citizens who stay home, choosing not to vote, letting other people select their political leaders. That sort of apathy baffles me, and I can’t help contrasting it with the...

'Non-negotiable' issues and liberal Catholic hypocrisy by Phil Lawler - Nov 2, 2012

An editorial in the National Catholic Reporter argues that “Catholics who bring with them a conservative political agenda” are doing a disservice to the Church by suggesting that some political issues are non-negotiable. The Reporter cites the words of Blessed John Paul II, who said...

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...

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