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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, 2013.

After resigning, Pope Benedict hopes to disappear by Phil Lawler - Feb 27, 2013

“I am not returning to private life,” Pope Benedict XVI said at his final general audience on February 27. Some commentators have interpreted that phrase as a signal that the Pope intends to remain a public figure, even after he steps down tomorrow evening. That is a complete...

Popular misconceptions: III by Phil Lawler - Feb 26, 2013

As the date of the Pope’s resignation draws near, thousands of “news” stories are posted about a confidential Vatican report on the “Vatileaks” scandal and on the likely candidates for the papacy. Let me caution readers once again about putting any credence in these reports. The “Vatileaks”...

Homosexual network at the Vatican, Yes; reason for the Pope's resignation, No by Phil Lawler - Feb 22, 2013

Is there a network of homosexual clerics working within the Vatican? Undoubtedly, Yes. Was the discovery of that network a major factor motivating Pope Benedict to resign? Undoubtedly, No. Rome is abuzz with reports about a story that appeared in two Italian publications, La Repubblica and...

Popular misconceptions, II by Phil Lawler - Feb 19, 2013

With the caveat that we can’t possibly keep up with all of the mistakes being made by reporters in their rush to cover the papal resignation and the coming conclave, here are a few more corrections of errors that have cropped up in multiple reports. Once again I encourage readers to treat...

The real story behind the Pope's resignation by Phil Lawler - Feb 15, 2013

What is the real reason for Pope Benedict’s decision to resign? What’s the story behind the story? Like thousands of others, I have been asking myself those questions since Monday morning. After a week of intensive reporting, and weighing the theories put forward by others, I have...

Popular misconceptions: Benedict's resignation and choice of successor by Phil Lawler - Feb 14, 2013

The mainstream media are suddenly taking a keen interest in Vatican affairs, sending reporters to process the latest unfounded rumors from Rome. Meanwhile self-proclaimed experts on Catholicism are flooding the internet with their own theories. As a result, thousands of inaccurate stories are...

The first misstep among the papabili by Phil Lawler - Feb 13, 2013

The possibility that Cardinal Peter Turkson will be elected Pope—never terribly likely—has become more remote with the publication of the Ghanian cardinal’s statement that he would be prepared to accept election. Cardinal-electors generally frown on anything that could be...

The challenge Pope Benedict has left for his successor—and for ordinary Catholics by Phil Lawler - Feb 11, 2013

Although Pope Benedict caught nearly everyone by surprise when he announced his resignation, we can’t say that he didn’t give us fair warning. In an interview in 2010, the Holy Father explained at some length why a Pope should resign when he no longer had the strength to carry out his...

The medicinal value of capital punishment by Phil Lawler - Feb 8, 2013

In a short but powerful essay on capital punishment that appears in Crisis magazine, Father George W. Rutler reminds readers that the Catholic Church has traditionally taught, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church ( 2267) still teaches, that the state’s rightful authority to punish...

Cardinal Mahony, Archbishop Myers keep the scandal alive by Phil Lawler - Feb 6, 2013

Last Friday I was rejoicing over the news that one American archbishop, at least, finally seemed to “get it” regarding the sex-abuse scandal. Now I’m afraid I was celebrating too soon. Within hours the smile had been wiped off my face, by two separate incidents that showed how...

The campaign to discredit Bishop Finn is not going to stop by Phil Lawler - Jan 30, 2013

Bishop snared in abuse scandal criticizes Catholic newspaper That was the headline for a Los Angeles Times story on Bishop Robert Finn’s statement that the National Catholic Reporter does not deserve to be described as a “Catholic” publication. The gist of the story, as the...

Bishops must shoulder their responsibility in the pro-life struggle by Phil Lawler - Jan 25, 2013

Cardinal Sean O’Malley is certainly right to call for fasting and prayer this week, as we sadly observe the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The abortion issue—the ongoing slaughter of countless millions of innocent children—is not just another ordinary political question like...

A Vatican spokesman's misguided statement on gun control by Phil Lawler - Jan 21, 2013

Let’s make something clear right away. Pope Benedict has not endorsed the Obama administration’s gun-control plans. The Pope has said nothing on the subject. But Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office—has released a statement on gun control, in his...

Why the French--of all people--resist the redefinition of marriage by Phil Lawler - Jan 17, 2013

Would you ever have suspected that France would be the Western country where popular opposition to the redefinition of marriage finally coalesced? The momentum toward legal recognition of same-sex unions continues in France, despite the demonstration that drew nearly 1 million people onto the...

Do abortionists deserve 'conscience clause' protection? by Phil Lawler - Jan 16, 2013

The New England Journal of Medicine has published an article exploring the outer limits of pro-abortion advocacy. Lisa Harris argues that if laws protect the consciences rights of doctors who do not wish to be involved in the slaughter of the unborn (although that’s not how she puts it), the law...

Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and the band played on by Phil Lawler - Jan 11, 2013

Oh, good. The US bishops announce that they remain in “dialogue” with the heads of Catholic colleges and universities about the implementation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Their report tells us: Clarity about Catholic identity among college and university leadership has fostered substantive...

Time travel. Or, a disingenuous argument for new abortion legislation in Ireland by Phil Lawler - Jan 11, 2013

Columnist Paddy Agnew of the Irish Times leans heavily on cliché in his column criticizing Catholic Church opposition to proposed abortion legislation. Church leaders are “charging at windmills,” he warns. The Church—stop me if you’ve heard this one...

Newtown, the reality of evil, and the promise of salvation by Phil Lawler - Dec 19, 2012

Something terrible happened to the children of Newton, Connecticut, last week. Yet something even worse happened to the twisted young man who killed them. No, I do not plan to use his name. With our obsessive focus on the killer we have made him a sort of anti-hero, a potential model for other...

The gay intimidation campaign reaches toward the Pope by Phil Lawler - Dec 17, 2012

In his annual message for the World Day of Peace—a statement of nearly 3,600 words—Pope Benedict XVI devotes one sentence to the campaign to redefine marriage. And what happens? Thousands of headlines announce that the Pope has condemned same-sex marriage as a threat to world...

In Ireland, the case for legal abortion is built on fraud by Phil Lawler - Dec 4, 2012

Legal abortion is coming soon to Ireland, it now seems likely, arriving the same way it arrived in the US 40 years ago: by fraud. In the US, the plaintiffs in the landmark cases of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton have both testified that their cases were based on fraud. Norma McCorvey (“Roe”) was...

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...

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