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Commentary: Quick Hits

Quick takes and links from our authors.

The case for rigor; the New Jansenists; Pope Benedict’s birthday strudel

On the theory that late is better than never, let me call attention to an excellent little essay by Father Gerald Murray, for The Catholic Thing, debunking the notion that some of God’s commands are “ideals” that we cannot be expected to meet. “God does not permit, let...

Duruflé’s Requiem and more

Yesterday I was blessed to hear some of the most beautiful music ever composed in concert at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan (which happens to be the largest cathedral and the fourth largest church in the world, and a splendid place for music-making). The centerpiece of...

Vatileaks defendants targeting Cardinal Pell, adapting the Extraordinary Form

Francesca Chaouqui, the flamboyant publicist who was convicted in last year’s “Vatileaks II” trial, has published a book about her experiences inside the Vatican bureaucracy. John Allen has reviewed the book, reporting that it is self-serving and, despite a great deal of...

Encouraging trend in France, interviewing Ratzinger’s interviewer, the Pope’s governing style

There are very encouraging developments in the public life of France, from a Catholic point of view, observes Samuel Gregg in a First Things essay. The presidential candidacy of Francois Fillon, who unabashedly appeals to Catholic principles, is confirmation of a revival in Catholic influence...

Scorsese’s Silence, leftists look to the Pope, ‘room at the inn’ in the Bronx

A few last-minute reading assignments before the Christmas break: Steven Greydanus, an insightful film reviewer with a reliably Catholic perspective, offers his thoughts on Silence, the new Martin Scorsese film based on the novel by Shusaku Endo. The novel is heart-wrenching, profoundly...

Appalled reactions to Canadian bishops’ tepid stand on assisted suicide

For readers still stunned by the directive from bishops of Canada’s Atlantic region, leaving open the possibility that people planning assisted suicide could receive the sacraments, two columns provide useful perspective: Writing for First Things, in a short but powerful essay that...

Friedkin, Scorcese, Tolkien, Lewis

Several things that caught my eye over the past two months: Some big names in the world of film have been getting an inside look at Catholicism. Earlier this year William Friedkin, who directed 1973’s The Exorcist, received permission from the late Fr. Gabriele Amorth to witness and...

The most perceptive columns on Amoris Laetitia and the dubia

Many gallons of ink—or maybe I should say millions of pixels—have been spent in analysis of the heated debate over Amoris Laetitia and the dubia raised by the four cardinals. Among the most useful analyses (leaving aside several that have already been posted on this site) are...

More cautionary thoughts on Amoris Laetitia

Writing in Catholic World Report, Samuel Gregg remarks that Amoris Laetitia steers around the discussion of “intrinsically evil acts.” This is unfortunate, he writes, because in all the discussion of showing mercy to troubled souls, there is no clear indication that “mercy...

Secularism, liturgy, and belief

The influential Catholic philosopher Charles Taylor suggested that living in a secular age means not so much that people are less religious but that even for those who consider themselves religious, truth itself seems unstable, uncertain, up for grabs. James K. A. Smith, another philosopher who...

Not always what they seem: Deaconesses, Jesuits, Christmas displays

Deaconesses: The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published an article by Carlo Carletti today which could inadvertently lead even the elect astray (cf. Mt 24:24, Mk 13:22). A professor of archeology, Carletti wrote that Pope Francis’ study of women in the diaconate should...

'must read' posts on support for Humanae Vitae, Catholics in China, Catholic conscience

Three more items to put in the "must read" column: Janet Smith speaks with Catholic World Report about the tremendous positive response to a statement by scholars supporting the Church's teaching on contraception. The tide has turned, she says, and bright young Catholic scholars...

Cosmo lauds virginity, mastery of the tongue, underrated ceilings, the Chancellor and the Bard

Astoundingly, the degenerate-by-default Cosmopolitan has published a young woman’s article about the beauty of the consecrated life. (Yes, the piece was originally published in Good Housekeeping, but it’s still remarkable.) In “I Am Happily Married to God—as a...

Questions on Pope's ad-lib reforms, the 'dance' on doctrine, preparing for persecution

Three must-read columns—none terribly optimistic—from the weekend’s harvest: By all accounts, in the conclave of March 2013, Cardinal Bergoglio was chosen by the cardinals to be a reforming Pope: specifically, he had a mandate to bring change to the Roman Curia. Has that...

Press coverage of Islam and violence; police too ignored abuse complaints

The Bridge Initiative is unhappy with the coverage of Islam provided by Catholic World News (among other outlets). In a report on Catholic public attitudes toward Islam, the Bridge Initiative—an initiative of the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at...

Negative feedback on necessary distinctions, papal intentions, and moral complexity

Necessary Distinctions: Recently I have written both to defend the Pope from the charge of heresy and also to insist that his own private interpretation of Amoris Laetitia does not tell us anything about what that act of the Magisterium requires us to believe. Given the distinctions necessary to...

The confusion of the 1970s, the necessity of telling right from wrong

Two essays that appeared online over the weekend fall squarely into the “must-read” category: Writing for The Catholic Thing, Father Robert Imbelli discovers “A Pure Distillation of 1970s Catholicism” in an article by Jim Purcell that appeared in the National...

A 700-year-old tattoo parlor, voting for Jesus, the Tolkien Professor

In this country, tattoos have always been associated with alternative lifestyles of various kinds. But you should know that for a a lot longer than that, getting some ink has traditionally denoted the alternativest of lifestyles: that of the medieval pilgrim. If you don't...

What works—in attracting priestly vocations, in reviving Catholic liturgy

Last week we reported on the collapse of vocations to the Catholic priesthood in Germany, where only 58 men were ordained last year. There were just 96 new seminarians in 2015—in a country where the Catholic population is officially listed at about 50 million. By contrast there are about...

Analyzing Trump and the Democrats, questioning Vatican support for internationalism

First Things is not a political journal, yet in the past week the magazine has provided me with two of the most insightful perspectives on a bewildering American presidential race. Matthew Schmitz reminds readers that the religious outlook of Donald Trump was formed by Rev. Norman Vincent...