Commentary: Quick Hits

Quick takes and links from our authors.

Papal prayer intention for artists, cultural appropriation and more

Pope Francis’s prayer intention for August is for artists, so let’s pray for artists and give the arts our attention and support in a special way this month: The Catholic Creatives group has just announced 8beats, “an 8-part anthology film exploring the collision of the...

Collegiality or resistance; from ‘field hospital’ to long-term care

Over on The Catholic Thing, Father Mark Pilon has two interesting perspectives on the argument—put forward recently in L’Osservatore Romano—that the world’s bishops and priests are the “main obstacle” the reforms planned by Pope Francis. First, he notes...

Vatican trial’s intrigue; the archbishop as bystander

Having spent many years covering Vatican affairs, John Allen writes with authority when he reports that the Vatican press corps is not accustomed to handling criminal trials. However he remarks—and goes on to demonstrate—that a Vatican trial can have its own special sort of intrigue....

Catholicism in the movies

I’ve long appreciated the movies of Joel and Ethan Coen, and finally got around to viewing their most recent, Hail, Caesar! The film is already among my favorites by the brothers—it’s one of their most warmhearted, a humorous portrayal of a Hollywood studio in the 1950s. I...

Four fallacies that tempt Catholic leaders

The interchangeability fallacy: As an addendum to Wednesday’s commentary (The problem with doctrinal obscurity), allow me to notice that those who tend to favor a very loose approach to Catholic teaching on faith and morals typically place a great deal of weight on what they regard as...

Biochemistry of sex, native martyrs, music & film

There is so much we don’t know about our own bodies, and none of it gets taught in sex ed. For example: A man gets vasopressin, a bonding hormone, when he has sex with a woman. This is not up to him; whether he thinks it is no-strings sex or not, he is now hormonally bonded to that...

Reading the Pope’s intentions; censored PP video; packing College of Cardinals

At Crux, John Allen has a profile of Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, the new president of the Italian bishops’ conference. That’s interesting enough in itself, but Allen adds a good deal of spice by explaining how, on his visit to Genoa this weekend, Pope Francis “may accent the...

Accepting Anglican orders, predicting Macron’s future, distracting a priest/author

“When someone is ordained in the Anglican Church and becomes a parish priest in a community, we cannot say that nothing has happened, that everything is ‘invalid’,” writes Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio in a new book. But isn’t that pretty much what Pope Leo...

The disappearance of melody, an app for chant, and more

Does it ever seem like there just aren’t any good melodies in contemporary pop music—say, since the 1970s? Or that there often aren’t any melodies at all? Well, it’s not just your imagination and you aren’t just getting old. Kurt Poterack, organist, composer and...

Lenten viewing, Feser on libertarianism, the religious roots of jazz

Martin Scorsese’s Silence is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD. Based on the classic novel by Shusaku Endo, Silence tells the story of two Portuguese Jesuit missionaries whose faith is tested by persecutions in feudal Japan. I can’t vouch for whatever extras may be on the DVD, but as I...

Why the pro-life movement lags in Europe, how nationalism may guard freedoms

Literally millions of Americans have been involved in pro-life activism over the years, but the pro-life movement has never drawn the same sort of mass support in Europe. Does that show that social conservatism is weaker on the continent? Not at all; grassroots efforts to defend marriage were much...

A ‘mystery donor’ to the Knights of Malta, Pope’s questionable historical references

The complicated struggle for control of the Knights of Malta has become even more mysterious, after Albrecht von Boeselager, restored to power as chancellor of the Order, spoke with the German journal Bild. The focus of the interview was a massive donation to the Knights of Malta charity, from...

Things worth fighting for—a saint’s body, a woman’s honor

Have you been following the news of the contest between the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Peoria over the remains of Archbishop Fulton Sheen? That dispute has delayed the cause for the late archbishop’s beatification, and many people find it appalling that Catholic prelates...

News that demands comment on matters of life and death

The task of following news of interest to Catholics is probably safe only for bald people, who have no hair left to tear out. Here are some recent stories which cry for comment: The Pontifical Council of Death: I stole the name from one of the sources of this story, but it seems that the...

A sensational story from Rome; help for insomniacs; the Americans left behind; and a special treat

Quite a variety today: enjoy! You’ll probably soon see references (if you haven’t already) to a report in the London Times with a sensational title: Anti-reform cardinals ‘want the Pope to quit’. Proceed with caution. Based entirely on a story by Vatican journalist...

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...

DuruflĂ©’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...