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Brief, off-the-cuff, and sometimes light-hearted Catholic commentary, observations and announcements.

O Earthly Lord, vouchsafe to us high speed Internet. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Tuesday

Ah, the glories of calling for government expenditures! It seems two USCCB committee chairmen have endorsed a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission for the United States to spend $1.5 billion more per year to ensure that all schools have high speed Internet access. Of course,...

No 'Francis effect' in Strasbourg by Phil Lawler - Tuesday

Jean-Marie Guénois, the religion correspondent for Le Figaro (and an old friend), has tweeted several perceptive observations about the Pope’s visit to Strasbourg today. Guénois has been a member of the Vatican press corps for more than 20 years, and been aboard the papal plane for more than 50...

What Pope Francis told European Parliament, and what Pope John Paul II said by Phil Lawler - Tuesday

If you are convinced the Pope Francis has made a radical break from the policies and pronouncements of his predecessors, I have two challenges for you: First, read the text of the Holy Father’s address to the European Parliament and pick out a sentence (other than the time-sensitive...

Art and theology, beauty and truth, work together in the New Evangelization by Phil Lawler - Friday

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” But the poet Keats is wrong; that is not all we need to know in life. In an unusual and rewarding new book, Father Robert Imbelli guides readers along the path of beauty toward the realization that all truth, all beauty, and all goodness reflects the...

Anatomy of Conversion by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Friday

Each person is drawn to God in slightly different ways. There are probably as many “motives of credibility” in the Catholic Church as there are personality types. But as I mentioned yesterday (see It is a failure of mercy to deny sin), most conversion stories turn on a moment when the...

Yesterday's news, tomorrow by Phil Lawler - Nov 20, 2014

“The Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops will meet on 18 and 19 November…” Thus opens an announcement issued by the Vatican Information Service today—which is November 20. It’s standard operating procedure for Vatican officials to hold a press conference to...

American influence at the Vatican and in the Synod by Phil Lawler - Nov 18, 2014

With the departure of Cardinal Burke from this role as head of the Apostolic Signatura, there is now not a single US prelate in a leadership position in the Roman Curia. Nor is there an American holding the #2 spot in any Vatican congregation or pontifical council (although Archbishop Augustine...

Advent-Christmas Ebook Released by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 18, 2014

The Advent and Christmas ebook volume for the 2014-2015 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This is the first volume of the coming new liturgical year, which begins on November 30th, the First Sunday in Advent. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following...

Standing against the culture: Pope Francis, since Friday, on life, marriage and the Gospel by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 17, 2014

1. On Human Life: To Association of Italian Catholic Doctors, November 14. The dominant thinking sometimes suggests a "false compassion", believing that it is: helpful to women to promote abortion; an act of dignity to obtain euthanasia; a scientific breakthrough to...

This year's best interview with an American cardinal by Phil Lawler - Nov 17, 2014

No, I don’t mean the troubling “60 Minutes” interview with Cardinal O’Malley. About that, the less said, the better. If you’re interested in a wide-ranging interview with an influential American cardinal who actually speaks his mind (and if you don’t want to be interrupted by commercials for...

Adding Trust to your Christmas list by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 13, 2014

For those who love the Church's revived emphasis on Divine mercy, a beautiful and touching Christmas gift would be the new coffee table book on St. Faustina, simply entitled Trust. Anyone familiar with the enormously popular Divine Mercy Chaplet will understand the importance of St. Faustina...

An American martyr, overdue for recognition by Phil Lawler - Nov 13, 2014

Exactly twelve years have passed since the brutal slaying of Mary Stachowicz. Seven years have passed since I suggested the opening of a formal cause for her beatification. My own opinion doesn’t count for much, but Bishop Thomas Paprocki (who knew her well) agrees that “she died...

How many devils can dance on a pinhead? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 12, 2014

Though permission was granted on our comment form, simple charity demands that I withhold the name of the reader who submitted the following email in response to this story from November 4th: New York bishop bans travel to west Africa, citing Ebola threat. See if you can count the number of...

Catholicism, evolution and young earth creationism by Thomas Van - Nov 10, 2014

Pope Francis’s recent remarks that evolution and Catholicism are compatible caused great deal of excitement in the secular media. While this compatibility will come as no surprise to educated Catholics, it is not the same as saying that Catholics cannot be creationists. However, in an...

Conservative prelates needn’t panic by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 7, 2014

I have my own take on the question of whether Pope Francis is purging conservative prelates, and it may be useful to suspend my dislike of the terms “conservative” and “liberal” as Catholic descriptors just long enough to make my point. In the recent controversy over the...

Is the Pope purging conservatives? by Phil Lawler - Nov 5, 2014

“Does Pope Francis have an enemies list?” That’s the eye-catching headline on John Allen’s column for the Crux site. Allen notes that three bishops have recently placed under scrutiny by the Vatican: Bishops Rogelio Livieres Plano in Paraguay, Mario Oliveri in Italy, and Robert Finn in Kansas...

Radio silence? by Phil Lawler - Nov 5, 2014

Don’t you immediately see the problem with this headline from St. Louis Public Radio? Priest Silenced By Vatican Shares His Story If Father Tony Flannery is “sharing his story” on the air, he isn’t being silent, is he? As a matter of fact, if the Irish priest is traveling across the ocean...

Three Catholic thinkers on 'the rules' of art by Thomas Van - Nov 5, 2014

1. G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man: There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds. 2. Étienne Gilson, Forms and Substances in the Arts: Everything can legitimately be tried, given up, revived, varied, adorned or stripped of its adornments, for in...

Emphasis on the wrong syllable by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 3, 2014

Every time a son or daughter of the Church criticizes a priest’s contradiction of Church teaching from the pulpit, for example, or rejects a self-proclaimed Catholic politician who supports abortion, “liberal” Catholics rally around and emphasize that such persons are wonderfully...

Yet another revealing 'error' in a Vatican translation by Phil Lawler - Nov 3, 2014

Surprise, surprise! When the Vatican finally released an English-language version of the final report from the Synod, the translation contained at least one blatant omission. And I bet you can’t guess what effect this “error” will have on readers’ understanding. Credit...

Standing 'gradualism' on its head by Phil Lawler - Nov 3, 2014

Father Frank Brennan, an Australian Jesuit who is currently teaching at Boston College Law School, is disappointed with the final document from the Synod. He was hoping for more dramatic changes. So he writes: For the moment, I would not see much pastoral point in sharing this document with...

And here's another very old story: the secular media don't understand Catholic affairs by Phil Lawler - Oct 29, 2014

In Time magazine (of all places), Elizabeth Dias scolds the many media outlets that gave top billing to the statement by Pope Francis that the theory of scientific evolution is compatible with Christianity. That might have been news 65 years ago, Diaz observes. But since Pope Francis was echoing...

How not to be persuasive by Phil Lawler - Oct 29, 2014

When I’m not busy reading and writing about Catholic affairs, I spend some of free time on local civic affairs. Recently a heated controversy has broken out in the town where we live, and I have played a small role in trying to resolve it. I’ll spare you the details, which are complicated and not...

Clarifying what it might mean for a pope to wish to change Catholic doctrine by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 28, 2014

On Saturday, Phil Lawler wrote about the role of the faithful if Pope Francis should indicate a desire to “change the Church’s teaching” (see Could respect for the papacy mean resisting the Pope?). This was designed to clarify his position in response to a column in the New York...

Saving the 21st century? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 27, 2014

The title screams but the book is pretty good. I’m referring to The Race to Save our Century by Jason Scott Jones and John Zmirak. Recently published by Crossroad, this book explores (as the subtitle puts it) “five core principles to promote peace, freedom, and a culture of...

Could respect for the papacy mean resisting the Pope? by Phil Lawler - Oct 25, 2014

A challenging column by Ross Douthat in the New York Times prompts me to clarify my thoughts on the recent Synod and especially the Pope’s role in the October session. Douthat kindly links to my piece, “The Pope is not the problem,” as representative of efforts by...

Is Cardinal Kasper losing his grip? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 24, 2014

It may well be that the discussion of the Kasper Proposal will continue all through the coming year up to and including the 2015 Synod on the Family. I have expressed the optimistic hope that the proposal is actually now dead, except in the media, but time will tell. Meanwhile, one wonders whether...

Do not confuse sacramental discipline and Catholic doctrine. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 23, 2014

In the aftermath of the push for the Kasper Proposal at the 2014 Synod on the Family, some Catholics have fallen into the fairly serious error of confusing sacramental discipline with Catholic doctrine. It is Catholic doctrine, for example, that valid sacramental marriage is indissoluble,...

Has the Vatican finally discovered how to avoid inaccurate English translations? by Phil Lawler - Oct 22, 2014

The good news: Nobody has complained about inaccuracies in the English-language translation of the Synod's final document. The bad news: That's because the Vatican hasn't yet issued an English...

Cardinal Kasper's unsubtle threat by Phil Lawler - Oct 21, 2014

As I mentioned last week, Cardinal Kasper generally assumes—and rightly so-- that journalists will sympathize with his campaign to change Church teaching. So it would be foolish to ignore his insistence that his embarrassment at the Synod was caused by a dark conspiracy , and now...

When Catholics are less Catholic than non-Catholics by Phil Lawler - Oct 20, 2014

The Catholic Church does not settle doctrinal questions by majority vote. And since surveys of Catholic opinion usually record the answers of any respondents who identify themselves as Catholics, we don’t have many reliable indications of what faithful, practicing Catholics think, anyway....

Cardinal Kasper's nose is growing again by Phil Lawler - Oct 18, 2014

First Cardinal Kasper claimed that he had never made those shocking comments dismissing the views of African bishops. Then we heard the conversation. Now the cardinal says that he won’t comment on the taped interview because it was unauthorized and journalist Edward Pentin had not introduced...

No, mainstream religious orders aren't attracting vocations as fast as younger traditional orders by Phil Lawler - Oct 17, 2014

Let’s say you have two children. One of them, a little toddler, has put on 5 pounds in the past month. The other, a teenage boy, has also gained 5 pounds over the same span of time. Which one would you say is growing faster? The toddler, obviously. It’s not surprising when a healthy...

The Synod: Is the sky falling? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 17, 2014

I confess I marvel at how many people assume that conflict among bishops at the Synod on the Family must mean that the sky is falling. If one side or the other in a particular dispute employs strategies that seem more appropriate to politics, the fear is that they are evil geniuses destroying the...

A Manichean Luther by Thomas Van - Oct 17, 2014

An in-depth article at Unam Sanctam Catholicam takes a look at modern scholarship which reveals that Martin Luther's theology was far less orthodox than is commonly believed: For most of post-Reformation history, it has been axiomatic in theological histories of the controversy to propose...

The trouble with 'gradualism' by Phil Lawler - Oct 15, 2014

Pope Francis has compared the Church to a field hospital, a place where wounded people come to be healed. Let’s apply that very useful metaphor to the relatio post disceptationem, the interim document from the Synod of Bishops, and in particular to that document’s call for...

Pastoral-needs quiz by Phil Lawler - Oct 10, 2014

Among the following groups, which does NOT require special pastoral attention and a warm welcome into every Catholic parish? active homosexuals cohabiting couples couples who are divorced and remarried (no annulment) daily communicants who do not contribute to the Bishop’s...

It's safe. Perfectly safe. No need to mention it. by Phil Lawler - Oct 10, 2014

Researchers at the University of Adelaide, Australia, are questioning whether estrogen in the environment might account for a rise in obesity and a drop in sperm count among men in affluent countries. The Daily Mail helpfully informs us that chemicals similar to estrogen can be found in PVC pipes...

Why the Wesolowski trial belongs at the Vatican by Phil Lawler - Oct 3, 2014

Suppose you were arrested and told that you’d be facing criminal charges that could lead to a 12-year prison sentence. Would you say that the police were “sheltering” you? I doubt it. Yet a Boston Globe editorial complains that the Vatican is sheltering Jozef Wesolowski, the defrocked...

How ESPN makes Uncle Screwtape happy by Phil Lawler - Oct 2, 2014

Anthony Esolen is always worth reading. He hits nails on heads. And he comes at his targets from unexpected angles, so that the point is pounded home almost before the reader can see where it’s going. A professional football star is charged with subjecting his child to pitiless physical...

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