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

In other words, to be a Christian means this: by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Thursday

After reading my three part exploration of Hans Urs von Balthasar’s trenchant book, Who Is a Christian?, some have wanted a more precise explanation of how to be a truly devout Christian. Here is the best advice I can offer. The virtue of devotion is nothing other than a general...

Wanted: a balanced Catholic perspective on immigration by Phil Lawler - Thursday

For a Christians, it seems, immigration is—or should be—a complicated issue. On the one hand, charity compels those of us who are comfortable to help those who are in need, including those who seek to escape from poverty, crime, or persecution. On the other hand, a legitimate concern...

OTG: Dominican theologians assess proposals for divorced and remarried by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Tuesday

A group of eight Dominican theologians in the United States has released what I believe is a seminal study in preparation for the 2014 and 2015 synods on the family. The title of this important study is “Recent Proposals for the Pastoral Care of the Divorced and Remarried: A Theological...

Wrongheaded diocesan legal defenses in abuse cases by Phil Lawler - Jul 24, 2014

A Missouri judge observes that when the Kansas City diocese suggests that it might want to reconsider an agreement with sex-abuse victims, it “sends a bad message.” It sure does. Yet it’s a message that Church leaders keep sending. In Minnesota, another judge rejected a...

New HHS Mandate must truly eliminate complicity by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 23, 2014

It will be interesting to see what the White House comes up with next, now that the HHS Contraceptive Mandate in its present form has been shot down. The most likely outcome would be a proposal which keeps contraceptive, abortifacient and sterilizing procedures covered by medical insurance without...

A legislative mockery: Massachusetts lawmakers rush to replace unconstitutional 'buffer zone' bill by Phil Lawler - Jul 22, 2014

You might think that, when a state law is struck down as unconstitutional, by a 9-0 decision of the US Supreme Court, the legislators who passed that law would feel chastened. Not in Massachusetts. Reacting with almost comical haste to the unanimous Supreme Court decision that overturned a...

Fool me once... by Phil Lawler - Jul 14, 2014

Back in October a 90-year-old Italian journalist published an “interview” in which he published some provocative quotations from Pope Francis. Only later did we learn that he hadn’t taken notes, and the “quotations” were reconstructed from his own memory of the...

OTG: Crowdfunding can change lives by Thomas Van - Jul 11, 2014

A professor at Christendom College has started an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to pay for psychological counseling for students who cannot afford it. The campaign, which has reached a third of its monetary goal with 34 days remaining, will provide a $1,500 course of treatment for two...

The 'papal World Cup rivalry' story has now jumped the shark by Phil Lawler - Jul 11, 2014

“World Cup final pits Pope Francis versus retired Pope Benedict,” shouts the headline on the CBC site. Hmm. A 77-year-old man with a limp against an 87-year-old man with a cane. Playing soccer. No offense to either Pontiff, but if that’s what they’re showing on TV this Sunday, I think I’ll...

Hot (news) flash: the Pill suppresses fertility by Phil Lawler - Jul 10, 2014

Something’s seriously wrong with the headline on this story: Birth control pills may damage women’s fertility, experts say If you take blood-pressure pills, and find that your blood pressure is lower, you aren’t upset, are you? I mean, the purpose of blood-pressure pills is to suppress blood...

Catching up on summer reading by Phil Lawler - Jul 10, 2014

A flood of important recent news stories, many of them calling for some careful analysis, has left me with little extra time in the past week or two. So instead of commenting on some of the thought-provoking articles that I have found on other sites, I have set them aside for future notice. Now...

Lay theologians on board? Two applications of the sensus fidei by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 9, 2014

In yesterday’s In Depth Analysis on the new document from the International Theological Commission (The ITC’s compelling exploration of the sensus fidei—the sense of faith), I focused mostly on what is required for a member of Christ’s faithful to participate effectively in...

The war(s) on women by Phil Lawler - Jul 4, 2014

So I guess all Americans face a choice. If you're not prepared to wage all-out war on women's reproductive powers, you're engaged in a war on women. By the same logic, if you learn that a certain pesticide prevents trees from bearing fruit, and you urge the government not to...

The enduring myth of pro-life violence at abortion clinics by Phil Lawler - Jun 30, 2014

In a Boston Globe column decrying what she sees as the negative effects of the Supreme Court decision that struck down a Massachusetts law establishing a 35’ “buffer zone” outside abortion clinics, Yvonne Abraham suggests that sidewalk counselors impose terrible burdens on...

What about false prophets? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 27, 2014

A Sound Off! comment raised a good question about my most recent discussion of Pope Francis’ teachings on the Church (More on Communion with the Church from Pope Francis). I had touched briefly on the ways in which non-Catholic Christians and even non-Christians can be joined to the Church....

Great news! I've made the major leagues! by Phil Lawler - Jun 24, 2014

All my life I have wanted to play shortstop for the Boston Red Sox, and at last my dream will come true! I am in the starting lineup for tonight’s game, which will be played on the field behind the library. We’ll be using a Wiffleball, and playing with 4 men on a side, in accordance with the new...

And this week's Comical Coverage of Catholicism Award goes to... by Phil Lawler - Jun 24, 2014

Sometimes the misleading news reports about the Catholic Church are disturbing. Other times, they’re merely comical. Take for example this entry from KTVI, the Fox affiliate in St. Louis: Catholic priests to vote on whether married men can be ordained It turns out that the...

Pope Francis fails the litmus test of the Left by Phil Lawler - Jun 23, 2014

The subhead for wild diatribe against Pope Francis on the Salon site gives you a pretty accurate indication of what to expect: Don't buy his populist rhetoric. The new pope is every bit the sexist homophobe as his predecessors Anna March is an angry, angry woman. She has just discovered...

The Tuam orphanage 'scandal' and the AP 'apology' that comes too late by Phil Lawler - Jun 23, 2014

The Associated Press has issued a correction for stories that ran earlier this month, reporting that several hundred babies had been buried, unbaptized, in a septic tank near an Irish orphanage. The correction reads in part: The Associated Press incorrectly reported that the children had not...

Is politics the key to human development? An olfactory question by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 20, 2014

The United States Bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development has announced its 2014 grants. Our news story summarizing the grants suggests that a very large number of them fund political advocacy. It would be very interesting to know what percentage. As compared with what? Well, as...

OTG: A seminar for journalists covering the Church by Thomas Van - Jun 18, 2014

The Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome is offering an intensive one-week English seminar for foreign journalists who write about the Church. The seminar, which goes from Sept. 8-14, is titled The Church Up Close: Covering Catholicism in the Age of Francis. According to the website,...

Slow news day? Then worry about the Pope's health by Phil Lawler - Jun 18, 2014

Recent days have seen a new flurry of speculation about the health of Pope Francis. Last week he cancelled a few audiences and postponed others as he rested to recover from a "mild indisposition" after a tiring week of public events. Early this week he postponed another audience, later...

Catholic and Orthodox in Ukraine: The Rest of the Story by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 17, 2014

You’ll recall (of course you will) that on June 4th, I pointed out the remarkably self-serving statements of the Russian Orthodox Church regarding the situation in the Ukraine. The chairman of that church’s Department of External Church Relations praised the Ukrainian Orthodox Church...

Curmudgeon Alert: Ratzinger Foundation Prizes by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 17, 2014

In response to many requests, Pope Benedict established a Vatican Foundation in 2010, named for Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI, to foster the work of theologians, including the study, development and application of the special contributions to the field which, as a professor, Joseph Ratzinger had...

So now will Nancy Pelosi excommunicate Archbishop Cordileone? by Phil Lawler - Jun 16, 2014

Nancy Pelosi—who recently accepted an award named after a notorious racist and eugenicist, and bestowed by the America’s largest abortion provider—is now chiding her archbishop for his failure (in her eyes) to show that “every person is a child of God, possessed of the...

The mistaken defense of Archbishop Carlson by Phil Lawler - Jun 13, 2014

With his customary bravado, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League claims that “Archbishop Carlson Has Been Framed” and says that criticism of the archbishop’s testimony (including mine, presumably) can be attributed to “malice, ignorance and laziness.” Strong words....

A nun becomes a star; a star becomes a nun by Phil Lawler - Jun 12, 2014

For the past month or so we’ve been hearing a great deal about an Italian nun who made herself a pop star. Here’s an opposite case: a young Spanish woman who is a star, but has decided to become a nun. As I’ve said before, I wish Sister Cristina Scuccia every success. If she can parlay her...

Too many Italian saints? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 12, 2014

One doesn’t like to grumble. But, really, the Italians seem to have it all over everybody else when it comes to canonizations. Now we have another case in point, as Pope Francis will canonize six new saints in November. It should come as no surprise that two-thirds of them are Italian. It...

Archbishop Carlson, don’t insult our intelligence! by Phil Lawler - Jun 10, 2014

Please, Archbishop Carlson, don’t insult our intelligence, and we won’t insult yours. You have testified, under oath, that in the 1980s it was not clear to you that sexual abuse of children was a crime. Do you expect us to believe that? Do you want us to believe it? If you...

Remembering D-Day, with help from Ronald Reagan by Phil Lawler - Jun 6, 2014

It’s 70 years since D-Day, and it’s 30 years (believe it or not) since President Ronald Reagan delivered his memorable speech in Normandy about “The Boys of Pointe du Hoc.” If you’ve never seen it—or haven’t seen it recently—it’s well worth a few minutes, as a reminder of what American soldiers...

OTG: Gregorian Chant Camp for Children by Thomas Van - Jun 4, 2014

A reader, Daniel diSilva, sends us this short video he made about a musical summer camp at St. Anne Catholic Church in San Diego, CA. The camp immerses young people from age seven and up in the Church’s musical heritage of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony. Watching the video, I was...

A happy epilogue for the Cold War by Phil Lawler - Jun 3, 2014

One of the most enduring visual images of the Cold War—one of the early signs that the Soviet empire was doomed—was the sight of General Wojciech Jaruzelski, the Polish strongman, literally shaking as he addressed the enormous crowd that gathered to greet St. John Paul II on his...

John Allen’s Take on the Catholic Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 3, 2014

Our readers have sometimes wondered why we make occasional references to the reports and insights of veteran Rome correspondent John Allen—considering that he was employed for so many years by that scurrilous rag, the National Catholic Reporter. Our excuse has always been the same: Allen is...

The limits of episcopal expertise by Phil Lawler - Jun 3, 2014

It’s official: the bishops of the Philippines are not taking any official position on their country’s new military agreement with the US. Although the statement issued by the bishops’ conference is odd—the bishops are officially taking the position that they will not take a position—there is...

OTG: A serious take on popular music by Thomas Van - May 29, 2014

Musically inclined readers may be interested in a new blog, Critic's Corner, by Dr. Kurt Poterack, a composer who directs the choirs and the Minor in Sacred Music at Christendom College. Poterack worked as an editor on The Adoremus Hymnal and edited the journal Sacred Music for several years,...

The Same Government Makes Domestic and Foreign Policy by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 27, 2014

It’s an odd thing. In the United States, as a broad rule, liberals are certain that US social programs are good and that US military actions are evil. By the same broad rule, conservatives are typically certain that US social programs are evil and US military actions are good. These...

Ebook for Ordinary Time after Easter Released by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 26, 2014

We have just released the fifth volume in the 2013-2014 Liturgical Year series of ebooks. Volume five covers the first half of the long stretch of Ordinary Time between the close of the Easter Season on Pentecost and the beginning of Advent. Like all CatholicCulture.org ebooks, this volume is...

Sin vs. Attachment to Sin: A Critical Distinction by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 23, 2014

In yesterday’s On the Culture essay (Entering the Kingdom of God: What Does This Mean?), I cite several passages in St. Paul’s letters which indicate that certain classes of sinners cannot enter the Kingdom of God. But we are all guilty of at least some of the sins Paul identifies, and...

Is a call to 'update' Church teaching a call for doctrinal change? Nope. by Phil Lawler - May 21, 2014

From time to time you’ve probably noticed a news story on this site with the parenthetical note that the story has been “updated.” Did you think, when you saw that note, that we were repudiating our earlier version of the story? I hope not. When we say that we’re “updating” a story, that note...

Cardinal Bertone under investigation? The Vatican's not-so-complete denial by Phil Lawler - May 20, 2014

I have no information about the report that Cardinal Bertone is being investigated for possible embezzlement. My hunch is that the report, aired by Bild, is vastly overblown. Still I can’t help noticing that the Vatican’s response is not a clear blanket denial. “There is currently no...

Why I can't identify with Bishop Galantino by Phil Lawler - May 19, 2014

So Bishop Nunzio Galantino can’t “identify with the expressionless person who stands outside the abortion clinic reciting their rosary”? Well, I can’t identify with Bishop Galantino. If the people praying on the sidewalks don’t look jolly, maybe it’s because...

The Myth of the Consent of the Governed by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 15, 2014

Recently I came across an effort to demonstrate the immorality of slavery based on natural rights. The text read as follows: “No feeling can justify the enslavement of another human being, because a human being has the inalienable right to consent in his rule. This, of course, is the problem...

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