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The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

Quick Hits: Seven Gifts, female spirituality, Escape from Nihilism, Thomistic Evolution

Catholic pianist-composer Mark Christopher Brandt has now released the second in a series of four fully improvised piano recordings. Seven Gifts (available as a CD or DVD) is based on the same concept as the first installment, Seven Moons, so you can visit my review of the earlier...

Lenten sacrifices: What about Sundays?

One of the priests in our parish frequently tries to get us to be tougher when it comes to a willingness to sacrifice. Each year around this time he speaks repeatedly about the desirability of extending our Lenten practices throughout all the days of the Lenten season. He is unimpressed by the...

Quick Hits: absurd public-health directives, a rude papal adviser, unresponsive diocesan bureaucracies

This week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that young women should use contraception if they plan to drink alcohol-- any amount of alcohol. The logic of the CDC’s argument is this: Scientists don’t know what level of alcohol will be harmful to an unborn child, so...

The 'traditional' same-sex wedding

In this spectacularly lopsided article for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Joel Connelly is determined to show that it is unreasonable for a Catholic high school to refuse to publish a notice of a graduate’s same-sex wedding. Connelly blames the refusal on the “chilly, hard-line...

What’s this about a Solidarity Campaign?

Some may think CatholicCulture.org always has a gimmick to raise funds. I don’t know how gimmicky it is; mostly I just beg incessantly because we need a certain amount of revenue each and every month. We don’t have any financial angels. We rely entirely on those who actually use...

LGBT...ETC: The Code of the In Crowd

First there were gays; then there were lesbians and gays; then there were lesbians, gays and bisexuals—a long enough list to require the initialism LGB; then there were lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBT). When the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke recently about the...

NPR discovers the 'secret' that pro-lifers have been sharing for a generation

Congratulations to National Public Radio for discovering what Steven Mosher has been telling the world for the past 35 years: that China's brutal "one-child" population policy led to flagrant and widespread human-rights abuses, including millions of forced abortions, and produced a...

Liturgical Year Volume 3 Released: LENT

Lent (the only liturgical season with a name that is also a four-letter word!) begins on February 10th, and so the Lenten volume of our ebook series for the 2015-2016 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This third volume in the annual series covers the entire season of...

Quick Hits: the myth of believers in a flat Earth, Europe's failure to evangelize Japan

This week brought us two worthwhile articles about Christianity in secular outlets. In the wake of rapper B.o.B. claiming that the earth is flat, Newsweek points out that people didn't even believe this in the Middle Ages. It's a myth made up in the nineteenth century to make...

Quick Hits: covering up nudes, Italy's pro-family resistance, the tragic assassination of Diem

The prudish draping of nude statues at the Capitoline Museum, in preparation for the visit by Iranian President Rouhani, neatly captures the story of Europe’s decline. The curators of a great cultural treasury are ready to apologize for their heritage, to eliminate any aspects that might...

OTG: Syrian Patriarch: A special Catholic leader?

Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III (Ignace Youssif III) of the Syriac Catholic Church has become a fresh voice in the daily news. Yesterday we heard him scoffing at Italian museum curators for covering up nude statues during a visit from the President of Iran. Today, we find him praising the military...

Quick Hits: Divine Mercy movie, IVF and surrogacy, the Saints' favorite books

A documentary about the original painting of the Divine Mercy, which Jesus commanded St. Faustina to have made, is being released worldwide on Feb. 10. While representations of Jesus' Divine Mercy are now commonplace around the world, the original painting has been in obscurity for...

A few pointed remarks (from God)

A few weeks ago I read the Book of Proverbs again, and this time I decided to make a note of all the verses which struck me as particularly apt, insightful or, in some cases, entertaining. The next time I read this book, I have no doubt that other verses will stand out. That’s the way it is...

Change in Holy Thursday liturgy encourages do-it-yourself liturgical experimentation

On its face, the Pope’s decision to include women in the foot-washing ceremony of the Holy Thursday liturgy does not seem a matter of earth-shaking importance. The question only arises once a year. The liturgical rule that included only males has been widely ignored for years, and the skies...

Quick Hits 1: Priest falsely accused?/Religious test for White House?/Liturgical changes we need

The highly publicized trials of Philadelphia priests are an instance of “prosecutorial lust,” according to reporter Ralph Cipriano. Since the trials began, Cipriano has been making a strong case that the key witness for the prosecution is completely unreliable. Now those strong...

How to deal with suffering, suffering of any kind

We all suffer at one time or another, and some of us face chronic suffering. I am ever mindful, for example, of all those who regularly plow through my commentaries, an exercise which may be classified as the suffering of frustration. But we can also suffer from doubt, exploitation, failure,...

OTG: The Catholic Navigator: Bon Voyage!

If you are actively involved in catechesis in your parish, or in other formation programs, you may be interested in subscribing to the Catholic Navigator. This is a lay apostolate of experienced catechists which provides printable weekly catechetical supplements for adults and children. The...

Quick Hits: Trump, the Vatican gay lobby, and the next step after gay marriage

In 1999, Donald Trump said that he was "very pro-choice." Politicians can change their minds. As governor of California, Ronald Reagan once signed the nation's most liberal abortion legislation; as President he wrote a book against abortion. But until we have clear evidence that...

The crucial topic missing from the State of the Union address [updated]

He was raised in the US, but has lived for years in Australia, so Michael Cook of MercatorNet has an interesting perspective on American political affairs: that of someone who speaks the language—the language of US politics, I mean—but does not hear it constantly. From that...

Notes from around the web

In a fine piece appearing on the National Review site, David French makes roughly the same argument that I’ve made here recently: that the latest battles in the culture wars involve not only marriage and family, but the right to speak the truth—or worse, the compulsion to accept a lie. French...

On Gardening and Architecture...and the awareness of God

Speaking of rethinking how we think (e.g., Modern “objective” knowledge is a circular system: Why?), Christopher Alexander has tried to do much the same thing for the field of architecture. Professor emeritus of architecture at the University of California at Berkeley, Alexander has...

Spotlight: a movie that says more than its makers realize

"I'll be writing more about Spotlight soon," I promised early in December. And I did. See my full-length review on the First Things...

An effort to summarize how people think today

It seems that our dominant culture today is driven by men and women who reason very badly. It is as if they say to themselves: “Our life is short and difficult enough, and there is no way to avoid the inevitable end, for nobody returns from the dead. We were born by mere chance, and later...

Liturgical Year Volume 2 Released: Ordinary Time before Lent

The second volume of our ebook series for the 2015-2016 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This is a relatively small volume for the current liturgical year, covering the brief period of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent, from January 11 through February 9. It...

Has a Massachusetts court done what the Boston archdiocese was condemned for doing?

What caused the sex-abuse scandal within the Catholic Church? Too many bishops chose to protect abusive priests rather than innocent children. Now—right here in Massachusetts, where the whole mess exploded some thirteen unlucky years ago—the state’s highest court has made the...

Chalk up another for Brother Andre

On this feast of St. Andre Bessette it seems appropriate to tell my own story. Several years ago, shortly after I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, my sister visited the Oratory in Montreal and brought me back a medal of Brother Andre, reminding me that he had been involved in...

Links on Christian culture

Today I return to work after a relaxing Christmas vacation! Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve read a number of valuable pieces, all of which relate in some way to Christian culture. A friend brought my attention to a remarkable First Things essay written in 2004 by Robert...

Burning incense to the false gods of political correctness

We aren't--yet-- being required by law to bow before idols. But it is increasingly common to learn that if you want to win a contract, or earn tenure, or keep your business open, or hold onto your government job, or avoid a costly lawsuit, you will be expected to assent to propositions...

Payback Time: A Christmas Story

As an early Christmas present to faithful readers, I offer an old column, which originally appeared in the July 2001 issue of Catholic World Report, and was reproduced on this site, in slightly different form, five years ago. This isn’t a Christmas story, except insofar as the climax...

With apologies to Lewis Carroll, was today’s news created by the Mad Hatter?

I can’t help but notice a pattern in today’s news stories. Most of them report on intrinsically self-contradictory situations which seem to characterize the modern world. Consider: The Prime Minister of Canada will try to get the Pope to visit Canada to issue an apology for the...

The single most disturbing statistic

America faces a danger every bit as serious as terrorism, and it’s not being discussed by presidential candidates. The Pew Research Center points to it, in a new report, “The American Family Today.” …in 1960, the height of the post-World War II baby boom, there was one...

Too bad King Canute wasn't at the Paris summit

So our world leaders have pronounced that the world's temperatures may not rise more than 2°. I trust Mother Nature has been put on notice. The Paris climate-change agreement did not include any compliance mechanism. Which is just as well, because if Divine Providence has plans for an...

Cardinal Wuerl and the critic who won't let go

George Neumayr, the former editor of Catholic World Report, has been hounding Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl, asking questions about the expensive “penthouse apartment” that now serves as the cardinal’s residence. Neumayr’s posted remarks about Cardinal Wuerl have been extremely negative, and...

To chew on: We were undesirables once.

Most people in the U.S. have no idea of this country's long history of anti-Catholic bigotry. This reached a peak in the nineteenth century, when we were considered to be untrustworthy, loyal to a foreign power and unassimilatable to American culture and values. (If only!) Kudos, then, to...

Will a climate change goal change anything?

Stories on the proposed cap on global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius are typically vague about what this means. This is true of our own story on the Holy See’s support for this cap, and even of the more detailed story from a climate organization to which our story links. In fact, you can...

Going to see Spotlight? Debating people who have seen it? Here's essential background reading.

Have you seen Spotlight? Although I had serious reservations about the hype surrounding the film, I found Spotlight to be an excellent movie. It is a powerful, and surprisingly accurate, retelling of the story of how the sex-abuse scandal exploded: with a Boston Globe investigation of the...

Cherry-picked statistics don't conceal the collapse of American women's religious communities

Setting a high standard for cherry-picking statistics, the “Global Sisters Report,” a project of the National Catholic Reporter, happily announces: “The number of vowed women religious in the United States today is approximately the same as it was a century ago — just under 50,000.” So...

The environmental(ist) degradation of St. Peter's

Almost as soon as the Year of Mercy was formally opened, the concept of Divine Mercy was trivialized by a light show, with images of the environment displayed across the façade of St. Peter’s basilica. Pope Francis took pains, in Laudato Si’, to draw a connection between the...

Links 12/4/2015

Two Catholic writers comment on the recent Planned Parenthood shooting: In The Week, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry shows how unfair and disingenuous it is for progressives to blame the pro-life movement. Meanwhile, responding to those who say pro-lifers are inconsistent not to support...

The obscene focus on killers: don't cooperate!

Here’s a quick follow-up to my argument that we shouldn’t give free publicity to mass killers. This morning I read Facebook messages (posted last night) that gave at least ten different names to the San Bernardino shooters. Why? What do you gain if you are the first person to name...

Gay rights as a Western obsession: Exhibit A

You might think it’s too early to measure the results of last week’s papal voyage to Africa. But Paul Vallely disagrees, in a New York Times column that carries the assertive title: “The Pope’s Failure in Africa.” Vallely seems to have unbounded confidence in his...

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