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

Just as you suspected, most polls are useless. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Wednesday

It is now safe to discount the results of almost any major poll which relies on user responses to polling questions. And if polling companies use other kinds of adjustments to attempt to make their data more correct, then there is much more than mere polling at work. Robert Wuthnow is a...

Intrinsic evil can't be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by Phil Lawler - Wednesday

Facing the threat of a lawsuit, Mercy Medical Center in Redding, California—a Catholic hospital— allowed doctors to perform a tubal ligation, sterilizing a woman, in what appears to have been a direct violation of Catholic moral teaching and the US bishops’ Ethical and Religious...

A foolish mistake by pro-life demonstrators by Phil Lawler - Monday

How dumb was it for thousands of pro-lifers to wear that hi-tech reflective clothing on Saturday, so that when they gathered to demonstrate outside Planned Parenthood clinics, there were completely invisible to reporters from secular news outlets? Quite naturally the reporters, arriving on the...

Is Catholicism Biblical? That question is backwards! by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 20, 2015

The other day I referred to Dave Armstrong’s fine collection of essays, Proving the Catholic Faith is Biblical (see What I learned on my vacation, about God and man). But anyone who demands that we prove that Catholicism is properly rooted in Scripture has his religious fundamentals all...

Are religious people happier? Why yes, yes they are. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 19, 2015

I have not read the whole study, but the news is good: Those who participate in religious organizations are happier than those who do not, even if they are active in other political or social organizations. Our story links to the website with the full text. Many might find this surprising,...

De Lubac's final notes on the Second Vatican Council by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 18, 2015

I have just posted the final installment of my highlights from Henri de Lubac's notes on the Second Vatican Council. De Lubac’s notes reveal something of the theological differences, objectives, conflicts, maneuvering and humor involved in the conciliar effort to chart a course of...

Another papal resignation on the horizon? by Phil Lawler - Aug 18, 2015

Karl Keating, the founder of Catholic Answers, raises an interesting question: A New Pope in 2016? This is not a prediction, he emphasizes; it’s a sort of mental exercise. Pope Francis has referred to the resignation of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, as “a beautiful gesture of...

What's your diocese doing for the campaign to defund Planned Parenthood? by Phil Lawler - Aug 17, 2015

Pro-life activists are complaining about the lack of coverage in the mainstream media for Planned Parenthood fetal-tissue trafficking. There’s ample reason for those complaints; the silence of the major news outlets is a second scandal. But really, are you surprised? The major secular outlets...

The enigma that is Pope Francis: a few new clues by Phil Lawler - Aug 14, 2015

Are you still trying to understand Pope Francis? Join the club. For those of us who are struggling to understand the Holy Father’s way of thinking, Nick Miroff of the Washington Post has provided a few very useful insights. First he cited the influence of Argentina’s Juan Peron, a populist...

The 'seamless garment' may wear thin in the age of the laity by Phil Lawler - Aug 14, 2015

Recently in this space I argued that Archbishop Blaise Cupich of Chicago had pushed the “seamless garment” argument much too far, by suggesting that support for the death penalty is morally equivalent to dismembering unborn babies and offering the parts for sale. This is—or should be—a familiar...

The most important topic(s) for the Synod by Phil Lawler - Aug 13, 2015

What will be the single most important topic on the agenda when the Synod of Bishops meets in October? If you follow the news headlines, you’re likely to respond that the top priority will be the question of Communion for Catholics who are divorced and remarried. Or possibly you’ll say the...

Eugene Genovese, a Communist turned Catholic by Thomas Van - Aug 10, 2015

Eugene Genovese (1930-2012) was a historian of the American South, known especially for his landmark book Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. He was also a Marxist and, in his own words, "a supporter of the international movement and of the Soviet Union until there...

With Archbishop Cupich, the 'seamless garment' jumps the shark by Phil Lawler - Aug 6, 2015

The late Cardinal Bernardin muddied the waters of Catholic social teaching with his “seamless garment” argument, suggesting that opposition to abortion was no more important than opposition to the nuclear freeze. But Archbishop Blaise Cupich, who now sits in Cardinal Bernardin’s...

Douthat unmasks the moral cowardice of PP defenders by Thomas Van - Aug 6, 2015

Two weeks after his excellent op-ed "Looking Away from Abortion," Ross Douthat has delivered another blow to moral cowardice. In his latest NYT blog piece, "There Is No Pro-Life Case for Planned Parenthood," Douthat takes on the argument that defunding Planned...

Links to the past by Thomas Van - Jul 30, 2015

The New York Times Magazine has given some much-needed attention to ISIS's genocide of Christians with a long essay by Eliza Griswold: "Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?" In First Things, Mark Movsesian comments further on the U.S.'s responsibility for...

Fetal tissues and vaccinations; are you part of the problem? by Phil Lawler - Jul 30, 2015

If you’re appalled by the revelations about the sale of fetal tissues-- and how could you not be—pause for a moment and think on this passage from a New York Times op-ed defending the ghoulish traffic: Fetal cells extracted from the lungs of two aborted fetuses from Europe in the...

Vatican delegations ought to avoid the rhetoric of the world. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 30, 2015

One does wonder occasionally about Vatican diplomacy. For example, in recent remarks at the UN, the Vatican delegation urged that controversial issues be left out of the UN’s sustainable development goals (see Avoid controversial issues in drafting development goals, Holy See tells UN). This...

Monday-morning musings by Phil Lawler - Jul 27, 2015

The PR flacks of Planned Parenthood tell us—with straight faces!—that they don’t “sell” fetal tissue; they only ask for “compensation”—that is, enough to cover their costs, plus a little extra (for the Lamborghini). When you go to the...

But WHY are these videos so damaging to Planned Parenthood? by Phil Lawler - Jul 25, 2015

It's odd, isn't it, that Planned Parenthood has been hurt so badly by revelations about the sale of fetal organs? We already knew that unborn babies are killed, by the tens of thousands, in PP clinics. Isn't the killing a worse offense? If I told you that I planned to chop you up...

Recreating a true home: John Cuddeback at work by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 23, 2015

Professor John Cuddeback, head of the Philosophy department at Christendom College, is particularly interested in family life and the importance of the “household”. Drawing on sources both philosophical and practical, Cuddeback maintains a website devoted to the philosophy and practice...

Father Barron's departure: bad news for Chicago by Phil Lawler - Jul 23, 2015

The headline on a Crux story says it all: “With the Rev. Robert Barron headed to LA, Archbishop Cupich can further reshape Chicago.” Many Catholics who know his work are rejoicing at the news that Father Barron, an outstanding evangelist, will become a bishop. Unfortunately...

NOW channels Groucho Marx by Phil Lawler - Jul 22, 2015

Give NOW credit for consistency. The group always defends abortionists. So it’s no surprise that NOW has defended Planned Parenthood against criticism fueled by the latest damaging undercover videos. Those videos, NOW charges, are part of a “tissue of lies.” “The...

Monday-morning reading by Phil Lawler - Jul 20, 2015

Some more interesting essays, gathered from other sites, which you shouldn’t miss: The late Father Silvano Fausti, who was spiritual director to Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, made some waves with an interview shortly before his death, in which he revealed that Cardinal Martini advised...

Clarifications on the political enforcement of faith and morals by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 20, 2015

In response to my exploration of the limitations of the religious liberty defense, some readers raised the question of whether government is morally bound to recognize the Catholic Church as the source of the true religion and to enforce some portion of the Catholic Faith. The answer to this...

Cooperation, accommodation, and the contraceptive mandate by Phil Lawler - Jul 17, 2015

Imagine that you’re running a small business in Germany in the 1930s. A government official comes to your office and tells you to fire all your Jewish employees. You refuse, saying that it be immoral to do so. OK, the Nazi official says. Tell you what; I’ll make an...

What we don't know by Phil Lawler - Jul 16, 2015

Several readers have written to voice their dissatisfaction with our headline story about the Brazilian Archbishop Antonio Carlos Altieri, whose resignation the Vatican announced yesterday. If it’s any consolation, we’re dissatisfied, too. The Vatican announcement, as usual, provided no...

The Little Sisters case: being forced by government to act against one's principles by Phil Lawler - Jul 14, 2015

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, in its decision that would require the Little Sisters of the Poor to comply with the Obamacare contraceptive mandate, used a revealing argument to dismiss the Little Sisters’ claim that the mandate infringes on their religious freedom. Some background is...

Post-vacation links by Thomas Van - Jul 14, 2015

I've just returned from a two-week vacation, so it's time to catch up with a few things that caught my interest during the first half of June. First, a topic near to my heart: In Dominicana, the official journal of the St. Joseph Province of the Dominican Order, Br. Bonaventure...

Three more short must-read essays by Phil Lawler - Jul 13, 2015

As Pope Francis ended his trip to South America—during which he had made some memorable statements on economic affairs—Samuel Gregg observed that the Pope’s rhetoric had a familiar ring; it was uncomfortably close to that of some notable Latin American demagogues, including the...

Weekend reading roundup by Phil Lawler - Jul 10, 2015

From around the web, a few interesting insights to start a summer weekend: Pope Francis has suggested that the world’s Christians should reach an agreement on a common date for the celebration of Easter, ending the confusion that arises when Catholic and Orthodox churches celebrate on...

Intimations of Immortality, again by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 9, 2015

In his famous ode “Intimations of Immortality”, William Wordsworth (1770-1850) reflected on the incomparable beauties of nature and the bitter sweetness of human passing. He wrote: We will grieve not, rather find       Strength in what remains behind;    ...

A modest proposal—did I say proposal?—regarding consent before sex by Phil Lawler - Jul 8, 2015

The Affirmative Consent Project is encouraging American college students to sign a contract affirming their mutual agreement before having sexual intercourse. The contract—the group helpfully provides a form—can be memorialized with a Smartphone photo, since sometimes it’s hard...

Remember how much snow there was in Boston last winter? Guess what. by Phil Lawler - Jul 8, 2015

Back in February, did you see me complaining about the record-breaking snowfall? Yes, as a matter of fact you did. I also wondered a bit about what would happen when it all melted. For us, fortunately, the melting was gradual, not at all dramatic. But in Boston… that’s a...

Vatican statement clarifies duties of Catholic faithful after Obergefell decision by Phil Lawler - Jul 2, 2015

Twelve years ago, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith anticipated the possibility that some states might recognize same-sex marriage, and said: In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights...

A Baptist leader with a message the Synod of Bishops should hear by Phil Lawler - Jun 30, 2015

Having read scores of essays, op-eds, and blog posts about the Obergefell decision, I keep coming back to this outstanding piece by Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s commission on ethics and religious liberty. Moore drives home the point that marriage will...

'Helpful' advice for social conservatives: ignore causes, deal with effects by Phil Lawler - Jun 30, 2015

New York Times columnist David Brooks offers friendly advice for social conservatives: “Put aside a culture war that, at least over the near term, you are destined to lose.” Brooks makes a point of saying that he admires social conservatives, and wants to see them succeed. He thinks success...

Good news/bad news on the Vatican PR overhaul by Phil Lawler - Jun 29, 2015

The good news: The Vatican has a new streamlined media operation, with one office responsible for coordinating all communications work. The bad news: that office is staffed by four Italians and one Argentinean-- all of whom have been working for the existing Vatican media groups and/or the...

The non-judgmental judge by Phil Lawler - Jun 26, 2015

Robert Mickens is not happy about the huge pro-family rally that was held in Rome last weekend. Mickens writes: Without calling into question the good will or intentions of the individual participants, the gathering seemed like an exercise in fear-mongering through the use of misleading,...

How often did police join in the cover-up of sexual abuse? by Phil Lawler - Jun 25, 2015

Cardinal Sean Brady has apologized yet again for the failure to stop the predatory behavior of a pedophile priest, the late Brendan Smyth. If you’ve been following the story you know that Cardinal Brady—now retired, but once the Archbishop of Armagh, successor to St. Patrick, and...

What’s all this about air conditioning? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 23, 2015

It never ceases to amaze me that some people who consider themselves good Catholics are ever ready to jump all over the Pope, even with ridicule, whenever he says something that—in their sole and generally ill-considered estimation—is “stupid”. Such persons frequently...

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