The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

Quick hits: the illusion of Catholic feminism and more

“Pro-life feminists” have been in the news this week because of their pointed exclusion from the Women’s March on Washington. While we should reach out for common ground with anyone who is fighting abortion, the idea of Catholic feminism is problematic. The Catholic feminist...

When 300% growth is not enough: the measure of African evangelization

This news item from Nigeria today is food for thought. Archbishop Mathew Man’Oso Ndagoso of Kaduna is concerned, because he sees “no sense of urgency to proclaim the Gospel.” The archbishop fears that “complacency, lethargy, and nonchalance” are choking off the...

Benedict XVI faces his toughest critic: himself

Toward the end of his 4th (and presumably final) book-length interview with Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, Last Testament, journalist Peter Seewald asked the now-retired Pontiff to name his own greatest weakness. Benedict replies: “Maybe clear, purposeful governance and the decisions that...

The Maltese bishops’ message: something lost in translation?

Archbishop Charles Scicluna, answering critics of the Maltese bishops’ guidelines on Amoris Laetitia, insists that they did not say that divorced and remarried Catholics could receive Communion if they feel “at peace with God.” He has a point. The Maltese guidelines stipulate...

The Maltese bishops lower the bar

Here are some headlines that you haven’t seen recently: Bishops of Malta: Mafia hitmen should receive Communion if ‘at peace with God’ Bishops of Malta: pedophiles should receive Communion if ‘at peace with God’ Bishops of Malta: IRA terrorists should receive...

Quick hits: 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...

Have someone in mind?

Peter Seewald, who has worked with Pope-emeritus Benedict on several book-length interviews, spoke to Catholic World Report about the former Pontiff, whom he characterizes as “one of the most misunderstood personalities of our time.” The world saw Pope Benedict (through the eyes of the...

Going with the flow: Amoris Laetitia and the secular temptation

Imagine three Catholic priests, each with his own parish: Father X has lost his faith. He continues serving as a pastor, going through the motions, because he’s accustomed to the work and he thinks he helps people. That is, he thinks he helps people, with his counsel and encouragement....

Quick Hits: A devastating rebuttal on Amoris Laetitia, propaganda for Silence, trouble with the Knights of Malta

Last week Crux posted an argument in support of the Kasper proposal, presented by Father Paul Keller in the form of a fictitious case involving an immigrant woman who was abandoned by her (first) husband. Canon lawyer Edward Peters quickly responded with the most devastating rebuttal...

Liturgical Year Volume 2 Released: Ordinary Time before Lent

The second volume of our ebook series for the 2016-2017 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This volume covers the initial period of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent, from January 10 through February 28. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following...

Spadaro’s irrational faith

Father Antonio Spadaro, the Italian Jesuit who has been identified as “the Pope’s mouthpiece,” frequently uses his Twitter account(s) to belittle all those who have questions about Amoris Laetitia. But this gem from yesterday might have a boomerang effect: Theology is no #Mathematics. 2 + 2 in...

Quick Hits: 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...

John Labarbara’s surprising take on “knowing God’s love”

This afternoon I skimmed through a book recently published by Sophia Institute Press. The title is Knowing God’s Love, and the subtitle is “8 Essential Truths Every Catholic Should Know”. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found that author John Labarbara shifts his discussion...

The absurd argument of the dubia critics: an illustration

One more quick comment on the dubia debate, and then—I hope, unless I’m unduly provoked—I’ll turn my attention to happier thoughts of Christmas. The argument against the dubia, if I understand it correctly (which is not certain, since it is never made explicit), runs...

A stunning new volume of spiritual reading

Are you still looking for a Christmas gift for a serious thoughtful Catholic? Or do you need some new spiritual reading for yourself? For either purpose I heartily recommend The Wellspring of Worship, by Jean Corbon. Last year I found this book under the Christmas tree: a gift from my wonderful...

On pastoral accompaniment to nowhere

In a brilliant column entitled ”The Obedience of Faith” posted on The Catholic Thing, Fr. Robert Imbelli captures what is wrong with the kind of pastoral accompaniment which assumes that people are doing the best they can when they still refuse to turn away from sin. Imbelli...

OTG: Catholica Summer Program in Rome: Highly recommended for young men

Joe Long contacted me over the weekend to let me know about the new Summer Program he is running in Rome for young men aged 14 to 18. Joe is a good friend of one of my sons and a graduate of Christendom College (the four-year Catholic liberal arts college I helped to establish way back in 1977)....

Quick Hits: Appalled reactions to Canadian bishops’ tepid stand on assisted suicide

For readers still stunned by the directive from bishops of Canada’s Atlantic region, leaving open the possibility that people planning assisted suicide could receive the sacraments, two columns provide useful perspective: Writing for First Things, in a short but powerful essay that...

Diminishing two signs of Faith: The Eucharist, the Crèche

A priest has decided not to continue the tradition of setting up a Nativity scene in the public cemetery in the Italian city of Cremona. Since the crèche would be visible from a section of the cemetery used by Muslims, Fr. Sante Braggie fears it “could be seen as a lack of...

Quick Hits: Friedkin, Scorcese, Tolkien, Lewis

Several things that caught my eye over the past two months: Some big names in the world of film have been getting an inside look at Catholicism. Earlier this year William Friedkin, who directed 1973’s The Exorcist, received permission from the late Fr. Gabriele Amorth to witness and...

Divorce, remarriage, and sin: a hypothetical case

Imagine that you are a priest hearing confessions. Penitent #1 says that he was drunk last night. He is a struggling alcoholic, he tells you. He’d kept sober for a while, but yesterday he fell into bad old habits. He has sought help with his problem, he’s in a program, and he vows...

Three things the Pope can’t say

Within the Catholic Church, the authority of the Roman Pontiff is considerable. But even papal authority—and especially papal infallibility—has its limits. The Pope speaks with authority when he sets forth the deposit of the Faith, explaining—in union with the college of...

Quick Hits: the most perceptive columns on Amoris Laetitia and the dubia

Many gallons of ink—or maybe I should say millions of pixels—have been spent in analysis of the heated debate over Amoris Laetitia and the dubia raised by the four cardinals. Among the most useful analyses (leaving aside several that have already been posted on this site) are...

The Rex Mottram approach to Amoris Laetitia and the dubia

“I believe that the pope has spoken,” said Cardinal Kevin Farrell, regarding the question of whether Amoris Laetitia has changed Church teaching on the admission of divorced/remarried Catholics to Communion. But to be fair, Cardinal Farrell made that remark more than a month ago,...

Is it clear? Is it authoritative?

Let’s imagine that I’m your boss, and I summon you to meet me at my office tomorrow. Since you haven’t been here, I send directions. You find them confusing, so you ask: “Should I turn right or left as I come off the highway?” I reply: “My directions are...

Vatican official suggests reinventing the wheel

Archbishop Kevin Farrell (who will be known as Cardinal Farrell in just a few days) is not pleased with Archbishop Charles Chaput. The prefect of the Vatican’s new dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life is disappointed because the Archbishop of Philadelphia has forthrightly stated that,...

Urgent: With a $50,000 Challenge Grant in the balance, I need your help.

This Fall, eighty-three of our Boosters joined forces to offer a Challenge Grant of $50,000 to make it easier for CatholicCulture.org to raise the funds it needs to continue its mission in 2017. As of this writing, we have matched roughly $41,000, which means we still have approximately $9,000 to...

Advent-Christmas Ebook released for new liturgical year

The Advent and Christmas ebook volume for the 2016-2017 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 27th, the First Sunday in Advent. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following...

What part of ‘never’ does America magazine fail to understand?

Isn’t it nice that after the Pope says that “the final word is clear,” we have America magazine available for “Putting Pope Francis’ comments on women’s ordination in historical context“—that is, to make sure that things aren’t clear. You...

The Boston archdiocese has chosen an odd time to take a stand

The Atlantic wonders Why the Catholic Church Is Leading the Fight Against Legal Pot in Massachusetts. So do I. It’s easy to understand that the archdiocese would oppose the referendum question that would legalize recreational use of marijuana. But there’s a big difference...

Cancel the Al Smith dinner: Round 2

Readers have responded very favorably to my suggestion that the Al Smith Dinner should be discontinued, and when George Weigel seconded the motion, the responses to his column were favorable as well. But New York’s Cardinal Dolan thinks differently, and he will cast the decisive...

Why Democrats choke on the words ‘under God’

Introducing Hillary Clinton at a rally, a speaker tells the cheering audience that only the Democratic standard-bearer can bring America together as “one nation, un....” and then she breaks off, pauses, and continues with remainder of the familiar phrase from the Pledge of Allegiance:...

Here’s an idea: just cancel the Al Smith dinner

You say you weren’t happy about the Al Smith dinner? Neither was I. Neither was John Gehring. Yes, I’m writing about that John Gehring, the liberal political operative who did PR work first for the US bishops’ conference, then for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, the group that...

Al Smith is spinning in his grave

Has the Al Smith Dinner Ceased to Be a Worthwhile Event for the Catholic Church? That’s the question raised by Thomas McArdle in a column that appears in the National Catholic Register. Is there anyone out there who wouldn’t answer Yes? Sure, the white-tie dinner raises lots of...

Persecution and apostasy: two tough challenges

Archbishop Charles Chaput pulled no punches in an October 19 address to a symposium at Notre Dame. In fact the archbishop actually spoke about punching, reminding his audience that “we can’t overlook the fact that the flesh and blood model for our Church—Mary as mater et...

The message behind the burqa

In his excellent speech at Notre Dame (about which more anon), Archbishop Charles Chaput makes an interesting point about Muslim women who wear the hijab or burqa: Some of my friends are annoyed by that kind of “in your face” Islam. But I understand it. The hijab and the burqa say...

Quick Hits: More cautionary thoughts on Amoris Laetitia

Writing in Catholic World Report, Samuel Gregg remarks that Amoris Laetitia steers around the discussion of “intrinsically evil acts.” This is unfortunate, he writes, because in all the discussion of showing mercy to troubled souls, there is no clear indication that “mercy...

OTG: Augustine Institute announces scholarship competition

The Augustine Institute, which offers Masters of Arts degrees in both Theology and Leadership for the New Evangelization, has announced its fourth annual scholarship competition. Each year, the Institute selects four applicants to receive its John Paul II scholarships, which cover the cost of...

A Vatican enemies list?

Last week the Vatican Insider—ordinarily a solid source of news and reasonable analysis from Rome—published a remarkable piece with an inflammatory headline, “Catholics who are anti-Francis but love Putin.” The article is troubling, for several reasons: The article...

The anti-Catholic Catholics (and the bishops who support them)

Yesterday Ross Douthat of the New York Times embarked on a lengthy Tweetstorm —21 tweets in all—questioning whether it’s accurate to refer to the leaked emails from the Clinton campaign as evidence of “anti-Catholic” bigotry. Douthat—who is no friend of the...

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