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

The common good: isn't that just a weasel word? by Thomas Van - Sunday

I suspect I'm not the only one who, when learning about Catholic social teaching, has at times found the phrase "the common good" to be frustratingly vague. As a college student, I suspected that it was nothing more than a weasel word which could be used to get away with...

Can Islam confront its problem with violence? by Phil Lawler - Friday

Is Islam truly a religion of peace? The president of Egypt apparently doesn’t think so. Writing in Crisis, William Kilpatrick calls attention to a speech in which the Egyptian leader, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, called upon his country’s Muslim leaders to lead a “religious revolution” in the Islamic...

Salvation? No matter who we are, one price. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Wednesday

In reading through the Bible again I’ve ploughed far enough into Exodus to get to the ceremonial material—which is, let’s face it, pretty boring. That’s not to say its emphasis on the holiness of God, and how careful we must be in His Presence, is not enormously important....

Snowbound thoughts on natural law by Phil Lawler - Tuesday

Here in the northeastern US, the hysteria over the winter storm dubbed Juno began several days ago. It peaked on Monday, as the storm approached, with the Mayor of New York predicting a catastrophe of historic proportions. In fact, the storm breezed through New York, leaving only a genteel...

A rare “win” in the Venerable League: Laity 4, Priests and Religious 3 by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 23, 2015

The latest announcements from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints are noteworthy because so many laymen are included. Priests and religious are more likely to be canonized, but the latest batch of venerables includes four lay persons out of seven total. There are at least six good reasons...

The Didache Bible Is Here by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 21, 2015

I already mentioned the new Didache Bible, before it was actually available, in Two beautiful books to give as Christmas gifts. But I definitely want to call it to your attention again now that you can purchase it. It’s a brand new Bible developed and published jointly by the Midwest...

A revealing book recommendation from the Pope by Phil Lawler - Jan 20, 2015

Twice now, Pope Francis has recommended Robert Hugh Benson's apocalyptic novel, Lord of the World. It’s interesting that an English novel—written more than a century ago, and no longer easy to find—would figure prominently in the public remarks of a Pontiff who is not fluent...

Free speech and civility post-Charlie Hebdo by Phil Lawler - Jan 15, 2015

Two unreasonable positions: We must never say anything that could possibly be offensive to Muslims. We should say everything we can think of that will be offensive to Muslims. In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo killings we have seen both of these unreasonable positions advanced—usually...

False dichotomies dull our Catholicism by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 13, 2015

I would hate to try to trace a pattern through all the affected issues, but I think I’m on to something when I suggest that the world too often sees false dichotomies where the Church sees unities. To take an example I’ve already discussed, there is the marked tendency of...

News flash: the Pope doesn't tell God what to do by Phil Lawler - Jan 12, 2015

No doubt it’s a mistake to expect theological clarity in a statement by Elton John. Still when a friend called my attention to Sir Elton’s proclamation that Pope Francis is a saint, my eye was caught by the rock star’s assessment: “He is a compassionate, loving man who...

OTG: Evangelizing the Culture for Marriage and Family by Thomas Van - Jan 9, 2015

Those who wish to deepen their understanding of marriage and the family, and of the contemporary issues involving them, may be interested in a six-part miniseries on EWTN which begins on January 12. The episode schedule: RESOLVING CULTURAL CONFUSION ABOUT MARRIAGE- Monday, January 12 Learn...

Sin and judgment in Breaking Bad by Thomas Van - Jan 9, 2015

I’m not the first person to claim that Breaking Bad, which concluded its five-season run in 2013, is a deeply moral television series. Catholic NYT columnist Ross Douthat blogged about it extensively, and sources both Christian and secular have suggested that the show embodies an...

Liturgical Year Volume 2 Released: Advent before Lent by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 9, 2015

The second volume of our ebook series for the 2014-2015 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This is a relatively brief volume for the current liturgical year, covering the brief period of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent, from January 12 through February 17. It...

Our critical need for regular monthly support, and how you can help by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 7, 2015

CatholicCulture.org is planning a move to a more powerful and more stable technical infrastructure which will maximize both our uptime and our ability to serve growing numbers of users with maximum speed. Our current servers and software are now somewhat dated, and both stability and speed became...

Could we postpone debate on the Pope's encyclical until it appears? by Phil Lawler - Jan 7, 2015

At The Catholic Thing, Robert Royal has serious misgivings about the Pope’s forthcoming encyclical, which will tackle the issue of climate change. But the Crisis site, Rachel Lu tells us that we shouldn’t lose sleep about it. Writing for Forbes, Steve Moore worries that the...

A flood of closing churches by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 5, 2015

Church closures have reached flood stage in northern Europe. According to the Wall Street Journal (“Europe’s empty churches go on sale”, unfortunately available only to subscribers), some 515 Catholic churches have been closed in Germany over the last decade and it is estimated...

OTG: Aid for Christians in Iraq and Syria by Thomas Van - Jan 5, 2015

If you read CatholicCulture.org regularly, you’re probably aware of the suffering of Christians in Iraq and Syria, who have been displaced from their homeland by Islamic extremists. Pope Francis has repeatedly asked Catholics to pray for our beleaguered brethren in the Middle East. Aside...

St. John Chrysostom on wealth redistribution by Thomas Van - Dec 31, 2014

St. John Chrysostom, Church Father and fourth-century Archbishop of Constantinople, was not what you would call a defender of the rich. He often pricked their consciences regarding both how they got their money and what they did with it. He went so far as to say that not to give to the poor is to...

URGENT! Raising Funds for a New Platform by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 29, 2014

In the Summer of 2013, CatholicCulture.org was victimized by a hacker exploit from China which took advantage of a bug in our older software to disrupt the website. We implemented necessary upgrades on our servers, without changing the servers themselves. This enabled us to beat back the attack...

The cardinal who can't let go by Phil Lawler - Dec 22, 2014

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has resigned his post as the camerlengo, the official with primary responsibility for handling the temporal affairs of the Holy See in the interim after a Pope’s death. The duties of the camerlengo are not arduous, and Cardinal Bertone could surely fulfill them. Still...

Federal debt as a social-justice concern by Phil Lawler - Dec 19, 2014

If the head of an ordinary household deliberately and continually spends much more than the family earns, we describe him as irresponsible—yes, and sinful. So Father Jerry Pokorsky asks why the same moral standards are not applied to government spending. Writing for The Catholic Thing, Father...

Another side of Francis: US-Cuba role shows Pope's diplomatic muscle by Phil Lawler - Dec 18, 2014

Nobody saw it coming. All sorts of things, good and bad, have been written about Pope Francis. But nobody predicted that he would break a 50-year stalemate in relations between the US and Cuba. Cuba was obviously on the Vatican’s diplomatic agenda during the previous two pontificates. Both Popes...

Silly season: a Christmas approaches, a scholar questions whether Jesus ever existed by Phil Lawler - Dec 18, 2014

Christmas is coming soon. How can you tell? Because you notice the nip in the air, the smiles on the faces of shoppers, the merry tunes of carolers… and the silly articles appearing in mass-media outlets, about the “historical” Jesus. But now Raphael Lataster, who teaches religious studies at...

The Complexity of Reforming Religious Communities by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 17, 2014

Like many readers, I am disappointed that Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have not taken a harder line with American women religious, following the Apostolic Visitation which began in 2009. On the other hand, as Phil Lawler noted yesterday, there is an ongoing effort to reform the Leadership...

The best possible preparation for Christmas by Phil Lawler - Dec 15, 2014

Today is “Reconciliation Monday” in the Archdiocese of New York. Cardinal Timothy Dolan explains: In each of the 365 parishes of this archdiocese, priests will be hearing confessions from 4-8 p.m. Our unprofessional polling tells us that last Advent 60,000 people approached the...

Overreacting to what the Pope doesn't say: a case study by Phil Lawler - Dec 15, 2014

Today Pope Francis did not denounce baseball's designated-hitter rule.  This is unfortunate, in my opinion, because the DH rule is a violation of natural law. But Pope Francis-- like Pope Benedict XVI, and in fact like every other Pontiff in history-- has never said a word on the...

Dogs go to heaven? The Pope never said that. by Phil Lawler - Dec 13, 2014

By now I’m sure you’ve seen dozens of stories about the Pope’s remark that dogs go to heaven. They’re all wrong. He didn’t say it. My friend Richard Chonak has checked the facts-- something that dozens of reporters evidently failed to do. He’s posted the...

Financiers can't exploit the Vatican anymore. But politicians can. by Phil Lawler - Dec 12, 2014

“The days of ripping off the Vatican are over,” Cardinal George Pell has announced. The Australian cardinal, who is now the no-nonsense prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, explained that for generations, Vatican officials made their own decisions about money matters, without...

Case Study: How Churchmen impact conscience by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 11, 2014

In Pope Francis’ message on climate change, made public today, he implicitly taught and explicitly applied a moral principle. “The time to find global solutions [to global warming] is running out,” Francis wrote. “There is therefore a clear, definite and urgent ethical...

The proverbs of Henri de Lubac by Thomas Van - Dec 10, 2014

Henri de Lubac (1896-1991), a French Jesuit priest, is widely regarded as the most influential faithful theologian of the twentieth century. De Lubac is most known for his insistence that theologians must escape from the formulaic theology of the Thomist schools and return to the sources. In...

We're losing the next generation(s) of Catholics by Phil Lawler - Dec 4, 2014

In the past few days I’ve spoken to two friends who work as musicians in two different parishes. One friend had a story that sounded very familiar. The older parishioners die, and when their middle-aged children come to bury them, they’re completely lost during the funeral. They...

Two beautiful books to give as Christmas gifts by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 3, 2014

Since Advent is now running along fairly briskly, I want to call your attention to two attractive Catholic books which will make perfect gifts for those you love when we celebrate Christ’s birth. One is a new Bible; the other is a coffee-table book about Mary. Both are from Ignatius...

Archbishop Cupich on Face the Nation: A Mixed Performance by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 2, 2014

We can learn something about the new archbishop of Chicago, Blase Cupich, from how he answered the questions posed to him during the November 30th episode of Face the Nation. Guests on this program must be evaluated through a kind of television-induced haze of graciousness. The utility of such...

O Earthly Lord, vouchsafe to us high speed Internet. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 25, 2014

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 - Nov 25, 2014

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 - Nov 25, 2014

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 - Nov 21, 2014

“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 - Nov 21, 2014

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...

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