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

Vatican statement clarifies duties of Catholic faithful after Obergefell decision by Phil Lawler - Thursday

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...

Invoking martyrs for marriage while we wait for the Supreme Court ruling by Phil Lawler - Jun 22, 2015

As we nervously await a momentous decision from the US Supreme Court, today we celebrate the feast of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher. It’s appropriate to invoke their help, in our prayers that the Court will be guided by right reason in ruling on a case that would re-define...

My favorite podcast: the History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps by Thomas Van - Jun 20, 2015

Do you enjoy learning about philosophy? (If not, please leave the premises immediately. Don’t let the Adorno hit your Aspasia on the way out.) I suspect a fair number of our readers would like to know more about philosophy, but find themselves with relatively little time to pursue that...

The mountain moved by Phil Lawler - Jun 17, 2015

Were you aware that Mount Everest has moved—about three centimeters to the southwest? They say it’s because of the April earthquake in Nepal. For my part, I’d be looking for someone with faith the size of a mustard seed. In this case, a biggish mustard seed....

The Conciliar discussion on Divine Revelation, from de Lubac’s notes by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 15, 2015

I have just added a new section to Henri de Lubac’s fascinating notes on Vatican II. The addition covers the discussions of the doctrinal schema which would eventually become the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. The proceedings at the Second Vatican Council in mid-November of 1962...

Watching The Diary of a Country Priest: Bresson's film adaptation by Thomas Van - Jun 10, 2015

Since I've just finished a series of articles on Bernanos's novel The Diary of a Country Priest, I’d like to say something about the famous film adaptation by Robert Bresson, which deserves its reputation as one of the greatest Catholic films ever made. The film hews very...

The real lesson of free speech, surely, is that ungrounded pluralism is doomed. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 9, 2015

It’s a complex question, freedom of speech, and it demands prudence on all sides. This was illustrated all too clearly by the imprisonment of Htin Linn Oo, who criticized the behavior of certain Buddhist monks in Myanmar. A well-known writer and member of the opposition to the party in...

Archbishop Nienstedt isn't—and shouldn't be—the sole focus of the criminal complaint in Minnesota by Phil Lawler - Jun 8, 2015

The criminal charges against the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis are very bad news for Archbishop John Nienstedt. He now becomes the American bishop most clearly in the cross-hairs of Church critics; the calls for his resignation will be louder and more frequent. Like his most recent...

Reading The Diary of a Country Priest: Suffering and Humility by Thomas Van - Jun 8, 2015

[This is part of a series of articles collecting insightful passages on various themes from Georges Bernanos's classic novel The Diary of a Country Priest.] Suffering I can understand how a man, sure of himself and his courage, might wish to make of his death a perfect...

Two quick music links: Ennio Morricone and Ted Gioia by Thomas Van - Jun 8, 2015

This week the Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone will be conducting a Mass he composed for the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Jesuit order. The Mass is titled "Missae Papae Francisci." Morricone has scored many great films including The Mission, The Good, the...

Against Interfaith-Dialogical Mushiness by Thomas Van - Jun 4, 2015

At Good Letters, a blog hosted by Image journal, poet Brian Volck writes on the falsity of the cliché "All religions are really saying the same thing in different words." Volck notes that successful interfaith dialogues, such as the one between the Dalai Lama and...

OTG: Climate change, Catholic mediation, and taming the wolf by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 3, 2015

Over at the Taming the Wolf Institute, Greg Stone offers an interesting approach to the thorny questions raised by the recent support of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences for the moral and political aims of the global warming movement. I commented on this briefly in What was the climate change...

Did sexual abuse prompt a murder? by Phil Lawler - Jun 3, 2015

As I read this story from yesterday’s CWN headline coverage, a scenario arose full-blown in my mind. I know nothing about what happened to Father Joseph Kerrigan. I don’t even know whether he was guilty of sexual abuse, as charged. But I can easily imagine what might have happened, in this or...

Reading The Diary of a Country Priest: Hell by Thomas Van - Jun 2, 2015

[This is part of a series of articles collecting insightful passages on various themes from Georges Bernanos's classic novel The Diary of a Country Priest.] In the following two passages, the protagonist tries to give a member of his flock some idea of the true horror of...

Pope Francis: Get it? Got it. Good! by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 1, 2015

The older I get, the more I tend to screen out all the “noise” which my lengthening experience has confirmed to be useless. So maybe this is just me. But my impression is that the cacophony of self-serving jabber surrounding the pontificate of Jorge Mario Bergoglio has subsided...

Saved by ordination by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 29, 2015

Courtesy of the National Catholic Register: The villagers of Tarkerabari in Nepal are still rejoicing over their escape from injury and death during the recent earthquake, which measured 7.8 on the Richter Scale and killed 8,000. Tarkerabari is 125 miles from the epicenter. Ninety-three of its...

Reparative therapy on the run by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 29, 2015

Increasingly, the gay lobby is succeeding in putting out of business those who offer reparative therapy to mitigate or eliminate same-sex attracton. For example, the Human Rights Campaign (which lobbies for homosexual causes) successfully pressured the magazine Psychology Today to remove Thomas...

Mandatory spacing of children: could it happen here? by Phil Lawler - May 29, 2015

In Myanmar, the government will now require women to space births at least 36 months apart. (It remains to be seen how this requirement will be enforced; a UN rapporteur foresees serious human-rights problems.) This sort of blatant government interference in family affairs could never happen in...

Reading The Diary of a Country Priest: Spiritual riches and poverty by Thomas Van - May 28, 2015

[This is part of a series of articles collecting insightful passages on various themes from Georges Bernanos's classic novel The Diary of a Country Priest.] The two quotes below are from the Curé de Torcy, a fellow priest who serves as a mentor to the protagonist, on...

Holding bishops accountable: the next steps by Phil Lawler - May 27, 2015

A newly ordained bishop, appointed to head an American diocese, knows one thing for certain: He cannot ignore reports of sexual abuse. That’s good. However the bishop also knows that he can, with impunity, ignore reports of liturgical abuse, or doctrinal abuse, or educational abuse....

The real story behind the French ambassador's nomination to the Holy See by Phil Lawler - May 27, 2015

Nearly five months after the government of France proposed a new ambassador to the Holy See, the Vatican and French officials are still quietly discussing the nomination, we learned yesterday. What does that mean? The Vatican still has said nothing, officially, about the nomination of Laurent...

De Lubac’s notes on the Second Vatican Council, section 3 by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 26, 2015

I’ve just posted the third selection of excerpted notes from Henri de Lubac's Vatican Council Notebooks. You can jump directly to this new material: Early Weeks of the Council. This section covers the opening weeks of the Council in October of 1962. De Lubac’s notes during this...

Urgent! We need extra financial support between now and May 24th. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 22, 2015

I need your help to meet a $25,400 challenge grant over the next four days. As of 10:30 am EST on May 23nd, we have just over $1,800 left to match by Pentecost, May 24th. If we are successful, the total benefit to our mission will be over $50,000. Any gift you offer now will be...

What can we learn from the dignity of military services? by Phil Lawler - May 22, 2015

Heading into Memorial Day weekend, my thoughts turn to fallen soldiers, and to the way we honor them. A friend of mine is a priest in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. Over the years he has often conducted burial services at Arlington National Cemetery. There is a prescribed ritual for...

Was Lewis “basically Catholic”? by Thomas Van - May 21, 2015

I must admit, it’s a pet peeve of mine when Catholics refer to C.S. Lewis as a Catholic author. When challenged, they usually say something along the lines of, “Well, he might as well have been!” I’m tempted to respond, “Well, he wasn’t, and he chose not to be...

Reading The Diary of a Country Priest: Scandal by Thomas Van - May 20, 2015

[This is part of a series of articles collecting insightful passages on various themes from Georges Bernanos's classic novel The Diary of a Country Priest.] The two quotes below are from non-Catholic characters who have been scandalized by the failure of Church leaders to...

Has the sensus fidei disappeared? by Phil Lawler - May 20, 2015

In the Office of Readings for today we encounter this passage from Lumen Gentium (12): The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples' supernatural discernment in matters...

“Oppression is now a psychological category”: the decline of civil disagreement by Thomas Van - May 18, 2015

Read this excellent article in First Things by Carl R. Trueman, "In Praise of the Dying Art of Civil Disagreement." The increasing inability of people to disagree without demonizing the opponent, even and especially in the places where discourse and debate are supposed to...

Reading The Diary of a Country Priest: Stagnation by Thomas Van - May 18, 2015

[This is part of a series of articles collecting insightful passages on various themes from Georges Bernanos's classic novel The Diary of a Country Priest. Since the novel is in the form of a diary, any passages not in quotes are the protagonist's narration, while those in quotes are...

Mary Ann Glendon on religious freedom by Thomas Van - May 16, 2015

Tonight I attended the 2015 Edward Cardinal Egan Lecture, presented by the Magnificat Foundation at NYU’s Catholic Center. Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and former US Ambassador to the Holy See, spoke on “Religious Freedom: Yesterday, Today and...

Remarks intended to derail the wrongheaded by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 15, 2015

Larry Cahill of the University of California-Irvine on researching the side-effects of oral contraceptives: You might think after 50 years and hundreds of millions of women taking various incarnations of the pill, there would be a large and cohesive and impressive body of evidence on it, but...

Ordinary Time resumes on May 25th: Next Liturgical Year volume released by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 15, 2015

The second of three ordinary time volumes in our ebook series for the 2014-2015 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. The fifth volume overall in the annual series, Ordinary Time after Easter covers the first half of the long stretch of Ordinary Time which runs from the...

The marketing failure of 'new' Catholicism by Phil Lawler - May 15, 2015

Years ago, shortly after Coca-Cola made the ill-fated decision to alter its formula, the Wall Street Journal published a witty column, applying the lessons of that marketing debacle to the Catholic Church. (I can’t find that old WSJ piece now; I’ll be grateful if someone can furnish a...

Reading The Diary of a Country Priest by Thomas Van - May 13, 2015

I've just finished reading the classic Catholic novel The Diary of a Country Priest, written by Georges Bernanos in 1936. Bernanos's moving tale of the spiritual battles of a sickly young priest tending to a small French parish is so densely packed with wisdom that rather than trying...

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Recent Catholic Commentary

Making Moral Progress? July 3
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