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

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

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 - Friday

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 - Thursday

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 - Wednesday

[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 - Wednesday

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 - Monday

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 - Monday

[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...

Burundi, bishops, and Catholic influence by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 13, 2015

I was struck by the closing line of our story coming out of Burundi today: “The Church wields considerable influence in the African nation, since Catholics account for about two-thirds of Burundi’s 7 million people.” If this is true, the Church in Burundi must be far healthier...

First Gore, and now Castro: Thanks but no thanks? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 12, 2015

On April 29th, Al Gore said of Pope Francis: “I was raised in the Southern Baptist tradition, I could become a Catholic because of this Pope. He is that inspiring to me. And I know the vast majority of my Catholic friends are just thrilled to the marrow of their bones that he is providing...

Repealing blasphemy laws is not always smart by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 11, 2015

My headline, occasioned by Norway’s repeal of its blasphemy law, may surprise some people. Especially with so many Christians being prosecuted under the blasphemy laws of Islamic states, we might think that blasphemy laws are a great evil. And they are, if “blasphemy” means...

J. Budziszewski on capital punishment by Thomas Van - May 10, 2015

There’s no doubt that the majority of Church leaders today favor the abolition of the death penalty. Indeed, there is much to be said against the death penalty as it is used in our own country, and in favor of reforms in the criminal justice system in general. However, since the Catholic...

De Lubac's Council Notes, Continued by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 8, 2015

I have added the second installment of Henri de Lubac’s fascinating notes from his work at the Second Vatican Council. You will find this in the In Depth Analysis piece established for the purpose. The following link will take you directly to the new section: Final Preparations:...

The regal papacy remembered by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 6, 2015

I will confine most of my ongoing excerpts from Henri de Lubac’s notes on the Second Vatican Council to the linked article, but there is real humor in the theologian’s record of the two Latin inscriptions which identified, at that time, a newly installed elevator in the...

An archbishop's unconvincing defense of marriage by Phil Lawler - May 6, 2015

A contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times reports that he had a friendly exchange with Archbishop Blaise Cupich on the topic of same-sex marriage, and reproduces large chunks of that exchange for his readers. Naturally the archbishop says that he does not support legal recognition of same-sex...

The French campaign for freedom of thought by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 4, 2015

Now that a French court has ordered the removal of a statue of Pope John Paul II from the town square in Ploermel, I guess the cat is out of the bag. I don't know how to stretch this into a long, learned or delightfully obfuscatory essay. The suit to remove John Paul II from the collective...

Are Catholic schools Catholic? A strange case in San Francisco. by Phil Lawler - May 1, 2015

A week later I’m still shaking my head about this news story. I can’t help wondering whether sometime in the future, some historian will stumble across the piece in our archives and assume that there’s some mistake. You can easily imagine that dissidents might walk out of...

The Church of England’s satirical take on climate change by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 1, 2015

Anglican Bishop Nicholas Holtam has praised Tuesday’s statement on climate change by two pontifical academies. But this praise has all the earmarks of satire. “Climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our day,” he begins. Really? It sounds suspiciously like a material...

Has the long-overdue reform of Vatican media operations been sidetracked? by Phil Lawler - Apr 30, 2015

Pope Francis has formed a new commission to implement proposals for a reform of the Vatican’s media operations . That’s good news, I suppose. Or is it? The April 30 announcement from the Vatican press office about this new commission did not provide details. What will this new...

Children are deemed precious, but surrogate mothers expendable by Phil Lawler - Apr 30, 2015

”They only care about the babies. They don’t care about the mothers.” You’ve heard that slander applied to pro-life activists, haven’t you? But here’s a case in which it seems to be true. A rescue team from Israel rushed to Nepal after the earthquake that...

What was the climate change conference really about? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 30, 2015

First, the conference in question was actually one of several “workshops” periodically sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Sciences and others. The official title of the April 28th workshop was “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity. The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and...

UN leader wants Holy See to lean on scientists. Galileo revisited? by Phil Lawler - Apr 30, 2015

Ban Ki-moon told a Vatican conference on climate change: “Together, we must clearly communicate that the science of climate change is deep, sound, and not in doubt.” So the secretary-general of the UN wants the Holy See to announce that the scientific debate on climate change has been...

Is Pope Francis purging conservative prelates? by Phil Lawler - Apr 29, 2015

Many traditionalist Catholics have complained that the bishops who have been forced to resign during this pontificate (Finn, Livieres Plano, Tebartz-van Elst) and the cardinals who have been removed from influential Vatican posts (Burke, Piacenza) all are identified as conservative. In a...

A failure of American faith: the Museum of Biblical Art is closing by Thomas Van - Apr 28, 2015

The Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA) in Manhattan, which opened in 2005, is closing, according to a story in the New York Times. This is despite critical acclaim and, recently, a very popular collection of Donatello sculptures from the Duomo museum in Florence, which MOBIA brought to the US for the...

The hypocrisy of condemning the Baltimore riots by Thomas Van - Apr 28, 2015

As the situation in Baltimore develops, we hear the usual chorus of white voices condemning the riots. Now more than ever, this strikes me as utterly disingenuous, not because rioting is a good thing, but because the people complaining about it tend to downplay or even ignore the situation which...

Why God has His doubts about the State by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 28, 2015

Remember when the Israelites asked the judge Samuel to appoint a king over them? (You’ll find it in 1 Samuel 9 - 12.) They needed protection against the Philistines, Samuel had grown old, and his sons, whom Samuel had also appointed as judges, “did not walk in his ways”...

To-do list for faithful Catholics by Phil Lawler - Apr 27, 2015

Ask your pastor to sign  this statement, urging the Synod of Bishops to uphold traditional Church teaching. Write all the American priests on your contact list, asking them to sign. Write to a half-dozen of your friends, and encourage them to do the same...

A silent scandal: Catholic schools promoting morally unacceptable vaccines by Phil Lawler - Apr 24, 2015

In at least two American dioceses, the parents of children attending Catholic schools are being told that they must have their children vaccinated, regardless of their moral qualms about vaccines derived from the cells of aborted children. This is an injustice to parents who are determined to bear...

How we'll know if the Vatican and the US hierarchy are serious about deposing negligent bishops by Phil Lawler - Apr 24, 2015

Twelve years ago, in an email exchange with an old friend, I predicted that the American hierarchy would finally take responsibility for the sex-abuse scandal when a bishop went to jail for negligence in responding to abuse. Bishop Robert Finn has not actually spent time behind bars, but his...

With the LCWR, has the Vatican taken Gamaliel's advice? by Phil Lawler - Apr 24, 2015

My colleague Jeff Mirus is puzzled by the Vatican’s decision to end a doctrinal investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), since there is very little evidence that the LCWR has embraced the reforms that a Vatican study found necessary. I think that I can...

Tips for getting comfortable with evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 17, 2015

Sophia Institute Press has hit the spot again with a new and very straightforward book on how we can make ourselves more comfortable with the task of spreading the Gospel. The author, Shaun McAfee, is a convert who currently serves as Director of Marketing and Content for Holy Apostles College and...

The Shroud of Turin on Display (and an odd canonical case against it) by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 16, 2015

“Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is contradicted…that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” These are the words of Simeon when he encountered Mary and Joseph presenting the child Jesus to the Lord in the Temple...

The Vatican says the LCWR is acting Catholic. And that's news. by Phil Lawler - Apr 16, 2015

“We learned that what we hold in common is much greater than any of our differences.” That comment did not come from a Presbyterian cleric after a Saturday-afternoon ecumenical meeting. It was made by a leading representative of American Catholic women’s religious orders, at...

The Truth about the Armenian Genocide by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 15, 2015

Turkish politicians are angry with Pope Francis for memorializing the Armenian genocide when he proclaimed the first Armenian doctor of the Church. The Pope had also lamented the genocide when he met with Armenian bishops a few days earlier. As a matter of policy, the Turkish government refuses...

Don't call Patricia Jannuzzi's reinstatement a victory by Phil Lawler - Apr 14, 2015

Do you count it as a victory that Patricia Jannuzzi is back in the classroom? I don’t. It’s a good thing, certainly, that the Catholic-school teacher who was suspended for her Facebook criticism of homosexual activists has been reinstated. I’m happy for her, and for the...

Debunking bad history: Wolf Hall and the flat-earthers by Thomas Van - Apr 10, 2015

The acclaimed BBC miniseries Wolf Hall made its American debut this weekend. The historical drama about the political machinations surrounding Henry VIII’s divorce of his first wife and marriage of his second is, by all accounts, well-made, but has come in for some criticism for falsifying...

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Urgent! We need extra financial support between now and May 24th. May 22
What's wrong with these pictures? May 22
What can we learn from the dignity of military services? May 22
Was Lewis “basically Catholic”? May 21
Reading The Diary of a Country Priest: Scandal May 20

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