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The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

Crazy Joe, spare me your praise of the Pope.

I suppose this is a bit of a rant, but I’m tired of all the posturing. The latest is U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s praise of Pope Francis earlier today, when he addressed a conference at the Vatican. Predictably, Biden praised Francis for his “compassion”. He claimed...

The painfully slow reform of the Vatican's communications operation

Almost exactly one year ago I wondered aloud whether a plan to streamline the Vatican's communications efforts might be sidetracked. Today I'm happy to notice that my concern may have been misplaced. The head of the new Communications Secretariat reports that the plans are moving...

In defense of the 'doctors of the law'

Back in 1983, when the new Code of Canon Law was promulgated, I picked up a copy. This was my first real encounter with Church law, and as I leafed through the book I was struck by how often the canons obviously reflected the fruit of painful experience.  That's how laws commonly come...

Quick Hits: Science and its enemies, choral music for the Novus Ordo, the Armenian genocide

Now and then a scientific discovery comes with a breath of poetry, as in the Daily Telegraph headline : Bright flash of light marks incredible moment life begins when sperm meets egg. It’s sad that in our age, impervious to the beauty of nascent life, the report continues with the...

Sex education? No, we're witnessing the pursuit of ignorance on matters of sexuality

If you can trace your family tree back far enough, you'll probably encounter people who had no formal education, owned no books, perhaps couldn't read and write. But your uneducated ancestors knew what "marriage" meant-- which is more than you can say for the typical Ivy League...

The one-way argument for human rights

Ryan Anderson admits that ESPN has the right to fire Curt Schilling because he thinks men should be barred from women’s restrooms. But that right applies to others, too, Anderson reasons: ESPN didn’t want to be associated with Curt Schilling’s message. The same is true for the bakers, florists,...

By Vatican standards, there are human-rights violations in American schools

Reading the address by a Vatican envoy to an OSCE meeting on religious minorities, your first inclination is probably to think that Msgr. Janusz Urbanczyk is speaking primarily about Christians in Islamic countries. No doubt he is. Still, as I read his defense of the rights of parents in the...

OTG: The modern university: When truth becomes a personal attack

Molly Oshatz nails it in a little essay in the May 2016 issue of First Things called “College Without Truth”. Right now you can’t read the entire essay without subscribing or paying $1.95, but that would be cheap at twice the price. This is more than another spin on the...

Quick Hits: Benedict as the Great Reformer, Crux as an objective source

What were you doing on this date, April 19, eleven years ago? After a quiet morning, I spent the afternoon joyously celebrating the election of Pope Benedict XVI-- and also frantically wondering when the CWN site would recover, after our early headline, “White Smoke!” drew so much...

The best and worst columns on Amoris Laetitia

After a week of reading commentaries on Amoris Laetitia, I’m ready to name the columns that seem to me the best and the worst of this week’s offerings: From London and the Catholic Herald comes this somewhat lengthy but very insightful column by Father Mark Drew. He recognizes problems with the...

Political hijinks at the Vatican this week

Two conferences with disturbing political overtones have taken place at the Vatican this week. 1. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in cooperation with Pax Christi, has held a conference on non-violence. Or perhaps, in light of the report issued at the conclusion of the meeting it...

Caution for a priest-confessor: giving bad advice can be a canonical crime

My favorite canon-law expert, Ed Peters, has called attention to an article he published in the June/July 2011 issue of Homiletic and Pastoral Review, entitled When bad advice in confession becomes a crime. This article is especially relevant today in light of… Well, I’ll let you...

Latest study confirms: the threat is Zika, not children

“There is no longer any doubt that Zika causes microcephaly,” Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, told reporters during a briefing on April 13. He was reporting on a new study confirming the suspected link between the virus and the birth defect. Frieden might have...

In Massachusetts, a difficult, dangerous religious-freedom test case

The political climate is not favorable to the Catholic Church these days, particularly in Massachusetts. So I cannot be confident that the Supreme Judicial Court will reach the right decision in the case mentioned in yesterday’s CWN headline story: the suit by a Catholic shrine to recover...

Islamic terrorism: the topic only one world leader has addressed

"Islamic terrorism." President Obama can't make himself say those words. But Obama isn't alone. Pope Francis, too, has been extremely reluctant to mention any connection between Islam and terrorism.  In fact, what world leaders have spoken out frankly on the...

Quick Hits: Will Amoris Laetitia make a difference? Why Vatileaks trial is not a press-freedom case

As we await the publication of the apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, the question everyone is asking is whether or not Pope Francis will make some provision for divorced-and-remarried Catholics to receive Communion. Vatican-watcher John Allen takes an unusual approach to that question,...

Praying with Mother Angelica

Mother Angelica died on Easter Sunday at the age of 92 and Pope Francis is convinced she is in heaven. If you were a fan, you may wish to continue to pray with her by using a well-crafted prayer book published by EWTN entitled “Praying with Mother Angelica.” This is a reworking of...

Ask yourself: who would take fake bombs onto an airplane, and expect to get away with it?

Just try to imagine this scenario—and No, this is not another April Fool joke: A woman boards an airplane, having checked a bag that contains items which appear to be bombs, including three sticks labeled “dynamite.” Security officials quickly secure the area, evacuate...

Reading tea leaves on the Pope's post-Synod document

America's leading Vatican-watcher John Allen thinks that it could be significant that Pope Francis has enlisted Cardinal Christoph Schöborn to headline the press conference at which his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia will be introduced. Cardinal Schönborn was identified...

Easter volume released for this liturgical year

Easter falls on March 27th this year, and so the Easter volume of our ebook series for the 2015-2016 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This fourth volume in the annual series covers the entire Easter season, from the Easter Vigil (March 26th) through Pentecost...

The man who saved a billion lives

On this year’s liturgical calendar March 25, when we ordinarily celebrate the feast of the Annunciation, was Good Friday. This rare convergence gave the date such awesome significance in salvation history that I hesitate to mention a far less important secular commemoration. Still I think...

Can a Muslim be a Christian martyr?

Last week John Allen raised an interesting question as to whether Father Vincent Machozi could be recognized as a Christian martyr. Father Machozi was almost certainly not killed out of “hatred for the faith”—the ordinary standard for martyrdom. He was killed because of his social activism; but...

Quick Hits: Chaput on the Benedict option, L'Osservatore on Obama, Reilly on dialogue with Islam

Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput confirms his status as the most important thinker/writer/speaker in the American hierarchy with this challenging address, delivered to an audience at Brigham Young University. The archbishop tackles head-on the fear that (as Charles Murray put it)...

Debunking the debunkers: how the best scholarly evidence confirms the Gospels

Any day now, a major media outlet will release a feature story which, with a great deal of promotional ballyhoo, will claim to call into question the ordinary Christian understanding of the Gospel story. It’s become an annual tradition: as Easter approaches, and secular journalists look for...

Pope to 'fire' nuncio in Washington? Nonsense!

There's a rumor going around the internet—conveyed mostly by "news" sites that know nothing about Catholic affairs—that Pope Francis is going to "fire" the apostolic nuncio to the US, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. That's nonsense. The expanded version of...

Quick Hits: St. Patrick's in the Caribbean, the formality of ancient liturgy, recovering holy friendship

Did you know that on an island in the Caribbean, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated as a public holiday for a whole week? At the Register, Peter Jesserer Smith tells the story of how many of the Irish who were forced into indentured servitude under Cromwell were put to work in the British...

How to end the 'Vatileaks II' imbroglio

John Allen has a useful suggestion on how the Vatican can close out the "Vatileaks II" scandal and avoid another public-relations debacle.  Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda has already admitted leaking the confidential documents, and his explanation—that a woman had lured him into...

What the Church says about worshiping today’s new images of perfection

The following account of recent events in the United States, similar to those in other nations, was read in all Catholic churches today (Wednesday of the fifth week of Lent): Now the President and his Court made a false image of perfection and set it up for all to see. Then the President sent...

Quick Hits: Would Notre Dame honor Bill Cosby? Father Schall on America's political decline

While Bishop Rhoades scolds Notre Dame for honoring Vice President Biden, Randall Smith raises a provocative question in Catholic World Report: what if Notre Dame decided to give the Laetare Medal to Bill Cosby? Cosby could be cited for his work in entertainment and his philanthropy. But...

Sign the petition!

The president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked us all to sign the petition urging the State Department to recognize the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East as a form of genocide. As the Obama administration dithers, hesitating to affirm the obvious, over 100,000 people...

Quick Hits: Portrait of Cardinal Sarah, a Catholic hero of Quebec, Europe's loss of will

An African prelate who was once the world’s youngest bishop, who was on the “hit list” of a corrupt dictator, who recharges himself with three-day fasts, and who now, from a powerful Vatican post, leads the defense of orthodoxy. Doesn’t that sound like someone...

Liturgical Press Academic Catalogue: SO hard to take seriously...

The Liturgical Press Academic catalogue for Spring 2016 sits lonely and forlorn on my desk. I say forlorn, because it is shunned by all the other books, magazines and publisher catalogues which litter the surface. No matter how much I rearrange things, a gap opens up between this and everything...

Quick Hits: Catholic growth, exceptions on contraception, the BenedictINE option, NCR hits a new low

  Today’s Catholic World News headlines include two encouraging stories about the growth of the Church, across the world, and in Singapore . I’ve already commented on the worldwide statistics, and how they show astonishing growth in Africa. Let’s spend just a...

In Africa, a Catholic explosion!

Let’s be honest: statistics can be dull. But sometimes a number leaps off the page (or the screen). That happened to me this morning, with our CWN headline story about the growth of the world’s Catholic population. During that time period, the Catholic population soared by 41% in Africa and 20%...

Justice for persecuted Christians in India

In 2008, a frightening burst of anti-Christian violence broke out in India’s remote Kandhamal region, leaving more than 100 dead and driving more than 50,000 people from their homes. Anto Akkara, a frequent contributor to Catholic World News, has won international acclaim for his dogged...

The calls for Pell's resignation show the double standard of media judgment

In four days of hostile questioning, an Australian investigating commission produced no evidence that Cardinal George Pell had covered up sexual abuse. Could he have been more diligent in following up on complaints? Absolutely; he admitted that himself. But among the many bishops who mishandled...

More Italians named venerable. Again.

In our story on the latest progress of candidates toward beatification and canonization, we find that out of eight new “venerables”—lo and behold—no fewer than seven are Italians. Thinking back over the various times when I’ve actually run the numbers on nationality,...

In Cardinal Pell's testimony, a breakthrough for accountability

For nearly 15 years, I have been waiting for a Catholic bishop to say, for the record, that another bishop’s handling of the sex-abuse scandal had been negligent. This week it finally happened. Think about that. Heaven knows there has been plenty of evidence of negligence. Some bishops...

The irony behind the Oscar for Spotlight

What's wrong with this picture? - Spotlight has won the Oscar for Best Picture of 2015. - The Oscar is presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).  - Spotlight is the story of how, in 2002, the Boston Globe exposed sexual abuse of children in the Boston...

Quick Hits: Pope was tough on Mexico, Archbishop Sample's focus on liturgy, argument against religious tolerance

Regular readers may recall that before Pope Francis arrived in Mexico, I predicted that Pope Francis would become a factor in the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina. That prediction came true, thanks to the Pope’s answer to a reporter’s question about Donald...

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