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The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

Quick Hits: Not always what they seem: Deaconesses, Jesuits, Christmas displays

Deaconesses: The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published an article by Carlo Carletti today which could inadvertently lead even the elect astray (cf. Mt 24:24, Mk 13:22). A professor of archeology, Carletti wrote that Pope Francis’ study of women in the diaconate should...

Two thoughtful critiques of the Pope’s approach

“Has Pope Francis Failed?” by Matthew Schmitz is a remarkable little essay, not only because it is persuasively argued, but also because it appears today in, of all places, the New York Times! The fact that the Times would run such a piece is, in a way, evidence for the author’s...

Amoris Laetitia in America: The bishops’ joy…and the bishops’ tact

Have you heard the one about the cardinal who asked the various episcopal conferences to comment on the Church’s reception of Amoris Laetitia? The US Bishops responded that bishops and priests around America were delighted and inspired by the Pope's apostolic exhortation, and had already...

Quick Hits: 'must read' posts on support for Humanae Vitae, Catholics in China, Catholic conscience

Three more items to put in the "must read" column: Janet Smith speaks with Catholic World Report about the tremendous positive response to a statement by scholars supporting the Church's teaching on contraception. The tide has turned, she says, and bright young Catholic scholars...

Quick Hits: Cosmo lauds virginity, mastery of the tongue, underrated ceilings, the Chancellor and the Bard

(On second thought, maybe I should have used a semicolon.) Astoundingly, the degenerate-by-default Cosmopolitan has published a young woman's article about the beauty of the consecrated life. (Yes, the piece was originally published in Good Housekeeping, but it's still...

A quick note on “doctors of the law”

As every schoolboy knows, certain parties are fond of rebuking others for being “doctors of the law.” Good Catholics, of course, have faced the charge of being Pharisaical ever since Western culture became sufficiently pagan to hold the moral law in disdain. For indeed, most Catholics...

Quick Hits: Questions on Pope's ad-lib reforms, the 'dance' on doctrine, preparing for persecution

Three must-read columns—none terribly optimistic—from the weekend’s harvest: By all accounts, in the conclave of March 2013, Cardinal Bergoglio was chosen by the cardinals to be a reforming Pope: specifically, he had a mandate to bring change to the Roman Curia. Has that...

Quick Hits: press coverage of Islam and violence; police too ignored abuse complaints

The Bridge Initiative is unhappy with the coverage of Islam provided by Catholic World News (among other outlets). In a report on Catholic public attitudes toward Islam, the Bridge Initiative—an initiative of the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at...

Quick Hits: Negative feedback on necessary distinctions, papal intentions, and moral complexity

Necessary Distinctions: Recently I have written both to defend the Pope from the charge of heresy and also to insist that his own private interpretation of Amoris Laetitia does not tell us anything about what that act of the Magisterium requires us to believe. Given the distinctions necessary to...

‘What? Still at it?’—For Christians, eternity has already begun

Reading In This House of Brede, the beautiful novel by Rumer Godden, I came across this nugget: “There is a story about Newman that I like very much. In his room he had a picture—I think his landlady had given it to him—of the Blessed in Paradise praising God, and every time...

Quick Hits: Global Catholic population explosion, health unknowns of test-tube babies

If you have been worrying about the declining number of Catholics, the distinguished historian Philip Jenkins has news for you: the universal Church is in the midst of a remarkable growth spurt! In Catholicism’s incredible growth story, Jenkins reports that the worldwide Catholic...

Phyllis Schlafly: telling the truth about woman

If a “feminist” is someone who promotes the dignity of women’s role in society, then unquestionably the most influential American feminist of the late 20th century was the late Phyllis Schlafly. Since the word “feminist” has been hijacked by ideologues, to serve the...

Actually, Mother Teresa did NOT become a saint on Sunday

Just for the record—to correct the thousands of inaccurate headlines you’ve already seen— the Pope did not make Mother Teresa a saint yesterday. Nor did she become a saint yesterday. She already was a saint. Pope Francis formally declared her to be a saint. Canonization is what you might call...

Quick Hits: the confusion of the 1970s, the necessity of telling right from wrong

Two essays that appeared online over the weekend fall squarely into the “must-read” category: Writing for The Catholic Thing, Father Robert Imbelli discovers “A Pure Distillation of 1970s Catholicism” in an article by Jim Purcell that appeared in the National...

Are you grieving? Here is hope and consolation.

I’m a sucker for old Catholic books. Not having been written in the midst of our own controversies, they have an air of solidity. The authors do not typically fall all over themselves responding to the least sensitivities of our modern naysayers, and in most cases they were written during a...

Did you know who's behind the Go Topless movement?

Yesterday (in case you missed it) was Go Topless Day: the day when thousands of feminists all over the world protest being treated as sex-objects, by encouraging men to stare at their bodies.  I am not making this up. The Go Topless movement was founded by a man—a...

Quick Hits: a 700-year-old tattoo parlor, voting for Jesus, the Tolkien Professor

In this country, tattoos have always been associated with alternative lifestyles of various kinds. But you should know that for a a lot longer than that, getting some ink has traditionally denoted the alternativest of lifestyles: that of the medieval pilgrim. If you don't...

Quick Hits: What works—in attracting priestly vocations, in reviving Catholic liturgy

Last week we reported on the collapse of vocations to the Catholic priesthood in Germany, where only 58 men were ordained last year. There were just 96 new seminarians in 2015—in a country where the Catholic population is officially listed at about 50 million. By contrast there are about...

Reading Mother Teresa: A Public Service Announcement

With the canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta coming up on September 4th in Rome, there is renewed interest in her life and work. On the other hand, Mother Teresa was so famous during her lifetime that many of our older readers will already be very familiar with her story, which has been told...

The French burkini ban is... too revealing

On beaches in France, where topless sunbathing is common, police are now forcing some women to strip, enforcing a ban on the Muslim burkini. If this seems like madness—and it does—the reasoning behind the policy is even crazier. French officials are reacting—quite...

The Womanpriests fantasy: installment 614

If you're a regular reader, you know by now that I take a special interest in the contortions that journalists go through when they report on the bogus "ordinations" of Catholic women. Reporters will usually concede that the Catholic hierarchy does not recognize these...

The madness of non-practicing Catholics: boycotting the feast

If you attended Mass today, you probably heard the parable of the king’s banquet. And if you read the CWN news headlines, you learned that Mass attendance has plummeted in the Pittsburgh diocese. This is the story about the life of the Catholic Church in our day. And it isn’t just...

So, is Christianity 'over'?

There are days, I confess, when the news gets me down. But I hope that I’ll never be so discouraged that I’d say this: I think we have to accept the fact that Christianity—in the sense of Christianity as the common religion, with a mass following—is...

Is 'corruption' the right way to describe the dysfunction of the Catholic hierarchy?

Several readers have questioned my use of the term “corruption” to describe the current state of the Catholic hierarchy. Few if any bishops use their positions for illicit gains, my friends write; so it is not accurate to say that they are corrupt. I see the point, but I disagree. Let...

When everybody else 'gets it'—the bishops' blind spot

My column yesterday, on how bishops “don’t get it,” has prompted some revealing responses. Without a single exception, the lay people who have taken the time to respond to me have agreed with my basic point: that our bishops are unaware of the extent to which they are the...

Final Liturgical Year volume for 2015-2016 now available

The final ebook for the 2015-2016 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. The sixth volume overall in the annual series, Ordinary Time Completed rounds out the current liturgical year, taking you right up to Advent. This volume covers all the days from August...

Three questions on Biden's latest display of contempt for the faith

A Catholic who participates in a ceremony at which a woman claims priestly ordination is subject to the penalty of excommunication, because that ceremony is a parody of a sacrament. So what about a Catholic who participates in—in fact, officiates at—a same-sex wedding, which is also a...

Pelosi and Pelosi's God

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a PBS audience this week that white male voters have been stupid: They voted against their own economic interests because of guns, because of gays, and because of God: the three G’s. God being the woman’s right to choose. That last sentence is stunning, isn’t...

Abortion and deportation: not morally equivalent

Explaining why he believes that neither the Democratic nor the Republican party deserves Catholic votes, Bishop Daniel Flores sets out a sound moral premise, but then jumps from it to an unwarranted conclusion. Bishop Flores, you may recall, finds the Democrats unacceptable because they favor...

Cardinal Burke's 'unhelpful' suggestion

In his interview-book Hope for the World, Cardinal Raymond Burke makes the (accurate) observation that Islam envisions a state governed by Islamic law. “In reality, there is no place for other religions, even though they maybe tolerated,” he says. This does not sit well with some...

Ad Majorem [fill-in-the-blank] Gloriam

Much has been made, these last few days, about the Jesuit training of Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee. What does his Jesuit education tell us? Elizabeth Drescher has something to tell us. Drescher is the author of Choosing Our Religion: the Spiritual Lives of...

If not a religious war, what is it?

Secularists routinely ignore—or worse, deny—the influence of religious beliefs on political affairs. So when secular leaders like President Obama deny that terrorists are inspired by Islam, I can almost understand. But when Pope Francis makes essentially the same claim, I am...

Will this murder fuel a French Catholic revival?

How will France react to the murder of Father Jacques Hamel? I don’t mean the country’s political leaders, who will naturally condemn this brutal act of violence. I mean the ordinary people of France: a country that was once a great bastion of Catholicism, and is now so thoroughly...

Please don't call it 'senseless' violence

The latest atrocity by the Islamic State—the brutal murder of an elderly priest, carried out during the holy Sacrifice of the Mass—was not a senseless act. Abominable, yes. Disgusting, surely. But senseless? No. It was premeditated. It was intentional. It was part of a larger...

Is your family life an adequate school of marriage for your kids? Think about this now.

Have you had the facts-of-life discussion with your kids? If so, it is just one step along the way. Even more important is giving them the formation they need to properly approach relationships with the opposite sex, including dating, courtship and matrimony. Ideally, sound parental attitudes...

Making religion matter again

The statistics out of Germany are very sad. 180,000 Germans left the Catholic Church last year. But over and above those baptized as infants, fewer than 10,000 entered the Church. Yet Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich insists that the Church in Germany is “a strong force, whose message is...

Quick Hits: Analyzing Trump and the Democrats, questioning Vatican support for internationalism

First Things is not a political journal, yet in the past week the magazine has provided me with two of the most insightful perspectives on a bewildering American presidential race. Matthew Schmitz reminds readers that the religious outlook of Donald Trump was formed by Rev. Norman Vincent...

Quick Hits: Building a cathedral, single-handed

Thomas Van, who is currently fulfilling a different set of obligations overseas, has not lost his knack for finding intriguing Catholic points of interest on the web. The other day, he sent me a link to a brief video about a 90-year-old man who has been building a cathedral in Spain, essentially...

Cardinal Sarah's speech: a stealth success?

You might say—many commentators have said—that with the quick Vatican smackdown of Cardinal Sarah's proposal for ad orientem worship, Rome has spoken and the case is closed. I disagree.  On the contrary, Cardinal Sarah has reopened a much-needed discussion about how to...

Quick Hits: mayor judges prelate, the real Archbishop Cupich, confusion in Brazil

Philadelphia’s Mayor Jim Kenney, who identifies himself as a Catholic, has scolded Archbishop Charles Chaput for confirming the Church’s age-old teaching that Catholics who divorce and remarry cannot receive the Eucharist unless they agree to abstain from sexual intercourse....

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