The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

Obama says: speak out!

The State Department’s Religious Freedom Report for 2011 reminds us that as citizens of the world, we all have a duty to condemn injustice. “As President Obama said, they ought to ‘bear witness and speak out’ when violations of religious freedom occur.” So here we stand on August 1: the day...

Dead men hold no bank accounts

The “Moneyval” audit of the Vatican bank, the IOR, turned up this interesting tidbit: there were 236 cardinals who held accounts there. Which wouldn’t be remarkable, except that at the time of the audit, there were only 213 cardinals alive. This is not necessarily evidence of...

The enduring problem with Canon 401-2

Today the Vatican news service announced that two more bishops have resigned, citing #401-2 of the Code of Canon Law. That canon, as knowledgeable Catholics now know, stipulates that the Pope may accept the resignation of a bishop who is unfit to continue with his duties because of illness or...

Talk about a disturbing headline

Sure, we’re accustomed to journalist attacks on the Vatican. Still a headline like this one, from Melbourne’s Herald Sun, is a bit much: Pope accused of stealing more than $1million in funds Will they stop at nothing? Does any wild-eyed accusation against the Vatican get headline...

We may not see, but there are no coincidences.

Enjoying our time on the banks of Lake Champlain, but having to stay out of the rain today, my wife and I drove around the Lake into Vermont and then out onto the various islands accessed by Route 2. Eventually we ended up on Isle La Motte, where stands a large statue of Samuel de Champlain...

Sadly, Penn State Had Some Catholic Dioceses as a Model of "What Not to Do"

Throughout reports on the abuse scandal surrounding Penn State, I haven't been able to escape that feeling of deja vu. There are so many similarities to the Church sex abuse scandals of recent years, it is both familiar and frightening. If you are following the Penn State story and keep history in...

Death inside an abortion clinic: no story here

Did you hear about the young woman who was shot and fatally wounded outside a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Chicago last week? Oh, wait. She was fatally injured inside the clinic, in the course of an abortion. That’s why the story hasn’t been among the top headlines every day this...

Vatican expects low medal count at London Olympics

Brace yourself for a shock. AP reports that the Vatican shows a growing interest in sports, “but the prospects of the world's tiniest sovereign state actually fielding an Olympic squad are slim.” Just thought you’d want to know. In case you were wondering....

The Gates Foundation to the rescue

Imagine that you’re a young woman living in South Sudan. You’ve just learned that you are pregnant. This is exciting, because you and your husband are anxious to have children. But it’s also frightening, because you know that in your country, pregnancy and childbirth are dangerous. You wish...

To Write Well of God and the Church…

I was just reading about Blessed Dominic of the Mother of God, CP, known in civilian life as Domenico Giovanni Luigi Barberi. He lived from 1792 until 1849, and he had a mystical experience in which he was called to be a missionary to England. This would have been during the period after...

Guess what? Sex sells!

And now, from the sort of useful scientists who can demonstrate that water is wet, comes this study showing that young people who watch sexual activities in movies are more likely to engage in sexual activities themselves. Now who would ever have thought of that?! The Dartmouth researchers...

Email’s Downward Spiral

Sometimes the level of discourse degenerates. This morning I awoke to find the following response to one of our fund appeals in my In Box. It came from a registered user whose unlikely title is “Rev.”: “Typical, typical catholic—always asking for money! support gay...

99% pure

Speaking to the National Council of Priests of Australia, Father Timothy Radcliffe, the former worldwide head of the Dominican order, said that the Church should embrace the modern world, enjoying such developments as the acceptance of homosexuals and the debate on women’s ordination. (He...

Words I Wish Had Been Mine: On Charity

“The cause of the failure [of charity] may be traced to that delusive system which characterizes the religion of the day. The object of this system is to destroy the broad line of distinction between the natural and the supernatural virtues; to raise the one to a level with the other; and to...

Obama and the woman-haters

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who chairs the Democratic National Committee, explains to the world why all Jewish Americans should support President Obama: …the president has an incredible record of support and advocacy on the issues, domestically, that Jews care about–fighting, for example,...

All we want is the Crown Jewels

If you are a British history buff, you’ll want to know that the town of Angers, in France, is demanding restitution for the murder of the Earl of Warwick. The killing was a “state crime,” Angers argues, and the British nation should take responsibility. It’s an old complaint. The unfortunate...

Horatio Storer and the Physicians’ Crusade against Abortion

Frederick N. Dyer has become the premier historian of a small but important facet of American history, the efforts of Dr. Horatio Storer in the latter part of the 19th century to establish the medical specialty of gynecology and to unite physicians against abortion. Storer’s work was...

What the Condi Rice rumors tell pro-lifers

Condoleeza Rice? The rumors that Mitt Romney will pick the former Secretary of State as his running mate are cropping up too frequently to be coincidental. Something is afoot. Let’s assume that the rumor has been floated as a trial balloon? What does it tell us, that after promising to select a...

Climbing aboard with Nuns on the Bus

You’d probably expect an obscure outlet called Womens ENews to wax enthusiastic about the “Nuns on the Bus” campaign. But you wouldn’t expect the Forbes magazine web site to reproduce the article without comment, giving a mainstream appearance to a fringe...

More on Archbishop Müller: Attacked by Modernists

As a postscript to my comments on the orthodoxy of the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, please note that within minutes of his appointment, Catholic journalists were receiving denunciations not only from Traditionalists but also from Modernists. Indeed, Modernists...

Another form of priestly abuse recognized: liturgical abuse

The Post-Dispatch headline on the suspension of Father William Rowe in Belleville, Illinois, announces that Father Rowe has been barred from preaching. But that’s really not the point. The point is that Father Rowe has been barred from celebrating Mass. And the reason is simple: The...

Preventive care? Preventing what?

This isn't an original question, I realize. But in light of the Obama administration's insistence that women need "preventive care" such as contraception, it seems worth asking again:  What disease is it that the Pill...

Booklet on Maria Goretti, and More

This is just a little late for Saint Maria Goretti’s feast, which was last Friday, July 6th. However, one of our readers, Christopher Cafferty in London, has alerted me to the easy electronic availability of the Catholic Truth Society pamphlet about Maria Goretti, which was first...

Are You Eliciting Derision and Admiration?

In reading the first chapter of Saint Paul by Pope Benedict XVI, I am struck by his turn of phrase regarding the response to Jews and Judaism in the Roman Empire during the time of that great apostle. “[The Jews’] beliefs and way of life, as is still the case today, distinguished...

The secret report on transparency

The irony is palpable in yesterday’s AP story about the report submitted by European banking inspectors regarding Vatican financial procedures. The story begins: The Vatican got a report card Wednesday on its efforts to be more financially transparent — but it's a secret for now. OK, we...

On Faith, Reason and Proper Method

Here is Bishop William Poynter’s (1762-1827) fine explanation of how different approaches to truth complement each other, in particular the proper uses of both faith and reason. This delightful extract comes from Fr. Saward’s anthology of The Spiritual Tradition of Catholic...

A Crisis in Personal Responsibility, a "Defect in Private Duties"

Samuel Johnson said, “Almost all the miseries of life, almost all the wickedness that infects society, and almost all the distresses that afflict mankind, are the consequences of some defect in private duties.” No matter where we start to look at our present situation—personal...

The mountain was in labor and…

…the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), joining with other religious groups, brought forth a joint Position Paper on Cohesion Policy. Read the full text if you dare. If you can stay awake, and if you can understand what they’re saying, you might have an...

No 'Creator' in Obama's Declaration?

Phyllis Schlafly notices that when he quotes a famous line from the Declaration of Independence, President Obama regularly drops a few words from the text. It doesn’t seem to be a careless error, she remarks: “Obama has done this so often that it can't be a slip of the tongue or a...

The 'God particle'

Although I don’t pretend to understand the implications, physicists’ discovery of the Higgs boson (or something very much like it) makes for a fascinating story. Not least because Fabiola Gianotti, speaking for the term that discovered the subatomic particle, made an interesting...

The Certainty of Catholicism

On Friday evening, a broad summer storm front roared through Virginia and Maryland at speeds up to 80 miles per hour. My wife and I went out on our screened porch to experience the storm when we first heard the rush of the wind, but we quickly realized this was not where we wanted to be. We...

More Religious Liberty Initiatives

Today’s Supreme Court ruling suggests we have a long fight ahead of us on not only religious liberty but on liberty in general. The Court upheld the health insurance mandate which lies at the core of Obamacare, justifying it under the power of the Congress to levy taxes. So it is just as...

After the Supreme Court defeat...

Two quick thoughts on today’s astonishing, disastrous, incomprehensible Supreme Court ruling: Now it’s up to us. It would have been nice if the Supreme Court had eliminated the latest and greatest threat to religious freedom in America. But it didn’t happen. Now either we Catholics Americans...

A priest answers protesters

Here's an excellent example of a pastor responding skillfully to a difficult situation.  Confronted by a group of angry protesters at the cathedral in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Father Ted Martin shows intelligence, pastoral sensitivity, wit, and an extraordinary amount of patience as he answers...

Fortnight for Freedom Variations

It is interesting and encouraging that so many different groups are running their own Fortnight for Freedom programs around the country, some of them going beyond the USCCB materials, but often in the same spirit. I’ll single out just three examples that we’ve been alerted to here...

Fortnight? What fortnight?

A friend just contacted me: a reporter for a secular media outlet. At an editorial conference, he had suggested some coverage of the Fortnight for Freedom, and drawn blank stares from his colleagues. Fortnight for what? None of the other reporters or news editors had heard anything about the...

...and on a personal note...

Twice in the past month, I’ve escorted a daughter into church to meet her waiting bridegroom—in both cases, thank God, a young man I not only like but admire. Yes, it’s been a busy month. (And I trust you’ll understand if I haven’t been writing as much commentary as usual.) It’s difficult to...

The Fortnight for Freedom Prayers

This morning I had my first taste of the devotions published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop for its Fortnight for Freedom. The Fortnight is an effort to raise awareness and seek Divine assistance for the cause of religious liberty in the United States, particularly with...

Cardinal Dolan's useful new book

For those who want to participate in the “Fortnight of Freedom” but aren’t sure how to begin, here’s a suggestion: Download a copy of Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s new eBook, True Freedom: On Protecting Human Dignity and Religious Liberty. Written in an uncomplicated,...

An editorial for the (comic) archives

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has a short editorial about what it sees as a “larger, overarching crisis” in the Catholic Church. There’s the Vatileaks mess, and some people think that’s a major scandal. Then the president of the Vatican bank was ousted. That’s it?...

Pope Benedict the preacher, at his very best

Sandro Magister of L’Espresso calls attention to a homily on Baptism delivered by Pope Benedict XVI on June 11, describing it as “one of the highest moments of that masterpiece which his homilies on Baptism are.” A friend had sent me a copy of the same homily, with a one-word commentary:...

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