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The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

Another media outlet flunks a religious-literacy test

On an otherwise serious day, let’s have a little fun, at the expense of Maine Public Radio, at whose web site you will find this headline: Diocese Changes Traditional Mass To Avoid Spreading Flu The story explains that, in order avoid spreading disease: The diocese announced...

The media’s annual bout of blindness

(This comment is posted annually.) Dozens of professional journalists, particularly in the vicinity of Washington, DC, are showing early signs of a strange illness that strikes, oddly enough, at exactly this time each year. The illness causes restricted vision, so that reporters fail to notice...

Pope defends accused bishop, denounces accusers. The pattern is familiar.

In the bad old days, when Catholic parents reported that a priest had abused their child, and/or that the pastor was aware of the abuse, the bishop might scold them, saying that their complaints were nonsense, saying that they had no proof, accusing them of calumny. The bishop might make these...

On sex abuse, the Vatican still sends badly mixed signals

The New York Times notes that on the very day when he apologized to Chileans for the Church’s handling of the sex-abuse scandal, Pope Francis concelebrated Mass with Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, who was named by the Pope to head the Osorno diocese despite complaints about his long...

The Amoris debate: Is it really a matter of confusion? (Part II)

Last week in this space I argued that Amoris Laetitia definitely has caused confusion (claims to the contrary notwithstanding), and that actually to call the situation “confusing” should be recognized as a display of respect for the Pope’s authority. In closing that short...

The ‘hands-on’ Pontiff, and what that implies

In an interesting Crux column, John Allen argues that Pope Francis is a remarkably “hands-on” Pontiff, who keeps himself extremely well informed about what is happening in the universal Church and especially inside the Vatican walls. To illustrate his point, Allen cites a revealing story about a...

Slip-sliding along on contraception (or a poetic homage to Fr. Maurizio Chiodi)

Contraception sometimes morally required, argues member of Pontifical Academy for Life —news from January 10, 2018   Reflections on Genesis 3:5 I went to confession in ‘52; the priest asked, “What’s the matter with you? Catholics know that God...

OTG: Making movies and houses: Apostolic work you should know about

There are many great things that lie beyond the usual scope of CatholicCulture.org. Let me stretch a little to call attention to two of them here. Making Movies with St. Michael A request to make the work of St. Michael Movies better known has been in my In Box for far longer than I care to...

Quick Hits: the Pope’s mysterious ties with the Jesuits; inching toward ad orientem

Naturally it caught my attention that Sandro Magister of L’Espresso began his latest column with a reference to my book, Lost Shepherd, which will be on the bookstore shelves late in February. Magister notes that the book is “making a stir” even before its appearance. But the...

Liturgical Year Volume 2 Released: Ordinary Time before Lent

The second volume of our ebook series for the 2017-2018 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This volume covers the initial period of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent, from January 9th through February 13th. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following...

A prayer for Europe

In the Memoriale of St. Pierre Favre, I recently came across the passage below. The great Jesuit saint (considered by St. Ignatius himself to be the best director for the Spiritual Exercises) was apparently writing about the people of Speyer, having just left that city for a new assignment. But he...

Cardinal Maradiaga’s explanation does not compute

A Catholic university in Honduras has been sending $40,000 or more monthly to Cardinal Maradiaga, who chairs the Council of Cardinals. Hmmm. Don’t worry; the archdiocese explains; the funds were not intended for the cardinal’s personal use; they were for the general needs of the...

The Francis effect?

How popular is Pope Francis? With the public? With bishops and priests? With young seminarians? Ask different people, and you’ll get different answers. It’s hard to gain an accurate reading. But here’s a remarkably revealing clue, nearly hidden in a feel-good story about an...

Another topless demonstration for women’s dignity?

Are you puzzled by the women who run around topless in public, saying that they are doing it to promote the cause of women's dignity? Let's try to understand. If a woman, normally dressed, tried to steal the Baby-Jesus figure from the crèche in St. Peter's Square, what would you think of her. Be...

A preview of the next big scandal?

Eighteen months have passed since I predicted that the next Vatican scandal would involve financial affairs. Is this it? Too soon to tell. But it’s coming. Pope Francis reportedly learned in May about Cardinal Maradiaga’s high-flying financial affairs. Also in May, the...

Cardinal Bernard Law, RIP: seeking a balanced perspective

The late Cardinal Bernard Law was not the ogre that his many detractors make him out to be. It is appalling to see abuse victims celebrating his death and cursing his memory, with the gleeful encouragement of the Boston media. Nor was he the stalwart Church leader his remaining defenders would...

Don’t look now, but that special papal commission on sexual abuse has ceased to exist

As of yesterday, the Pope’s special commission on sexual abuse formally ceased to exist. The Commission for the Protection of Minors was established by Pope Francis in 2013, for a four-year term that began on December 17 of that year. That term has now officially...

‘Magisterial authority’ in Argentina but not in Rome?

Credit Sandro Magister of L’Espresso with this observation: According to a Vatican announcement earlier this month, the Argentine bishops’ interpretation of Amoris Laetitia has “magisterial authority,” by virtue of the Pope’s endorsement and the...

Wanted: ministry to priest-abusers

Throughout the sad history of the sex-abuse scandal, the main focus of public concern has understandably been the victims: both the real victims who have suffered and the potential victims who must be protected. But what about the perpetrators? We can say that they are guilty of serious crimes,...

Oh sure, blame celibacy

An Australian government commission has called for an end to clerical celibacy. Right. Because if the headlines of the last few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that celibacy is the main cause of sexual misconduct. If only politicians, Hollywood executives, comedians, and TV network...

Advent is the restless season

Last week a spectacularly tasteless ad arrived in my In box, from a firm that promised me a brilliant new Christmas-gift idea. (If you read on, you’ll understand why I will not identify either the firm or the gift. This misbegotten idea will receive no publicity—not even negative publicity—from...

The Colorado baker’s case: it’s not about gay rights

Pay attention to the language used in headlines about this week’s crucial argument before the Supreme Court. Reuters said it was a “gay wedding case.” The New York Times called it a gay rights case.” CNN reported a “same-sex marriage case.” And so on. All inaccurate. This case was not about...

The sadness of all apostasy—and the modern scandal

I explained yesterday why, regardless of the motives and the naysayers, apostasy is always wrong, even under the circumstances depicted in the novel and film Silence. As a postscript, I believe the following two observations will be found quite apt: First, in a certain sense there is...

A priest’s #1 distraction at Mass—and how to avoid it

In the Memoriale of St. Pierre Favre (aka Peter Faber), I happened across this startling entry: During Mass on the day of St. Clare, I felt myself somewhat distracted by my desires; one was to edify those present, the other to obtain devotion for that purpose. In the past I have often...

The Pope’s silence on the Rohingya: prudent diplomacy or moral lapse?

During his stay in Myanmar, Pope Francis did not mention the brutal treatment of the Rohingya minority. Was that a mistake? Was it a failure of moral leadership? It’s not easy to answer those questions. The persecution of the Rohingya is, by all reliable accounts, a gross violation of...

Could you help with my new venture?

Several weeks ago I reported that I’ve taken on a new role, as a Fellow of the Center for the Restoration of Christian Culture at Thomas More College. (Don’t worry, loyal readers; I’ll still be active on the Catholic Culture site as well.) Like any worthwhile venture, the Center...

Draining the CCHD swamp

Every year, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, Catholics around the US are asked to contribute to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). The annual collection prompts an annual controversy, in which critics of the CCHD point to the grants that the program has made to organizations...

When cardinals fail to defend marriage

The headline in Chicago Sun-Times said it all: “Archbishop not backing gay marriage—yet.” In a column published in May 2015, Neil Steinberg—who admitted at the outset that some readers thought he is obsessed with the issue of same-sex marriage—reported on an...

Advent-Christmas Ebook released for new liturgical year

The Advent and Christmas ebook volume for the 2017-2018 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This is the first volume of the coming new liturgical year, which begins on December 3rd, the First Sunday in Advent. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following formats:...

Yet another bishop from Wichita. Coincidence?

Father Shawn McKnight, a priest of the Wichita diocese, has been chosen as the next bishop of Jefferson City, Missouri. By my count that will make five priests of the little Wichita diocese (Catholic population: 100,000) to named bishops in the past 20 years. That’s an extraordinary...

Another encouraging sign from the US bishops’ conference

Take a look at the list of prelates selected by the US bishops to represent their conference at next year’s Synod meeting: DiNardo, Gomez, Chaput, Barron. It’s a very strong list. If you were watching the USCCB meeting carefully, looking for signs of how the American hierarchy...

Are the Russians controlling how you think? Does it matter?

Both government investigators and pundits around America are seriously exercised just now about the Russian influence on the most recent American presidential campaign. A good part of the agitation concerns social media promotional efforts funded by Russia, ostensibly to discredit Hillary Clinton...

Why denying death is not illogical

For several years now, I have been wrestling with the notion of “brain death,” which I believe to be a false category. My research into the subject has led to questions about what death actually means—which turns out to be a more complicated matter that it might seem. Today,...

The unhealthy distraction of Msgr. Byrne

A dozen years ago, a prominent priest of the New York archdiocese wrote in Commonweal that “my early questioning of celibacy has been confirmed.” Celibacy, announced Msgr. Harry Byrne, was a “distraction.” Today Msgr. Byrne, now retired from ministry, was indicted on 37...

On the lunatic fringe, Francis is not the Pope

It has finally happened. I’ve received an email from a sincere reader explaining that Pope Francis is not the Pope, because Pope Benedict really never resigned. Hence, Pope Francis is an anti-pope. In this case, the argument is that Pope Benedict resigned only from being “a bishop...

Quick hits: AP’s hidden assumptions, a canonical mismatch, Spinoza’s excommunication

Terry Mattingly, who writes perceptively on media coverage of religion, often notices that reporters are tone-deaf regarding matters of faith. Then, at other times, Mattingly notices how reporters slip their own prejudices into their coverage. So, for instances, he asks his readers to notice this...

Quick Hits: Composer-Doctors of the Church and more

Most Catholics know St. Alphonsus Liguori primarily for his pious meditations such as those in his Way of the Cross. His contributions to moral theology also gained him the title of Doctor of the Church. Far fewer people know that he was also a composer and harpsichordist (among several other arts...

Connect the dots

This week brings the sad news that a Cistercian monastery in Germany, founded in 1134, will soon be closed. There aren’t enough monks to keep the venerable institution going. And in other news, across the country in Ravensburg, as part of an ecumenical festival, a Catholic pastor has...

Scrapping the ‘theology of the body,’ and a new model for priestly ministry

Reporting on a conference at Boston College , in which Amoris Laetitia was discussed by an impressive group of liberal Catholics—representing the full range of opinion from A to B—Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter reveals that the group was ready to jettison the...

Francis takes aim at Jonah for rigidity—and misses again.

At Mass on Tuesday, Pope Francis took off on yet another flight of rigidity fancy. Preaching on Jonah’s grumbling efforts to prophesy to the Ninevites, the Pope identified Jonah as the epitome of rigidity—the antihero of all those who fail to appreciate God’s mercy. But the Holy...

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