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The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

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...

Notice something missing?

When Australian bishops huddled last week with Vatican officials, the top item on the agenda was an Australian royal commission’s inquiry into sexual abuse of children. Take a look at the announced list of Vatican officials involved in the discussions. Two top officials from the...

Come hear Phil speak: at Hillsdale College, October 5

Will you be—or can you be—in the vicinity of Hillsdale, Michigan, tomorrow (Thursday) evening? If so, I hope you’ll attend my talk at Hillsdale College, sponsored by the Dow Journalism Program. I’ll be speaking on “Faithful Catholicism in a Hostile Culture.” That’s Thursday, October 5, at 8 pm,...

Quick hits: Hitchens on Martin, Spaemann on Seifert, Douthat on Hefner

Easing back into business after a relaxing weekend, here are a few columns that you shouldn’t miss: Writing in First Things, Dan Hitchens examines the clever rhetorical strategy of Father James Martin, who never quite denies Church teaching on homosexuality (or the ordination of...

Quick hits: the truth about Islam, how AL affects children, and is Francis really the Pope?

Three short essays—unrelated, but all well worth reading—that appeared online today: The unstoppable Father James Schall explains “Why I Believe in Islam” for Crisis magazine. No, he hasn’t left the faith. But he does serious Muslims the courtesy of assuming that...

Promises, promises: but little progress for papal commission on abuse

A week has passed since Pope Francis promised to take “the firmest measures” to stop clerical abuse. Then again, you might say that a month has passed, or three years have passed, or maybe a bit longer, since the Pope said essentially the same thing. How many times does the same promise...

Prayer in times of papal infidelity

[Note: I have written this prayer only in the sense that I have sought diligently in Sacred Scripture for the right words. The text is almost entirely Scriptural, as you will see in the blue references. The words, therefore, are mostly inspired by the Holy Spirit, and I deserve no credit. But any...

About Cardinal Sarah’s caution on using an iPhone in prayer

Cardinal Sarah says that “it is not worthy” to pray the Liturgy of the Hours using a smartphone or tablet. He’s right—as he usually is—that the use of a book, dedicated to that purpose, heightens the sense of the sacred. But what’s better: saying the prayers with the help of an iPhone, or not...

Wisdom from departed cardinals: Caffarra on truth and conscience, Müller on the Roman Curia

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra died earlier this month, just days before he was scheduled to speak at a conference in Milan. But Catholic World Report has posted the full text of the address that the Italian cardinal had prepared for the occasion, and it is brilliant! Cardinal Caffarra opens by...

Looking for the Inquisition? Check the mirror.

When you see a New York Times column with the title, “Expect the Inquisition,” what you don’t expect (well, I don’t, anyway), is this sort of thoroughly reasonable analysis of arguments within the Catholic Church. Reflecting on incidents involving Josef Seifert and...

If celibacy is the cause, why do non-celibates have the problem?

In Australia, two former Catholic priests have released a report saying that the root causes of sexual abuse by Catholic priests are—the things the two ex-priests don’t like about the Catholic Church. Since what they don’t like about the Catholic Church matches what the secular media don’t like,...

Dogma lives loudly, but bishops are silent?

The US bishops’ conference has reacted quickly and angrily to Steve Bannon’s charge that the bishops have economic motives for supporting immigration. Good. Now can we expect an equally quick robust response to the insinuation by US Senators that a faithful Catholic cannot be...

Dangerous ideas at Google and the pain of Jordan Peterson

In June, Stephanie Gray was invited to Google HQ and gave just about the best pro-life talk I’ve heard, “Abortion: From Controversy to Civility”. Gray uses the Socratic method, drawing out the traits people admire in those who inspire them, and then showing how the traits admired...

Feinstein and Durbin: the only good Catholic is a bad Catholic?

Article VI of the US Constitution states: The Senators and …all executive and judicial Officers… shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United...

Bearing false witness: the defining sin of our era?

Could a society have its own defining sin? My wife Leila addressed that question on her own blog recently, and as usual I think she’s right. By a “defining” sin I don’t mean to suggest that a particular society is prone to only one type of moral failing. All Ten...

Quick Hits: Getting away from pathological activism and pathological art

At his Bad Catholic blog, Marc Barnes recently commented on the self-indulgence and counter-productivity of Antifa’s methods of confronting white nationalists: “If justice is ‘fun,’ you’re probably not practicing justice. If works of justice fulfill elemental...

Quick Hits: The Nashville Statement, the crisis of British monarchy, Democrats nod to pro-lifers

The Nashville Statement, released this week by a group of Evangelical leaders to affirm Biblical teachings on sexuality, has provoked an angry backlash from liberal commentators. Most notable among them is the persistent Father James Martin, who unleashed a Tweet storm in support of...

How an ‘irreversible’ claim might be reversed

Father Anthony Ruff, who holds forth on liturgical matters on the PrayTell blog, doesn’t often (if ever) agree with me. So it’s not surprising that Father Ruff was pleased with the Pope’s “magisterial” announcement that “the liturgical reform is...

Final Liturgical Year volume for 2016-2017 now available

The final ebook for the 2016-2017 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 September 3rd through...

Coming soon: CWN unveils a new approach to Catholic news coverage

For more than 20 years now, Catholic World News (CWN) has been presenting daily headline stories in the same format. That’s about to change. In 1996 CWN began providing readers with short summaries of the top stories that would interest Catholic readers (and readers interested in Catholic...

OTG: Send Mass cards with Holy-Post.com

I was recently made aware of a useful website for sending Mass cards via email or Facebook. Holy-Post.com is an organization based in St. Paul, Minnesota, and its mission is to allow people to let their loved ones know they are being prayed for while supporting the communities and missions...

Why didn’t Vatican act sooner on euthanasia in Belgian Catholic hospitals?

At the beginning of May, the Brothers of Charity announced that they would allow euthanasia at their psychiatric hospitals in Belgium. At the beginning of August the Vatican ordered them to reverse that policy. Why did it take so long? Why were fifteen Catholic hospitals on record for three...

Quick Hits: Papal prayer intention for artists, cultural appropriation and more

Pope Francis’s prayer intention for August is for artists, so let’s pray for artists and give the arts our attention and support in a special way this month: The Catholic Creatives group has just announced 8beats, “an 8-part anthology film exploring the collision of the...

Quick Hits: religious freedom and the limits of politics; the priest as a man set apart

In an excellent National Review article, Ryan Anderson explains why the political battle over same-sex marriage will continue—with dangerous implications for religious liberty—even though according to conventional wisdom the issue has been decided. All fifty US states now recognize...

Another example of confusion in the terminology of ‘brain-death’

The Mexico City archdiocese gives us the sad news that Father José Miguel Machorro, who was stabbed by an assailant on the altar after celebrating Mass in May, has died. May he rest in peace. While I mourn the priest’s death, however, I can’t help noticing the awkward form of the archdiocesan...

Quick Hits: ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ Catholics; harsh rhetoric and divisiveness

Readers occasionally complain about the use of the terms “liberal” and “conservative” to identify different perspectives within the Catholic Church. Although we use the terms ourselves sometimes, as a quick way to identify schools of thought, we acknowledge that it is...

Quick Hits: Collegiality or resistance; from ‘field hospital’ to long-term care

Over on The Catholic Thing, Father Mark Pilon has two interesting perspectives on the argument—put forward recently in L’Osservatore Romano—that the world’s bishops and priests are the “main obstacle” the reforms planned by Pope Francis. First, he notes...

L’Osservatore Romano’s latest gambit: Preferring culture to truth?

To avoid choking, one can only smile at the latest essay in L’Osservatore Romano which claims that Pope Francis’s plan for renewal is accepted by the “people” but resisted by “priests and bishops”. Typical of Vatican periodicals during this pontificate, the...

Quick Hits: Vatican trial’s intrigue; the archbishop as bystander

Having spent many years covering Vatican affairs, John Allen writes with authority when he reports that the Vatican press corps is not accustomed to handling criminal trials. However he remarks—and goes on to demonstrate—that a Vatican trial can have its own special sort of intrigue....

I’m right; you’re wrong: the Spadaro-Figueroa approach

Marcelo Figueroa—the co-author, with Father Antonio Spadaro, of that astonishing Civilta Cattolica essay—is not dismayed the critique offered by Archbishop Charles Chaput. On the contrary, he tweets: “Esto me confirma que escribimos lo correcto.” If you say he’s...

Quick Hits: Catholicism in the movies

I’ve long appreciated the movies of Joel and Ethan Coen, and finally got around to viewing their most recent, Hail, Caesar! The film is already among my favorites by the brothers—it’s one of their most warmhearted, a humorous portrayal of a Hollywood studio in the 1950s. I...

Did the Pope himself wonder whether Amoris Laetitia was orthodox?

Pope Francis has referred to Cardinal Christoph Schönborn as the “authoritative interpreter” of Amoris Laetitia. So when the Austrian cardinal spoke to an Irish audience about the controversial papal document, people naturally paid careful attention. According to Austen Ivereigh’s account: ...

The question Father Martin keeps dodging

In his book Building a Bridge, the popular Jesuit author, Father James Martin, argues for acceptance of homosexuals in the Catholic Church. Remarkably, in a book dedicated to that topic, he manages to avoid the obvious question. So in a trenchant First Things review of the Martin book, Father...

Avoid despair over Church problems, even those made worse by the Pope.

Over at onepeterfive.com, Maike Hickson reports some (alleged) details surrounding Pope Francis’ decision not to renew the term of Gerhard Cardinal Müller as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Nobody knows whether these details are authentic. Indeed, if you read...

Cardinal Müller’s exit: the official ‘term-limits’ explanation strains credulity

Cardinal Gerhard Müller is understandably unhappy with the way he was dismissed as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But he insists that he has never been, and will never be, a critic of Pope Francis. He has repeated the official explanation for his removal: that the...

The truth about the Vatican sex-and-drugs scandal

If you’ve been following the news this week, you’ve probably seen sensational reports about a gay-sex-and-cocaine ring at the Vatican. The stories, alas, are true. But the details have been thoroughly garbled in virtually every media report. What actually happened? Last week a...

Another Vatican ‘reform’ cast in doubt

The timing isn’t perfect, unfortunately, for the Vatican’s offer of free treatment for Charlie Gard at Bambino Gesu Hospital—just after an AP investigative report uncovered serious problems with medical care at the Vatican-run institution. But there is solace in the news that the...

The improbable claims of Cardinal Pell’s accusers

We cannot guarantee that Cardinal George Pell is innocent of all wrongdoing. But we can say with confidence that at least to date, the charges that have been aired against him are extremely unconvincing. Julia Yost makes that case persuasively for First Things in a devastating review of...

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