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St. John Henry Newman—The Salvation of the Hearer the Motive of the Preacher

"It requires nothing great, nothing heroic, nothing saint-like ... it requires nothing more than faith, a single purpose, an honest heart, and a distinct utterance."

The Acts of the Apostles are for the whole world

The main reason the Holy Spirit inspired St. Luke to write the Acts of the Apostles is crystal clear in the pages of that book. But I wonder how many of us who have read and listened to readings from the Acts have realized what that purpose is. Things can be missed when we hear them piecemeal, and...

Are Marian devotions excessive?

We all have an abiding desire for maternal affection. The history books of the American Civil War are replete with touching accounts of dying soldiers in agony calling upon their mothers like little boys. Even the toughest among us grasp for the love of a mother at the hour of death. Prayers...

This week: So what DID the Pope say about Christ’s divinity?

Yet again, an unexpected and unsettling news story snatched top billing from the Amazon Synod in the week’s Catholic World News coverage. Last week it was the police raid on the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. This week it was the stunning claim, by an influential Italian journalist,...

Does Pope Francis profess the Nicene Creed?

Did Pope Francis really really say that Jesus is not God? Eugenio Scalfari, who made this sensational claim, cannot be treated as a reliable witness. He is an atheist, a Marxist, not a Christian. Although he has interviewed Pope Francis several times, he has not recorded the sessions or taken...

Trailer: Newman on the Fathers

Happy feast of Blessed John Henry Newman! Today it is fitting to drop the trailer for one of CatholicCulture.org’s new podcast series, which will take Newman for its patron. Every week, Catholic Culture Audiobooks will be bringing you...

Pressures on the Faith in the American Civil War. And now?

In an intriguing new book by Fr. Charles P. Connor, the Catholic position on slavery leading up to and during the American Civil War (1861-1865) is explored in considerable depth. What we learn from it is how much cultural conditioning and competing interests can modify or “slant” the...

A serious theologian’s fear of schism

Father Thomas Weinandy has long been a perceptive and courageous analyst of the current confusion that is spreading from Rome. And he has paid a price for his honesty. In 2017, the Capuchin theologian gave up his position as consultant to the US bishops’ doctrine committee, after making...

The ‘spirit of timidity’ that thwarts evangelization

Years ago, at an inter-religious conference, I was befriended by a Muslim cleric who, when he learned that I had never met my father-in-law, promised to do his best to bring us together. (He fulfilled that promise, to no avail.) However, he also felt obliged to give me a warning. “My...

In the Buffalo diocese, the wrong sort of investigation?

Hat tip to Siobhan O’Connor, the Buffalo whistleblower, for calling attention to the fact that the Vatican’s apostolic visitation of that diocese is “not subject to the recent instruction of the Holy See, Vos Estis.” Here’s one more demonstration that the Vatican...

This week: A curious media silence about a blockbuster Vatican story

This week’s most important CWN headline was not a big story. It was a huge story, a sensational story, a blockbuster. To be honest, I’m at a loss to explain why it hasn’t been given headline coverage throughout the media world. Police—the Vatican’s own police,...

Revised: Non-ordination of women: Not a dogma?

[October 4, 2019: In response to many questions from those who had trouble with the argument, I have revised this essay from earlier in the week. If you found it confusing, I hope you will read it again.] One of the key drafters of the working document for the Amazon Synod, Bishop Erwin...

A bid to understand the police raid at the Vatican

A shocking, unprecedented scene: Vatican police raiding the offices of the Vatican’s own Secretariat of State, seizing documents and electronic devices. As usual the Vatican is tight-lipped about this latest scandal, disclosing only that the Vatican’s top prosecutor has been...

What’s wrong with popular causes (and with clerics who ride them)?

Let me speak frankly. It is a symptom of flabby, secularized Christianity to witness primarily in favor of popular and prudential causes. Yet from Pope Francis on down, this symptom is widespread among Catholic leaders today. Five significant mistakes are made by Christians whose witness in favor...

This week: German bishops rush in, where Americans fear to tread

Pope Francis asked them not to do it. Two top Vatican officials told them they would be violating canon law if they did it. But this week the German bishops decided to do it anyway. And some people say that the threat of schism

So is political proselytism OK, your Holiness?

Here’s what Pope Francis did NOT say, speaking to a group of Jesuits in Mozambique: Today I felt a certain bitterness after a meeting with young people. A woman approached me with a young man and a young woman. I was told they were part of a slightly leftist movement. She said to me in perfect...

Institutionally overweight? A diet plan for dioceses

Last week I asked which of the countless diocesan and parish programs and agencies is more crucial than the staff, bag, and spare tunic that our Lord told his apostles they did not need on their evangelizing mission. [Lk 9:1-6] Now I have a follow-up question. See if you can find the official...

Spiritual Growth vs. Spiritual Consolation

Think about it: We are absolutely obliged by God to grow into union with Him as far as possible—using the fullness of the means made available through the Church established by His Son. But at the same time, we have absolutely no claim to spiritual consolations. We have no right to...

No Offense Intended: A new, and critical, free ebook

I am happy to announce a new (and always free) ebook: No Offense Intended: Essays on wrong-headed Catholics. These essays, written between early 2017 and early 2019, are my most strongly-worded commentaries on the troubles created for the Church by wrong-headed Catholics, especially those in high...

Wanted: a new St. Augustine, to challenge bad pastors

“God will call the bad shepherds to account for his sheep and for their deaths.” Thus St. Augustine, in his sermon On Pastors. Do Catholic priests in America still read the Divine Office regularly? (I’m afraid I know the answer to that question. According to a recent survey,...

Fighting addiction with the blood of Christ: The Calix Society

In a world awash in both addictions and addiction programs, it is genuinely inspiring to see an organization helping people to conquer their addictions in Christ, through the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. That’s the methodology of the Calix Society, which was founded originally in 1947...

Is the Catholic Church institutionally overweight?

A reflection on the Gospel reading from this morning’s Mass: “Take nothing for the journey; no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.” With those instructions—not to mention to drive out demons and cure diseases—the Lord sent the Apostles...

John’s Gospel: Answering questions for the Church

It is commonly said that the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are “synoptic” (providing a synopsis of the life of Christ) but that the gospel of John is “theological” (probing important questions about the Christian Faith). In earlier installments of this series, I have...

The Artificial Santa

Jesus teaches, “You cannot serve both God and mammon.” We all know it’s easy to make a god out of money. Ebenezer Scrooge repels us, and we’re attracted to Santa Claus. But a counterfeit Santa Claus, despite a reputation for generosity, may be even more dangerous than...

A Catholic novel, about a lost Catholic world

Last week, at a friend’s suggestion, I reread The Edge of Sadness, by Edwin O’Connor. It’s not a great novel, but it’s a good novel, written from an unmistakably Catholic perspective. Of course, since the main character is a Catholic priest, it would be different to have...

This week: the real threat of schism comes from Germany

Last week, the hottest topic for discussion in Catholic circles was the Pope’s response to speculation about an American schism. This week the story shifts to Germany, where the episcopal conference is threatening to defy the Vatican, and make its own “binding” decisions on...

True Synodality: A missing ingredient in renewal?

Recently I had an interesting discussion with a frequent visitor to our website about the potential benefits to the Church of being without a pope for an extended number of years. In part the discussion was prompted by the deleterious impact the current pontificate seems to have on Catholic...

Episode 51—Bringing Melody Back to Pop Music—The Duskwhales

Indie rock trio The Duskwhales formed almost 10 years ago at a small Catholic high school in Virginia. Over that decade, four albums and three EPs, they have forged a distinctly melodic sound in contrast to today’s joyless pop milieu....

Looking back on 50 episodes of The Catholic Culture Podcast

Last week, I published the 50th episode of The Catholic Culture Podcast. Back when I reached episode 25 I did a round-up of the most popular episodes thus far, and now I can say that from episodes 26-50, the five most downloaded episodes were: 48—Authority and Submission as Gift in...

September Ember Days

The 2019 September Ember Days begin on Wednesday, September 18. From the Archives of September 2015: Football games and pumpkin spice beverages and foods return; Autumn is upon us. Sadly, that is what the fall season means to so many people. We have lost contact the actual natural signs of...

Who benefits from all this talk of schism?

Why are we even talking about schism? Who began this extraordinary conversation, and whose interests are served by it? Ross Douthat of the New York Times admits that he used the term “schism” long ago, as a theoretical possibility—which he now (rightly) regards as remote. But...

Quick Hits: Provocative questions—on suicide and schism, the USCCB and a diocesan tribunal

Writing for First Things about the Seattle suicide scandal, Father Paul Mankowski, SJ, puts his finger on the problem: the fact that the Eucharistic liturgy was used as a stage for a cause, with innocent children as bit actors. The priest involved says that he was not acquainted with the...

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