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Expert commentary on the spiritual, moral, political, social, cultural, and ecclesiastical issues facing Catholics today.

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Commentary and reflection on Catholic life and ideas.

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Analysis of news events and trends.

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Extended commentary and thoughtful Catholic essays on complex topics.

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Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

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Book and media reviews.

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Celebrates positive work by Catholic individuals and organizations.

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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...

Schism: Cui bono?

An old investigative maxim, cui bono (to whose good, or who benefits?) can be usefully applied to many affairs in the Church and the world today. For example, in his latest commentary, Phil Lawler asks: Who benefits from all this talk of schism? In a Quick Hits piece, Phil also sheds...

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...

Discipleship: The worldly don’t get it. But are we all worldly?

The Sunday before last, the Gospel reading (Luke 14:25-33) was that strange passage about the king who should sue for peace before throwing his ten thousand troops against an opposing force of twenty thousand; and about the builder who should not risk mockery by failing to make sure he has...

Guardians of the natural law

As the classic Christmas hymn has it, with the birth of Jesus, God and sinners are reconciled. Jesus Christ is true God and true man: one Person, two natures. The mystery of the Incarnation provides us with the metaphysics of our reconciliation with God; the words and deeds of Jesus give the...

Pope Francis has his hands full

Pope Francis may create as many problems as he solves, because his message is so inconsistent. One way to benefit from this difficult situation is to increase our own Catholic understanding by reflecting very carefully and judiciously on what the Pope says. That's my point in...

Lay activism: a modest proposal

Although I was appalled by the Pope’s statement on the prospect of an American schism, one passage from that statement merits a bit more thought: The schismatics always have one thing in common: they separate themselves from the people, from the faith of the people of God. And when there was...

Don’t blame ‘others’ or ‘cycles of violence’ for the 9/11 attacks

On September 11, while Americans remembered the victims of an Islamic terrorist attack, Pope Francis met with a members of a joint Catholic-Islamic committee dedicated to peaceful dialogue. (This is the group whose formal statement, endorsed by the Pope, proclaimed: “The pluralism and diversity...

Pope Francis answers: Part inspiration, part frustration, so how can we grow spiritually?

On the whole, I recommend to pope-watchers a close reading of Francis’ responses to questions raised by journalists on his flight from the capital of Madagascar back to Rome. These informal exchanges often present challenges, because Pope Francis has great difficulty speaking precisely. But...

A Pope who doesn’t fear schism may cause one

“I am not afraid of schisms,” Pope Francis told reporters during his latest airplane press conference. Well, I am. And I’m afraid of any Roman Pontiff who isn’t afraid of splitting the universal Church. Which means that, yes, I’m afraid of Pope Francis. As we...

What does fidelity mean?

Thomas V. Mirus has posted Episode 50 of The Catholic Culture Podcast, illustrating Catholic fidelity with beautiful sacred music. Listen to: A Catholic Composer in Queen Elizabeth’s Court, Pt. II, an interview with Kerry McCarthy. Many of our highlights over the past few...

Quick Hits: New podcast targets the Equal Rights Amendment

Readers may recall that last year we reviewed Robert G. Marshall’s extraordinarily useful book, Reclaiming the Republic: How Christians and other conservatives can win back America. Now Marshall returns with the Reclaiming the Republic Podcast—an incisive nine-episode presentation...

Knights of the Holy Eucharist

Our readers frequently seek to identify good religious communities, especially if their children are considering a vocation to religious life. This puts me in mind of the Franciscan community of men founded by Mother Angelica in 1998, The Knights of the Holy Eucharist. The Franciscans as a...

Quick Hits: On Annulment tribunals, the Ahmari-French debate, and [censored]

• Leila Miller, who has made some important contributions to understanding the disastrous effects of divorce, has now turned her attention to diocesan marriage tribunals, and the unmistakable problems associated with routine declarations of annulment. She has posted a revealing interview with...

Episode 50—A Catholic Composer in Queen Elizabeth’s Court, Pt. II—Kerry McCarthy

One of England’s greatest composers, William Byrd is a fascinating and complicated figure of Catholic musical history. A musician in the Royal Chapel of Queen Elizabeth, he associated with the highest ranks of the Anglican establishment...

Hearts and minds: Next generation changes to CatholicCulture.org

I have done a good deal of soul searching about the future of CatholicCulture.org, as is only appropriate for a 71-year-old founder. Some of this involves adding appropriate expertise to our staff as my own ability to wear multiple hats diminishes. For example, we need to add a social media...

Quick Hits: The Pope, the US, and Ukraine; background on Cardinal Pell’s case

Foreign Affairs carries an interesting analysis of Vatican foreign policy under Pope Francis, with a focus on the conflict in Ukraine. Victor Gaetan notes that the Ukrainian Catholic Church, led by Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevcuk, has been extremely critical of Russian intervention, while the...

Pope Francis: ‘honored’ by criticism?

In the latest effort to explain away an unguarded utterance by Pope Francis, Matteo Bruni, the director of the Vatican press office, told reporters how they should interpret the papal remark that “it’s an honor that Americans attack me.” In an informal context, the Pope...

Controlling the College of Cardinals

Owing to a family funeral later this week, there will be only one of these Insights messages, which also explains why it is arriving mid-week, on Wednesday. Yesterday, Phil Lawler commented on the obvious effort of Pope Francis to fill the College of Cardinals with those who share his program...

No ‘slow news day’ today: hints of paranoia, real causes for alarm, and two cardinals’ deaths

August is traditionally a slow month for news, and then things heat up quickly in September. That’s certainly been the case this year. In today’s Catholic World News headlines you’ll find: Hints of paranoia: Former cardinal McCarrick denies wrongdoing, says his...

Episode 49—A Catholic Composer in Queen Elizabeth’s Court, Pt. I—Kerry McCarthy

One of England’s greatest composers, William Byrd is a fascinating and complicated figure of Catholic musical history. A musician in the Royal Chapel of Queen Elizabeth, he associated with the highest ranks of the Anglican establishment...

Cardinal control: Is the Church’s future at stake?

Not being God, my interpretation of what God Himself is accomplishing through the current pontificate may at the very best illuminate a tiny portion of the Divine plan, and could well be utterly worthless. Nonetheless, I am moved to this exercise by a desire to offer consolation in the wake of...

The new cardinals: Pope Francis bids for ‘irreversible change’

Having named 13 new members of the College of Cardinals, Pope Francis will—as of October 5—have named a majority of the cardinals who will elect the next Roman Pontiff. At least on paper, then, he has had a chance to ensure that the next conclave will elect a prelate who shares his...

Is Pell Australia's Dreyfus?

Phil Lawler, back from vacation, has resumed his commentary on the news: The Pell Case: Australia’s Dreyfus Affair? The Seattle suicide: not ‘confusion’ but grave scandal Routine annulment as ‘cynical duplicity’—a non-Catholic’s...

Luke’s Gospel: The Radical Challenge of Jesus Christ

As I mentioned in treating Matthew and Mark, it is difficult to say something truly original in a commentary on the Gospels. Consequently, I have tried simply to highlight an overall theme for each one: For Matthew, Jesus as the Messiah; for Mark, Christ as Son of God; and now, for Luke, the...

The Seattle suicide: not ‘confusion’ but grave scandal

After the publication of an an AP story about a man who received a blessing in a Catholic church just a few days before committing suicide, the Seattle archdiocese released a statement that read in part: The Associated Press story about Mr. Fuller is of great concern to the Archbishops because...

Routine annulment as ‘cynical duplicity’—a non-Catholic’s perspective

David Bentley Hart begins his Commonweal article by stating that he is not a Catholic, and he proceeds to give “traditionalist” Catholics a drubbing. But if you persevere to the end of the piece, you find some refreshingly blunt analysis of the prevailing Catholic approach to marriage...

The Pell Case: Australia’s Dreyfus Affair?

The conviction of Cardinal George Pell on sex-abuse charges, despite the complete absence of evidence against him, was a shock and a black mark against the Australian justice system. The decision by an appeals court to uphold that verdict compounds the problem and the disgrace. The cardinal

Providence strikes again

I am going out on a limb today and providing a photo of a somewhat disgruntled grandchild. This is all about reality, however. See On Providence (or) Reflections on a trashed cookie. They say “the more things change, the more they remain the same”—but as Christians, perhaps...

On Providence (or) Reflections on a trashed cookie

Two of our children with young families gave us a “Frameo”. It is one of those electronic picture frames which displays a sequence of images that can be updated easily from smart phones wherever our children happen to be. At last count, my wife and I have fifteen grandchildren, which...

Final Liturgical Year volume for 2018-2019 available now

The final ebook for the 2018-2019 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 1st through...

Marriage at the heart of culture

If you have not followed up on Tuesday’s message, I need to tell you that Cardinal Pell’s initial appeal was denied 2 to 1 (see Cardinal Pell’s conviction upheld; Vatican, Australian bishops react). Interestingly, even more people now believe he is innocent. See, for...

Shredding the working text for the Pan-Amazon synod

The annual Synod of Bishops will meet from October 6 to October 27 this year to examine the problems of the Pan-Amazon region in South America. From the first, the Instrumentum Laboris (working document) for the Synod has been criticized as a destructive exercise in the religious and cultural...

Conversion: Intellectually satisfying, spiritually overwhelming

A short time ago, Ignatius Press published an extraordinary book—well done in every conceivable respect—entitled Faith and Reason: Philosophers Explain Their Turn to Catholicism. Edited by Brian Besong and Jonathan Fuqua, also both philosophers, the book naturally promised to be a...

Episode 48—Authority and Submission as Gift in Christian Marriage—Mary Stanford

“Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in...

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