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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.

In Depth Analysis
Extended commentary and thoughtful Catholic essays on complex topics.

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Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

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Celebrates positive work by Catholic individuals and organizations.

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Darkness and Light

More people than should be are concerned about Frederic Martel’s alleged exposé In the Closet of the Vatican. You can trust Phil Lawler to get it right: A wretched ‘tell-all’ Vatican exposé that tells us only one thing. Sadly, of course, most of us have...

Redeeming the time: Christianity for knaves and fools like me

I don’t know about you, but I frequently flash back to particular times in my life when I behaved foolishly or even sinfully. I’m pretty sure I remember every moment of youthful arrogance in which I treated others badly, and perhaps it goes without saying that I still have skeletons...

A wretched ‘tell-all’ Vatican exposé that tells us only one thing

“I don’t often talk about my own life in my books,” writes Frederic Martel, near the close of his sensationalistic In the Closet of the Vatican. Reading that phrase, I laughed out loud. The humor was unintentional; Martel takes himself very seriously. Still in light of the...

Episode 32—Antoni Gaudí, Patron Saint of Architects?—Gabriela Gonzalez-Cremona

For many people who have never been to Spain, their only image of the country may be the strange spires of Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia, designed by Antoni Gaudí. It is certainly the best-known building in Spain, despite still not...

Christian ups and downs

In a very helpful homiletic essay, Fr. Jerry Pokorsky opens this week with a meditation on confidence in our Faith. Read: Transfiguration and confidence. I'm getting close to completing my articles on the books of the Old Testament. The latest is 1 Maccabees: A shift in understanding...

1 Maccabees: A shift in understanding salvation history

The two books that close the Old Testament, 1 and 2 Maccabees, are among the most enjoyable to read and the most difficult from which to draw lessons. They are enjoyable because they are all action adventure, covering the remarkable exploits of a priest named Mattathias, along with his sons and...

Transfiguration and confidence

Self-confidence, properly understood, is spiritually healthy. With an honest and well-formed conscience, we should all strive for an unshakable faith and confidence, without arrogance, that is rooted in Jesus. A letter to the editor in Catholic World Report many years ago gave a wrenching...

Walking a bumpy road with Christ

Perhaps I shouldn’t have gone on that walk last night. It gave me inspiration for a major new analysis piece. See: Bent on evil: How do we explain human culture run amok? Meanwhile, Phil Lawler has sadly noticed that Pope Francis shows no regret over a shocking appointment. Right...

Bent on evil: How do we explain human culture run amok?

The other evening on our (almost) daily walk, my wife mentioned a recent talk given by a public librarian who was expert on fiction for teens. One of the points made by the speaker was that the overwhelming majority of the books that came across her desk featured gender-confused young people who...

Pope Francis shows no regret over a shocking appointment

Was Pope Francis sending a subtle message to his critics this week? Or have I become a bit paranoid about papal statements? You decide. In a statement of condolence after the death of Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Pope Francis summed up the ecclesiastical career of the Belgian prelate in two...

Four late minor prophets, plus Jonah as a bonus

Wrapping up the so-called minor prophets in rough chronological order, we will now look at those who prophesied after the Babylonian Exile. Ranging from about 520 BC into the 300s, these prophets tend to be more specifically Messianic. It is almost as if the pre-Messianic time is growing short. As...

Episode 31—Some Jazz You Should Hear

You may or may not know that I have a background in jazz piano (I wrote and performed the intro and outro music for this show, for example). In this episode I introduce you to about ten of my very favorite jazz albums. This is an experimental...

Our own neuralgic points?

One very fine resolution for Lent would be to read or listen daily to a lesson in faith from Bishop Fulton Sheen. See my review of the new printed edition of Your Life Is Worth Living. This is a printed transcription of a brilliant 50-lesson audio series. I also tell you where to find the...

Tongue-tied bishops—is it fear of retribution?

John Allen of Crux does his best to be balanced, but he can only do so much. When he suggests that “Vigano may have made it harder to get to the truth on McCarrick“, he can’t avoid implying that many American bishops are keeping their silence, rather than demanding a thorough...

Life Is Worth Living: The Message of Fulton Sheen

In the mid-1950s, Bishop Fulton Sheen became the Catholic voice of America with his groundbreaking television series, Life Is Worth Living. But there was a second series with the same title, recorded only in audio in 1965 and released just after the close of the Second Vatican Council. The...

Struggling through Lent

Even as we enter Lent with our personal plans for prayer, penance and charitable work, the trials of being a Catholic will accompany us too. For example, Phil Lawler calls attention to the trial of bishops usurping the role of the laity in politics. See A statement the Tennessee...

Churchmen, out on a limb again, defy the world

It is one of those days. I am finding it difficult to get excited about much of anything, and I am not sure what the problem is. After all, just look at the dramatic news stories from the past three days: First, on the matter of the common good: In a stunning statement on Wednesday from the US...

The minor prophets: Varied voices, including our own

In discussing the twelve “minor prophets”, I began last time by treating the three who were active in the eighth century before Christ. This time I will take up what I call the four “exilic” prophets, that is, those whose mission fell during the period just before or during...

A statement the Tennessee bishops shouldn’t have made

The Catholic bishops of Tennessee have recommended against support for a “Heartbeat Bill,” on prudential grounds. The bishops may be right in their political judgment. But even if they are, they had no business issuing their statement. In that statement, the bishops make it quite...

For the Church Christ founded

Given the egregious sins of her leaders, it can be hard to remember our Church was founded by Christ. There is no other place to go! As a timely reminder, I have just released the second video in our “How do we really know?” series, including collateral reading: Video: How do...

How do we really know Jesus Christ founded a specific Church? (audio track from video)

This is the audio track from the second installment of our How Do We Really Know video series, for those who prefer audio only. To view the video or consult the supplementary print resources which are listed for each episode, go to the video entry page. Previous in series: How do we know...

How do we really know Jesus Christ founded a specific Church?

In the second video in the How do we really know? series, I examine the evidence for Christ’s specific foundation of the Catholic Church, exploring the expectations of the Jews, the connections in Our Lord’s teachings with the idea of a church, the evidence for the actual foundation of...

Unresolved issues

In the aftermath of the Vatican meeting on abuse, we can see how many important issues remain unresolved. As Phil Lawler points out in his analysis, A failed Vatican ‘summit’ only postpones the final reckoning. I noticed a debate on our Facebook page about the role of...

Are those who experience same-sex attraction prone to abuse?

I noticed on our Facebook page that there was a brief discussion of whether or not those who experience same-sex attraction are predisposed to sexual abuse. Without considering the distinction between abuse that is legal and abuse that is illegal, the answer is “yes” of...

A failed Vatican ‘summit’ only postpones the final reckoning

As I predicted a week ago, the ballyhooed Vatican “summit” on sexual abuse has produced little more than strong statements: statements of the sort that the Catholic laity have come to expect… and to mistrust. The bishops who gathered in Rome last week did nothing to address...

The preposterous case against Cardinal Pell

Cardinal Pell has been convicted of molesting two young men. One of those alleged victims, who is now deceased, denied having been molested. Think about that for a moment: the cardinal stands convicted of a crime that, according to the supposed victim, did not occur. There’s another...

Episode 30—What Tolkien’s Visual Art Tells Us About His Creative Mind—John McQuillen and Holly Ordway

While Tolkien’s brilliance as a world-builder and storyteller is well-established, fewer people are aware of just how unique (and obsessive) his creative process was, or that he was a gifted visual artist. That is changing thanks to an...

Summit over, time for Lent

It is too early to assess the more long-lasting results of the abuse summit in Rome. Talk of best-practices is clearly inadequate. Effective follow-through will depend on spiritual depth...and teeth. The needed spirituality is the theme of Fr. Jerry Pokorsky’s pointed commentary: The...

The Orchestra Analogy: One Divine symphony, no restarts

That great twentieth-century evangelist, Bishop Fulton Sheen, had a brilliant ability to come up with examples and analogies to make Catholic teaching easier to understand. One example is the analogy of the orchestra that he used to explain Original Sin. We all understand that the sins of Adam and...

The Bishops and their Confessions

Confession is good for the soul. A good Confession identifies every mortal sin (nature and number) to the best of one’s ability. The priest usually does not need to hear the details, unless certain circumstances are necessary for purposes of clarification. A penitent should provide...

Liturgical Year Volume 3 Released: LENT

Lent (the only liturgical season with a name that is also a four-letter word!) begins on March 6th, and so the Lenten volume of our ebook series for the 2018-2019 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This third volume in the annual series covers the entire season of Lent,...

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