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

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Analysis of news events and trends.

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Celebrates positive work by Catholic individuals and organizations.

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On who can and cannot be ordained

When I wrote about what everyone can do to end the abuse crisis, a few people took issue with my emphasis on the homosexual nature of the crisis. Perhaps it is time to explain not what bishops and seminaries have been doing about this, but what the Church has been instructing them to do since...

In denial about not ordaining homosexuals?

I won’t bore you with the details, but every time the Vatican issues an instruction stating that those with clear homosexual tendencies should not be admitted to the priesthood, there follows a plethora of articles—including some in L’Osservatore Romano itself—in which the...

Should Pope Francis resign? I say No... but...

Should Pope Francis resign? Like my colleague Jeff Mirus, I say No. Since I have often been critical of the Pope—not least in my book Lost Shepherd—I’m sure many readers will be surprised by my answer. Let me explain my reasoning. If public pressure forces Pope Francis...

Improving the Church

Are we serious yet? If so, I can list Five things every Catholic can do to end the abuse crisis. You probably recall that key American Church leaders were set to meet with Pope Francis on Thursday. As Phil Lawler asked on Wednesday: Does the Pope want the truth? Thursday’s meeting will...

Five things every Catholic can do to end the abuse crisis

When I wrote that faithful Catholics “need to spend more time in prayer and sacrifice than in advocacy for a papal resignation” (see Pope Francis: The resignation scenario), I received notes from only a very few people who disagreed. These few asserted that it was a very good thing to...

Msgr. John Sanders, the priest who played with Duke Ellington

Earlier this week, I made a visit to Our Lady Queen of the Clergy Retirement Home in Stamford, CT to interview Msgr. John Sanders, who played with Duke Ellington for five years and then became a Catholic priest. Msgr. Sanders’s memory was not up to a full podcast interview on the day I...

Does the Pope want the truth? Thursday’s meeting will tell.

As Pope Francis meets on Thursday with leaders of the US bishops’ conference, one question looms more important than all others: Will the Pope authorize an apostolic visitation of the American hierarchy? An apostolic visitation—a full investigation, under papal...

The surpassing relevance of Mary’s Jewish roots

Brant Pitre just won’t quit, and we should be grateful. Image Books (Random House) has just sent me an uncorrected proof of the fourth in his series of books exploring the Jewish understanding of key Messianic texts at the time of Christ. The purpose of the books is to shed greater light on...

A meeting of the world’s bishops to talk about abuse? Please, not more talk. Action!

Pope Francis has called the leaders of the world’s episcopal conferences to Rome, to “speak about the prevention of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.” Great. The meeting will take place next February—more than five years after the Pope announced his plan to set up a...

Progress in reform or sorrow

I have identified a handful of stories in the past few days that suggest slow (yes SLOW) progress on the abuse crisis. These involve: The timetable on the Vatican’s knowledge of Cardinal McCarrick’s record of homosexual abuse. The continuing decline in Cardinal...

Quick Hits: Small Advances on Abuse Crisis

Matters have been unfolding slowly since Archbishop Viganò’s revelations about the Church’s handling of the homosexually abusive Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. But here are three straws in the wind: Timetable on McCarrick Confirmed: Two portions of the timetable have been...

The Wisdom of Solomon: Written for the 21st century?

Although I jumped into the Book of Sirach briefly to make a point about the abuse crisis, my intermittent series on the books of the Bible saw its last installment—on the Song of Solomon—back in July. It is time now for the Wisdom of Solomon, usually referred to simply as...

Just an awkward headline?

The headline on the Associated Press story is provocative: Vatican Official: Sex abuse scandal is church’s ‘own 9/11’ But is the headline accurate? Read on: A top Vatican official says the clerical sex scandal is such a game-changing catastrophe for the Catholic Church...

Turning up the heat

Everybody has an opinion, so let’s start with somebody whose journalistic sense has been on target for decades. Phil Lawler applies the kind of consistency test we need to use when all the charges have not yet been substantiated. See: The track record supports the Viganò...

When the topic is abortion, the facts don’t matter?

On his Twitter feed, Father Alek Schrenk calls attention to an editor’s note, appended on an article in The Atlantic. The article, written by Moira Weigel and published early in 2017, scoffed at pro-lifers who advocate ultrasound exams for pregnant women. After its publication, this...

Pope Francis: The resignation scenario

I am currently reading a detective novel by David Hewson, A Season for the Dead, which touches in part on deep financial and sexual corruption within the Vatican. It was published in 2004 when the financial corruption was well-known though not, perhaps, the other. But the two often go hand in...

The track record supports the Vigano testimony

At several points in his bombshell testimony, Archbishop Vigano explained where the corroborating evidence could be found: in files at the Vatican or the offices of the apostolic nuncio. If those files are made public—or even vetted by a reliable, objective investigator—we would all...

A welcome lull in the storm

We are experiencing a lull in the abuse storm as everyone figures out what to do next. In an interesting side-spat: A papal spokesman claimed Pope Francis was not briefed by Archbishop Viganò before his meeting with Kim Davis in the United States... ...whereas Archbishop...

I’d rather be an angel...or would I?

For CJP who, with the courage of friendship, has advised me to have a heart. On the way to Mass this morning, I was reflecting (as is my wont) on the idiocy of all those who do not see things as I do. Fortunately, I find it difficult to maintain a completely self-righteous posture in my sleepy...

The Vigano report and the Kim Davis distraction

Pope Francis asked journalists to investigate the charges in the Vigano testimony, and draw their own conclusions. That’s fair enough—although it’s certainly surprising that the Vicar of Christ would not at least deny participating in what would amount to a repudiation of his own...

Authentic renewal, here we come

There are few developments in the abuse crisis since Tuesday, so perhaps it is time to focus on Catholic renewal. But first a little break: In our Podcast, Thomas Mirus interviews Corey Olsen, “the Tolkien Professor”, about a new online program in imaginative...

The crisis: Déjà vu all over again

[This is an abridged version of a letter I wrote to ecclesiastical authorities after the Boston Globe revelations in 2002. I received no response. I think the letter—after sixteen years—remains painfully relevant today after the McCarrick debacle.] The “priest crisis”...

Dear bishops: please spare us waffling statements

Here’s a hot tip for any bishop considering a public statement on the current mess: Put some teeth in it. If you issue a mild, dispassionate statement—hoping to keep out of controversy—you won’t just sound wimpy. You’ll sound dishonest as well. Given the facts of...

On the abolition of women…and men

Fiorella Nash, a bioethicist in the United Kingdom, has a new book out entitled The Abolition of Woman. It’s a valid thesis. But I want to take it further, because even though more women than men are being physically destroyed, it is not just women who are being abolished, but men as...

Lady Dumbello’s discretion

For relaxation during these turbulent days, I’ve been reading Trollope’s Framley Parsonage. Toward the end, the novelist recounts the great success of Lord Dumbello, a peer of uncertain morals, who finds the perfect wife. She is beautiful, her bearing is stately, and best of all, while...

What I predicted, 25+ years ago

Yesterday I spoke at length with Al Kresta about the sex-abuse scandal in general and the Vigano testimony in particular. The whole interview is available here. Al is thoughtful, faithful, and literate; I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, and I think you will, too. During the interview Al,...

Alas, poor Cupich. I knew him, Horatio.

I trust most readers will recognize my title as a modified line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the graveyard scene in which Hamlet and Horatio come across the late court jester’s skull. As a child, Hamlet had known and liked the jester, whose name was Yorick. Hence the line delivered while...

There’s a quick way to learn the truth about Vigano’s accusations

Kudos to Father Raymond de Souza, who noticed something that the rest of us had missed. In a Catholic Herald column, Father de Souza explains how the release of the Vigano testimony affects the US bishops’ plans: The American bishops have already asked Pope Francis to appoint an...

Archbishop Vigano's charges

It’s what Phil Lawler deserves for taking a vacation, I suppose—big news, constantly breaking. But now he catches us up on what has transpired since Archbishop Carlo Viganò testified about the cover-up of sexual abuse at the highest levels. This includes Pope...

So Pope Francis CAN act quickly on cover-up charges, when he wants to

Archbishop Vigano has responded quickly and effectively to the charge that he sought to squelch charges of sexual misconduct by Archbishop John Nienstedt. (I suspect that when he released his testimony, Archbishop Vigano knew this attack would be coming, and he was ready for it.) He notes that...

Did the Book of Sirach pinpoint the Church’s abuse crisis?

“What is the difference between the scandals of the Church of the 16th and 17th centuries and the Church of today? The lust, narcissism, pride, and abuse of power are pretty much the same. The difference we see now lies in the nature of the lust. We are forced today to face the tragic...

The Vigano bombshell: some perspectives

The testimony of Archbishop Vigano is, from my perspective as an editor, the most important Catholic news story since the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. (And by the way those stories now seem related.) The past few days have seen an unprecedented outburst of editorial commentary, and...

In a time of crisis, unfortunate tag lines

1) Introducing an interview with Cardinal Blase Cupich, a Chicago TV anchor referred to the “explosive allegations” in the testimony of Archbishop Vigano. But the cardinal himself told the interviewer that the Pope was “not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.” He...

Responding to abuse

Phil Lawler is back from vacation. He explains how each bishop should respond to sex abuse: There are only 2 things an American bishop can say now.... Meanwhile, at least one reader berated me for reminding everyone of the Divine character of the Church despite the sins of her...

A serious rapid-fire credit card attack in late July

To help us cover the costs of strengthening our defenses, please make a donation now. The last three weeks have been “interesting”. On July 27th and 28th, while I was innocently visiting the family of my oldest son in the Dallas area, CatholicCulture.org suffered a sustained...

There are only 2 things an American bishop can say now...

The Pennsylvania grand-jury report was released on the very day that I had chosen (long beforehand) to begin a week-long vacation. I had vowed that it would be a real vacation—that I wouldn’t hop back to post news items on this site—and I held to that vow. Still I could not...

McCarrick: story the secular media don’t want to pursue?

Julia Duin, who worked for some years as the religion reporter for a secular newspaper, now wonders aloud why the mainstream media haven’t followed up obvious leads on the McCarrick scandal. The Catholic News Agency has found several priests to confirm that “everybody knew” about...

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