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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.

On the News
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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Book and media reviews.

On the Good
Celebrates positive work by Catholic individuals and organizations.

Featured Authors

The Lambert case, and more

Before I get down to business, I want you to know that Phil Lawler has just received an honorary doctorate from Thomas More College! Here is Phil’s interesting reflection on the honor: Don’t call me ‘Doctor Lawler’—yet. Also, it is important (to me) for everyone...

Starting the New Testament, with St. Matthew on the Messiah

Having finished my brief commentaries on the books of the Old Testament and wrapped them up into a cozy (and free) ebook, I find that I am ready to begin a similar series of reflections on the books of the New Testament, beginning with the Gospel according to Matthew. But while I can foresee...

Don’t call me ‘Doctor Lawler’—yet

When I was asked to deliver the commencement talk at Thomas More College, I accepted the invitation immediately because I love the place. Only later did I learn that I would also be receiving an honorary doctorate, and I probably can’t convey how delighted I was by that honor. Many years...

Trials? Relax into joy

One of the signs of a reviving Catholic culture is renewed interest in the great 20th century Thomist, Fr. Reginald Garigou-Lagrange. Thomas V. Mirus interviews Matthew K. Minerd, who is among those driving this renewal. Listen to: The Catholic Culture Podcast, Episode 38—The...

A touch of whimsy for Catholics

I don’t know about you, but there are days when I just want to enjoy myself. It is unhealthy to spend all of our time moaning about the state of the Church and the world when so many other pursuits are possible. There was once a young priest in our parish who, according to legend at least,...

The ‘distraction’ of priestly celibacy

In the five weeks that have passed since Pope-emeritus Benedict published his letter on the roots of the sex-abuse scandal, critics of the former Pontiff have been remarkably successful at repressing his message. Their strategy has been to question the propriety of Benedict’s...

Making the best case for that open letter on papal heresy

John Rist, perhaps the most distinguished scholar among those who signed the open letter charging Pope Francis with heresy, has explained his action in an interview with the National Catholic Register. I would strongly urge all concerned Catholics to read the entire interview. Rist is an...

Episode 38—The Sacred Monster—Matthew K. Minerd

The name of Garrigou-Lagrange has long been a byword for a fusty, rigid Thomism of days gone by, allegedly more concerned with centuries of accretions built up by scholastic commentators than with the original teaching of the Angelic Doctor...

Spiritus mundi, Spiritus Dei

Earlier this week we learned of a strange protest on the part of Catholic women in Germany, loosely associated with the abuse crisis. But I must issue a warning, as German Catholic women, in thrall to the world, boycott Mass. If this is the Spirit of the World at work, then Phil Lawler...

German Catholic women, in thrall to the world, boycott Mass

This may be stating the obvious, but there is a great deal wrong with the widely-supported decision of German Catholic women’s groups to boycott Mass and refuse Church work in order to protest episcopal inaction on (a) sex abuse, and, wait for it, (b) women’s ordination. It is one more...

The most inspiring story I have covered

From time to time someone asks me to name the biggest story that I have covered (probably the death of Pope John Paul II), or the most surprising story (easily, the resignation of Benedict XVI). Only rarely am I asked to name the most inspiring story. My answer to that question might surprise many...

New ebook collection on the books of the Old Testament

In the Spring of 2017, I began to reread the Old Testament in order to note down the particular insights about each book which occurred to me as I entered the fullness of what Scripture calls man’s three score and ten. As the task unfolded, I began to write up these reflections and post them...

New guidelines on abuse

Before we get into the theme of today’s message, let me mention a new project idea we are testing. We are hoping to release a series of readings (in audio form) from the Fathers of the Church. Tell us what you think of this ten-minute sample: St. Ignatius of Antioch’s Letter to...

St. Ignatius of Antioch’s Letter to the Romans on his way to martyrdom

Later this year, CatholicCulture.org is hoping to launch a series of free audiobooks of the Fathers of the Church, performed by actor James T. Majewski. If you have 10 minutes free, we could use your feedback on this test run, a recording of the letter to the Romans by St. Ignatius of Antioch...

Cardinal Müller on the Truth

Gerhard Cardinal Müller, who served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 2012 to 2017, has sometimes been compared with his great predecessor, Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), who not only appointed him but filled that position himself from 1981 until his election...

Good points and bad in new Vatican sex-abuse guidelines

The new canonical norms for the handling of sex-abuse complaints, issued by Pope Francis today, resolve some of the problems that have contributed to the scandal. Other important problems, unfortunately, remain unresolved. The bulk of motu proprio, Vos Estis Lux Mundi, is appropriately...

Harassment at an abortion clinic

Congratulations (of a sort) are due to Rep. Brian Sims, a Democratic member of Pennsylvania’s state legislature. He has done something that other pro-abortion fanatics have failed to do. He has captured videotape of harassment outside an abortion clinic. Hasn’t it ever struck you...

Once the crazy talk starts, it is hard to stop

The pope who took office in 1958 when I was ten was Pope Saint John XXIII. He died when I was in high school and so, understandably, he was the first pope whom I considered at all in relationship to the tensions in the Church of which I was slowly becoming aware. I remember that some people...

Episode 37—Sculpting Two Benedicts—Jago

The young Italian sculptor Jago is best known to Catholics for his marble bust of Pope Benedict XVI, which the Pope himself awarded with a pontifical medal. Upon Benedict’s resignation, Jago radically reworked the piece into its current...

Renewal in spite of ourselves

Did you know that growth in holiness in the Church depends on the Providential tension between the Church’s Divine and human elements? This is important not only generally, but in specific relation to the efforts to depose Pope Francis. I explain in On saving the Church by...

On saving the Church by breaking the tensions intrinsic to the Church’s life

The furor over the question of how we should respond to Pope Francis’ alleged heresies reminds me of the tensions between the human and the Divine which run all through the Church, and the Faith, and Christian thought. In nearly every case, it is a refusal to be willing to live with this...

Ill-judged reactions to Pope Francis

Just a few moments ago, Phil Lawler issued his assessment of the scholars who have charged Pope Francis with heresy, concluding that they have done far more harm than good. See: Is the Pope a heretic? The danger of asking the wrong question. Sadly, in the wake of these charges, there is...

Is the Pope a heretic? The danger of asking the wrong question

Was it sheer frustration that prompted a group of Catholic scholars to issue their open letter charging Pope Francis with heresy? If so, I can understand. I share the frustration. The silence of the Catholic hierarchy, in the face of confusion that is tearing the Church apart, is maddening. If...

His Excellency Theodore Hesburgh

If you received a review copy of the impressive new biography of the famous Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame—the university president who firmly set this Catholic university on the spiritually devastating road to secular prominence—you may have hesitated to expend the effort to read...

Theories that Francis is not the Pope (or can be deposed) destroy the credibility of the Church

This essay, originally published on November 7, 2017, explains why any effort to depose the pope or declare that he has automatically been deposed through heresy is not only untenable but fundamentally damaging to the Church. It is possible, of course, to advocate that a particular pope should...

Episode 36—Bridges to Hell or Heaven: “Toxic Femininity” and the Spirit of Anti-Mary—Carrie Gress

One of the core things that has gone wrong with our culture in the past several decades is the denigration of every virtue associated with the perfect woman, Mary. Gentleness, humility, (true) beauty and especially motherhood: these are all...

Nationalist revival?

The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences is hosting a conference this week on what it sees as a recent backlash against internationalism. But will they understand what is at stake? See my latest: The Pontifical Academy’s assessment of the “growing threat of a nationalist...

The Pontifical Academy’s assessment of the “growing threat of a nationalist revival”

It is interesting that the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences is hosting a three-day conference designed to shed light on what it sees as a growing nationalist revival throughout the world. The Academy’s announcement discusses various forms of national identity and the rise and potential...

The cardinal who clings to power

Cardinal Angelo Sodano met with Pope Francis today in a private audience. Which gives us another occasion to note that Cardinal Sodano remains the Dean of the College of Cardinals, at the age of 91. Since the new Code of Canon Law came into effect in 1983, and with it the expectation that aging...

From Lent to Easter

After a short break, I returned to find that the Insights message I queued up on Tuesday of last week (April 16th) did not reach most people: A processing failure! In addition to providing all the Triduum links in that message, I had highlighted the following: A major new commentary by...

Why a ‘superdicastery’ for evangelization is not a good idea

After six years and 29 working sessions (each stretching across three days), the Council of Cardinals is finally ready to unveil its plan for reorganizing the Roman Curia. A preview report, based on interviews with two of the cardinals on the Pope’s advisory committee, the new plan...

Joe Biden, Catholic candidate or non-Catholic minister?

For several decades now, pro-life Catholics in the US have been asking why our bishops don’t impose canonical penalties on politicians who support abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and other policies that clearly violate the Church’s teachings. The standard dodge employed by...

Even at Easter? On spiritual fasting, according to St. Francis de Sales

At the very end of Lent I discovered the sermon given on Ash Wednesday of the year 1622 by St. Francis de Sales. Better late than never! This sermon was given as part of a series to the religious women in the Order of the Visitation, or the Visitandines, which St. Francis founded with St. Jane...

Dialogue with an Atheist

A famous atheist, British professor Richard Dawkins, holds that atheists are generally smarter than Christians. Atheists might be more humble than Christians, too. Dawkins, the world’s most famous atheist, supported a bus ad campaign with the relatively humble slogan, “There’s...

Mandatory vaccination: a danger to religious freedom

If I told you that police in New York had been ordered to bar Jewish children from public places, would you be alarmed? You should be. And it happened. No one said that the order was directed specifically at Jewish children. But that would be the primary effect of a policy announced last month...

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