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All Catholic commentary from January 2010

Sing of Mary

Most Catholic theologians could write a book about Mary, and though I’m not quite a theologian by training, I could write such a book as well. In fact, any devout Catholic who writes easily could probably do the same. And in each case, the book would be a combination of salvation history,...

more eloquently than the blood of abel

If abortion is not something bad, why should we be concerned to make it rare? Pro-abortion warhorses Kate Michelman and Frances Kissling try to slap the Democrats out of their mushy “family friendly” posturing and get back to the no-nonsense business of dismembering fetuses -- with no...

he has filled the hungry with good things

Sister Fran Ferder, FSPA, deplores the fact that the Apostolic Visitation of religious sisters is unlikely to involve a holy exchange of spiritual goods on the model of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth: The visitation that is upon members of women’s religious communities now bears few of...

Medjugorje: the message is unclear, but the differences are obvious

Last week CWN reported on Cardinal Christoph Schönborn’s visit to Medjugorje. Officially listed as a “private” visit, the appearance by the influential Austrian cardinal raised a host of questions: Was he intentionally calling new attention to the alleged Marian apparitions?...

The Non-Profit Matrix

I’ve been working with non-profit organizations for 14 years. In that time, I’ve compiled a matrix for non-profit formation built not only on my own experiences, but also on expert consensus. This structure, called the Non-Profit Best Practice Concurrence Matrix™ (The Non-Profit...

Merry Christmas!

No, I'm not confused about the date. And No, I'm not following the Orthodox liturgical calendar. I'm insisting-- as I do each year-- that there are 12 days of Christmas, and we shouldn't let ourselves be cheated out of the full celebration. So please: keep the Christmas celebration going through...

Today’s False Teachers

It’s time to look again at the many false “Catholic” teachers among us, who have arisen to lead the faithful astray much as did false prophets in the time before Christ. Wayward bishops, priests, religious and theologians have promoted countless destructive heresies, some of...

nil nisi verum

Glasgow priest Fr. Gerry Nugent died earlier this week. Nugent became notorious in 2006 when the body of a 23-year-old woman, murdered by a handyman, was discovered in his church. This from yesterday's UK Daily Record: During the trial, [Fr. Nugent] claimed to have had a sexual relationship...

Person of the Year?

Reading Time magazine’s annual Person of the Year issue is a good reminder that, when it comes to what makes the world tick, I just don’t get it. The Person of the Year for 2009 was Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. The runners-up were, in order, General Stanley...

a taste explosion, maybe

When I took up beekeeping a couple of years ago, little did I know that I would be handling dangerous substances.  Did you hear about the California airport that was shut down when security officials discovered bottles that tested positive for explosives?  When the bottles were...

Obama's Christmas story

Visting with little boys and girls in Washington, President Obama asked why we celebrate Christmas. The whole exchange is revealing, but one snippet in particular caught my attention: Child: I know! President: Do you know? Child: The birth of baby Jesus. President: The birth of baby Jesus,...

more on Medjugorje

Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno—who expressed his dismay about the recent visit to Medjugorje by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn—has long been critical of the Medjugorje “seers” and their messages. In December, the bishop released a lengthy analysis of the reports that...

archbuggery

Some stories paralyze parody. Milwaukee's cathedral boasts a bronze bas-relief with an image of former Archbishop Rembert Weakland, he of the durchgebohrte boyfriends and the $450,000 indent for hush-money. Objectors have been informed they...

Housekeeping: Tweaking the Model

We strongly encourage users to register for two reasons. First, when you register you can sign up to receive Phil Lawler’s daily news headlines by email, my bi-weekly Insights message which highlight key Catholic themes and the other new materials on the site, and (coming soon) a weekly...

Msgr. Graham Leonard, RIP: the Anglican bishop who pounded on the door

Take a good look at our report today about the death of Msgr. Graham Leonard, and follow the link to the obituary in the London Daily Telegraph. It’s a powerful indictment of the Catholic hierarchy in England. In 1988, when he was the Anglican Bishop of London, Leonard began thinking...

The Church Perfect

Considering the frequent criticism of ecclesiastical persons on this web site, I think it essential to consider why the Church remains so important, so special and so beautiful despite the sins of her members. This need may be greater for some readers than for others; some of our correspondents...

the system worked-- perfectly!

Rushing in where even Janet Napolitano fears to tread, Salvatore Festa, who coordinates security at the Vatican, told L’Osservatore Romano that in the Christmas Eve assault on Pope Benedict, “everything worked perfectly that night.” Let’s review: the woman who had tried to...

do the math

A special election will be held in Massachusetts next week, to fill the Senate seat that opened with the death of Ted Kennedy.  Last week, a Boston Globe poll of likely voters show the Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley, leading the Republican, Scott Brown, by a comfortable margin: 50-...

so subtle

  Do you think you can guess what the editors of the Arizona Republic think about Archbishop Raymond Burke? Go ahead; give it a try. You can read the whole story. Or maybe take a stab at it, based on the headline: Divisive bishop to speak at Red...

as the rumor mill churns

On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI met in a private audience with Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re. What's special about such a meeting? Nothing at all. The Pope meets regularly with the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, to conduct routine business. But Cardinal Re is approaching his 76th...

Speak with your authentic voice

At my company we have discussions about making sure that we “speak with our authentic voice”. Basically, this means that our marketing message must be reflective of the distinct characteristics that define our organization. How well we accomplish this goal is under constant review as...

the Massachusetts election: a pro-life dilemma

When—if ever—is it morally justifiable to vote for a political candidate who supports legal abortion? I will face that question squarely next Tuesday, January 19. That’s the date for a special election here in Massachusetts, to select a US Senator who will fill the seat left...

tip-top security

As a public service, since I know that folks at the Vatican don't always stay abreast of news on the internet, let me offer a few advanced tips for Vatican security officials: 1) Mehmet Ali Agca will soon be on the loose. He's said that he wants to visit St. Peter's Square. Last time he did that,...

psychology today

He has said that he was part of a vast conspiracy. He has said that there was no conspiracy. He has said that there was a conspiracy against him. He has offered (for $5 million) to expose the conspiracy. Mehmet Ali Agca has also offered to play himself in a movie and to hunt down Osama bin...

bronzed and fit

 A Wisconsin lawmaker had the effrontery to question Archbishop Jerome Listecki as to how the Milwaukee archdiocese regards its disgraced former Archbishop Rembert Weakland.  Grothman asked Listecki about Weakland’s current status. “Does he have any position of honor still...

The Oxford Dictionary of the Bible

If you want a quick and easy reference to the Bible, you could do worse than the second edition of W. R. F. Browning’s Dictionary of the Bible, which has just appeared. However, if you’re not a Biblical scholar (and if you were, you probably wouldn’t need this reference),...

the integrity of the... game

He cheated. Everyone suspected it; now at last he’s admitted it. Mark McGwire, who shattered baseball’s single-season home-run record, was on steroids. Now that he has confessed and apologized, some baseball journalists are inclined to forgive and forget. But a former colleague, the...

The Pope's 'green' message: not standard environmentalism

After Pope Benedict XVI delivered his “State of the World” address to the Vatican diplomatic corps on January 11, your local newspaper probably carried a headline like the one atop the story in the New York Times: “Pope Denounces Failure to Forge New Climate Treaty.” The AP story began: Pope...

Catholic scholars who aren't Catholic

In an editorial eulogizing the late Mary Daly, the Boston Globe lets the cat out of the bag. Daly “came to describe herself as a ‘radical lesbian feminist’ and a ‘post-Christian,’” the Globe notes. How, then, did she justify her position in the theology...

The Murder of a Priest

When she was twelve years old, Ruth Stephenson was found sitting on the porch of the rectory of St. Paul’s Church in Birmingham, Alabama. She lived about a block away and was very attracted by the quiet faith of Catholics as they entered and left their church each day of the week. By chance,...

Rising Road

In the In Depth Analysis section, you'll find an extensive review of Sharon Davies’ outstanding new book Rising Road: A TrueTale of Love, Race, and Religion in America, published in early 2010 by Oxford University Press. Rising Road describes the murder of Fr. James Coyle in Birmingham,...

america magazine to honor canterbury

"You must go to the place from whence you came, there to remain until ye shall be drawn through the open City of London upon hurdles to the place of execution, be hanged and let down alive, and your privy parts cut off, and your entrails taken out and burnt in your sight; then your head to...

Tips for New Business Owners

A reader requested that I provide some thoughts directed at individuals who are just getting started with their own businesses. Here is some important advice for new business owners. Make sure that you do everything necessary to legally operate your business and to limit your liability....

The Coming of Jesus Christ in the Flesh

I’ve recently been exchanging emails with a correspondent who inquired into the Catholic Church’s official stand on the possibility of salvation for Muslims. I explained that the Church teaches that any person who, responding to the grace he has been given, seeks to know God and do His...

Notes on a Stupid Murderer

Another murder arising from anti-Catholic bigotry in the early 20th century was recounted in Sharon Davies’ Rising Road, the extraordinary book I reviewed last week (see The Murder of a Priest). The brutal murder of Father Patrick E. Heslin of Holy Angels Catholic Church in Colma, California...

Are Vatican-SSPX talks heating up?

The notorious Bishop Williamson sees no realistic hope for an agreement between the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and the Vatican. He makes his point in deliberately provocative language: “Either the SSPX becomes a traitor or Rome converts or it’s a dialogue of the deaf.” Is...

seeing is believing

Procurement officers for the American and British armed forces are (OK, I'll say it) under fire after the discovery that a US company supplying gunsights for the military inscribed the devices with references to the Bible. Look carefully, and you see either "2COR4:6" or...

What happened in Massachusetts?

The Kennedy dynasty has ended. It was probably over in August, when Ted Kennedy died, because the long love affair between the Kennedy family and the voters of Massachusetts was personal rather than political. Another member of the Kennedy clan might have claimed that extraordinary legacy,...

Unpredictability and the Fate of Health Care Reform

As Phil Lawler has so eloquently written, “The Kennedy dynasty has ended” (see his sparkling and finely-written In Depth Analysis piece, What happened in Massachusetts?). That’s a point which is culturally and politically significant enough, and yet there is a certain wonder...

be careful what you pray for

A teenage boy, an Orthodox Jew, threw a flight crew into panic when he began putting on his tefillin to pray. (H/t Father Z) Prayer is still allowed on airplanes, but if you are paranoid enough, and have never seen an Orthodox Jew at prayer before, you might—if you squint really...

distorted perspectives

This week the Vatican released a draft working document for the special Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. It’s a lengthy document, covering a wide range of topics, so naturally different reporters see it from different perspectives. Still I was struck by the contrast between these two...

miles to go in Massachusetts

In a Commentary piece yesterday I offered my analysis of the shocking Senate election in Massachusetts. It was, I am convinced, a long-overdue manifestation of independence on the part of the state's voters, who have been held in thrall for years by liberal ideology and Kennedy mystique. That's...

disappearing act

Do you know how to make 100,000 people disappear? It's an easy 2-step process. Put them on the Washington Mall. Give them pro-life placards, which make them invisible to the major...

loyal Catholic nuns: speak out!

Earlier this month CWN reported on the widespread resistance mounted by American women’s religious orders against a Vatican apostolic visitation. But the resistance is far from universal. Some nuns, faithful to the Holy See and to the founding traditions of their own religious communities,...

what's the point?

“There is no point embarking on a project that is not acceptable to Rome at this point,” says the director of vocations at an American Catholic diocese, speaking about the possibility of ordaining women to the priesthood. That sentence is a minor masterpiece of misdirection. You...

UFOs in the neighbor's garage

The search for alien life forms should be conducted here on Earth rather than in outer space, scientists have claimed. My thought exactly. If nothing else, this approach will save on travel expenses for researchers. I'd start at the new cathedral in Los...

Dutch Treat

Since I’ve been trying to watch Catholic affairs carefully since 1966 (my freshman year of college), you’d think I’d know these things. But as fully aware as I was, in the years following the Second Vatican Council, of the near total drift into Modernism of the...

Worthy of a Religious Studies Program

Perhaps it was a mistake to take a second look through the Fall-Winter catalogue of the Oxford University Press. A strange book caught my eye: Children of Jesus and Mary: The Order of Christ Sophia. It’s a study in the genre of the sociology of new religious movements. Chapters are written...

Consumer Protection

When you have been around non-profits for as long as I have (my whole life) you learn that there is no such thing as a shameless plug. You don’t lose an opportunity to promote your good work (or the need to get more money to do more good work). That brings me to Trinity Communications and...

Christ is Knocking

In his message for World Communications Day, which was released on Sunday, Pope Benedict urges priests to make good use of the expressive power of digital media to “introduce people to the life of the Church and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ.” The Pope sees the...

cluelessness on the March

Let's see, now: Who would you expect to find participating in the annual March for Life?  Take your time with the answer. The mass media has had 36 years to ponder the question; you can take 36 seconds, at least.  Are you ready? The correct answer is: pro-lifers!  Did you...

Concrete suggestions for the Year for Priests

When he announced the Year for Priests, Pope Benedict said that he hoped to “deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal.” How can lay people join in that effort? Let me offer four practical suggestions. 1. Pray for priests The first order of business, certainly, is to pray for...

Australian women, living in fear

What menace cause the most tremors in the hearts of Australian women? What do they fear more than anything else? Virginity. We have this on the authority of the country’s deputy prime minister, Julia Gillard. Let me explain. In a candid discussion of his own misspent youth as a child of...

don't be strident

Have you ever watched a professional football game? It's violent. Grown men, uniformed and helmeted, smash into each other at full force. The fans-- at the stadium or in front of the television set-- roar in approval after each new collision. Trumpets blare, whistles blow, players curse and grunt...

Subsidiarity within the Church?

Since I’ve been writing more frequently about the principle of subsidiarity over the past year, I’ve received several dismissive comments that run something like this: “Perhaps it would be possible to take subsidiarity seriously if the Church would apply it to herself.” In...

two cheers for litmus tests

Chemists, I'm told, still use litmus paper to test the acidity of a mixture. Shame on them! Don't they know that a "litmus test" is no longer politically correct?  In today's common parlance, a "litmus test" is the process by which conservatives allegedly exclude from...

Does abstinence cause pregnancy? The Times makes the argument

The pregnancy rate among American teenagers (aged 15-19) rose in 2006—the last year for which statistics are available—after a decade of decline. The increase was relatively small (3%), and may indicate only a temporary reversal of the positive trend. Still the statistic is cause for...

Substantial Reconciliation

As of yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was still considering using a controversial reconciliation procedure to pass the Senate’s health care bill in the House of Representatives. “Reconciliation” permits the House to pass a version of the Senate bill...

a failure of hope

The Diocese of Albany, New York, is not giving out condoms. After reading today's top CWN headline story, I don't know why not.  The argument for distributing clean syringes is essentially the same as the argument for distributing condoms: It's no use arguing against pre-marital sex or...

no foul, no harm

A Kansas jury needed only 40 minutes to deliberate before delivering a guilty verdict in the murder trial of Scott Roeder, who killed the infamous later-term abortion specialist George Tiller.  There was never any doubt that Roeder was the man who shot Tiller in the head last May. Roeder...

The Corrosive Society

Modern man seems to live in a perpetual tug of war between the struggle to make money and the demand to redistribute it. In the United States, this tug of war is more or less accurately represented by two opposing political parties, the Republicans who are more focused on creating wealth, and the...

Ralph McInerny, RIP

Ralph McInerny, one of the most memorable figures on the American Catholic scene, died this morning in South Bend at the age of 80, after a long illness. He will be sorely missed. For more than 50 years he taught philosophy at Notre Dame, and he ranked among the world's leading Thomists. (It is...

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