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All Catholic commentary from January 2011

unblushing brides

The dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was married on January 1, in a ceremony held at St. Paul’s cathedral in Boston and witnessed by Bishop M. Thomas Shaw of the Episcopal diocese of Massachusetts.  The dean’s spouse is a woman. That would be...

The Vatican and Money Laundering

A personal reaction, if I may, to the highly-touted adoption of anti-money laundering laws and procedures by the Vatican (see Pope sets out new rules for Vatican banking transactions): First, while the Vatican had already been moving step by step to be in compliance with the financial safeguards...

An editorial quandary: What do you think?

Last week we faced an interesting editorial decision. I’d be interested to know whether Catholic Culture readers would agree with the way we resolved the question. The question, in a nutshell, was whether or not we should publicize a very offensive video that might appear as an ad during...

On Love and Fear

I actually succeeded in listening to the readings at Mass today, or at least almost. No sooner had I made the resolution to really concentrate on the Liturgy of the Word than I found myself awakened from various preoccupations by the need to join in the responsorial psalm. The first reading was...

no way

Commenting on efforts by disgruntled parishioners to reverse parish-closing decisions in the Boston archdiocese,  Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the Boston Archdiocese, said he sees "no possible way that the [parishes] would ever reopen in any form." To be fair to Donilon,...

pop the cork

The 112th US Congress has convened on Capitol Hill, and for the first time since 1946, there isn't a single member of the Kennedy family on the roster. Got any champagne left over from New Year's...

The Evolution of the Sex Abuse Scandal: A Multiplication of Wrongs

It will be interesting to see what turn the sex abuse scandal will take now that stories are emerging which provide a more comprehensive view of the interpretive possibilities, not of abuse itself but of its aftermath. For example, there may be an alternative to Diocesan bankruptcy in the...

Our Lost World: Anthony Esolen on Killing the Imagination

Anthony Esolen is rapidly becoming one of my favorite contemporary writers. I first encountered Esolen when I read his brilliant 2007 study Ironies of Faith, a marvelously engaging and profound introduction to great literature. Now Esolen is back with what we might consider a more pragmatic title:...

Baby Jesus and freedom from fear

During this Christmas season I have been thinking quite a bit about babies. Not only because we’re celebrating the birth of the Christ Child (and that celebration isn’t over until Sunday; don’t stint!), but also because of the birth of my first grandchild on the day after...

Anthony Esolen on Destroying Imagination

You'll find my review of Anthony Esolen's new book, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, here: Our Lost World: Anthony Esolen on Killing the...

Overheated political rhetoric: did someone say 'demonizing'?

Shamelessly exploiting a genuine tragedy, liberal political commentators are blaming their conservative counterparts for creating a "climate of hate" that allegedly contributed to the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. They say that American political rhetoric should be toned down--...

Accommodations in Converting Muslims

The hostility of the Arab Islamic world to Muslims who convert to Christianity is so great that it creates severe tactical problems for missionaries. Even when the governments in power do not take action against a convert, individual citizens may do so as an implementation of the idea that all...

The religious illiteracy of secular reporting

 Just when you think that reporters in the mainstream media couldn't possibly show any more ignorance about religion, along comes a story to prove you wrong. This time it is the oh-so-respectable BBC. In an otherwise unenlightening commentary on Sarah Palin's use of the term "blood...

Assessing the Messiah

Did you know that there is a strain of Judaism which believes it has found the Messiah in a Rabbi named Menachem Mendel Schneerson? This movement is known as Chabad, the name of the Hasidic community Rabbi Schneerson led from 1950 until 1994. Schneerson, who was a distant relative of the leaders...

protecting children--from what?

Father Joseph Waters, the rector of the cathedral is St. Petersburg, Florida, seems to have an unfortunate knack for exposing himself to criticism. But leaving aside past controversies, the latest round of criticism—coming from parents who are upset about what the priest might have said to...

Santo Subito: a rush to judgment?

The Vatican’s approval of a miracle attributed to the intercession of Pope John Paul II has triggered criticism for three reasons. First, because everything the Vatican does or says will trigger criticism in the current climate of anti-Catholic triumphalism. Second, because the quick pace of...

Heroic virtue: memories of John Paul II

When you think of Pope John Paul II, what memories come first to your mind? For me, there is Christmas Eve in the year 2000, standing in the pouring rain in St. Peter’s Square surrounded by my family, at the culminating moment of our Jubilee pilgrimage, waiting for the Pope to celebrate...

religious illiteracy, meet NFL coverage

If you're a Catholic who follows NFL football, you've probably heard that Troy Polamalu, the safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is a devout Roman Catholic.  It makes for a good story. But it's not true. He's devout, yes; and it is a good story. But he's not Catholic. Polamalu is...

True Crime at the Vatican

Among all the world's countries, which one has the highest reported rate of crime? Vatican City. It makes for an interesting offbeat news story, but if you hadn't thought of the Vatican as a dangerous place, don't start worrying too much just yet. The statistics are skewed since there are...

A canonical bombshell

Thomas Peters, who blogs for CatholicVote.Org, has a very provocative post calling attention to the argument made by his father, the canonist Ed Peters, that permanent deacons in the Roman Catholic Church are included in the general rule that requires "perfect and perpetual...

JPII: A Trend of Confidence and Grace

Like most Catholics I have my own thoughts about the upcoming beatification of John Paul II. Perhaps because I was trained as a professional historian, I tend to assess things in terms of trends. To me, therefore, one of the most important points about the pontificate of John Paul II is that the...

that devil celibacy made him do it

 A Catholic priest in England, convicted of downloading 740 pieces of child porn, told a court that celibacy was to blame. His legal advocate explained: “He has never had a chance to explore his sexuality. It has remained bottled up and boxed up and he thinks it may be to do with...

Lowering Your Risk of Divorce

According to statistics developed by the National Marriage Project, and highlighted very creatively using infographics on the Fast Company design web site, there are six major factors which reduce a couple’s chance of divorce: Improve your earning power: Earn more than $50,000 per...

test your cynicism

Here's a short 2-question quiz to test your degree of cynicism. The facts: A Boston attorney whose firm specializes in sex-abuse lawsuits against the Catholic Church has released the names of over 100 accused priests.  The attorney says that he did so to serve the cause of truth. Nearly all...

treasures in earthed vessels

Forward-thinking Anglicans (is there any other kind?) are asking the General Synod to change the wording of the baptismal ceremony as practiced in the Church of England.   The problem, says Rev. Dr. Tim Stratford of Liverpool, is with “language not being earthed enough.” A...

Smoking gun? No. But damaging? Yes.

Did an Irish television documentary produce a “smoking gun,” proving that the Vatican had a worldwide policy encouraging bishops to conceal sexual abuse by priests? No. But did the documentary show damaging evidence that some Vatican officials nourished a culture of secrecy that fed...

You are the man.

An English playwright, capitalizing on BBC's celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible to promote his own peculiar agenda, has announced his belief that King David was homosexual. Uriah the Hittite was not available for comment. Showing his erudition as a student of the...

the birds, the bees, and the tubes

Savor this opening sentence from a Washington Post article on Catholic health-care institutions, mentioned today in our CWN headline coverage: In Texas, a Catholic bishop made two hospitals cease doing tube-tying operations for women who are not going to have more babies. A "tube-tying...

Ex Corde Ecclesiae in America

This year each Catholic college and university president will meet with his local bishop to review institutional progress in implementing The Application of Ex Corde Ecclesiae in the United States, which the American bishops put into effect in 2001. This application grew out of Pope John Paul...

no mandate from the Times

 Last Friday, January 21, a New York Times editorial chastised the Vatican for failing to promote a worldwide policy that would require bishops to report any charges of sexual abuse by clergy to local law-enforcement officials. That sounds like a good idea,...

The Rights and Laws of Suicide

The recent European Court ruling that it is a fundamental human right to freely commit suicide raises all kinds of questions. In another context, the very image of a tiny body of men and women getting together to make up fundamental human rights would be highly amusing. But of course, this is just...

If a pro-lifer falls in the forest,...

•  Yesterday tens of thousands of mostly young Americans marched in Washington, DC, calling for an end to abortion. • Also yesterday, hundreds of protesters marched in Tunis, calling for a clean sweep of the Tunisian government. Which of these public demonstrations received more...

Sigh.

One tries to put one’s best foot forward. One crafts things as carefully as possible. One seeks to make the most effective case. And then one sends out a fund-raising message which, once the reader gets through about two-thirds of it, starts over again from the beginning. Sigh. For me,...

Ecumenism: The Conversion Question

At Vespers on January 25th, Pope Benedict stressed the obligation each Christian has to work for Christian unity. That is clearly true, of course; after all, Our Lord prayed that His disciples might all be one. But the difficulty of the task and the desire to avoid offending people often leads to...

The argument from (anti-Catholic) authority

There’s nothing particularly original about the arguments presented by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof in his condemnation of Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix. In fact, there’s very little argumentation of any sort in the Kristof column. The Times columnist makes not the...

an unsung hero of the pro-life movement

This year Larry Filiault organized a busload of pro-lifers from around Greenfield, Massachusetts, to attend the March for Life in Washington, as he had done so many times in the past. But this year Larry himself couldn’t make that trip. Surrounded by his family and nourished by the...

The Angelus: Responding to the Will of God

I found myself meditating briefly on the Angelus recently, and what came most forcefully to mind is how this prayer portrays the immense fruitfulness of cooperating with the will of God. It is traditional to recite the Angelus three times a day, at six in the morning, noon, and six in the evening....

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