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All Catholic commentary from October 2017

Quick hits: Hitchens on Martin, Spaemann on Seifert, Douthat on Hefner by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 2, 2017

Easing back into business after a relaxing weekend, here are a few columns that you shouldn’t miss: Writing in First Things, Dan Hitchens examines the clever rhetorical strategy of Father James Martin, who never quite denies Church teaching on homosexuality (or the ordination of...

Samuel: A spiritual and political tale of two kings. Part two: David by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 3, 2017

I have already identified the two books of Samuel as a tale of two kings, and I have amply demonstrated the constant waffling between good and evil which characterized King Saul. Even in the First Book of Samuel, it was obvious that David was constant in his respect for and service to Saul,...

Come hear Phil speak: at Hillsdale College, October 5 by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 4, 2017

Will you be—or can you be—in the vicinity of Hillsdale, Michigan, tomorrow (Thursday) evening? If so, I hope you’ll attend my talk at Hillsdale College, sponsored by the Dow Journalism Program. I’ll be speaking on “Faithful Catholicism in a Hostile Culture.” That’s Thursday, October 5, at 8 pm,...

Why the Church still operates under a cloud on the abuse issue by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 4, 2017

The timing is far from perfect. As the Vatican convenes a major international conference on protecting children from abuse, there’s a shadow over the proceedings, caused by the abrupt recall of an official at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, DC. To be more specific, the focus of the...

Catholic Justice: When the Church should not defer to the State by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 6, 2017

Phil Lawler introduced a legitimate question when he explained on Wednesday Why the Church still operates under a cloud on the abuse issue. In light of the Church’s continued poor handling of abuse cases, and despite frequent promises to do better, Phil commented on the latest scandal as...

Notice something missing? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 9, 2017

When Australian bishops huddled last week with Vatican officials, the top item on the agenda was an Australian royal commission’s inquiry into sexual abuse of children. Take a look at the announced list of Vatican officials involved in the discussions. Two top officials from the...

The Power and Poverty of Words by Fr. Jerry Pokorsky in "On the News" - Oct 10, 2017

In his confrontations with the Pharisees, Jesus repeatedly unmasks their hypocrisy—from their personal external observances, designed to be noticed, to their relentless critical evaluations of others. It is easy to pay lip service to God’s commands, but the measure of true obedience is...

The folly of Kings, 1: Authority, infidelity and Providence by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 10, 2017

The two books of Kings* in the Old Testament are essentially a survey of the history of the tribes of Israel under the monarchy. Actually, this quickly became two monarchies, that of Israel and that of Judah. In general, the focus is on the kings and their lineage, whether they served God or not,...

Francis takes aim at Jonah for rigidity—and misses again. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Oct 11, 2017

At Mass on Tuesday, Pope Francis took off on yet another flight of rigidity fancy. Preaching on Jonah’s grumbling efforts to prophesy to the Ninevites, the Pope identified Jonah as the epitome of rigidity—the antihero of all those who fail to appreciate God’s mercy. But the Holy...

Scrapping the ‘theology of the body,’ and a new model for priestly ministry by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 11, 2017

Reporting on a conference at Boston College , in which Amoris Laetitia was discussed by an impressive group of liberal Catholics—representing the full range of opinion from A to B—Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter reveals that the group was ready to jettison the...

Victimhood and responsibility: Fargo’s critique of feminism by Thomas V. Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Oct 12, 2017

Fargo, Noah Hawley’s anthology series inspired by the classic 1996 Coen brothers film, has been one of television’s most acclaimed dramas since it began its run on FX in 2014. It has rightly been praised for its innovative cinematography, surprising music choices, sharp writing and...

Beware of false compassion in implementing Amoris Laetitia by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 13, 2017

Can you name someone—someone you know personally—who has divorced, remarried, and is now an active Catholic parishioner, receiving Communion regularly? (For now let’s not worry about whether or not these individuals have obtained annulments. You probably couldn’t be certain...

The conversion of Russia: maybe not as we expected it by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 13, 2017

All through the Old Testament and into the New, God surprised his People. We shouldn’t be caught off guard, then, if He still has surprises in store for us today. Elijah encountered God not in wind or the fire or the earthquake, but in the small still voice. [1 Kgs 19:11-13] The Messiah...

Human respect: Not only a sin in our time, but a theology by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Oct 17, 2017

Not long ago I described the Book of Jonah as a cautionary tale against “human respect”. I did not consider at the time how confusing this term can be today. I intended “human respect” to be recognized as a grave sin, yet many assume it to be a fundamental good. I need to...

Connect the dots by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 17, 2017

This week brings the sad news that a Cistercian monastery in Germany, founded in 1134, will soon be closed. There aren’t enough monks to keep the venerable institution going. And in other news, across the country in Ravensburg, as part of an ecumenical festival, a Catholic pastor has...

Vatican’s financial-misconduct trial was a step backward on transparency by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 17, 2017

At last, a Vatican prosecutor has obtained a conviction on financial-misconduct charges. Unfortunately, the conviction looks like a step backward for the cause of financial transparency. For months now, the Vatican has been under pressure to bring criminal charges for financial misconduct. In...

The Church in Europe: ‘kept in the sacristy’? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 19, 2017

Next week COMECE (the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community) will open a three-day conference on the future of Europe. The timing is auspicious: the conference falls on the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which began the construction of the European Union. And it...

The folly of Kings, 2: Divine justice, Divine mercy, and true hope by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 20, 2017

After the First Book of Kings, the reader steels himself against the Second Book. It summarizes the reigns of the remaining kings of Israel and Judah up to the Babylonian captivity, the vast majority of whom are summarily dismissed because they “did what was evil in the sight of the...

In rebuke to Cardinal Sarah, Pope contradicts himself by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 23, 2017

Once again Pope Francis has announced a change in canon law—without making a change in canon law. In his letter to Cardinal Sarah, made public on October 22, the Pope says that some provisions of Liturgiam Authenticam “have been abrogated,” and the entire 2001 document...

Caveat emptor? Sandro Magister, Robert Sarah, Charles Chaput on Pope Francis by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 24, 2017

Magister on The Last Things That inveterate Vatican-watcher Sandro Magister wrote an excellent column on Friday entitled “World’s End Update. The ‘Last Things’ According to Francis”. He began by noting that Pope Francis’ atheist interviewer, Eugenio Scalfari,...

Quick Hits: Composer-Doctors of the Church and more by Thomas V. Mirus in "The City Gates" - Oct 24, 2017

Most Catholics know St. Alphonsus Liguori primarily for his pious meditations such as those in his Way of the Cross. His contributions to moral theology also gained him the title of Doctor of the Church. Far fewer people know that he was also a composer and harpsichordist (among several other arts...

Quick hits: AP’s hidden assumptions, a canonical mismatch, Spinoza’s excommunication by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 25, 2017

Terry Mattingly, who writes perceptively on media coverage of religion, often notices that reporters are tone-deaf regarding matters of faith. Then, at other times, Mattingly notices how reporters slip their own prejudices into their coverage. So, for instances, he asks his readers to notice this...

What makes a good book? The case of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 26, 2017

This is a brief and very paradoxical review, because Silas S. Henderson’s new biography of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga is in several important senses a very good book. Yet one wonders if academicians who write books think much about what makes a book really good. Or whether their publishers...

The crisis of pastoral leadership by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 26, 2017

Some weeks ago, a friend told me about his reactions to an ETWN movie about the life of St. John Paul II. In particular, my friend responded to a scene in which the young Father Karol Wojtyla confers with his bishop. The conversation was remarkably pious, he said; the young priest and his bishop...

Halloween is for Catholics by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Oct 27, 2017

From the archives, originally written October 2015: It’s the return of the annual controversy of whether Catholics should celebrate Halloween in a secular way. As a parent trying to do the right thing, it’s a struggle to find the correct balance for their own family. I wrote a long...

On the lunatic fringe, Francis is not the Pope by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Oct 27, 2017

It has finally happened. I’ve received an email from a sincere reader explaining that Pope Francis is not the Pope, because Pope Benedict really never resigned. Hence, Pope Francis is an anti-pope. In this case, the argument is that Pope Benedict resigned only from being “a bishop...

For All The Saints by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Oct 30, 2017

I did not plan on taking such a long sabbatical from writing, but “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Our summer became unexpectedly busy for our family. Ever since my brother’s ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) diagnosis I mentioned at the end of May, we have...

Want to nudge someone toward holiness? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Oct 31, 2017

It is rare that I find a new and simple book aimed at spiritual development which I really believe will be of much use to anybody at all. The pitfalls are legion, but the two most common today are the twin temptations to break things down into baby concepts and baby steps, as if God’s...

The unhealthy distraction of Msgr. Byrne by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Oct 31, 2017

A dozen years ago, a prominent priest of the New York archdiocese wrote in Commonweal that “my early questioning of celibacy has been confirmed.” Celibacy, announced Msgr. Harry Byrne, was a “distraction.” Today Msgr. Byrne, now retired from ministry, was indicted on 37...

Luther left the Church. Today, dissenters stay. by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Oct 31, 2017

Whatever else you might think or say about Martin Luther, give him credit for this much: having broken with Catholic teaching, he broke away from the Catholic Church. Today’s dissenting Catholics rarely show the same consistency. Even after rejecting the fundamentals of Catholic doctrine, they...