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All Catholic commentary from March 2011

The End of Paralysis

For a long time, many practicing Catholics and others who hold fairly traditional values have been afraid to assert themselves in the public square, even as the social order has disintegrated around them. This is because each new assault on the natural law has been undertaken in the name...

Canon 915 comes first

During the past few weeks Edward Peters, the noted canon-law expert from Detroit’s Sacred Heart Seminary, has been engaged in a running online debate on a familiar topic: Whether politicians who are in gross public violation of Catholic moral norms should be allowed to receive...

Does a fallen soldier deserve more respect than an abortionist?

The Westboro Baptist Church is a nasty little bunch of fanatics, who gain publicity for their fundamentalist views in a particularly loathsome way: by picketing the funerals of fallen American soldiers. But 8 members of the US Supreme Court have agreed that even this repellent form of public...

Fathoming the Mercy of God

When I was a professor at Christendom College in the early 1980’s, I had an outstanding student named John Janaro, who also played bass in our little swing band. About the time John graduated, I left Christendom to start Trinity Communications, which began life as a book publisher. One of our...

John Janaro's Book on Mercy

Please note that I have reviewed a spiritually illuminating new book by John Janaro, professor emeritus of Theology at Christendom College, entitled Never Give Up. This is a highly personal yet universally appealing account of the author's own struggle to see God's mercy through a combination of...

Providence and Realism

In his Angelus address for February 27th, Pope Benedict noted how important it is to trust in God’s providence, and how wrong are those who think that such trust is somehow “unrealistic”. The Holy Father did not elaborate much on the point, but it seems to me to be tremendously...

Death and Solidarity

Shabhaz Bhatti is dead. He was murdered in the name of the Tehrik-e-Taliban coalition by an Islamic militant “for speaking out against the blasphemy law”. Bhatti was Pakistan’s federal minister for religious minorities. He was a Catholic. Just a few months ago, when a fatwa was...

the sex-abuse crisis: more revelations, more misconceptions

Among the news offerings of the past weekend, three stories remind us that the ugly era of the clerical sex-abuse scandal is not nearly over. The New York Times shines the spotlight on the Philadelphia archdiocese, where a grand jury has charged that Church leaders have allowed priests to remain...

Shhh! Not now! Some other time! And not then, either.

The bishops of New York met today with Governor Andrew Cuomo. In light of the highly publicized flap recently over Cuomo's decision to receive Communion-- despite the scandals caused by his relationship with a live-in girlfriend and his support for legal abortion and same-sex marriage-- you might...

Human Judgment and the Neutral Public Square

Did you ever stop to consider that no moral or political judgment can be made without reference to the nature, purposes and ends of the human person? There is a kind of theory, or perhaps more properly simply an “aura”, surrounding modern liberal democracies which causes us to imagine that a sound...

A Public Strategy for Bishops

The primary responsibilities of a bishop are, of course, to teach, rule and sanctify in his diocese. Part of the teaching office, however, is to guide Catholics in their public responsibilities, to articulate the principles the laity are to keep in mind as they seek to promote the common good...

the news you won't read today

Just a few quick thoughts today, on stories that you won’t be reading in your local newspaper. Governor Pat Quinn revealed that he consulted the Bible and the writings of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin before finally deciding to sign a bill that abolished the death penalty in...

Be careful what you ask for

For nearly 20 years now—since long before the mainstream media noticed the sex-abuse scandal within the Catholic Church—I have been calling for exposure of the corruption, and an end to the cover-up. But there are limits to the value of public disclosure, and now the most recognizable...

Don’t Kill Those Who Can Feel Pain

I couldn’t help but notice last Wednesday that Oklahoma has followed Nebraska and Kansas in attempting to pass a law which protects unborn children capable of feeling pain. In Nebraska, this has become law, but in Kansas and Oklahoma it has thus far gotten through only one of the two...

A Study of the Creighton Model

Kaitlin Carruth is recruiting participants for an international study on natural family planning and the Creighton Model. The study will evaluate the Creighton Model and compare it to other family planning methods. This research study is being done at the University of Utah School of Medicine. I...

The Catholic Approach to Scripture

One of our users, who is in the process of converting from a Protestant background, asked me to comment on some things she was taught about Scripture in her RCIA class. In particular, she was concerned about statements that some parts of Scripture she had taken literally in the past were not...

Gay Marriage and the Glories of the World

In late 2010, the Pew Research Center released a study of support for gay marriage in the United States. Based on interviews with 6,000 adults, 42% favor same-sex marriage while 48% are opposed. But a year earlier, only 37% were in favor and 54% were opposed. It’s a trend which tracks...

Is it ever justifiable to lie?

The bold pro-life activists of Live Action have been spectacularly successful in unmasking Planned Parenthood, and demonstrating how the world’s leading abortion provider shows its cool indifference to the welfare of young women. But the group’s unusual tactics—arranging...

Futile Care Policies and Catholic Health Care

Wesley Smith’s First Things column on the danger of hospital futile care policies sounds an alarm (Proposed Futile Care Hospital Policy Would Allow Committees to Overrule Patient Advance Directives). Smith is rightly concerned that a model Futile Care Protocol is to be promoted in the...

Debunking the 'gospel conspiracy' theory

As Lent advances and Holy Week draws near, we can safely predict that the radical intellectuals of the “Jesus Seminar” will soon be making their annual appearance in the headlines. Each year, as devout Christians prepare to observe their most solemn holy days, these dissenters make a...

God’s Community of Love—and Ours

It is hard to prove the Trinity from the Old Testament, but there are obscure hints of it in various places which, in the light of Christ, become luminous themselves. For example, in Genesis 18, we are told that “the LORD appeared to” Abraham “by the oaks of Mamre,...

Catholics and Gay Marriage: Caution with Numbers

Our Catholic World News story is headlined Practicing Catholics more likely than general public to back homosexual unions, and we report that: Only 31% of Catholics who attend Mass at least weekly oppose granting legal recognition to homosexual unions, according to a new report by the Public...

Benedict’s Second Volume and the Historical Critical Method

Jesus of Nazareth Part II is out, and I’m working my way through it, not only to pass along the highlights but for spiritual reading. The Pope’s first volume (see Benedict’s New Book, The “Our Father” according to Benedict, and A Final Note on Benedict’s Jesus...

The Courtyard of the Gentiles

A new initiative of the Pontifical Council for Culture called “the Courtyard of the Gentiles” is designed to invite all men of good will to explore ultimate questions and come to know the one God. We’ve been covering this in Catholic World News (see, for example, Vatican plans...

Ecclesiastical Discipline (such as Who Preaches at Mass)

A reader recently asked me a question about women giving the homily at Mass, which had occurred twice recently in her parish. I was surprised, because, well, that sort of thing is so seventies. Wayward pastors, get a grip! There might have been some excuse for breaking rules and experimenting...

Ratzinger’s Gift: Faith-Filled Exegesis

Perhaps the most important thing about Pope Benedict XVI’s second volume, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, is that it raises the bar for Biblical exegesis. Scholars may be shocked by this statement, but I’ll say it again. Benedict XVI is giving us a remarkable example of how reading,...

CRS doesn't distribute Bibles. Is that good news?

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has resumed humanitarian operations in Darfur. For the 400,000 people at risk of starvation in that devastated Sudanese province, this is good news. But for me the news is problematical. CRS had been asked by the Sudanese government to suspend its work in Darfur,...

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