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All Catholic commentary from March 2018

Is it wrong for women religious to serve priests and bishops?

I don’t know about you, but I’m both bemused and confused by the denunciation of women religious serving bishops in a recent edition of L’Osservatore Romano’s insert devoted to women. The magazine insert is a rather predictable creation of the current pontificate, edited by...

What is the law? When can we ignore it? Part 1: True Law

Civil authorities make many bad laws. This is an inescapable part of the human condition. The majority of bad laws are simple failures of prudence: These laws do not, for a wide variety of reasons, accomplish the ends for which they are enacted and, in the process of not accomplishing those...

The accusations of Cardinal Cupich: name names, please

In his latest column for the Chicago archdiocesan newspaper, Cardinal Blase Cupich—who styles himself as a champion of civil dialogue within the Church—lashes out at people who disagree with Pope Francis: For this reason, it is not surprising that we occasionally hear voices,...

Quick Hits: Catholicism in China and Germany; Cardinal Sarah’s intemperate critics; a demographic disaster

Catching up on must-read articles, after a whirlwind week of travel and interviews, punctuated by a snowstorm that knocked out our electricity for a day: My friend Father Bernardo Cervellera, the director of the AsiaNews service, explains that skepticism about a proposed Vatican deal with...

What is the law? When can we ignore it? Part 2: The Common Good

In Part 1 of this article, I tried to explain that what we call a law is actually not a law if it lacks one of the four causes necessary to create a law: (1) Public promulgation, by (2) the proper authority, in order (3) to effect the common good, and taking the form of (4) a precept of reason in...

Vatican reforms are stalled. The question is: why?

“Unfortunately, more than four years into his pontificate, Francis has failed to advance the cause of reform.” That sentence, written several months ago, is from my chapter, “Stalled Reforms,” in Lost Shepherd. Now that we’re at the five-year mark, my analysis looks...

Quick Hits: Mary’s influence on culture, the need for digital independence, and more

At her blog, The Marian Option author Carrie Gress describes “Why Mary is the Best Promoter of Culture”. She quotes the Protestant Henry Adams: “The twelfth and thirteenth centuries were a period when men were at their strongest; never before or since have they shown equal energy...

What is the law? When can we ignore it? Part 3: Natural Law

The money question in this series on the nature of law is: “When are we morally obliged to disobey a law?” The answer is: “Whenever it commands us to take an action which is morally contrary to the natural law.” As in the preceding two installments, we recognize that such...

A painful but necessary book explores the pain felt by children of divorce

Since these days I’m impatiently waiting to see reviews of my new book, I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m only now calling attention to an important book that was published last May. But—better late than never—I would strongly urge all readers, and especially Catholic...

What was that letter from Pope-emeritus Benedict really about?

So what’s the real story behind the letter from Pope-emeritus Benedict? First, Msgr. Dario Vigano sent the former Pope a set of new books on the theology of Pope Francis, asking for a favorable comment. That was in January. The former Pope declined to comment on the books. In fact he...

Picking up papal themes: Discernment and accompaniment

Discernment and accompaniment are buzzwords now in Catholic circles, and that’s not surprising. Key themes sounded by each pontificate are picked up quickly throughout the Church as ways of focusing Christian witness in whatever manner the Holy Father believes needs special emphasis. So it...

St. Patrick: the patron saint of parish closings?

(This column, written six years ago, is re-posted annually by popular demand.) Needless to say, there is no patron saint of parish closings. The closing of a parish is a tragedy. A parish church is more than just a building. It is a repository of memories: of the children baptized there, the...

Passiontide and Veiling of Images

From the archives: This is a repost from Passiontide 2016. Yesterday when I dropped my son off for classes at the homeschool co-op in the neighboring parish, we noticed the veiled statues around the church and chapel. Our parish doesn’t follow this tradition, so it was a wonderful...

Papal continuity or discontinuity? The Vatican PR team scores on its own goal

Last week the Vatican published a series of short books on the theology of Pope Francis. You probably haven’t heard much about those books. But you’ve heard quite a bit about the controversy that erupted after they were unveiled. If the Vatican had only announced the publication of...

Job’s Controversial Innocence

The Book of Job is a fascinating study of the Jewish grasp of the problem of good and evil in the period following the Babylonian Captivity. While the book teaches a valuable lesson, it is a somewhat negative one—that, in the first place, we cannot know whether someone has been good or evil...

K of C installs ultrasound machines across North America

For almost ten years, the Knights of Columbus have been paying for ultrasound machines to be purchased and installed in pro-life centers throughout the United States and Canada. In America, the machines have now been installed in all 50 states. Since the Ultrasound Initiative began in 2009, it...

Quick Hits: Two crucial decisions in Ireland, and a plea for bishops to speak out

As Ireland prepares for a referendum vote on a bid to allow for unrestricted legal abortion, the indefatigable David Quinn writes in the Irish Catholic about the moral obligation of the faithful to support the right to life. He also provides an intelligent answer to the vexed question of how...

Practical Atheism

We often hear people say they no longer believe in God because there are so much evil and suffering in the world. They may add that they find the deeds of Jesus inspiring, but He spoils it all by saying that “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will...

The war against Africa: Ideological colonialism

I have long been convinced that those who seek political office are, as a general rule, morally unfit to rule. We could make an example of almost any historical regime to illustrate this thesis, for nearly every ruling group, whatever good it may have done, has deliberately led (not followed)...

When bishops don’t fulfill their duties

Year after year the Religious Education Conference (REC) in Los Angeles produces a new raft of horror stories: accounts about speakers who gleefully dismiss the established teachings of the Church, cheered on by an audience composed largely of people who are paid, by one American diocese or...

Notice how the male contraceptive pill would work

A scientist working to develop a male contraceptive pill is optimistic about a new drug, known as DMAU: “DMAU works by interrupting the signal between the brain and the testicles, Page said.” There may be a better metaphor to express, in a nutshell, 21st-century manhood. But...

A Church of kids: Will the Synod on Youth get it backwards?

I am one of those who is not sure whether to laugh or cry at the effort of the Catholic Church to devote a Synod of Bishops to youth. It goes without saying that the Church can do many good things with and for young people. But the prospect still raises all of my red flags. Sure, I’m a...

Celebrating in the Home for the Holy Triduum

I did not mean to be silent so long, but Lent came early for me, and I’ve been struggling with my eyes and migraines since January. In turn, this has hampered my computer time. With the final push of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week, I don’t have anything too original to write....

Confusion—now about hell—is the hallmark of this pontificate

Okay, Pope Francis probably did not say: “There is no hell.” But that’s the headline story for today—for Holy Thursday. And while maybe the interviewer is responsible for an inaccurate quotation, the Pope himself is responsible for the ensuing confusion. The Vatican,...

From confusion to heresy: how papal statements are exploited

“Pope News” tweets: Why are some people so keen on being certain about the existence of Hell? Do they need the fear factor to be good? Massimo Faggioli responds: This euphoria about hell (for others, of course): the theological version of winning is the only thing...

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