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All Catholic commentary from June 2013

Setting a New Jesuit Tone

The appointment of Peter French Ryan, SJ to the key doctrinal post for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is very interesting indeed. Fr. Ryan, who once served on the Board of Directors of the Cardinal Newman Society, is a high-profile advocate not only of doctrinal fidelity but of a strong...

As Much Dignity and the Same Legal Effect as Marriage?

I appreciate the (Anglican) Archbishop of Canterbury’s refusal to countenance the redefinition of marriage. Archbishop Justin Welby criticized pending legislation for abandoning “marriage as a normative place for procreation” and for undermining the understanding of the family as...

Please call an ecumenical council to discuss my book!

Well, stop the presses! An Australian prelate, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, has called for a new ecumenical council to address questions related to sexual abuse. It will take a worldwide council to get the job done, he said, because sweeping changes are needed. This clarion call by Bishop Robinson...

If this is the New Evangelization, why isn't the general public invited?

Since last Sunday, when Pope Francis led a worldwide hour of Eucharistic adoration, several readers have contacted me to complain that in their own parishes, no plans had been made to join in the initiative. This negligence, my friend said, showed that their pastors were not in tune with the...

Some priests were notified about the worldwide Eucharistic adoration

Responding to my On the News comment about the Vatican's failure to provide advance notice of the worldwide hour of Eucharistic adoration on June 2, a friendly priest from Oregon tells me that I was mistaken. In his diocese, he informs me, priests were notified on May 15 about the Vatican's plans,...

Loving to Discipline: The Case for Excommunication

It seems to me that it is time to reconsider—again—whether bishops ought to excommunicate Catholics who lead the way in promoting or implementing policies which are clearly contrary to the moral law. Just now Andrew Cuomo would make an excellent case study. Should he be the poster boy...

Life in a sect?

I realize that anecdotal evidence can be misleading. One can find unpleasant anecdotes about pretty much any person or group. But the following message, which we received from a young woman raised in an SSPX family, seems fairly typical and dovetails with a very real canonical, theological and...

A comedian for the New Evangelization?

A Washington Post writer wonders whether comedian Jim Gaffigan is an example of the New Evangelization. If the point of the New Evangelization is to make jaded inhabitants of the First World take a fresh look at the Catholic faith, then the answer is probably Yes. Countless comedians have grown...

Zero is a minimal number

Although Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin pleaded for the Irish government to allow a “conscience vote” on the legalization of abortion, the Irish Times reports that he “appeared to shy away from talk of excommunicating politicians” who vote for the proposed legislation. Actually...

Irish Politics, the Whip Hand, and Moral Courage

Some readers may be confused by today’s news story on Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s refusal to allow a “free” vote on impending abortion legislation. Irish Archbishop Diarmuid Martin had insisted that legislators in all parties be permitted to vote according to their...

Want to be known as the 'religion of peace?' Act the part.

A spokesman for Egypt’s Al Azhar University says that Pope Francis should proclaim Islam as a religion of peace. I wonder if he would accept this suggestion as a friendly amendment: First, Islam should become a religion of peace. Then the Pope should proclaim it so. No deal, I'm...

And what is Islam, anyway?

Phil Lawler rightly says Islam should become a religion of peace before Islamic scholars ask Pope Francis to declare it one. But there is a deeper problem as well. How can anyone tell what the religion of Islam really is? Is Islam the religion professed by many of the intellectuals, including...

Why is Tim Tebow a 'polarizing' figure?

Here in New England, the big news on the sports pages is the Patriots’ signing of Tim Tebow. I have now read umpteen times that Tebow is a “polarizing” figure in the football world. Why? Is it because football analysts have sharply differing assessments on Tebow’s value as a quarterback? If so,...

The Pope's Harleys

A confident prediction: this fluffy little news piece, about a blatant corporate publicity stunt by Harley Davidson, will draw more readers than any other CWN headline story today. A question: What do you suppose the Pope will do with a Harley? Next question: What does anyone do with two...

What should our attitude toward other religions be, anyway?

My little City Gates item, “And what is Islam, anyway?”, produced surprising reactions. Some emphasized that Islam is a lie from first to last, about which nothing good should ever be said. And some took exception to my perceived criticism of Islam (along with every other religion...

Assessing Our Own Guilt

I would like to call attention to the sermon preached by Pope Francis after the Rosary in St. Peter’s Square closing the Marian month of May. The Holy Father upheld Mary as a model of Christian life, in particular because her attitude may be summarized by three words: Listening, decision,...

Want advance notice about Friday fast intentions?

Each Friday recently, the CWN headlines have included an announcement about a call from the US bishops for prayer, fasting, and abstinence from meat, in support of a particular cause. (This week’s cause is fatherhood, as today’s CWN story explains.) Several readers have asked whether...

Worried about the Pope's unscripted statements? Relax. He knows what he's doing.

By now we know that Pope Francis enjoys talking without a script. His fondness for extemporaneous comments makes him an interesting subject for journalists. But it worries quite a few Catholics, who fear that an ill-chosen phrase from the Pontiff could cause troubles for the Church. Indeed some...

Those Harleys again

Yesterday was “Evangelium Vitae Day” at the Vatican: a day when Pope Francis, surrounded by pro-lifers, sent the world a much-needed message about the Gospel of Life. Yesterday was also the day of the Harley-Davidson motorcade to St. Peter’s Square: a nice commercial plug for a...

News coverage of the Vatican: the blind leading the blind

This gem comes to us from USA Today, in an article that—jumping the gun a bit—reflects on the first 100 days of the new pontificate: "Tackling the Roman Curia — the Vatican's main administrative bureaucracy — will probably wait until October, when Francis is likely...

“Illegals” are not “Immorals”: A Persistent Immigration Fallacy

Whenever the USCCB dares to advocate policies which provide for easier immigration and naturalization (e.g., here), a few of our readers shout an argument which I devoutly hope never again to hear from anyone claiming to be Catholic: “We don’t owe illegals anything!” Many...

Excellent critique of bias in New York Times abortion coverage

The New York Times provided front-page coverage for the vote in the US House of Representatives on a bid to ban late-term abortions. Unfortunately it wasn’t news coverage. It was a thinly disguised editorial, argues Joe Carter in a devastating critique on the Patheos site. The vote was...

Thankfully, electing a pope is not like electing a president.

I couldn’t help but reflect on these two points, made some distance apart, in Phil Lawler’s sensible reassurance about the Pope’s unscripted statements:  [1] Pope Francis is a very intelligent man, and he was chosen by his fellow cardinals to be Roman Pontiff because they...

More on Immigration: A Contemporary Case of Corban?

My recent commentary on immigration (“Illegals” are not “Immorals”: A Persistent Immigration Fallacy) drew an unusually intense response, both in Sound Off! and by email. Please note that I sometimes received more than one printable comment from a single reader, but it...

We Can’t Afford Children, Can We?

The immigration debate I’ve stirred up has been heated and difficult. I would like to wrap it up here, for the moment, because the time has clearly come for prayer and reflection. I have just two quick points, which touch on some broader implications:  Several people have argued...

Does Jimmy Carter want to change the way God thinks?

Former President Jimmy Carter says that “major religions” (care to guess which ones he has in mind?) have “discriminated against women in a very abusive fashion” by failing to ordain them as priests. But don’t worry; things are getting better. Carter tells Time that...

Another adventure in journalism: the non-ordination of non-Catholic non-priests

Let’s start with the first sentence of the WJLI news report: “Even though the Roman Catholic Church has a new pope, there’s no sign of change in letting women be priests.” You might not like that opening sentence; it hints at the possibility that a new pope might have...

Reality, Science, God: The Need to Learn How to Know

The key to the proper use of all branches of human study is the correspondence of a discipline’s methods with its object of examination. For example, it makes no sense to study history with the scientific method, as if we can do experiments to prove whether our understanding of the past is...

The Supreme Court on Gay Marriage: A Quandary of Confusion

With respect to gay marriage, the United States Supreme Court today refused to enter into the issue of defining marriage, and instead used considerations of State authority to resolve the cases before it. The immediate result favors supporters of gay marriage. The long-term result is uncertain,...

Obama won't press churches to accept same-sex marriage... yet

President Obama promises that he won’t try to force churches to solemnize same-sex marriages. That’s what he says now, in 2013. How long do you suppose he’ll hold to that promise? In 2008, as a presidential candidate, he said that he couldn’t support legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Now...

Ask yourself WHY the proposed law would shut down nearly every abortion clinic in Texas

Can you imagine the unbridled fury that would erupt if pro-life demonstrators created chaos in a state capitol building and made it impossible for the presiding officer to sign a bill expanding access to abortion—a law that had been duly approved by the legislators? That’s what...

Apologetics: Give Me that Old Time Authority Principle

Recently a very intelligent layman asked me why I had written somewhere that Anglicanism had no “authority principle”, when in fact the Anglicans do have bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury. For years I have referred to Catholicism’s “authority principle”...

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