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All Catholic commentary from July 2012

The Certainty of Catholicism

On Friday evening, a broad summer storm front roared through Virginia and Maryland at speeds up to 80 miles per hour. My wife and I went out on our screened porch to experience the storm when we first heard the rush of the wind, but we quickly realized this was not where we wanted to be. We...

Vision Book Cover Prints

The Synod of Bishops, an Instrument of Collegiality

With the appointment today of the presidents for the 2012 Synod of Bishops—in this case cardinals from Hong Kong, Mexico and the Congo—it might be useful to review exactly what the Synod of Bishops is. In a nutshell, the Synod is an instrument of episcopal collegiality which grew out...

The 'God particle'

Although I don’t pretend to understand the implications, physicists’ discovery of the Higgs boson (or something very much like it) makes for a fascinating story. Not least because Fabiola Gianotti, speaking for the term that discovered the subatomic particle, made an interesting...

No 'Creator' in Obama's Declaration?

Phyllis Schlafly notices that when he quotes a famous line from the Declaration of Independence, President Obama regularly drops a few words from the text. It doesn’t seem to be a careless error, she remarks: “Obama has done this so often that it can't be a slip of the tongue or a...

The mountain was in labor and…

…the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), joining with other religious groups, brought forth a joint Position Paper on Cohesion Policy. Read the full text if you dare. If you can stay awake, and if you can understand what they’re saying, you might have an...

Chief Justice Roberts and his conservative defenders: too clever by half

In the week that has passed since the stunning Supreme Court decision on Obamacare was released, many of my conservative colleagues have tried to explain the opinion by Chief Justice Roberts as a hidden gem: a stealth victory for the cause of limited government. Those explanations—like the...

Living the Will of God: Vocation, Avocation, and Moment to Moment

As many of my long-time readers know, I enjoy sailing small boats. As a result, I’ve also read a good deal of literature by and about sailors. Much of this comes from full-time live-aboard sailors or those who have circumnavigated the world in smallish craft. It’s a life that brings...

A Crisis in Personal Responsibility, a "Defect in Private Duties"

Samuel Johnson said, “Almost all the miseries of life, almost all the wickedness that infects society, and almost all the distresses that afflict mankind, are the consequences of some defect in private duties.” No matter where we start to look at our present situation—personal...

Ought we to beware of history? I'm afraid so.

A recent note in Chesapeake Bay Magazine reminds us of problems in the writing of history. This is from the issue for July 2012: “No, Captain John Smith and his merry crew didn’t make it all the way up the Susquehanna River…. Nor did the famous explorer make it past the fall...

On Faith, Reason and Proper Method

Here is Bishop William Poynter’s (1762-1827) fine explanation of how different approaches to truth complement each other, in particular the proper uses of both faith and reason. This delightful extract comes from Fr. Saward’s anthology of The Spiritual Tradition of Catholic...

The secret report on transparency

The irony is palpable in yesterday’s AP story about the report submitted by European banking inspectors regarding Vatican financial procedures. The story begins: The Vatican got a report card Wednesday on its efforts to be more financially transparent — but it's a secret for now. OK, we...

Are You Eliciting Derision and Admiration?

In reading the first chapter of Saint Paul by Pope Benedict XVI, I am struck by his turn of phrase regarding the response to Jews and Judaism in the Roman Empire during the time of that great apostle. “[The Jews’] beliefs and way of life, as is still the case today, distinguished...

Joseph Augustine Di Noia: A Faulty Traditionalist Condemnation

Readers have called my attention to the Traditionalist denunciations of Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, since he has been appointed Vice President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, and of Archbishop Gerhard Müller, now that he has been named Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of...

Gerhard Ludwig Müller: Another Faulty Traditionialist Condemnation

Archbishop Gerhard Müller—the brand new Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—has also come under Traditionalist attack. A case in point is the July 9th Remnant Online blog entry, New Head of CDF Dissents from Certain Doctrines of Faith?, by “a concerned...

Booklet on Maria Goretti, and More

This is just a little late for Saint Maria Goretti’s feast, which was last Friday, July 6th. However, one of our readers, Christopher Cafferty in London, has alerted me to the easy electronic availability of the Catholic Truth Society pamphlet about Maria Goretti, which was first...

Preventive care? Preventing what?

This isn't an original question, I realize. But in light of the Obama administration's insistence that women need "preventive care" such as contraception, it seems worth asking again:  What disease is it that the Pill...

Another form of priestly abuse recognized: liturgical abuse

The Post-Dispatch headline on the suspension of Father William Rowe in Belleville, Illinois, announces that Father Rowe has been barred from preaching. But that’s really not the point. The point is that Father Rowe has been barred from celebrating Mass. And the reason is simple: The...

A Cautionary Tale about Fatherhood

John Caldwell was a Texan who married an Australian, a man of incomparable drive and raw courage, and a determined atheist. His story is fascinating, but it raises enormous questions. Caldwell and his wife, Mary, were married in Australia during World War II, but were immediately separated by...

More on Archbishop Müller: Attacked by Modernists

As a postscript to my comments on the orthodoxy of the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, please note that within minutes of his appointment, Catholic journalists were receiving denunciations not only from Traditionalists but also from Modernists. Indeed, Modernists...

Obama's 'September surprise' for American Catholics

If Barack Obama is a clever politician, he will soon offer the US Catholic bishops another “compromise” on the HHS contraceptive mandate. Such a gesture could boost the President’s chances for re-election, and obviously Obama would welcome that result. The proffered compromise...

Facing the People: Cardinal Burke’s Opinion

I found Cardinal Raymond Burke’s lament over resistance to Summorum Pontificum interesting, but for a reason you might not expect. Cardinal Burke definitely decried the lack of cooperation by bishops in some dioceses with the Pope’s desire that the extraordinary form of the Roman rite...

Rules for Good Catholic Social Teaching

Last year’s convention of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars was devoted to “Catholic Social Teaching and Economics”. The proceedings have just been published, and the lead essay (originally a “paper” read at the Convention), by Notre Dame professor Gerard V....

Climbing aboard with Nuns on the Bus

You’d probably expect an obscure outlet called Womens ENews to wax enthusiastic about the “Nuns on the Bus” campaign. But you wouldn’t expect the Forbes magazine web site to reproduce the article without comment, giving a mainstream appearance to a fringe...

Louis Freeh, I have another job for you

Things look grim for Penn State University this week. After investigating allegations of sexual abuse against a former member of the football team’s coaching staff, former FBI director Louis Freeh issued a scathing report. "Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the...

What the Condi Rice rumors tell pro-lifers

Condoleeza Rice? The rumors that Mitt Romney will pick the former Secretary of State as his running mate are cropping up too frequently to be coincidental. Something is afoot. Let’s assume that the rumor has been floated as a trial balloon? What does it tell us, that after promising to select a...

Horatio Storer and the Physicians’ Crusade against Abortion

Frederick N. Dyer has become the premier historian of a small but important facet of American history, the efforts of Dr. Horatio Storer in the latter part of the 19th century to establish the medical specialty of gynecology and to unite physicians against abortion. Storer’s work was...

All we want is the Crown Jewels

If you are a British history buff, you’ll want to know that the town of Angers, in France, is demanding restitution for the murder of the Earl of Warwick. The killing was a “state crime,” Angers argues, and the British nation should take responsibility. It’s an old complaint. The unfortunate...

Obama and the woman-haters

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who chairs the Democratic National Committee, explains to the world why all Jewish Americans should support President Obama: …the president has an incredible record of support and advocacy on the issues, domestically, that Jews care about–fighting, for example,...

Eternal Rome vs. the Magisterium: A Contemporary Myth

One may still hope that the Society of Saint Pius X will seek to return to full communion with the Catholic Church. Bishop Bernard Fellay’s comments following the General Chapter of the Society could indicate acceptance of an arrangement similar to that of the Fraternity of St. Peter, or...

Words I Wish Had Been Mine: On Charity

“The cause of the failure [of charity] may be traced to that delusive system which characterizes the religion of the day. The object of this system is to destroy the broad line of distinction between the natural and the supernatural virtues; to raise the one to a level with the other; and to...

Conflating Politics and Charity: A Mistake We All Make?

It is evident in nature that men and women are social beings, but it is sometimes a shame that we are also political animals. This leads us, very often, into the neglect of the supernatural virtues which have been infused into Christian souls by God. Let me explain. This neglect is often seen in...

99% pure

Speaking to the National Council of Priests of Australia, Father Timothy Radcliffe, the former worldwide head of the Dominican order, said that the Church should embrace the modern world, enjoying such developments as the acceptance of homosexuals and the debate on women’s ordination. (He...

Email’s Downward Spiral

Sometimes the level of discourse degenerates. This morning I awoke to find the following response to one of our fund appeals in my In Box. It came from a registered user whose unlikely title is “Rev.”: “Typical, typical catholic—always asking for money! support gay...

Guess what? Sex sells!

And now, from the sort of useful scientists who can demonstrate that water is wet, comes this study showing that young people who watch sexual activities in movies are more likely to engage in sexual activities themselves. Now who would ever have thought of that?! The Dartmouth researchers...

Aidan Nichols: Chalice of God

Fr. Aidan Nichols is a Dominican theologian who resides at the Dominican house in Cambridge, England. With roots in the Russian theological tradition and a special expertise in the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar, Fr. Nichols combines shining orthodoxy with an appreciation of the traditions of both...

The SSPX didn't say No. An agreement is still likely.

The Vatican made an offer, and the leaders of the SSPX said No. Or did they? Go ahead: read our CWN news story. Better yet, read the full statement from the SSPX general chapter. Do you see a clear “No” anywhere? Neither do I. There is no “Yes,” either, I admit. And some of the language...

To Write Well of God and the Church…

I was just reading about Blessed Dominic of the Mother of God, CP, known in civilian life as Domenico Giovanni Luigi Barberi. He lived from 1792 until 1849, and he had a mystical experience in which he was called to be a missionary to England. This would have been during the period after...

The Gates Foundation to the rescue

Imagine that you’re a young woman living in South Sudan. You’ve just learned that you are pregnant. This is exciting, because you and your husband are anxious to have children. But it’s also frightening, because you know that in your country, pregnancy and childbirth are dangerous. You wish...

Vatican expects low medal count at London Olympics

Brace yourself for a shock. AP reports that the Vatican shows a growing interest in sports, “but the prospects of the world's tiniest sovereign state actually fielding an Olympic squad are slim.” Just thought you’d want to know. In case you were wondering....

All the Difference: The Former Pontifical University of Peru

Today the Vatican has finally revoked the right of a Peruvian university to use the terms “pontifical” and “Catholic” in its name. It took an incredible twenty-two years for this disciplinary measure to be taken. There are several important angles to the story. Most...

From bureaucratic leadership, spare us, Lord

In a thought-provoking Wall Street Journal column William McGurn worries that the net result of the sex-abuse scandal at Penn State will be a multiplication of new rules and regulations rather than a recognition that leadership entails personal responsibility—and a commitment never to...

Death inside an abortion clinic: no story here

Did you hear about the young woman who was shot and fatally wounded outside a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Chicago last week? Oh, wait. She was fatally injured inside the clinic, in the course of an abortion. That’s why the story hasn’t been among the top headlines every day this...

Beauty and Enmity: Life on the Point

For the second time this Summer, my wife and I are spending a few days with her mother at her “camp” on Willsboro Bay, just off Lake Champlain near Willsboro, NY. On much of the New York side, the lake is bordered by the Adirondack Mountains. Not surprisingly, then, it is an extremely...

Sadly, Penn State Had Some Catholic Dioceses as a Model of "What Not to Do"

Throughout reports on the abuse scandal surrounding Penn State, I haven't been able to escape that feeling of deja vu. There are so many similarities to the Church sex abuse scandals of recent years, it is both familiar and frightening. If you are following the Penn State story and keep history in...

We may not see, but there are no coincidences.

Enjoying our time on the banks of Lake Champlain, but having to stay out of the rain today, my wife and I drove around the Lake into Vermont and then out onto the various islands accessed by Route 2. Eventually we ended up on Isle La Motte, where stands a large statue of Samuel de Champlain...

Talk about a disturbing headline

Sure, we’re accustomed to journalist attacks on the Vatican. Still a headline like this one, from Melbourne’s Herald Sun, is a bit much: Pope accused of stealing more than $1million in funds Will they stop at nothing? Does any wild-eyed accusation against the Vatican get headline...

Diocesan and Parish Renewal: Better Now?

I’ve been saying for some time that the Catholic Church is slowly regaining its strength following the serious illness which weakened her, especially in the West, between around 1965 and 1985. And that’s certainly been my experience in the United States. I’ve been privileged to...

Can the Church recapture dissident 'Catholic' universities?

Most Catholic Culture readers, I suspect, were delighted (as I was) to hear the news that the Vatican has stripped the “Catholic” and “Pontifical” titles from the institution known as the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. I was delighted, too. What a refreshing...

The enduring problem with Canon 401-2

Today the Vatican news service announced that two more bishops have resigned, citing #401-2 of the Code of Canon Law. That canon, as knowledgeable Catholics now know, stipulates that the Pope may accept the resignation of a bishop who is unfit to continue with his duties because of illness or...

Dead men hold no bank accounts

The “Moneyval” audit of the Vatican bank, the IOR, turned up this interesting tidbit: there were 236 cardinals who held accounts there. Which wouldn’t be remarkable, except that at the time of the audit, there were only 213 cardinals alive. This is not necessarily evidence of...

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