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All Catholic commentary from July 2014

Bad biology, bad policy in the Hobby Lobby reactions

In the aftermath of the Hobby Lobby decision, feminists have complained that the Supreme Court has made it impossible for women to control their own fertility. Am I missing something? The Catholic columnist Michael B. Dougherty reacted to the ruling—or rather to the panicky...

Vision Book Cover Prints

The war(s) on women

So I guess all Americans face a choice. If you're not prepared to wage all-out war on women's reproductive powers, you're engaged in a war on women. By the same logic, if you learn that a certain pesticide prevents trees from bearing fruit, and you urge the government not to...

Independence Day: No future without evangelization

If you are a reflective American, I’d imagine you find it hard to observe Independence Day. It is simply too hard to avoid this question: “Independence from what?” At one time, the answer was political and the question referred to Britain. Today, the answer is fundamentally...

Reading Scripture with St. Augustine: A Return to God

There are all kinds of reasons for reading Scripture. These vary from person to person, culture to culture, age to age. But for the Fathers of the Church in general, the purpose of reading and meditating on Scripture was (as I mentioned in Augustine’s two rules for reading the Bible) to find...

The ITC’s compelling exploration of the sensus fidei—the sense of faith

The International Theological Commission has just issued a study of “the sense of the Faith”—Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church. The Commission, composed of up to thirty of the best theologians from around the world, each with a five-year term, was established by Pope Paul VI...

Will the next benchmark case be Supreme Court v. reality?

"Let me be absolutely clear," wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in her vigorous dissent from the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Wheaton College case. “I do not doubt that Wheaton genuinely believes that signing the self-certification form is contrary to its religious beliefs....

Lay theologians on board? Two applications of the sensus fidei

In yesterday’s In Depth Analysis on the new document from the International Theological Commission (The ITC’s compelling exploration of the sensus fidei—the sense of faith), I focused mostly on what is required for a member of Christ’s faithful to participate effectively in...

Catching up on summer reading

A flood of important recent news stories, many of them calling for some careful analysis, has left me with little extra time in the past week or two. So instead of commenting on some of the thought-provoking articles that I have found on other sites, I have set them aside for future notice. Now...

Hot (news) flash: the Pill suppresses fertility

Something’s seriously wrong with the headline on this story: Birth control pills may damage women’s fertility, experts say If you take blood-pressure pills, and find that your blood pressure is lower, you aren’t upset, are you? I mean, the purpose of blood-pressure pills is to suppress blood...

St. Benedict's Far-Reaching Impact

After a June full of multiple solemnities, July takes a bit of a respite from multiple high feasts. The Sundays and the two feasts of apostles (Thomas and James) are the highest feast days. The rest of the month sets the rhythm of Tempus per Annum or Season of the Year or Ordinary Time (discussed...

Preoccupation with salvation inhibits love

Our Lord spoke about eternal salvation. I do not mean to say that He didn’t. “Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus told Zachaeus (Lk 19:9). To the woman who washed his feet with her tears, he said, “Your faith has saved you” (Lk 7:50). As the Good Shepherd,...

Living the Faith prescriptively

In yesterday’s On the Culture essay (Preoccupation with salvation inhibits love), I talk about the problems of living the Faith prescriptively, as a series of tricky external requirements, the fulfillment of which guarantees salvation. In response, koinonia raised a point in Sound off! which...

The 'papal World Cup rivalry' story has now jumped the shark

“World Cup final pits Pope Francis versus retired Pope Benedict,” shouts the headline on the CBC site. Hmm. A 77-year-old man with a limp against an 87-year-old man with a cane. Playing soccer. No offense to either Pontiff, but if that’s what they’re showing on TV this Sunday, I think I’ll...

Crowdfunding can change lives

A professor at Christendom College has started an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to pay for psychological counseling for students who cannot afford it. The campaign, which has reached a third of its monetary goal with 34 days remaining, will provide a $1,500 course of treatment for two...

Fool me once...

Back in October a 90-year-old Italian journalist published an “interview” in which he published some provocative quotations from Pope Francis. Only later did we learn that he hadn’t taken notes, and the “quotations” were reconstructed from his own memory of the...

What was wrong with the Pope's latest interview? A lot.

In the messy aftermath of yet another papal interview, how shall I explain what went wrong? There were so many different problems, it’s hard to know where to begin. One might start with the odd habits of Eugenio Scalfari, the veteran Italian journalist who has now had three such sessions...

Obama's executive order and the danger of reliance on federal contracts

Just as American Catholic bishops were volunteering to help President Obama—by handling the thousands of children from Central America who are entering the US illegally—the White House has announced that the President doesn’t want help from the Catholic Church. How else should...

Gay and Transgendered: What Comes Next?

In 1965, Lyndon Johnson prohibited Federal discrimination in hiring based on race, religion, gender and nationality. President Obama’s latest executive order amends that to include sexual orientation and gender identity. In 1969, Richard Nixon prohibited any sort of discrimination in Federal...

A legislative mockery: Massachusetts lawmakers rush to replace unconstitutional 'buffer zone' bill

You might think that, when a state law is struck down as unconstitutional, by a 9-0 decision of the US Supreme Court, the legislators who passed that law would feel chastened. Not in Massachusetts. Reacting with almost comical haste to the unanimous Supreme Court decision that overturned a...

Self-Esteem: Beyond Pop Psychology

There are words and concepts in certain disciplines – philosophy, theology and psychology come to mind – which, as they enter the popular lexicon and become operative in daily life, lose their power to illuminate and require immediate clarification in order to retain their...

New HHS Mandate must truly eliminate complicity

It will be interesting to see what the White House comes up with next, now that the HHS Contraceptive Mandate in its present form has been shot down. The most likely outcome would be a proposal which keeps contraceptive, abortifacient and sterilizing procedures covered by medical insurance without...

Wrongheaded diocesan legal defenses in abuse cases

A Missouri judge observes that when the Kansas City diocese suggests that it might want to reconsider an agreement with sex-abuse victims, it “sends a bad message.” It sure does. Yet it’s a message that Church leaders keep sending. In Minnesota, another judge rejected a...

Sts. Anne and Joachim: Our Family Support

Many years ago as a small infant I became a member of the Catholic Church, baptized as "Jennifer Ann" in St. Anne Catholic Church in Houston, Texas. Being named after the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus always felt as a special privilege. As time has...

Hans Urs von Balthasar on Renewal that Matters

The brilliant Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905 – 1988) was for a long time a controversial figure. Perhaps in some circles he still is. During his formation and education as a Jesuit, von Balthasar encountered Henri de Lubac and Jean Daniélou, and so found himself drawn...

Introducing the Church Fathers

Several years ago, CatholicCulture.org processed and made available online a set of the writings of the Fathers of the Church. In order to make our readers aware of this under-used resource, and because the Fathers are still too little known despite their importance as a font of authentic...

Renewal with God Behind Us: Man Determines All

In the first section of Who Is a Christian?, Hans Urs von Balthasar discusses the difficult situation the Church finds herself in today (or, to be more precise, in 1983 when the book was published; for background, see the previous installment, Hans Urs von Balthasar on Renewal that Matters). He...

The ‘Pope Francis effect’—changing the way the world sees the papacy

A long-overdue reform of the Vatican’s media operations is still only in the planning stages, yet the “Pope Francis effect” has already become evident in the way the Vatican handles the news. Take a look at today’s statement from the Vatican Information Service (VIS),...

Dominican theologians assess proposals for divorced and remarried

A group of eight Dominican theologians in the United States has released what I believe is a seminal study in preparation for the 2014 and 2015 synods on the family. The title of this important study is “Recent Proposals for the Pastoral Care of the Divorced and Remarried: A Theological...

Renewal with God before Us: Christ Determines All

As I outlined previously, Hans Urs von Balthasar found the main lines of Catholic renewal sullied by various human evasions—by our pervasive eagerness to soften our goals according to human standards. It is in the third section of the book we have been discussing that he finally sets forth...

Wanted: a balanced Catholic perspective on immigration

For a Christians, it seems, immigration is—or should be—a complicated issue. On the one hand, charity compels those of us who are comfortable to help those who are in need, including those who seek to escape from poverty, crime, or persecution. On the other hand, a legitimate concern...

In other words, to be a Christian means this:

After reading my three part exploration of Hans Urs von Balthasar’s trenchant book, Who Is a Christian?, some have wanted a more precise explanation of how to be a truly devout Christian. Here is the best advice I can offer. The virtue of devotion is nothing other than a general...

Showing the Courage to battle homosexual impulses

For an apostolate dedicated to helping people live out the Christian virtue of chastity despite a same-sex attraction, “Courage” is a particularly apt name, for two reasons. In our sex-saturated society, it takes some courage to say that one might have sexual urges that should...

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