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All Catholic commentary from September 2010

The Challenge of Bio-Medical Advances

Contemporary biological research continues to raise questions about what it means to be human. New bio-medical technologies now permit the manufacture of some replacement organs, not by building them from parts foreign to the body, but by using a person’s own cells to generate the organs in...

how dare he?

When Pope Benedict travels to Britain later this month, there will presumably be several million people who would be delighted if the Holy Father would visit their schools, speak to their organizations, celebrate Mass in their parishes, or bless their homes. Unfortunately his schedule is tight,...

The chicken or the egg? Creation or... creation?

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking, who conceded in his last book that belief in God is compatible with contemporary scientific knowledge, now argues that the “Big Bang” theory can explain the existence of the universe without reference to a divine Creator. “Spontaneous creation is the...

Eewww! So tacky!

Alveda King, the niece of Rev. Martin Luther King, denounced the abortion mentality during Glenn Beck’s rally at the Lincoln Monument last weekend. Liberal pundit Bonnie Erbe deems King’s comments “tacky and wrong-headed.” When you say that someone’s stand is...

Homosexuality: A Special Call to the Love of God and Man

Most of us are forced by cultural circumstances to say far more about homosexuality than we would like. Because of the persistent moral challenge presented by gay advocacy, most of what we have to say is negative. This troubles me because it is just another burden for those with homosexual...

Where have we heard this complaint before?

The anguished words come from a priest of the Legionaries of Christ, complaining that the order’s leadership has not changed course despite the revelations of scandal surrounding its founder: Nothing has changed among us during the whole period of crisis. All of the changes have come from...

the endangered Orthodox patriarchate of Constantinople

The Patriarch of Constantinople is the leading figure in the Orthodox world, the “first among equals” of the Orthodox patriarchs. So it is no small matter that the current Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, could be the last man to hold that title. On the Get Religion site, Terry...

A Glimpse of Heaven

I mentioned in my last Insights message that Benedict XVI had offered some very interesting insights into the meaning of “heaven” in his homily on the Solemnity of the Assumption. On the vain hunch that there are some who occasionally take the risk of reading this blog but not the Holy...

Catholic Business Thoughts for Autumn

Here are some practical business thoughts as we move into the autumn months. At my business, we pray for our clients—that they will do both natural and supernatural good. This is a good practice, and is a way of further dignifying the work that you do. Courtesy and generosity go...

not a Big Bang but a whimper

How is it possible to know so very much about physics, and virtually nothing about metaphysics? Honestly, I’m looking for answers here. When intelligent men say unintelligent things, there must be some explanation. And recently there’s been a rash of inexplicable illogical statements...

the Brits in silly season

With just over a week to go before Pope Benedict arrives, some British rabble-rousers are making a slight concession to reality. But leaders of the Protest the Pope coalition now admit that the Pontiff cannot be arrested as Britain acknowledges him as a head of state, granting him sovereign...

Making Straight the Way: An Anglican Homecoming

When Father John Fleming converted to Catholicism in 1987, he couldn’t foresee that he would play an instrumental role in the request of the Traditional Anglican Communion for reunion with Rome in 2007, which in turn had a major impact on Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus...

Let me know when, so I can schedule a party

News item:  At a conference in London, Arthur Sulzberger Jr conceded that someday the New York Times Company will be forced to stop publishing a printed paper. Try to control your emotions. If you get teardrops all over the page, the print will blur and you won't be able to do...

facts first, please; hold the speculation

Pope Benedict XVI says repentance is more effective than structural change within the Church to counter sexual abuse by priests. When I read that lead sentence in an Agence France Presse report, I naturally thought that the Holy Father had made a new statement on the sex-abuse scandal. Since...

Be prepared to defend the Pope: a UK barrister answers legal arguments

For readers in the United Kingdom (or elsewhere) who would like to be fully prepared to answer the spurious legal arguments raised by critics of the Church in advance of the papal visit—that the Pope should be arrested; that the Vatican is protecting abusive priests; etc—the...

Convinced by the Truth

I have reviewed Fr. John I. Fleming's outstanding book, Convinced by the Truth: Embracing the Fullness of Catholic Faith, in which the author describes his own conversion as an Anglican priest to Catholicism, and outlines the larger effort of the Traditional Anglican Communion to reunite with...

Grim and Grimmer

In India, a professor at a Catholic college who offended Islamic extremists was attacked and had his hand cut off. He was then fired by the college for having given offense, though his reinstatement has been ordered by the university of which the college is a part. Elsewhere in India, a...

A Double-Take on Burning the Qu'ran

This just in from the “Where do we get these people?” department: The Reverend Terry Jones has announced that he won’t burn the Qu'ran after all. Jones had provoked an international uproar with his plan to burn a copy of the Qu'ran on the anniversary of 9/11. In the midst of...

a picture worth 1,000 abortions

Planned Parenthood claims to provide a range of services for pregnant women. But in fact the organization’s latest statistics show 160 abortions for every adoption. At the Catholic Vote site, Thomas Peters provides a few simple graphics that provide a powerful visual confirmation of the...

those loyal Catholic centrists at VOTF

 Q. Does Voice of the Faithful have a hidden or open "agenda"? The organization’s own web site asks that question and answers it: A. Voice of the Faithful does not have a hidden "liberal" or "conservative" agenda for Church reform. That’s...

a stunning stat about UK Catholicism

The Daily Telegraph offers some interesting graphics as background for Pope Benedict’s visit. Diocese by diocese, the site provides a statistical view of the Catholic Church in 2010, measured against the figures for the same dioceses in 1982, when Pope John Paul II visited the country. On...

he ain't much but he's all we've got

Father Bob Maguire, an “outspoken” Australian priest (and you can guess what that means), is unhappy with his archbishop’s instruction that a funeral should be "not a celebration of life but a Mass for the repose of the soul." The “outspoken” priest brought...

Sports and Business—How to Judge the Success of a Win

Last night’s Redskins game demonstrates that wins aren’t always pretty. But, “a win is a win is a win”, right? However, there are more felicitous ways than others to achieve the desired outcome. Winning a football game 13-7 with no offensive touchdowns—and snatched...

Oops!

One hestitates to enjoy a bit of black humor at the expense of an organization as good as the National Right to Life Committee. But a headline in the August/September 2010 issue of their National Right to Life News left us feeling sorry for the undoubtedly embarrassed editor who wrote...

Vatican II on Religious Freedom

One of Vatican II's more controversial teachings is found in the thirteenth document, the Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae), issued on December 7, 1965. Some Traditionalist groups hold that this document contradicts earlier Magisterial teachings on the responsibility of...

the Pope's next 'gig,' and other atrocities

Everyone agrees that it’s embarrassing. The only question is whether it’s “excruciatingly embarrassing” or “cringe-making.” The subject is the pamphlets that have been prepared by...

the problem is not the structure of the hierarchy; it's the people in the hierarchy

Back in 1998, Alexandra Colen tried to warn Cardinal Godfried Danneels about offensive sex-related content in a catechism that was being used in primary schools. She learned through painful experience his modus operandi for handling such complaints: He made sure he knew nothing by avoiding any...

one score, one fumble: the British hierarchy play the media game

The Pope is coming, the British media focus is zooming in on Catholicism, and reporters are putting local prelates through their paces. It’s a familiar drill, for which any intelligent bishop should be fully prepared. The reporters will ask a few softball questions about planning for the...

storm warning

It’s just a little thing, but it could be a harbinger of something more significant. The headline on an AP story about the highlight of the coming papal visit to the UK—the beatification of Cardinal Newman—reads: Pope breaks own rule to beatify Anglican convert The story...

I’m so glad we had this little chat!

September 15th marks the start of our 2010 Christmas Campaign. Obviously, it’s named for the end-point of the campaign, which will be the Christmas season. But the Christmas theme of gift-giving is certainly appropriate, and in fact many people purchase most of their Christmas gifts in...

What to expect from the Pope's visit to Great Britain

What should discerning Catholics be expecting when the Pope begins his visit to Great Britain?  1. Expect a lot of nasty rhetoric The anti-Catholic activists have been stirring up their follower for several weeks now, with some generous assistance from the mass media. In the last few days...

another episcopal fumble

Another “gotcha” for the British press. The Birmingham Mail asked Archbishop Bernard Longley how he could justify all the fancy vestments used in papal ceremonies. His reply: The cloaks and cassocks aren’t used to set the clergy apart from the Catholic laity. They are symbols...

breaking the news before it happens

London’s Daily Mail has outdone itself, with a September 15 report on Pope Benedict’s address to British political leaders in Westminster Hall. His remarks amount to a criticism of politicians who have allowed equality laws to trump religious beliefs, in some cases preventing...

the painfully proper, acutely sensitive ecumenist speaks his mind

To be effective in ecumenical affairs, one must be courteous, cautious, respectful, and above all sensitive. One must judge carefully how one’s remarks will be received by people of other faiths, other cultures, other backgrounds. Cardinal Walter Kasper spent more than a decade in the...

thank you, Bishop Harpigny!!

Is a bishop above the law? In the United States, a Catholic priest who is credibly accused of sexual abuse is immediately suspended. He is not allowed to wear clerical garb. If the evidence is clear and damning, he may be permanently dismissed from priestly ministry. He may even be reduced to the...

another stunning clear insight from the Pope

Pope Benedict has a disconcerting way of hitting nails directly on the head. It's disconcerting, I say, because I struggle and strain to make a point, never satisfying myself that I've made it clearly, and then along comes the Holy Father, and he pounds home the same point in a simple, clear,...

and they say miters are silly

Today Pope Benedict met with Queen Elizabeth.  And if you're complaining about monarchical institutions whose leaders wear funny headgear, I hope you're not talking about the Holy...

Vatican PR blunder #48,837

John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter offers a dry comment that with a remarkably impolitic comment by Cardinal Kasper on the eve of the Pope’s trip to Great Britain, the Vatican’s public-relations effort has taken a new step—definitely not in the right direction: In...

Toil and Trouble: Prayer Principles in a Bad Economy

Times are tough. I hear regularly from users who have lost their jobs or had their incomes dramatically reduced. They explain this when apologizing for not being able to support our work. They feel bad receiving appeals to which they cannot respond. But at least it gives me an opportunity to...

guess who's here?

Nice to see the president of a large Catholic university taking an active interest in pro-life work. John Garvey, the brand-new president of Catholic University, was sitting in the front row last night when CUA Students for Life hosted a talk by that...

Enslaved by the Dictatorship of Relativism

I flirted with Absurdophobia as a rallying cry, but clearly the “dictatorship of relativism” is a far more serious contender. Pope Benedict has used this phrase repeatedly, most recently in Scotland, in order to focus attention on what Catholics must resist. “The evangelization...

Anglican bishops receive a personal invitation from the Pope

With Anglicanorum Coetibus Pope Benedict XVI issued an invitation to Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church. Now he has repeated that invitation in person. During his visit to Lambeth Palace, the Holy Father did not directly mention his apostolic constitution. He even made a point of saying that...

no comment

With Pope Benedict back in Rome, the Catholics of Great Britain are now left to rely on their own bishops for a powerful and unflinching presentation of the faith. Good luck with that. To the list of British bishops who waffled and backpedaled in broadcast interviews during the papal visit, add...

take the over

Reflecting on the papal visit, the New York Times reports: The size of the crowds, in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and finally Birmingham, appeared to surprise Catholic leaders here. If you're surprised now by the crowds at a papal event, I'm afraid you're not too quick on the uptake. It's...

Hallelujah! The Institute of Ultimate Truth

A few days ago, someone sent me a message using our Contact Form announcing the Institute of Ultimate Truth, which is apparently a non-profit organization formed by students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Asserting that the root cause of all problems in the world is division, the purpose of IUT...

The key to the Pope's success in Great Britain

Most of the reporters writing about the papal visit are clearly surprised by this outcome, and more than a few are betraying their disappointment. A week ago the same reporters were predicting a debacle, and some of them were relishing that prospect. The Pope would face angry protesters wherever...

A Call Misunderstood

Although I had many positive responses to my recent In Depth Analysis on the spiritual mission of those with homosexual inclinations (Homosexuality: A Special Call to the Love of God and Man), there were a few very puzzling reactions as well, of two types. The first puzzling group read me as...

mature informed dissent?

Andrew "Don't change the subject!" Sullivan links to his "fave" Protest-the-Pope signs.  Check them out if you dare. (Warning: crude content.) P.S. Those who concur with the Holy See that persons with deeply-rooted homosexual tendencies are affectively immature can...

a leading expert in military preparedness says...

I confess that when senior military types like Colin Powell declared they were in favor of admitting gays to the military, I was inclined to think that some political accommodationism was involved. But when Lady Gaga goes to bat for gay troops, you know her sole concern is that our military...

they made her what she is today

It’s revealing to see that the singer/military expert Lady Gaga cites women religious as having a “positive influence” on her development. You might say that the nuns helped to make her what she is today. She even has an idea of what the nuns who taught her in school are probably...

the celibacy connection

If only the Catholic Church would allow priests to marry, this sort of thing wouldn't happen.  Wait. You say Bishop Eddie Long is not a Catholic? And he is married? Never...

Vatican II on Missionary Activity: Principles

“The pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature, since it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she draws her origin, in accordance with the decree of God the Father” (2). So begins the first chapter of the Second Vatican Council’s fourteenth...

Trusted Advisor

I'm a business consultant, and as a consultant, it is my job to influence the decisions that my clients make. The whole point of practicing at being a good consultant is to gain that "trusted advisor" status. My Catholic upbringing and education has had a very beneficial effect on my...

Anschluss in reverse

The dean of the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry tells the Religion News Service what everyone needs to know about Vatican II: A great majority of Catholics (once) thought of the church as outside of time altogether -- that what they did on Sunday is what Jesus did at the Last...

the razor of Occam and the rod of Moses

Thanks to the wonders of computer modeling, we now know that parting of the Red Sea, as described in the Book of Exodus, could have been accomplished by 65-mph winds across a portion of expanse where an ancient river had merged into the sea. The parting of the waters can be understood through...

Vatican II on Missionary Activity: Mission Work

Following its exploration of principles in the first chapter (see the previous entry), the remainder of the Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church (Ad Gentes) covers missionary work itself, both in its character and stages and in the means necessary to ensure its progress. The...

no time for babies

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson may have known years ago about the deadly risks of its birth control patch Ortho Evra, according to internal documents obtained by NBC News. Thus the Today Show report. Among the items listed in the complaint against Johnson & Johnson: Ortho...

Intimations of Immortality

When I was growing up in the 1950s and early 1960s, my world was a Christian world, at least nominally. My earliest efforts at apologetics were all designed to explain the “oddities” of the Catholic Faith to Protestants, and to show why their version of certain Christian ideas was wrong while the...

how long can this go on? forever?

In 1993 the Vatican and Israel reached a “fundamental agreement” that opened the way for formal diplomatic relations: a good thing. Pressing to get the deal done, the two sides agreed to leave some details—such as the legal status of Christian shrines in the Holy Land, and the...

CNN's appalling attack on the Pope

This weekend the CNN television network will air a special report, “What the Pope Knew.” The goal of the show, apparently, is to persuade viewers the Pope Benedict XVI bears much of the blame for the sex-abuse scandal. If that requires massaging the facts and covering up inconvenient...

reporting through the looking glass

Alta Jacko is the mother of eight children. She is also the Mayor of Chicago. Time magazine would never publish a story that began that way, because it would not be true, and the editors know it. Alta Jacko is not the Mayor of Chicago. Everyone who follows Chicago politics knows that. There is...

The Return of the Prodigal Son

On the advice of an acquaintance, I read, enjoyed, and benefitted from The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen. I learned a few new things about myself, and benefitted in my vocation and the various roles I play in my life (husband, father, son, sibling, businessman, etc.). I'm not...

Key Lectures on Evolution

The USA Science and Engineering Festival, the first of its kind, will be held on the Mall and in surrounding venues in Washington, DC from October 10th to October 24th. Judging from the web site, the festival is intended to be enjoyed both by those seriously interested in learning more about...

probably just a coincidence

During his visit to the United Kingdom, Pope Benedict XVI met with several victims of sexual abuse. If you looked carefully you could find a few details about the group: Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the five victims, who he said had not signed confidentiality agreements,...

'very nuanced'

Fresh from his triumphant proclamation that “I don’t know”—in answer to a question about whether the Church would ever recognize same-sex unions—Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has struck again. When a BBC host cited reports that the Catholic Church stands...

In Gratitude for Our Friends

At Mass this morning, I offered my intentions for the visitors to CatholicCulture.org—most particularly for our frequent visitors and supporters. As they say, it is nice to have friends. I am deeply appreciative of the many who have come to CatholicCulture.org and who have taken the time to...

How’s that again?

The Ukrainian Orthodox Archdiocese of Odessa protests the plans of Eastern-rite Ukrainian Catholics to build a cathedral: “There is no visible presence of Greek Catholics in Odessa. It’s quite evident that there’s no ground for building a Greek Catholic church in...

the right tool for the job

Today’s breakthrough story: A Berks County couple became suspicious of the Roman Catholic priest who was supposed to be helping their daughter, so they secretly set up a video camera in the basement of their home -- and caught him having sex with the 18-year-old. Give the couple...

you have given them bread from heaven

What would you think of a group of mothers who united to support a campaign by little children to “boycott” all meals? Would you say that those women were confused? At best. A newly minted group of highly confused Irishmen, the Association of Catholic Priests, is complaining about...

Russia's challenge to Christian unity

The Catholic-Orthodox theological discussions, taking place in Vienna this week, hit a snag when the leader of the Russian Orthodox delegation lodged an emphatic dissent against the consensus that the early, undivided Church recognized the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. That position is a...

'Go ahead. I dare you.'

In August we heard that Father Larry McNally, of Ascension parish in Oak Park, Illinois, had apologized to the women of his parish for the nasty teachings of the Catholic Church. In September we learn that he’s taken another step. Father Larry has added his name to a petition signed by his...

a winning ad slogan: our product is not very toxic

NARAL ProChoice Virginia has a new video ad, entitled “This is what I learned at a Virginia Crisis Pregnancy Center.” In its own way the ad is outrageous. Yet pro-lifers might want to welcome it. In the video a series of young women appear before the camera and make a claim that, they...

Richard Swinburne and God’s Timelessness

Richard Swinburne is a remarkable scholar, but in this particular case I’m not quite sure what to do with him. He’s written a number of books, commended by many deeply committed Christians (including Catholics), which seek to set forth a sort of philosophical theology, a step-by-step...

Angry voices on both sides

Last week in this space, I warned readers about a CNN television report, “What the Pope Knew.” That program, which set out to blame the Pope for the sex-abuse crisis, ignored key evidence that would have interfered with the producers’ argument. I charged CNN with grotesque bias,...

Principles of Catholic Environmentalism

Because of the excesses associated with environmentalism in an increasingly pagan West, many Catholics shy away from formal involvement with the “environmental movement”. At the same time, Catholics are (or ought to be) by the very nature of their Faith deeply committed to responsible stewardship...

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