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All Catholic commentary from September 2012

CRS and the non-conforming document [Updated]

Please help me to understand this paragraph in a recent news release from the Catholic Relief Services (CRS). (The same paragraph was reproduced, without change, in a CWN headline story this morning: CRS does not purchase, promote or distribute condoms, nor do we provide funding to other...

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Trying to Live the Faith

To paraphrase Kermit the Frog, it’s not easy being Christian. News coverage over the past several days certainly bears this out. There is some definite good among the bad and the ugly, but all if it pretty much represents the Christian struggle for fidelity to God. Let’s look at the...

Thunderbolts?

Does anyone else find it significant that after approving a political platform that pushed for free abortion on demand and same-sex marriage, and removed any mention of God (I know, I know; they have restored Him--reluctantly), the leaders of the Democratic party announced that they would be...

Did Democrats really boo God? Not quite. It's worse than that.

Thousands of bloggers are reporting this morning that delegates at the Democratic convention in Charlotte booed when God was reintroduced into their party’s platform. That’s not entirely accurate. But the true story does not reflect any better on the Democratic Party. This Breitbart...

A Novena for America

Among many other prayers for our country during the Presidential campaign, a six-fold novena of rosaries has been organized by Peter Grimberg at 7:00 pm each evening in the chapel at All Saints Church in Manassas, Virginia (my home parish). The novena follows the pattern recommended in a...

Will a criminal conviction finally get the American bishops' attention?

So now an American bishop is a convicted criminal. Do you suppose there’s any chance the other bishops will finally get the message? Bishop Robert Finn has been convicted in a court of law for doing what scores of other American bishops have done in the recent past. It’s true that...

O'Reilly's amazing surprise

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News is “stunned” and “flabbergasted” and “shocked” that during a speech at the Democratic convention, Caroline Kennedy identified herself as a Catholic and went on to praise President Obama for protecting legal...

The Church and the Market

With some frequency in recent years, both Phil Lawler and I have insisted that Catholics are not bound to accept, approve and follow the prudential judgments of their bishops, or even of the pope, in matters of public policy. This is because, as the Church herself has repeatedly insisted, the...

In the Face of the State: The Church Too Is a Res Publica, a Public Thing

Remember when questions about religious “displays” were raised primarily with respect to public property? In the United States, at least, the question has typically revolved around whether a particular manifestation of religious faith on public (that is, government) property...

Why Religion and the Church Are the Ultimate Public Things

Yesterday I made the assertion that religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular are inescapably public realities (see In the Face of the State: The Church Too Is a Res Publica, a Public Thing). This assertion contrasts sharply with the prevailing attitude in the modern West that...

An outrageous Vatican reaction to the deaths in Benghazi (updated)

Four American diplomats are killed, and a Vatican spokesman responds not by condemning the killings but by insisting that we should respect the sensitivities of Muslims. Outrageous! There are two separate points to be made here. The Americans who produced a film deliberately insulting Islam...

Gay Marriage and the Fully Formed Conscience

Tina Beattie’s scheduled talk on Mary in the English Diocese of Clifton was cancelled because she signed a letter defending gay marriage. Beattie, a theologian, wrote that it was “perfectly proper for Catholics, using fully informed consciences, to support the legal extension of civil...

Will the SSPX Now Flee for its Life?

If Bishop Richard Williamson really is expelled from the Society of St. Pius X, he may well set up his own organization and take some people with him, as our news story suggests. But that won’t keep the SSPX from being hoist with its own petard. Williamson has ample precedent for claiming...

Civil Disobedience and Health Care

Writing in the October issue of First Things, R. R. Reno and Fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP address the question of civil disobedience in response to the Affordable Care Act and the HHS mandate requiring insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs. Coincidentally,...

Another non-story about women's ordination

The pattern may now be familiar, but it’s still messy. A reporter tackles the question of how to report on a woman who claims ordination to the Catholic clergy. “Catholic woman ordained deacon,” reads the headline for a WNWO report on the ceremony that took place in Ohio. Yet the first...

Review: Coming Apart, by Charles Murray

No democracy is perfect. The principle of “one man, one vote” might apply to the ballot box, but it does not prevent skilled activists from amassing more power than ordinary citizens. The chief executive of a large corporation has more political clout than the night watchman; a...

Is It Immoral to Purchase Health Insurance with HHS Mandate Coverage?

In the wake of my recent commentary (Civil Disobedience and Health Care), some readers have begun to ask: “Is it immoral to purchase health insurance which implements the HHS mandate to provide coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs?” I will attempt to...

The Catholicization of Social Justice

It is really quite astonishing. Jonathan Reyes has just been appointed executive director of the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development. Reyes replaces John Carr, who has served the USCCB for the past twenty-five years. The reason this is astonishing is that the new...

A terrific appointment at the US bishops' conference

If you aren’t excited about this news story, you probably don’t understand it. This is big. This is huge. This is exciting! Have you been frustrated, over the years, with the political statements issued by the US bishops’ conference? If so, prepare for a welcome change. Have you...

Will Many Be Saved?

We’ve all experienced it; we’ve all been affected by it: The endemic lack of concern about evangelizing others so that they can be saved. I’ve already given my most heartfelt response to this problem in The Catholic Side of Salvation, but I’ve hardly exhausted everything...

That Coptic papyrus fragment tells us nothing about Jesus

A Harvard Divinity School professor has unearthed an ancient Coptic papyrus fragment that reportedly refers to a wife of Jesus. What does this prove? Absolutely nothing. When Karen King submitted an article about her discovery to the Harvard Theological Review, two of the three scholars who...

Mismatch

Image Books, which once published so many Catholic classics, has put out a new volume: Vatican II: The Essential Texts. That’s odd. With so many compilations of the Vatican II documents already on the bookshelves, why would we need a new one? From the publisher’s perspective, what is...

Blasphemy Laws and Modern Uber-Politics

The recent suggestion by both the Maronite Catholic Patriarch and four Anglican bishops from northern Africa that the United Nations should outlaw blasphemy is highly dubious. As the Anglican bishops put it, there should be an international policy “that outlaws the intentional and deliberate...

Why not a prayer for newborns?

In my parish--and in virtually every Catholic parish, I think--the petitions at Sunday Mass always include a prayer for those parishioners who have died recently. I have a simple suggestion: Why not add a prayer for those who have been baptized recently as well? Certainly it is a good thing, and...

The Church and Political Friendship with God

In a very interesting essay in the October 2012 issue of First Things, Pierre Manent makes a thought-provoking argument about the importance of the Catholic Church to political life. Manent is the director of studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He...

The Modern Pharisee

Most of my readers, I suspect, have heard quoted at one time or another Richard Crashaw’s poem “Two Went up to the Temple to Pray”, which is a retelling of Christ’s lesson about the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke’s gospel (18:10-14). Crashaw (1613-1649),...

The Pew Survey’s Most Sobering Result

Now that a Pew Survey shows Catholics favoring Obama by a 15-point margin, it is time to point out what is truly significant about the survey results. It isn’t significant that those who attend Mass monthly or yearly favor Obama 53 to 39 percent or that those who attend Mass seldom...

Contraception and Vatican II

I’ve noticed a few people arguing lately that widespread contraception can be traced back to the Second Vatican Council. Sigh. This grows so wearisome. To set the record straight, here is what the Council said about contraception several years before Pope Paul VI issued his landmark...

The Dangers of Voting Your Heart: An Intrinsically Moral Guide

Every four years around this time I feel compelled to say something about voting, because American presidential elections tend to bring the moral questions which surround voting to the fore. This year our choices are somewhat worse than usual, but not so much as to be atypical. Neither is the...

The truth about Benghazi, and Obama's dangerous attitude toward Islam

The president has finally acknowledged the truth about the murder of American diplomats in Benghazi. The president of Libya, I mean; not the president of the United States. The attack on the US consulate was not an angry reaction to an anti-Muslim film, President Mohamed Magarief told NBC...

On Marriage, Read This

Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark has just issued a pastoral letter on marriage, firmly in the moral context of the culture wars, the 2012 presidential campaign, and the current efforts to enshrine “gay marriage” in law. The letter is entitled When Two Become One: A Pastoral Teaching...

How Much Does Politics Matter?

I’ve been writing a great deal about politics lately, because it is a presidential election year in America. But Catholics cannot afford to have faith in politics, especially in the current Western situation. The Psalmist was quite right when he advised Israel to “put not your trust in...

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