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All Catholic commentary from September 2019

The new cardinals: Pope Francis bids for ‘irreversible change’

Having named 13 new members of the College of Cardinals, Pope Francis will—as of October 5—have named a majority of the cardinals who will elect the next Roman Pontiff. At least on paper, then, he has had a chance to ensure that the next conclave will elect a prelate who shares his...

Cardinal control: Is the Church’s future at stake?

Not being God, my interpretation of what God Himself is accomplishing through the current pontificate may at the very best illuminate a tiny portion of the Divine plan, and could well be utterly worthless. Nonetheless, I am moved to this exercise by a desire to offer consolation in the wake of...

Episode 49—A Catholic Composer in Queen Elizabeth’s Court, Pt. I—Kerry McCarthy

One of England’s greatest composers, William Byrd is a fascinating and complicated figure of Catholic musical history. A musician in the Royal Chapel of Queen Elizabeth, he associated with the highest ranks of the Anglican establishment...

No ‘slow news day’ today: hints of paranoia, real causes for alarm, and two cardinals’ deaths

August is traditionally a slow month for news, and then things heat up quickly in September. That’s certainly been the case this year. In today’s Catholic World News headlines you’ll find: Hints of paranoia: Former cardinal McCarrick denies wrongdoing, says his...

Pope Francis: ‘honored’ by criticism?

In the latest effort to explain away an unguarded utterance by Pope Francis, Matteo Bruni, the director of the Vatican press office, told reporters how they should interpret the papal remark that “it’s an honor that Americans attack me.” In an informal context, the Pope...

Quick Hits: The Pope, the US, and Ukraine; background on Cardinal Pell’s case

Foreign Affairs carries an interesting analysis of Vatican foreign policy under Pope Francis, with a focus on the conflict in Ukraine. Victor Gaetan notes that the Ukrainian Catholic Church, led by Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevcuk, has been extremely critical of Russian intervention, while the...

Hearts and minds: Next generation changes to CatholicCulture.org

I have done a good deal of soul searching about the future of CatholicCulture.org, as is only appropriate for a 71-year-old founder. Some of this involves adding appropriate expertise to our staff as my own ability to wear multiple hats diminishes. For example, we need to add a social media...

Episode 50—A Catholic Composer in Queen Elizabeth’s Court, Pt. II—Kerry McCarthy

One of England’s greatest composers, William Byrd is a fascinating and complicated figure of Catholic musical history. A musician in the Royal Chapel of Queen Elizabeth, he associated with the highest ranks of the Anglican establishment...

Quick Hits: On Annulment tribunals, the Ahmari-French debate, and [censored]

• Leila Miller, who has made some important contributions to understanding the disastrous effects of divorce, has now turned her attention to diocesan marriage tribunals, and the unmistakable problems associated with routine declarations of annulment. She has posted a revealing interview with...

Knights of the Holy Eucharist

Our readers frequently seek to identify good religious communities, especially if their children are considering a vocation to religious life. This puts me in mind of the Franciscan community of men founded by Mother Angelica in 1998, The Knights of the Holy Eucharist. The Franciscans as a...

Quick Hits: New podcast targets the Equal Rights Amendment

Readers may recall that last year we reviewed Robert G. Marshall’s extraordinarily useful book, Reclaiming the Republic: How Christians and other conservatives can win back America. Now Marshall returns with the Reclaiming the Republic Podcast—an incisive nine-episode presentation...

A Pope who doesn’t fear schism may cause one

“I am not afraid of schisms,” Pope Francis told reporters during his latest airplane press conference. Well, I am. And I’m afraid of any Roman Pontiff who isn’t afraid of splitting the universal Church. Which means that, yes, I’m afraid of Pope Francis. As we...

Pope Francis answers: Part inspiration, part frustration, so how can we grow spiritually?

On the whole, I recommend to pope-watchers a close reading of Francis’ responses to questions raised by journalists on his flight from the capital of Madagascar back to Rome. These informal exchanges often present challenges, because Pope Francis has great difficulty speaking precisely. But...

Don’t blame ‘others’ or ‘cycles of violence’ for the 9/11 attacks

On September 11, while Americans remembered the victims of an Islamic terrorist attack, Pope Francis met with a members of a joint Catholic-Islamic committee dedicated to peaceful dialogue. (This is the group whose formal statement, endorsed by the Pope, proclaimed: “The pluralism and diversity...

Lay activism: a modest proposal

Although I was appalled by the Pope’s statement on the prospect of an American schism, one passage from that statement merits a bit more thought: The schismatics always have one thing in common: they separate themselves from the people, from the faith of the people of God. And when there was...

Guardians of the natural law

As the classic Christmas hymn has it, with the birth of Jesus, God and sinners are reconciled. Jesus Christ is true God and true man: one Person, two natures. The mystery of the Incarnation provides us with the metaphysics of our reconciliation with God; the words and deeds of Jesus give the...

Discipleship: The worldly don’t get it. But are we all worldly?

The Sunday before last, the Gospel reading (Luke 14:25-33) was that strange passage about the king who should sue for peace before throwing his ten thousand troops against an opposing force of twenty thousand; and about the builder who should not risk mockery by failing to make sure he has...

Quick Hits: Provocative questions—on suicide and schism, the USCCB and a diocesan tribunal

Writing for First Things about the Seattle suicide scandal, Father Paul Mankowski, SJ, puts his finger on the problem: the fact that the Eucharistic liturgy was used as a stage for a cause, with innocent children as bit actors. The priest involved says that he was not acquainted with the...

Who benefits from all this talk of schism?

Why are we even talking about schism? Who began this extraordinary conversation, and whose interests are served by it? Ross Douthat of the New York Times admits that he used the term “schism” long ago, as a theoretical possibility—which he now (rightly) regards as remote. But...

September Ember Days

The 2019 September Ember Days begin on Wednesday, September 18. From the Archives of September 2015: Football games and pumpkin spice beverages and foods return; Autumn is upon us. Sadly, that is what the fall season means to so many people. We have lost contact the actual natural signs of...

Looking back on 50 episodes of The Catholic Culture Podcast

Last week, I published the 50th episode of The Catholic Culture Podcast. Back when I reached episode 25 I did a round-up of the most popular episodes thus far, and now I can say that from episodes 26-50, the five most downloaded episodes were: 48—Authority and Submission as Gift in...

Episode 51—Bringing Melody Back to Pop Music—The Duskwhales

Indie rock trio The Duskwhales formed almost 10 years ago at a small Catholic high school in Virginia. Over that decade, four albums and three EPs, they have forged a distinctly melodic sound in contrast to today’s joyless pop milieu....

True Synodality: A missing ingredient in renewal?

Recently I had an interesting discussion with a frequent visitor to our website about the potential benefits to the Church of being without a pope for an extended number of years. In part the discussion was prompted by the deleterious impact the current pontificate seems to have on Catholic...

This week: the real threat of schism comes from Germany

Last week, the hottest topic for discussion in Catholic circles was the Pope’s response to speculation about an American schism. This week the story shifts to Germany, where the episcopal conference is threatening to defy the Vatican, and make its own “binding” decisions on...

A Catholic novel, about a lost Catholic world

Last week, at a friend’s suggestion, I reread The Edge of Sadness, by Edwin O’Connor. It’s not a great novel, but it’s a good novel, written from an unmistakably Catholic perspective. Of course, since the main character is a Catholic priest, it would be different to have...

The Artificial Santa

Jesus teaches, “You cannot serve both God and mammon.” We all know it’s easy to make a god out of money. Ebenezer Scrooge repels us, and we’re attracted to Santa Claus. But a counterfeit Santa Claus, despite a reputation for generosity, may be even more dangerous than...

John’s Gospel: Answering questions for the Church

It is commonly said that the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are “synoptic” (providing a synopsis of the life of Christ) but that the gospel of John is “theological” (probing important questions about the Christian Faith). In earlier installments of this series, I have...

Is the Catholic Church institutionally overweight?

A reflection on the Gospel reading from this morning’s Mass: “Take nothing for the journey; no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.” With those instructions—not to mention to drive out demons and cure diseases—the Lord sent the Apostles...

Fighting addiction with the blood of Christ: The Calix Society

In a world awash in both addictions and addiction programs, it is genuinely inspiring to see an organization helping people to conquer their addictions in Christ, through the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. That’s the methodology of the Calix Society, which was founded originally in 1947...

Wanted: a new St. Augustine, to challenge bad pastors

“God will call the bad shepherds to account for his sheep and for their deaths.” Thus St. Augustine, in his sermon On Pastors. Do Catholic priests in America still read the Divine Office regularly? (I’m afraid I know the answer to that question. According to a recent survey,...

No Offense Intended: A new, and critical, free ebook

I am happy to announce a new (and always free) ebook: No Offense Intended: Essays on wrong-headed Catholics. These essays, written between early 2017 and early 2019, are my most strongly-worded commentaries on the troubles created for the Church by wrong-headed Catholics, especially those in high...

Spiritual Growth vs. Spiritual Consolation

Think about it: We are absolutely obliged by God to grow into union with Him as far as possible—using the fullness of the means made available through the Church established by His Son. But at the same time, we have absolutely no claim to spiritual consolations. We have no right to...

Institutionally overweight? A diet plan for dioceses

Last week I asked which of the countless diocesan and parish programs and agencies is more crucial than the staff, bag, and spare tunic that our Lord told his apostles they did not need on their evangelizing mission. [Lk 9:1-6] Now I have a follow-up question. See if you can find the official...

So is political proselytism OK, your Holiness?

Here’s what Pope Francis did NOT say, speaking to a group of Jesuits in Mozambique: Today I felt a certain bitterness after a meeting with young people. A woman approached me with a young man and a young woman. I was told they were part of a slightly leftist movement. She said to me in perfect...

This week: German bishops rush in, where Americans fear to tread

Pope Francis asked them not to do it. Two top Vatican officials told them they would be violating canon law if they did it. But this week the German bishops decided to do it anyway. And some people say that the threat of schism

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