By Dr. Jeff Mirus

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The Acts of the Apostles are for the whole world

The main reason the Holy Spirit inspired St. Luke to write the Acts of the Apostles is crystal clear in the pages of that book. But I wonder how many of us who have read and listened to readings from the Acts have realized what that purpose is. Things can be missed when we hear them piecemeal, and...

Pressures on the Faith in the American Civil War. And now?

In an intriguing new book by Fr. Charles P. Connor, the Catholic position on slavery leading up to and during the American Civil War (1861-1865) is explored in considerable depth. What we learn from it is how much cultural conditioning and competing interests can modify or “slant” the...

Revised: Non-ordination of women: Not a dogma?

[October 4, 2019: In response to many questions from those who had trouble with the argument, I have revised this essay from earlier in the week. If you found it confusing, I hope you will read it again.] One of the key drafters of the working document for the Amazon Synod, Bishop Erwin...

What’s wrong with popular causes (and with clerics who ride them)?

Let me speak frankly. It is a symptom of flabby, secularized Christianity to witness primarily in favor of popular and prudential causes. Yet from Pope Francis on down, this symptom is widespread among Catholic leaders today. Five significant mistakes are made by Christians whose witness in favor...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Luke’s Gospel: The Radical Challenge of Jesus Christ

As I mentioned in treating Matthew and Mark, it is difficult to say something truly original in a commentary on the Gospels. Consequently, I have tried simply to highlight an overall theme for each one: For Matthew, Jesus as the Messiah; for Mark, Christ as Son of God; and now, for Luke, the...

On Providence (or) Reflections on a trashed cookie

Two of our children with young families gave us a “Frameo”. It is one of those electronic picture frames which displays a sequence of images that can be updated easily from smart phones wherever our children happen to be. At last count, my wife and I have fifteen grandchildren, which...

Final Liturgical Year volume for 2018-2019 available now

The final ebook for the 2018-2019 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. The sixth volume overall in the annual series, Ordinary Time Completed rounds out the current liturgical year, taking you right up to Advent. This volume covers all the days from September 1st through...

Shredding the working text for the Pan-Amazon synod

The annual Synod of Bishops will meet from October 6 to October 27 this year to examine the problems of the Pan-Amazon region in South America. From the first, the Instrumentum Laboris (working document) for the Synod has been criticized as a destructive exercise in the religious and cultural...

Conversion: Intellectually satisfying, spiritually overwhelming

A short time ago, Ignatius Press published an extraordinary book—well done in every conceivable respect—entitled Faith and Reason: Philosophers Explain Their Turn to Catholicism. Edited by Brian Besong and Jonathan Fuqua, also both philosophers, the book naturally promised to be a...

Catholic Quagmire: The Latest eBook from CatholicCulture.org

I have just generated and posted a new (and, as always, free) ebook: Catholic Quagmire: Essays on How the Church Bogs Down. This is a collection of my essays, written between early 2017 and early 2019, which focus on the many ways in which Catholics and their leaders tend to reflect the thought...

Seven things you should know about global population trends

Today our news team highlighted a report in Foreign Affairs which argues that the world is on the verge of a population bust. Here are seven things you need to know about current demographic trends: 1. Both population growth and the impact of population growth are hard to predict: Population...

Sing of Mary, 5: The Assumption is the Crown

Yesterday was the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so it seemed fitting to spend part of the day adding to the reflections on the Mother of God which make up our Sing of Mary series. Since the Catholic dogma of the Assumption of Mary body and soul into heaven was not...

Apologetics vs. evangelization? Argument and witness for the sake of others

The purpose of evangelization is to make Christ and the Church known to others so that they might receive the gift of faith and choose to convert to Christianity. It is a work accomplished in close collaboration with the Holy Spirit. The purpose of apologetics, on the other hand, is to clear away...

Our One and Only God

Being away this week, I decided to repost some thoughts I had while on vacation nearly ten years ago. I was on vacation last week, so I deliberately avoided controversy. But I did plenty of meditating on what it means to be a Christian. As it happened, I did much of this meditating while...

Yearning to Escape Ourselves

I am on vacation, so I have cheated and re-posted a commentary I wrote a little more than five years ago about our desire to “get away”. The point, I think, is still valid. Pope John XXIII, whose example I cite below, has of course since been canonized. I can relate to Pope...

The makings of a good harvest: Argument is never enough

I have been a practitioner of apologetics since somewhere around the age of ten, though the pattern must have been well-established even earlier, because I can remember from an early age my mother describing me as the child “who loves to argue.” It is also true that I had been arguing...

The Angelus (Jean-François Millet, 1857-59)

“The Angelus” is one of the most famous devotional paintings of the nineteenth century, portraying two peasants bowing in a field as they pray the Angelus, presumably in response to the tolling of the evening bell from the church shown against the horizon. There is something...

Pilgrimage for Newman’s Canonization

The Priestly Society of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman is hosting a ten day pilgrimage to Rome for Newman’s canonization on October 13th. The flight to Rome will depart Newark on the evening of Wednesday, October 9th and return to Newark on Saturday, October 19th. Leadership and...

Getting all that smoke out of your eyes: Six reviews

I freely admit it. While popping a hard-boiled egg into my mouth for lunch about a minute ago (lunch now done, thanks), I told Alexa to play a song. “She who must not be named” complied with Jerome Kern’s hit from the forgotten 1933 musical Roberta. I mean, of course,...

St. Mark insists that Christ is the Son of God

In my commentary on St. Matthew’s gospel, I emphasize Mathew’s central theme of establishing, point by point, that Jesus Christ is the Messiah expected by the Jewish nation. In sharp contrast, St. Mark insists from the very first that Jesus is the Son of God. Thus Mark largely bypasses...

Self-serving apologies: Not the Catholic way

If you want to seize the contemporary moral high ground, I suggest you apologize for something your ancestors or your organization or your country did hundreds of years ago, checking first to ensure that the behavior in question is universally excoriated in our own more enlightened times. Above...

The diplomat and theologian: On the Truth and the limits of inclusivity

Two headlines in last Friday’s news caught my attention precisely because of the potential for contradiction in the treatment of the principles they represent. The first, “Vatican diplomat: Foster tolerance, inclusivity to counter attacks on religious believers”, favors the...

The Peña Parra case: An excellent test of Archbishop Vigano’s credibility

The latest disclosure of claims by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano should provide a welcome test of his credibility. The New York Times reports that Vigano has named the assistant Vatican Secretary of State, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, as credibly accused of sexual abuse of seminarians since...

In York with a martyr: The challenge of Margaret Clitherow

The Shambles, a narrow street housing butchers where the Clitherow family lived The exterior designation of the shrine in (or at least very near) St. Margaret’s home

When is religion OK in America? When it is no longer religious.

The recent US Supreme Court decision permitting a cross to remain on public land in Bladensburg, MD is a peculiar one, to say the least. It demonstrates the kind of convoluted reasoning that must characterize justices who have reservations about public expressions of religion but do not wish to...

On raising our voices in and for the Church

In his commentary “Exit, voice, and loyalty in the Catholic Church” (with which I completely agree), Phil Lawler applies to the Church the three basic responses people make when they are dissatisfied with any institution of which they are a part. Phil concludes: If you, as a morally...

Taking a risk with Pope Francis; avoiding a risk to ourselves

I think it is time to remind ourselves once again of what we might call the other side of the Pope Francis coin. Back in 2013, when we were first adjusting ourselves to this Pope’s “all over the map” style of leadership, including his apparent lack of doctrinal precision and his...

The CCE on gender theory: Strengths and weaknesses of a Catholic position

The text of the statement on gender theory by the Congregation for Catholic Education is excellent, but the approach it proposes demonstrates both the strengths and weaknesses of the Catholic position today. This is reflected in the full title/subtitle: “Male and Female He Created Them:...

On the difficulty of knowing whom to believe, and what to do

If the furor over Taylor Marshall’s book does not tell us how hard it has become to know whom to believe and/or what to do, then I can point to two other contemporary issues (among many) which present the same problem. Whom to believe First, on the problem of whom to believe, let me...

“I spit on your evil!” (or) The joy of rational discussion

The last few days have been amusing, as I’ve fielded comments on my review of Taylor Marshall’s book. For example: I learned that Taylor Marshall, during the run-up to the publication of his book, claimed to have a mystical experience, a vision, concerning its contents. I...

Now Available: Liturgical Year Ebook for Ordinary Time after Easter

We have just released the fifth volume in the 2018-2019 Liturgical Year series of ebooks. Volume five covers the first half of the long stretch of Ordinary Time between the close of the Easter Season on Pentecost and the beginning of Advent. Like all CatholicCulture.org ebooks, this volume is...

Infiltration: An idiot’s guide to the problems of the Church

To my great sadness, Sophia Institute Press has just published Taylor R. Marshall’s Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy the Church from Within. The publisher is offering it under its “CRISIS Publications” imprint, designed to address problems “with clarity, cogency, and...

Pope Saint Paul VI: Hope in the desert of Catholic renewal

The very first feast of Pope Saint Paul VI was yesterday, May 29th, and his canonization late last year ought to be taken as a sign of hope for the rest of us. Yes, I know that some Catholics think this pope was a weak, imprudent and ineffective man who should never have been canonized, but...

How do we really know God is a Trinity of Persons?

In this presentation, Dr. Jeff Mirus explains how we know that God is a Trinity of Persons (three persons in one God), how we can at least begin to understand this mystery, and how important it is to an understanding of human life and love. This is the fourth video in the “How do we...

How do we really know God is a Trinity of Persons? (audio track from video)

Click ► to play, if audio does not autostart. Your browser does not support the web audio player. This is the audio track from the fourth installment of our How Do We Really Know video series, for those who prefer audio only. To view the video or consult the supplementary print...

Modern culture in denial: Nothingness reigns in Argentina, too.

It is not news that those who are in favor of abortion—and especially those who regard it as a human right—are living in denial. You can always tell this is the case whenever deliberately deceptive language is reflexively adopted to obscure reality. “A woman’s right to...

Phil Lawler’s superb commencement address

Do yourself a favor and take a little over twenty minutes to listen to Phil Lawler’s superb commencement address, given at Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts last Saturday, May 18, 2019 (linked at the bottom). Phil delivered the address immediately after receiving an honorary doctorate...

Starting the New Testament, with St. Matthew on the Messiah

Having finished my brief commentaries on the books of the Old Testament and wrapped them up into a cozy (and free) ebook, I find that I am ready to begin a similar series of reflections on the books of the New Testament, beginning with the Gospel according to Matthew. But while I can foresee...

A touch of whimsy for Catholics

I don’t know about you, but there are days when I just want to enjoy myself. It is unhealthy to spend all of our time moaning about the state of the Church and the world when so many other pursuits are possible. There was once a young priest in our parish who, according to legend at least,...

German Catholic women, in thrall to the world, boycott Mass

This may be stating the obvious, but there is a great deal wrong with the widely-supported decision of German Catholic women’s groups to boycott Mass and refuse Church work in order to protest episcopal inaction on (a) sex abuse, and, wait for it, (b) women’s ordination. It is one more...

New ebook collection on the books of the Old Testament

In the Spring of 2017, I began to reread the Old Testament in order to note down the particular insights about each book which occurred to me as I entered the fullness of what Scripture calls man’s three score and ten. As the task unfolded, I began to write up these reflections and post them...

Cardinal Müller on the Truth

Gerhard Cardinal Müller, who served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 2012 to 2017, has sometimes been compared with his great predecessor, Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), who not only appointed him but filled that position himself from 1981 until his election...

Once the crazy talk starts, it is hard to stop

The pope who took office in 1958 when I was ten was Pope Saint John XXIII. He died when I was in high school and so, understandably, he was the first pope whom I considered at all in relationship to the tensions in the Church of which I was slowly becoming aware. I remember that some people...

On saving the Church by breaking the tensions intrinsic to the Church’s life

The furor over the question of how we should respond to Pope Francis’ alleged heresies reminds me of the tensions between the human and the Divine which run all through the Church, and the Faith, and Christian thought. In nearly every case, it is a refusal to be willing to live with this...

His Excellency Theodore Hesburgh

If you received a review copy of the impressive new biography of the famous Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame—the university president who firmly set this Catholic university on the spiritually devastating road to secular prominence—you may have hesitated to expend the effort to read...

Theories that Francis is not the Pope (or can be deposed) destroy the credibility of the Church

This essay, originally published on November 7, 2017, explains why any effort to depose the pope or declare that he has automatically been deposed through heresy is not only untenable but fundamentally damaging to the Church. It is possible, of course, to advocate that a particular pope should...

The Pontifical Academy’s assessment of the “growing threat of a nationalist revival”

It is interesting that the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences is hosting a three-day conference designed to shed light on what it sees as a growing nationalist revival throughout the world. The Academy’s announcement discusses various forms of national identity and the rise and potential...

Even at Easter? On spiritual fasting, according to St. Francis de Sales

At the very end of Lent I discovered the sermon given on Ash Wednesday of the year 1622 by St. Francis de Sales. Better late than never! This sermon was given as part of a series to the religious women in the Order of the Visitation, or the Visitandines, which St. Francis founded with St. Jane...

The tragic hope of the flames of Notre Dame

Even I was saddened by the fire at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. I say “even I” because I am utterly unable to escape the symbolic density of a cathedral burning in the midst of Europe’s profound loss of Faith—a cathedral that has been maintained for centuries more...

Benedict’s Analysis: What impressed me most

There are several things which I found particularly intriguing about Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s analysis of the roots of the contemporary Church’s problem with clerical sexual abuse. And there is one thing that I found most impressive going forward. First, it was both intriguing...

Imperative for Renewal: Our next free ebook

I have begun to collect my (still relevant) essays over the past couple of years into ebooks. These ebooks enable those new to CatholicCulture.org to acquaint themselves more easily with the commentary we have published over the years that remains relevant to our present situation. For those who...

Easter volume released for this liturgical year

Easter falls on April 21st this year, and so the Easter volume of our ebook series for the 2018-2019 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area: Easter. This fourth volume in the annual series covers the entire Easter season, from the Easter Vigil (April 20th) through Pentecost...

Feedback time (Yes, if possible, this means you!)

It is time to ask for feedback on three of our initiatives. The insights and opinions of our users are very important to getting things right. To offer your ideas on these three topics, simply click the email link at the top of this commentary, to the left of my name. This will open our contact...

Unbelievable category mistakes

It is difficult to know how best to review Michael Newton Keas’ new book, Unbelievable, published by ISI Books. Subtitled “7 myths about the history and future of science and religion”, the book very successfully debunks the following myths: Christians traditionally...

2 Maccabees: Judaism in readiness

As I mentioned previously, 2 Maccabees does not extend the history of Jewish resistance to Greek conquest recorded in 1 Maccabees. Instead, it focuses more tightly on one portion of that history. While the second book provides additional details, its chief merit is an exploration of the motives...

How do we really know the pope has Christ’s authority in the Church?

In this presentation, Dr. Jeff Mirus explains how Jesus Christ gave Peter special powers to teach, rule and sanctify the Church He founded, and explains how we know that these powers are carried on by the successors of Peter in the See of Rome until Christ comes again. This is the third video...

How do we really know that the pope has Christ’s authority in the Church? (audio track from video)

Click ► to play, if audio does not autostart. Your browser does not support the web audio player. This is the audio track from the third installment of our How Do We Really Know video series, for those who prefer audio only. To view the video or consult the supplementary print resources...

Ten steps every bishop can take to renew the Church

Everyone has a role in Catholic renewal, but there can be no question that the greatest spur to an authentic renewal of the Church is episcopal leadership. If results throughout the long history of the Church are any guide, however, even bishops often do not know the concrete steps they should be...

Redeeming the time: Christianity for knaves and fools like me

I don’t know about you, but I frequently flash back to particular times in my life when I behaved foolishly or even sinfully. I’m pretty sure I remember every moment of youthful arrogance in which I treated others badly, and perhaps it goes without saying that I still have skeletons...

1 Maccabees: A shift in understanding salvation history

The two books that close the Old Testament, 1 and 2 Maccabees, are among the most enjoyable to read and the most difficult from which to draw lessons. They are enjoyable because they are all action adventure, covering the remarkable exploits of a priest named Mattathias, along with his sons and...

Bent on evil: How do we explain human culture run amok?

The other evening on our (almost) daily walk, my wife mentioned a recent talk given by a public librarian who was expert on fiction for teens. One of the points made by the speaker was that the overwhelming majority of the books that came across her desk featured gender-confused young people who...

Four late minor prophets, plus Jonah as a bonus

Wrapping up the so-called minor prophets in rough chronological order, we will now look at those who prophesied after the Babylonian Exile. Ranging from about 520 BC into the 300s, these prophets tend to be more specifically Messianic. It is almost as if the pre-Messianic time is growing short. As...

Life Is Worth Living: The Message of Fulton Sheen

In the mid-1950s, Bishop Fulton Sheen became the Catholic voice of America with his groundbreaking television series, Life Is Worth Living. But there was a second series with the same title, recorded only in audio in 1965 and released just after the close of the Second Vatican Council. The...

Churchmen, out on a limb again, defy the world

It is one of those days. I am finding it difficult to get excited about much of anything, and I am not sure what the problem is. After all, just look at the dramatic news stories from the past three days: First, on the matter of the common good: In a stunning statement on Wednesday from the US...

The minor prophets: Varied voices, including our own

In discussing the twelve “minor prophets”, I began last time by treating the three who were active in the eighth century before Christ. This time I will take up what I call the four “exilic” prophets, that is, those whose mission fell during the period just before or during...

How do we really know Jesus Christ founded a specific Church?

In the second video in the How do we really know? series, I examine the evidence for Christ’s specific foundation of the Catholic Church, exploring the expectations of the Jews, the connections in Our Lord’s teachings with the idea of a church, the evidence for the actual...

How do we really know Jesus Christ founded a specific Church? (audio track from video)

Click ► to play, if audio does not autostart. Your browser does not support the web audio player. This is the audio track from the second installment of our How Do We Really Know video series, for those who prefer audio only. To view the video or consult the supplementary print...

Are those who experience same-sex attraction prone to abuse?

I noticed on our Facebook page that there was a brief discussion of whether or not those who experience same-sex attraction are predisposed to sexual abuse. Without considering the distinction between abuse that is legal and abuse that is illegal, the answer is “yes” of...

The Orchestra Analogy: One Divine symphony, no restarts

That great twentieth-century evangelist, Bishop Fulton Sheen, had a brilliant ability to come up with examples and analogies to make Catholic teaching easier to understand. One example is the analogy of the orchestra that he used to explain Original Sin. We all understand that the sins of Adam and...

Liturgical Year Volume 3 Released: LENT

Lent (the only liturgical season with a name that is also a four-letter word!) begins on March 6th, and so the Lenten volume of our ebook series for the 2018-2019 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This third volume in the annual series covers the entire season of Lent,...

The Church and ourselves: Changes for a more effective mission

The year of Our Lord 2019 promises to be momentous for the Catholic Church. My goal is to make it also the most effective year yet for CatholicCulture.org’s mission of fostering authentic Catholic renewal. What do I mean by both of these statements? 1. The Church I am under no...

What is missing in the Church today? What we brag about most: Mercy

Writing about the minor prophets on Tuesday, I mentioned this famous passage from Hosea: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings” (Hos 6:6). Now I am wondering why mercy is so conspicuously absent in the Church today. This may astound my...

The “minor” prophets: Highly relevant today

The twelve so-called “minor prophets” under the Old Covenant are traditionally grouped at the end of the prophetic books, even though they range chronologically from the 8th to the 4th century before Christ. This is probably because they are short, anywhere from one to fourteen...

Should pro-abortion Catholic politicians be excommunicated?

When Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York spearheaded the successful change to the State Constitution in January, guaranteeing abortion up to and even beyond the moment of birth, many wondered why he was not immediately excommunicated. Admittedly, the same question has been raised for years, but this...

How do we really know Jesus Christ rose from the dead?

In the first of a potential series answering key questions about Catholic faith and life, CatholicCulture.org founder Jeff Mirus examines the Resurrection of Christ. The twenty-minute video is supplemented by the written resources below, which treat this question in greater depth. We...

How do we really know Jesus Christ rose from the dead? (audio track from video)

Click ► to play, if audio does not autostart. Your browser does not support the web audio player. This is the audio track only. If you prefer video, switch to the original twenty-minute video. In the first of a potential series...

Daniel: Champion, visionary, man of prayer

The Babylonian Empire extended from the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea to the western end of the Persian Gulf in the period between the fall of the Assyrian Empire in 612 BC and its own conquest by Cyrus the Great in 539. It was during this period that Daniel was active as a source of wisdom...

Sin Taxes: Is pornography next?

It has long been common in the United States to single out products regarded as “sinful” or “addictive” for higher taxes. The logic is that consumers who lack self control are a good source of government revenue. Classic examples include alcohol and cigarettes. Closely...

Final Document for Youth Synod: A typically uneven and often vague exhortation

Documents arising from the Synod of Bishops are a bit of a slog. They typically attempt to cover a tremendously broad array of concerns grouped around the Synod’s theme, which makes them long. They typically lack differentiation when it comes to the relative importance of the various...

Sanctity under fire: Fr. Willie Doyle and the rest of us

Sometimes we benefit from practical examples of how to grow in holiness. That’s why we turn to the lives of the saints. But one drawback is that so many of those who are canonized followed particular paths of life to which the vast majority of us are not called. A gap in understanding arises...

Prolife Miracle: Mother of Mercy Clinic displaces abortion mill

For twenty-seven years an abortion clinic plied its grisly trade in Manassas, Virginia. Shortly after it got started, a pro-life counseling center called AAA Women for Choice opened up next door to intercept and help pregnant women. Peaceful demonstrations, along with prayer and fasting, became...

Beyond abortion: Responding to the deeper crisis

The day of the March for Life in Washington, DC always prompts reflection. While the grave evil of abortion is an important civilizational rallying point, the recognition that abortion is wrong does not begin to exhaust the moral crisis of our time. Our civilization was once rooted in an...

The Catholic Faith: Are we looking for challenge or change?

I admit it: I am getting so jaded that I initially misread one of yesterday’s Catholic World News headlines: CDF, Asian bishops to discuss challenges to Catholic doctrine. I thought it said “CDF, Asian bishops to discuss CHANGES to Catholic doctrine”. Perhaps this suggests a...

Love of God is known by the courage of correction, against the world

In his homily at daily Mass today, Pope Francis preached on the reading from the first Letter of John which emphasizes that whoever loves God must also love his neighbor. He contrasted genuine love with the spirit of the world, which creates division, and he offered three signs of a lack of such...

Pope Leo XIII’s ten encyclicals on the Rosary

Did you know that Pope Leo XIII, whose pontificate lasted from 1878 until 1903, issued no fewer than ten encyclicals on the Rosary? Some others mention the Rosary, such as his encyclicals on devotion to St. Joseph and on the Confraternity of the Rosary. But these ten actually have the Rosary...

Modern Popes on the Rosary

In addition to the ten encyclicals Pope Leo XIII wrote on the Rosary, six twentieth-century popes have issued documents specifically on the Rosary, plus two major texts on devotion to Mary in general. All are in our library, and listed below. LINKS: Benedict XV, Fausto Appetente Die (On...

Ezekiel the Watchman: Terror, and Hope

The ministry of the prophet Ezekiel overlapped that of Jeremiah, and his Book is the last major prophetic work in the Old Testament—unequaled until St. John’s Book of Revelations. It begins with apocalyptic visions and offers throughout a dramatic denunciation of the Israelites for all...

Liturgical Year Volume 2 Released: Ordinary Time before Lent

The second volume of our ebook series for the 2018-2019 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This volume covers the initial period of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent, from January 14th through March 5th. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following...

Eleanor Nicholson drives a stake through Bram Stoker’s heart

Since gremlins are currently inhabiting my computer, I’m willing to believe just about anything. I’m using an old light-duty laptop to limp along without most of my software until a stake can be driven through the stony heart of my usual machine. Or at least that is what I expect...

A new—and illegal—attempt to pass the Equal Rights Amendment

One cost, surely, of Donald Trump’s consistently ungentlemanly behavior was the loss of the Republican majority in the US House of Representatives in the November elections, which will take effect later this month. It is possible to affirm this judgment whatever one thinks of Trump’s...

Crime and punishment: A papal bull in the Church’s china shop

Pope Francis has decided not only to raise questions about the prudence of capital punishment in our world today but also to cast into doubt centuries of previous Catholic moral teaching on the subject. It is true, to give Pope Francis his due, that there is no single definitive teaching by the...

Prospects for renewal in a Church without discipline?

In reading Elio Guerriero’s new and definitive biography of Pope Benedict XVI, I noticed this assessment of Benedict’s leadership style: Rather than taking concrete measures, he preferred admonitions, leaving those concerned the freedom to adapt to the required behavior. As for the...

Revelation: Minimal authority, lived in suffering

It could have been done differently, of course. God could have presented a continuous interior Revelation to each and every one of us, so that we all could enjoy a perfect uninterrupted awareness of His Being and His Divine will. But that would have made an even worse mess than we are in now. For...

Greater use of audio? Now 3 tests. Feedback requested.

I’ve been thinking about ways to make a more personal connection with those who use our website. One way to make that connection is to use the human voice in some of the resources we provide. I’ve been experimenting just a little with the creation of audio material. At the same...

The abuse crisis: Sacrificing ourselves for the Church?

In the second of his interviews with Thomas V. Mirus on the abuse crisis, Fr. Roger Landry explains how we can all contribute to a solution, even those who are not guilty. Perhaps especially those of us who are not guilty: The guilty, after all, are far less likely to contribute to the...

Baruch: Jeremiah’s scribe, against hopelessness and idolatry

The Old Testament Book of Baruch is very brief, just six chapters, but it is still divided into three sections, each one fascinating in its own right. The book was nominally composed by Jeremiah’s scribe, Baruch, who had to write all of Jeremiah’s visions and prophecies in a scroll,...

Hardened sinners? Perhaps more than you think.

In last week’s commentary (Church in crisis: The scourge of a sycophantic society), I called a significant portion of the nominally Catholic laity “hardened sinners”. As I explained it: A “sycophant” is a “servile flatterer”. So a sycophantic community...

Advent-Christmas Ebook released for new liturgical year

The Advent and Christmas ebook volume for the 2018-2019 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This is the first volume for the coming new liturgical year, which begins on December 2nd, the First Sunday in Advent. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following...

Church in crisis: The scourge of a sycophantic society

If I do say so myself, what a title! A nice, round sixteen syllables. Pleasingly alliterative. Hissingly sibilant. You could call it both sinister and sassy at the same time. Of course it helps if the reader actually knows what it means. A “sycophant” is a “servile...

The problem with “human dignity” as a moral argument

Pope Francis’ revision to the Catechism on the death penalty says, among other things, that “there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the human person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes” and that “the death penalty is inadmissible...

Urgent: With a $60,000 Challenge Grant in the balance, I need your help.

This Fall, eighty-five of our Boosters joined forces with seven other generous donors to offer a Challenge Grant of $60,000 to make it easier for CatholicCulture.org to raise the funds it needs to continue its mission in 2019. As of this writing, we have matched only $31,000, which means we still...

A modern lamentation, or jeremiad, on Church governance

When I am not lamenting how tough it is to raise funds for CatholicCulture.org (which is all too frequent this time of year), I’m lamenting the governance of the Catholic Church. As Hilaire Belloc told the Anglican bishop William Temple, it is a sign of the Church’s divine character...

Send The Smoke of Satan to your bishop. Really. Do it.

Phil Lawler’s new book, The Smoke of Satan, is more than a superb analysis of what has gone wrong in the Church that has led to our current crisis. It also gives you something simple you can do all by yourself to help right the barque of Peter. And you really should take advantage of that....

When politics is not local, the antidote is natural law.

Many experienced political campaigners stress that all politics is local. This is a useful axiom when both the freedom and the ability to engage politically are relatively widespread. In these situations, the building blocks of political victory are local building blocks, so much so that a...

Jeremiah had nothing on us.

Jeremiah is the classic prophet of doom in the Old Testament. He also promised relief in return for repentance and an ultimate restoration of Israel, but since almost nobody paid attention to his prophecies of the destruction of Israel for its sins, Jeremiah had very little opportunity to talk...

Gambling with souls: The choice for or against God

Reading Phil Lawler’s commentary about Archbishop Viganòs concern for souls, I cannot help reflecting on the misunderstandings which rob so many pastors of the same concern. Much of this can be traced to that spiritual cowardice which passes for a prudent refusal to give offense, but...

Avoid discouragement, feed your soul: New books that can help

Given the problems facing the Church today, from both within and without, it is easy to become discouraged. It is easy to wonder whether it is any longer worthwhile trying to draw people into a Church which seems to do its best to betray them. And it is easy to wonder whether it is even possible...

The road to Hell is paved with Catholic ideals.

It is becoming increasingly common (again!) for bishops and theologians to refer to the moral law as an “ideal”. This is simply more evidence of the secularization of what passes for Christian thought. For example, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago has used this language in commenting...

Isaiah: The Poet of Salvation

The Book of Isaiah the prophet is the longest book in the Bible except for the entire collection of the Psalms. It is also arguably the most beautifully poetic book apart from the Psalms. In one inspiring passage after another, the prophet faithfully pronounces God’s judgment on Israel along...

Partying bishops?

As a follow-up to yesterday’s commentary, The secularization of Christ: A case study, I should note that the same principles apply to discussions at the Synod on Youth. When bishops pile on to endorse positions which are already wildly popular in the larger secular culture, they are...

The secularization of Christ: A case study

Yesterday, in my seismographic essay on the Youth Synod, I argued that the crisis of the Church today was rooted in the secularization of Catholicism, that is, the secularization of the message of Christ in ways that please our dominant culture. “This is why,” I wrote, “so many...

Measuring the Synod on Youth: Whose seismograph?

The Synod on Youth is destined to become a microcosm of the battle between Catholics who are rich in faith and those who have become secularized. Some readers bridle when I say things like this, but while secular attitudes affect all of us to some degree, the crisis of the Church in our...

Bias in Artificial Intelligence? The irreplaceable riddle of man.

Because I run a website and depend on computers, I keep up with basic technology news. That’s how I know, for example, that so-called “smart” watches have provided data to help convict killers (see Fitbit Data Ties 90-Year-Old Man to Murder). A man visited his daughter-in-law and...

Golden threads of Wisdom in the Book of Sirach

In late August, I examined one of the difficult passages in the Book of Sirach (see Did the Book of Sirach pinpoint the Church’s abuse crisis?). Now it is time to give Sirach its place in my series on the books of the Bible. Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) is part of the Wisdom literature,...

“Accusers”, Archbishop Viganò, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit

Do we really have to explain these things? I received a clearly unfriendly email from one of our registered users arguing that the Pope had rightly dismissed the Viganò testimony without addressing its claims, because this testimony was a series of baseless and mean-spirited charges...

What about the Chinese deal?

Many Catholics are incredulous that Pope Francis has reached an agreement with the government of China. The agreement allows the government to nominate acceptable candidates for each bishopric, and stipulates that the Pope will choose one of these proposed candidates. I have only one...

The removal of the Church’s Cone of Silence

In response to my commentary “In denial about not ordaining homosexuals?”, a reader insisted on an interesting point in Sound Off: “I don’t usually do this but—you’re wrong. The problem is not clerical homosexuals…. Secrecy is the problem.” We do...

In denial about not ordaining homosexuals?

I won’t bore you with the details, but every time the Vatican issues an instruction stating that those with clear homosexual tendencies should not be admitted to the priesthood, there follows a plethora of articles—including some in L’Osservatore Romano itself—in which the...

Five things every Catholic can do to end the abuse crisis

When I wrote that faithful Catholics “need to spend more time in prayer and sacrifice than in advocacy for a papal resignation” (see Pope Francis: The resignation scenario), I received notes from only a very few people who disagreed. These few asserted that it was a very good thing to...

The surpassing relevance of Mary’s Jewish roots

Brant Pitre just won’t quit, and we should be grateful. Image Books (Random House) has just sent me an uncorrected proof of the fourth in his series of books exploring the Jewish understanding of key Messianic texts at the time of Christ. The purpose of the books is to shed greater light on...

Quick Hits: Small Advances on Abuse Crisis

Matters have been unfolding slowly since Archbishop Viganò’s revelations about the Church’s handling of the homosexually abusive Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. But here are three straws in the wind: Timetable on McCarrick Confirmed: Two portions of the timetable have been...

The Wisdom of Solomon: Written for the 21st century?

Although I jumped into the Book of Sirach briefly to make a point about the abuse crisis, my intermittent series on the books of the Bible saw its last installment—on the Song of Solomon—back in July. It is time now for the Wisdom of Solomon, usually referred to simply as...

Pope Francis: The resignation scenario

I am currently reading a detective novel by David Hewson, A Season for the Dead, which touches in part on deep financial and sexual corruption within the Vatican. It was published in 2004 when the financial corruption was well-known though not, perhaps, the other. But the two often go hand in...

I’d rather be an angel...or would I?

For CJP who, with the courage of friendship, has advised me to have a heart. On the way to Mass this morning, I was reflecting (as is my wont) on the idiocy of all those who do not see things as I do. Fortunately, I find it difficult to maintain a completely self-righteous posture in my sleepy...

On the abolition of women…and men

Fiorella Nash, a bioethicist in the United Kingdom, has a new book out entitled The Abolition of Woman. It’s a valid thesis. But I want to take it further, because even though more women than men are being physically destroyed, it is not just women who are being abolished, but men as...

Alas, poor Cupich. I knew him, Horatio.

I trust most readers will recognize my title as a modified line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the graveyard scene in which Hamlet and Horatio come across the late court jester’s skull. As a child, Hamlet had known and liked the jester, whose name was Yorick. Hence the line delivered while...

Did the Book of Sirach pinpoint the Church’s abuse crisis?

“What is the difference between the scandals of the Church of the 16th and 17th centuries and the Church of today? The lust, narcissism, pride, and abuse of power are pretty much the same. The difference we see now lies in the nature of the lust. We are forced today to face the tragic...

A serious rapid-fire credit card attack in late July

To help us cover the costs of strengthening our defenses, please make a donation now. The last three weeks have been “interesting”. On July 27th and 28th, while I was innocently visiting the family of my oldest son in the Dallas area, CatholicCulture.org suffered a sustained...

Why do Catholics speak so often of “the Church” instead of “Christ”?

In a recent discussion of the mission of CatholicCulture.org, an interesting question came up: Why do we have the word “Catholic” in our name, and not the word “Christ”? Similarly, one of the mission slogans I use frequently is to “enrich faith, strengthen the Church,...

The managerial class: Top companies are usually our enemies

Most people who fully accept the teachings of the Catholic Church tend to be conservative politically. Insofar as there is a strong strain of conservative thought in favor of the natural law, this is generally a good thing. Insofar as there is also a strong strain of conservative thought which...

President Duterte: When is a Catholic not a Catholic?

The President of the Philippines, in a profanity-laden message, has declared he is no longer a Catholic. He claims to have been abused by a Jesuit as a teenager, and while that allegation can no longer be met with outraged disbelief, only God knows whether it is true. One wonders, of course, how...

Marshalling our forces: Politics in America today

I am sure Robert G. “Delegate Bob” Marshall is sick of bad puns on his last name, but full disclosure forces me to reveal that I’m a friend…so he’ll have to live with it. Happily, Marshall has just had a new book published by TAN entitled Reclaiming the Republic....

“If bloodless means are sufficient”: The devil of capital punishment is in the details

In yesterday’s commentary on the recent change to the Catechism on the use of the death penalty, I passed over fairly quickly the tricky question of when the death penalty may be necessary to protect the community. This is an interesting question because it is not clear exactly what the...

Welcoming the Catechism’s changes on the death penalty

A number of bishops around the world, including the episcopal conferences of Latin America and the United States, have welcomed Pope Francis’ recent revision to the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the use of the death penalty. But as Phil Lawler pointed out in commentaries posted on...

Catholic parents taken unawares? Not any longer.

My visit to my oldest son’s family in the Dallas area this week leads me to reflect on family life as it is lived daily, not as it is lived in the head of a grandfather posting cultural commentaries online. In this case we are talking about Mom and Dad and two boys, ages six and three (and...

Successful societies are (always) rooted in the family

Creating the ideal society through individualistic emancipation is a fool’s project. It cannot be done. That is why the more our politics emphasizes the freedom of each individual to pursue his own vision of reality, the more government control is necessary to keep the social order from...

The Song of Songs: Yearning for fulfillment

St. Augustine’s great insight into the spiritual life is perhaps most aptly captured by this famous statement which he addressed to God: “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You” (Confessions, Book 1). If we were asked to identify a...

Discernment is important, so let’s not make a mockery of it.

It is easy to make jokes about the contemporary Vatican effort to eliminate problems through “discernment”, as if discernment by itself can eliminate objective patterns of evil. Part of this is simply the tendency of Church officials to reflect instantly the favorite ideas and...

Vanity of vanities, all is vanity: Ecclesiastes

The Book of Ecclesiastes offers fascinating insights into what the Jewish intellect had grasped of the purpose of life two or three hundred years before Christ. The voice of the book is that of Ecclesiastes, or “the Preacher”, who was King over Jerusalem, and who may be construed in...

A challenge to the Vatican from America’s consecrated virgins

The recent Vatican Instruction “Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago” on the “Ordo virginum” has caused considerable distress among consecrated virgins in America, and presumably elsewhere. This is evident in a preliminary statement issued today by the United States Association of...

Discouragement is not an option: Weigel on the fragility of order

In the midst of the disturbing now of a crazy Summer (see, for example, Phil Lawler’s two latest posts on political priests and Italian influence in the Curia)—in the midst of this disturbing now, I say, perhaps it is time to refresh ourselves with calm and studied reflections on the...

Six books to tell you what you need to know

The sad truth is that I do not have time to keep up with all the sound Catholic books being published today. How different this is from the 1970’s when I got my start, a time in which nearly every Catholic publisher deliberately undermined the teachings of the Church! Moreover, the books I...

The Germans on intercommunion: Joke, or mere absurdity?

The story we picked up from OnePeterFive on the new German “guidelines” for intercommunion reads like a parody. Frankly, I’m wondering if it is. If you click through our summary to the story on which it is based, you’ll see what seems to be a very dodgy effort by the...

Proverbs, read spiritually

It is time, in this series on the books of the Bible, to take a quick look at Proverbs. I also did this back in early 2016, but the purpose then was simply to pluck some of the proverbs that had particularly struck me during my reading in January of that year (see A few pointed remarks (from...

Abortion vs. Immigration: Don’t take the bait.

It is already happening, and it gives us a bad name. Hearing of the widespread denunciation among our bishops of President Trump’s (now discarded) policy to separate children from their migrant parents at the Mexican border, a certain number of Catholics who read CatholicCulture.org are...

Hope at New York University?

The history of the Dominican Order in New York is fascinating and uplifting—as recounted by Fr. John Maria Devaney to Thomas V. Mirus in last week’s Catholic Culture Podcast (listen to 150 Years of Holy Preaching). One of several memorable highlights was the service to those suffering...

The perfectly legitimate public authority of the Church

In the first three essays in this series, I have been arguing against our modern cultural prejudice that all religions are essentially the same, that they are all merely different forms of a personal and private sentiment. Though it may not always have been obvious, I have been probing the nature...

Refuse to breathe thin air: Know the source of your convictions, challenge others on the source of theirs

I’ve written recently about the deliberate exclusion of informed religious faith as an influence in the political and social life of the West (see “Time to give the lie to a culture in denial” and “Dangerous! Both religious exclusion and religious common cause”)....

Redemption and Salvation in the Psalms

If so many different kinds of suffering are the subject of prayer in the Psalms*, it is impossible not to wonder how salvation is perceived by their authors. Is the saving power of the LORD invoked for personal health and prosperity in this life, for the ultimate freedom and peace of the Jewish...

Will Pope Francis now discourage “discerning away” impediments to Communion?

The latest letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the German bishops may mark an important shift in the way Pope Francis is handling impediments to the reception of Holy Communion. In broad terms, the same fundamental issue lies at the heart of both the widespread desire to...

Dangerous! Both religious exclusion and religious common cause

In my essay “Time to give the lie to a culture in denial?”, I suggested that we need to take seriously that Christianity is publicly revealed by God. Such seriousness is necessary to challenge one of the most deeply cherished and incontrovertibly false assumptions of our contemporary...

Time to give the lie to a culture in denial?

I’ve been saying it for years. The claim that all religions are the same, and all equally unverifiable, is the height of folly. Rather, we must distinguish between religions based on human claims and those based on the claims of God Himself—those which command assent through an...

Suffering in the Psalms

In the previous installment I stressed that the Psalms are first and foremost a collection of prayers.* As such they inescapably reveal the general themes which are uppermost in the minds and hearts of those who pray: Concern about present suffering and a better future, the thirst for God and the...

Catholic renewal in the long defeat: Engaging Conor Sweeney

I’ve just finished a fascinating new book by Conor Sweeney from Angelico Press entitled Abiding the Long Defeat and subtitled “How to Evangelize Like a Hobbit in a Disenchanted Age”. While I do not think every emphasis in this book is directly on target, important insights leap...

God made you like that, and I do not care.

In today’s news story about a sex abuse victim’s understanding of the personal counsel of Pope Francis (Chilean abuse victim: Pope said I should be happy as a homosexual), we have Juan Carlos Cruz quoting the pontiff as saying: “God made you like that and he loves you like that...

The Church’s latest foray into economics: Brief, clear, on point

[B]usiness management cannot concern itself only with the interests of the proprietors, but must also assume responsibility for all the other stakeholders who contribute to the life of the business: the workers, the clients, the suppliers of various elements of production, the community of...

What IS the proper relationship between Church and State?

My last commentary (Crosses on public buildings: Yes or No?) indirectly raised the question of the right relationship between Church and State in a well-ordered society. This is a relationship that has been deeply distorted by the division of Christianity in the sixteenth century, and further...

Crosses on public buildings: Yes or No?

I would not single out this issue, since it comes from a correspondent I had already mentioned, except that in this case we have a good question. In response to our story on the German State of Bavaria’s decision to put crosses on public buildings, we received an email stating categorically:...

Authentic religion: Not what we want, what God has revealed

In my recent foray into weird emails (Mercy vs. Truth: The mark of hypocrisy), I said I wanted to illustrate “the most important problem with religious belief in the modern West”, which is that “people very frequently make up their own religion to suit their own...

Mercy vs. Truth: The mark of hypocrisy

We get some odd messages in response to our Daily News Headlines and Insights messages; and while it would be wrong to use names without permission, sometimes the comments are too good to pass up. I say this because they are so utterly revealing of the most important problem with religious belief...

The Psalms: Deep questions, with only hints for answers

Reading through the first twenty books of the Old Testament, it is fairly easy to highlight particular themes or dominant purposes in each one which can help people understand them better. Such themes and purposes apply not only to each book but to their place in Scripture as a whole, particularly...

Insistence on the Church’s authority is required for growth.

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my frustration gets such an upper hand of me,...

Why can’t the Church stop harping on purity?!

In the wake of yesterday’s conviction of comedian Bill Cosby for sexual assault, we might well revisit what many regard as the obnoxious Catholic emphasis on purity. While we hear less about it in a secularized Church, everybody knows the traditional emphasis is always just beneath the...

Christian insistence on purity and moral change

One of the grave problems in the contemporary Church is the number of men and women in leadership and teaching positions who insist it is wrong to demand that those in immoral sexual relationships change their behavior. Worse still are those who claim—or refuse to correct the...

Holiness, always personal and over against the world

On almost any day of the year, we will hear reports that religious leaders have urged political leaders to recognize the moral imperative to take particular positions on contested prudential issues. (Urgent appeals to oppose intrinsic evils are actually far less common, but that is not my topic...

Catholic sexual liberation: A rerun way too late

First Things editor R. R. Reno gets things right almost as often as I do (and with a consistently richer mix of public awareness and erudition). In this month’s issue, he editorialized about the new Catholic rush to accompany those who are committed to lifestyles which give the lie to...

Political holiness? More on Gaudete et Exsultate!

In my essay on Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on holiness (Challenge yourself with Gaudete et Exsultate!), I promised to write separately about the Pope’s emphasis on the equality among all moral issues. Francis wrote that it was wrong to use attention to grave bioethical issues...

Challenge yourself with Gaudete et Exsultate!

If people do not think they can learn anything about holiness from Pope Francis, they need to think again. The Pope’s latest Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad): On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World, recapitulates and develops several favorite themes...

Seven spiritual mistakes of “good Catholic parents”

A few weeks ago I wrote that the greater part of what is wrong with young people today is parents (see A Church of kids: Will the Synod on Youth get it backwards?). I also touched briefly on some key elements of sound Catholic parenting, particularly in education. But it would be wrong to give the...

A Church of kids: Will the Synod on Youth get it backwards?

I am one of those who is not sure whether to laugh or cry at the effort of the Catholic Church to devote a Synod of Bishops to youth. It goes without saying that the Church can do many good things with and for young people. But the prospect still raises all of my red flags. Sure, I’m a...

The war against Africa: Ideological colonialism

I have long been convinced that those who seek political office are, as a general rule, morally unfit to rule. We could make an example of almost any historical regime to illustrate this thesis, for nearly every ruling group, whatever good it may have done, has deliberately led (not followed)...

K of C installs ultrasound machines across North America

For almost ten years, the Knights of Columbus have been paying for ultrasound machines to be purchased and installed in pro-life centers throughout the United States and Canada. In America, the machines have now been installed in all 50 states. Since the Ultrasound Initiative began in 2009, it...

Job’s Controversial Innocence

The Book of Job is a fascinating study of the Jewish grasp of the problem of good and evil in the period following the Babylonian Captivity. While the book teaches a valuable lesson, it is a somewhat negative one—that, in the first place, we cannot know whether someone has been good or evil...

Picking up papal themes: Discernment and accompaniment

Discernment and accompaniment are buzzwords now in Catholic circles, and that’s not surprising. Key themes sounded by each pontificate are picked up quickly throughout the Church as ways of focusing Christian witness in whatever manner the Holy Father believes needs special emphasis. So it...

What is the law? When can we ignore it? Part 3: Natural Law

The money question in this series on the nature of law is: “When are we morally obliged to disobey a law?” The answer is: “Whenever it commands us to take an action which is morally contrary to the natural law.” As in the preceding two installments, we recognize that such...

What is the law? When can we ignore it? Part 2: The Common Good

In Part 1 of this article, I tried to explain that what we call a law is actually not a law if it lacks one of the four causes necessary to create a law: (1) Public promulgation, by (2) the proper authority, in order (3) to effect the common good, and taking the form of (4) a precept of reason in...

What is the law? When can we ignore it? Part 1: True Law

Civil authorities make many bad laws. This is an inescapable part of the human condition. The majority of bad laws are simple failures of prudence: These laws do not, for a wide variety of reasons, accomplish the ends for which they are enacted and, in the process of not accomplishing those...

Is it wrong for women religious to serve priests and bishops?

I don’t know about you, but I’m both bemused and confused by the denunciation of women religious serving bishops in a recent edition of L’Osservatore Romano’s insert devoted to women. The magazine insert is a rather predictable creation of the current pontificate, edited by...

Random reflections on public shootings and ultimate safety in our time

We can all agree that it is a Very Bad Thing when crazed or terrorist gunmen unleash volleys of lethal bullets against school children, churchgoers, and the general public. But after that, in America at least, the agreement ends. Some argue that it should be harder for people to get their hands on...

Two strong women of the Old Testament: Second, Esther

The Book of Esther is set in Susa, the capital of Persia, which is ruled by one King Ahasuerus, who has power of life and death over all the communities of Jews who had settled in his territory during the exile. But unlike many in the kingdom, Ahasuerus has good reasons to think well of the Jews....

Two strong women of the Old Testament: First, Judith

Heroines are not lacking in Scripture. In addition to others whom we meet in the various texts, whole books of the Old Testament are devoted to Ruth, Judith and Esther. Eve too is a heroine in her own way, as of course is Mary. In this series on the books of the Bible, it is time for a look at the...

The Genesis Wars: Forgetfulness of Christ?

I’ve had several interesting discussions lately probing the account of Creation in Genesis, on the one hand, and the scientific theory of evolution, on the other. Discussions of human origins are endlessly fascinating! Too often, however, they carry a high emotional cost. They may even...

Practicing apologetics upon ourselves: Five models

When I first wrote on this topic in the last months of the pontificate of Benedict XVI, I did not realize how much more important it would become under Pope Francis. But the following assertion has become increasingly obvious over the past five years, namely, that apologetics is often more...

Benedict XVI’s gift to priests: The ministry people really need

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the remarkable embodiment of the priesthood by Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) was a great gift to priests. Thanks to a collection of his homilies for chrism masses, ordinations and other occasions, this is a gift that keeps on giving. While I...

Four ways to grasp natural meaning from the God Who Is

I have set myself a bit of a task here, and it is all the fault of four excellent authors who have tackled the modern dismissal of God in four significantly different ways, all during the past fifteen months. I say “tackled the modern dismissal of God”, but they might not all conceive...

Have good and evil changed? The Pontifical Academy for Life wants to know.

In recent weeks we have seen two presentations by members of the Pontifical Academy for Life which suggest that the very nature of good and evil has changed. Surely others could be cited, but I refer to a newly appointed member of the Academy, Maurizio Chiodi, who argued that contraception is...

On the “kidnapping” of Edgardo Mortara by Pope Pius IX: Who is right?

Vittorio Messori’s recent book, Kidnapped by the Vatican?, has created quite a furor. Different wings of the Church are at odds over the issue raised by the late-nineteenth century case of Edgardo Mortara, who was taken from his Jewish parents to be raised a Catholic after he had been...

Inspiring Bible study during Lent? Yes, and it is free.

The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology in Steubenville, Ohio is mostly the brain child of the noted convert, Scripture scholar and popular speaker, Dr. Scott Hahn. It has grown over the years to encompass both new and pre-existing initiatives, such as Emmaus Road Publishing (and Emmaus...

Karl Keating: In the vanguard of Catholic renewal

In writing his new 239-page memoir, Booked for Life, Karl Keating has done a great many things well, but I would like to begin by praising a deceptively small feature. How could something as simple and effective as a page-marking ribbon have disappeared from nearly everything but prayer books?...

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