By Phil Lawler
Showing most recent 200 items by this author.
Encouraging your pastor toward Eucharistic revival
The pastor, when he sees you approaching, might think: “Oh, boy; here’s that guy who’s always telling me about the things I should do.” If so, he won’t be anxious to talk to you.
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A simpler program for the Eucharistic revival
Rather than talking about devotion to the Eucharist, why not show devotion, and thus encourage others to do the same?
The inherent hypocrisy of liberal ideology
This has become a fairly standard practice among liberal polemicists: accusing their opponents of doing exactly what they themselves are doing.
How Republicans can win on the abortion issue
Since pro-abortion candidates will reject any restrictions, a firm pro-life leader will demonstrate the extreme, uncompromising nature of his opponent's position on this crucial issue.
Now call it the Synod of Bishops and Selected Others
Back in January, three top Vatican officials— with the Pope’s explicit approval— told of the German bishops that they “are not empowered to create a governing or decision-making synodal assembly” that included clergy and laity as well as bishops. So why are lay people included as voters at the October Synod meeting?
A ‘conspiracy theorist’—and a Kennedy—as a presidential contender
This Kennedy presidential campaign is going nowhere— certainly not to the White House. But it will be interesting to watch— if the lords of the mainstream media and the censors of the social media allow us to watch it.
Remembering a victory at Harvard: Satan defeated, the Eucharist enthroned
And all this happened because a few deluded students scheduled a blasphemous mockery, and the Catholic community responded appropriately: not with an impotent fit of anger but with a confident show of faith. Satan overplayed his hand, and got burned again.
Senator Kaine’s outrageous ‘misunderstanding’
Would the FBI only propose to send agents to the traditionalist parishes that identify themselves as “radical”? Because I know of no such parishes.
What do Germans want?
The Church is growing apace in Africa, where the ideas approved by the German Synodal Path are, quite rightly, viewed as absurd
Good Friday’s burden
[Up until last week I had never—ever—written a poem. Then one morning, after Mass, this came to me, pretty much intact, so I wrote it down, and some people liked it, so...] At last I could do no more. The weight of past mistakes—and worse Weighed down my shoulders, More...
Please: the truth about the Pope’s health
Those facts do not suggest bronchitis. Speculation about what they DO suggest is inevitable, when the information coming from the Vatican PR machinery is implausible.
Is the Synod Asking the Wrong Questions? (Part II of II)
Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich cheerfully assured one interviewer that critics “won’t be able to stop” the progress of this Synod
A new theological concept: temporary infallibility
Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger (soon to be Pope Benedict XVI) had already said that women’s ordination is impossible. So it shouldn’t be surprising if Pope Francis says the same thing.
Is the Synod Asking the Wrong Questions? (Part I of II)
For the better part of two centuries, the Church has been wrestling with the question of how diocesan bishops should interact with the Sovereign Pontiff in the guidance and governance of the universal Church. It would be a shame to fritter away the opportunity to advance our understanding of that question, merely to follow the latest fashionable trends.
Celebrating Cardinal Mindszenty’s birthday
Pope Paul— who had promised Mindszenty that he would always retain his title as Primate of Hungary— announced that the cardinal had retired. Cardinal Mindszenty loudly insisted that he had not his office voluntarily.
Getting the Synod Back on Topic
So perhaps the best possible outcome of the October Synod meeting would be a realization, among the world’s bishops, that when the Vatican causes confusion, it is their duty of the bishops to restore clarity.
Free childcare as a Ponzi scheme
The suggestion is that many stay-at-home mothers are forced to rely on the government to support their households. Instead, this proposal would force those mothers to rely on the government to care for their children. How is that an improvement?
The Vatican’s irresolute response to the threat of German schism
The German bishops have done what they have no right to do. The cautionary statements from Rome are now routinely ignored. Sooner or later the Vatican must draw the line.
Please, not another ‘program’ for evangelization
After the Council of Jerusalem, the apostles quickly spread the Gospel message across the world. After Vatican II, the Church talked about evangelization.
Will other bishops answer Paprocki’s challenge?
Bishop Paprocki is right; there is no point in pretending that all Catholics— or even all Catholic bishops— are in fundamental accord. There are serious disagreements among us, which must be addressed.
Evangelization on Ash Wednesday
Our efforts to evangelize— to bring more people into the Church, and recapture those who have drifted away— is undermined by the reluctance to speak boldly about sin and redemption, damnation and salvation.
Understanding the Vatican crusade against tradition
You may (for now, in some places, under certain conditions) be comforted, strengthened, and enriched by the traditional Mass. But you cannot promote it. The Eucharistic sacrifice, in any valid form, is the “source and summit” of Catholic spiritual life. But if the Mass is in Latin, don’t tell anyone about it.
Ex post facto legislation from the Holy See?
Today’s document says that the Pope has “confirmed” the restrictions that Cardinal Roche announced in December (claiming that the Holy See has sole authority to issue dispensations, and thus stripping diocesan bishops of that right), but the rescript looks very much like a new piece of canonical legislation, imposing those restrictions.
Cardinal Cupich’s shocking misrepresentation of Pope Benedict
This column by Cardinal Cupich is astonishing because he so blatantly misrepresents the thoughts of those who do support the perennial Catholic tradition— in particular, the late Pope Benedict XVI.
A new Vatican move against the Latin Mass—with or without canonical authority
Pope Francis has spoken frequently about the need to decentralize Church authority, to listen to the voices of the faithful, to empower diocesan bishops, to develop a “synodal” style of governance. But there is no decentralization, no listening, no synodal style— and now certainly no desire to empower diocesan bishops— in his campaign to suppress the traditional Mass.
Quick hits: an unseemly dispute over Pope Benedict’s private thoughts
Francis and Ganswein are squabbling about what he might have said, if he had said anything. But the salient point is that he didn’t say anything,
‘Credibly accused’ is still not ‘Guilty’
“There is no other precedent for the publishing of lists of the accused in society,” Bishop McManus said.
Shut up and pray
There I was, kneeling before Jesus, and doing all the talking. Dumb. Shut up, Phil. You might learn something.
Following the German bishops’ lead—to disaster
So if your goal is to empty out the Catholic churches of the world, by all means take your cues from the Synodal Path. But if the goal is evangelization, beware of German leadership.
Voice of America on female ‘priests’
The settings don’t look like churches, the participants don’t look like worshippers, and the ceremonies don’t look like a Catholic Mass. Which of course they aren’t.
When the law punishes prayer...
The language may suggest fairness, but the law is a one-way street. Only opponents of abortion are subject to punishment.
Our rivals may not be as powerful as we think
Let’s be honest. The terms “Catholic” and “efficiency” do not pop up frequently in the same sentences. Our rivals are probably no better organized than we are.
Cardinal Pell’s long shadow
Australia’s top court ruled that Cardinal Pell could not possibly have done what he was accused of doing; it was physically impossible.
Reluctant Pontiff: the end of the Ratzinger/Benedict era
As Sovereign Pontiff, Benedict XVI continued to speak, but he cut back drastically on his writing, conscious that now anything he wrote might be mistaken as a definitive pronouncement, and so cause confusion. (Would that his successor had the same prudence!)
In Pavone case, the Vatican’s silence is damaging
In the absence of a clear explanation for this unusually severe penalty, many Catholics who admire Pavone’s work are understandably confused, upset, even outraged. Still the hierarchy remains silent.
Why Pavone is defrocked—not Martin, not Rupnik
Why is Pavone severely disciplined, when priests like Father James Martin and Father Marko Rupnik continue in good standing?
The Vatican’s action against Frank Pavone: overdue yet unexplained
Priests for Life (PFL) is a large activist organization, with an annual budget of about $10 million. So a question naturally arises: can a diocesan priest devote his full-time attention to a secular organization? Can he set his policies for that organization, disregarding input from his bishop?
‘Rebuilding Notre Dame’—highly recommended
Interviews with expert restorers provide a new appreciation for the astonishing expertise that went into the original construction of the basilica, more than 800 years ago.
Biden denounces ‘hate’—and Catholic teaching
Since he believes that the Church teaches hate, I wonder why, on Sunday morning, he will turn up at a Catholic church, and affirm his allegiance to “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.”
The gap between papal rhetoric and action
But of course Pope Francis has not made such specific pleas for the release of these prisoners. On the contrary he has carefully avoided any pointed public criticism of either the Chinese or the Nicaraguan regime.
The Vatican, China, and the ‘spirit of dialogue’
"I swear to... abide by the national constitution, safeguard homeland unity and social harmony, love the country and religion, and persist in the principle of independent and self-managed churches, adhere to the leadership of the Catholicism of my country in China, actively guide Catholicism to adapt to socialist society and contribute to the realization of the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation."
Neutrality is not an option
Recently I heard a conservative television commentator say of the sexual revolutionaries that “they’re coming for your children.” That, I think, was a particularly dull observation. They came for your children years ago; did you only just now notice?
A Congressional assault on religious freedom
The Act promises to respect my beliefs as long as I respect same-sex marriage. But believing as I do, I cannot recognize same-sex marriage. So the legislation requires me either to renounce my beliefs or maintain my silence.
The single-issue newspaper?
What would you say about the competence of a journalist who headlined a story: "New York Times chooses new editor for pro-abortion propaganda campaign?”
What ‘active participation’ really means
Our goal is active participation; yes. But active participation in what?
Quick hits: tough talk about Vatican II and the aftermath
“Let’s be plain: the Church has been in schism since 1968, if not earlier."
Amnesty after the lockdown? For Whom?
For the Church, after the Covid lockdown, “moving forward” entails asking how our pastors came to believe that our physical health was more important than our spiritual health, so that for months they denied us the sacraments. That was not a failure of scientific judgment; it was a failure of faith.
Apologizing for hard truths
A priest condemned abortion, said that homosexual acts are mortally sinful, and added that that the distribution of free contraceptives is “promoting promiscuity” and that it is “lunatic” to encourage children to question their sexual identity. “The views expressed do not represent the Christian position,” the bishop said... They don't?
The Void in Church leadership: Is damnation possible?
Bad churchmen are a vexation, but an understandable and probably unavoidable vexation. Harder to explain -- and progressively harder to deny -- was The Void at the center of the Church's activity: the absence of concern for souls in jeopardy.
Gender dysphoria: First, do no harm
Isn’t it a grave disservice— a sin against charity— to encourage young people in their delusions?
A hostile takeover of the Pontifical Academy for Life
At this point it is abundantly clear that under the leadership of Archbishop Paglia, the PAL is no longer the institution that was established by Pope John Paul II to defend the dignity of human life.
Now the Pontifical Academy for Life adopts ‘pro-choice’ rhetoric
The “pro-choice” gambit has been eagerly embraced by the Democratic Party, the mainstream media— and now by the Vatican.
We should apologize to the North American martyrs
Would St. Jean de Brebeuf have asked for a blessing from an Iroquois shaman? How would St. Isaac Jogues have responded to the veneration of the Pachamama?
Quick hits: this week’s signs of impending doom
You may be— you should be— troubled by recent stories about FBI actions against peaceful pro-life activists. But you shouldn’t be surprised.
A ‘hostile takeover’ of Catholicism?
I have profound misgivings about this synod and the awkward, time-consuming, self-referential process it has begotten.
An encyclical to ward off hurricanes?
Notice how quickly skepticism-- which was once recognized as a hallmark of scientific rigor-- is now dismissed as "irresponsible populism."
Checking up on the Catholic fact-checkers
Recently, on a tip from an alert reader, I checked back on the CatholicFactChecking.com site, to see what new information the site has provided in the last several months. The answer: none at all.
The Vatican’s weak defense of the Rome-Beijing accord
To achieve its stated goal— a full Catholic hierarchy in communion with Rome— the Vatican-Beijing agreement would need to produce results at several times the current rate. Meanwhile the “underground” Church still faces sanctions, the Patriotic Association still issues orders, and the Vatican, fearful of upsetting the negotiations for a continuation of this questionable accord, remains silent as Cardinal Zen faces trial.
The Pope’s betrayal of Cardinal Zen
A Prince of the Church is being tried as a criminal, by a regime that tramples on human rights, and the Roman Pontiff can only say that he “thinks” he is briefed on the trial schedule?
On losing sight of fundamental beliefs
Sadly, many Catholics have lost their confidence in the Church’s leadership as a result of the scandals. Almost as sadly, many others have clung to their confidence in the leaders, at the cost of forgetting their mission.
Who are the abortion extremists? A political analysis
Clearly, Democrats think that the abortion issue is a winner for them, and many Republicans agree. So the prophecies become self-confirming.
Just a speed bump on the Synodal Path?
Synodality apparently means that a small cadre of Catholic activists— in a country where Church attendance is in freefall and hundreds of thousands of Catholics are formally renouncing their faith— should be allowed to lead the universal Church, changing fundamental moral and doctrinal tenets that have stood unchallenged for centuries.
The coming population implosion
Even Pope Paul VI, insofar as he incorporated worries about overpopulation into Humanae Vitae, was wrong.
An epidemic of false witness
A wedding is a public act, at which both the couple and their guests are testifying to something. Are they testifying to the truth? It matters.
Pas d’ennemis a gauche at the Vatican?
Pope Francis is not shy about promoting his favored political causes, such as immigration and climate-change action. But he has been remarkably quiet about overt repression of Catholicism, and even assaults on Catholic prelates, by certain regimes.
Not quite dead?
This sad case should confirm the enduring strength of the layman’s instinctive understanding that if a person is breathing, moving, heart beating, responding to stimuli— even with the help of machines— that person is not dead.
Admit it: the Rosary IS a threat
Panneton is right about one thing: in the battle that really matters, the Rosary is more powerful— and therefore more dangerous to the liberal hegemony— than an AR-15.
Another red hat for a McCarrick ally
Even on the very best reading, Bishop McElroy’s actions (or rather his inaction) have contributed to a climate of scandal that still afflicts our Church, and to the cynicism of lay Catholics who question whether our bishops are ready to police themselves.
Did the Pope really say the Church ceased to exist?
The Pope said that “the Church is either synodal or it is not Church.” Then just a few moments later: “Certainly, we can say that the Church in the West had lost its synodal tradition.” So it follows that the “Church in the West” was not Church.
The Kansas vote: a sobering reality for the pro-life movement
Too often the cautious rhetoric of the pro-life movement suggests that abortion is unnecessary, or unseemly, or unwise, or all of the above. We need to drive home the message that it is unconscionable.
Should we apologize for the North American martyrs?
Plenty of people have an incentive to speculate that children’s bodies are buried in mass graves; apparently no one has much incentive to discover the truth of the matter.
Who’s politicizing the Eucharist?
If anyone is politicizing the wanton destruction of unborn human life, it is President Biden…
Why wait for marriage?
Take two healthy young people who are in love, anxious to fulfill that love and begin their life together. Now tell them that they’ll have to wait a year. Yes, they might practice chastity, and gain much grace in the practice. But let’s face it: there is another option.
Damned if you do... [updated]
Have you heard spokesmen for Planned Parenthood say that abortion accounts for only a small portion of their work? Isn’t it curious, then, that the clinics are now shutting down in states where abortion is restricted?
The Once and Future Former Pontiff(s)
Pope Francis did not criticize his predecessor directly.... Quite the contrary. But reporters took the cue…
Inflation is a moral evil
Over the years I have seen and heard hundreds of appeals by Church officials to political leaders, calling for increased spending on various government programs to promote the public welfare. Never— not once— have I heard or seen a Church leader warn against the irresponsible spending that invites inflation.
On abortion/Communion debate, Pope’s answer raises more questions
Pope Francis said “when a bishop loses his pastoral nature, it causes a political problem.” Does a bishop lose his “pastoral nature” when he warns a member of his flock not to endanger her soul? And what IS the political problem— for whom?
The Vatican’s disciplinary double standard
“I fear that decisions depend very much upon who are the friends of the accused bishop and how much they have the ear of the Pope.”
The Pope’s liturgical non sequitur
Here Pope Francis unambiguously embraces the “hermeneutic of discontinuity” that Pope Benedict XVI diagnosed as the main reason for misunderstanding the directives of the Council.
The German bishops lead the way—out the church door
More than 2 million people have left the German Catholic Church in the past decade... Would you take business advice from consultants who had lost two clients for every one they retained?
How NOT to respond to the Roe reversal
A Supreme Court reversal of Roe does not hand the pro-life movement a victory; it only allows pro-lifers a fighting chance in what will be a bruising political battle.
The Pope indicts ‘restorationism.’ I plead guilty.
Now the “progressive” wing of the Catholic Church suggests that the magisterium became inerrant in the 1960s. The Council and its proclamations were merely a launching pad, from which the new “tradition” took off.
A bold bishop’s action: unprecedented, yet overdue
In taking this dramatic action, Bishop McManus has fulfilled his duty to protect the integrity of the faith... To the best of my knowledge— and I have been watching carefully— no American bishop has ever taken this step before.
America’s real Catholic dissidents
"Meanwhile, the genuinely “restorationist” Catholics are dwarfed – in numbers and influence – by millions of other Catholics (many in positions of influence both in and outside of the Church) who reject the actual texts of the Council...
Staying innocent of blood
St. Paul implies that if he HAD shrunk from his mission to proclaim the Gospel message in its fulness, he would NOT be innocent of Ephesian blood.
Does Canon 915 mean anything at all?
We are all sinners, in need of the spiritual healing that the Eucharist offers. But most of us are ashamed of our sins. While we fall short of the Church’s high standards, we do not call press conferences to applaud gravely sinful actions.
Pope’s rebuke to Americans; prospects for the conclave
Some analysts have suggested that the choice of Bishop McElroy is a slap at the US bishops’ conference. It is more than that; it is a whole series of slaps
Cardinal Gregory cannot duck the Pelosi-Communion ban
Either it is right to bar Nancy Pelosi from Communion, in which case other bishops should follow the Cordileone decree; or it is wrong, in which case other bishops should protest. This cannot be just a matter of local policy.
Pelosi and the archbishop(s): what next?
No one who actually reads the archbishop’s statement could fail to recognize his obvious pastoral concern for her spiritual welfare, his willingness to give her every benefit of doubt, his reluctance to take this disciplinary action.
When the party replaces the sacrament
If the party is the only reason for scheduling the sacrament, and if Church leaders meekly surrender when civic leaders proclaim that the sacraments are not essential, sooner or later apathetic Catholics are bound to realize that they can skip the ceremony and move straight to the party.
A French Vatican observer ponders the ‘end of the regime’
“The Vatican is buzzing with the most alarming rumors” about the surgery last July, from which the Pontiff recovered slowly.
The Vatican’s craven response to Cardinal Zen’s arrest
Rather than denouncing the unjust arrest of a Prince of the Church, the Vatican complimented the security forces for the way they had treated him!
Red flags in the Vatican financial trial
Even on the most benign reading, the story that Cardinal Becciu told the Vatican tribunal is a tale of unsupervised, even reckless investing, without even a hint of proper accountability.
On the sad—but inevitable?—demise of the Catholic News Service
The world of Catholic news coverage has changed enormously in the past generation, and CNS is a victim of the changes. But the need for a distinctive Catholic perspective on current events is greater than ever. I shall be sorry to see CNS leave the field.
One bishop, two dioceses: can that work?
Prelates sometimes complain that they are often ambushed at funerals or Confirmations, by parishioners who have some axe to grind. But how many of these concerned Catholics have been unable to schedule an appointment with the bishop?
An epidemic of unbaptized Catholics
The baby born in 2020 is now two years old; does that party still seem appropriate? By now the new parents have settled into a new household routine; do they even remember that their child is unbaptized?
Discord among Catholic bishops: a healthy sign
All Catholic bishops share in the responsibility to protect and defend the orthodox teachings of the Church. Remember that St. Paul challenged St. Peter at the Council of Jerusalem
While Pope apologizes, Canadian churches burn
Today, unfortunately, verbal attacks on the Church encounter virtually no public resistance— even from the Canadian hierarchy. So no one questions the choice of the Church as primary villain in this drama.
‘Popesplaining,’ just war, and calumny
I have heard and read many speeches by government leaders, commemorating the D-Day landings. Never once did any speaker fail to pay tribute to the young men who died on the beaches.
Justice and War in Ukraine—Part III: The crucial religious dimension
The potential loss of the Ukrainian Orthodox churches would be a disaster for Moscow. And while the Russian Orthodox leadership has been quietly supportive of Putin’s offensive, the Orthodox leaders of Ukraine have condemned the invasion.
False advertising in Vatican document on Catholic identity in schools
When questions arise about a school’s Catholic identity, a bishop’s first instinct should be to rush to support faithful Catholic parents. In practice, however, bishops usually choose to support the school administrators, helping them to ward off the concerned parents.
A treat for today’s feast
Father Imbelli remarks that the medieval mind had an intuition that “the personal and the cosmic are inextricably linked.” If we lack that important recognition today, is it because we are not fully prepared to acknowledge the message of the Incarnation?
Justice and War in Ukraine—Part II: What Putin Wants
“The most dangerous thing on earth is a great power that refuses to act like a great power.”
On just war, the Pope contradicts himself
“There is no such thing as a just war; they do not exist,” the Pope said last week. This week he reportedly told Ukrainian President Zelenskyy: “you must defend yourselves.” How, if not by warfare?
When the Pope breaks the rules
Pope Francis himself wrote: “I am saddened by abuses of the liturgy on all sides.” Yet here the Pope displayed the same cavalier attitude toward liturgical rules that he deplored last July.
Justice and War in Ukraine: Part I
The Russian invasion is indefensible; our sympathy for the Ukrainians is both natural and healthy. But not every step that we could take on their behalf would be prudent or morally licit. The sins of the West are scarlet, but Russia’s aggression is not a remedy for our faults.
Bombshell memo to cardinals on next papal conclave
"The first tasks of the new pope will be to restore normality, restore doctrinal clarity in faith and morals, restore a proper respect for the law, and ensure that the first criterion for the nomination of bishops is acceptance of the apostolic tradition."
The Pope’s arbitrary actions belie his call for ‘synodal’ governance
Run down the list of bishops who have been accused of misconduct and forced to resign, and you may notice that a disproportionate number could be classified as “conservative” or traditionalist in their sympathies. Or take the opposite perspective, and look at the list of prelates who have retained in office or even promoted during the current pontificate, despite evidence of misconduct, and notice the preponderance of progressives.
Wanted: a Covid Truth-and-Reconciliation committee
But it is not Covid— that is, not the disease— that has shut down thousands of small businesses, kept millions of children out of school, driven millions of adults into depression, forced the postponement of important medical screenings, and drastically curtailed our civil liberties.
Being a bishop means never having to say you’re sorry
Have you heard of a case in which, after an accused priest has been cleared of abuse charges, he has received an apology from the bishop who suspended him? I haven’t.
The hopeful trend that nobody notices
We hear often about the severe decline in attendance at Sunday Mass. But I’m reporting that— at least from my perspective— there’s another, more hopeful trend: a quiet growth in the cadre of people at Mass every day.
A type of Catholicism the Washington Post could love
No doubt the _Post_ editorial writers thought that they were offering a compliment, since “comfort, good works and education” are the greatest benefits they expect from any institution.
Putin has alienated Ukraine’s powerful Orthodox community
Bear in mind that the Byzantine-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church was brutally suppressed the last time Moscow gained control over Ukraine, during the bloody Stalin years.
Brain damage feared: not from Covid itself, but from the lockdown
"...their research suggests that the brain inflammation might have been caused not by the disease, but by the lockdown."
Caught: one red herring
See the non sequitur? "The Catholic Church, which forbids priests from marrying, has been repeatedly rocked by child sex abuse scandals around the world over the last three decades."
Could charges be dismissed in Vatican’s landmark finance trial?
In no other legal system— at least, none that honors the rule of law— would the victim of a crime have the authority to set new rules of the prosecution.
How Canada’s policies imitate the Berlin Wall
Church leaders who have been quick to decry efforts to keep illegal immigrants _out_ of their countries would do well to recognize the dangers of fencing people _in_, and to sound the alarm as Canada slips off the list of free societies.
Traditionis Custodes: a needless extension of papal power
For any bishops who saw traditionalists undermining the unity of the faithful, the solution was always close at hand. So why did Pope Francis, who so often speaks of decentralizing the Church’s decision-making process, seize on this alleged problem as a reason for Roman intervention?
Do we need a new Council?
Pakaluk must be thinking of a Council that we need, but probably cannot have, until some measure of clarity is restored. Or, better, a Council that we could have, if a critical mass of the world’s bishops agreed with the premise that clarity must be restored.
A Synod ‘process’ that only liberals could love
Some people are happy to discuss the _process_ of establishing a _process_ by which the Church should be directed. Others, impatient for actual _solutions_ to the problems that plague the Church, will be frustrated by round after round of inconclusive discussions.
Spy vs. spy at the Vatican
Maybe I shouldn’t assume that the Vatican Secretariat of State was worried about illegal surveillance. If it was being done by agents of the Vatican gendarmerie, investigating illegal financial activity, then it wasn’t illegal. You may recall that in October 2019, the offices of the Secretariat of State were raided— by officers of the Vatican gendarmerie.
Quick hits: bishops violating religious freedom, the media narrative on Benedict XVI
So the vaccination passport is intolerable, it is a violation of religious freedom, the bishops insisted that it should not be imposed on churches. Can you guess how the next paragraph begins? “However,…”
Rediscovering human mortality in an epidemic
You do all “the right things,” according to the latest theories, and yet you remain conscious of your own weakness, your failures, your vulnerabilities.
Vatican justice system is on trial in finance case
Cardinal Becciu retains his title, but not his privileges as a member of the College. He retains his legal right to the presumption of innocence, but not the right to be immune from accusations of criminal behavior.
Censorship and samizdat on the internet
The mainstream media are now determined to shape opinions directly, telling people what they must think, suppressing contrary evidence and dissenting opinion.
Then and now: Archbishop Roche vs. Archbishop Roche on the TLM
The traditional Latin Mass, Archbishop Arthur Roche said in 2015, is a “valid expression of the Church’s liturgy.”
Could Catholics find middle ground on vaccination?
Every argument for vaccination is based on the assumption that the vaccines will curb the spread of Covid. That assumption is now questionable; in fact, it is becoming increasingly difficult to defend.
Just what we don’t need: Catholic ‘fact-checkers’
When every major media outlet is pounding out the drumbeat of incessant and unquestioning support for the vaccination campaign, perhaps there is no great demand for a “Catholic” version of the same fare.
Funding students, not school systems: a proposal
A $1,000 voucher does not nearly cover the cost of tuition at private or parochial schools. True. But it helps— perhaps more than appears at first glance.
The backward logic of Traditionis Custodes
If the Vatican is looking for an explanation of the heightened divisions within the Church, and particularly for the latest escalation of the “liturgy wars,” the search should begin, alas, on Peter’s Throne.
Compare and contrast
In the US, over the Christmas season, umpteen Catholic bishops were photographed smiling alongside politicians who support public funding for abortion on demand. Unborn children were not available for comment.
The Pope’s stalled Vatican reforms
By making so many decisions personally, without consultation, the Pope is systematically draining off the autonomy— and thus the authority— of the Roman Curia.
The Liturgical Edsel
Whether lay Catholics wanted liturgical reform is debatable (as is the question of whether this new liturgy, the Novus Ordo, actually corresponded to the instructions from the Vatican Council). But unlike the Edsel, the Novus Ordo was never subjected to a market test. Catholics who wanted to attend Mass had no alternative.
The Vatican’s one-way ticket to liturgical reform
Pope Francis has done what his predecessor said could not be done: not quite “entirely” forbidding the TLM, but definitely suggesting that the old liturgy should be “considered harmful.”
Who denies the Novus Ordo is valid? Prepare for a surprise.
But for the sake of unity within the Church— not to mention clarity of doctrine— the fact that more than 70% of the faithful effectively deny the Church’s teaching about the Eucharist, the “source and summit of the Christian life,” is surely a more urgent concern than the claim that 0.01% deny the validity of the new liturgy.
Miracle cure: a thought-experiment
The end result of this fictional scenario, as I see it, would be not only the defeat of the Covid epidemic but also a rebirth of faith, as people recognized the legitimacy of supernatural claims.
Lay Catholics suffer from Church leaders’ silence on conscience rights
These canny politicians recognize the propaganda value of identifying opposition to the vaccines as a Catholic issue, and then dismissing it because (as Hochul put it) “everybody from the Pope on down is encouraging people to get vaccinated.” They blithely ignore the formal teaching of the Church regarding individual conscience.
Justice Gorsuch in dissent against religious bigotry
“It is astonishing that the Court tolerates this blatant invasion of religious freedom by a bigoted Governor and her health bureaucrats on the pretext of a never-ending ‘emergency’ that morphs as rapidly as the virus itself.”
Quick hits: on an archbishop’s reputation and mandatory vaccines
Pope Francis said: “I ask myself what he did that was so serious that he had to resign." Yet the Pope accepted the archbishop's resignation.
The US bishops’ statement: an invitation to disobedience
But while they rightly remind us all to examine our consciences before receiving Communion, in this document the bishops do not examine their own consciences, and ask themselves how well they are fulfilling their sacred duty to protect the Sacrament from sacrilege and scandal.
Silenced but Unquiet: a Faithful Jesuit’s Witness
I’d argue that those who have not discovered the work of this remarkable man need the book, as an introduction to one of the best writers in the contemporary Catholic world: a faithful priest, an incisive analyst, and an extraordinary prose stylist.
When a bishop plays public-health bureaucrat
When the bishop refers to the Catholic faithful as “these people,” and sees no reason for the diocese to accommodate them, something has gone profoundly wrong— something that will not be fixed by a vaccine.
Quick hits: more thoughts on the Pope-Biden meeting
"Whether Francis is personally plugging a book he hasn’t read (yet), or expecting the press to do his dirty work for him, or fudging on what he knew about a high-profile abuse case and when he knew it, or doubling down on incendiary remarks he made off the cuff, he is pretty consistently to be found playing the angles."
The Ultimate Clericalism
How could Biden (or anyone else) be expected to know that it is a grave matter to receive the Eucharist while supporting abortion, if the Vicar of Christ tells him not to worry about it?
Social media constrict the public square
In theory the internet, by making it possible for anyone to find a worldwide audience for his thoughts, should have expanded the dimensions of the public square. But in practice, because the most powerful instruments of online communication have fallen under monopolistic control, our public conversation has become severely stunted.
The scandals surrounding a key papal ally
He is one of the Pope’s most reliable allies, one of the world’s most influential prelates. He has apparently weathered the storm of criticism that battered his reputation a few years ago; the resignation of his auxiliary seemed to sap the energy of investigators. Yet some serious questions remain unanswered.
The bold speech of Bishop Schneider
So today Bishop Schneider speaks with some authority when he says that Catholics should be willing to suffer— at a minimum to risk some adverse consequences— for the sake of the faith. He has walked that walk.
French bishops waffle on the confessional seal
Are the French bishops now saying that they will obey the law, and instruct priests to violate the confessional seal when they hear of sexual abuse?
Vatican smiles on Pelosi, undercuts US bishops
Pelosi’s mission in Rome was to persuade American prelates that they should not take a forthright stand on the abortion issue. And let’s face it: the Vatican gave that mission an enormous boost.
Questionable statistics in the French abuse report
If roughly 3,000 priests molested roughly 210,000 young people— the numbers given in the report— then the average priest-molester racked up 70 victims. The report insists that this is “possible,” and maybe so. But it certainly is not plausible.
It’s time to abandon the public schools
Spirited public debate is still acceptable, the attorney general tells us. (And isn’t that nice of him, to allow free speech?) But he, and the FBI, will decide what is spirited debate and what is intimidation. Which means that in practice he and his political allies will be able to intimidate you.
How I learned to mistrust the Synod process
The synod process itself did not lend itself to propositions for dramatic change. The process was controlled by archdiocesan insiders.
Scientists, censors, and scapegoats
Today the most powerful figures in politics, the media, and academe tell us that we cannot, we must not, attempt to move the consensus about Covid vaccination. Nevertheless it moves.
The Pope vs. EWTN: too hot to handle?
A politician might fret over unfriendly editorials; the Vicar of Christ should not.
Here’s how to beat liberal censorship of ideas
If you know that the mainstream media are offering slanted coverage of some stories, and blacking out other stories altogether, you need to find outlets that will provide accurate reporting on the subjects that interest you.
On abortion and Communion, the Pope temporizes
Suppose a pastor decided to withhold the Eucharist from President Biden— not because he wanted to advance the Republican Party, not because he wanted to ban abortion, but because he wanted to save Joe Biden’s soul?
Fear: a leading comorbidity
"Hypertension and disorders of lipid metabolism were the most frequent, whereas obesity, diabetes with complication, and anxiety disorders were the strongest risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness."
On when human life begins, Cardinal Gregory flubs the question
“The Catholic Church teaches, and has taught, that life – human life – begins at conception,” Cardinal Gregory told the National Press Club yesterday. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Bishops, politicians, abortion, and a witch-hunt
The op-ed presents a challenge to Archbishop Cordileone himself. Because this essay contains an implicit threat— particularly to Speaker Pelosi— and a threat that is made repeatedly but never carried out loses all its force.
Why early Church debates were more exciting
The early Church father hit new audiences broadside with a simple, stunning message— the same message that successful Christian evangelists have always emphasized— the astonishing news that mortal men can obtain eternal life.
Remembering Uncle Di
...we wish we were wrong. We would be ecstatic if it turned out that the apparent villainy we decry had an innocent explanation, that ecclesial corruption was a phantasm, that we had misread the signs and had a long list of apologies to make.
An unintentionally revealing papal interview?
Does the Pontiff really think that traditionalist Catholics are “laughing at the Word of God?” In marked contrast with that harsh judgment, he offers no criticism of the German bishops whose “Synodal Path” threatens to challenge foundational Church teachings on faith and morals, creating a very real danger of schism.
The misuse of Church authority on vaccination
My religion tells me that I cannot violate my conscience. If my conscience tells me that I cannot take the vaccine, then, doesn’t my religion tell me that I cannot take the vaccine?
Vaccination and conscience: a challenge to Church authority
So a conflict arises: between Catholics who cannot in conscience accept vaccination, for reasons the Vatican acknowledges; and public or private authorities who insist on compulsory vaccination, which the Vatican condemns.
Do the media hate Cardinal Burke—or the faith he represents?
Why is Cardinal Burke so unpopular with these reporters? Is it simply because he adamantly defends the moral teachings of the Church— because he has become the leading exemplar of Catholic resistance against the overweening pressures of secular liberalism?
Three rhetorical questions about Vatican II and Tradition
Did the Council wish for the Church to engage with the modern world, or to be guided by the modern world?
On vaccination, NY archdiocese tramples the rights of the faithful
To say that it is “morally acceptable” to be vaccinated is not the same as saying that it is morally obligatory. With this memo, unfortunately, the archdiocese threw its weight behind the campaign to make vaccination morally obligatory.
The Pillar stories do raise questions—but not about journalistic ethics
We still do not know that influential clerics are active homosexuals. But we do know that phone calls to gay hookup sites have come from the offices of the US bishops’ conference and of the Holy See.
Quick hits: schisms and fear of schisms
Insofar as the motu proprio prevents other priests from celebrating the TLM in approved parishes, it will surely drive some people into the UNapproved SSPX chapels: a curious strategy for ending divisions within the Church
Announcing the Pope’s surgery: another Vatican PR blunder
Nearly all of the alleged financial crimes involve the cooperation, and sometimes the explicit approval, of the very agency that controls the flow of information from the Vatican: the Secretariat of State.
What St. Junipero Serra shows about Eucharistic coherence
I’ve been working full-time as a Catholic journalist for nearly 40 years now, and I still don’t know what bishops do all day.
When Jesus asks for silence
After raising the daughter of Jairus from the dead, Jesus “strictly charged them that no one should know this.” Now how could the people of that household possibly carry out the Lord’s orders?
St. Thomas More and the Masterpiece Cakeshop
As St. Thomas More learned, the promoters of the new faith are not satisfied with mere acquiescence; they demand that we not only accept their creed but endorse it, even proclaim it.
What justifies withholding the Eucharist?
The point of the lockdown was to keep people healthy. But the point of “Eucharistic coherence”— the point of withholding the Eucharist from people in a manifest state of grave sin— is to keep people _spiritually_ healthy. And isn’t that the first duty of the Church’s pastors?
Five years later: the mounting costs of a stalled Vatican audit
Answering the key questions will require some tough questioning of several influential prelates. To date, Vatican prosecutors have shown no interest in pursuing such an aggressive investigation.
Term limits for Church leaders: a policy created to be ignored?
A solid majority of the Vatican’s top officials— appointed and retained by the Pope— remain in office despite the fact that their tenure seems to violate the general rules that Pope Francis himself has set in place.
Selective indignation: Canadian calls for a Vatican apology
The schools were administered by churches, but the government was ultimately responsible. So if conditions were substandard (which they were) and abuse occurred (which it did), the blame should not fall exclusively on the Church.
Disaster looms if Pope Francis restricts the traditional Mass
If it is released in anything like its current form, the document now circulating in Rome would be a pastoral and doctrinal disaster. It would thwart a powerful movement for reform in the Church, and it would— paradoxically— undermine the Pope’s own authority.
Beware when Church leaders manipulate the language: Part II
These people— who will block the doors to those who are unmasked and undocumented— are identified as “the parish’s greeter/hospitality team.” Some greeting; some hospitality.
Beware when Church leaders manipulate the language: Part I
The quest for synodality is a key theme in the teaching of Pope Francis. But the truth is that no one has a very clear understanding what “synodality” means. And maybe that's the point.
Senator Kaine’s unhappy debut as a theologian
His bishop cannot remove him from the Senate, but he can tell Kaine that his public stands are morally indefensible, that they constitute a scandal for the Church, that they endanger his immortal soul.
Cautionary notes: what Cardinal Ladaria did NOT say
Cardinal Ladaria did NOT say that it would be wrong for a diocesan bishop to bar a pro-abortion Catholic from receiving Communion.
What we need is another Cluniac reform
History often repeats itself, but as circumstances change, things may look different the second time around.
Archbishop Cordileone’s pastoral: Pelosi’s last warning?
The point is that the Eucharist has already been politicized, by the public figures who profess their “devout” Catholicism while defending and promoting the slaughter of unborn children.
This papal reform is a blockbuster
Now the question is whether the policy will be enforced: not just the letter of the law, but the intent. Will a Vatican official still be allowed to accept donations to his “personal charity” or to an institution that he sponsors?
Vatican reforms at a crossroad, Part II: the financial scandals
One by one the Vatican officials who were questioning Becciu’s moves were eliminated; for months, the sostituto himself— the man they were all investigating— survived
Vatican reforms at a crossroad, Part I: the financial scandals
In the campaign for effective reform of the Roman Curia, the first order of business should be to rein in the excessive powers of the Secretariat of State.
When a bishop discourages baptism....
When should the Catholic Church bow to orders from the state? I offer a simple answer to that question: Never.
NOW bishops ask for ethical vaccines: too little, too late
The letter-writing campaign might have been a good idea, twelve months ago. But our bishops were silent then, when the ethical decisions were being made. Now the vaccines are on the market, billions of dollars have been invested, and the promotional campaign is in full swing. This campaign comes far too late.
On banning the Tridentine liturgy, and selling the Edsel
Isn’t it revealing, though, that the one liturgical option liberal Catholics cannot abide is the option for the ancient liturgy?
After disrupting liturgy in London, police express empty ‘regret’ but make no promises
The showdown in Southwark was particularly shocking, but the same sort of conflict has been taking place in many other places— usually, I’m say to say, with similar results.
Easter in lockdown: ‘How can I keep from singing?’
If you are an adult, raised in the Catholic Church, you can remember the splendor of the liturgical traditions. But a young child cannot; those precious memories have not been formed, thanks to the Covid lockdown. The child has been taught to be docile, to be withdrawn, to avoid strangers (and even friends), perhaps even to stay away. Isn’t that roughly the opposite of the message we want to convey to our children during the Easter season?
The financial scandal now infects the Vatican judicial system
Everywhere but in Rome, responsible officials have learned that the cover-up only compounds the crime. Unfortunately, while we still know very little about the financial machinations that provoked that astonishing police raid, we now know that Vatican officials have gone to great lengths to conceal the truth.
The outrage of the activists, the silence of the hierarchy
Liberal Catholic activists can always summon up the energy to profess surprise that the Church teaches what the Church teaches. But I confess that I am not at all surprised by the silence of the bishops who have sworn to uphold the Church’s teachings. The pattern is all too familiar.
The silence of Ireland’s Catholics: a St. Patrick’s Day lament
Did St. Patrick wait for the permission of the druids before he lit the Easter fire on the hill of Slane?
Identity politics as a (neo-pagan) religious phenomenon
“Are these activities not the ones that Tocqueville more or less predicted would characterize the kinder and gentler despotism that awaits us at the end of history?”
‘A more radical public witness’ on the Covid vaccines
What does it say about our society when the Covid vaccines— and other vaccines, and popular medications, and processed foods, and cosmetics— are prepared with the use of abortion-tainted cell lines?
Waiting for episcopal reform? Nighty-night, baby.
All the other calls for investigative commissions and policies and forced resignations of Wuerl and McCarrick miss the point. As long as Nighty-Night Baby is kept on his feet by his brother bishops, they are all still playing "let's pretend."
From feckless episcopal leadership, Lord save us
This year’s budget for the Archdiocese of Washington includes $2 million for the “continuing ministry” of Cardinal Donald Wuerl— who resigned from active ministry nearly two years ago amid what polite people call “questions” about his role in the McCarrick scandal.
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