Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

By Phil Lawler

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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.

We’re now reliving the Lincoln-Douglas debates

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.

Prepare to be cancelled

How do Facebook and Twitter and Google thrive? How do they generate revenues? The superficial answer is that they sell advertising space. The more accurate answer is that they are selling you, the user— selling you to those advertisers.

Why I won’t take a job at the Vatican

No one will be fired for declining the vaccine, the update assured us; no one would be punished for conscientious objection. But for those interacting with the public, “alternative work solutions” would be found. In other words you would be removed from your job.

Remembering the day when lightning struck at the Vatican

The sedate atmosphere in the room changed radically when one reporter— more alert than others, no doubt, and more comfortable with the Latin language Pope Benedict used— let out a gasp. The Holy Father had delivered a thunderbolt of his own.

Coming soon: a necessary showdown in the US bishops’ conference

“The tweets [by Cupich] were a call to arms for his brother bishops, but no other US bishops took up the gauntlet, at least not publicly.”

The Pope’s misplaced sympathy for fathers who leave home

In a remarkable example, Pope Francis reveals his sympathies. The abandoned mother who is “not willing” to remarry— in other words, the woman who holds fast to her marital vow even at sacrifice to herself— is the villain of the piece.

Bishops must act on—not just talk about—Biden’s abortion advocacy

We all know, at this point, what our bishops SAY about Catholic politicians who promote abortion. What we want to know now is what— if anything— they will DO.

Fear: the ultimate enemy of faith

Is Covid a dangerous disease? Absolutely! But once we have taken reasonable precautions, it is essential for us as Christians to stop worrying about a force that we cannot control.

What if everyone will eventually be Covid-positive?

Catholics boldly proclaim that every human being has the right to life. But no one has a “right” to escape death.

Bishops’ acquiescence makes restrictions on worship possible

If you believe that the emergency restrictions in place where you live constitute a violation of your right to worship freely, don’t be too quick to blame the civil authorities. The blame might lie with your bishop.

In Belarus, Vatican diplomacy fails a religious-freedom test

In this pontificate, in Belarus as in China, Vatican diplomats seem anxious to preserve amicable relations with a repressive regime, even it means sending loyal prelates out to pasture.

Mass in time of Covid: what 2020 revealed

The keepers of fashionable public opinion have encouraged us obsessively to put our trust in flimsy face masks, our hope in the pharmaceutical companies working to produce vaccines. What might happen if we put the same communal energies into prayer?

A ‘disastrous’ message from Notre Dame

With the award, Notre Dame was testifying to the world that Sheen, by his participation in a show that advanced the “pro-choice” agenda, had “illustrated the ideas of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”

Another balanced moral perspective on fetal tissues and Covid vaccines

Father Pacholczyk the “serious reasons” that might weigh in favor of taking the vaccine, for “an elderly person or someone with multiple health issues.” Most people do not fall into those categories.

Quick hits on Covid: one bold bishop, and a plea for more

While bishops have been restricting access to the sacraments, and explaining that the restrictions will save lives, Hennessey questions how many souls are being lost in the process.

After the McCarrick Report, an odd episcopal appointment

When a new bishop is appointed, he is given instructions from Rome about what will be expected of him. Specifically, my friend suggested, perhaps he is told “which bodies are to stay buried.”

Covid vaccines and fetal tissues: the moral calculus

From a Catholic moral perspective, the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are clearly objectionable; to use them is to become involved in causal chain that began with an abortion.

Quick hits on Covid: ethical vaccines, unintended experiments

"During the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is unwittingly conducting what amounts to the largest immunological experiment in history on our own children."

Archbishop Cordileone responds: the debate continued

Meanwhile a precedent has been set. When the next confrontation comes (and does anyone doubt that it is coming?), government officials can say to Church leaders: “You accepted the state restrictions; why can’t you accept these few new rules?”

Is the lockdown costing more lives than it saves?

Bad news sells, and Covid has provided editors with a bonanza of bad news. It’s clickbait. It’s panic-porn. It’s obsessive.

When the time comes for civil disobedience...

I was stunned and dismayed earlier this year, when one diocese after another shut off access to the sacraments. If it happens again I want to be ready. Who’s with me?

Public pressure or civil disobedience: a conversation with Archbishop Cordileone

If he defied the restrictions, political leaders would have condemned him for endangering the public, thus strengthened public opinion in their favor, and made it even harder to win a political campaign against the restrictions.

Quick hits: When state power threatens the Church

Hamburger goes on to explain how “the administrative state” harbors an inherent bias against religious institutions— and why that is not a mere happenstance but the result of deliberate policy decisions.

The McCarrick Report: the cover-up continues

Insofar as it is true that cash gifts from one bishop to another are “customary,” that custom is an invitation to corruption and it should be abolished.

My action items for the US bishops’ meeting

#1. Establish policies, procedures, and protocols to prevent the worship of false gods from ever happening again.

Cardinal Pell vindicated, Cardinal Parolin rebuked

Only rarely does the Secretariat of State lose internal battles at the Vatican, and this is unquestionably a loss.

A plebiscite on persecution?

When candidates promise to put pressure on the Catholic Church to ordain women, to employ active homosexuals as youth ministers, and to silence priests who oppose abortion, you can safely believe them.

The UK lockdown: where are today’s Maccabees?

In the eyes of Her Majesty’s government, some “support groups” must be exempted from the lockdown, but not groups that derive support from communal prayer.

Realism, the Pope, and the case for civil unions

It is possible to square what the Pope said with the Catholic tradition. But it isn’t easy— particularly when the Pope and the Vatican let the widespread misinterpretation of the remarks stand uncorrected.

When the rich cry poverty

It seems to me those “more progressive Catholics” get together every day in the faculty lounges at Boston College, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Fordham, and a dozen other Catholic universities.

Crowding the conclave

That two Roman Pontiffs would ignore a rule, rather than amend it, is neither a crime nor a scandal. But it is an oddity.

The Pope sows more seeds of confusion

He is, in effect, relinquishing any claim to territory that the opposing forces have already occupied— and thus creating new obstacles for any Catholics who seek to regain that territory in the future.

Quick Hits: Cardinal Farrell’s new post, a priest’s belated vindication

At a time when the Vatican is struggling to regain public confidence about its financial probity, cynics might wonder whether he was chosen for these sensitive posts because he is likely to crack down on any signs of financial impropriety, or because he can be relied upon not to notice them.

Bishop McElroy’s variation on the ‘seamless garment’ theme

So if a politician disagrees with pro-life lobbyists on the proper legislative path to ending abortion, he should not forfeit all Catholic support. Fair enough. But suppose a presidential candidate not only refuses to outlaw abortion, but promises to preserve free and unrestricted access to the procedure, pledges to guarantee government subsidies, welcomes support from the abortionists’ lobby...

Pope’s new encyclical ignores previous social teaching

In the current pontificate, I submit, it has become simply impossible to square the Pope’s statements with those of his predecessors.

Columbus Day: should we celebrate or mourn?

The same ideological anger that prompts rioters to pull down statues of Christopher Columbus is also motivating the desecration of Catholic churches.

Cardinal Becciu departs—only after ousting would-be reformers

In many respects the Becciu case mirrors the case of Theodore McCarrick, the last prelate to be stripped of his privileges as a cardinal. In both cases the Vatican’s disciplinary action leaves the Catholic world wondering: Who were his sponsors and protectors? And when will we know the full truth about his use and abuse of ecclesiastical power?

Two cheers for Archbishop Cordileone

The apostles didn’t stop celebrating the faith, despite threats of legal punishment. Insofar as they are our models, neither should we.

Courts give Congress a license to be reckless

At a time of deep national divisions and high political tensions— a time when teenage boys can become the objects of a nationwide hate campaign— the courts have given Congressmen a dangerous license to be reckless.

Malpractice in translation

The compleat contemporary liturgist is faced with a choice: He can use the words “thee” and “thine,” or he can suck the beauty out of the poetry. It’s no contest.

Will Catholics go back to Mass on their bishops’ orders?

Just a few weeks ago the archbishop effectively ruled that everyone had a rational basis for fears. Now he says that rational basis is gone. But it isn’t that simple. Many Catholics are still afraid, and the archbishop can’t flip a switch to turn off their fears.

Fear drives votes in this year’s presidential contest

Every four years partisans SAY they are frightened by the possibility that their rivals might come to power. This year I think they mean it. For faithful Catholic Americans, at least, there is reason to be fearful.

Farewell, Uncle Di: Father Paul Mankowski, RIP

He was unimpressed with academic colleagues who, he chuckled in wonderment, “wouldn’t even know how to change a shock absorber.” Then again he was also unimpressed with his own academic achievements, and congenitally incapable of self-promotion.

Sister Deirdre’s ‘old-fashioned’ religious witness

Whatever their weaknesses, the nuns who taught my grammar-school class also adhered to Sister Deirdre’s vision. There was never any doubt in my mind— because the sisters reminded us often— that they wanted all of us, their students, to go to heaven; and that they saw their teaching mission as their own way to get there.

Discovered: liturgical abuse leads to invalid sacraments

Archbishop Vigneron said that the Second Vatican Council had “established that no one ‘even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.” I beg to differ. That’s what Vatican II SAID. What was actually established was precisely the opposite.

Bishop Bransfield’s disgraceful non-apology

Did I mention that Bransfield is a protégé of the disgraced former cardinal, Theodore McCarrick? And did I mention that we are still waiting for the Vatican’s promised report on how McCarrick rose to power and influence?

McCarrick’s legacy in the Biden-Communion debate

McCarrick claimed that he had the support of Cardinal Ratzinger. He said that the Vatican official “clearly leaves to us as teachers, pastors, and leaders whether to pursue this path.” That was false.

The US bishops’ one-sided ‘dialogue’ with Joe Biden

The Catholic bishops who say that Biden should still be allowed to receive Communion— and they are, apparently, still the majority in the US bishops’ conference— argue that it is wrong to politicize the Eucharist. That is certainly true. But when the issue of Communion has been politicized— by a candidate who trumpets his Catholic faith, who runs advertisements about the inspiration he receives from that faith— how should prudent bishops react?

Our culture is attempting suicide

The public meetings that build up our culture— the concerts and parades and lectures and religious rituals— are still banned or tightly restricted. The public events that tend to destroy that culture are allowed.

The English bishops’ pre-emptive surrender on Covid vaccine

When a Covid vaccine becomes available, this statement by the English bishops will be quoted by zealous lawmakers campaigning to make the vaccine mandatory—and thus to deprive the English people of the freedom to make their own medical decisions for themselves and for their children.

Practicing Catholics without the faith

Years ago, a friend who is a priest explained why he had run into difficulties with the archbishop in a different diocese. “If he’s a Catholic, I’m not,” my friend said. “And if I’m a Catholic, he’s not.”

A shocking Vatican perspective on the pandemic

Despite stretching to well over 4,000 words, the Vatican document does not mention God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the sacraments, prayer, or even charity; even the word “Christian” does not appear in the text.

An answer to Catholic critics of the American Founding

This is a very important discussion for American Catholics during a time of national crisis, and America on Trial is a very important book. It belongs on the syllabus for any source about the American Founding.

Quick Hits: On law and metaphysics; discovering the TLM; overcoming a pandemic of fear

This judicial logic scoffs not just at the Arkansas law, “but at what nature and nature’s God have wrought.” Pay careful attention to that phrase: nature and nature’s God. Because it’s a reminder that this legal madness strikes at the very foundation of the American Republic.

The ‘respectable’ sponsors of anti-Catholic violence

There’s a strong tang of anti-Catholic bigotry in the air these days. The hostility can take overt and brutal forms (beating people as they pray), or it can take subtle and sophisticated forms (issuing regulations that effectively prevent public prayer). The one nourishes the other.

Quick Hits: American society in disarray

Sohrab Ahmari (who knows something about the topic, having lived through the Islamic revolution in Iran), charges that today’s leftist activism is not really a revolution at all, but “a reactionary putsch.”

The Supreme Court decision could end the government-school monopoly

After Espinoza there’s no longer an excuse. Educational choice is an issue whose time has come.

Archbishop Vigano’s challenge on Vatican II

So today the “spirit of Vatican II”— which may or may not reflect the teaching of the Council, but is certainly not in continuity with perennial Catholic doctrine— is in the ascendant. But this situation could not have arisen if the defenders of Catholic tradition had not failed to insist on authentic Church teaching.

It’s Religious Freedom Week. Do you know where your bishops are?

Would you like to hear what the US bishops’ conference has said about the most immediate threats to religious freedom?

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