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Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic Culture Podcasts

By Phil Lawler

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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.

Vision Book Cover Prints

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?

First they came for Father Moloney...

The chaplain didn’t say that Floyd’s death was NOT prompted by racism. He simply remarked that the evidence is not conclusive. For that he was banished from the campus. For that he was given a public reprimand by his own archdiocese, which announced to the world that his statements “were wrong.”

Censorship and the future of e-readers

Suppose, at some future date, the panjandrums of public opinion decide that certain books should no longer be available. With a few keystrokes, Amazon (or its competitors) can make that happen. Is there anything about the recent behavior of large tech companies that gives you confidence this could never happen?

Contact tracing vs. the rights of the faithful

If you went to Mass last Sunday, or visited Grandma in a nursing home, and now you’re worried about a persistent cough, you can be tested— at your own expense. The results will NOT be confidential.

Bostock: living a lie

Here's the most important argument against the Bostock decision: not that it is a usurpation of Congressional authority (although it is), nor that is will produce disastrous public policy (although it will), but that it is patently false.

Why do Americans fear their children?

Children are a product of love, a sign of hope, an indication of faith in Providence. To fear children is to succumb to the culture of death.

What does ‘always’ mean? A reflection on the rights of the faithful

Was it explained to the lay faithful, in terms that they could understand, why they could not enjoy their rights? Absolutely not. Apparently no one has felt it necessary.

Baffling and reprehensible

Do you want to know what I find baffling and reprehensible, Archbishop Gregory?

It’s an issue

“The men that came to the program were there because they had sexually abused young boys,” the psychiatrist said. He didn’t say they abused young people. He said young boys.

Church leadership: managing the decline?

During the past several weeks loyal Catholics that there is a tension— at the very least— between the edicts of public-health officials and the independence of the Catholic Church. The USCCB apparently hasn’t noticed.

After the lockdown, a great Catholic revival?

Then something happens. Something that brings things back into perspective. Something like the Eucharistic famine of the past few months. Suddenly the provision of manna is no longer routine; suddenly attendance at Mass is exceptional. We reach what catechists today call “a teachable moment.”

Rendering to Caesar in an epidemic: the limits of authority

For the past forty years liberal Catholics have told us that the pro-life cause is not sufficient reason to deny anyone the Eucharist to prominent Catholics. Yet for the past forty days we have been told that the pro-life cause IS sufficient reason to deny the Eucharist to everyone.

Improving the odds for an ethical vaccine

Would you be comfortable taking a vaccine that was derived from placental cells? tobacco leaves? bone marrow? insects? or the dismembered bodies of aborted children?

Vatican finances: the fox in the henhouse

There is a clear and obvious explanation for the drop in contributions to the Peter’s Pence collection, quite apart from the worldwide recession. Prudent donors are leery of sending high-dollar contributions to the financial equivalent of the Keystone Kops.

Quick Hits: More Vatican financial woes; and when will churches reopen

The Vatican needs money. The donors need answers. If the Vatican doesn’t give, the donors won’t, either.

Cardinal Pell does not deserve scapegoat status

“I heard that there were problems at St. Pat’s College,” Cardinal Pell recalled in his 2016 testimony. He chose to keep his silence about those problems. In much the same way, in the 1980s and 1990s, dozens if not hundreds of informed Catholics (myself included) “heard that there were problems” with “Uncle Ted” McCarrick’s handling of seminarians in the Newark archdiocese. We had no direct evidence, and the problem was not our direct responsibility, so we too kept our silence.

Still no transparency in Vatican financial investigations

So we know that something has been done to some employees, because of something those employees had done. And that’s all we know— or rather, all we would know, if we relied on official Vatican sources for our information.

Two crucial tests for home schooling

The idea that parental authority is subject to State control is repugnant to the common sense, to Christian teaching, and to American law.

No, bioethicist did NOT approve a vaccine using fetal tissue

The OSV headline conveyed the impression that a bioethicist had given the green light for Catholics to use a CO19 vaccine derived from fetal tissue. That that is not what the bioethicist said

‘Social distance’ between husband and wife?

Is the bishop serious? Does he expect husband and wife to remain a sterile 2 meters apart? Does he know what marriage is?

The bitter fruit of the secret Vatican-Beijing accord

That “fruit of friendly encounter” that Cardinal Parolin cited may taste sweet for Communist Party officials— and for Vatican officials intent on pursuing the same policy— but for many thousands of Catholics it is bitter.

In this epidemic, what we don’t know is killing us

On the basis of our pitifully inadequate knowledge of this disease, we have embarked on the most radical set of public policies—apart from all-out war— in the history of the human race.

This week: Vatican ambitions, Vatican vulnerabilities

Cynics might question why the Vatican would be offering proposals to restructure the global economy, at a time when the Vatican is having so much trouble putting its own financial affairs in order.

Why the ban on the parking-lot Mass?

Archbishop Listecki has said that since it's impossible to distribute Communion in parking lots with appropriate safety and reverence, parking-lot Masses should not be celebrated. That's a non sequitur.

The ideology that favors a long national shutdown

Michael Pakaluk notices that political leaders, if they follow fashionable opinions, will have a strong inclination to continue the national shutdown indefinitely.

Silence: closed churches and mixed messages

In a typical parish church dozens of people could attend Mass without violating “social-distance” guidelines, and in some of our cavernous cathedrals that number could safely be multiplied.

This week: Canonical conflicts over access to the sacraments

Another conflict of authority has arisen: a conflict between the undoubted authority of the bishop to set standards for ministry in his diocese, and the equally certain right of the laity to have access to the sacraments.

The night Pope John Paul died, and the crowd kept vigil

And when that announcement finally came, another unique response: a ripple of somber applause ran through St. Peter’s Square. Applause for a life well lived.

When our churches open again...

Just a few months ago, at the Amazon Synod, we heard pleas for the ordination of married men, based on the argument that the faithful must have access to the sacraments. Why wasn’t the same imperative felt during the pandemic: the need to take special measures to ensure that the sacraments were available?

Act now to ensure a morally acceptable CO19 vaccine

There is no scientific reason why we can’t have a morally acceptable vaccine. The question is: Will we demand it?

This week: Astonishing responses in a time of crisis

In a climate of hysteria, a fresh and balanced perspective— in particular, a distinctly Catholic perspective— is especially valuable. So I’m pleased to pass along something from Thomas More College.

The US bishops’ weak defense of their overseas-charity agency

Bishop Strickland: “This report by the Lepanto Institute must be proven to be false. If what Lepanto says is accurate then we should call for a thorough investigation of CRS.”

Blind fear of death should not guide policy

Even as we make sacrifices, even as we fight to ward off a deadly epidemic, we should bear in mind two essential truths. First, all of us will die. Every victory over death is only a temporary one. Death is a part of life. Second, there are things worse than death.

Wanted: spiritual leadership during a medical crisis

Why is it that at a time when many pious Catholics are begging for a chance to participate at Mass, and many conscientious pastors are willing to oblige them, our bishops are steadily pumping the brakes?

In a crisis, our odd priorities show a lack of faith

Day-care centers-- very efficient mechanisms for spreading infection-- are expanding services, while churches are closed. Thus we show our priorities.

Just don’t take away the Mass

The role of the Church is to remind a confused and panicky population that the Lord is in charge— that our encounter with Him is infinitely more important than a possible encounter with a virus.

Pope prays Chinese Catholics will be ‘good citizens’—by Beijing’s standards?

Why make it so easy for the Beijing regime to turn a papal prayer into a propaganda tool?

On a threat to leave the Catholic Church

Ireland’s former president, Mary McAleese, has written to Pope Francis, warning that she will leave the Catholic Church if she finds that the Vatican failed to warn the world about abuses at the L’Arche community. Her threat prompts several thoughts.

This week: Should clerics vote? Is bankruptcy a disgrace? And more.

It’s theoretically possible that some energetic researcher could search the voter rolls and determine which percentage of the local clergy chose to participate in the primary of a party whose leadership is firmly committed to legal abortion on demand, same-sex marriage, and gender ideology.

Escape from the flames

Having escaped from a self-destructive lifestyle, a former homosexual asks why the Church did not help him earlier-- and why priests still encourage other young men to explore the same perilous path.

This week: the confessional seal; the Pope and progressives; and more

A frontal assault on religious liberty, and a grave challenge for Australian priests.

Want a liturgical revival? Start with repentance.

Every believing Catholic recognizes the Eucharistic liturgy as the source of his spiritual life. But do we think of the Sunday Mass in our parish as the summit of our spirituality? Is this the best we can do? Really?

Of aircraft safety and Catholic doctrine

Boeing fired an executive whose subordinates apparently took the company's mission lightly. If only Catholic bishops were held-- or, better, held themselves-- to the same standard!

Pope has spoken, but celibacy debate is not finished

In short, Pope Francis did not, as some journalists reported, “close the door” on the possibility of ordaining married men. He left the door precisely as it was: ajar.

Our bishops cannot be trusted with a ‘yellow-check’ system

Under Bishop Barron's proposal, the bishop is not asking: “Does this site contradict established Catholic doctrine?” Instead he is asking: “Do I approve of this site’s approach?” The difference is enormous.

Archbishop Gänswein, ‘redistributed’ out of the picture

Welcome to the new, transparent Vatican regime, the regime of dialogue, the regime of accountability.

Behind the European bishops’ reluctance to acknowledge Brexit

Having been joined to the EU since its creation, COMECE takes that the existence of that political body for granted, and any suggestion that the EU should be abandoned is, implicitly, a suggestion that COMECE might be disbanded as well.

This week: the stories within the stories

Questions that might have been asked about Cardinal Sodano can now be asked about Cardinal Sandri, and those questions will linger over the next conclave.

Will Catholic bishops hamper the pro-life cause?

What worries me about the USCCB initiative is the possibility that the bishops will set up their own guidelines for the CPCs that seek their support. Inevitably those guidelines will exclude some CPCs and encourage others.

Most Americans disapprove of Roe decision, polls show

It might not be easy to find the political middle ground on the abortion issue, but it is easy enough to find the extreme. Because thanks to Roe— with a nod to the complicity of the liberal media— the extreme is now the status quo.

How Nicholas Sandmann made the March for Life safer

The leftists might still be out in force this week, doing their best to disrupt the March. But at least now the mainstream media will be aware that if they choose to promote the “two-minute hate,” that decision could prove costly.

This week: A surprise in the Pope’s ‘State of the World’ address

This grand papal plan— a response to what Pope Francis called an era of “epochal change”— would involve a serious bid to address climate change, to protect the environment, to stimulate “ecological conversion” of the sort contemplated by the Amazon Synod.

When bishops tell lies

Has anyone ever heard a bishop apologize for a lie?

Bishops and Bribes

That’s nearly $1 million in gifts— large cash gifts— provided by two prelates who are now living in disgrace, to other prelates who remain in good standing.

A second reading of the ‘ecumenism of hate’ essay?

His 2017 essay on the “ecumenism of hatred” was an embarrassment to the Vatican: a vitriolic piece, marred not only by its tone but also by its spectacular ignorance about American political affairs.

Guess whose Name is missing?

Could someone please explain to me why, on the day that we celebrate the name of Jesus, we don’t celebrate the name of Jesus?

The Vatican’s financial bait-and-switch

For years the Vatican has asked the faithful to support the Pope’s needs, emphasizing his charitable projects— and then invested the returns in London real estate, a shady Italian bank, a bankrupt hospital, and, yes, a film about Elton John

The single factor that endangers our society’s future

After decades of misbegotten family policies, the US now leads the world— by a wide margin— in the one category most likely to produce societal disaster.

Don’t just defend the fort. Attack!

When a new acquaintance tells you that he was raised as a Catholic but drifted away, because “I had some troubles with what the Church teaches,” you don’t immediately suspect that he is a monophysite.

Who is most likely to succeed Pope Francis?

The Pope could be thinking about ways to ensure that his policies will survive beyond his death or resignation— that he will ensure the "irreversible change” that his supporters hoped he would bring to the Church.

Here’s how to end the CCHD scandals

The moral argument against the CCHD has been made again and again and again and again. Every year the US bishops’ conference insists that the problems have been addressed, and yet every year there are fresh scandals.

The Sheen beatification debacle: Why?!

You might not have believed that plans for the beatification of a revered prelate could be turned into another reason to mistrust the hierarchy. But our bishops have managed to do it.

In a remote Indian village, a victory against persecution

During a frenzy of anti-Christian violence, seven illiterate men were convicted of killing a Hindu leader-- despite the fact that Maoist rebels claimed credit for the murder. They remained imprisoned for years, their appeals ignored by local officials in a region dominated by Hindu nationalists. Now-- thanks largely to the efforts of a CWN correspondent-- the nation's high court has ordered their release.

The real reason for postponing Archbishop Sheen’s beatification

The purpose of the ceremony is to provide encouragement for the faithful. As things stand, regrettably, this beatification would more likely to cause discouragement.

At last: a bishop denounces his predecessor’s behavior

The punishment of Bishop Bransfield is "for his own spiritual good and his own healing as a man who professes to follow Christ."

This week: the unfolding Vatican financial scandal

The Vatican had claimed a substantial victory when the Egmont Group admitted the Vatican agency as a participant in the international exchange of information about suspected money-laundering. Now that victory has been reversed.

Christmas can’t come before Advent

The Advent season builds up naturally toward the explosion of joy on Christmas Day. But when the bright lights go on in early December, Advent fades into the background.

One more damaging blow to the Pope’s credibility

If you can concoct an innocent explanation for Pope's involvement in the Zanchetta case, please let me know. I can’t.

This week: The US bishops test relations with Rome

So clearly there IS some resistance in the US hierarchy— if not to the Pope’s leadership, at least to the rhetoric being churned out by papal supporters.

One year later, still no answers from Vatican on McCarrick scandal

We know where to look for the documents in question. They’re in the files of the apostolic nuncio in Washington, and/or the offices of the Roman Curia. It shouldn’t take a year to dig them out.

Does Pope’s representative hope to silence US bishops’ questions?

If the papal nuncio convinces American bishops to swallow their concerns and stifle their questions, that would be a grave disservice both to the Pope and to the faithful Catholics of the US.

German bishops leading the Church—over the cliff?

But what if your goal is to spread the Catholic faith? Then the German bishops are, as a group, miserable failures. Mattingly notes that 216,078 Germans formally renounced their Catholic faith last year.

Know when to ask for help. Often.

Prayer brings us together, in ways that we do not fully anticipate or understand. So I conclude that we should all be asking for prayers more often.

Unfinished Business

The world is going to laugh at us anyway. So it’s better to be laughed at for what seems (to the unbelieving world) an excess of piety or compunction or zeal, than for leaving the one truly important project undone.

Keystone Crooks: the Vatican’s latest financial scandal

Is it possible that the Vatican’s financial affairs could be so chaotic, so imprudent, so palpably corrupt? The entire story offers a portrait of blundering, amateurish crooks.

Quick Hits: After the Synod, praying for a miracle

“Faced with such an evident scandal, it is impossible that a Catholic bishop would remain silent,” he writes. Yet most bishops ARE silent.

A noisy minority with an outsize influence

If I could call on dozens of tenured professors from Notre Dame, Georgetown, Fordham, and Villanova to defend me at a moment’s notice— with all the PR machinery of their schools behind them— I wouldn't worry too very much about the “outsize influence” of some lone critic with a blog.

This week: Pachamama and other scandals

Yet again the Amazon Synod— controversial though it is— has been bumped off the top place in our list of the week’s headline stories by a stunning and scandalous development at the Vatican. In fact, two stunning and scandalous developments.

Conversion: of the Amazon, or of the Church?

"If God’s dream is the redemption of humanity,…" Thus begins a telling sentence in a semi-official Vatican journal. God's dream??

The subversive ambiguity of Father Martin and friends

Father Martin is consistent in his own way: always challenging the Church’s authoritative teaching obliquely, always encouraging others to question or to ignore that teaching, yet always innocently protesting that he is merely raising “interesting” questions, not answering them. He uses studied ambiguity to undermine orthodoxy. And now, when challenged, he takes refuge behind the authority of other, more powerful prelates— who are using the same subversive technique.

Pagan idols aren’t harmless, and ‘dialogue’ is not an absolute goal

If the Pachamama images were pagan idols— set up before the altar of a Catholic church— then it was right and just to destroy them.

This week: Synod debates and declining numbers

The discussions of the Amazon Synod continue, with calls for the ordination of married men gaining support. The final votes on the Synod’s proposals are still a week away, and the daily press briefings do not convey the full story of what has happened inside the Synod hall, so it may be...

At the Synod, the blind lead the blind

Two noteworthy columns today by veteran Vatican-watchers covering the Amazon Synod: John Allen of Crux explains how German prelates have outsized influence in the discussions of the Amazon Synod—particularly when the subject is priestly celibacy. And Sandro Magister of...

The Pachamama or the Virgin: which does the Synod revere?

Questioned about the Pachamama icon that has become the most visible symbol of the Amazon Synod, Father Giacomo Costa told reporters that it was an image of “an indigenous woman who brings life.” The Synod spokesman added: “Nobody said it was the Virgin Mary.” I beg to...

The next Vatican scandal: don’t say I didn’t warn you

Back in June 2016 I made a prediction about the next Vatican scandal: This time the subject will not be sex, but that other rich lode of corruption: money. Then the police raid on Vatican offices was followed by the resignation of the Vatican’s top police official. We still...

This week: So what DID the Pope say about Christ’s divinity?

Yet again, an unexpected and unsettling news story snatched top billing from the Amazon Synod in the week’s Catholic World News coverage. Last week it was the police raid on the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. This week it was the stunning claim, by an influential Italian journalist,...

Does Pope Francis profess the Nicene Creed?

Did Pope Francis really really say that Jesus is not God? Eugenio Scalfari, who made this sensational claim, cannot be treated as a reliable witness. He is an atheist, a Marxist, not a Christian. Although he has interviewed Pope Francis several times, he has not recorded the sessions or taken...

A serious theologian’s fear of schism

Father Thomas Weinandy has long been a perceptive and courageous analyst of the current confusion that is spreading from Rome. And he has paid a price for his honesty. In 2017, the Capuchin theologian gave up his position as consultant to the US bishops’ doctrine committee, after making...

The ‘spirit of timidity’ that thwarts evangelization

Years ago, at an inter-religious conference, I was befriended by a Muslim cleric who, when he learned that I had never met my father-in-law, promised to do his best to bring us together. (He fulfilled that promise, to no avail.) However, he also felt obliged to give me a warning. “My...

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