Action Alert!

By Phil Lawler

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Why doesn’t Pope Francis Celebrate Mass? Part II

Wouldn’t it be easy for non-Christians—even for Catholics who are not properly formed in their faith— to fall into the belief that this is the most important function of the Sovereign Pontiff: giving speeches?

The Pope’s pose as scientific ‘expert’

There was a time— any time, really, before 2013— when one would expect the Roman Pontiff to focus on spiritual rather than climatological questions. But that time is long gone, and no one is surprised today when Pope Francis speaks at length without touching on any distinctively Christian theme, except perhaps when he says that the destruction of the environment is “an offense against God.”

Be prepared for another ‘long hot summer’

In any major conflict, true believers on both sides will fear that their hard-line opponents are deliberately escalating the tensions, exploiting the confrontations for their own political purposes. And you know what? They’re right.

Did Egyptian monks pave the way for St. Patrick?

Connie Marshner assembles an enormous amount of circumstantial evidence to suggest that the spectacular spread of the faith in Ireland—and eventually from Ireland back to continental Europe and across the world— was strengthened by the earlier presence there of communities of monks who came across the Mediterranean from Egypt.

Mounting frustration in the twilight of the pontificate

When the conclave of 2013 selected Cardinal Bergoglio, it gave him a mandate to eliminate corruption at the Vatican. And that mandate has not been fulfilled.

Our Lady of Guadalupe: the stories behind the story

The Gonzalez book introduces the possibility that the old myths had been planted in the culture of the Mexican tribes long ago, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to prepare them for the Gospel message:

The Pope says you’re welcome. But are you interested?

For every cradle Catholic who left the Church because of a grumpy pastor, there are a dozen who left because they no longer saw any particular reason to get out of bed on Sunday morning.

Time to resist the ‘gender-affirming’ juggernaut

No, Your Excellencies, you certainly “cannot encourage” gender-altering surgery, because it is an offense against human dignity. But you could forthrightly oppose it. And you didn’t.

What is truth? A journalist asks Pilate’s question

Up until recently every respectable journalist at least claimed that his goal was to convey the truth. And every respectable American journalist paid tribute to the freedoms promised by the First Amendment. Now the CEO of a major broadcasting network— a network supported by the American taxpayers— has cast aside both of these venerable commitments, in favor of “getting things done.”

Trust the science, not the scientists

But as John Adams memorably observed, “Facts are stubborn things.” The facts cannot be reconciled with a purely materialistic understanding of how our universe and our lives. Today the theory of intelligent design is not deemed acceptable, but then Galileo’s theory was not readily accepted in his day.

Infinite dignity and its enemies

The weakness of Dignitas Infinita lies its failure to distinguish between the infinite dignity that Christ offers us, insofar as we participate in the life of the Trinity, and the very limited store of dignity that we accumulate and/or squander by ourselves.

Why ‘Infinite Dignity’ falls short

Cardinal Fernandez cannot find a way to say, in charity, that homosexuals should resist their disordered impulses— as every sinful person should resist the disorder of temptations. Instead he can only say that an act that cries out to heaven for vengeance falls short of the “immense beauty” of the marital act.

Why doesn’t Pope Francis celebrate Mass?

If the Pope is healthy enough to carry out the other aspects of his work, isn’t he able to lead the celebration of the Eucharist, the source and summit of Catholic spiritual life?

In Ireland, a shift in the global political trend?

If my theory is right, and the vote in Ireland represents a shift in the tide of world opinion, Varadkar will not be the last government leader to lose his seat.

Pope Francis, ‘doctor of the law’

So we are asked to accept a novelty, not because it is clearly based on Scripture or sacred Tradition, not because a logical extension of previous teachings, not because it is universally accepted, but simply because the man who propounds the new teaching holds a high ecclesiastical office. This is clericalism on a grand scale.

‘For zeal for thy house has consumed me’

Four hundred assaults on Catholic churches in the US in the past four years. That comes to roughly two incidents of violence or vandalism directed at our churches every week.

The welcome message of the Irish referenda

The Catholic social thought that guided the framing of Ireland’s constitution simply recognized the realities of human life, dictated not by the hierarchy but by the natural law.

The queer pastoral care of the German bishops

Originally a derogatory term, “queer” has now been adopted by the more militant homosexuals (et al.), in defiance of conventional opinion. (“We’re here; we’re queer.”) And now it is this term— the term of defiance— that the German bishops have chosen to use.

Teaching America to fear Christians

Once the goal of the radical left was to push Christians out of the public debate on abortion. Now the more ambitious goal is to shove Christians out of the public debate altogether.

A loss for Vatican news coverage

You might ask: Why does the Wall Street Journal, a paper dedicated primarily to financial affairs, have a special correspondent covering the Vatican? Evidently the publishers asked themselves the same question.

Endgame for a papacy of contradictions

But of course the Pope’s interventions in the Rupnik case have everything to do with the scandal. The reforms are on paper— and paper thin. The corruption is much deeper.

If Peter is the rock, where is the Pope?

When does a Pope teach with magisterial authority? When is he speaking for himself, and when does he represent Peter, the rock on whom the Lord built his Church?

Coming soon to a parish near you?

Count on it: there will be other similar efforts to do what the activists in Manhattan did: to celebrate sexual license and to ridicule the Catholic Church, which remains the most prominent institutional opponent to the unbridled satisfaction of lust.

ICYMI: another consolidation of power in Rome

When the Council of Cardinals was created in 2013, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras was named as the group’s chairman (the official term was “coordinator”). He continued in that role until March of last year, when having passed his 80th birthday he retired. Nearly a year later, he...

Media malpractice

The “green” policies are proposed on the basis of computer models and projections. The arguments against them can be reduced to a simple moral imperative: Feed the hungry.

The Ash Wednesday phenomenon

Why are inactive Catholics so anxious to display their allegiance to the faith— on this day of all days, when the message that the Church sends us is so grim?

In the land of the living

To say that we are “the living” might suggest that other people are dead. But Pope Benedict is discussing the joy that those early Christians felt because of their confidence in eternal life. They were “living” in a way different from their pagan neighbors. They rejoiced in a life that could not be extinguished by death.

No, this isn’t a culture war

"Just as smoking a cigar is bad but puffing on a joint is OK, so spreading illnesses by being unvaccinated is evil while spreading disease through sexual indulgence is a mere technical problem."

The dangerous Vatican enthusiasm for the WEF

Conspicuously missing from the WEF agenda— and, unfortunately, from the interventions by Pope Francis and Cardinal Turkson— was any discussion of the traditional principles of Catholic social teaching.

Competition as dialogue? A tennis player objects.

If you participate in an athletic contest, and you’re not trying to win, something is wrong. You may have reasons for failing to compete honestly, but whatever those reasons are, they are foreign to the game. Competition is, by definition, an effort to prevail.

A Vatican court ruling keeps the lid on financial scandals

Back in September 2017, immediately after the auditor general’s removal, then-Archbishop Becciu told a reporter: “If he had not agreed to resign, we would have prosecuted him.” WE would have prosecuted?

When Pope Francis goes off script

Spontaneity is a hallmark of his pontificate, however, and Pope Francis is not deterred by the furors he has created by his unvetted public remarks.

The world must be peopled

“Having Children is Saving the World.” That marketing strategy makes sense: If you’re selling diapers, you have a keen interest in babies.

Lightning strikes twice in an Argentine diocese

So what’s going on in Mar del Plata? Is there some reason why, as the date of their installation has approached, these two prelates have bowed out?

The worst arguments for surrogate motherhood

And the supporters of surrogacy said very little about the poor women who are enticed to rent out their wombs for cash payments.

The inopportunists’ vindication

“Contempt for tradition at the top, a sheepish passivity among the rank and file, whether clerical or lay, irresponsible behavior during a conclave to elect a pope: these were probably not the consequences hoped for by Pius IX when he encouraged the promulgation of his own infallibility.”

Jump off the media’s fear-and-panic bandwagon

Fear generates clicks, sells newspapers, generates ad revenues, drives vaccine sales, and escalates political rhetoric. It’s like an addictive drug.

Did Benedict’s death lift restraints on Pope Francis?

Whether or not the death of Benedict XVI emboldened his successor, it is unquestionably true that in 2023 Pope Francis was markedly more aggressive in pushing for changes in the Church.

Unfinished business: the top stories of 2023

As another year draws to a close, and I survey the most important headline stories that we covered in 2023, I am struck by how many of those stories are still developing.

Fiducia: the defense of incompetence

If you say that the document reaffirms Church teaching on marriage and human sexuality, you have a plausible case— although you won’t convince me.

Fiducia Supplicans and the defense of ritual purity

This carefully crafted Vatican document gives liberal Catholic priests a way to show their sympathy for homosexual unions without actually contravening Church law. It even helps irresolute clerics, who might hesitate to bless same-sex partnerships, to go along, cautioning them against a stand “on the fixed nature of certain doctrinal or disciplinary schemes.”

A Vatican document that undermines itself

The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith allows (encourages?) Catholic priests to maintain a sort of ritual purity, saying that they have not treated a homosexual union as a marriage, while in the eyes of the world they have done exactly that.

Cardinal Gregory and the ‘dominant’ rite

Cardinal Gregory could not go on to say that the people didn’t want the TLM, because— Well, if nobody wanted the TLM, the question would never have been asked, Traditionis Custodes would never have been written, the whole issue would be moot.

The REAL miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Dating from the original Pentecost, the early Church took more than 300 years to build up a membership of 9 million worldwide. How did it happen in Mexico in the space of a decade? _That_ is the great miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In the Vatican’s landmark trial, no one can win

The prosecution has painted a very unflattering portrait of Cardinal Becciu. He could easily be convicted of incompetence as a money-manager and arrogance as a bureaucrat. But did he break any laws?

Fool me once...

Twice, then, I have been late to an interesting story because I underestimated how rough Pope Francis can be on those who oppose or annoy him.

Thanksgiving: another sort of ‘holy day’

The secular celebration of the “holidays” has becoming increasingly toxic, and the observance of Halloween— also now divorced from its Christian origins— is now even more troubling, with the intimations of Satanic activity more and more evident. Somehow Thanksgiving has escaped the corrosive effects of a consumer culture.

Synodality and the Strickland case

On rare occasions Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI had removed bishops who broke ranks with the College of Bishops by questioning fundamental points of Catholic teaching. In this case it seems that Pope Francis removed Bishop Strickland because he was too clamorous in his defense of Catholic doctrine.

Welcome candor from the US bishops’ conference

In the 1990s, American Catholics who cherished the perennial teachings of the Church looked to Rome to correct centrifugal tendencies within the American hierarchy. Now the roles are reversed, and we count on our American bishops to protect us from the confusion spreading across the Atlantic.

When Vatican PR makes the Pope look bad

The Pope does not owe me any explanation for his decision not to read a speech. My point is that by offering an implausible explanation, when no explanation was necessary, the Vatican press office created a problem.

Another mixed message from Rome on sexual morality

The new statement from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith does not directly contradict prior authoritative statements of Church doctrine or discipline. But it gives every indication that pastors who ignore the rules will have nothing to fear from Rome.

Synod Fatigue

Then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio captured the attention of the last papal conclave with a talk in which he lamented “self-referential” attitudes within the Church. Ironically this Synod— which might be seen as the crowning achievement of his pontificate— is arguably the most self-referential event in Catholic history.

Honoring our heroes

William Fahey, the president of Thomas More College, observed that Ambassadors Flynn and Glendon reflected something of the character of the school’s patron saint; they have both proven to be “unambiguous in their principles, very much like Thomas More.”

The Virtue of Hope (or, Thoughts While Shaving)

I look again in the mirror and see the face of a man who can do nothing to alter his mortality. This is an unsatisfactory state of affairs. I want to live forever.

Popesplaining and New Ways Ministry

With prodigious effort one can still defend the position that the Pope supports the traditional Catholic teaching. But is it really worth the effort— when the Pope does not defend that position himself?

Responding to Hamas: a just-war perspective [Part II]

Hamas bears sole responsibility for the blood shed in its raids into Israel. But Israel will not be solely responsible for civilian casualties in Gaza; that responsibility is shared by the Hamas leaders who insisted that civilians remain in place.

Responding to Hamas: a just-war perspective [Part I]

Pope John Paul II, in that World Day of Peace message, was outlining the circumstances in which it would be “legitimate and even obligatory” to use military force: to wage a just war. Hamas has created just such circumstances.

October 2023: Pope Francis faces his toughest tests

If he hopes to bring about the “irreversible change” that his supporters seek, Pope Francis is running out of time. He knows that, and so do both his allies and his critics in the hierarchy.

The stalwart media guardians of this Pope’s legacy

One scandal after another can be traced to the doorway of the St. Martha Residence. If reporters followed them there, they would undoubtedly change public perceptions of this pontificate. Will they? Not unless they radically alter their approach.

The debt limit as a moral test

The overall federal debt has just reached $33 TRillion. Who owes that debt? The US government. And who constitutes the US government? “We, the people.”

Is Anyone Listening?

If the Pope removes Bishop Strickland despite his refusal to resign, it would reinforce the false impression that bishops are in effect branch managers, serving at the pleasure of the Pontiff, rather than successors to the apostles and not subordinate to the Pope but (as Cardinal Müller recently put it) “his brothers in the same apostolic office.”

Time for a Papal Intervention

Bishops are understandably loath to acknowledge serious divisions in the Church, and rightly reluctant to criticize the Roman Pontiff. But in any household, when the father’s behavior is causing serious harm to the family and even to himself, the most loyal and respectful of children realize that the time has come for an intervention.

Synodality: the one issue this Synod won’t touch

Pope John Paul II, in his ardent desire for ecumenical progress, once said that he would be willing to return to model of the papacy that prevailed in the first Christian millennium, before the Great Schism, if that would allow for the restoration of Christian unity. What would that first-millennium model look like, brought forward into the 21st century. Certainly that question is worth discussing, and just as certainly the Orthodox world would follow the discussion with keen interest.

No need for facts when criticizing the Church

The Canadian government still asserts, as a matter of fact, that more than 200 children were buried on the site of a residential school in Kamloops, although excavations there have failed to substantiate that claim. But it IS a matter of fact that dozens of Catholic churches in Canada have been torched or vandalized, presumably by people reacting to those unproven stories.

A sin today, but not tomorrow: the curious doctrine of Pope Francis

When Pope Francis questions traditional teachings— and mocks those who see the magisterium as a “monolith”— he undermines all teaching authority, including his own.

‘No one’ supports abortion up until birth? In a twisted sense, true

“No one” supports abortion up until birth, in the same sense that “no one” believes the earth is flat and “no one” support slavery. There are, regrettably, people on the extreme fringes. On the abortion issue, sadly, the extremists control a major political party.

Please, bishops, promise not to lock down churches again

We, as a society, have not learned our lessons. And now we are being groomed for another set of mandates, perhaps even another round of lockdowns, prompted by inordinate fears.

Just-war theory allows for no blank checks in Ukraine

Without the discipline imposed by those moral considerations, the ius ad pacem could be invoked to justify an unrestrained military campaign, based on the often illusory (but always seductive) promise that military victory will bring a brighter future— in other words that the end justifies the means.

Rejoice in the truth, not in the scandal

My journalistic sense tells me that people might be interested to know about a bishop who: - no longer wants to act as a bishop, or even as a priest; - wants to marry, even at an advanced age; and -is undaunted by the fact that he will be “marrying” outside the Church. There’s a story there, don’t you think

The Treason of the Professions

So when they arrive on campus, at an institution created to serve the truth, young scholars would be required to assent to the falsehood that a man can become a woman, or a woman a man. They would then be bearing false witness, C observes— in a clear violation of the Decalogue that has become so unfashionable in academe.

Did I mislead my readers?

If the bishop is not listening to the lay people, shame on him. But if he is willing to listen, and he isn’t hearing the truth, shame on us.

Good vacation, bad liturgy: the Catholic dilemma

Unfortunately, for many Catholics, when we are on vacation (or, more generally, when we are traveling), the experience of attending Sunday Mass in an unfamiliar parish church robs us of the serenity that a vacation should provide.

Ask the intercession of St. Ignatius to reform the corrupt Jesuit order

With unmistakable evidence of widespread internal corruption on the public record, the Jesuit leadership took action-- not against the offender, but against the whistle-blower.

How often do bishops hear the truth?

When lay Catholics try to “do things the right way,” and make an appointment to speak with their bishop, they might run into gatekeepers who are determined not to allow any frank criticism of diocesan policy or personnel.

This week’s installment of Vatican confusion

My prediction: Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the leading defendant in the case, will exploit all the confusion— much of which he painstakingly created— to avoid conviction.

With this appointment, the Pope repudiates his predecessor

The young Father Fernandez did us a favor, actually, by writing that book about kissing. He let us know that we should not take him too seriously

Cardinal Dolan’s conscience troubled? Not enough!

Give the affable prelate from New York some credit; at least he asks the question which so many other Church leaders still avoid. At least his conscience is stirring. But isn’t the answer painfully, blindingly obvious?

The College of Cardinals: some light-hearted math

In 1970, Pope Paul VI set a limit to the number of cardinals who could vote in a papal conclave: 120. That limit remains in place today. But there are currently 121 cardinals eligible to vote. And Pope Francis has announced his plans to name eighteen more.

A ‘listening Church’—but Synod organizers aren’t listening

The International Theological Commission sought to answer “the question of how to consult the faithful in matters of faith and morals”— which is what the Synod organizers said they were doing in the long series of consultative meetings leading up to the October assembly.

Getting in over our heads in the life of prayer

Dive into the ocean— any ocean— and you take a risk; you might be lost at sea. So most of us stay close to shore. Only the saints, like Aloysius Gonzaga, take the headlong plunge.

The Synod working document: a recipe for confusion

In other words the organizers of the Synod have decided that we should play the game before defining the rules. This is a process that lends itself to manipulation.

Don’t look now, but the pews are getting crowded

Granted, I still can site only a very small sample. But the evidence is encouraging. We have encountered more and more solid pockets of energetic, orthodox Catholic faith: parishes and communities where a large number of faithful families joyfully living out their faith, and drawing others to join them.

The Declaration on Human Fraternity is a Dud

Despite the ballyhoo, it seems, the Declaration on Human Fraternity could not hold public attention even through the day it was launched.

Intolerance reigns for Pride Month

I was moved by the imam’s admonition. If he truly believed that I was risking damnation, then it was an act of charity to warn me. So, far from being offended by his words, I took them as a sign of genuine friendship.

Who’s afraid of American Catholics?

So the Dodgers are trying to remain neutral, giving equal honors to the haters and to the people they hate.

Judging the revolutions of the 1960s by the standards of those days

Go ahead: Tell Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., that in 2023, the President of the United States will say that the most important civil-rights battle of the day is the campaign to allow young people to change their sexual identity.

Another peace effort for Ukraine seeking to unite Orthodox leaders

To date, none of the proposed parties to the roundtable has accepted the WCC invitation. But none has rejected the initiative, either, and that in itself is significant.

Encouraging your pastor toward Eucharistic revival

The pastor, when he sees you approaching, might think: “Oh, boy; here’s that guy who’s always telling me about the things I should do.” If so, he won’t be anxious to talk to you.

A simpler program for the Eucharistic revival

Rather than talking about devotion to the Eucharist, why not show devotion, and thus encourage others to do the same?

The inherent hypocrisy of liberal ideology

This has become a fairly standard practice among liberal polemicists: accusing their opponents of doing exactly what they themselves are doing.

How Republicans can win on the abortion issue

Since pro-abortion candidates will reject any restrictions, a firm pro-life leader will demonstrate the extreme, uncompromising nature of his opponent's position on this crucial issue.

Now call it the Synod of Bishops and Selected Others

Back in January, three top Vatican officials— with the Pope’s explicit approval— told of the German bishops that they “are not empowered to create a governing or decision-making synodal assembly” that included clergy and laity as well as bishops. So why are lay people included as voters at the October Synod meeting?

A ‘conspiracy theorist’—and a Kennedy—as a presidential contender

This Kennedy presidential campaign is going nowhere— certainly not to the White House. But it will be interesting to watch— if the lords of the mainstream media and the censors of the social media allow us to watch it.

Remembering a victory at Harvard: Satan defeated, the Eucharist enthroned

And all this happened because a few deluded students scheduled a blasphemous mockery, and the Catholic community responded appropriately: not with an impotent fit of anger but with a confident show of faith. Satan overplayed his hand, and got burned again.

Senator Kaine’s outrageous ‘misunderstanding’

Would the FBI only propose to send agents to the traditionalist parishes that identify themselves as “radical”? Because I know of no such parishes.

What do Germans want?

The Church is growing apace in Africa, where the ideas approved by the German Synodal Path are, quite rightly, viewed as absurd

Good Friday’s burden

[Up until last week I had never—ever—written a poem. Then one morning, after Mass, this came to me, pretty much intact, so I wrote it down, and some people liked it, so...] At last I could do no more. The weight of past mistakes—and worse Weighed down my shoulders, More...

Please: the truth about the Pope’s health

Those facts do not suggest bronchitis. Speculation about what they DO suggest is inevitable, when the information coming from the Vatican PR machinery is implausible.

Is the Synod Asking the Wrong Questions? (Part II of II)

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich cheerfully assured one interviewer that critics “won’t be able to stop” the progress of this Synod

A new theological concept: temporary infallibility

Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger (soon to be Pope Benedict XVI) had already said that women’s ordination is impossible. So it shouldn’t be surprising if Pope Francis says the same thing.

Is the Synod Asking the Wrong Questions? (Part I of II)

For the better part of two centuries, the Church has been wrestling with the question of how diocesan bishops should interact with the Sovereign Pontiff in the guidance and governance of the universal Church. It would be a shame to fritter away the opportunity to advance our understanding of that question, merely to follow the latest fashionable trends.

Celebrating Cardinal Mindszenty’s birthday

Pope Paul— who had promised Mindszenty that he would always retain his title as Primate of Hungary— announced that the cardinal had retired. Cardinal Mindszenty loudly insisted that he had not his office voluntarily.

Getting the Synod Back on Topic

So perhaps the best possible outcome of the October Synod meeting would be a realization, among the world’s bishops, that when the Vatican causes confusion, it is their duty of the bishops to restore clarity.

Free childcare as a Ponzi scheme

The suggestion is that many stay-at-home mothers are forced to rely on the government to support their households. Instead, this proposal would force those mothers to rely on the government to care for their children. How is that an improvement?

The Vatican’s irresolute response to the threat of German schism

The German bishops have done what they have no right to do. The cautionary statements from Rome are now routinely ignored. Sooner or later the Vatican must draw the line.

Please, not another ‘program’ for evangelization

After the Council of Jerusalem, the apostles quickly spread the Gospel message across the world. After Vatican II, the Church talked about evangelization.

Will other bishops answer Paprocki’s challenge?

Bishop Paprocki is right; there is no point in pretending that all Catholics— or even all Catholic bishops— are in fundamental accord. There are serious disagreements among us, which must be addressed.

Evangelization on Ash Wednesday

Our efforts to evangelize— to bring more people into the Church, and recapture those who have drifted away— is undermined by the reluctance to speak boldly about sin and redemption, damnation and salvation.

Understanding the Vatican crusade against tradition

You may (for now, in some places, under certain conditions) be comforted, strengthened, and enriched by the traditional Mass. But you cannot promote it. The Eucharistic sacrifice, in any valid form, is the “source and summit” of Catholic spiritual life. But if the Mass is in Latin, don’t tell anyone about it.

Ex post facto legislation from the Holy See?

Today’s document says that the Pope has “confirmed” the restrictions that Cardinal Roche announced in December (claiming that the Holy See has sole authority to issue dispensations, and thus stripping diocesan bishops of that right), but the rescript looks very much like a new piece of canonical legislation, imposing those restrictions.

Cardinal Cupich’s shocking misrepresentation of Pope Benedict

This column by Cardinal Cupich is astonishing because he so blatantly misrepresents the thoughts of those who do support the perennial Catholic tradition— in particular, the late Pope Benedict XVI.

A new Vatican move against the Latin Mass—with or without canonical authority

Pope Francis has spoken frequently about the need to decentralize Church authority, to listen to the voices of the faithful, to empower diocesan bishops, to develop a “synodal” style of governance. But there is no decentralization, no listening, no synodal style— and now certainly no desire to empower diocesan bishops— in his campaign to suppress the traditional Mass.

Quick hits: an unseemly dispute over Pope Benedict’s private thoughts

Francis and Ganswein are squabbling about what he might have said, if he had said anything. But the salient point is that he didn’t say anything,

‘Credibly accused’ is still not ‘Guilty’

“There is no other precedent for the publishing of lists of the accused in society,” Bishop McManus said.

Shut up and pray

There I was, kneeling before Jesus, and doing all the talking. Dumb. Shut up, Phil. You might learn something.

Following the German bishops’ lead—to disaster

So if your goal is to empty out the Catholic churches of the world, by all means take your cues from the Synodal Path. But if the goal is evangelization, beware of German leadership.

Voice of America on female ‘priests’

The settings don’t look like churches, the participants don’t look like worshippers, and the ceremonies don’t look like a Catholic Mass. Which of course they aren’t.

When the law punishes prayer...

The language may suggest fairness, but the law is a one-way street. Only opponents of abortion are subject to punishment.

Our rivals may not be as powerful as we think

Let’s be honest. The terms “Catholic” and “efficiency” do not pop up frequently in the same sentences. Our rivals are probably no better organized than we are.

Cardinal Pell’s long shadow

Australia’s top court ruled that Cardinal Pell could not possibly have done what he was accused of doing; it was physically impossible.

Reluctant Pontiff: the end of the Ratzinger/Benedict era

As Sovereign Pontiff, Benedict XVI continued to speak, but he cut back drastically on his writing, conscious that now anything he wrote might be mistaken as a definitive pronouncement, and so cause confusion. (Would that his successor had the same prudence!)

In Pavone case, the Vatican’s silence is damaging

In the absence of a clear explanation for this unusually severe penalty, many Catholics who admire Pavone’s work are understandably confused, upset, even outraged. Still the hierarchy remains silent.

Why Pavone is defrocked—not Martin, not Rupnik

Why is Pavone severely disciplined, when priests like Father James Martin and Father Marko Rupnik continue in good standing?

The Vatican’s action against Frank Pavone: overdue yet unexplained

Priests for Life (PFL) is a large activist organization, with an annual budget of about $10 million. So a question naturally arises: can a diocesan priest devote his full-time attention to a secular organization? Can he set his policies for that organization, disregarding input from his bishop?

‘Rebuilding Notre Dame’—highly recommended

Interviews with expert restorers provide a new appreciation for the astonishing expertise that went into the original construction of the basilica, more than 800 years ago.

Biden denounces ‘hate’—and Catholic teaching

Since he believes that the Church teaches hate, I wonder why, on Sunday morning, he will turn up at a Catholic church, and affirm his allegiance to “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.”

The gap between papal rhetoric and action

But of course Pope Francis has not made such specific pleas for the release of these prisoners. On the contrary he has carefully avoided any pointed public criticism of either the Chinese or the Nicaraguan regime.

The Vatican, China, and the ‘spirit of dialogue’

"I swear to... abide by the national constitution, safeguard homeland unity and social harmony, love the country and religion, and persist in the principle of independent and self-managed churches, adhere to the leadership of the Catholicism of my country in China, actively guide Catholicism to adapt to socialist society and contribute to the realization of the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation."

Neutrality is not an option

Recently I heard a conservative television commentator say of the sexual revolutionaries that “they’re coming for your children.” That, I think, was a particularly dull observation. They came for your children years ago; did you only just now notice?

A Congressional assault on religious freedom

The Act promises to respect my beliefs as long as I respect same-sex marriage. But believing as I do, I cannot recognize same-sex marriage. So the legislation requires me either to renounce my beliefs or maintain my silence.

The single-issue newspaper?

What would you say about the competence of a journalist who headlined a story: "New York Times chooses new editor for pro-abortion propaganda campaign?”

What ‘active participation’ really means

Our goal is active participation; yes. But active participation in what?

Quick hits: tough talk about Vatican II and the aftermath

“Let’s be plain: the Church has been in schism since 1968, if not earlier."

Amnesty after the lockdown? For Whom?

For the Church, after the Covid lockdown, “moving forward” entails asking how our pastors came to believe that our physical health was more important than our spiritual health, so that for months they denied us the sacraments. That was not a failure of scientific judgment; it was a failure of faith.

Apologizing for hard truths

A priest condemned abortion, said that homosexual acts are mortally sinful, and added that that the distribution of free contraceptives is “promoting promiscuity” and that it is “lunatic” to encourage children to question their sexual identity. “The views expressed do not represent the Christian position,” the bishop said... They don't?

The Void in Church leadership: Is damnation possible?

Bad churchmen are a vexation, but an understandable and probably unavoidable vexation. Harder to explain -- and progressively harder to deny -- was The Void at the center of the Church's activity: the absence of concern for souls in jeopardy.

Gender dysphoria: First, do no harm

Isn’t it a grave disservice— a sin against charity— to encourage young people in their delusions?

A hostile takeover of the Pontifical Academy for Life

At this point it is abundantly clear that under the leadership of Archbishop Paglia, the PAL is no longer the institution that was established by Pope John Paul II to defend the dignity of human life.

Now the Pontifical Academy for Life adopts ‘pro-choice’ rhetoric

The “pro-choice” gambit has been eagerly embraced by the Democratic Party, the mainstream media— and now by the Vatican.

We should apologize to the North American martyrs

Would St. Jean de Brebeuf have asked for a blessing from an Iroquois shaman? How would St. Isaac Jogues have responded to the veneration of the Pachamama?

Quick hits: this week’s signs of impending doom

You may be— you should be— troubled by recent stories about FBI actions against peaceful pro-life activists. But you shouldn’t be surprised.

A ‘hostile takeover’ of Catholicism?

I have profound misgivings about this synod and the awkward, time-consuming, self-referential process it has begotten.

An encyclical to ward off hurricanes?

Notice how quickly skepticism-- which was once recognized as a hallmark of scientific rigor-- is now dismissed as "irresponsible populism." 

Checking up on the Catholic fact-checkers

Recently, on a tip from an alert reader, I checked back on the CatholicFactChecking.com site, to see what new information the site has provided in the last several months. The answer: none at all.

The Vatican’s weak defense of the Rome-Beijing accord

To achieve its stated goal— a full Catholic hierarchy in communion with Rome— the Vatican-Beijing agreement would need to produce results at several times the current rate. Meanwhile the “underground” Church still faces sanctions, the Patriotic Association still issues orders, and the Vatican, fearful of upsetting the negotiations for a continuation of this questionable accord, remains silent as Cardinal Zen faces trial.

The Pope’s betrayal of Cardinal Zen

A Prince of the Church is being tried as a criminal, by a regime that tramples on human rights, and the Roman Pontiff can only say that he “thinks” he is briefed on the trial schedule?

On losing sight of fundamental beliefs

Sadly, many Catholics have lost their confidence in the Church’s leadership as a result of the scandals. Almost as sadly, many others have clung to their confidence in the leaders, at the cost of forgetting their mission.

Who are the abortion extremists? A political analysis

Clearly, Democrats think that the abortion issue is a winner for them, and many Republicans agree. So the prophecies become self-confirming.

Just a speed bump on the Synodal Path?

Synodality apparently means that a small cadre of Catholic activists— in a country where Church attendance is in freefall and hundreds of thousands of Catholics are formally renouncing their faith— should be allowed to lead the universal Church, changing fundamental moral and doctrinal tenets that have stood unchallenged for centuries.

The coming population implosion

Even Pope Paul VI, insofar as he incorporated worries about overpopulation into Humanae Vitae, was wrong.

An epidemic of false witness

A wedding is a public act, at which both the couple and their guests are testifying to something. Are they testifying to the truth? It matters.

Pas d’ennemis a gauche at the Vatican?

Pope Francis is not shy about promoting his favored political causes, such as immigration and climate-change action. But he has been remarkably quiet about overt repression of Catholicism, and even assaults on Catholic prelates, by certain regimes.

Not quite dead?

This sad case should confirm the enduring strength of the layman’s instinctive understanding that if a person is breathing, moving, heart beating, responding to stimuli— even with the help of machines— that person is not dead.

Admit it: the Rosary IS a threat

Panneton is right about one thing: in the battle that really matters, the Rosary is more powerful— and therefore more dangerous to the liberal hegemony— than an AR-15.

Another red hat for a McCarrick ally

Even on the very best reading, Bishop McElroy’s actions (or rather his inaction) have contributed to a climate of scandal that still afflicts our Church, and to the cynicism of lay Catholics who question whether our bishops are ready to police themselves.

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.

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