On the Culture

Commentary and reflection on Catholic life.

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

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

The abuse crisis: Sacrificing ourselves for the Church?

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

Baruch: Jeremiah’s scribe, against hopelessness and idolatry

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

Hardened sinners? Perhaps more than you think.

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

Church in crisis: The scourge of a sycophantic society

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

The problem with “human dignity” as a moral argument

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

A modern lamentation, or jeremiad, on Church governance

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremiah had nothing on us.

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

The secularization of Christ: A case study

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

Measuring the Synod on Youth: Whose seismograph?

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

Bias in Artificial Intelligence? The irreplaceable riddle of man.

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

Golden threads of Wisdom in the Book of Sirach

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

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

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

The removal of the Church’s Cone of Silence

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

Msgr. John Sanders, the priest who played with Duke Ellington

Earlier this week, I made a visit to Our Lady Queen of the Clergy Retirement Home in Stamford, CT to interview Msgr. John Sanders, who played with Duke Ellington for five years and then became a Catholic priest. Msgr. Sanders’s memory was not up to a full podcast interview on the day I...

The surpassing relevance of Mary’s Jewish roots

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

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

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

Pope Francis: The resignation scenario

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

I’d rather be an angel...or would I?

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

On the abolition of women…and men

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

Alas, poor Cupich. I knew him, Horatio.

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

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

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

A serious rapid-fire credit card attack in late July

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

The managerial class: Top companies are usually our enemies

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

Marshalling our forces: Politics in America today

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

Catholic parents taken unawares? Not any longer.

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

Successful societies are (always) rooted in the family

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

The Song of Songs: Yearning for fulfillment

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

Vanity of vanities, all is vanity: Ecclesiastes

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

A challenge to the Vatican from America’s consecrated virgins

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

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

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

Six books to tell you what you need to know

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

Proverbs, read spiritually

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

Redemption and Salvation in the Psalms

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

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

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

Suffering in the Psalms

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

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

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

Crosses on public buildings: Yes or No?

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

Want more commentary? Visit the Archives.