The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

Three things the Pope can’t say

Within the Catholic Church, the authority of the Roman Pontiff is considerable. But even papal authority—and especially papal infallibility—has its limits. The Pope speaks with authority when he sets forth the deposit of the Faith, explaining—in union with the college of...

Quick Hits: the most perceptive columns on Amoris Laetitia and the dubia

Many gallons of ink—or maybe I should say millions of pixels—have been spent in analysis of the heated debate over Amoris Laetitia and the dubia raised by the four cardinals. Among the most useful analyses (leaving aside several that have already been posted on this site) are...

The Rex Mottram approach to Amoris Laetitia and the dubia

“I believe that the pope has spoken,” said Cardinal Kevin Farrell, regarding the question of whether Amoris Laetitia has changed Church teaching on the admission of divorced/remarried Catholics to Communion. But to be fair, Cardinal Farrell made that remark more than a month ago,...

Is it clear? Is it authoritative?

Let’s imagine that I’m your boss, and I summon you to meet me at my office tomorrow. Since you haven’t been here, I send directions. You find them confusing, so you ask: “Should I turn right or left as I come off the highway?” I reply: “My directions are...

Vatican official suggests reinventing the wheel

Archbishop Kevin Farrell (who will be known as Cardinal Farrell in just a few days) is not pleased with Archbishop Charles Chaput. The prefect of the Vatican’s new dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life is disappointed because the Archbishop of Philadelphia has forthrightly stated that,...

Urgent: With a $50,000 Challenge Grant in the balance, I need your help.

This Fall, eighty-three of our Boosters joined forces to offer a Challenge Grant of $50,000 to make it easier for CatholicCulture.org to raise the funds it needs to continue its mission in 2017. As of this writing, we have matched roughly $41,000, which means we still have approximately $9,000 to...

Advent-Christmas Ebook released for new liturgical year

The Advent and Christmas ebook volume for the 2016-2017 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This is the first volume of the coming new liturgical year, which begins on November 27th, the First Sunday in Advent. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following...

What part of ‘never’ does America magazine fail to understand?

Isn’t it nice that after the Pope says that “the final word is clear,” we have America magazine available for “Putting Pope Francis’ comments on women’s ordination in historical context“—that is, to make sure that things aren’t clear. You...

The Boston archdiocese has chosen an odd time to take a stand

The Atlantic wonders Why the Catholic Church Is Leading the Fight Against Legal Pot in Massachusetts. So do I. It’s easy to understand that the archdiocese would oppose the referendum question that would legalize recreational use of marijuana. But there’s a big difference...

Cancel the Al Smith dinner: Round 2

Readers have responded very favorably to my suggestion that the Al Smith Dinner should be discontinued, and when George Weigel seconded the motion, the responses to his column were favorable as well. But New York’s Cardinal Dolan thinks differently, and he will cast the decisive...

Why Democrats choke on the words ‘under God’

Introducing Hillary Clinton at a rally, a speaker tells the cheering audience that only the Democratic standard-bearer can bring America together as “one nation, un....” and then she breaks off, pauses, and continues with remainder of the familiar phrase from the Pledge of Allegiance:...

Here’s an idea: just cancel the Al Smith dinner

You say you weren’t happy about the Al Smith dinner? Neither was I. Neither was John Gehring. Yes, I’m writing about that John Gehring, the liberal political operative who did PR work first for the US bishops’ conference, then for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, the group that...

Al Smith is spinning in his grave

Has the Al Smith Dinner Ceased to Be a Worthwhile Event for the Catholic Church? That’s the question raised by Thomas McArdle in a column that appears in the National Catholic Register. Is there anyone out there who wouldn’t answer Yes? Sure, the white-tie dinner raises lots of...

Persecution and apostasy: two tough challenges

Archbishop Charles Chaput pulled no punches in an October 19 address to a symposium at Notre Dame. In fact the archbishop actually spoke about punching, reminding his audience that “we can’t overlook the fact that the flesh and blood model for our Church—Mary as mater et...

The message behind the burqa

In his excellent speech at Notre Dame (about which more anon), Archbishop Charles Chaput makes an interesting point about Muslim women who wear the hijab or burqa: Some of my friends are annoyed by that kind of “in your face” Islam. But I understand it. The hijab and the burqa say...

Quick Hits: More cautionary thoughts on Amoris Laetitia

Writing in Catholic World Report, Samuel Gregg remarks that Amoris Laetitia steers around the discussion of “intrinsically evil acts.” This is unfortunate, he writes, because in all the discussion of showing mercy to troubled souls, there is no clear indication that “mercy...

OTG: Augustine Institute announces scholarship competition

The Augustine Institute, which offers Masters of Arts degrees in both Theology and Leadership for the New Evangelization, has announced its fourth annual scholarship competition. Each year, the Institute selects four applicants to receive its John Paul II scholarships, which cover the cost of...

A Vatican enemies list?

Last week the Vatican Insider—ordinarily a solid source of news and reasonable analysis from Rome—published a remarkable piece with an inflammatory headline, “Catholics who are anti-Francis but love Putin.” The article is troubling, for several reasons: The article...

The anti-Catholic Catholics (and the bishops who support them)

Yesterday Ross Douthat of the New York Times embarked on a lengthy Tweetstorm —21 tweets in all—questioning whether it’s accurate to refer to the leaked emails from the Clinton campaign as evidence of “anti-Catholic” bigotry. Douthat—who is no friend of the...

Quick Hits: the prophetic encyclical that inspired Humanae Vitae, Esolen on the ‘pronoun wars’

1. What’s Cardinal Pell been doing recently? Well, among other things, he’s been writing an introduction to my wife’s new book. It’s possible that I’m not perfectly objective, but I think the book is terrific. For nearly 50 years now, loyal Catholics have been...

Catholic social teaching and the Third Reich

One thing I chose not to mention in yesterday’s review of Mark Riebling’s brilliant and exciting book, Church of Spies, was the careful attention paid by key figures to Catholic social teaching. This was another factor which made it impossible for a moral attempt to assassinate Adolf...

Democrats trying to change Church teachings? Nothing new.

“We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good,” wrote John Podesta, the chairman of the Clinton campaign. He was responding to a supporter who had suggested a campaign to bring change within the Catholic Church, to “demand the end of a middle ages...

Socially acceptable Catholics

In a revealing email exchange that was made public today by Wikileaks, Jennifer Palmieri, the communications director of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign explains why many influential conservatives are Catholics: I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable politically...

Have pro-lifers become the GOP’s second-class citizens?

Hadley Arkes, who has been an effective pro-life battler in Washington’s trench warfare for years, is worried that Pro-lifers Settle for Dhimmitude these days. His argument is, I think, unanswerable. The only serious discussion of abortion in this year’s presidential race swirls...

On the feast of St. Bruno, remembering a visit with the Carthusians

Fifteen years ago, to celebrate the 900th anniversary of their founding, the Carthusian monks in the US decided to let one reporter—one—visit their community and report on their life. I was honored to be chosen, and my visit to the charterhouse in Vermont was unforgettable. The strict...

Quick Hits: secularism, liturgy, and belief

The influential Catholic philosopher Charles Taylor suggested that living in a secular age means not so much that people are less religious but that even for those who consider themselves religious, truth itself seems unstable, uncertain, up for grabs. James K. A. Smith, another philosopher who...

What’s missing from this list?

In an October 5 statement to a UN conference on security challenges involving young people in the Mediterranean region, the Vatican’s representative, Msgr. Janusz Urbanczyk, offered these thoughts: Root causes that promote violent extremism, radicalization and terrorism among the young must be...

The flower of the Holy Spirit, with photos

Here is a little instant inspiration, in the form of a particular type of orchid found in Central and South America. Named “The Flower of the Holy Spirit”, this orchid looks like praying monks before blooming, and then opens into a flower that in many cases looks remarkably like a...

Quick Hits: Not always what they seem: Deaconesses, Jesuits, Christmas displays

Deaconesses: The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published an article by Carlo Carletti today which could inadvertently lead even the elect astray (cf. Mt 24:24, Mk 13:22). A professor of archeology, Carletti wrote that Pope Francis’ study of women in the diaconate should...

Two thoughtful critiques of the Pope’s approach

“Has Pope Francis Failed?” by Matthew Schmitz is a remarkable little essay, not only because it is persuasively argued, but also because it appears today in, of all places, the New York Times! The fact that the Times would run such a piece is, in a way, evidence for the author’s...

Amoris Laetitia in America: The bishops’ joy…and the bishops’ tact

Have you heard the one about the cardinal who asked the various episcopal conferences to comment on the Church’s reception of Amoris Laetitia? The US Bishops responded that bishops and priests around America were delighted and inspired by the Pope's apostolic exhortation, and had already...

Quick Hits: 'must read' posts on support for Humanae Vitae, Catholics in China, Catholic conscience

Three more items to put in the "must read" column: Janet Smith speaks with Catholic World Report about the tremendous positive response to a statement by scholars supporting the Church's teaching on contraception. The tide has turned, she says, and bright young Catholic scholars...

Quick Hits: Cosmo lauds virginity, mastery of the tongue, underrated ceilings, the Chancellor and the Bard

Astoundingly, the degenerate-by-default Cosmopolitan has published a young woman’s article about the beauty of the consecrated life. (Yes, the piece was originally published in Good Housekeeping, but it’s still remarkable.) In “I Am Happily Married to God—as a...

A quick note on “doctors of the law”

As every schoolboy knows, certain parties are fond of rebuking others for being “doctors of the law.” Good Catholics, of course, have faced the charge of being Pharisaical ever since Western culture became sufficiently pagan to hold the moral law in disdain. For indeed, most Catholics...

Quick Hits: Questions on Pope's ad-lib reforms, the 'dance' on doctrine, preparing for persecution

Three must-read columns—none terribly optimistic—from the weekend’s harvest: By all accounts, in the conclave of March 2013, Cardinal Bergoglio was chosen by the cardinals to be a reforming Pope: specifically, he had a mandate to bring change to the Roman Curia. Has that...

Quick Hits: press coverage of Islam and violence; police too ignored abuse complaints

The Bridge Initiative is unhappy with the coverage of Islam provided by Catholic World News (among other outlets). In a report on Catholic public attitudes toward Islam, the Bridge Initiative—an initiative of the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at...

Quick Hits: Negative feedback on necessary distinctions, papal intentions, and moral complexity

Necessary Distinctions: Recently I have written both to defend the Pope from the charge of heresy and also to insist that his own private interpretation of Amoris Laetitia does not tell us anything about what that act of the Magisterium requires us to believe. Given the distinctions necessary to...

‘What? Still at it?’—For Christians, eternity has already begun

Reading In This House of Brede, the beautiful novel by Rumer Godden, I came across this nugget: “There is a story about Newman that I like very much. In his room he had a picture—I think his landlady had given it to him—of the Blessed in Paradise praising God, and every time...

Quick Hits: Global Catholic population explosion, health unknowns of test-tube babies

If you have been worrying about the declining number of Catholics, the distinguished historian Philip Jenkins has news for you: the universal Church is in the midst of a remarkable growth spurt! In Catholicism’s incredible growth story, Jenkins reports that the worldwide Catholic...

Phyllis Schlafly: telling the truth about woman

If a “feminist” is someone who promotes the dignity of women’s role in society, then unquestionably the most influential American feminist of the late 20th century was the late Phyllis Schlafly. Since the word “feminist” has been hijacked by ideologues, to serve the...

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