The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

Does the Pope want the truth? Now we know.

The most important thing about yesterday’s announcement from the USCCB is what it didn’t say. The leaders of the US bishops’ conference went to Rome to ask the Pope’s approval for an apostolic visitation. They came away empty-handed, and announced the steps that they...

Does the Pope want the truth? Thursday’s meeting will tell.

As Pope Francis meets on Thursday with leaders of the US bishops’ conference, one question looms more important than all others: Will the Pope authorize an apostolic visitation of the American hierarchy? An apostolic visitation—a full investigation, under papal...

A meeting of the world’s bishops to talk about abuse? Please, not more talk. Action!

Pope Francis has called the leaders of the world’s episcopal conferences to Rome, to “speak about the prevention of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.” Great. The meeting will take place next February—more than five years after the Pope announced his plan to set up a...

Quick Hits: Small Advances on Abuse Crisis

Matters have been unfolding slowly since Archbishop Viganò’s revelations about the Church’s handling of the homosexually abusive Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. But here are three straws in the wind: Timetable on McCarrick Confirmed: Two portions of the timetable have been...

Just an awkward headline?

The headline on the Associated Press story is provocative: Vatican Official: Sex abuse scandal is church’s ‘own 9/11’ But is the headline accurate? Read on: A top Vatican official says the clerical sex scandal is such a game-changing catastrophe for the Catholic Church...

When the topic is abortion, the facts don’t matter?

On his Twitter feed, Father Alek Schrenk calls attention to an editor’s note, appended on an article in The Atlantic. The article, written by Moira Weigel and published early in 2017, scoffed at pro-lifers who advocate ultrasound exams for pregnant women. After its publication, this...

The Vigano report and the Kim Davis distraction

Pope Francis asked journalists to investigate the charges in the Vigano testimony, and draw their own conclusions. That’s fair enough—although it’s certainly surprising that the Vicar of Christ would not at least deny participating in what would amount to a repudiation of his own...

Dear bishops: please spare us waffling statements

Here’s a hot tip for any bishop considering a public statement on the current mess: Put some teeth in it. If you issue a mild, dispassionate statement—hoping to keep out of controversy—you won’t just sound wimpy. You’ll sound dishonest as well. Given the facts of...

Lady Dumbello’s discretion

For relaxation during these turbulent days, I’ve been reading Trollope’s Framley Parsonage. Toward the end, the novelist recounts the great success of Lord Dumbello, a peer of uncertain morals, who finds the perfect wife. She is beautiful, her bearing is stately, and best of all, while...

What I predicted, 25+ years ago

Yesterday I spoke at length with Al Kresta about the sex-abuse scandal in general and the Vigano testimony in particular. The whole interview is available here. Al is thoughtful, faithful, and literate; I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, and I think you will, too. During the interview Al,...

There’s a quick way to learn the truth about Vigano’s accusations

Kudos to Father Raymond de Souza, who noticed something that the rest of us had missed. In a Catholic Herald column, Father de Souza explains how the release of the Vigano testimony affects the US bishops’ plans: The American bishops have already asked Pope Francis to appoint an...

So Pope Francis CAN act quickly on cover-up charges, when he wants to

Archbishop Vigano has responded quickly and effectively to the charge that he sought to squelch charges of sexual misconduct by Archbishop John Nienstedt. (I suspect that when he released his testimony, Archbishop Vigano knew this attack would be coming, and he was ready for it.) He notes that...

The Vigano bombshell: some perspectives

The testimony of Archbishop Vigano is, from my perspective as an editor, the most important Catholic news story since the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. (And by the way those stories now seem related.) The past few days have seen an unprecedented outburst of editorial commentary, and...

In a time of crisis, unfortunate tag lines

1) Introducing an interview with Cardinal Blase Cupich, a Chicago TV anchor referred to the “explosive allegations” in the testimony of Archbishop Vigano. But the cardinal himself told the interviewer that the Pope was “not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.” He...

McCarrick: story the secular media don’t want to pursue?

Julia Duin, who worked for some years as the religion reporter for a secular newspaper, now wonders aloud why the mainstream media haven’t followed up obvious leads on the McCarrick scandal. The Catholic News Agency has found several priests to confirm that “everybody knew” about...

Why do Catholics speak so often of “the Church” instead of “Christ”?

In a recent discussion of the mission of CatholicCulture.org, an interesting question came up: Why do we have the word “Catholic” in our name, and not the word “Christ”? Similarly, one of the mission slogans I use frequently is to “enrich faith, strengthen the Church,...

President Duterte: When is a Catholic not a Catholic?

The President of the Philippines, in a profanity-laden message, has declared he is no longer a Catholic. He claims to have been abused by a Jesuit as a teenager, and while that allegation can no longer be met with outraged disbelief, only God knows whether it is true. One wonders, of course, how...

Time to hold prelates accountable at the Vatican, too

John Allen of Crux remarks that if the universal Church seeks to make prelates accountable, it’s unfortunate that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who has a deserved reputation for trying to protect abusers and conceal evidence remains the Dean of the College of Cardinals. To be fair, Allen was...

Just how independent would this committee be?

Bishop Robert Barron has added his own proposal to the mounting pile. He proposes that the US bishops “petition the Holy Father to form a team, made up mostly of faithful lay Catholics skilled in forensic investigation, and to empower them to have access to all of the relevant documentation...

Final Liturgical Year volume for 2017-2018 now available

The final ebook for the 2017-2018 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. The sixth volume overall in the annual series, Ordinary Time Completed rounds out the current liturgical year, taking you right up to Advent. This volume covers all the days from August 26th through...

Quick Hits: The year’s best articles so far

I’ve spent most of my time this year working on The Catholic Culture Podcast, but I haven’t neglected to collect some great articles from around the Catholic web to share with you. This is a long list covering the entire year up until now, so I’ve divided it into...

The bishops and ‘best practices’—does that sound familiar?

If you liked Cardinal Wuerl’s proposal—that the US bishops, having lost their credibility, should set up a committee to restore credibility—then you’ll probably love the follow-up suggestion from Cardinal Blase Cupich—who thinks that the bishops can find the...

An ‘independent commission’ to investigate the bishops? Here are the problems.

This week I have seen three separate proposals for the creation of a commission that would investigate the American bishops’ responses to the sex-abuse scandal. Unfortunately all three have serious flaws. Cardinal Donald Wuerl has suggested that the US bishops’ conference could...

Remembrance of Popes past

Today—August 6, the feast of the Transfiguration—is the anniversary of the publication (in 1993) of Veritatis Splendor, in which St. John Paul II reaffirmed a basic principle of moral reasoning: that “circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by...

None so blind...

Let’s dip once again into the archives, take note of what ‘Diogenes’ was saying years ago, and see how well it applies to the current mess. This week reporters are busily asking whether Bishop X knew that McCarrick was molesting minors. That’s the wrong question. The...

Why ‘policies and procedures’ won’t resolve the bishops’ problems

The push has already begun for a new set of “policies and procedures” from the US bishops’ conference, to prevent a repetition of the McCarrick scandal. You might call this the damage-control approach: an anodyne alternative to the painful necessities that would come with genuine...

It can’t happen. It can’t happen. It happened.

In November 2003, Kim Lawton of PBS interviewed then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan about the American bishops’ response to the abuse scandal. Lawton: Some groups fear the bishops’ energy and commitment may fade. Archbishop Dolan: Can’t happen. Can’t happen. We never,...

The McCarrick scandal: a roundup of different perspectives

This week I have been swamped with messages from loyal Catholics who have been shaken and disgusted by the latest eruption of the continuing sex-abuse scandal in the Church. I wish I saw some sign that our bishops recognized the rising tide of anger—righteous anger—among the most...

Coping with scandal: what everyone can do

Perhaps the most prescient article that I ever published in my years as an editor, and certainly the most controversial, is The Gay Priest Problem, by Father Paul Shaughnessy, SJ, which appeared in the November 2000 issue of Catholic World Report. The concluding section of that piece, offering...

A book about the McCarrick scandal? It’s already written

“Why don’t you write a book about the McCarrick scandal?” my friend asked me. I answered: “Because I already did!” True, The Faithful Departed doesn’t focus specifically on Cardinal McCarrick. But what this latest scandal has shown—the failure of the...

Get priests out of sacristies—and into confessionals

Bishop Robert Barron, who is widely regarded as one of the leading Catholic experts on evangelization, sees a problem with a parish-based approach. It’s not that he doesn’t appreciate parishes. “I love the parish and believe in its importance passionately,” he assures us....

The logic of Amoris Laetitia now infects Vatican diplomacy

The latest of a series of articles on Vatican-China talks* posted on the Vatican News site tackles the question of how the Holy See could recognize bishops who were ordained without Vatican approval, and thus subject to excommunication: The path to the legitimisation of the Chinese Bishops...

Does Humanae Vitae cause suffering, or does the National Catholic Reporter?

The National Catholic Reporter headline informs us: Humanae Vitae’s ban on contraception causes suffering The argument of the article is lame and familiar: based on the assumption that—what your parents told you about bird and bees to the contrary notwithstanding—Catholic...

What’s wrong with this picture?

Do others share my discomfort with this story? Catholic Charities office sues diocese in Minnesota (CWN, July 12) “We believe the complaint will be properly resolved through the judicial process,” says the spokesman for the St. Cloud diocese. And maybe it will. But then...

An answer to Cardinal Farrell, from Pope John Paul II

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the prefect of the Vatican dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, fears that priests “have no credibility” when they attempt to prepare Catholic couples for marriage. St. John Paul II disagrees. From the introduction to his book, Love and...

Suggestion for the German bishops: wider access to sacramental Confession

The Code of Canon Law (#844—4) allows Catholics priests, when there is a “grave and pressing need,” to administer Holy Communion to Protestants who “demonstrate the catholic faith in respect of these sacraments and are properly disposed.” The German bishops, in their...

A question for Cardinal Farrell

If Catholic priests have “no credibility” for the task of preparing couples for marriage, how are they qualified (per Amoris Laetitia) to guide divorced-and-remarried Catholics through the “process of discernment” that would lead them back to...

Priests shouldn’t engage in partisan politics—except?

Bishop Michael Warfel of Great Falls-Billings has reprimanded four priests who appeared in clerical collars, as VIP guests, at a rally for President Trump in Montana. And rightly so, because priests should not take part in partisan political activities. At the same time, Cardinal Blase Cupich...

The mounting Italian influence in the Roman Curia

Last week, in commenting on two important appointments, I failed to make an obvious point: Both Bishop Nunzio Galantino (the new head of APSA) and Paolo Ruffini (the new head of the dicastery for Communications) are Italians. Vatican-watcher Andrea Gagliarducci sharpens the point: This is...

Vatican Reform, take two: behind two new papal appointments

“Personnel is policy,” the political analysts tell us. With that maxim in mind, let’s examine the importance of two appointments made by Pope Francis in recent days: the appointments of Bishop Nunzio Galantino as president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic...

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