The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

Pope Francis shows no regret over a shocking appointment

Was Pope Francis sending a subtle message to his critics this week? Or have I become a bit paranoid about papal statements? You decide. In a statement of condolence after the death of Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Pope Francis summed up the ecclesiastical career of the Belgian prelate in two...

Tongue-tied bishops—is it fear of retribution?

John Allen of Crux does his best to be balanced, but he can only do so much. When he suggests that “Vigano may have made it harder to get to the truth on McCarrick“, he can’t avoid implying that many American bishops are keeping their silence, rather than demanding a thorough...

Churchmen, out on a limb again, defy the world

It is one of those days. I am finding it difficult to get excited about much of anything, and I am not sure what the problem is. After all, just look at the dramatic news stories from the past three days: First, on the matter of the common good: In a stunning statement on Wednesday from the US...

The preposterous case against Cardinal Pell

Cardinal Pell has been convicted of molesting two young men. One of those alleged victims, who is now deceased, denied having been molested. Think about that for a moment: the cardinal stands convicted of a crime that, according to the supposed victim, did not occur. There’s another...

Liturgical Year Volume 3 Released: LENT

Lent (the only liturgical season with a name that is also a four-letter word!) begins on March 6th, and so the Lenten volume of our ebook series for the 2018-2019 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This third volume in the annual series covers the entire season of Lent,...

This day in history—a windfall for the Saint Gallen Mafia

On this date—February 21, the feast of St. Peter Damian—18 years ago, at a Vatican consistory, Pope John Paul II raised 38 prelates to the College of Cardinals. Among the men who received red hats that day are the following, who are very much in the news this week, amid the discussion...

Cardinal Farrell as camerlengo: an astonishingly ill-timed announcement

The selection of Cardinal Kevin Farrell as camerlengo was noteworthy—not because the cardinal will have new influence at the Vatican, but because the appointment confirms the influence that he already enjoys. However, the timing of the appointment was absolutely stunning. The role of the...

In the interests of transparency...

The Vatican has released new statutes governing the office of its Auditor General. Which would be nice, if the Vatican had an Auditor General. Sure, there’s an office of the Auditor General, and Vatican officials evidently considered it important to define the rights and responsibilities...

Not all religions are part of God’s plan

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of St. Paul Miki, who, in the last moments before he died for the faith, said to the audience at his execution: The pluralism and the diversity of religions… are willed by God in his wisdom, through which He created human beings. Oh, wait; my mistake....

Swimming the Tiber from Teheran

Sometimes a good, long look in the mirror can set the stage for evangelization. When I look in the mirror I see a mortal man: a man who will die. But I don’t want to die. How can I escape that fate? When I look in the mirror I see a sinful man: a man who has done things of which he is...

Spin doctor, heal yourself

Andrea Tornielli, the new spin doctor for the Vatican’s communications team, has harsh words for some Catholic media outlets. Cindy Wooden of CNS captures the gist of Torniell’s complaint: The rise of media that call themselves Catholic but seem to exist only to judge others is less about...

In abortion debate, Washington Post wants to talk science. Good. Let’s.

The Washington Post (which publishes an awful lot of op-ed pieces in the “News” section) today features this interesting headline: Thousands flock to March for Life that bills its anti-abortion stance as ‘pro-science’ The thrust of the story is that while pro-lifers...

OTG: Prolife Miracle: Mother of Mercy Clinic displaces abortion mill

For twenty-seven years an abortion clinic plied its grisly trade in Manassas, Virginia. Shortly after it got started, a pro-life counseling center called AAA Women for Choice opened up next door to intercept and help pregnant women. Peaceful demonstrations, along with prayer and fasting, became...

A bad day’s lament

Yesterday was “one of those days”—a day that found me hating my work, wishing I had some other sort of job. The first blow, and by far the worst, came with the news, released by the Washington Post Monday evening, that an old friend, Father C. J. McCloskey, had been...

Liturgical Year Volume 2 Released: Ordinary Time before Lent

The second volume of our ebook series for the 2018-2019 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This volume covers the initial period of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent, from January 14th through March 5th. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following...

Quick Hits: Important background on Vatican-China accord and Press Office turnover

The Vatican has struck a deal with China, which—although we still don’t know any details—apparently gives Beijing the power to nominate new bishops. Is there any precedent for such an agreement? Yes, there is. Writing for AsiaNews, Li Ruohan compares the Vatican-China accord with...

A new—and illegal—attempt to pass the Equal Rights Amendment

One cost, surely, of Donald Trump’s consistently ungentlemanly behavior was the loss of the Republican majority in the US House of Representatives in the November elections, which will take effect later this month. It is possible to affirm this judgment whatever one thinks of Trump’s...

At the Vatican, in February, the only question that matters just MIGHT be discussed

Father Hans Zollner, who heads the child-protection center at Gregorian University, suggests that the much-anticipated February meeting at the Vatican should produce “a clarification of procedures, which aren’t so clear.” Really? Sixteen years after the “long Lent”...

Are secular reporters finally ready to criticize Pope Francis?

“It was not a good year for Pope Francis,” says Sylvia Pogglioli of NPR. Nicole Winfield of AP is a bit more forceful: “It has been a wretched year for Pope Francis…” At last, reporters for the secular mainstream are waking up to the reality that this Pope, whose...

Quick Hits: Awaiting Pope’s speech to Curia, laity in leadership, a controversial funeral homily

John Allen of Crux is an honest reporter, and he clearly tries to avoid overt criticism of Pope Francis. But in a preview of the Pontiff’s annual address to the Roman Curia he is fairly blunt about the failure of promised reforms in this pontificate. The sex-abuse scandal continues, he...

Even in a bishop’s resignation, signs of waffling in Rome

“Now a bishop must be above reproach,” wrote St. Paul [1 Tim 3:2]. Apparently Bishop Alexander Salazar, whose resignation the Pope accepted today, was not above reproach. Yet he remained a bishop in active ministry, serving as an auxiliary in the largest archdiocese in the US, for more...

Quick Hits: Dominican Friars video, a remarkable French mystic, a reformist imam and more

Some months ago I agreed to appear in a video produced by the Dominican Foundation to talk about the benefits of membership in a Dominican parish. It’s for a matching challenge fundraiser which ends Dec. 31, so I would have shared it earlier except that nobody sent the finished product to...

The top 5 most popular episodes of The Catholic Culture Podcast

Since its beginning on May 1st of this year, I have produced 25 episodes of The Catholic Culture Podcast! For those who haven’t listened to all of them, I thought I would highlight the five most popular episodes so far (in terms of downloads). In no particular order: Episode 18: Acedia,...

Oh, good. In February the Pope might make a statement about abuse

Give John Allen credit for honesty, in his analysis (for Crux) of what we can expect from the February meeting at the Vatican to discuss the sex-abuse crisis. Not much: Almost by definition, Americans are likely to be frustrated with what may seem the scant results of the February...

Coming soon: a religious struggle for control of the internet?

“We only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division, and violence: You have no place on our platforms. You have no home here.” That was the message of Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, Inc., in a recent address to the Anti-Defamation League. And that would be...

Does ‘America’ have ‘dubia’ about Pope’s remark on homosexuality?

Evidently caught off guard by the Pope’s expression of concern about widespread homosexuality in the clergy, America magazine has rushed to reassure readers that the Pontiff’s remarks must be understood in the proper context. Father James Martin, the editor-at-large of the Jesuit...

Abu Dhabi, but not Argentina?

Today’s announcement that Pope Francis will soon visit the United Arab Emirates rekindles my interest in another question about papal travel. Pope John Paul II visited his native Poland less than a year after his election. Pope Benedict XVI traveled to his native Germany just a few months...

If the Catholic Church were run like a business...

Imagine that you have invested all your savings in a chain of restaurants, and the chain is not doing well. Customers don’t like the food. Diners are staying away in droves. Franchises are closing. Now you receive the annual statement from the chief executive, who says that he is not...

Closing churches, losing faithful? Don’t be anxious, the Pope says

The observation that many churches, which until a few years ago were necessary, are now no longer thus, due to a lack of faithful and clergy, or a different distribution of the population between cities and rural areas, should be welcomed in the Church not with anxiety, but as a sign of the...

This time, we’re told, the Vatican is serious about abuse. Really.

Archbishop Scicluna says that the February conference on sexual abuse will be “the start of a global process“ to plan a worldwide response to the scandal. The start? You mean the process didn’t start when Pope Francis formed the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of...

Missing: a sense of urgency

In Rome, a friendly reader reports, they’re saying that the house is burning down, and the firemen are coming—in February. And that’s the good news. The bad news is that the firemen won’t bring pumps or hoses or ladders or axes. Or water. Kerosene, maybe....

Advent-Christmas Ebook released for new liturgical year

The Advent and Christmas ebook volume for the 2018-2019 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This is the first volume for the coming new liturgical year, which begins on December 2nd, the First Sunday in Advent. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following...

Explaining the angry tone of today’s Catholic news coverage

Another American diocese is headed for bankruptcy court. Did you even notice our story on Monday? When I founded Catholic World News, back in 1996, it was inconceivable that a Catholic diocese would seek bankruptcy protection. I can vividly recall the first tentative discussions of the...

Just wait. The bishops are going to take action. Pretty soon. Probably. Trust them.

The American bishops told us that they had dealt decisively with the sex-abuse scandal at Dallas in 2002. This year it became painfully apparent—to everyone who didn’t know already—that they hadn’t. Then the bishops told us that they would deal decisively with the...

Cardinal Tobin still doesn’t get it. Nighty-night, baby.

If the scorching address by Francesco Cesareo, calling for negligent bishops to resign voluntarily, produced the most encouraging moment in the USCCB meeting, the low point might have come when Cardinal Joseph Tobin spoke, and made it abundantly clear that some prelates still don’t...

Urgent: With a $60,000 Challenge Grant in the balance, I need your help.

This Fall, eighty-five of our Boosters joined forces with seven other generous donors to offer a Challenge Grant of $60,000 to make it easier for CatholicCulture.org to raise the funds it needs to continue its mission in 2019. As of this writing, we have matched only $31,000, which means we still...

Quick Hits: Exhortations to bishops—and by bishops

Jayd Henricks, who once served as a senior staffer for the US bishops’ conference, hits a number of nails on the head in a blunt but respectful open letter to the American bishops as they head into their November meeting. He fully recognizes, and names, the powerful forces that might...

The crisis in Church governance

Priests and especially bishops are called to teach, to sanctify, and to govern. “So, how are we in Holy Orders doing?” Asks Msgr. Charles Pope in this must-read column for the National Catholic Register. He answers his own question: “By any reasonable measure,...

The all-purpose press release

Introducing the “All-Purpose USCCB Press Release.” Based on actual release that was sent out by the USCCB recently, this statement illustrates how the American hierarchy could respond promptly to any problem. It’s so easy to be contrite! By filling in the blanks, this release...

Quick Hits: Halloween, Hildegard, and Hugo Chavez

A few of the most interesting articles I’ve read online in recent weeks: Every year we get a spate of articles debating the Christian or pagan origins of Halloween, and this year Catholic World Report offers one of the most detailed I’ve read. Also at CWR: The musical legacy of...

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