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The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

Brace yourself; the Pope is taking another overseas flight

Pope Francis flies to Egypt on Friday. In the past faithful Catholics might have offered up a nervous prayer whenever they heard that the Pope was boarding a plane, because they worried about the safety of air travel. Today most of us feel reasonably confident about planes (although a quick...

The unhappy leadership history of St. Luke’s Institute

There’s irony in the news that a laicized priest, who once ran a counseling center, has agreed to counseling as a condition of his parole. In case you missed the story, Edward Arsenault resigned from his post as head of the St. Luke Institute in Maryland in 2013, after he was charged...

Theological impact of Benedict XVI assessed, on his 90th birthday

As Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI turned 90, two interesting articles appeared to measure his impact on Catholic theology: In the National Catholic Register, Father Raymond de Souza observes that the retired Pope—who was baptized at the Easter vigil on the very day of his birth—has...

Thinking like a Catholic: Seeking Clarity in the Current Confusion

In March I began sifting back through all of the essays I had written on CatholicCulture.org since we last released any of my writings in ebook form, in 2014. Whether others will agree or not, it seemed to me that forty-seven of them were still highly relevant, and perhaps sufficiently...

Easter volume released for this liturgical year

Easter falls on April 16th this year, and so the Easter volume of our ebook series for the 2016-2017 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This fourth volume in the annual series covers the entire Easter season, from the Easter Vigil (April 15th) through Pentecost (June...

OTG: The Magdala Apostolate

At CatholicCulture.org we are enthusiastic supporters of the similarly-named Institute for Catholic Culture, which provides outstanding lectures at the Church of St. John the Beloved in McLean, Virginia (these lectures are also live-streamed and archived at the Institute’s website). Now the...

The (spiritually) rich get richer...

Good friends of ours lost a brother to cancer recently. Since they’re from a very big and very Catholic family, the internet has been buzzing with requests for, and promises of, prayers for the dying man and the grieving family. I never met the brother, but from all I’ve heard he...

Quick Hits: Lenten viewing, Feser on libertarianism, the religious roots of jazz

Martin Scorsese’s Silence is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD. Based on the classic novel by Shusaku Endo, Silence tells the story of two Portuguese Jesuit missionaries whose faith is tested by persecutions in feudal Japan. I can’t vouch for whatever extras may be on the DVD, but as I...

The bishops and moral pragmatism, with immigration as a case study

Phil Lawler made an important point in What Trump’s success should teach Church leaders. He highlighted the damage that is done when bishops appear to foreclose complex prudential discussion by repeating platitudes. As two excellent examples, Phil chose Trump’s wall and Islamic...

Do. Not. Miss. This speech by Cardinal Sarah

If you have time to read just one article over the weekend, here’s what it should be: Cardinal Sarah’s Address on 10th Anniversary of “Summorum Pontificum” Catholic World Report has done a great service by posting this address in its entirety, in an excellent English...

Cardinal Turkson sees China as model for environmentalism. Seriously?

Cardinal Peter Turkson has suggested—apparently with a straight face—that when it comes to protecting the environment, the US might look to China for leadership. This astonishing statement came during a meeting with reporters, at which the prefect of the Vatican’s new dicastery...

Quick Hits: Why the pro-life movement lags in Europe, how nationalism may guard freedoms

Literally millions of Americans have been involved in pro-life activism over the years, but the pro-life movement has never drawn the same sort of mass support in Europe. Does that show that social conservatism is weaker on the continent? Not at all; grassroots efforts to defend marriage were much...

Father Gabriel, Detective

Just because I gave up reading mysteries for Lent does not mean you should not be allowed to know of Ignatius Press’ latest foray into the mystery market. The publisher has considerable experience with mysteries, of course, having published works on the mysteries of Our Lady of Guadalupe and...

More clear signs that the papal abuse commission is adrift

A Crux interview with Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM), includes at least three eye-popping admissions: Cardinal O’Malley explains that the PCPM sought a clear means of ensuring that bishops will be held...

Quick Hits: a ‘mystery donor’ to the Knights of Malta, Pope’s questionable historical references

The complicated struggle for control of the Knights of Malta has become even more mysterious, after Albrecht von Boeselager, restored to power as chancellor of the Order, spoke with the German journal Bild. The focus of the interview was a massive donation to the Knights of Malta charity, from...

Quick Hits: Happiness that endures, the message of a great cathedral, another outrage at Trinity University

In a beautiful eulogy, David Warren says that his friend Mary Scheer was “the embodiment of a happy person.” Not because there was no sadness in her life—in fact he says that she was “often dealing with circumstances that would test anyone’s strength of mind”—but because her strong faith enabled...

... and about that St. Patrick’s Day dispensation...

Just as a footnote to yesterday’s lament about the corned-beef dispensation, let me reproduce the statement from my own bishop, which I think is fairly typical. But if you don’t mind, I’ll add my own emphasis. This year the Liturgical Memorial of St. Patrick, March 17, falls...

The dispensation is big news. The fast? Not so much

What is this week’s biggest story in the Catholic media? Corned beef. It’s not even close. Scores of American bishops have issued dispensations, allowing the faithful to eat the “traditional” corned-beef-and-cabbage tomorrow, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day....

And now, fake weather forecasts

Here on the East Coast, we were hit with a major snowstorm on Tuesday. You probably read about it, even if you live somewhere else; the forecasts were all over the national news, with predictions of a potential disaster. Then something very interesting happened. In the last hours before the...

Quick Hits: The EU in crisis, the genocide in the Vendée, the opioid epidemic

The European Union is in trouble. The vision that guided its creation—provided mostly by men with a deeply Catholic sensibility—has been swept away by the rising tide of secularism. The economic interests of member-nations have diverged, putting strains on the alliance. EU leaders...

A Vatican whodunnit

In Agatha Christie’s classic Murder on the Orient Express, the great detective Hercule Poirot faces an unusual challenge. There are too many suspects—too many people with obvious motives for committing the crime. That’s how I feel about the news that Archbishop Charles Brown,...

In a nutshell: Liberalism and Modernism

There are nearly as many definitions of Liberalism and Modernism as there are forms of propaganda in the wide world. As the Church uses these terms, however, they may be roughly defined as follows: Liberalism: The belief that the human person is the ultimate source of freedom and goodness,...

Quick Hits: Things worth fighting for—a saint’s body, a woman’s honor

Have you been following the news of the contest between the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Peoria over the remains of Archbishop Fulton Sheen? That dispute has delayed the cause for the late archbishop’s beatification, and many people find it appalling that Catholic prelates...

Prayers for Pope Francis—now more than ever

This week Pope Francis is on retreat, along with leaders of the Roman Curia. Because most Vatican offices will be quiet this week, while their top officials are on retreat, we can expect much less news from Rome. Meanwhile, as the Holy Father and his most important colleagues take stock of...

Quick Hits: News that demands comment on matters of life and death

The task of following news of interest to Catholics is probably safe only for bald people, who have no hair left to tear out. Here are some recent stories which cry for comment: The Pontifical Council of Death: I stole the name from one of the sources of this story, but it seems that the...

Quick Hits: A sensational story from Rome; help for insomniacs; the Americans left behind; and a special treat

Quite a variety today: enjoy! You’ll probably soon see references (if you haven’t already) to a report in the London Times with a sensational title: Anti-reform cardinals ‘want the Pope to quit’. Proceed with caution. Based entirely on a story by Vatican journalist...

What has Mary Magdalene to do with Arturo Sosa Abascal, SJ?

A helpful reader, who is very good at spotting our typos, has also called my attention to C. C. Pecknold’s excellent critique of the relativist slush spewed out recently by the Black Pope. You may recall that the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, was a...

Tell me more about the population explosion...

... and meanwhile I’ll call your attention to the Spanish government’s decision to appoint a “sex czar” to encourage people to make more babies. Because in Spain, as in most of the “advanced” countries of the Western world, fertility rates have dropped well...

Quick Hits: The case for rigor; the New Jansenists; Pope Benedict’s birthday strudel

On the theory that late is better than never, let me call attention to an excellent little essay by Father Gerald Murray, for The Catholic Thing, debunking the notion that some of God’s commands are “ideals” that we cannot be expected to meet. “God does not permit, let...

The Modesto Statement: playing politics, bishops are conned again

The statements adopted by the First US Regional Meeting of Popular Movements are, for the most part, fairly predictable leftist boilerplate: a condemnation of President Trump, a focus on the evils of racism and exploitation, a claim that the few are growing rich on the suffering of the many....

The circus comes to town

There was a circus performance at the Pope’s audience today. No, really. It’s true. There was a juggler so skillful that he could balance six different interpretations of Amoris Laetitia. And a contortionist who could reconcile the German bishops’ interpretation with...

OTG: Pro-life crowdfunding and Catholic Netflix

I’d like to call our readers’ attention to two worthy new enterprises which look to fill significant gaps in the Catholic internet. First is a pro-life crowdfunding site called WonderWe. At first I wondered what the need for such a site would be, but as it turns out, mainstream...

Theologians’ conflicts of interest

Gregory Baum, one of the influential theologians who led the charge against Humanae Vitae, has now revealed that he is, and has been since the 1960s, an active homosexual. Are you surprised? No; it’s a familiar story. A theologian writes that it’s unrealistic to expect people to live in sexual...

Liturgical Year Volume 3 Released: LENT

Lent (the only liturgical season with a name that is also a four-letter word!) begins on March 1st, and so the Lenten volume of our ebook series for the 2016-2017 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This third volume in the annual series covers the entire season of Lent,...

Judging God’s law by human standards

For the 2nd time this week, the day’s Gospel reading provides a clear and direct answer to a question that must be on the minds of many serious Catholics. What should one do when someone—even an esteemed Church leader—seems to be judging an important question by purely human...

Vatican follies, continued

First the Vatican calls a press conference to announce the publication of a book by Cardinal Coccopalmerio. With their ears to the rumor mill, journalists covering the Vatican report that this book will be a response to the dubia—thus the excitement. But then Cardinal Coccopalmerio does...

Unrest at the Vatican; reassurances backfire

What in the world is going on in Rome this week? First the Vatican press office issues a statement from the Council of Cardinals, supporting the Pope. It would certainly be news if the Council of Cardinals did not support the Pope. But why was this statement newsworthy? Why did the Council...

Pope Francis welcomes criticism—he says

“It’s good to be criticized,” said Pope Francis to religious superiors. “I have always liked this.” That’s good to know. What a relief to think that all those stories we’ve been hearing—about the Vatican officials called in for tongue-lashing...

Catholics Confronting Hitler

Back in October of 2016, I praised and recommended Mark Riebling’s brilliant and exciting book, Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War against Hitler. Riebling focused almost exclusively on the relationship between the Vatican and the network of those within Germany who were seeking to...

Quick Hits: Vatileaks defendants targeting Cardinal Pell, adapting the Extraordinary Form

Francesca Chaouqui, the flamboyant publicist who was convicted in last year’s “Vatileaks II” trial, has published a book about her experiences inside the Vatican bureaucracy. John Allen has reviewed the book, reporting that it is self-serving and, despite a great deal of...

Is a rational, civil debate about immigration still possible?

Donald Trump is in the White House today in large part because he was the only presidential candidate willing to tackle the immigration issue. For years, politicians on both sides of the aisle had avoided serious discussion of the topic, knowing that if they took a clear stand, they would inflame...

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