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The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

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Quick Hits: a ‘mystery donor’ to the Knights of Malta, Pope’s questionable historical references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

Marcus Aurelius on living in denial

Through one of those apparent quirks of Divine Providence, my son Peter gave me a copy of the Meditations of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius for Christmas. This struck me as “quirky” for two reasons: First, Peter found the book on my Amazon wish list yet I have no idea how it got...

Quick Hits: new perspectives on the abortion debate and on Amoris Laetitia

Among many excellent analyses published in time for the March for Life, “When Abortion Suddenly Stopped Making Sense,” by Frederica Mathewes-Green, deserves special mention. The arguments are familiar—how could they not be, after 44 years?—but she offers some new...

Here’s how Trump could energize the pro-life movement

If I were advising President Trump (which I am not), I’d tell him to start leaking the name of his Supreme-Court nominee on Friday, during the March for Life. The President has said that he’ll announce the nominee next week. That’s fine; hold to that schedule. Actually...

Quick hits: the illusion of Catholic feminism and more

Pro-life feminist groups have been in the news this week because of their pointed exclusion from the Women’s March on Washington. While we should reach out for common ground with anyone who is fighting abortion, the idea of Catholic feminism is problematic. The Catholic feminist movement is...

When 300% growth is not enough: the measure of African evangelization

This news item from Nigeria today is food for thought. Archbishop Mathew Man’Oso Ndagoso of Kaduna is concerned, because he sees “no sense of urgency to proclaim the Gospel.” The archbishop fears that “complacency, lethargy, and nonchalance” are choking off the...

Benedict XVI faces his toughest critic: himself

Toward the end of his 4th (and presumably final) book-length interview with Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, Last Testament, journalist Peter Seewald asked the now-retired Pontiff to name his own greatest weakness. Benedict replies: “Maybe clear, purposeful governance and the decisions that...

The Maltese bishops’ message: something lost in translation?

Archbishop Charles Scicluna, answering critics of the Maltese bishops’ guidelines on Amoris Laetitia, insists that they did not say that divorced and remarried Catholics could receive Communion if they feel “at peace with God.” He has a point. The Maltese guidelines stipulate...

The Maltese bishops lower the bar

Here are some headlines that you haven’t seen recently: Bishops of Malta: Mafia hitmen should receive Communion if ‘at peace with God’ Bishops of Malta: pedophiles should receive Communion if ‘at peace with God’ Bishops of Malta: IRA terrorists should receive...

Quick hits: encouraging trend in France, interviewing Ratzinger’s interviewer, the Pope’s governing style

There are very encouraging developments in the public life of France, from a Catholic point of view, observes Samuel Gregg in a First Things essay. The presidential candidacy of Francois Fillon, who unabashedly appeals to Catholic principles, is confirmation of a revival in Catholic influence...

Have someone in mind?

Peter Seewald, who has worked with Pope-emeritus Benedict on several book-length interviews, spoke to Catholic World Report about the former Pontiff, whom he characterizes as “one of the most misunderstood personalities of our time.” The world saw Pope Benedict (through the eyes of the...

Going with the flow: Amoris Laetitia and the secular temptation

Imagine three Catholic priests, each with his own parish: Father X has lost his faith. He continues serving as a pastor, going through the motions, because he’s accustomed to the work and he thinks he helps people. That is, he thinks he helps people, with his counsel and encouragement....

Quick Hits: A devastating rebuttal on Amoris Laetitia, propaganda for Silence, trouble with the Knights of Malta

Last week Crux posted an argument in support of the Kasper proposal, presented by Father Paul Keller in the form of a fictitious case involving an immigrant woman who was abandoned by her (first) husband. Canon lawyer Edward Peters quickly responded with the most devastating rebuttal...

Liturgical Year Volume 2 Released: Ordinary Time before Lent

The second volume of our ebook series for the 2016-2017 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 10 through February 28. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following...

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