The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

A papal commission reconsidering Humanae Vitae? No, but...

The good news is that, contrary to a widespread rumor, Pope Francis has not ordered a commission to reconsider the teaching of Humanae Vitae in the light of Amoris Laetitia. The bad news is that the commission exists. Call it a “study group” if you prefer, but there is a scholarly...

The Vatican auditor resigns—another crushing blow for financial reform

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to follow the sequence of events leading up to the resignation of the Vatican’s auditor general Libero Milone. In May, Milone and Cardinal George Pell co-signed a letter to Vatican officials, telling them that they need not comply with a directive from the...

Quick Hits: Lay involvement in choosing bishop? Assisted suicide vs. manslaughter; A political prediction

As a chaotic week (for me, at least) comes to a close, forgive me if my thoughts are a bit disconnected. But: The word from Rome is that Pope Francis wants lay Catholics to be involved in the process of choosing new bishops. But which lay Catholics would be invited to take part in the...

No, not every lifestyle is sinful

“Pretty much everyone’s lifestyle is sinful,” Father James Martin told the New York Times. That statement is outrageous. In a sane world, Father Martin’s Jesuit superiors would order him to apologize. We are all sinners; we are all sinful. But we are not all engaged...

The persistent influence of Cardinal Sodano

At the ripe old age of 94, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray—the 3rd-oldest living cardinal—has finally been replaced as vice-dean of the College of Cardinals. But Cardinal Angelo Sodano, whose own 90th birthday is coming in November, continues in his role as dean. The vice-dean of the...

A request to the priest-homilist

If you find yourself using the phrase “in a very special way” during your homily, please stop and ask yourself whether it might be better to explain what’s so “special,” and why. If you find yourself saying “in a very special way” twice during your...

Quick Hits: Biochemistry of sex, native martyrs, music & film

There is so much we don’t know about our own bodies, and none of it gets taught in sex ed. For example: A man gets vasopressin, a bonding hormone, when he has sex with a woman. This is not up to him; whether he thinks it is no-strings sex or not, he is now hormonally bonded to that...

The (not so) secret formula for attracting men to the priesthood

Are you surprised by today’s report that 69% of the American men being ordained to the priesthood this year had made a habit of praying the Rosary before entering the seminary? Or are you, like me, surprised that apparently 31% had not? For any Catholic with a devotion to Our Lady, the...

Quick Hits: Coming to Cardinal Pell’s defense, Still waiting for Vatican reform

Cardinal George Pell, the prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, is suffering through an extended trial-by-media in his native Australia, and a few fair-minded observers recognize that the process has become grotesque. Amanda Vanstone—who has quarreled with the...

The YOUCAT Bible: A Fresh Overview of the Word of God

The YOUCAT Foundation has published another outstanding reference for Catholic young people. Having released question-and-answer versions of both the Catechism (2011) and Catholic social teaching (2016), the Foundation has now issued what it calls the “youth Bible of the Catholic...

The Pope’s enigmatic words on resignation

In his homily at Mass on Wednesday morning, commenting on St. Paul’s farewell to the Church at Ephesus, Pope Francis said: A shepherd must be ready to step down completely from his church, rather than leave in a partial manner…. All shepherds have to step down. There comes a...

When parochial schools make a policy to accept ‘transgender’ students

“Wherever possible, enrollment is the goal.” That’s the principle that guides a proposed policy in the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri for deciding whether students from “non-traditional families” (that euphemism covers same-sex and cohabiting couples) should attend parish schools. A cynic...

Quick Hits: Francis & Kasper vs. Ratzinger/Benedict; finding harmony in 20th-century music

The fear that Pope Francis is deliberately trying to undo the work of his predecessors, and particularly the work of Benedict XVI, is an increasingly common theme for Catholic writers. Matthew Schmitz made an important contribution to that body of analysis last week with his short essay,...

When the Pope’s silence speaks clearly

Last Friday I remarked that John Allen had provided us with a very interesting way to measure the intentions of Pope Francis. The results are now in. Allen observed (near the end of a column mostly devoted to Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti) that during his May 27 visit to Genoa, the Pontiff would...

Quick Hits: reading the Pope’s intentions; censored PP video; packing College of Cardinals

At Crux, John Allen has a profile of Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, the new president of the Italian bishops’ conference. That’s interesting enough in itself, but Allen adds a good deal of spice by explaining how, on his visit to Genoa this weekend, Pope Francis “may accent the...

Ebook for Ordinary Time after Easter Released

We have just released the fifth volume in the 2016-2017 Liturgical Year series of ebooks. Volume five covers the first half of the long stretch of Ordinary Time between the close of the Easter Season on Pentecost and the beginning of Advent. Like all CatholicCulture.org ebooks, this volume is...

Did Benedict just break his silence?

For more than four years, since his resignation took effect, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI has very carefully avoided public comments on the state of the Church. For someone who was a very public figure and a very prolific author, his silence was conspicuous. When he announced his plan to resign,...

And here’s what the Pope didn’t say

During his latest in-flight press conference, on his return flight from Portugal, Pope Francis made important statements on several hot topics: Medjugorje, sexual abuse, his meeting with President Trump, the prospects for regularization of the Society of St. Pius X. Those comments have deservedly...

Quick Hits: Accepting Anglican orders, predicting Macron’s future, distracting a priest/author

“When someone is ordained in the Anglican Church and becomes a parish priest in a community, we cannot say that nothing has happened, that everything is ‘invalid’,” writes Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio in a new book. But isn’t that pretty much what Pope Leo...

Another profile in courage

A smiling Cardinal Sean O’Malley was on hand at the JFK Library last night, as former President Barack Obama was presented with the Profile in Courage award for his work on health-care reform. In his acceptance speech Obama mentioned how wonderful it was to see Cardinal O’Malley...

From the annals of a civilization in decay...

Which of these news stories is more frightening: A recorded episode of an “educational” television show by Bill Nye has been altered, removing a statement of scientific fact—that chromosomes determine gender—which has now become politically incorrect. Nye, who...

Quick Hits: the disappearance of melody, an app for chant, and more

Does it ever seem like there just aren’t any good melodies in contemporary pop music—say, since the 1970s? Or that there often aren’t any melodies at all? Well, it’s not just your imagination and you aren’t just getting old. Kurt Poterack, organist, composer and...

Another reality check on WomenPriests news coverage

Quiz for careful readers: Where’s the giveaway in this lede from a Charlotte Observer story? An international group defiantly opposed to the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women priests Sunday ordained its first woman Catholic priest in the 46 counties that make up the Catholic...

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....

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