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The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

Quick Hits: Bad news about that 'flash of light,' beware priests who don't want to be 'set apart'

Many pro-lifers ( including yours truly) were captivated by the recent announcement that a flash of light occurs at the moment of human conception. Unfortunately it’s not true. Stacy Trasancos explains in this cautionary piece in the National Catholic Register that the light was...

Papal ambivalence? Not really; he's just plain negative about Americans.

John Allen has an interesting piece on the Crux site today, in which he remarks that Pope Francis shows "a distinct ambivalence about the United States and about Americans."  However if you read the piece-- which is informed, reasoned, and generally convincing, as usual with...

Why is the Vatican audit still on hold?

A month has passed since the Vatican Secretariat of State abruptly announced the suspension on an external audit. After Cardinal George Pell-- who, as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, had authorized the audit—revealed that he was "a bit surprised" by the sudden...

Quick Hits: Bishops on Brexit, debate on deaconesses, transgenderism vs. women

England’s most prominent Catholic prelates have been actively (if not formally) discouraging the movement to pull Great Britain out of the European Union. Writing in the Catholic Herald, Damian Thompson questions their reasoning. Yes, it’s true that the drive for a European...

Quick Hit: Petition to Impeach Obama

Shortly after I began my series on gender ideology (see Gender ideology and our fatal empire of desire), Robert  Marshall called my attention to his petition to impeach those in the US Federal government who are attempting to force the states to ensure the access of transgender individuals to...

Down to earth

Theologians might raise questions about the Pope's decision to study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons. Since the Pontiff did not make his remarks on an airplane, it is not clear whether he intended to make an authoritative...

Remembering a victory at Harvard: Satan defeated, the Eucharist enthroned

Are you fed up with bad news? Tired of hearing about assaults on the Catholic faith? Then let me give you some good news, to boost your spirits heading into the weekend. This is, admittedly, an old story; I posted it two years ago today. But it recounts one of the most exhilirating events I...

Quick hits: Anti-Catholic bias among historians, Pope Francis breaks with predecessors on European secularism

Catholic World Report carries a must-read interview with Rodney Stark, a leading sociologist who concentrates on religious history. Stark, who is not a Catholic, sees anti-Catholic bias as a pervasive problem in historical studies, skewing the public understanding of topics such as...

Quick hits: Losing the argument on marriage; losing the unity of the European Union

When the arguments against same-sex marriage are so convincing-- the natural-law arguments, the arguments from tradition, the arguments from social science-- why do we keep losing the public debates? Writing in the Claremont Review, Robert Reilly offers a possible explanation, in reviewing...

Cardinal Marx, did you forget something?

When your only tool is a hammer, they say, every problem looks like a nail. So when the cardinal-archbishop of a major European city reflects on the challenges that face Europe today, you might expect him to lead with a comment on the loss of faith.  That's the insight that St. John...

Ebook for Ordinary Time after Easter Released

We have just released the fifth volume in the 2015-2016 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...

Vatican should crack down on liturgical abuses, not petty trademark cases

Dunno about you, but I can't get too worked up about the merchants who sell trinkets bearing an image of Pope Francis without authorization from the Vatican. Sure, it's a trademark infringement. Sure, the Vatican loses money (did I touch on a sore spot there?) when the merchants...

Crazy Joe, spare me your praise of the Pope.

I suppose this is a bit of a rant, but I’m tired of all the posturing. The latest is U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s praise of Pope Francis earlier today, when he addressed a conference at the Vatican. Predictably, Biden praised Francis for his “compassion”. He claimed...

The painfully slow reform of the Vatican's communications operation

Almost exactly one year ago I wondered aloud whether a plan to streamline the Vatican's communications efforts might be sidetracked. Today I'm happy to notice that my concern may have been misplaced. The head of the new Communications Secretariat reports that the plans are moving...

In defense of the 'doctors of the law'

Back in 1983, when the new Code of Canon Law was promulgated, I picked up a copy. This was my first real encounter with Church law, and as I leafed through the book I was struck by how often the canons obviously reflected the fruit of painful experience.  That's how laws commonly come...

Quick Hits: Science and its enemies, choral music for the Novus Ordo, the Armenian genocide

Now and then a scientific discovery comes with a breath of poetry, as in the Daily Telegraph headline : Bright flash of light marks incredible moment life begins when sperm meets egg. It’s sad that in our age, impervious to the beauty of nascent life, the report continues with the...

Sex education? No, we're witnessing the pursuit of ignorance on matters of sexuality

If you can trace your family tree back far enough, you'll probably encounter people who had no formal education, owned no books, perhaps couldn't read and write. But your uneducated ancestors knew what "marriage" meant-- which is more than you can say for the typical Ivy League...

The one-way argument for human rights

Ryan Anderson admits that ESPN has the right to fire Curt Schilling because he thinks men should be barred from women’s restrooms. But that right applies to others, too, Anderson reasons: ESPN didn’t want to be associated with Curt Schilling’s message. The same is true for the bakers, florists,...

By Vatican standards, there are human-rights violations in American schools

Reading the address by a Vatican envoy to an OSCE meeting on religious minorities, your first inclination is probably to think that Msgr. Janusz Urbanczyk is speaking primarily about Christians in Islamic countries. No doubt he is. Still, as I read his defense of the rights of parents in the...

OTG: The modern university: When truth becomes a personal attack

Molly Oshatz nails it in a little essay in the May 2016 issue of First Things called “College Without Truth”. Right now you can’t read the entire essay without subscribing or paying $1.95, but that would be cheap at twice the price. This is more than another spin on the...

Quick Hits: Benedict as the Great Reformer, Crux as an objective source

What were you doing on this date, April 19, eleven years ago? After a quiet morning, I spent the afternoon joyously celebrating the election of Pope Benedict XVI-- and also frantically wondering when the CWN site would recover, after our early headline, “White Smoke!” drew so much...

The best and worst columns on Amoris Laetitia

After a week of reading commentaries on Amoris Laetitia, I’m ready to name the columns that seem to me the best and the worst of this week’s offerings: From London and the Catholic Herald comes this somewhat lengthy but very insightful column by Father Mark Drew. He recognizes problems with the...

Political hijinks at the Vatican this week

Two conferences with disturbing political overtones have taken place at the Vatican this week. 1. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in cooperation with Pax Christi, has held a conference on non-violence. Or perhaps, in light of the report issued at the conclusion of the meeting it...

Caution for a priest-confessor: giving bad advice can be a canonical crime

My favorite canon-law expert, Ed Peters, has called attention to an article he published in the June/July 2011 issue of Homiletic and Pastoral Review, entitled When bad advice in confession becomes a crime. This article is especially relevant today in light of… Well, I’ll let you...

Latest study confirms: the threat is Zika, not children

“There is no longer any doubt that Zika causes microcephaly,” Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, told reporters during a briefing on April 13. He was reporting on a new study confirming the suspected link between the virus and the birth defect. Frieden might have...

In Massachusetts, a difficult, dangerous religious-freedom test case

The political climate is not favorable to the Catholic Church these days, particularly in Massachusetts. So I cannot be confident that the Supreme Judicial Court will reach the right decision in the case mentioned in yesterday’s CWN headline story: the suit by a Catholic shrine to recover...

Islamic terrorism: the topic only one world leader has addressed

"Islamic terrorism." President Obama can't make himself say those words. But Obama isn't alone. Pope Francis, too, has been extremely reluctant to mention any connection between Islam and terrorism.  In fact, what world leaders have spoken out frankly on the...

Quick Hits: Will Amoris Laetitia make a difference? Why Vatileaks trial is not a press-freedom case

As we await the publication of the apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, the question everyone is asking is whether or not Pope Francis will make some provision for divorced-and-remarried Catholics to receive Communion. Vatican-watcher John Allen takes an unusual approach to that question,...

Praying with Mother Angelica

Mother Angelica died on Easter Sunday at the age of 92 and Pope Francis is convinced she is in heaven. If you were a fan, you may wish to continue to pray with her by using a well-crafted prayer book published by EWTN entitled “Praying with Mother Angelica.” This is a reworking of...

Ask yourself: who would take fake bombs onto an airplane, and expect to get away with it?

Just try to imagine this scenario—and No, this is not another April Fool joke: A woman boards an airplane, having checked a bag that contains items which appear to be bombs, including three sticks labeled “dynamite.” Security officials quickly secure the area, evacuate...

Reading tea leaves on the Pope's post-Synod document

America's leading Vatican-watcher John Allen thinks that it could be significant that Pope Francis has enlisted Cardinal Christoph Schöborn to headline the press conference at which his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia will be introduced. Cardinal Schönborn was identified...

Easter volume released for this liturgical year

Easter falls on March 27th this year, and so the Easter volume of our ebook series for the 2015-2016 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 (March 26th) through Pentecost...

The man who saved a billion lives

On this year’s liturgical calendar March 25, when we ordinarily celebrate the feast of the Annunciation, was Good Friday. This rare convergence gave the date such awesome significance in salvation history that I hesitate to mention a far less important secular commemoration. Still I think...

Can a Muslim be a Christian martyr?

Last week John Allen raised an interesting question as to whether Father Vincent Machozi could be recognized as a Christian martyr. Father Machozi was almost certainly not killed out of “hatred for the faith”—the ordinary standard for martyrdom. He was killed because of his social activism; but...

Quick Hits: Chaput on the Benedict option, L'Osservatore on Obama, Reilly on dialogue with Islam

Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput confirms his status as the most important thinker/writer/speaker in the American hierarchy with this challenging address, delivered to an audience at Brigham Young University. The archbishop tackles head-on the fear that (as Charles Murray put it)...

Debunking the debunkers: how the best scholarly evidence confirms the Gospels

Any day now, a major media outlet will release a feature story which, with a great deal of promotional ballyhoo, will claim to call into question the ordinary Christian understanding of the Gospel story. It’s become an annual tradition: as Easter approaches, and secular journalists look for...

Pope to 'fire' nuncio in Washington? Nonsense!

There's a rumor going around the internet—conveyed mostly by "news" sites that know nothing about Catholic affairs—that Pope Francis is going to "fire" the apostolic nuncio to the US, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. That's nonsense. The expanded version of...

Quick Hits: St. Patrick's in the Caribbean, the formality of ancient liturgy, recovering holy friendship

Did you know that on an island in the Caribbean, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated as a public holiday for a whole week? At the Register, Peter Jesserer Smith tells the story of how many of the Irish who were forced into indentured servitude under Cromwell were put to work in the British...

How to end the 'Vatileaks II' imbroglio

John Allen has a useful suggestion on how the Vatican can close out the "Vatileaks II" scandal and avoid another public-relations debacle.  Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda has already admitted leaking the confidential documents, and his explanation—that a woman had lured him into...

What the Church says about worshiping today’s new images of perfection

The following account of recent events in the United States, similar to those in other nations, was read in all Catholic churches today (Wednesday of the fifth week of Lent): Now the President and his Court made a false image of perfection and set it up for all to see. Then the President sent...

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