The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

Phil Lawler’s superb commencement address

Do yourself a favor and take a little over twenty minutes to listen to Phil Lawler’s superb commencement address, given at Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts last Saturday, May 18, 2019 (linked at the bottom). Phil delivered the address immediately after receiving an honorary doctorate...

Don’t call me ‘Doctor Lawler’—yet

When I was asked to deliver the commencement talk at Thomas More College, I accepted the invitation immediately because I love the place. Only later did I learn that I would also be receiving an honorary doctorate, and I probably can’t convey how delighted I was by that honor. Many years...

The ‘distraction’ of priestly celibacy

In the five weeks that have passed since Pope-emeritus Benedict published his letter on the roots of the sex-abuse scandal, critics of the former Pontiff have been remarkably successful at repressing his message. Their strategy has been to question the propriety of Benedict’s...

Making the best case for that open letter on papal heresy

John Rist, perhaps the most distinguished scholar among those who signed the open letter charging Pope Francis with heresy, has explained his action in an interview with the National Catholic Register. I would strongly urge all concerned Catholics to read the entire interview. Rist is an...

The most inspiring story I have covered

From time to time someone asks me to name the biggest story that I have covered (probably the death of Pope John Paul II), or the most surprising story (easily, the resignation of Benedict XVI). Only rarely am I asked to name the most inspiring story. My answer to that question might surprise many...

New ebook collection on the books of the Old Testament

In the Spring of 2017, I began to reread the Old Testament in order to note down the particular insights about each book which occurred to me as I entered the fullness of what Scripture calls man’s three score and ten. As the task unfolded, I began to write up these reflections and post them...

Good points and bad in new Vatican sex-abuse guidelines

The new canonical norms for the handling of sex-abuse complaints, issued by Pope Francis today, resolve some of the problems that have contributed to the scandal. Other important problems, unfortunately, remain unresolved. The bulk of motu proprio, Vos Estis Lux Mundi, is appropriately...

Harassment at an abortion clinic

Congratulations (of a sort) are due to Rep. Brian Sims, a Democratic member of Pennsylvania’s state legislature. He has done something that other pro-abortion fanatics have failed to do. He has captured videotape of harassment outside an abortion clinic. Hasn’t it ever struck you...

Once the crazy talk starts, it is hard to stop

The pope who took office in 1958 when I was ten was Pope Saint John XXIII. He died when I was in high school and so, understandably, he was the first pope whom I considered at all in relationship to the tensions in the Church of which I was slowly becoming aware. I remember that some people...

His Excellency Theodore Hesburgh

If you received a review copy of the impressive new biography of the famous Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame—the university president who firmly set this Catholic university on the spiritually devastating road to secular prominence—you may have hesitated to expend the effort to read...

The cardinal who clings to power

Cardinal Angelo Sodano met with Pope Francis today in a private audience. Which gives us another occasion to note that Cardinal Sodano remains the Dean of the College of Cardinals, at the age of 91. Since the new Code of Canon Law came into effect in 1983, and with it the expectation that aging...

Joe Biden, Catholic candidate or non-Catholic minister?

For several decades now, pro-life Catholics in the US have been asking why our bishops don’t impose canonical penalties on politicians who support abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and other policies that clearly violate the Church’s teachings. The standard dodge employed by...

Books that deserve revived interest

Each year around Christmas time, many publications ask contributors to name the best new books they have read that year. I find those lists helpful; invariably I add a few books to my own reading list, and gain a few thoughts about Christmas presents for friends. But what about books that are...

How we stole a Vatican treasure

Well, okay, we didn’t actually steal the treasure. But we definitely did profit from the stolen goods. The breathtaking Miserere was written by Allegri exclusively for the Vatican: to be performed only in the Sistine Chapel, and only during Holy Week. The music remained under lock and key...

R.I.P., Catholic sci-fi legend Gene Wolfe (1931-2019)

Gene Wolfe, sci-fi author’s sci-fi author, inventor of the machine that makes Pringles, and Catholic convert, passed away at the age of 87 on Sunday. While not well-known to the general public, Wolfe’s admirers have included some of the most famous names in speculative fiction, such as...

Imperative for Renewal: Our next free ebook

I have begun to collect my (still relevant) essays over the past couple of years into ebooks. These ebooks enable those new to CatholicCulture.org to acquaint themselves more easily with the commentary we have published over the years that remains relevant to our present situation. For those who...

Easter volume released for this liturgical year

Easter falls on April 21st this year, and so the Easter volume of our ebook series for the 2018-2019 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area: Easter. This fourth volume in the annual series covers the entire Easter season, from the Easter Vigil (April 20th) through Pentecost...

Will God punish society for abortion? No, the punishment has already begun.

“If the state fails to protect the child in the womb,” said Pope Pius XI, “let them remember that God is the Avenger of innocent blood that cries from earth to heaven.” Pro-lifers often voice the same fear: that our society will suffer severe punishment for allowing...

New Vatican rules on abuse encourage whistle-blowers—like Archbishop Vigano

Credit Father Raymond de Souza with spotting an important point about the new Vatican legislation on sexual abuse. The rules require all Vatican personnel to report any evidence of sexual abuse to prosecutors. The legislation applies directly only within the territory of the Vatican city-state,...

Archbishop Gregory’s appointment: ‘safe’ in the hands of the mainstream media

Reacting to the appointment of Archbishop Wilton Gregory to the Washington archdiocese, Michelle Boorstein, the religion writer for the Washington Post, commented on her Twitter account: “Largely a very safe choice. It will primarily piss off only the far-right.” That’s true...

Archbishop Gregory promises us the truth. Here’s how...

At today’s press conference formally announcing his appointment to head the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, Archbishop Wilton Gregory promised: “I will always tell you the truth as I understand it.” Good. “The only way I can serve this archdiocese is by telling the...

The message of the death of St. John Paul II, 14 years later

Fourteen years ago today we witnessed an unprecedented phenomenon: a worldwide vigil. The eyes (and television cameras) of the whole world were focused on a single location, St. Peter’s Square, as we waited for the inexorable announcement that Pope John Paul II had died. Then when the...

The bizarre ring-kissing controversy

A few quick comments on the Papal Controversy of the Week: the odd refusal to allow people to kiss his ring: First, understand that Pope Francis often does allow people to kiss his ring. The video captured during his trip to Loreto went viral in large part because it was unusual, in several...

Following up: might cardinals have been authorized to disclose conclave secrets?

Responding to my post from Monday, about cardinals who violate their oaths by disclosing the secrets of a papal conclave, several readers have made the observation that it’s possible Pope Francis gave permission to one or more cardinals to speak about the voting process. That is at least a...

Cardinals violating their vows: a ho-hum story?

America magazine is running a story about the conclave of 2013. The story—excerpted from the forthcoming The Election of Pope Francis, by Gerard O’Connell—includes a precise account of the voting on the cardinals’ first ballot. Do you have any doubt that...

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...

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