The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

50 years later: coming back to earth after the moon landing

Sunday, July 20, 1969. Millions of Americans were in front of their television sets, watching coverage of the historic Apollo 11 mission. But it was a lovely afternoon in Boston, the Red Sox were hosting the Baltimore Orioles, and cheap seats were available in the distant right-field grandstand...

At the Vatican, two mysteries—one probably easy to resolve

Just a few days after announcing that excavations inside the Vatican yielded no evidence to shed light on the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, the Vatican has now said that some human remains were found, and the investigation will continue. What’s going on here? The short answer: in...

Unearthing more corruption at the Vatican

Pause for a moment, and think about what it means that the Vatican is excavating two tombs at the Teutonic Cemetery. The Vatican today confirmed what was already apparent: that the excavation of these tombs has been prompted by an investigation into the mysterious disappearance of a teenage girl...

The ‘new evangelization’—discarded?

Yesterday’s CWN headlines included a remarkable interview with Cardinal Jozef De Kesel of Brussels, in which the cardinal welcomed the arrival of secularism in Europe. Read the whole interview (if you have the stomach for it), and see if you can detect therein any statement, any argument,...

The Peña Parra case: An excellent test of Archbishop Vigano’s credibility

The latest disclosure of claims by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano should provide a welcome test of his credibility. The New York Times reports that Vigano has named the assistant Vatican Secretary of State, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, as credibly accused of sexual abuse of seminarians since...

The reigning Pontiff of confusion: a continuing story

“The Vatican is now sending ambiguous messages on issues that were considered crucial only a few years ago.” I might have written that sentence, but I didn’t. It comes from an op-ed column in the New York Times—yes, that’s right, the New York Times—by the...

Quick Hits: Priest-pundits mince no words, on death penalty and McCarrick scandal

Today two priest-pundits offer essays that really cannot be missed: Father George William Rutler is at his best, which is very, very good, as he analyzes the US bishops’ discussion of capital punishment for Crisis. He focuses attention on the decision by Pope Francis to change the...

When is religion OK in America? When it is no longer religious.

The recent US Supreme Court decision permitting a cross to remain on public land in Bladensburg, MD is a peculiar one, to say the least. It demonstrates the kind of convoluted reasoning that must characterize justices who have reservations about public expressions of religion but do not wish to...

Mr. Catholic Boston, RIP

My friend Jim dropped by on a Sunday afternoon to let me know that Phil Crotty had died. We spent a few minutes swapping stories about Phil—who was a memorable man—and I found myself wondering why, although I missed him already, I was not saddened by his death. Was it because Phil...

It ain’t news ‘til it happens

This isn’t serious complaint. It’s more of a pet peeve. Still… Here at CWN, I have a firm editorial policy: News isn’t news until it happens. If you have a story about something that is going to happen soon, save it. Sure, there are exceptions. Sometimes the mere mention of a forthcoming event...

Exit, voice, and loyalty in the Catholic Church

Different people react in different ways to the crisis in our Church. Reflecting on that fact, I find myself thinking about a little classic of a book that was published almost 50 years ago: Exit, Voice, & Loyalty, by Albert O. Hirschman. At a glance you might say that Hirschman’s...

Cardinal Cupich’s counterproductive advice

Cardinal Cupich explains why he will not deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians, despite the clear mandate of Canon 915: I think it would be counterproductive to impose sanctions, simply because they don’t change anybody’s minds, but it also takes away from the fact that an elected...

Making abortion unsafe and legal

The headline read: Maine governor signs abortion bill allowing non-doctors to perform procedure Thought experiment: Take the word “abortion” out of the headline, so that it reads: Maine governor signs bill allowing non-doctors to perform procedure You’d still...

Scandal in the West Virginia diocese: ‘there is no excuse’

Yesterday I wrote that Archbishop William Lori had done the Church a real service by providing a detailed account of the corruption that had been uncovered in the Diocese of Charleston/Wheeling, West Virginia, under former Bishop Michael Bransfield. It was, I wrote, the first time—at least...

“I spit on your evil!” (or) The joy of rational discussion

The last few days have been amusing, as I’ve fielded comments on my review of Taylor Marshall’s book. For example: I learned that Taylor Marshall, during the run-up to the publication of his book, claimed to have a mystical experience, a vision, concerning its contents. I...

Now Available: Liturgical Year Ebook for Ordinary Time after Easter

We have just released the fifth volume in the 2018-2019 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...

The unjust punishment of a scholarly papal critic

Last year when he issued new rules for the governance of pontifical ecclesiastical faculties, Pope Francis called for a “culture of encounter” that would encourage “wide-ranging dialogue.” But there are limits, apparently, to how widely the dialogue should range. This...

Quick Hits: Questioning the priesthood, dangerous ‘proselytism’, new rules on abuse

When The Atlantic published an essay entitled, “Abolish the Priesthood,” everyone who saw the magazine’s cover knew instinctively that the author, James Carroll, was writing about the Catholic priesthood. That’s a point that Father Paul Mankowski makes in the opening...

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...

Want more commentary? Visit the Archives.