The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

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...

Quick Hits: Important background on Vatican-China accord and Press Office turnover

The Vatican has struck a deal with China, which—although we still don’t know any details—apparently gives Beijing the power to nominate new bishops. Is there any precedent for such an agreement? Yes, there is. Writing for AsiaNews, Li Ruohan compares the Vatican-China accord with...

A new—and illegal—attempt to pass the Equal Rights Amendment

One cost, surely, of Donald Trump’s consistently ungentlemanly behavior was the loss of the Republican majority in the US House of Representatives in the November elections, which will take effect later this month. It is possible to affirm this judgment whatever one thinks of Trump’s...

At the Vatican, in February, the only question that matters just MIGHT be discussed

Father Hans Zollner, who heads the child-protection center at Gregorian University, suggests that the much-anticipated February meeting at the Vatican should produce “a clarification of procedures, which aren’t so clear.” Really? Sixteen years after the “long Lent”...

Are secular reporters finally ready to criticize Pope Francis?

“It was not a good year for Pope Francis,” says Sylvia Pogglioli of NPR. Nicole Winfield of AP is a bit more forceful: “It has been a wretched year for Pope Francis…” At last, reporters for the secular mainstream are waking up to the reality that this Pope, whose...

Quick Hits: Awaiting Pope’s speech to Curia, laity in leadership, a controversial funeral homily

John Allen of Crux is an honest reporter, and he clearly tries to avoid overt criticism of Pope Francis. But in a preview of the Pontiff’s annual address to the Roman Curia he is fairly blunt about the failure of promised reforms in this pontificate. The sex-abuse scandal continues, he...

Even in a bishop’s resignation, signs of waffling in Rome

“Now a bishop must be above reproach,” wrote St. Paul [1 Tim 3:2]. Apparently Bishop Alexander Salazar, whose resignation the Pope accepted today, was not above reproach. Yet he remained a bishop in active ministry, serving as an auxiliary in the largest archdiocese in the US, for more...

Quick Hits: Dominican Friars video, a remarkable French mystic, a reformist imam and more

Some months ago I agreed to appear in a video produced by the Dominican Foundation to talk about the benefits of membership in a Dominican parish. It’s for a matching challenge fundraiser which ends Dec. 31, so I would have shared it earlier except that nobody sent the finished product to...

The top 5 most popular episodes of The Catholic Culture Podcast

Since its beginning on May 1st of this year, I have produced 25 episodes of The Catholic Culture Podcast! For those who haven’t listened to all of them, I thought I would highlight the five most popular episodes so far (in terms of downloads). In no particular order: Episode 18: Acedia,...

Oh, good. In February the Pope might make a statement about abuse

Give John Allen credit for honesty, in his analysis (for Crux) of what we can expect from the February meeting at the Vatican to discuss the sex-abuse crisis. Not much: Almost by definition, Americans are likely to be frustrated with what may seem the scant results of the February...

Coming soon: a religious struggle for control of the internet?

“We only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division, and violence: You have no place on our platforms. You have no home here.” That was the message of Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, Inc., in a recent address to the Anti-Defamation League. And that would be...

Does ‘America’ have ‘dubia’ about Pope’s remark on homosexuality?

Evidently caught off guard by the Pope’s expression of concern about widespread homosexuality in the clergy, America magazine has rushed to reassure readers that the Pontiff’s remarks must be understood in the proper context. Father James Martin, the editor-at-large of the Jesuit...

Abu Dhabi, but not Argentina?

Today’s announcement that Pope Francis will soon visit the United Arab Emirates rekindles my interest in another question about papal travel. Pope John Paul II visited his native Poland less than a year after his election. Pope Benedict XVI traveled to his native Germany just a few months...

If the Catholic Church were run like a business...

Imagine that you have invested all your savings in a chain of restaurants, and the chain is not doing well. Customers don’t like the food. Diners are staying away in droves. Franchises are closing. Now you receive the annual statement from the chief executive, who says that he is not...

Closing churches, losing faithful? Don’t be anxious, the Pope says

The observation that many churches, which until a few years ago were necessary, are now no longer thus, due to a lack of faithful and clergy, or a different distribution of the population between cities and rural areas, should be welcomed in the Church not with anxiety, but as a sign of the...

This time, we’re told, the Vatican is serious about abuse. Really.

Archbishop Scicluna says that the February conference on sexual abuse will be “the start of a global process“ to plan a worldwide response to the scandal. The start? You mean the process didn’t start when Pope Francis formed the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of...

Missing: a sense of urgency

In Rome, a friendly reader reports, they’re saying that the house is burning down, and the firemen are coming—in February. And that’s the good news. The bad news is that the firemen won’t bring pumps or hoses or ladders or axes. Or water. Kerosene, maybe....

Advent-Christmas Ebook released for new liturgical year

The Advent and Christmas ebook volume for the 2018-2019 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This is the first volume for the coming new liturgical year, which begins on December 2nd, the First Sunday in Advent. It may be downloaded free of charge in the following...

Explaining the angry tone of today’s Catholic news coverage

Another American diocese is headed for bankruptcy court. Did you even notice our story on Monday? When I founded Catholic World News, back in 1996, it was inconceivable that a Catholic diocese would seek bankruptcy protection. I can vividly recall the first tentative discussions of the...

Just wait. The bishops are going to take action. Pretty soon. Probably. Trust them.

The American bishops told us that they had dealt decisively with the sex-abuse scandal at Dallas in 2002. This year it became painfully apparent—to everyone who didn’t know already—that they hadn’t. Then the bishops told us that they would deal decisively with the...

Cardinal Tobin still doesn’t get it. Nighty-night, baby.

If the scorching address by Francesco Cesareo, calling for negligent bishops to resign voluntarily, produced the most encouraging moment in the USCCB meeting, the low point might have come when Cardinal Joseph Tobin spoke, and made it abundantly clear that some prelates still don’t...

Urgent: With a $60,000 Challenge Grant in the balance, I need your help.

This Fall, eighty-five of our Boosters joined forces with seven other generous donors to offer a Challenge Grant of $60,000 to make it easier for CatholicCulture.org to raise the funds it needs to continue its mission in 2019. As of this writing, we have matched only $31,000, which means we still...

Quick Hits: Exhortations to bishops—and by bishops

Jayd Henricks, who once served as a senior staffer for the US bishops’ conference, hits a number of nails on the head in a blunt but respectful open letter to the American bishops as they head into their November meeting. He fully recognizes, and names, the powerful forces that might...

The crisis in Church governance

Priests and especially bishops are called to teach, to sanctify, and to govern. “So, how are we in Holy Orders doing?” Asks Msgr. Charles Pope in this must-read column for the National Catholic Register. He answers his own question: “By any reasonable measure,...

The all-purpose press release

Introducing the “All-Purpose USCCB Press Release.” Based on actual release that was sent out by the USCCB recently, this statement illustrates how the American hierarchy could respond promptly to any problem. It’s so easy to be contrite! By filling in the blanks, this release...

Quick Hits: Halloween, Hildegard, and Hugo Chavez

A few of the most interesting articles I’ve read online in recent weeks: Every year we get a spate of articles debating the Christian or pagan origins of Halloween, and this year Catholic World Report offers one of the most detailed I’ve read. Also at CWR: The musical legacy of...

Despite stage-managing, Synod highlighted confusion in Rome

Remember back in 2014 and again 2015, when angry bishops protested that the Vatican staff was manipulating the Synod of Bishops? This year, when the Synod met to discuss youth and vocation, the complaints were different in tone. The participating bishops could no longer claim to be surprised by...

The Smoke of Satan: an excerpt from the introduction

The following, an excerpt from the opening chapter of my new book, The Smoke of Satan, will give readers an idea of what the book holds in store. In Jerusalem, just outside the walled Old City, stands the church of St. Peter in Gallicantu: St. Peter as the Cock Crows. Catholic churches are...

Why was Bishop Holley removed? Another failed transparency test.

Pope Francis has removed an American bishop from office. There’s just one problem: We don’t know what the story is. The Vatican announcement, released on October 24, reads thus: The Holy Father Francis has removed from the pastoral care of the diocese of Memphis, United States...

Why are they leaving Honduras, Cardinal Maradiaga?

Just for a moment, let’s set aside the debate about American immigration policy, and ask a different question: Why are thousands of people willing to leave their homes in Honduras and walk 1,500 miles to reach the US border, knowing full well that they can’t enter Texas legally?...

How NOT to restore trust in the Catholic hierarchy

The Roman rumor mill is notoriously unreliable, so readers should not panic—yet—about the reports that Cardinal Joseph Tobin is a front-runner among the candidates for appointment as the next Archbishop of Washington, DC. But if the reports are accurate (and they are widespread, for...

Quick Hits: Catching up on comments about the Synod, the scandal

Most Catholic journalists have been busy recently, reflecting on the new spate of scandals. And since I’ve been writing a book on the subject (more on that soon; its publication is imminent), I’ve had trouble keeping abreast on the latest commentary. But several recent articles are in...

Partying bishops?

As a follow-up to yesterday’s commentary, The secularization of Christ: A case study, I should note that the same principles apply to discussions at the Synod on Youth. When bishops pile on to endorse positions which are already wildly popular in the larger secular culture, they are...

How could you, Archbishop Vigano?

“How can you celebrate Mass,” Cardinal Ouellet angrily demands of Archbishop Viganò, “and mention the pope’s name in the Eucharistic Prayer?” An excellent question. It forces us to ask whether we have ever imagined that in praying for our shepherds we were...

No jousting for these knights...

This Sunday will be October 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and—not coincidentally—the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto. It will be a good day to re-read Chesterton’s magnificent Lepanto, and a good day to recall the role that the Knights of Malta played in that epic...

Father Spadaro’s latest conspiracy theory

When Philip Pullella translated a Twitter post by Father Antonio Spadaro, the veteran Reuters correspondent found it necessary to add an editorial comment: “Don’t shoot the translator! (me)” It’s easy to understand Pullella’s caution, because if you thought these...

Choose sides! Archbishop Vigano puts two cardinals on the spot

One month after making his first damaging charges against Pope Francis, Archbishop Vigano has now ramped up the pressure on the Pontiff with a 2nd blast. Perhaps equally important, he is now also applying public pressure to other prelates, notably Cardinals Marc Ouellet and Daniel...

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