Action Alert!

The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

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...

Grumbling among Vatican journalists: an ominous development for the Pope

Pope Francis gave his usual in-flight press conference on Tuesday, as he returned from a visit to the Baltic region. But the Pope did not make any shocking statements. Instead, reporters were mumbling about what the Pope didn’t say. Pope Francis didn’t answer questions about sexual...

Spadaro on the China accord: 2+2=5 again

Father Antonio Spadaro, the papal confidant who told us that in theology 2+2 can equal 5, has now turned to the study of music for an explanation of what is happening in the Vatican’s agreement with China: It is helpful to understand this agreement as a true harmony of notes. That is to...

What about the Chinese deal?

Many Catholics are incredulous that Pope Francis has reached an agreement with the government of China. The agreement allows the government to nominate acceptable candidates for each bishopric, and stipulates that the Pope will choose one of these proposed candidates. I have only one...

Does the Pope want the truth? Now we know.

The most important thing about yesterday’s announcement from the USCCB is what it didn’t say. The leaders of the US bishops’ conference went to Rome to ask the Pope’s approval for an apostolic visitation. They came away empty-handed, and announced the steps that they...

Does the Pope want the truth? Thursday’s meeting will tell.

As Pope Francis meets on Thursday with leaders of the US bishops’ conference, one question looms more important than all others: Will the Pope authorize an apostolic visitation of the American hierarchy? An apostolic visitation—a full investigation, under papal...

A meeting of the world’s bishops to talk about abuse? Please, not more talk. Action!

Pope Francis has called the leaders of the world’s episcopal conferences to Rome, to “speak about the prevention of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.” Great. The meeting will take place next February—more than five years after the Pope announced his plan to set up a...

Quick Hits: Small Advances on Abuse Crisis

Matters have been unfolding slowly since Archbishop Viganò’s revelations about the Church’s handling of the homosexually abusive Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. But here are three straws in the wind: Timetable on McCarrick Confirmed: Two portions of the timetable have been...

Just an awkward headline?

The headline on the Associated Press story is provocative: Vatican Official: Sex abuse scandal is church’s ‘own 9/11’ But is the headline accurate? Read on: A top Vatican official says the clerical sex scandal is such a game-changing catastrophe for the Catholic Church...

When the topic is abortion, the facts don’t matter?

On his Twitter feed, Father Alek Schrenk calls attention to an editor’s note, appended on an article in The Atlantic. The article, written by Moira Weigel and published early in 2017, scoffed at pro-lifers who advocate ultrasound exams for pregnant women. After its publication, this...

The Vigano report and the Kim Davis distraction

Pope Francis asked journalists to investigate the charges in the Vigano testimony, and draw their own conclusions. That’s fair enough—although it’s certainly surprising that the Vicar of Christ would not at least deny participating in what would amount to a repudiation of his own...

Dear bishops: please spare us waffling statements

Here’s a hot tip for any bishop considering a public statement on the current mess: Put some teeth in it. If you issue a mild, dispassionate statement—hoping to keep out of controversy—you won’t just sound wimpy. You’ll sound dishonest as well. Given the facts of...

Lady Dumbello’s discretion

For relaxation during these turbulent days, I’ve been reading Trollope’s Framley Parsonage. Toward the end, the novelist recounts the great success of Lord Dumbello, a peer of uncertain morals, who finds the perfect wife. She is beautiful, her bearing is stately, and best of all, while...

What I predicted, 25+ years ago

Yesterday I spoke at length with Al Kresta about the sex-abuse scandal in general and the Vigano testimony in particular. The whole interview is available here. Al is thoughtful, faithful, and literate; I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, and I think you will, too. During the interview Al,...

There’s a quick way to learn the truth about Vigano’s accusations

Kudos to Father Raymond de Souza, who noticed something that the rest of us had missed. In a Catholic Herald column, Father de Souza explains how the release of the Vigano testimony affects the US bishops’ plans: The American bishops have already asked Pope Francis to appoint an...

So Pope Francis CAN act quickly on cover-up charges, when he wants to

Archbishop Vigano has responded quickly and effectively to the charge that he sought to squelch charges of sexual misconduct by Archbishop John Nienstedt. (I suspect that when he released his testimony, Archbishop Vigano knew this attack would be coming, and he was ready for it.) He notes that...

The Vigano bombshell: some perspectives

The testimony of Archbishop Vigano is, from my perspective as an editor, the most important Catholic news story since the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. (And by the way those stories now seem related.) The past few days have seen an unprecedented outburst of editorial commentary, and...

In a time of crisis, unfortunate tag lines

1) Introducing an interview with Cardinal Blase Cupich, a Chicago TV anchor referred to the “explosive allegations” in the testimony of Archbishop Vigano. But the cardinal himself told the interviewer that the Pope was “not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.” He...

McCarrick: story the secular media don’t want to pursue?

Julia Duin, who worked for some years as the religion reporter for a secular newspaper, now wonders aloud why the mainstream media haven’t followed up obvious leads on the McCarrick scandal. The Catholic News Agency has found several priests to confirm that “everybody knew” about...

Why do Catholics speak so often of “the Church” instead of “Christ”?

In a recent discussion of the mission of CatholicCulture.org, an interesting question came up: Why do we have the word “Catholic” in our name, and not the word “Christ”? Similarly, one of the mission slogans I use frequently is to “enrich faith, strengthen the Church,...

President Duterte: When is a Catholic not a Catholic?

The President of the Philippines, in a profanity-laden message, has declared he is no longer a Catholic. He claims to have been abused by a Jesuit as a teenager, and while that allegation can no longer be met with outraged disbelief, only God knows whether it is true. One wonders, of course, how...

Time to hold prelates accountable at the Vatican, too

John Allen of Crux remarks that if the universal Church seeks to make prelates accountable, it’s unfortunate that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who has a deserved reputation for trying to protect abusers and conceal evidence remains the Dean of the College of Cardinals. To be fair, Allen was...

Just how independent would this committee be?

Bishop Robert Barron has added his own proposal to the mounting pile. He proposes that the US bishops “petition the Holy Father to form a team, made up mostly of faithful lay Catholics skilled in forensic investigation, and to empower them to have access to all of the relevant documentation...

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