The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Do others share my discomfort with this story? Catholic Charities office sues diocese in Minnesota (CWN, July 12) “We believe the complaint will be properly resolved through the judicial process,” says the spokesman for the St. Cloud diocese. And maybe it will. But then...

An answer to Cardinal Farrell, from Pope John Paul II

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the prefect of the Vatican dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, fears that priests “have no credibility” when they attempt to prepare Catholic couples for marriage. St. John Paul II disagrees. From the introduction to his book, Love and...

Suggestion for the German bishops: wider access to sacramental Confession

The Code of Canon Law (#844—4) allows Catholics priests, when there is a “grave and pressing need,” to administer Holy Communion to Protestants who “demonstrate the catholic faith in respect of these sacraments and are properly disposed.” The German bishops, in their...

A question for Cardinal Farrell

If Catholic priests have “no credibility” for the task of preparing couples for marriage, how are they qualified (per Amoris Laetitia) to guide divorced-and-remarried Catholics through the “process of discernment” that would lead them back to...

Priests shouldn’t engage in partisan politics—except?

Bishop Michael Warfel of Great Falls-Billings has reprimanded four priests who appeared in clerical collars, as VIP guests, at a rally for President Trump in Montana. And rightly so, because priests should not take part in partisan political activities. At the same time, Cardinal Blase Cupich...

The mounting Italian influence in the Roman Curia

Last week, in commenting on two important appointments, I failed to make an obvious point: Both Bishop Nunzio Galantino (the new head of APSA) and Paolo Ruffini (the new head of the dicastery for Communications) are Italians. Vatican-watcher Andrea Gagliarducci sharpens the point: This is...

Vatican Reform, take two: behind two new papal appointments

“Personnel is policy,” the political analysts tell us. With that maxim in mind, let’s examine the importance of two appointments made by Pope Francis in recent days: the appointments of Bishop Nunzio Galantino as president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic...

Writing a headline to create a story

An egregious example of a misleading headline, from AP:  Pope replaces Australian prelate who opposes sex abuse norm The focus of the story is on Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, who (AP tells us) “said he’d prefer jail to telling civil authorities about any sex abuse of...

On clerical abuse, the mainstream may finally recognize the obvious

Charles Collins writes for Crux: If the Church hierarchy continues to turn a blind eye to sexual misconduct involving adults, it will never be able to put an end to the sexual abuse of minors. Good point. Wonder why nobody thought of it earlier. Oh, wait. From my book The Faithful...

The Germans on intercommunion: Joke, or mere absurdity?

The story we picked up from OnePeterFive on the new German “guidelines” for intercommunion reads like a parody. Frankly, I’m wondering if it is. If you click through our summary to the story on which it is based, you’ll see what seems to be a very dodgy effort by the...

APSA appointment is another false step on Vatican financial accountability

John Allen of Crux writes that the appointment of Bishop Nunzio Galantino as new head of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) is “the most reassuring and also the riskiest move we’ve seen from the pontiff in some time.” I agree with 50% of that assessment. The move is...

Daily Mass attendance: is there an upward trend?

It’s happening again. At the little chapel in the abbey where we go every day, it’s become difficult for late arrivals to find an empty pew at the early-morning Mass. You understand, I’m not saying that the chapel is completely full. The pews fit four adults comfortably,...

Yes, it’s ‘child pornography,’ but the victims were teenagers

What word would you use to describe boys between the ages of 14 and 17? Ordinarily I’d call them teenagers. Wouldn’t you? When the Vatican announced the conviction of Msgr. Carlo Capella, the term used was “children.” The former Vatican diplomat was found guilty of...

The futile quest for Vatican transparency

In a wide-ranging interview, Reuters reports, Pope Francis “was concerned that ‘there is no transparency’ in the Vatican’s real-estate holdings...” The Vatican’s real-estate holdings are managed by APSA: the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic...

One year later, still no auditor

One year ago today, the Vatican’s auditor general abruptly resigned. The Vatican gave no explanation for his departure, but said that a replacement would be found “as soon as possible.” He still hasn’t been replaced. His departure still hasn’t been...

Cardinal McCarrick’s faulty memory

As he revealed that he had been accused of sexual abuse, Cardinal McCarrick made an interesting protestation of innocence: “While I have absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse…” The accusation, which a review board found credible, occurred almost fifty years ago,...

Abortion vs. Immigration: Don’t take the bait.

It is already happening, and it gives us a bad name. Hearing of the widespread denunciation among our bishops of President Trump’s (now discarded) policy to separate children from their migrant parents at the Mexican border, a certain number of Catholics who read CatholicCulture.org are...

Does Pope Francis read his mail?

Speaking about the dubia in his latest interview, Pope Francis told the Reuters news service that he learned about the four cardinals’ questions “from the newspapers.” When they released the dubia to the public, in November 2016, the four cardinals reported that they had sent...

How did Cardinal McCarrick’s secret last so long?

At least fifteen years ago, I wrote a confidential email message to a few trusted friends, telling them to brace themselves. Within a few days, I said, a major secular newspaper would break a sensational story about Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. To my surprise, the newspaper never ran the...

Hope at New York University?

The history of the Dominican Order in New York is fascinating and uplifting—as recounted by Fr. John Maria Devaney to Thomas V. Mirus in last week’s Catholic Culture Podcast (listen to 150 Years of Holy Preaching). One of several memorable highlights was the service to those suffering...

Again, a prelate tainted by the scandal retains a prestigious Vatican post

The Vatican reports that all members of the Council of Cardinals, except for Cardinal Pell, were present at this week’s meeting. Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz is a member of the Council of Cardinals. And sure enough Cardinal Errazuriz participated in the meeting, which in turn...

An Australian archbishop’s dangerous approach to defending the confessional seal

Calling for reconsideration of the appalling legislation that would call upon priests to break the confessional seal, Archbishop Christopher Prowse of Canberra writes: “Priests are bound by a sacred vow to maintain the seal of confession.” Wait. That’s wrong— perhaps even dangerously wrong. A...

Did the Pope ask oil companies to do the impossible?

In an address to oil-company executives, Pope Francis said that “the more than one billion people without electricity today need to gain access to it.” It’s hard to disagree with that, right? Then the Pope continued: “But that energy should also be clean, by a reduction in the systematic use of...

Commonweal’s courageous willingness to stand with the 95% majority

In a Commonweal editorial, urging Pope Francis to “revisit” (that is, scrap) Humanae Vitae, Paul Baumann quotes the same magazine’s words from 1967: “What matters is choosing that course which best serves the Christian and human good, not that course which promises to enhance or diminish the...

Parody-Is-Dead Department: Case 8,403

Father Michael Pfleger, the firebrand activist, is perhaps Chicago’s leading voice for gun control. Henry Eugene Hale, who has regularly accompanied Father Pfleger to political rallies, is a security guard—although the Chicago archdiocese insists that he is not the priest’s...

Time to give the lie to a culture in denial?

I’ve been saying it for years. The claim that all religions are the same, and all equally unverifiable, is the height of folly. Rather, we must distinguish between religions based on human claims and those based on the claims of God Himself—those which command assent through an...

... and then there’s the archbishop who won’t resign

While thirty Chilean bishops have submitted their resignation after being accused of covering up sexual abuse, Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, Australia, has not resigned after being convicted in a court of law of the same offense. Following his conviction, Archbishop Wilson said that he...

Could Pope Francis be shifting his stand on gay influence?

No sooner had I spotted one hopeful sign in the Pope’s handling of the Chilean sex-abuse scandal when today’s news brought another. Pope Francis has reaffirmed the Church’s policy barring active homosexuals from seminaries. I know; I know. This concern about homosexual...

An American lawyer’s peculiar theory on the Pell trial

Jeffrey Anderson, a lawyer who has built up an extremely lucrative business by bringing sex-abuse suits against the Catholic Church, has a unique perspective on the trial of Cardinal George Pell. Australian prosecutors—who still have not offered any details about their case agains the...

Another papal bombshell: the confusion is intentional

Another day, another papal bombshell. Another statement attributed to the Holy Father that is clearly at variance with established Church teaching. Another set of sensational headlines. Here we go again. Did Pope Francis really tell Juan Carlos Cruz that he should embrace his homosexuality?...

Fallout from the Chilean bishops’ resignations: some unanswered questions

The mass resignation of Chilean bishops has provided us with more questions than answers. Among the questions that must be answered before this dramatic move can be assessed: Did the Chilean bishops resign on their own intiative? All of them? Or did the Pope suggest the move? If the latter,...

When a libel is ‘nothing personal’

Last December, reflecting on the death of Cardinal Bernard Law in First Things, I wrote: “Law became notorious for his handling of abuse complaints, and rightly so.” Does that sound to you like a sympathetic treatment of the late cardinal? In an article that that appeared in...

Now Available: Liturgical Year Ebook for Ordinary Time after Easter

We have just released the fifth volume in the 2017-2018 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...

Another gross Vatican gaffe in handling sex-abuse complaints

One step forward, two steps back. One excellent statement about a no-nonsense commitment to fighting sexual abuse, then a public act that suggests the issue is still not a top priority. Chilean abuse victims were moved and encouraged by their private meetings with Pope Francis last week. Then on...

On German bishops’ proposal, the Pope’s non-decision is revealing

A few weeks ago we were told—by usually reliable sources—that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had rejected the German bishops’ proposal for administering Communion to the non-Catholic spouses of Catholics. We were further informed that Pope Francis had approved the...

St. Athanasius is the man we need

On today's feast of St. Athanasius—the bishop who corrected a serious error prevalent among his fellow bishops—the first reading at Mass recounts the preparation for the Council of Jerusalem—at which the disciples persuaded St. Peter (and others) to change a policy that was...

Are German Catholic bishops trying to export their model for failure?

As Vatican officials prepare for a "summit meeting" with a delegation from the German hierarchy, to discuss the German bishops' proposal for allowing intercommunion, John Allen of Crux provides a glimpse of reality: Those who know the reality of German Catholicism generally say things break down...

The compleat respectable Catholic journalist

So you want to be a respected Catholic journalist? You want to be invited to all the right conferences and symposia? Beginning tomorrow, try these simple steps. Wake up, shower, have a good cup of coffee, and jump on Twitter. Begin the day by denouncing any criticism of Pope Francis....

Quick Hits: From Crux, two detailed looks at current Vatican woes

Credit the Crux news site with two detailed and informative looks inside the current operations of the Vatican: By all accounts, the investigation into the Chilean mess, prepared by the Pontiff by Archbishop Charles Scicluna, was thorough, accurate, and damaging. Pope Francis has admitted as...

Now suddenly the hospital discovers the rights of Alfie’s family?

Alder Hey hospital won't be providing updates on the slow death of Alfie Evans. That's no surprise. What is remarkable is the hospital's Twitter announcement that this silence is "out of respect for the privacy of Alfie and his family." The family's wishes have not played a major role in the...

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