Action Alert!

The City Gates

Brief, off-the-cuff observations and announcements.

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...

Quick Hits: Cupich on conscience, surrogacy, accountability, eroding parental rights

Catching up on some excellent commentary that has appeared recently, and would make for good weekend reading: Eduardo Echeverria is not the first writer to point out that Cardinal Blase Cupich, in his examination of the role of conscience, wanders far afield from the thoughts of Cardinal John...

Catholic sexual liberation: A rerun way too late

First Things editor R. R. Reno gets things right almost as often as I do (and with a consistently richer mix of public awareness and erudition). In this month’s issue, he editorialized about the new Catholic rush to accompany those who are committed to lifestyles which give the lie to...

The central problem of the century—and of our lives

This weekend I saw Witness, the powerful work by Whittaker Chambers, sitting on the shelf, and decided that it was high time to re-read it. I hadn’t finished the foreword when this passage triggered a series of thoughts: Economics is not the central problem of this century. It is a...

What liturgists might learn from the Masters golf tournament

Although I am neither a golfer nor a golf fan, I enjoy watching the Masters on television each year, for several reasons. The Augusta National course is an unusually beautiful one. The azaleas and rhododendrons, in full bloom in Georgia, provide pleasant reassurance that spring will eventually...

From confusion to heresy: how papal statements are exploited

“Pope News” tweets: Why are some people so keen on being certain about the existence of Hell? Do they need the fear factor to be good? Massimo Faggioli responds: This euphoria about hell (for others, of course): the theological version of winning is the only thing...

Notice how the male contraceptive pill would work

A scientist working to develop a male contraceptive pill is optimistic about a new drug, known as DMAU: “DMAU works by interrupting the signal between the brain and the testicles, Page said.” There may be a better metaphor to express, in a nutshell, 21st-century manhood. But...

When bishops don’t fulfill their duties

Year after year the Religious Education Conference (REC) in Los Angeles produces a new raft of horror stories: accounts about speakers who gleefully dismiss the established teachings of the Church, cheered on by an audience composed largely of people who are paid, by one American diocese or...

Quick Hits: Two crucial decisions in Ireland, and a plea for bishops to speak out

As Ireland prepares for a referendum vote on a bid to allow for unrestricted legal abortion, the indefatigable David Quinn writes in the Irish Catholic about the moral obligation of the faithful to support the right to life. He also provides an intelligent answer to the vexed question of how...

OTG: K of C installs ultrasound machines across North America

For almost ten years, the Knights of Columbus have been paying for ultrasound machines to be purchased and installed in pro-life centers throughout the United States and Canada. In America, the machines have now been installed in all 50 states. Since the Ultrasound Initiative began in 2009, it...

Easter volume released for this liturgical year

Easter falls on April 1st this year, and so the Easter volume of our ebook series for the 2017-2018 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This fourth volume in the annual series covers the entire Easter season, from the Easter Vigil (March 31st) through Pentecost (May...

What was that letter from Pope-emeritus Benedict really about?

So what’s the real story behind the letter from Pope-emeritus Benedict? First, Msgr. Dario Vigano sent the former Pope a set of new books on the theology of Pope Francis, asking for a favorable comment. That was in January. The former Pope declined to comment on the books. In fact he...

A painful but necessary book explores the pain felt by children of divorce

Since these days I’m impatiently waiting to see reviews of my new book, I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m only now calling attention to an important book that was published last May. But—better late than never—I would strongly urge all readers, and especially Catholic...

Quick Hits: Mary’s influence on culture, the need for digital independence, and more

At her blog, The Marian Option author Carrie Gress describes “Why Mary is the Best Promoter of Culture”. She quotes the Protestant Henry Adams: “The twelfth and thirteenth centuries were a period when men were at their strongest; never before or since have they shown equal energy...

Vatican reforms are stalled. The question is: why?

“Unfortunately, more than four years into his pontificate, Francis has failed to advance the cause of reform.” That sentence, written several months ago, is from my chapter, “Stalled Reforms,” in Lost Shepherd. Now that we’re at the five-year mark, my analysis looks...

The accusations of Cardinal Cupich: name names, please

In his latest column for the Chicago archdiocesan newspaper, Cardinal Blase Cupich—who styles himself as a champion of civil dialogue within the Church—lashes out at people who disagree with Pope Francis: For this reason, it is not surprising that we occasionally hear voices,...

Is it wrong for women religious to serve priests and bishops?

I don’t know about you, but I’m both bemused and confused by the denunciation of women religious serving bishops in a recent edition of L’Osservatore Romano’s insert devoted to women. The magazine insert is a rather predictable creation of the current pontificate, edited by...

The basic principle of the gun-control argument: 10 years ago and today

With arguments about gun control proliferating in the wake of the Florida school shooting, an old friend of the CatholicCulture site called our attention to this short but perceptive essay, written nearly 10 years ago by our sometime contributor, Diogenes. The circumstances have changed, but the...

That unforgettable Ash Wednesday photo

A week later, the image is still clearly etched in my mind. In the aftermath of the Florida school shootings, dozens of media outlets carried a powerful AP photo that portrayed a blonde woman hugging another woman. The woman’s face is contorted with grief; her arm, around her...

Quick Hits: ‘Don’t Miss’ reading for the weekend

Don Briel, who founded the Catholic Studies program at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, died yesterday. When he had learned, only a month ago, that he had an untreatable form of leukemia and only a few weeks to live, he treated that news as a blessing: an opportunity to prepare. In a...

The blessing and the curse

Today at Mass we heard the famous challenge that God set before the people of Israel, from the Book of Deuteronomy (30: 19-20) I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your...

The Synod office and the social media: a wrongheaded approach

Plunging headlong into the world of social media, in a bid to generate interest among the world’s young Catholics (who thus far have been slow to respond), the office of the Synod of Bishops offers a monthly question for discussion. This month’s offering: What could...

The ideological temptations at the Vatican

If Rome will be preparing for the canonization of Pope Paul VI later this year, only the most hardened ideologues could suggest that this year is the right time to scuttle his heroic encyclical, Humanae Vitae. Come to think of it, maybe the blessed Pontiff—who has already shown his...

Quick Hits: Jordan Peterson, Museum of the Bible, Way of the Cross for children and adults

If you haven’t yet seen the famous Channel 4 interview of Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson from last month, it’s well worth spending 30 minutes to watch what I imagine will be considered one of the most significant media moments of 2018. The interviewer, Cathy Newman, who espouses...

Liturgical Year Volume 3 Released: LENT

Lent (the only liturgical season with a name that is also a four-letter word!) begins on February 14th, and so the Lenten volume of our ebook series for the 2017-2018 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This third volume in the annual series covers the entire season of...

‘If only the Pope knew’—a familiar argument that falls short today

For the first time in this pontificate, Vatican spokesmen are backpedaling in the face of criticism from the mainstream media. This week the Vatican press office has been fighting defensive PR battles on two fronts: over the reports of efforts to oust ‘underground’ bishops in China,...

The Vatican ‘clarification’ on China talks only makes things worse

In its statement on the controversy surrounding talks between the Holy See and Beijing, the Vatican has affirmed what was never in question, while leaving the key question unanswered—at best. The January 30 statement from the Vatican press office is brief enough to be quoted in...

Please: hold ‘Catholic’ Senators accountable for votes on late-term abortion

In the US Senate’s appalling vote, 14 Catholic lawmakers blocked a bid to make late-term abortions illegal. Father Dwight Longenecker asks the right question: “What kind of Catholic Church are we if their pastors and bishops do not stand up publicly and rebuke these fourteen...

OTG: Inspiring Bible study during Lent? Yes, and it is free.

The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology in Steubenville, Ohio is mostly the brain child of the noted convert, Scripture scholar and popular speaker, Dr. Scott Hahn. It has grown over the years to encompass both new and pre-existing initiatives, such as Emmaus Road Publishing (and Emmaus...

Will the Amoris Laetitia ‘discernment process’ always produce the same result?

So now the Archdiocese of Braga, following the lead of bishops in Germany and in Malta, has said that Catholics who are divorced and remarried should receive the Eucharist after the "process of discernment" that is the essence of the "Kasper proposal." But wait. Exactly what is being "discerned"...

A challenge that Father Martin can no longer dodge

Father James Martin, SJ, a very talented writer and publicist, has spent the past year energetically pleading for a change in the Church’s approach to homosexuality, most notably in his book, Building Bridges. Martin is clearly dissatisfied with the current state of Catholic teaching on the...

Quick Hits: Star Wars, criticizing the Pope, and more

Bishop Barron annoyed many with his claim that Star Wars: The Last Jedi pushes feminism hard: “Every male character in The Last Jedi is either bumbling, incompetent, arrogant, or morally compromised; and every female character is wise, good, prudent, and courageous.” I basically agree...

Another media outlet flunks a religious-literacy test

On an otherwise serious day, let’s have a little fun, at the expense of Maine Public Radio, at whose web site you will find this headline: Diocese Changes Traditional Mass To Avoid Spreading Flu The story explains that, in order avoid spreading disease: The diocese announced...

The media’s annual bout of blindness

(This comment is posted annually.) Dozens of professional journalists, particularly in the vicinity of Washington, DC, are showing early signs of a strange illness that strikes, oddly enough, at exactly this time each year. The illness causes restricted vision, so that reporters fail to notice...

Pope defends accused bishop, denounces accusers. The pattern is familiar.

In the bad old days, when Catholic parents reported that a priest had abused their child, and/or that the pastor was aware of the abuse, the bishop might scold them, saying that their complaints were nonsense, saying that they had no proof, accusing them of calumny. The bishop might make these...

On sex abuse, the Vatican still sends badly mixed signals

The New York Times notes that on the very day when he apologized to Chileans for the Church’s handling of the sex-abuse scandal, Pope Francis concelebrated Mass with Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, who was named by the Pope to head the Osorno diocese despite complaints about his long...

The Amoris debate: Is it really a matter of confusion? (Part II)

Last week in this space I argued that Amoris Laetitia definitely has caused confusion (claims to the contrary notwithstanding), and that actually to call the situation “confusing” should be recognized as a display of respect for the Pope’s authority. In closing that short...

The ‘hands-on’ Pontiff, and what that implies

In an interesting Crux column, John Allen argues that Pope Francis is a remarkably “hands-on” Pontiff, who keeps himself extremely well informed about what is happening in the universal Church and especially inside the Vatican walls. To illustrate his point, Allen cites a revealing story about a...

Slip-sliding along on contraception (or a poetic homage to Fr. Maurizio Chiodi)

Contraception sometimes morally required, argues member of Pontifical Academy for Life —news from January 10, 2018   Reflections on Genesis 3:5 I went to confession in ‘52; the priest asked, “What’s the matter with you? Catholics know that God...

Want more commentary? Visit the Archives.