June 29, 2015

Determining a bad idea’s antecedents usually is messy and often is impossible. Just when did a particular bad idea begin? Seldom is there an analogue to Athena coming fully formed from the forehead of Zeus.

Usually one bad idea derives from an earlier bad idea, which in turn derives from still earlier bad ideas. In order not to get lost in a long series that disappears into the mists of pre-history, you need to choose a point at which you can say, “For purposes of discussion, I count this as the origin of this bad idea.”

I’m going to blame last week’s same-sex marriage decision on the poet John Milton. Let me explain.

I don’t at all mean that Milton or any of his contemporaries or anyone for centuries following endorsed or even thought of same-sex marriage...

June 26, 2015

In an unsurprising but still disappointing decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in Obergefell vs Hodges that states may not define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Many Catholics, along with other people of good-will who believe marriage is intrinsically related to men, women, sex, and children, are asking, “What next?” Let me offer a proposal: Go back to the basics.

How We Got Here

In the span of twenty years, redefining marriage to include homosexual unions went from being opposed by both political parties and a supermajority of the American electorate to being a position that must be embraced lest one be branded a bigot. How...

June 23, 2015

When inquirers call into Catholic Answers, they sometimes share concerns about practices going on in their parish. Those concerns often center around the Mass and the proper celebration of the liturgy, but occasionally we are also asked about problems in parish life. Believe it or not, we also sometimes hear from parish staff, who can become frustrated with parishioners who do not seem to understand their obligations as members of the parish.

When I was looking through my archive of old questions and answers that I have worked on over my years at Catholic Answers, I was intrigued to find a pair of Q&As from opposite points of view on the exact same subject: forcing Catholic families to attend Mass. The first question came from the parent of a child in a parish religious...

June 22, 2015

“I speak—more or less fluently—eight languages and have a reading knowledge of eleven others, necessary for my research.” He could have spoken to almost anyone in the world in that person’s native tongue. He was very much a catholic Catholic.

Born in 1909 under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s childhood languages, as I recall him explaining, were German, Hungarian, and Latin. Maybe there were one or two others languages too. I forget, but he seemed never to have forgotten anything. I never met anyone with a mind so capacious and so filled, not just with facts but with connections among those facts.

Despite our age difference—he had more than forty years on me—he insisted that I call him by his given name, so that is what I will do here.

Erik...

June 18, 2015

Pope Francis’s highly anticipated encyclical—Laudato Si’—is now out.

Here are 13 things to know and share.

1) What are the basic facts about this encyclical?

An encyclical is a teaching document issued by the pope. Encyclicals are among the more solemn and thus more authoritative papal documents.

This one is called Laudato Si’ (“Be praised” or “Praise be to you”)—a line from the Canticle of the Sun by St. Francis of Assisi.

It is Pope Francis’s second encyclical. His first was Lumen Fidei...

June 16, 2015

Before he turned 10, his grandmother began to dress him in a purple chiffon dress and fawn over how cute he looked. Over time, as he started wearing it more frequently, the dress became a dark secret. When his father’s much younger adopted brother discovered the secret of the dress, he first teased the boy and then began to sexually molest him.

The boy grew up burdened by these traumas until he decided, at the age of 42, that he really—deep down in his core being—was a woman. So he had radical gender reassignment, and took the name of Laura Jensen. But that fateful decision didn't bring him peace but confusion and depression, a suicide attempt, and excessive drinking. 

After eight years as Laura, he’d had enough. He changed his mind, and reverted to his true identity. He...

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Absolute Relativism: The New Dictatorship And What To Do About It
In his best-selling booklet Absolute Relativism: The New Dictatorship And What To Do About It, Chris Stefanick tackles all the tough qu...