December 6, 2016

Man is an expert self-deceiver. A wise British journalist once mused rightly that “a man’s soul is as full of voices as a forest . . . fancies, follies, memories, madnesses, mysterious fears, and more mysterious hopes. All settlement and sane government of life consists in coming to the conclusion that some of those voices have authority and others not” (G.K. Chesterton, “The Language of Eternity,” The Illustrated London News, July 2, 1910). The prophet Jeremiah observed that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt” (Jer. 17:9).

From this it follows that any human organization, even if it has the inspiration of God behind it, can thrive only if it is governed by a clear voice of authority; and if the people are willing to heed that voice. This...

December 5, 2016

In this series we’re asking one of the most fundamental questions a Christian can ask: how do I know that what I have come to accept as the “teaching of Christianity” is true?

I look about and I see the Roman Catholic Church. But then there’s also the Coptic Church, resulting from a split in the fifth century. There are the Eastern Orthodox churches. There are the Lutherans and Presbyterians and Baptists and Anglicans and Methodists and Congregationalists and so forth. And then, beyond these mainline Protestant denominations there are a whole host of sects and cults and non-denominational denominations.

Finally, there are all the independent churches built around one man or woman who through the enlightenment of the Spirit has come to see that everyone else is and has...

December 2, 2016

CHALLENGE

“The Catholic Church is too uptight about divorce. People ought to be able to freely divorce and remarry if they choose.”

DEFENSE

The Church’s teaching on divorce is humane, just, and rooted in the teaching of Jesus.

*  *  *

The Church’s teaching is humane, for it recognizes that there can be legitimate reasons to obtain a divorce under civil (secular) law: “If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense” (CCC 2383). Thus nobody is required to live in an intolerable or unsafe situation, such as with a physically or emotionally abusive spouse.

The Church’s...

Cardinal Raymond Burke
November 30, 2016

Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan starred in a delightful romantic comedy called The Shop Around the Corner (1940). I don’t know why the movie’s title included Around the Corner, since the location of the shop was not integral to the story. Maybe director and producer Ernst Lubitsch suspected that calling the movie merely The Shop wouldn’t have worked to draw in moviegoers.

I have to admit that the movie has nothing to do with the topic of this post, which is the four cardinals’ dubia concerning Amoris Laetitia. The movie came to mind—or, I should say, the phrase “around the corner” came to mind—because it was “around the corner” that I found Cardinal Raymond Burke’s residence when I was in Rome a few months ago.

...
November 29, 2016

For many American Catholics, Thanksgiving kicks off another season of "here we go again"—fending off the annual bombardment from advertisers and the temptation to measure Christmas in terms of presents. It's a monthlong struggle to get all of our holiday work done and somehow keep Christ in Christmas, too. 

Many of us look back to a simpler Christmas in the "good old days," a mythical time when the holiday came wrapped in a stocking full of chocolates and maybe an orange. Well, let's look back a little farther and stand where we can get some perspective on the matter. 

For one thing, when you look at the liturgical calendar, you'll notice that Christmas isn't the Church's major holiday. It never has been. Church Fathers such as Augustine didn't include a commemoration of...

November 25, 2016

CHALLENGE

“The pope is a sinful man who makes mistakes. Therefore, he can’t be infallible.”

DEFENSE

The premise of this challenge is true; the conclusion is false.

*  *  *

The pope is a sinful man, but this does not lead to the conclusion that he can’t be infallible. Sinlessness—sometimes called impeccability—operates in a different sphere than infallibility does.

Sinlessness is a quality pertaining to the moral order: it means not making a mistake in the sphere of one’s behavior. Infallibility is a quality pertaining to the doctrinal order: it deals with not making a mistake when proclaiming a doctrine.

The quality of sinlessness is not required...

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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...