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July 6, 2015

Language is a tricky thing. With the wrong words or the wrong construction, you can seem to mean things you don’t intend or can seem to intend things you don’t mean. You can get yourself into a lot of trouble. Many Catholics do, particularly when they write online.

At sites such as Facebook, many people have the impression that stream-of-consciousness writing is a good thing. They don’t re-read their words before they push the Send button. Not infrequently, they end up committing the...

July 2, 2015

The Seventh Commandment says, “Thou shall not steal” but what does that mean? While the Catechism of the Catholic Church does admit of extraordinary circumstances where it can be moral to take another’s property (e.g., it’s not wrong to take an apple from someone’s orchard in order to feed someone who is starving), the essence of the seventh commandment is this: “It’s wrong to make something yours if it belongs to someone else.”

This goes far beyond the...

July 1, 2015

The Catholic Church has spoken definitively on the question of whether women could ever be ordained to the ministerial priesthood. On October 15, 1976, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith presented the Church’s teaching succinctly and authoritatively in Inter Insigniores. And Pope St. John Paul II reiterated that teaching exercising his Magisterial authority in his Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio...

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...

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....