Astrophysics and Metaphysics

Are there aliens out there? Nothing is more likely to grab headlines than the latest speculation about extraterrestrial life. Here, a Vatican theologian speculates and organizes a conference; there, a scientist says he’s analyzed 500 planets and is convinced that the cosmos is a cold, empty and lifeless place. Still others insist the sheer size … Read more

The Elephant in the Living Room

Contraception is the elephant in the living room of contemporary Catholicism: Everybody knows it’s there, but few people care to acknowledge the fact. Meanwhile, the accumulating pastoral damage that results from this state of collective denial is painfully real. Partly it arises from the circumstance that even churchgoing Catholics today live in a state of … Read more

Did the Vatican encourage Irish bishops not to report sexual abuse?

You might have seen the New York Times article yesterday that made a serious claim about the Vatican’s response to the abuse scandal in Ireland — namely, according to its original title, that it “warned bishops not to report child abuse.” That incendiary title seems to have been changed today, but the charge is largely … Read more

Is the Vatican rushing JPII’s canonization?

The miracle of a French nun’s recovery from Parkinsons through the intercession of Pope John Paul II has been confirmed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Now it must be approved by a commission of bishops and cardinals before a date is set for beatification. But Catherine Pepinster at the Guardian wonders … Read more

New series on exorcism coming to the Discovery Channel.

The Discovery Channel will be debuting a reality series this spring that explores and recreates past cases of exorcism. Here’s the twist: They’ve gotten the cooperation of the Vatican to do so. The Exorcist Files will recreate stories of real-life hauntings and demonic possession, based on cases investigated by the Catholic Church. The project includes … Read more

British royal calls abortion “most grievous moral deficit”

The Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI), a pro-life outreach to members of democratically-elected legislatures, reports that Lord Nicholas Windsor has described abortion as “the single most grievous moral deficit in contemporary life.” The great-grandson of King George V penned the essay “Caesar’s Thumb: Europeans should not forget their most pressing moral issue: abortion” in … Read more

Pope highlights sex scandal in his Christmas message

The New York Times reported yesterday on Pope Benedict’s Christmas message to Vatican hierarchy in Rome where he spoke about the clergy sexual abuse crisis: Pope Benedict XVI said on Monday that the continuing sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church had reached a “degree we could not have imagined” this year, and that … Read more

Does the Church support genetically modified crops?

It appears the jury is still out as to whether the Church has taken — or will take — a stand on genetically modified (GM) crops. At first it seemed the Vatican was for it. According to The Independent, a leaked document from a group of 40 scientists who are linked to the Pontifical Academy … Read more

Cleveland man rescues religious statues

When a parish is closed, what happens to the art? Lou McClung, an artist and jack-of-many-trades near Cleveland, Ohio, wondered just that and decided to do something unusual: open a museum for rescued statues. A local paper, the Canton Rep, carried the story. McClung, who owns Lusso Studio, recently bought a decommissioned church to show … Read more

The oldest Catholic university no more?

The oldest Catholic University in the world — Belgium’s Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, founded in 1425 by Pope Martin V — is commencing an internal debate over whether the institution should drop “Catholic” from its name: “It’s time for a different orientation,” says Leuven Rector Mark Waer. After the outbreak of the pedophilia scandal in the … Read more

The Catholic Press Warily Enters the Digital Age

As I write, there is a Catholic Press Conference being held at the Vatican, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Three representatives were invited from each country, and one of them was Greg Erlandson, president of Our Sunday Visitor. Erlandson is an astute and experienced observer of Catholic media, and his comments to … Read more

The Popes Versus the Godfathers

Pope Benedict was in Palermo, Sicily, yesterday, encouraging the locals to resist the evils of the Mafia: “The temptation toward discouragement, to resignation, comes to those who are weak in faith, to those who confuse evil with good, to those who think that, faced with often profound evil, there is nothing to do,” Benedict told … Read more

‘Their Church is still alive’

In Ross Douthat’s Sunday New York Times column, he explains why — despite the insistence that the Church today is irrelevant for failing to keep up with the times — hundreds of thousands of Catholics came out for the UK papal visit: [I]n turning out for their beleaguered pope, Britain’s Catholics acknowledged something essential about … Read more

Bridging the gap between the press and the Church

Last week at the National Catholic Reporter, John Allen Jr. took aim at the “religious illiteracy” that still reigns among his fellow journalists (h/t Get Religion): On Tuesday a piece in the U.K.-based Telegraph carried the following headline: “Muslims will become majority in Europe, senior Vatican official warns.” An alarmist subhead added: “European Christians must have more … Read more

Is the Vatican ready to handle the British press?

It hardly needs pointing out that the Vatican isn’t always adept at managing its own PR (to put it mildly). An article in the UK Guardian today by Paul Donovan raises a good question: Is the Holy See’s press office ready for the firestorm that could very likely accompany the pope’s visit to Britain next … Read more

How Universities Fool Their Donors

In my 15 years with Crisis Magazine, the Morley Institute, and now InsideCatholic, the conversation that most often reoccurs is the one about the fate of the Catholic university and college. It begins inevitably with alumni complaining about the latest anti-Catholic outbreak on the hallowed grounds of their former college campus and ends with their … Read more

The eVatican

As a highly-if-not-quite-exclusively visual person, this story from the University of Villanova really caught my attention: A team from Villanova University has made touring the Sistine Chapel a reality with just the simple click of a mouse. For the last two years, students and faculty from Villanova have been granted rare clearance to photograph some … Read more

Catholic Parapsychology: An Apostolate to the Holy Souls

Man’s inborn religious instinct tells him that there is more than the sensible world; indeed, it “never feels natural to accept only natural things,” as Chesterton said. But about the afterlife we have more than just an intuitive inkling. Throughout history there have been manifestations — some vague, others more concrete — to support this … Read more

The Vatican’s “Own Goal”

The Telegraph’s (UK) Damian Thompson is once again lamenting the seemingly tone-deaf Vatican PR “machine:” If I’d been put in charge of the Vatican press office with a specific brief to provide ammunition for the Church’s enemies, I don’t think I could have come up with anything better than this. Increase the penalties against abusers … Read more

A Strange Attack from the New York Times

Since at least last March, the New York Times has been obsessed with a question: “What did Joseph Ratzinger know, and when did he know it?” At issue, of course, is the role played by Cardinal Ratzinger — now Pope Benedict XVI — in relation to the scandal of clergy sex abuse. It’s a fair … Read more

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