Sustaining the Catholic “Thing”

Whenever we begin an end-of-year fundraising campaign, as we must today if we’re going to continue our work into 2022 and beyond, I think back on how The Catholic Thing has developed over more than a dozen years now.

In 2008, when we started, Benedict XVI was pope. (Our engagement with things Roman was, therefore, quite different.) Barack Obama was soon to become president. (The current White House demonstrates that some things, even when a “Catholic” is elected, don’t much change.) For all the complexities then already in play, our mission of bringing the fullness of Catholicism to bear on the Church and the world was clear. I laid out that mission in our very first column and still believe in it (here).

The mission to the secular realm is as urgent as ever. The situation in the Church, even more so. That’s why we’re here 365 days a year (366 in leap years) every morning, bringing you the very best commentary, news, information that we can. I won’t brag about TCT – it contradicts the much-neglected Christian virtue of humility. But it’s because of my confidence in the high quality of our writers that I can ask for your support.

In the coming year, crucial Catholic issues will once again be in play in our American electoral politics. And as the Vatican opens up again, we’ll be in Rome and elsewhere covering, as we did in past years, things like the synods on the family, young people, the Amazon, and much more.

A case in point: the American bishops will hold their annual meeting in Baltimore next week. On the agenda is their draft document on “Eucharistic Coherence,” by which they mean what Holy Communion is and who should – and should not – present himself to receive.

It’s a clear and comprehensive review (read it by clicking here) of what the Church believes about the Real Presence and the theological and moral implications that follow. For more than half a century, though, there’s been no real emphasis on teaching these truths to Catholics. It’s no surprise that almost three-quarters of us, including many who attend Mass regularly, don’t know and, therefore, don’t believe it.

The question of who, then, should not receive, gets much less attention. There are good suggestions about celebrating the Eucharist with reverence, so that people will realize that it’s not just a “symbol.” And the text contains passages from Canon Law, St. JPII, Pope Francis, and other sources saying that those in grave sin should not present themselves.

That’s all to the good, but it barely mentions the scandal of pro-abortion politicians. In Catholic teaching, a scandal is not just like something you’d see in a supermarket tabloid. It’s also a “stumbling block” – a reason for other Catholics and people generally to think that the Church is not really serious when it comes to people who actively promote – and want to force us to pay for – the destruction of almost 1 million innocents yearly in America (60 million worldwide).


The “scandal” is that people then assume that they, like public pro-abortion politicians, can go along with the culture of death with no consequences in this life – or the next.

We’ll be here to say otherwise, not only for the 2022 elections, but for as long as we have breath to speak.

At TCT, we listen to as well as write for our readers. In the past year, we’ve discovered that learning about the tradition is something many of you want. There’s the day-by-day reporting and analysis on events, of course. But also a deep interest in our rich Catholic culture.

Just last week, we finished a 23-week journey through Dante’s Divine Comedy, which in its three segments drew almost 1000 individuals. And we’ve got more, much more, planned in the coming year. (More on that soon.)

People sometimes ask me why we’re called The Catholic Thing. Some say “Thing” is an ugly word and suggest we change it. There’s a simple answer. We’re thinkers, to be sure. But thinkers in line with the great Hilaire Belloc:

The Catholic Church is the exponent of Reality. It is true. Its doctrines in matters large and small are statements of what is. This it is which the ultimate act of the intelligence accepts. . . .If the ordnance map tells me that it is 11 miles to Wookey Hole then. . .as I walk through the rain at night making it feel like 30, I use the Will and say: ‘No. My intelligence has been convinced and I compel myself to use it against my mood.’. . .And as to the doubt of the soul, I discover it to be false: a mood: not a conclusion. My conclusion – and that of all men who have ever once seen it – is the Faith.  Corporate, organised, a personality, teaching. A thing, not a theory. It.

Theories are fine and necessary, at times. And, therefore, there are days when we propose and consider them. At the end of the day, though, ideas have to take on flesh. Make themselves felt and make a difference in this world as well as in the next.

That’s why we’ve been here for all these years. And why we intend to carry on the mission even as the struggle grows more difficult – not least within the Church itself.

If you’re reading this, you know why you come here every day and there’s no need for me to hype the role that this site plays in America and the world. I can tell you that TCT is read carefully in Rome, as well as in the many parts of the world that our various foreign-language editions reach.

We can’t say we’ll save the world – we have a Savior who already did that. We can only serve that mission, faithfully. And we cannot continue that service without your support. Please, support and become part of this very Catholic thing.

*Image: The Triumph of the Church by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1625 [Museo del Prado, Madrid]

You may also enjoy:

Bob Royal’s Our American Catholic Rubicon

Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy’s Politicizing the Eucharist

Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent books are Columbus and the Crisis of the West and A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century.