Maureen Mullarkey

Notes on The Gates of Hell

The gates of hell are no closer than they ever have been. No matter the crumbling of our culture or the dereliction of a pope, they have not moved a millimeter. Immobile, they remain where—and what—they were when life first erupted on the planet: an ineluctable border between life and death. Yet we go on invoking them as a talisman against institutional rot or, alternately, as the default comfort in a waning civilization. What calls attention to the phrase just now is Cardinal Dolan’s February 3rd pastoral letter to all parishes in the New York Archdiocese. Continue Reading
Theodore McCarrick: From Cardinal to Commoner

Theodore McCarrick was demoted from cardinal to archbishop some months ago. Under pressure of media attention, the Vatican has upped the ante on penalties against him. Now he is simply Mr. McCarrick, forbidden to function as a priest in any but the most extreme emergency situations. He can still offer absolution to the dying victim of a hit-and-run. The rest is nil. Forgive me if I abstain from all the cheers of satisfaction over McCarrick’s defrocking. Certainly, I have no sympathy for the man. Continue Reading
A Brief Detour: Invitation To An Exhibition

This weblog began life under the banner Studio Matters for good reason. So permit me, this once, to sidestep expected topics—the baleful doings of the papal court, of an unnerving pope, and all those signals of civilizational decay. Instead, let me invite you to an exhibition at George Billis Gallery, New York City. If you are in town or passing through between January 22nd and February 23rd, perhaps you will stop by. It would be lovely if you did. Herewith, a link to the e-catalogue, a sampling of some—not all—work on the wall. Continue Reading
Francis & Mirages of Fraternity, part 1

Pope Francis’ Christmas message, clotted with the word fraternity, was such a brew of pernicious banality that it is hard to know where to start. From the perspective of our 24-hour news cycle, a Moloch that feeds on contrived obsolescence, the papal dispatch asks to be addressed before the end of Christmastide. However, what matters is not one passing item in the news but its substratum, something steady and abiding. In this case, that bedrock something is hostile to the very civilization—however flawed—which has sustained the Church that gave it life and breath. Continue Reading