Maureen Mullarkey

Sam Minton in drag

I have not brought myself to pay this year’s dues on my long-term membership in AICA-USA, the United States section of the Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art. Founded in 1950 in Paris (hence the acronym), it presents its mission as “elevating the values of art criticism as a discipline, and acting on behalf of the physical and moral defense of works of art.” [Embalming criticism in an academic discipline sends cold steel through the heart of the kind of lively observations recorded by the Goncourt brothers. Continue Reading
candidate kissing baby

“Hello, sweetie. Can I have a Ritz cracker?” At last Monday’s noon Mass in a local Novus Ordo parish, the young woman ahead of me on line for Communion was carrying a toddler. The child clutched a Ritz cracker. The presiding priest, a baby-boomerish Dominican, dropped the host into the mother’s hand while chirping to the little one the banality above. What the mother thought of that, I do not know. But it made me flinch. Flannery O’Connor had words for this sort of thing: “Stupidity and vulgarity are harder to put up with than sin, harder on the nerves.” Continue Reading
Consecration of Russia (part 2)

As the press tells it, this year’s consecration of Russia, together with Ukraine, was undertaken at the bidding of Ukraine’s Catholic bishops. Beneath the religious-sounding string of catchwords and rebukes, it is a secular declaration pronounced for political purposes. The media-driven orthodoxy of the day—Putin, evil; Zelensky, heroic—resurrects an outmoded cultural diktat. It serves neither the Church nor the truth of things. Russia is no longer the font of atheistic materialism as Cardinal Burke believes it to be. His recent claim that “the great evil of Communism must be healed at its root” is true. Continue Reading
Consecration Of Russia Served In A Whirlwind (part 1)

On March 25th, Pope Francis formally consecrated “all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine” to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The declaration raised questions more urgent than technical ones about proper wording and protocols. At stake is the efficacy of politically tinged papal pronunciamentos and, with them, the integrity of ecclesiastical authority in the Catholic Church. First, some preliminaries. Catholics are not bound to believe in private revelations. The emotional sincerity of visionaries is not evidence of divine authorship of their visions. Continue Reading
Art Appreciation: Pope Francis, Chagall, & Bolsheviks

Is papal art appreciation all that it seems? Pope Francis once cited Chagall’s “White Crucifixion” as one of his two favorite paintings. Perhaps he really meant it. Or maybe his stated preference was a cost-free instance of diplospeak. A polite ceremonial gesture to cover an entrenched imbalance in his Middle East sympathies? Either way, as an expression of sympathy for the Jewish people, papal art appreciation is easy but insubstantial.     It is no substitute for unambiguous support for Israel, a tiny Jewish state targeted for extinction from the date of its founding. Continue Reading