Highlights from the week online

Santa versus Arius: a myth we need to drop

At the National Catholic Register, Steven Greydanus took aim at a favourite Catholic legend: that St Nicholas, the origin of Santa Claus, punched the heretic Arius in the face. For one thing, said Greydanus, the story is very doubtful: its earliest records date from the 14th century. Even those accounts say Nicholas punched not Arius himself, but “a certain Arian”.

There’s another reason to give the legend a rest: “It’s perilously easy to embrace this irascible anecdote as cover for irascible tendencies on our own parts for which we would certainly not be vindicated by Our Lord and Our Lady.” Getting angry at people is easy; Jesus’s teachings about gentleness, turning the other cheek and “loving and praying for your enemies” are harder.

From attraction to deep misgivings

At First Things, Matthew Schmitz told the story of how he changed his mind about Pope Francis. His first feeling, in 2013, was “an instinctive attraction to the new Pope”. He loved Laudato Si’. In 2013, when the Pope said that Catholics shouldn’t just denounce abortion and gay marriage, Schmitz compared Francis’s teaching methods to Jesus’s, writing: “The point here is not to compromise on or back away from truth, but rather to reject its caricature.”

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