1. Vatican statistics confirm the Catholic future is in Africa. 

By Inés San Martín, Crux, April 6, 2017

New statistic released by the Vatican on Thursday show that Africa continues to position itself as the future axis of Catholicism, with the number of baptized Catholics on the continent growing at a significantly faster rate than anywhere else in the world.

According to the numbers released on Thursday by the Vatican’s press office, Catholicism has grown globally from 1.272 billion in 2014 to 1.285 in 2015. This represents a 1 percent  annual growth, and 17.7 percent  of the world’s population.

The data, compiled by the Vatican’s Central Office for Church Statistics, were published in the Statistical Yearbook of the Church and the Annuario Pontificio 2017, the Vatican’s yearbook.

Growth varies radically from one continent to another. While in Africa the Catholic population grew by 19,4 percent, it’s remained stable in Europe. If anything, it’s decreasing in the so-called “Old Continent,” where the birth rate is low and population is projected to decrease in upcoming years, with more people dying than being born in several countries.


2. Letters show Francis’s outreach to traditionalists has a long history.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, April 6, 2017

Though casual observers may have been surprised by Pope Francis’s decision this week to offer a path to recognizing marriages conducted by priests of the breakaway Society of St. Pius X as valid, it’s no secret to anyone close to the pope that he’s long worked to bring the traditionalist group back into communion with Rome.

Letters penned in 2011 by then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, today Pope Francis, confirm what has long been rumored – that Bergoglio made several efforts to help the group when he was in Argentina. Those letters were discovered by a Swedish television news program airing tonight.

The letters, short and to the point, are addressed to Guillermo Olivieri, at the time Argentina’s Foreign Ministry Secretary for Religious Affairs. 

[T]he Vatican has tried multiple times to bring the society fully back into the fold. Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI made it a priority, launching formal talks with the society’s leadership.

The 2011 letters are further proof that Bergoglio was on board with those efforts.


3. Philly archbishop praised for revamping city’s Catholic schools. 

By Catholic News Agency, April 6, 2017, 3:02 AM

Catholic schools in Philadelphia have seen a revitalization in finances and quality of education thanks to the initiative of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, says a group that collaborated with him on the effort.  

“While fund-raising certainly helped, the faith and wisdom of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput was equally important,” the Faith in the Future foundation said.

“He recognized the passion of lay leaders – Catholic and non-Catholic alike – for these schools and he empowered them to take action.”

The archdiocese began a partnership in 2012 with the Faith in the Future to increase fundraising and new leadership in overseeing Catholic school management.

Last year, Philadelphia’s Catholic school system saw 93 percent of their graduates attend college, and more than half were awarded with at least one scholarship. As reported by Catholic Philly, Archbishop Chaput expressed his gratitude for the foundation, the lay community’s involvement, and the Catholic identity guiding the schools.


4. Why No Civility Is Possible Today. 

By Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., Crisis Magazine, April 6, 2017

Civility means to act as one would in a settled city wherein law and manners, not force and passion, guide the interchanges of the public order as well as the normal affairs of men within their homes and voluntary associations. Civility presupposes reason, but includes courtesy, compassion, and good taste. It usually involves a written or unwritten constitution that broadly defines the orders of procedure for ordinary human exchanges of opinions. It details, through proportionate sanctions, the degree to which the public order is violated by disordered actions. A constitution itself recognizes, at least implicitly, the possibility of a law higher than itself. A constitution’s own authority to be followed does not depend on itself, but on the citizens for whom it is intended. They in turn cannot will just anything. They too are subject to the reasonableness of the things that are, including what they are.

Incivility, by contrast, means the refusal to adhere to commonly accepted standards and customs. It indicates a breakdown, either minor or major, in the public order wherein differing opinions are normally and peacefully worked out among reasonable people who do not always agree with one another. Almost all incivility justifies itself by appealing to something higher than existing laws and customs. This “something higher” may be God, or one’s own will, a constitution, or a theoretical system we have usually come to designate as an ideology. An ideology is an idea or system of interrelated ideas that are self-justifying as the explanation of how things ought to be. They indicate a pattern or order that is to be put into effect as the solution to a given polity’s own inherent problems.

“Uncivilized” differs from “incivility.” Usually, uncivilized means the pre-political condition of men living together in tribes or other types of community. The bonds that hold things together are primarily through ties of blood, place, and personal loyalty. Here, reason is replaced by identity and feeling. One is born into them, rather than joins them. Neither identity nor feeling can be debated or controverted. Still, ties of blood and kin rightly remain major factors in any civil society. They themselves are good things. No one can simply be a “citizen” without also having an origin in a family with its own history and ethos. A “man without a country” is destined to roam aimlessly in a world of rooted people.

The bond of reason that is implied by civility is a delicate thing. It requires a habitual willingness to adhere to the civil law, to work out our differences by known rules, compromises, and concern for a common good that allows and encourages bringing forth many differing goods not possible except with others.