1. Notre Dame Repairs Are Set to Resume.

By Lee Harris, The Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2019, Pg. A13

The repair of Notre Dame Cathedral can resume later this month, French officials said, announcing safety measures to protect against the spread of toxic lead at the landmark.

The blaze brought down Notre Dame’s majestic roof, melting tons of lead.


2. J.D. Vance, author of ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ becomes Catholic.

By Deacon Greg Kandra, Patheos, August 12, 2019

From Rod Dreher: 
I’ve been in Cincinnati, Ohio, for a special reason this weekend: my friend J.D. Vance was baptized and received into the Catholic Church. This has been a long journey for him. He was officially brought into the Catholic faith by Father Henry Stephan, a Dominican priest, at St. Gertrude Priory. Here’s a short interview I did with J.D. about his spiritual life, and the road to Catholicism:

Why Catholicism? Why now?
I became persuaded over time that Catholicism was true. I was raised Christian, but never had a super-strong attachment to any denomination, and was never baptized. When I became more interested in faith, I started out with a clean slate, and looked at the church that appealed most to me intellectually.

But it’s too easy to intellectualize this. When I looked at the people who meant the most to me, they were Catholic. My uncle by marriage is a Catholic. Rene Girard is someone I only know by reading him, and he was Catholic. I’ve been reading and studying about it for three years, or even longer. It was time.

It probably would have happened sooner if the sex abuse crisis, or the newest version of it, hadn’t made a lot of headlines. It forced me to process the church as a divine and a human institution, and what it would mean for my two year old son. But I never really questioned over the past few years that I would become Catholic.

You know as well as anybody the kind of difficult condition the Catholic Church is in today, with the scandals, with uncertain leadership, and all the rest. Do you find the Catholic Church’s travails daunting?
I do in the short term, but one of the things I love about Catholicism is that it’s very old. I take a longer view. Are things more daunting than they were in the mid-19th century? In the Dark Ages? Is it as daunting as having a second pope at Avignon? I don’t think so. The hope of the Christian faith is not rooted in any short-term conquest of the material world, but in the fact that it is true, and over the long term, with various fits and starts, things will work out.


3. ‘Comfort in the Chaos’: Priest in El Paso Offers Words of Hope at a Dark Time.

By Rick Rojas, The New York Times, August 12, 2019, Pg. A15

Father Marquez, 46, stumbled into the priesthood. He had taught third grade for several years. He served on the City Council in San Elizario, a small town outside El Paso. He had aspirations of running for the State Legislature. He had always been an observant Catholic, he said, but he became more involved in the church because he thought it would help him politically.

Instead, he said, he received a different call.

“As soon as I walked in, I heard it,” he said. “‘Leave everything and follow me. I’ll make you fishers of men.’ It was embedded in my head. It was engraved in my heart. And that never left me.”

In the hours after the shooting on Aug. 3, Father Marquez rushed to a school that had been turned into what the police called a family reunification center. Families hoping to find their relatives piled in. Before long, many got word that their loved ones were safe, in hospitals, nearby stores or at a friend’s house. As the hours went by, the number of families waiting dwindled. Eventually, 17 were left.

Father Marquez waited with them overnight and into the following morning. At around 10 a.m., he encouraged them to join him in prayer. They said the Lord’s Prayer, they offered one another peace, and he recited for them the 23rd Psalm: “The lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” At 10:30, law enforcement officials began taking families into another room, one by one. The priest sat beside them as they were told that their relative was among the 22 who had died.


4. Can Northern Ireland Cling To Its Draconian Abortion Laws?

By Ceylan Yeginsu, The New York Times, August 11, 2019, Pg. A10

While Ireland voted to legalize abortion last year, Northern Ireland — which is part of Britain — has shown no signs of liberalizing its draconian laws, allowing the procedure only when the mother’s life is in danger.

That has led many women, like Ciara, to travel for abortions, something that can be difficult for those who lack the resources to finance the trip. With some states in the United States — most recently Alabama — passing legislation that mirrors the laws in Northern Ireland, many American women could be just a Supreme Court decision away from finding themselves in a similar position.

Northern Ireland’s legislature has not met since 2017, and in that power vacuum, Britain’s Parliament recently passed a measure that would liberalize the region’s abortion laws in October unless a restored regional government intervenes. Arlene Foster, who leads the region’s largest political force, the ultraconservative Democratic Unionist Party, said this past week that she was determined to restore the assembly before the deadline.


5. Op-ed: Why lawsuits against Catholic schools should fail.

By Richard W. Garnett, The IndyStar, August 11, 2019, 6:00 AM, Opinion
Richard W. Garnett is the Paul J. Schierl/Fort Howard Corporation Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame.

Every summer, the Supreme Court closes its work-year with a flurry of high-profile opinions dealing with controversial questions. The commentary and headlines about these decisions tends to focus on disagreement, division, and dissent. We should remember, though, that there are important, bedrock principles that unite the Court. 

One such principle, the justices unanimously reminded us just a few years ago, is that our country’s constitutional commitment to religious freedom does not allow the government to interfere with a church’s decision about its teachings or its teachers. The Court’s liberals and conservatives agree: If church-state separation means anything, it means this.

This rule is both deeply rooted and relevant today, as Archdiocese of Indianapolis faces sharp criticism over hiring practices in Catholic schools — in particular, the religious decisions to cut ties with several educators who legally married persons of the same sex. These decisions about how best to carry out the schools’ religious mission of forming students in the Catholic faith has sparked dialogue, debate, resistance, and — of course — lawsuits.

As a legal matter, then, Starkey’s lawsuit should fail. But again, there are important matters of principle at stake, too. Parents have a right to select qualified schools for their children that will not only transmit skills and knowledge but also help pass on their religious commitments and traditions. Many parents make considerable sacrifices to exercise this right and the evidence clearly establishes that authentically faith-based schools play an important role in the education sector of society.

If we value real diversity and meaningful pluralism in that sector, it is essential to respect both the freedom of religious schools to be distinctive and the decisions of religious schools about how to carry out, and who should carry out, their mission. 

Reasonable people in good faith can and will disagree about particular employment decisions, and it is appropriate to criticize what one regards as unfair, unjust, or uncharitable discrimination. In the United States, though, just as no one is forced to embrace a particular faith, no one is entitled to teach, lead, and minister in a particular religious school. The Constitution protects the right to reject a church’s teachings but does not permit the government to reshape them.


6. Francis casts his eyes to Asia for potential papal trips.

By Elise Harris, Crux, August 11, 2019

Asia seems to be squarely in Pope Francis’s sights, with one major outing taking shape for later this year and another reportedly under consideration for 2021.

Though dates have not yet been officially released, it’s widely believed that Francis will travel to Thailand and Japan in November, nations in which Catholics represent a tiny fraction of the overall population – just about 0.5 percent in each. Both are majority Buddhist countries, though Japan also has a strong Shinto tradition and Thailand has significant Muslim and Hindu minorities.

Francis also has been invited to revisit the Philippines in 2021, the third-largest Catholic nation in the world after Brazil and Mexico, and by far the largest Catholic nation considered part of Asia. The Argentine pontiff made his first visit to the Philippines in 2015, featuring a plane trip in the teeth of a tropical storm and a final Mass that drew the largest crowd in papal history with six million people.


7. Why the Pope probably wasn’t trolling Trump on populism.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, August 11, 2019

Granted, Francis did issue a statement in response to the U.S. shootings, and Vatican media have prominently featured the statements of the U.S. bishops. Granted, too, it’s well-known that Francis is no friend to many aspects of the worldview represented by Trump. Still, there’s little reason to believe the pope himself is hanging on every latest presidential utterance.

In truth, popes are responsible for the affairs of a global church composed of 1.3 billion people in every nook and cranny of the planet, and much of the time their pronouncements are intentionally crafted to extend across space and time – in other words, not to refer directly to any specific personality or situation.

To bottom-line things, the American left needs to accept the fact that not everything this pope says about justice, the poor, immigrants, race and populism is an indictment of Donald Trump, and the American right needs to make peace with the fact that they think about Pope Francis far more than he thinks about them.

For Americans, Pope Francis is actually an invitation to think about the rest of the world, to ponder realities beyond our own borders that might shape a pope’s thinking. It’s a stretch, sure, but in a 21st century multipolar world, that sort of exercise could probably do us some good – especially, one might add, with a Synod of Bishops on the Amazon looming in October.


8. Pope’s letter to priests helpful, but repentance would be better.

By Father Jeffrey F. Kirby, Crux, August 11, 2019

Last weekend, in observance of the one-hundred sixtieth anniversary of the death of Saint John Vianney, Pope Francis issued an unexpected but affectionate letter to his sons and brother priests throughout the Church.

The letter was another surprise for the pope who, in the words of the prefect of his household, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, “is a person who surprises and welcomes surprises.”

For a pope most known for constructively criticizing his priests, the letter is a welcomed suspension of previous comments. It comes as blessed relief, a letter of paternal reassurance and fraternal charity.

And, truth be told, the letter would have been much stronger and more credible if there had been an apology or some form of repentance by the pope. The pontiff has apologized before, in terms of the affairs in Chile and with the mismanagement and leaks in the Roman Curia, and so it would not have been out of character.

By not having some form of strong and robust repentance, which is central to our Christian faith, the letter is weak and less effective in giving inspiration and authentic encouragement to the countless faithful priests who love, work hard, and have to regularly apologize for the scandals and for the state of the Church today.


9. Pope Caps Reform of Vatican Bank With New Statutes.

Reuters, August 10, 2019

Pope Francis has approved new statutes for the Vatican Bank, making an external audit obligatory and introducing other changes to bolster reforms that have turned around the once scandal-ridden institution.

The statutes, approved in a papal document released by the Vatican on Saturday, cap more than six years of changes at the bank since Francis was elected in 2013, since when he has made reform of the bank one of his priorities.

Last year, the Vatican’s controller, the Financial Information Authority (AIF), carried out an on-site inspection of the IOR to ensure it was complying with anti-money laundering legislation and the outcome was “substantially positive”, the AIF said in its report for that year.

In 2017, Italy put the Vatican on its “white list” of states with cooperative financial institutions, ending years of mistrust. The same year, Moneyval, a monitoring body of the Council of Europe, gave Vatican reforms a mostly positive evaluation, particularly those carried out at the bank.


10. Pope Francis again warns against nationalism, says recent speeches sound like ‘Hitler in 1934’

By Siobhán O’Grady, Washington Post Online, August 9, 2019, 4:32 PM

Pope Francis called for a united Europe in an interview published by Italian daily La Stampa on Friday, saying recent political rhetoric has echoed that of Nazi Germany.

“I am concerned because we hear speeches that resemble those of Hitler in 1934,” he said. “ ‘Us first. We … We … ’ These are frightening thoughts.”

It is not the first time the pontiff has made such remarks, but his comments published Friday came as Italy’s populist government appeared to be on the verge of collapse.


11. Trump administration moves to enforce abortion restriction.

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press, August 9, 2019

Moving ahead despite objections, the Trump administration on Friday set a timetable for federally funded family clinics to comply with a new rule that bars them from referring women for abortions.

The action is part of a series of efforts to remake government policy on reproductive health to please conservatives who are a key part of President Donald Trump’s political base. Religious conservatives see the family planning program as providing an indirect subsidy to Planned Parenthood, which runs family planning clinics and is also a major abortion provider.


12. Cardinal Pell: ‘Amazon or no Amazon, the Church cannot allow any confusion’

By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency, August 9, 2019, 8:36 AM

Cardinal George Pell has written a letter thanking supporters for their prayers and saying he is “disturbed” by the preparations for the forthcoming synod on the Amazon.

The text of the two-page, handwritten letter – images of which were shared with CNA and confirmed by sources close to Pell – has been circulated amongst a group of Pell’s closest supporters in Australia.

In the letter, dated from Melbourne Assessment Prison on August 1, the cardinal also says that he has been sustained in his incarceration by his faith and by the prayers of the faithful, and that he is offering his suffering in prison for the good of the Church.


13. Losing a Legacy? Assessing the John Paul II Institute Controversy

By The Editors, National Catholic Register, August 9, 2019

Last month, responding to the approval of new statutes for the institute, frustrated students sent a letter to Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the institute’s grand chancellor, and Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, its president, expressing what they see as “the loss of the formational approach and, therefore, of the identity” of the school. The institute’s leadership insists their approach “re-presents with new vigor the original and still fruitful intuition of St. John Paul II.” However, the institute’s troubles seem to be rooted in the theological controversies spawned by the 2014 and 2015 Synods on Marriage and the Family, and Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), which made no mention of Pope John Paul’s catechesis. Amid calls for a new paradigm of pastoral accompaniment, some have concluded that adherence to the moral law on marriage and sexual relations should be framed as an “ideal,” rather than a necessary precondition for reception of the Eucharist.

In 2017, Pope Francis suppressed the Rome-based John Paul II Institute and then “refounded” it, to expand course offerings and degrees that gave more weight to the social sciences in the study of marriage and the family.

It is not yet clear whether Archbishop Paglia has acted with the approval of Pope Francis or on his own authority. And some have raised the question: If Francis sought to advance his own distinctive pastoral methodology, why didn’t he build a parallel academic program, as John Paul opted to do when he founded his pontifical institute almost 40 years ago?

The issue now is whether a demoralized and “refounded” institute will continue to present and defend a vision of human freedom in which mercy, pastoral care and absolute commandments operate together. This was John Paul’s hope when he established the institute to advance his teachings, developed within the Tradition of the Church and honed over the many decades that he accompanied his flock through the crucible of totalitarian persecution. And the notion that his blueprint for human liberation has outlived its usefulness is beyond ludicrous.


14. Foster to Adopt: Parents Share Their Life-Changing Stories of the Gift of Family, Three examples of how reserves of love and energy expand to meet the needs of each child in need.

By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, August 9, 2019

Like many other Americans seeking to serve as foster and adoptive parents, the couple found they had untapped reserves of love and energy that expanded to meet the needs of each child who entered their home. And as they have grown more familiar with the foster-care system, they have been shocked by a brutal reality: Tens of thousands of fragile, traumatized children remain in the system for years, if not decades, yearning for “forever” parents who will love them.

At present, the official number of U.S. children in foster care has surged to 422,000, with the opioid crisis steadily pushing up that figure, according to the Fostering Success Foundation.

More than 100,000 children from this group are waiting to be adopted, while many more have been removed temporarily from their homes, with the expectation that their mothers and fathers will find the resolve and the support they need to conquer their problems and reunify their families. Children bound for foster care, foster care to adoption, or direct adoption are often classified separately.

But children temporarily removed from their family home might later become available for adoption if their parents fail to recover and their rights are terminated. Meanwhile, a child initially classified as “foster care for adoption” may be returned to his or her family if the case worker believes the biological parents have reformed.


15. Archbishop Naumann: Fighting abortion is ‘most important human rights effort of our time’.

By Jessica Able, The Catholic Herald (UK), August 9, 2019

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, told diocesan pro-life leaders gathered in Louisville on August 5-7 that they are part of the “most important human rights effort of our time and our age.”

Eighty-five directors of pro-life ministry from 63 dioceses around the country gathered for the Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference, sponsored by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. The theme of the conference was “Christ, Our Hope.”

Archbishop Naumann, chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, delivered the conference’s opening keynote address on August 5.

In the talk — titled “Life Will Be Victorious,” which also is his episcopal motto — he thanked the diocesan pro-life leaders for helping their bishops and dioceses “build a culture of life in this particular moment in time when the church is wounded by the clerical sexual abuse scandal; at a time of pro-life promise with the current composition of the US Supreme Court; and a time when supporters of legalized abortion are incredibly motivated and energized.”


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