1. America Needs Catholicism, By Matthew Walther, The New York Times, August 1, 2021, Pg. SR5, Opinion

Matthew Walther is the editor of The Lamp, a Catholic literary journal, and a contributing editor at The American Conservative.

Instead of commentary informed by the official teachings of the Catholic Church, much of what issues from the American Catholic press on the subject of race relations is indistinguishable from the competing perspectives on offer in secular media, with some Catholic liberals uncritically endorsing organizations such as Black Lives Matter, which has called for the displacement of the traditional nuclear family, and some on the right employing casuistry in defense of Mr. Floyd’s murder. This is the case despite the fact that on race and so many other issues, it is clear that distinctly Catholic positions — which is to say, responses formed by papal encyclicals, the lives and writings of the saints, the traditions of academic theology and natural law philosophy — do not line up with the mainstream of either progressive or conservative opinion in this country.

While it is certainly true that the relative weight assigned to each of these issues by individuals within the American episcopate varies, even the most “conservative” and “liberal” bishops are more likely to agree with one another than they are with prominent politicians in either of our two major political parties.

A Catholic culture worthy of the name would be a catholic one — which is to say, it would be capacious in spirit. It would model virtues such as gregariousness, intellectual curiosity and munificence. It would offer an unapologetic defense of leisure and innocent entertainment by showing us the innate worthiness of everything from public barbecue grills and minor league baseball to regional theater companies and the miracle of hi-fi recording.



2. In the Andes, Prayers To ‘Doctor of the Poor’ Unite the FaithfulBy Isayen Herrera and Meridith Kohut, The New York Times, August 1, 2021, Pg. A10


A motorcycle crash had caused severe head trauma, and the boy’s medical team did not expect him to survive. If he defied the odds and lived, he faced a 95 percent probability of permanent brain damage.


Terrified that his son would die, Mr. Vásquez drove his pickup truck to the tiny town of Isnotú to pray before the large white marble statue of Dr. José Gregorio Hernández, known nationwide as Venezuela’s “Doctor of the Poor.”


Local Catholic leaders began petitioning the Vatican in 1949 to put Dr. Hernández on the path to sainthood. During the decades-long wait for the Vatican to beatify the doctor, many Venezuelans were lighting candles in his name and placing images of him on their personal altars. To them, he was already a saint.


In 1986, the Vatican declared Dr. Hernández “venerable,” a necessary step on the path toward sainthood.


A decade after that, exasperated Venezuelans presented Pope John Paul II with a petition signed by five million people, urging him to hurry along the process of beatification. But it wasn’t until last summer, a century after his death, that Pope Francis finally declared Dr. Hernández qualified.




3. Mississippi Explains It All on Abortion, By Linda Greenhouse, The New York Times, August 1, 2021, Pg. SR5, Opinion

Attorney General Lynn Fitch of Mississippi made nationwide news last week when she asked the Supreme Court to overturn its two leading precedents on the right to abortion, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. I was puzzled by the treatment of this filing as news, unless the news was that a state finally came clean with the court and told the justices what it really wanted them to do.

What Mississippi’s brief has done is make it impossible for the court to place any kind of fig leaf over a ruling in the state’s favor. To uphold a pre-viability abortion ban is to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. It’s that simple. And for once, a state is saying yes, that’s exactly what it wants.



4. Pope’s ‘August surprise’ could be most counter-cultural stand of all, By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, August 1, 2021

In American politics, the term “October surprise” refers to the possibility that an incumbent president trailing in the polls may use executive authority to try to shake up the race late in game. Going to war would be the classic scenario, but it could also be some major economic, social or foreign policy twist.

Popes, of course, don’t have to stand for reelection, yet every year Pope Francis nonetheless has delivered what we might call an “August surprise” – doing or saying something that shakes up the status quo.

The surprise usually isn’t so much whatever the pope did, but the fact he’s doing anything at all during a month when Italians are trained from birth to believe they have a natural law right to an undisturbed vacation.

Not so, however, with Pope Francis himself. Of all the ways in which this Argentine pontiff has shown himself to be a break-the-mold maverick, his penchant for August surprise may be the most counter-cultural of all … at least measured by the standards of Italian culture, where the pope’s obliviousness to ferragosto presents a classic case of an irresistible force colliding with an immovable object.



5. 5 Ways to Imitate St. Ignatius, as He Imitated St. Francis and St. Dominic, By Father Roger Landry, National Catholic Register, July 31, 2021

Fr. Roger J. Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts and the National Chaplain of Catholic Voices USA.

The most memorable Christmas present I’ve received was not from Santa during my infancy, or sneakers, sports equipment or gadgets from my folks during my adolescence. It was the four-volume Butler’s Lives of the Saints my parents got me for Christmas when I was a college freshman that I read nightly for about five years and still have with me at my bedside.

Reading the inspiring stories of the great heroes and heroines of the faith each night helped me to discover more clearly my vocation not just to the priesthood but to Christian holiness, to purify and recalibrate my ambitions and to commit to the means to achieve them.

When people approach me asking for recommendations for good spiritual reading, I often suggest titles to help them grow in prayer and in the integration of their relationship with God into daily life. I always encourage them, however, “every other book,” to read the life of a saint, because hagiography is easier to read — and irresistibly attracts and inspires us toward greater contemplation, unity of life and generosity.

The most famous example of the impact reading the lives of the saints can have occurred 500 years ago this year. A 30-year-old Basque soldier had his right leg shattered and left calf torn off by a cannonball during the May 20, 1521, Battle of Pamplona. Spiritually, however, the projectile was shot straight from Damascus. Iñigo López de Oñaz y Loyola’s stoutheartedness on the battlefield was magnified when his leg needed to be reset multiple times and a large protruding bone spur needed to be sawed off, to which he consented without anesthesia or complaint.



6. Colorado Appellate Court Curbs Web Designer’s Freedom, By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, National Catholic Register, July 31, 2021, Commentary

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is a legal analyst for EWTN News.

The internet should be a place where freedom of speech thrives. The state of Colorado, however, refuses to afford this freedom to a Christian web designer. In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that Lorie Smith and her website design company, 303 Creative, must create websites for same-sex weddings even though doing so conflicts with her religious views. The decision is grossly unjust and cries out to the Supreme Court for its reversal.

Concerned that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) would force her to create messages with which she disagreed, Smith filed a preenforcement lawsuit in federal court in 2016. She challenged two CADA clauses, alleging they violate the First Amendment guarantees to free speech and religious exercise. The first, the “Accommodation Clause,” makes it unlawful for a business to refuse the full and equal enjoyment of services to someone because of their sexual orientation. A second clause, the “Communication Clause,” makes it unlawful to publish any communication indicating that service will be refused or that a person’s patronage or presence will be unwelcome due to sexual orientation.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the same law firm that successfully represented Colorado baker Jack Phillips in the Supreme Court, is representing Smith.

Two judges on a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit rejected Smith’s suit. Judge Mary Beck Briscoe, joined by Judge Michael Murphy, wrote for the panel’s majority. As an initial matter, they wisely reversed the lower court and held that Smith had standing to challenge the Accommodation Clause. Briscoe found “nothing ‘imaginary or speculative’ about Appellants’ apprehensions that they may violate CADA if they offer wedding-based services in the manner that they intend.”



7. Catholics ask Cardinal Gregory to reconsider cancelation of Tridentine Mass at National Shrine, By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, July 31, 2021

The organizers of an Aug. 14 Tridentine Mass in Washington, D.C. – canceled per new papal restrictions on traditional liturgies – asked the Archbishop of Washington this week to reinstate the Mass. In response, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington reaffirmed his original decision to rescind permission for the Mass.

On Tuesday evening, CNA reported that a solemn pontifical Mass scheduled for Aug. 14 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. had been cancelled, after Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington withdrew his permission for the Mass.

On July 29, the Paulus Institute, which organized the Mass, wrote to Cardinal Gregory asking him to reinstate the scheduled Mass by Monday, Aug. 2, “in the interests of the unity of the universal Church.”

Citing the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the sacred liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, the institute said that “the Usus Antiquior, is a millennial treasure of the sacred Deposit of the Faith—and as such is a right enjoyed by entitlement by the Catholic faithful.



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