1. Martyrdom causes of 5 Iraqis to be presented to Vatican in early September.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, August 27, 2019

Aziz Ganni, Hanna Isho’a, and two other subdeacons, Bassman Yousef and Gassan Issam Bidawid, were murdered by four gunmen, self-identified as Ansar Al-suna, an Islamic fundamentalist group that would later become the Islamic State group.

The gunmen who attacked them killed Ganni and Yousef. When the other two men went to their aid, “as they fell in a pool of their own blood,” shots were fired again. Balah and her husband ducked down, but the gunmen opened fired on them, all the time shouting ‘Allah Akbar!’ (God is Great).

She’s the lone survivor, and the lone witness to the massacre. Today she lives as a refugee in Australia.

The small yet resilient Catholic community has survived decades of persecution in Iraq, and the people hope the recognition will come soon. They also want it to be a gift that is “hand delivered” by Pope Francis, who they hope will visit the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq next year.

Crux has learned that the investigation into the cause of the four martyrs will be handed to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the first week of September. Once there, the speed of the case depends on the Vatican bureaucracy.


2. New Abu Dhabi committee aims to counter ‘clash of civilizations’.

By Elise Harris, Crux, August 27, 2019

When American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington predicted in the 1990s that post-Cold War global conflicts would be defined by a “clash of civilizations,” with people’s cultural and religious beliefs forming the center of violent dispute, he likely couldn’t have foreseen exactly how eerily prescient his prediction would seem given the current international climate.

Yet in the view of one Vatican official, it is exactly this dynamic that Pope Francis and key Muslim leaders, as well as members of a new Higher Committee for interreligious tolerance in the United Arab Emirates, are trying to curb through increased dialogue.

In an Aug. 26 interview with Vatican News, the official news site for the Vatican, Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, head of the Vatican Council for Interreligious Dialogue, spoke of the impact the committee, charged with implementing a joint-declaration signed by Pope Francis and Ahmed El Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar University, could have.

Whether the committee will have a long-term effect beyond mere politicking is yet to be seen, however, for those involved, just having the shot at making a difference is an opportunity not to be squandered.


3. Planned Parenthood, ACLU ask judge to block Missouri abortion ban.

By Rachel Frazin, The Hill Online, August 26, 2019, 9:20 AM

Opponents of a Missouri abortion ban will head to court Monday to ask a judge to prevent the ban from going into effect this week.

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will ask U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs to block the legislation, which bans abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy, according to The Associated Press.


4. Cardinal Pell to appeal to Australian High Court.

By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency, August 26, 2019, 10:05 AM

Cardinal George Pell will appeal his conviction to the Australian High Court, following the decision last week by the Court of Appeal in Victoria to uphold his conviction for child sexual abuse.

Sources close to the cardinal told CNA Aug. 26 that Pell would be exercising his final appeal and that, while the majority of “special leave to appeal” cases were not granted by the High Court, his case would likely be accepted given the controversy triggered by the split decision of the Appeal Court judgement.

In seeking to take his case to the High Court in Canberra, Australia’s supreme court, Pell will be exercising his last legal avenue to overturn a conviction which has divided opinion in the country and internationally.


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