1. Pope Francis to visit to Myanmar, Bangladesh this year. 

By Associated Press, August 28, 2017, 5:55 AM

Catholic authorities in Myanmar and the Vatican announced Monday that Pope Francis will visit Myanmar and Bangladesh starting at the end of November.

The announcement by the Vatican’s press office said the pope will visit the cities of Yangon and Naypyitaw, the capital, during his Nov. 27-30 trip to Myanmar, and Dhaka during his Nov. 30-Dec. 2 visit to Bangladesh.

It will be the first trip by a pope to Myanmar, which is predominantly Buddhist. Pope John Paul II in 1986 visited Bangladesh, a mainly Muslim country.

The pope’s visit to Myanmar comes at a delicate time, with communal tensions between the Buddhist majority and the Muslim Rohingya ethnic majority flaring last week with clashes between the army and Rohingya insurgents. Advocates from the Rohingya say the army is attacking Rohingya villages and driving thousands to flee.

The pope is likely to receive criticism from several sides for his plan to visit Myanmar. Advocates for the Rohingya may feel his visit lends legitimacy to a government some believe is committing genocide, while the vocal Buddhist nationalist community that feels the Rohingya don’t belong in the country will be unhappy with his sympathy for them.

The Vatican in its announcement said the motto of the pope’s trip to Myanmar is love and peace, reflecting the pope’s intention to promote both during his visit.


2. Court rules against Planned Parenthood Arkansas can kick provider off Medicaid.

By Alex Swoyer, The Washington Times, August 28, 2017, Pg. A4

Planned Parenthood had been on a legal winning streak, piling up decisions from judges who have ruled that states can’t stop the country’s largest abortion clinic network from receiving federal grant money.

But they suffered a major setback last week when a federal appeals court ruled that Arkansas can kick Planned Parenthood out of its network of Medicaid-approved health providers.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Medicaid recipients are entitled to care, but cannot dictate to the states where they get that care — meaning Planned Parenthood customers can’t protest the removal of the network from Arkansas’s list of approved clinics.

Planned Parenthood can still protest its removal through the regular administrative process, but its customers can’t force it to be added back into the mix of medical services providers, the court said in the 2-1 ruling.

That’s at odds with rulings in a number of other appeals courts, which said the Medicaid Act prohibits states from cutting out providers without giving sufficient cause.


3. Pope laments “persecutions” of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

By Associated Press, August 27, 2017, 7:17 AM

Pope Francis is decrying persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and praying they receive “full rights.”

The pontiff said Sunday there was “sad news about the persecution of the religious minority of our Rohingya brothers.”

Thousands of Rohingya are trying to flee into Bangladesh after escalated deadly violence at home. Last week, Rohingya militants attacked police and border outposts, and security forces responded.


4. Let Church teaching pervade your work, Pope Francis tells Catholic politicians.

By Catholic News Agency, August 27, 2017, 12:51 PM

Pope Francis received a group of Catholic lawmakers from around the world on Sunday, telling them their work must build bridges with others and bring Catholic teaching into public life.

“As long as the contribution of the Church to the great questions of society in our time can be put into discussion,” he said, “it is vital that your commitment be constantly pervaded by her moral and social teachings, in order to build a more humane and just society.”

“The laws that you promulgate and apply ought to build bridges between different political perspectives: even when they respond to precise ends ordered to the promotion of greater care for the defenseless and the marginalized, especially the many who are constrained to leave their countries; and when they are in order to favor a correct human and natural ecology,” said the Pope, according to Vatican Radio.

The lawmakers were in Rome for a meeting of the International Catholic Legislators Network. The network aims to  bring together Catholic lawmakers to discuss common concerns and to share ideas about bringing their faith to their work.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna and British parliamentarian Lord David Alton founded the network in 2010.


5. On popes and the problem with preemptive resignation.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, August 27, 2017

Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who’s now 83 and who’s held just about every Vatican position there is at one point or another over his long career, revealed this week that St. John Paul II once showed him two letters of resignation Pope Paul VI had left behind in case he was struck by a disabling condition, and was incapable of acting to spare the Church the paralysis that would otherwise ensue.

“Paul VI was worried about a possible future disability, a grave impediment that wouldn’t allow him to carry out his ministry,” Re said, “and he wanted to be ready.”

Note that this is an entirely different case from the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in February 2013, because Benedict was perfectly in control of his faculties when he stepped down. What Paul VI was thinking about was a situation in which a pope might have a stroke, for instance, and slip into a coma, and thus would still be alive but incapable of acting on his own.

The problem is, back then canon lawyers went around and around about whether such a preemptive resignation letter would even be valid under the terms of The Code of Canon Law, and that debate was never really resolved.

The principal article of Church law governing papal resignation is canon 332: “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity only that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.”

The key word, according to many canon lawyers, is “freely.” In the eyes of some, that means not just in the moment in which a resignation letter is written, but when it takes effect. If a pope is in a coma, how do we know that it remains his free choice to resign then?

Maybe what we need is a blue-ribbon commission of canon lawyers and other experts, impaneled by the pope himself, to find a way out of the conundrum. In the absence of such a step, it seems, we’re sort of like people driving around without collision coverage – gambling that something awful won’t happen, but in the back of our minds, always knowing that it could.


6. Vatican No. 2: Anti-pope jihadist attack threat is worrying.

By Associated Press, August 26, 2017

Pope Francis’ top aide says a pro-Islamic State group video that targets the pope is worrying but notes Vatican security is already at a high level.

Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See’s No. 2 official, told reporters Saturday that a day earlier he had seen the video, which indicates the pope is a target. Recently, another video, transmitted on the pro-IS Telegram channel, suggested that Italy is the next target of an extremist attack.

Parolin said: “Obviously, one cannot help but worry, above all for the senseless hatred that it is.” But he said the Vatican hasn’t added more measures to its already high security.

The Vatican, headquarters of the Catholic church, and Italy have been indicated previously as possible targets of Islamist extremism.