1. Opinion, Soros’ Catholic useful idiots, Faith-based groups stray when accepting progressive cash, By Robert A. Sirico. The Washington Times, August 31, 2016, Pg. B3.

Father Robert A. Sirico is president of the Acton Institute

A most remarkable set of documents was coughed up recently by WikiLeaks. George Soros‘ Open Society Policy Center, it turns out, made donations to two faith-based organizations to the tune of $650,000. Initially, this might cause one to think that perhaps Mr. Soros has finally gotten religion. But, no. Digging deeper, one discovers the motivation for the philanthropy (if you want to call it that), is far more banal: politics.

On their surface, the donations seem benign. As the president of a less-activist and nonpartisan group, I understand that it takes money to disseminate an organization’s ideas to people of faith. What’s disconcerting is the crass political intention to manipulate church leaders that is evident from the leaked documents. One gets the impression that Mr. Soros and his fellow travelers view the leadership of the religious community generally and the Catholic Church in particular as mere useful idiots to be manipulated to further their own political and, frankly, secularist agenda.

Despite this, the social justice warriors at Faith in Public Life and PICO apparently harbor no moral qualms about receiving money from sources that, judging by Mr. Soros‘ various charitable enterprises, see the Catholic Church and other traditional religious groups as a great part of the social problem they seek to eradicate. According to the leaked documents, a portion of the Soros gift was spent promoting John Gehring, a former assistant media director at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as a commentator to media national media outlets.


2. He’s Not “Turning his Back to the People”, By George Weigel. First Things, August 31, 2016.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, caused a rumpus earlier this summer by proposing to a meeting of liturgists in London that the Catholic Church return to the practice of priest and people praying in the same direction during the Liturgy of the Eucharist: a change in liturgical “orientation” the cardinal described as the entire congregation looking together toward the Lord who is to come. Cardinal Sarah further proposed that bishops and priests consider implementing this change on the First Sunday of Advent this year, during the liturgical season in which expectations of the Lord’s return in glory are prominent.

As readers of Evangelical Catholicism, my book on deep reform in the 21st-century Church, will remember, I proposed just such a change in the orientation of celebrant and congregation during the Liturgy of the Eucharist: Priest and people would face each other during the Liturgy of the Word; celebrant and congregation would then pray together, facing the same direction, throughout the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This seemed a good “reform of the liturgical reform” to me on three counts.


3. The ABA’s Attempt to Muzzle Lawyers, By Stephen M. Krason. Crisis Magazine, August 31, 2016.

We hear more and more about the attack on conscience rights in the health care and counseling professions: the Obama administration early on moved to reverse federal protections from health care workers having to take part in morally objectionable procedures; Washington State’s requirement (sustained by the U.S. Supreme Court) that pharmacies sell abortifacients; the new Illinois law requiring health care providers who object to taking part in abortions to inform women where they can get them (effectively demanding a pro-life referral service for the abortion industry); and states like New Jersey forbidding counselors to try to help minors to overcome same-sex attraction when they and their parents seek such help (homosexualist organizations even want to ban such therapy outright). Now, we have brewing a substantial attack on the free speech rights of lawyers across the country.

In his well-known blog, “The Volokh Conspiracy,” UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh has recently written about a disturbing new American Bar Association addition to its Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which it recommends to the state bars that actually regulate the legal profession and which they have widely adopted. The new rule asserts that it is “professional misconduct” for lawyers to engage in conduct in any way “related to the practice of law”—he says that what this means is open-ended—which constitutes “harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status.” While the ABA claims that this does not preclude “legitimate advice or advocacy,” Volokh says that is hardly reassuring. Apparently having in mind how the left has increasingly tried to shut down even speech that makes people “feel uncomfortable” often just because they disagree with it and has viewed criticism of the actions or views of some members of certain demographic groups as a biased attack on the group itself, Volokh argues that this provision could easily be used in an array of insidious, repressive ways.


4. Pope Francis creates new Vatican office for integral human development, By Elise Harris. Catholic News Agency, August 31, 2016, 4:00 AM.

On Wednesday the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ decision to form a new mega-dicastery merging the Vatican offices for Justice and Peace, Migrants, charity and healthcare.

Dedicated to “Promoting Integral Human Development,” the new department – also called a dicastery – was announced in an Aug. 31 communique from the Vatican.

The announcement was accompanied by the Motu Proprio “Humanam progressionem,” meaning “Human Development,” by which Pope Francis formally established the dicastery “Promoting Integral Human Development.”

Set to take effect Jan. 1, 2017, the new congregation will take on the tasks of the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, Cor Unum, and Healthcare Workers.


5. A ‘Catholic problem’ for Trump? It’s hard to say, actually, By Matt Hadro. Catholic News Agency, August 30, 2016, 4:23 PM.

With some recent election polls showing Hillary Clinton with a large lead over Donald Trump among Catholics, does Trump have a “Catholic problem” as some are saying he does?

“It’s another data point that shows how difficult it’s going to be for Trump to win in November,” Dr. Matthew Green, a politics professor at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., said of the poll numbers. “It’s increasingly looking dire for the Trump campaign.”

However, Dr. Mark Gray of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University cautioned against reading too much into those polls. “For now be wary of claims either candidate has a ‘Catholic problem’,” he wrote in a blog post on the matter. “We have too little data and what we do have presents a mixed picture.”

Recent Washington Post-ABC News poll numbers show Hillary Clinton with a commanding 27-point lead over Trump among Catholics. Other recent numbers – like from the Public Religion Research Institute – show Clinton winning much of the Catholic vote, including the vast majority of Hispanic Catholics.


6. ‘I was sure that it was Mother Teresa who healed me’, By Elise Harris. Catholic News Agency, August 30, 2016, 3:04 AM.

The Brazilian man who received the miracle allowing for Mother Teresa’s canonization has shared his story, saying he and his wife were ordinary believers who received an extraordinary sign of God’s mercy.

“From the beginning, the diagnoses weren’t good and they seemed only worse. (But) from that moment, inside this great suffering, we understood that something had happened,” Marcilio Haddad Andrino said of his miraculous healing.

“I was sure that it was Mother Teresa who healed me.”

Andrino, who comes from Santos, Brazil, was healed through the intercession of Mother Teresa – the miracle that paved the way for her canonization, which is set for Sept. 4.


7. Your own personal guided tour of Mother Teresa’s Rome, By Inés San Martín, Vatican Correspondent. Crux, August 30, 2016.

In the days leading up to the Sept. 4 canonization of Mother Teresa, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from around the world will gather in Rome to celebrate one of the greatest Catholic saints of the 20th century.

For many, it may be their one and only chance to see the Eternal City, which is the reason why on Monday, Crux’s weekly radio show, “The Crux of the Matter,” on the Catholic Channel Sirius XM 129 spoke to Elisabeth Lev, an American-born art historian who knows the secrets of Rome like few others.

Although she described it as an “interesting challenge,” her selection of destinations is worth printing out and turning into a to-do list  if you’re among those coming over to Rome this week or if you’re planning a future visit.