1. Metro is being a Scrooge this Christmas.

By Ashley McGuire Ashley McGuire is a senior fellow with The Catholic Association and the author of Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female, The Washington Post, December 11, 2017, 3:25 PM

Step aside Ebenezer, there’s a new Scrooge in town. This Advent, the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., was forced to sue the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority after the agency rejected the archdiocese’s Christmas ad for Metro trains and buses. Last Friday, the district court ruled against the archdiocese.

According to the WMATA, the archdiocese’s annual “Find the Perfect Gift” ad campaign, which encourages people to head to church during the Advent and Christmas season, violates WMATA’s advertising guidelines because the ad “depicts a religious scene” (the nativity) “and thus seeks to promote religion.” No kidding.

WMATA’s rejection, however, is unconstitutional. To explicitly discriminate against a religious group’s speech is not neutral; it is actively selecting the speech and expression of one faith group and stifling it. Or, as archdiocese attorney Paul Clement put it, “The government may not allow a wide variety of speech in a forum and then turn around and deny the Archdiocese access because of the religious nature of its speech.”

As another Advent and Christmas season begin, Christians celebrate the birth of the Christ child against many odds. Increasingly, we celebrate the survival of our right to do so in public, against many odds. Including, this year, the Scrooges at the WMATA.


2. Can we give reporters a break on the pope and the Lord’s Prayer?

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, December 12, 2017

The point is that the more you know about a subject, the less likely you are to be satisfied with general-interest reporting on that topic. It’s almost always going to strike you as superficial, ill-informed, and sometimes even downright embarrassing.

In a nutshell, Francis commented on the line “lead us not into temptation” in the English version of the prayer, saying he doesn’t care for it. Here’s a sampling of the headlines we saw from major secular news outlets:

“Pope Francis suggests rewording the Lord’s Prayer” (Los Angeles Times)
“Pope Francis proposes change to the Lord’s Prayer” (New York Daily News)
“Pope Francis calls for Lord’s Prayer to be changed” (The Independent)

Anyone who knows the score would look at those headlines and let loose a sigh of despair. (What they do next is a sort of personality test – most of us would just shrug and move on, but a cranky few would start firing off snarky tweets.)

The problem, of course, is that each of those headlines is fundamentally inaccurate. This pope, and almost certainly no pope ever, would propose changing a prayer that comes from Jesus himself and is at the very core of the Christian faith.

What Francis was talking about instead is a change to the translation of the Lord’s Prayer in English, based upon the phrasing in certain other languages.

Further, Francis wasn’t “proposing” anything either, in the sense of an already formulated and worked-out idea being laid before some decision-making body with the authority to make such a decision.

It probably would be more accurate to say that Pope Francis was thinking out loud, reflecting on the way the Our Father is translated. His beef was that the English version of “lead us not into temptation” could be understood to mean that God causes people to sin, or at least induces us into it.

Instead, he suggested a wider use of the new translation adopted by the French church on Dec. 3, which says, “Do not let us fall into temptation.” Presumably, the idea is that such a formula better captures the idea that when sin occurs, it’s the result of the free will of a human being, not God’s cajoling us into it.

So, yes, there’s probably less than meets the eye here, and yes, some mediaoutlets may have glossed over those nuances. On the other hand, just this once, we might try not to be the guy in the boat, and to give always-overtaxed reporters a break … probably, most of the time, the news, especially when it comes to something as complicated as the Catholic Church, is always going to be a “nuance-optional” business.


3. Religious leaders reach deep into teachings to preach against Republican tax plans.

By David Sherfinski, The Washington Times, December 12, 2017, Pg. A1

The debate about tax rates and income numbers has taken on pointedly religious overtones, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, citing Pope Francis and St. Augustine in attacking the bill and saying it would signify Armageddon.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a lengthy attack on the tax bill, adopting most of Democrats’ predictions and criticisms of the Republicans’ plans to cut tax rates on most Americans.

“Raising taxes on the working poor is not going to help our country — certainly help the poor — in the long run,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, the chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. “Even in the short run, it’s not going to help.”

The Republican tax plans, which House and Senate negotiators are finalizing, provide an immediate tax cut, on average, to people across all income levels in the short run, according to independent analyses.

Several studies have said the wealthy will pay a larger share of the federal tax burden under the Republican legislation, but religious leaders rejected those findings.

Patrick Purtill, director of legislative affairs for Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, urged religious leaders looking at the tax bills to focus on items such as an expanded child tax credit, which he said will be a boon to low- and middle-income families.

“The bishops are well within their rights to state their opinions on public policy,” he said. “Speaking as a Catholic myself … when the bishops speak on taxes, it’s an opinion to be taken [account] of, but it’s not Catholic doctrine. It’s not dogma.”


4. Pope Francis: Health care is part of the Church’s mission.

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, December 11, 2017

Just as Jesus healed people during his earthly mission, care for the sick is a mission the entire Church is called to take part in, Pope Francis said in a message published Monday for the World Day of the Sick.

“Jesus bestowed upon the Church his healing power…The Church’s mission is a response to Jesus’ gift, for she knows that she must bring to the sick the Lord’s own gaze, full of tenderness and compassion,” the pope wrote.

“Health care ministry will always be a necessary and fundamental task, to be carried out with renewed enthusiasm by all, from parish communities to the largest healthcare institutions,” Francis said.

“Doctors and nurses, priests, consecrated men and women, volunteers, families and all those who care for the sick, take part in this ecclesial mission.”

The World Day of the Sick will be celebrated Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018, with the theme: “Mater Ecclesiae: ‘Behold, your son… Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home (John 19:26-27).”