1. Pope posed to change line in Lord’s Prayer translation.

By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, December 12, 2018, Pg. A1

Pope Francis, showing once again his willingness to turn over liturgical tables, is expected to approve a change in the translation of the Lord’s Prayer, the famous biblical petition recited by Christians billions of times a day.

The Italian Episcopal Conference [CEI] has submitted the proposed change to the Vatican for approval, changing the line “lead us not into temptation” to “abandon us not when in temptation,” reported the Italian newswire service Ansa and the [U.K.] Express.

A year ago, the pope brought the issue to the forefront when he described the petition widely used for centuries in many languages, including English and Italian, as “not a good translation.”

“A father doesn’t do that, a father helps you to get up immediately,” Francis said in an interview on Italian television. “It’s Satan who leads us into temptation, that’s his department.”

Will the proposed version catch on? It may depend on which language you speak: The French bishops adopted such a change last year, and the Spanish translation, the one most familiar to the Argentina-born Francis, already reflects the concerns about who’s leading whom into temptation.


2. Freedom of Belief Bridges America’s Divides.

By William A. Galston, The Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2018, Pg. A17, Opinion

While polarization has disfigured the party system, signs of hope for American politics have emerged among the people. Throughout civil society, groups of concerned citizens have come together to bridge the divides. 

I’ve had the privilege of participating in several of these projects—most recently, a yearslong effort, convened by the Religious Freedom Institute and the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion, to restate the country’s commitment to freedom of religion and conscience, shared by Americans across a wide political and religious spectrum. After extended and sometimes difficult dialogue, agreement was reached on the American Charter of Freedom of Religion and Conscience, signed by 75 distinguished Americans and released in Washington Nov. 29.

The noteworthy features of this document begin with the title. By pairing religion and conscience, it acknowledges the imperative force that nontheistic moral worldviews play in the lives of many people, and it consciously echoes Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In practice, the charter observes, freedom of religion and conscience protects not only individuals but also groups brought together by shared beliefs and modes of devotion. It is a key element of freedom of association, the precondition for a robust civil society.

The charter insists that freedom of religion and conscience protects more than the inner beliefs of individuals and the ritual practices of communities. It extends, as well, to the public life of the nations. Individuals and communities must be able to bring their convictions to bear on public issues and to support public officials who share their convictions.


3. ‘Anti-Zionism’ Threatens Europe’s Jews, We keep hearing it isn’t the same as anti-Semitism, Even the EU knows better.

By Daniel Schwammenthal, The Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2018, Pg. A17, Commentary

‘Anti-Zionism isn’t the same as anti-Semitism,” we keep hearing. A new study suggests that for Jewish Europeans, the distinction is without a difference.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights polled some 16,500 Jews in 12 countries that account for 90% of the EU’s Jewish population. Eighty-five percent say anti-Semitism is a problem in their country, and 28% report having experienced anti-Semitic harassment in the preceding 12 months—including 37% of those “who wear, carry or display items in public that could identify them as Jewish.” As a result, 34% avoid visiting Jewish events or sites, and 38% have considered emigrating.

Those who reported being harassed were asked to describe the perpetrator of the most serious incident. Only 13% said it was “someone with a right-wing political view,” compared with 30% who cited extremist Muslim views and 21% left-wing political views.

The leftist counterargument is that anti-Zionism is a legitimate political position that has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. But anti-Zionists discriminate against the Jews alone among the peoples of the world and call for the Jewish state’s economic, cultural and academic boycott. What sense would it make to say: “I don’t think Ireland has a right to exist, but I’m not anti-Irish”?


4. The Return of Paganism, Maybe there actually is a genuinely post-Christian future for America.

By Ross Douthat, New York Times Online, December 12, 2018

Here are some generally agreed-upon facts about religious trends in the United States. Institutional Christianity has weakened drastically since the 1960s. Lots of people who once would have been lukewarm Christmas-and-Easter churchgoers now identify as having “no religion” or being “spiritual but not religious.” The mainline-Protestant establishment is an establishment no more. Religious belief and practice now polarizes our politics in a way they didn’t a few generations back.

What kind of general religious reality should be discerned from all these facts, though, is much more uncertain, and there are various plausible stories about what early-21st century Americans increasingly believe. The simplest of these is the secularization story — in which modern societies inevitably put away religious ideas as they advance in wealth and science and reason, and the decline of institutional religion is just a predictable feature of a general late-modern turn away from supernatural belief.

But the secularization narrative is insufficient, because even with America’s churches in decline, the religious impulse has hardly disappeared. In the early 2000s, over 40 percent of Americans answered with an emphatic “yes” when Gallup asked them if “a profound religious experience or awakening” had redirected their lives; that number had doubled since the 1960s, when institutional religion was more vigorous. A recent Pew survey on secularization likewise found increases in the share of Americans who have regular feelings of “spiritual peace and well-being.” And the resilience of religious impulses and rhetoric in contemporary political movements, even (or especially) on the officially secular left, is an obvious feature of our politics.


5. World Youth Day first testing ground for lessons of synod on young people.

By Claire Giangravè, Crux, December 12, 2018

Immigration, the environment and the role of women in the Catholic Church will be “central themes” at the 2019 World Youth Day, set to take place next month in Panama, which will be a primary testing ground for the principles laid out at the October summit of bishops on young people.

“The topic of migration will be central,” said Archbishop José Domingo Ulloa of Panama during a press conference in Rome organized by the ISCOM association, connected to the Pontifical University Holy Cross.

Beyond focusing on young people of course, the archbishop said World Youth Day will place a special emphasis on Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, and the doctrine of the Church.

The question of women in the Church will also be key, he added, because “one cannot conceive a church, surely the one in Latin America and especially the one in Central America, that is not kept together by women.”


6. Vatican, US Diverge on UN’s ‘Global Compact on Migration’.

By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, December 12, 2018

The Global Compact on Migration — a U.N.-prepared agreement aimed at bringing a more globally coordinated approach to international migration — was signed Dec. 10 by 164 governments, including the Holy See, which firmly backed the nonbinding treaty.

But the United States, along with Hungary, Japan and 26 other states, did not, believing it fails to deal effectively with the phenomenon and, in the view of many of the nations that declined to sign, undermines a nation’s sovereign right to decide how to protect its borders.

Addressing this week’s intergovernmental conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, where the agreement was signed, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Dec. 10 that the adoption of the Global Compact on Migration came at a “critical moment” in history.

Increasingly, he said, migration contains “adverse factors” that are forcing people to leave their homes, and these challenges have not been “managed well,” resulting in crises. These, in turn, can produce “rhetoric” that “can eclipse reason,” he continued, adding that migrants then end up being seen “more as threats than as brothers and sisters in need of solidarity and basic services.”

For this reason, Cardinal Parolin believes the Global Compact on Migration — also known as the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — is needed, to “assist the international community to prevent crises and tragedies,” while at the same time seeking to “improve the governance of migration.”


7. Trump signs law to aid Christians in Iraq, Syria.

By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency, December 11, 2018, 4:01 PM

President Donald Trump signed into law Tuesday the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act, which seeks to ensure US aid reaches Christian and Yazidi genocide victims.

The bill was passed unanimously in the House Nov. 27, and in the Senate Oct. 11.

This bill was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), and the lead Democratic sponsor was Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA). This was Smith’s second attempt at getting the bill signed into law, and altogether it took 17 months for this bill to be passed.   

Trump was joined at the Dec. 11 signing by Vice President Mike Pence, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus Carl Anderson, Smith, Eshoo, Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, and many others.

Trump said it was a “great honor” to sign H.R. 390 into law, and remarked that his administration has had great success in fighting Islamic State. The group has lost nearly all of its territory since its peak in 2015.

“This bill continues my administration’s efforts to direct US assistance for persecuted communities including through faith-based programs,” he said.