1. Vatican Uses Donations For Poor to Fix Budget.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2019, Pg. A1

Every year, Catholics around the world donate tens of millions of dollars to the pope. Bishops exhort the faithful to support the weak and suffering through the pontiff’s main charitable appeal, called Peter’s Pence.

What the church doesn’t advertise is that most of that collection, valued at more than €50 million ($55 million) annually, goes toward plugging the hole in the Vatican’s own administrative budget, while as little as 10% is spent on charitable works, people familiar with the funds said.

The little-publicized breakdown of how the Holy See spends Peter’s Pence, known only among senior Vatican officials, is raising concern among some Catholic Church leaders that the faithful are being misled about the use of their donations, which could further hurt the credibility of the Vatican’s financial management under Pope Francis.


2. Planned Parenthood to open health centers at 50 Los Angeles high schools, Initiative to provide some services, not abortions, for at-risk teens.

By Ariana Cha, The Washington Post, December 12, 2019, Pg. A3

Planned Parenthood is pioneering a new model of reproductive health services for Los Angeles County teens by opening 50 clinics at area high schools. The program — announced Wednesday and launched in partnership with the school district and county health department — is believed to be the most ambitious effort in the country to bring these types of services to at-risk students in public schools.

The program, funded by an initial investment of $10 million from Los Angeles County and $6 million from Planned Parenthood over three years, will offer a full range of birth control options, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy counseling, but not abortion, for an estimated 75,000 teens. The program will also train hundreds of teens to be “peer advocates” to help provide information about safe sex and relationships.


3. Pope says that peace comes in a shade of green, or not at all.

By Elise Harris, Crux, December 12, 2019

In his continual effort to quell worldwide conflicts, Pope Francis Thursday chastised world leaders for lacking the will to make change, and also insisted true peace implies an “ecological conversion” or it won’t work.

In an annual message for the World Day of Peace, which is celebrated on Jan. 1, the pope implied that violence toward humanity and violence toward the planet go hand in hand.

“If a mistaken understanding of our own principles has at times led us to justify mistreating nature, to exercise tyranny over creation, to engage in war, injustice and acts of violence, we believers should acknowledge that by so doing we were not faithful to the treasures of wisdom which we have been called to protect and preserve,” he said.

Francis argued that the world is in need of “an ecological conversion” due both to the consequences of hostility toward one another and a lack of respect for the environment, often “seen only as a source of immediate profit, regardless of local communities, the common good and nature itself.”


4. ‘The Two Popes’ is a fun, if historically inaccurate, look at Francis and Benedict.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, December 12, 2019

“The Two Popes,” the latest attempt to tell the story of Pope Francis’s relationship with his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, is as much an imaginary conversation as an honest attempt to convey how the two leaders actually interacted.

The two-hour long film is, almost entirely, a two-hour conversation that takes place first in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo and then in the Sistine Chapel and adjacent “Room of Tears,” where the newly elected popes often get a few minutes of silent prayer before greeting the waiting crowds from the balcony in St. Peter’s Basilica overlooking the square.

Both settings, often used to portray the grandiosity of God and the Catholic Church, are a deep contrast with the incredibly human conversations, some of which take place over wine, pizza, Fanta – Benedict’s favorite soda – and a piano.

The film had a limited release in theaters Dec. 2 and will be available around the world on Netflix Dec. 20.

History is slightly re-written in this movie that claims to be “based on true events,” including the idea that then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio traveled to Rome to meet with Pope Benedict XVI only months before he resigned the See of Peter. However, much of the dialogue can be traced to actual papal speeches and documents, and some facts are interwoven into the narrative, blurring the lines of what’s real and what’s not.


5. Cities continue crusade against Catholic adoptions.

By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, The Washington Examiner, December 11, 2019, 11:37 AM

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is Legal Advisor for The Catholic Association Foundation and co-host of the podcast Conversations with Consequences.

The draconian application of state and local sexual orientation and gender identity anti-discrimination laws is pushing out groups with successful track records in serving our nation’s neediest children. Catholic foster care and adoption organizations in the District of Columbia, Boston, San Francisco, and Illinois have shut their doors rather than violate their church’s religious teaching on marriage.

Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia is fighting these ideological strong-arm tactics in federal court, and fighting for the needy kids it serves in the process. The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to decide whether to accept their case. Granting review would be the high court’s first step in protecting religious freedom for faith-based groups and the families that desire to work with them to offer stable and loving homes to kids in the most desperate circumstances. This would be an important step to redress a grave injustice in the City of Brotherly Love.

The legal issues in the Philly foster care case have a national significance that has only grown since then. Just last month, Pennsylvania joined Philadelphia in demanding that faith-based agencies choose between meeting to the needs of vulnerable children and honoring their deeply held religious beliefs on marriage and family. The state’s new religious intolerance comes at a time when trusted partners with decades of experience in foster care and adoption placements are desperately needed.

But the lawyers at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the religious liberty law firm known for its successful advocacy before the Supreme Court (Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor) and the lawyers representing CSS, placed an asterisk next to their applause for the new rule. The reason: Although the changes at the federal level were good, they said, state and local governments are not bound by them. Some are dead set on cutting ties with faith-based organizations holding fast to a traditional view of marriage.

The Supreme Court has the chance to address this by reviewing CSS’s case and ruling that the Constitution does not allow such invidious discrimination against faith-based organizations. It’s critical that champions of children such as CCS can continue finding loving homes for needy kids in a manner consistent with church teaching.


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