1. Pope insists opening on civilly divorced has church backing, By Associated Press, December 7, 2016, 7:49 AM.

Pope Francis is insisting that his opening to letting civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion has the backing of the majority of the world’s bishops.

In an interview Wednesday with the Belgian Catholic weekly Tertio, Francis said his 2016 document “The Joy of Love” — which contains the opening — was the fruit of two meetings of bishops. He said: “It is interesting that all that (the document) contains, it was approved in the Synod by more than two thirds of the fathers. And this is a guarantee.”

Conservative Catholics have voiced increasing concern that Francis’ opening was sowing confusion about church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. The debate has been stoked by the recent publication of a letter by four conservative cardinals asking Francis to clarify his position.


2. Protecting Reproductive Rights Under Donald Trump, By The Editorial Board, The New York Times, December 7, 2016, Pg. A28, Opinion.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump sent mixed messages about his position on reproductive rights. Whatever his personal opinion may be, his appointees and their actions could put reproductive health care out of reach for millions of women, especially those living in poverty.

Mr. Trump has promised to appoint a Supreme Court justice who opposes Roe v. Wade, but overturning that decision would be a long process, probably requiring two new justices. Even without that change, there are many potent ways to restrict reproductive rights — including not defending them against legal attack.

If Jeff Sessions, who opposes abortion, is confirmed as attorney general, the Justice Department is unlikely to defend reproductive rights. While the fate of the Affordable Care Act rests with Congress, the Justice Department could stop fighting lawsuits challenging the contraceptive coverage requirement. Under Mr. Sessions, it could stop enforcing the FACE Act, leaving abortion providers with little recourse if anti-abortion extremists threaten patients or doctors or obstruct clinic entrances.

While the picture is bleak, there are ways states can ameliorate the harm. State legislatures can require that insurers cover birth control without a co-pay; four states already have such a requirement. States can protect family planning by increasing their support for these programs. The Montana Legislature did so last year with a bipartisan bill that moved federal family-planning funds into an account controlled by the state health department, making it harder for future legislators to cut them. And states can pass their own clinic safety laws to protect women and abortion providers.


3. Church Leaders Respond to the ‘Dubia’, By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, December 6, 2016.

While Pope Francis has declined to reply to the formal request for clarification of Amoris Laetitia, some cardinals and bishops have responded publicly.

Since the Dubia were published, Pope Francis has reacted only in an indirect way, saying in a recent interview that “certain responses” to Amoris Laetitia “persist in seeing only white or black, when, rather, one ought to discern in the flow of life.” He also said such opposition can derive from “bad spirit” or psychological defects that foster division and argued that such thinking showed a lack of understanding about how the Holy Spirit has been working in the Church since the Second Vatican Council. 

Varied and sometimes heated reactions have ensued from other Church leaders, although most cardinals and bishops have chosen to remain silent publicly, neither supporting the cardinals’ wish to uphold previous Church teaching, nor backing those who have said the document opens the door to radical changes.

The Register has contacted approximately 20 cardinals and bishops in the Curia and in the wider Church, some of whom have been vocally supportive of Amoris Laetitia, as well as others known to be concerned about its content or the confusion it has generated.
Almost all of them either didn’t respond said they were too busy or politely declined. 

Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, a close confidant of the Pope who, at the time of the publication of the Dubia, published a torrent of tweets insisting Amoris Laetitia is magisterial, and retweeted a comment mocking the cardinals from an account he had created in a different name, also declined comment when contacted by the Register. Father Spadaro, who is editor of the influential Jesuit periodical La Civilta Cattolicà, also wrote an op-ed for CNN saying the Pope never blocks dialogue if it is “loyal and motivated by the good of the Church.” It is different, he added, for those who “use criticism for other purposes or ask questions in order to create difficulty and division.” Amoris Laetitia is only “the mature fruit of Francis’ reflection, after listening to everyone and reading the synod’s final document,” Father Spadaro added.
Father Spadaro declined a request from the Register for additional clarification, but he reiterated that Amoris Laetitia is “the mature fruit of the synod” in an interview published by Crux on Dec. 4.


4. Pope: “God’s tenderness is our salvation”, By Vatican Radio, December 6, 2016.

He who does not know the tenderness of God does not know the Christian doctrine.  This was the concept at the core of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, a homily focused largely on the figure of Judas.

Taking his cue from the Gospel reading of the day which recounts the Parable of the lost sheep, Pope Francis spoke of how the Lord never stops looking for us.

Describing the Lord as a kind of a judge, a judge who caresses and is full of tenderness, he said God does everything to save us.

“Judas is the most perfect lost sheep in the Gospel: a man with a bitter heart, someone who always had something to criticize in others, he was always ‘detached’.  He did not know the sweetness that comes of living without second ends with others. He was an unsatisfied man!” he said.

The Pope said that because of the darkness in his heart Judas was separated from the herd. He said – more in general – that darkness can lead to living a double life: “a double life that, perhaps painfully, many Christians, even priests and bishops lead…”

The Pope went on to explain that is not so much a mistake but a disease of the heart that makes a sheep wander and he said it is something the devil exploits.