1. Pope, Candid and Blunt, Breaks Some Taboos in Visit to Persian Gulf.

By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, February 5, 2019, Pg. A4

Pope Francis used the keynote address of his roughly 40-hour stay in the United Arab Emirates to breach delicate taboos on Monday, specifically mentioning Yemen, where his hosts are engaged in a brutal war, and calling on countries throughout the Gulf region to extend citizenship rights to religious minorities.

The remarks by Francis were exceptionally candid for a pope who as a general rule does not criticize the country that hosts him and avoids drawing undue attention to the issues that its rulers would rather not discuss. Rather, he often weighs in diplomatically before landing in the country, or waits until he crosses the border to the next.

But on Monday, during the first visit by a pope to the Arabian Peninsula, where Islam was born, Francis was blunt in a speech before hundreds of leaders from a broad array of faiths on a day used to underscore the need for humanity to stop committing violence in the name of religion.

“Human fraternity requires of us, as representatives of the world’s religions, the duty to reject every nuance of approval from the word ‘war,’” Francis said at the towering Founder’s Memorial in Abu Dhabi.

Citizenship rights in the United Arab Emirates are predominantly reserved for native-born Muslims. There are a million Christian migrants in the country, but throughout the larger region they are suffering persecution and bloodshed and are essentially disappearing.


2. Pope Urges Peace in Conflict-Ridden Arab Region , Visit to U.A.E. sought to improve relations with Muslims amid persecution of the Christian minority in the region.

By Nicolas Parasie, Wall Street Journal Online, February 5, 2019, 8:40 AM

Pope Francis celebrated a Holy Mass in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, urging peace in the birthplace of Islam and using the first visit by a pontiff to the Arabian peninsula to try to improve ties between Muslims and Christians.

The event marked the conclusion of a historic three-day visit in which the pope was accorded a red-carpet welcome by the leadership of the U.A.E., a country that recently has sought to position itself as more religiously inclusive than others in the volatile Middle East. By contrast, its neighbor Saudi Arabia, where Islam’s two holiest sites are located, doesn’t allow any other religious worship.

“We are here to desire peace, to promote peace, to be instruments of peace,” Pope Francis said during a meeting with other clerics on Monday. His outreach to other faiths has been a signature theme of his pontificate.

The visit has drawn attention to the region’s conflicts—from Yemen to Syria—that have often resulted in relentless attacks on Christian minorities here. The Coptic Christians in Egypt, for example, have been so frequently targeted by fundamentalists in recent years that many are leaving the country, part of a broader exodus from the region.


3. Pope becomes parish priest of Catholics on Arabian Peninsula. 

By Inés San Martín, Crux, February 5, 2019

In a country where luxury and excess are considered almost national virtues, Pope Francis on Tuesday became the parish priest of some 130,000 Catholics from 100 different countries, thanking them for their witness and urging them to live simply in accordance to the beatitudes.

The New Testament beatitudes, Francis said, overturn popular thinking according to which it’s the rich and powerful who are blessed. For Jesus, he said, it’s instead the poor, the meek, those who remain just at the cost of appearing in a bad light, and those who are persecuted who are actually blessed.

“Let us look at how Jesus lived: poor in respect to things, but wealthy in love; he healed so many lives, but did not spare his own,” the pope said.

In addition, there were some 4,000 Muslims on hand, on a trip marked by papal outreach to the Islamic world.

In a bid to show a tolerant face to the world, the UAE has rolled out the red carpet for Francis. The government declared Tuesday a holiday for anyone holding a ticket to the papal Mass, and as the pontiff’s motorcade made its way to the stadium for Mass military planes flew overhead trailing the yellow and white of the Vatican flag.

Soon after Tuesday’s Mass ended Francis was scheduled to head back to Rome on a six-hour flight, during which he’s expected to hold his usual in-flight news conference. 


4. Pope in historic UAE visit urges faith leaders to reject war.

By Nicole Winfield and Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press, February 4, 2019, 1:01 PM

Pope Francis urged religious leaders Monday to work together to reject the “miserable crudeness” of war as he opened the first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam, with a strong denunciation of violence committed in God’s name.

In a keynote speech to an interfaith gathering in the United Arab Emirates, Francis warned that the future of humanity was at stake unless religions come together to resist the “logic of armed power … the arming of borders, the raising of walls.”

“There is no alternative: we will either build the future together or there will not be a future,” Francis told Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince and hundreds of imams, muftis, ministers, rabbis and swamis gathered in the Emirati capital at a time when the UAE-backed Saudi war in Yemen has driven the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of famine.

“God is with those who seek peace,” Francis added.


5. Kathy Tran cares more for butterflies than babies in the womb.

By Maureen Ferguson, Washington Examiner Online, February 04, 2019, 12:55 PM
Maureen Ferguson is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. She is a senior policy adviser for The Catholic Association.

On Jan. 9, Del. Kathy Tran, D-Va., introduced two bills in the state legislature: one affects butterflies, the other affects babies. According to Tran’s website, the first bill’s goal is to “help save … butterflies by protecting the fall cankerworm (caterpillar)” from deadly insecticides.

The other bill’s goal, Tran explained in a now-viral video, is to allow late-term abortion up until the moment of birth. 

If you kill the caterpillar, you’ve killed the beautiful butterfly. What a strange and chilling code of ethics to prohibit insecticides while promoting infanticide.
This is not a theoretical debate. According to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, there are about 12,000 abortions performed annually after 20 weeks of pregnancy. That’s a staggering statistic: 12,000 babies aborted every year in the second half of pregnancy, when many are viable and can survive outside the womb in a neo-natal intensive care unit. Pampers even has a special line of diapers for these “micro-preemies,” as they are known.

Politically speaking, the shocking embrace of late-term abortion is a disaster for Democrats. The Left may be cheering abortion until birth, but the average person is appalled. About 75 percent of Americans say abortion should be limited to the first three months of pregnancy, according to recent polling. That includes a majority of Democrats. This is not a good electoral strategy for swing states in 2020

It’s a lovely sentiment to want to protect caterpillars. Protecting human babies is more than a lovely idea, it is a basic necessity of human rights in a civilized society.


6. In heart of Muslim world, Pope calls for true religious freedom. 

By Inés San Martín, Crux, February 4, 2019

Opening an historic visit to the heart of the Muslim word, Pope Francis on Monday pulled no punches in the United Arab Emirates, calling for true religious freedom while condemning the use of the name of God to justify violence.

“No violence can be justified in the name of religion,” he said. “We need to be vigilant lest religion be instrumentalized and deny itself by allowing violence and terrorism.”

“I would like to emphasize religious freedom,” he said. “Without freedom, we are no longer children [of God] but slaves.” One cannot proclaim fraternity, Francis said, and then act in the opposite way.

The pope also denounced the building of walls as well as what he called the militarization of the human heart.

His remarks came during an interreligious meeting at Abu Dhabi’s Founder’s Memorial in his first public remarks in the United Arab Emirates. Also joining him were the crown prince and de facto leader of the UAE, Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan, and professor Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University in Cairo and a key Islamic theologian.