1. Pope to Reach Out to Other Christians During Baltics Trip.

By The Associated Press, July 5, 2018

The Vatican says Pope Francis will have two ecumenical meetings during his trip to the Baltics in September.

The Vatican on Thursday released details about the previously announced Sept. 22-25 pilgrimage.

In Lithuania, where Catholics are the majority, the pope will visit a Marian sanctuary. Then after being driven from the capital of Vilnius to Kaunas, Francis will celebrate Mass in a park on Sept. 23.

Many of Latvia’s Christians are Orthodox or Protestants. Francis on Sept. 24will have an ecumenical encounter in Riga and will also visit the city’s Catholic cathedral.

In Tallinn, Estonia, Francis will young people in a Lutheran church before celebrating Mass in the city’s Freedom Square.

Last month, Francis went to Geneva to further strengthen ties with other Christian churches.


2. Marking the 5th anniversary of a trip that said it all about Pope Francis.

By John L Allen Jr.,  Editor, Crux, July 5, 2018

Five years ago this Sunday, Pope Francis left Rome for the first time since his election to travel to the Italian island of Lampedusa. It may have seemed a throw-away outing at the time, but looking back, it’s obvious that it was actually the tone-setting template for absolutely everything that’s followed in terms of Francis and his passionate rejection of a “throw-away” culture.

The pope’s quick day trip, almost forgotten at the time due to the hoopla that surrounded his trip to Brazil for World Youth Day just a few days later, basically contained the entire papacy in miniature, making its five-year anniversary this week an occasion worth commemorating.
Francis will celebrate a special Mass in the Vatican on Friday morning marking the anniversary.

Five years later, the jury is decidedly out on how effective Francis has been in mobilizing the Catholic Church in defense of the migrant cause. President Donald Trump in the United States was elected in part on the strength of voicing alarm about the rising immigrant tide, Italy is currently led by a coalition heavily influenced by an explicitly anti-immigrant party, and across Europe populist and sometimes xenophobic movements are enjoying a heyday.

One could actually argue that by being so outspoken, and, in the eyes of some, so confrontational, Francis actually has encouraged opposition and deepened division, making the landscape more rather than less hostile to the migrant cause. At the same time, it’s also worth remembering that Francis has become a hero to migrants all across the world, and many would argue that he’s on the right side of history regardless of the short-term political fallout.

 Regardless of the realpolitik of the situation, Francis’s fundamental commitments are abundantly clear. In that sense, March 13, 2013, may have marked the formal opening of his papacy, but July 8 – five years ago this Sunday – signified its substantive beginning.


3. The Diversity Nominee.

By Robert P. George, First Things, July 3, 2018

The overriding consideration, however, is that our justices be faithful constitutionalists—and by that I mean, jurists whose decisions are guided by the text, logic, structure, and original public meaning of the Constitution. These are people who do not pretend that things that are not in the Constitution are there (lurking, perhaps, in “penumbras formed by emanations” or in the due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments interpreted “substantively”), or that things that actually are in the Constitution are not there.

Due in no small measure to thirty years of remarkable work in legal education by the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy, presidents today who are looking for true constitutionalists to nominate for appointments to the federal judiciary at every level, including the Supreme Court, have an outstanding pool of possible nominees. From this pool, President Trump selected Neil Gorsuch—a jurist of high intellect, exceptional learning, impeccable integrity, and admirable temperament. The question now: Who should be next? 

Of course, it might be that, in fact, prejudice against Catholics and other traditional religious believers is not the last acceptable prejudice. There is one more: prejudice against large families, and especially against women who have large families. (Do you doubt me? Just ask any mother of five or more children about the abusive comments to which she is subjected, sometimes by complete strangers, when out in public with the kids.) Amy Coney Barrett is the mother of seven children—one is a special needs child, and two are adopted (from Haiti). Defying that prejudice while giving the country a top-class Supreme Court justice drawn from a superb pool would be another merit of the president’s choosing Judge Barrett.


4. Update: Bishops end border visit, call reunification of children urgent.

By Rhina Guidos Catholic News Service, July 3, 2018, 11:15 AM

In less than 48 hours, a group of Catholic bishops saw the faces of triumph and relief from migrants who had been recently released by immigration authorities, but ended their two-day journey to the border with a more “somber” experience, visiting detained migrant children living temporarily within the walls of a converted Walmart.

During a news conference after the second and last day of their visit July 2, they stressed the “urgent” need to do something to help the children.

The separation for some of the children began shortly after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in early May that if migrants wanted to take their chances crossing the border illegally with their children, they faced the consequence of having them taken away — and he implemented a policy doing so.

The bishops also had taken part in a mission, he said, handed on from the highest rungs of the church: to “share the journey” with migrants and refugees, referring to a campaign by Pope Francis and charitable Catholic organizations such as the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services calling on Catholics and others of goodwill to build bridges of understanding and hospitality with migrants and refugees.

“Pope Francis has invited us all on a journey with the migrant and refugee and we’re glad we’re part of the trip,” Cardinal DiNardo said.