1. Pope again flexes papal muscle to keep tabs on cardinals

By Nicole Winfield, The Washington Post Associated Press, June 15, 2017, Pg. A6

Pope Francis is once again flexing his papal muscle by seeking to keep tabs on his cardinals who live in Rome.

Francis asked the head of the College of Cardinals to remind his fellow Rome-based princes that they must inform him when they leave town and where they’re going.

It wasn’t known if there was a particular cardinal whose activities irked the pope, but some of his more conservative critics have delivered speeches and lectures abroad that have questioned Francis’ pastoral line, particularly concerning his divisive opening to letting civilly remarried Catholics receive the Sacraments.

Ironically, Francis’ latest display of papal muscle comes as he and his cardinal advisers wrapped up another round of consultations about decentralizing authority from the Holy See to local churches. According to a Vatican statement Wednesday, the three-day consultation touched on allowing local bishops’ conferences to make decisions about ordaining permanent deacons as priests.


2. An able ambassador to the Holy See: Callista Gingrich is much more than the former House speaker’s third wife

By Deal W. Hudson, The Washington Times, June 15, 2017, Pg. B4

America should welcome the nomination of Callista Gingrich as the 11th U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. Mrs. Gingrich brings the necessary skill sets to navigate the sometimes labyrinthine interface between politics and the Catholic Church.

And for Catholics, just as President Trump has kept his promises to appoint a pro-life justice to the U.S. Supreme Court and by cutting abortion funding, he has nominated a committed, practicing Catholic as who is fully qualified to represent the interests of the United States to the Holy See.

Mrs. Gingrich is pro-life and conservative, articulate and savvy — her pro-life convictions insure the pro-life polices of the Trump administration will be the message conveyed to the Vatican by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See. She also has the experience of being the wife to the indefatigable public servant and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. No doubt having an experienced politician and professional historian at her side while she represents the United States is a significant bonus.

The present U.S. Embassy to the Vatican states, “The United States and the Holy See enjoy a positive relationship that serves to amplify a global message of peace, hope, and justice.” No doubt Callista Gingrich possessing an evident love for the church, years of political experience, knowledge of public policy, and the poise of a veteran diplomat will only build on the strong relationship that has been built and maintained with the Vatican over the past 33 years.

Deal W. Hudson, former publisher of Crisis Magazine, served a chairman of Catholic outreach at the Republican National Committee under George W. Bush.


3. As Merkel calls on Pope Francis, is a partnership in the works?

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, June 15, 2017

Popes generally work hard to have good relations with politicians of all stripes, but when they find one of consequence with whom they have a special rapport, history can change. Looking around the global stage today, the best candidate for such a partner of Pope Francis may well be Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who’s coming calling on the pontiff on Saturday.

On many fronts, Merkel would seem to embody an agenda more congenial to that of Pope Francis. She’s an ardent supporter of Paris and environmental protection, she’s defended a strong pro-immigrant position that saw Germany take in an estimated one million refugees and migrants in 2015 alone, and when she was in Mexico last week, she pointedly said that “putting up walls and cutting oneself off will not solve the problem.”

Whether Francis and Merkel will forge a strategic partnership remains to be seen, but the mere possibility in a moment in which so much seems undecided lends their meeting on Saturday a sense of drama we haven’t seen in the precincts of the Vatican since … well, maybe, since roughly one month ago, when Trump came to Rome.


4. In latest meetings, cardinal advisors continue forward with reform

Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, June 15, 2017

Pope Francis and the Council of Cardinals held their 20th round of meetings in Rome this week, continuing their work on reform of the Roman Curia, including the discussion of ways the Curia can better serve the local churches.

According to a June 14 communique, the meetings largely continued the work of previous gatherings, including progress on the possibility of transferring some faculties from Vatican dicasteries to local bishops or episcopal conferences “in a spirit of healthy decentralization.”

Proposals also considered ways in which the Curia could deepen service to the local churches, as well as widen the scope of those consulted in the proposal of candidates for bishop appointments to include more lay people and members of consecrated life.

Established by Pope Francis shortly after his pontificate began in 2013, the Council of Cardinals serves as an advisory body on Church governance and reform, with special emphasis on the reform of Pastor bonus.


5. Global religious leaders join for online friendship appeal

By Associated Press, June 14, 2017, 10:22 AM

Global religious leaders contributed to an appeal launched Wednesday that calls on people to make friends with followers of different faiths in the hope that it will foster mutual understanding and ease tensions around the world.

Leaders from Christian, Muslim, Jewish and other faiths, including Pope Francis and Dalai Lama, contributed videos to the appeal that was posted online.