1. As clock ticks on pope’s ultimatum, Nigeria diocese is in tumult

By Inés San Martín, Crux, June 19, 2017

Following a dramatic show of papal authority in Nigeria, with Pope Francis demanding that all the priests of a diocese write him a letter pledging their loyalty and promising to accept the bishop the pope has appointed, the matter seems far from resolved.

Since then, they’ve responded in various ways: there are those who are going to comply, those who are signing a letter promising obedience but rejecting Okpaleke, and those who are calling for Francis’s resignation.


2. Chaldeans in U.S.: Why aren’t more Christians speaking out against deportations to Iraq?

By Lauren Markoe, Religion News Service, June 18, 2017

Some Chaldeans and their supporters are wondering why more Christian Americans – their co-religionists – are not speaking out against the impending deportation of hundreds of them from the U.S. to Iraq, which many liken to a “death sentence.”

About 200 Chaldeans – members of a group of Christians indigenous to Iraq – were rounded up by ICE agents in past weeks, including 114 in the Detroit area last weekend.

Although the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic fraternal organization and a longtime ally of the Chaldeans, is circulating a letter on their behalf, “we aren’t seeing a lot of these other larger voices in the community standing up for the Iraqi Christians,” Nassif said.

More than a year ago Congress and the State Department, under then-Secretary of State John Kerry, recognized the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East as a genocide.

“This is not complicated,” said Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. “Iraqi Christians have formally been designated by the United States as victims of ‘genocide.’ They and other named minorities of that declaration should be welcomed to this country. Those who have made it here already should not be deported.”


3. What Prof. Robby George Has Been Doing While Rod Dreher Has Been Blogging

By Maggie Gallagher, The Stream, June 17, 2017

In a short aside, Rod Dreher chose to take on Princeton Prof. Robert George as an example of what the Benedict Op (trademark pending) is supposed to replace:

“One of the problems I see with the stance taken by Prof. Robert George of Princeton … is that the to-the-culture-war-barricades stance he takes is radically insufficient. I agree with him that we have to fight as hard as we can! But what good will our freedoms do us if we have lost our own internal cultures? The Benedict Option is not an either-or, but a both-and — with greater emphasis on cultural formation, not legal and political combat.” (Emphasis his.)

No-one is more aware than Prof. George that politics is not nearly enough to build Christian community or attain salvation. This is simply a straw man on Dreher’s part. I have my own disagreements with how many prominent religious conservatives think about politics. Mostly it is that they often mistake advocacy about politics for engaging in politics. That is the root of why we have so little political effect: We aren’t actually in politics.

But Dreher’s mischaracterization of George’s position is also an example of how we need to do a better job of telling our own stories. If the Benedict Option is about building Christian society while remaining publicly engaged, then Prof. George invented it long before Rod Dreher thought of it.

One of my complaints about The Benedict Option as a book is that it would have been more useful if Rod had spent more time researching and telling us about the many things people are doing to create communities that can resist liquid modernity. Maybe he would have run into Robby George’s extensive work doing Ben Op before Ben Op was cool.


4. Vatican defends membership for theologian over abortion flap

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, June 17, 2017, 11:53 AM

The head of the Vatican’s bioethics panel is defending the decision to name as a member an Anglican moral theologian who has said that abortion could be condoned up until the 18th week of gestation.

Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia spoke out Saturday after conservative commentators criticized the inclusion of Oxford University professor Nigel Biggar as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The Pontifical Academy for Life is the Vatican’s bioethics advisory board, founded in 1994 by St. John Paul II to promote Catholic teaching on the defense of life. Under John Paul and Pope Benedict XVI, the academy took a very conservative line on issues surrounding sexual morals, and some of its more hard-line members occasionally made headlines for calling out perceived lapses in upholding church teaching.

Francis announced the academy’s new members this past week, leaving off some of its more outspoken members.


5. Pope, Merkel find ‘harmony’ on Africa, climate change and poverty

By Crux, June 17, 2017

Multilateralism in foreign relations, climate change, Africa, and poverty, all with an eye to a looming G-20 summit Hamburg, were among the topics discussed on Saturday by Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, marking the sixth encounter between the Argentine pontiff and the German politician recently dubbed the “new leader of the free world.”

Merkel afterwards spoke of a basic “harmony” with Francis on all those issues.


6. Pope Tells Merkel to Keep Pressing for International Cooperation

By Reuters, June 17, 2017, 9:24 AM

Pope Francis has asked Germany to keep fighting for the Paris climate change deal and to ‘tear down walls’ that inhibit international cooperation, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday, offering a stark contrast between her agenda and U.S. policy.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced this month that he would withdraw from the landmark 2015 global agreement to fight climate change, drawing anger from world leaders.

“The Pope encouraged me to continue and fight for international agreements, including the Paris agreement,” Merkel told reporters after an unusually long, 40-minute private audience with him.

The Vatican said that issues of common interest were discussed, including the need for the international community to focus on combating poverty, hunger, the global threat of terrorism, and climate change.


7. Excommunicating mobsters? Vatican eyes new legal doctrine

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, June 17, 2017

Pope Francis has long railed against corruption and the mafia, but now the Vatican is considering developing a whole doctrine around excommunicating corrupt and mafia-tinged Catholics.

The Vatican this week hosted its first conference on corruption and organized crime, inviting 50 prosecutors, U.N. officials, bishops and victims of organized crime for a day of talks.

Organizers said in a statement Saturday that the time had come to develop a new legal doctrine for the Catholic Church around “the question of excommunication for corruption and mafia association.”

Excommunication is one of the most severe penalties in the Catholic Church, with the guilty party forbidden from participating in the sacraments and effectively excluded from the “communion” of the church.

“Our effort is to create a mentality, a culture of justice, that fights corruption and promotes the common good,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s retired ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, who participated in the conference.

He is up against a tough reality in Italy, however, where both organized crime and corruption are deeply embedded. Transparency International ranked Italy 60 out of 176 in its corruption perception index last year. Only Greece performed worse in Western Europe.