1. Feeling Abandoned, Russian Catholics Appeal to the Pope: Leaders of a Russian Catholic church feel sidelined as Pope Francis pursues closer ties with the country’s dominant Orthodox Church
By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2017, 5:30 AM

A group of Russian Catholics is demanding greater recognition from Pope Francis, saying the Vatican’s appeasement of Moscow threatens its very existence.

Leaders of the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church, with fewer than 30,000 members world-wide, are meeting in Italy this week in their first such synod in a century.

On the agenda is a longstanding request for their own bishop and resources for training their own clergy. Church leaders say the pope has ignored their appeals as he pursues closer ties with the Russian Orthodox Church, which is dominant in the country.

The complaints of the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church echo those of other groups who feel Pope Francis is willing to sacrifice their well-being for the sake of other priorities.


2. What will be Pope Francis’s ‘summer surprise’?

By John Allen, Austen Ivereigh, and Charles Collins, Crux, June 7, 2017

On “The Crux of the Matter,” a weekly radio show on the Catholic Channel, Sirius XM 129, Crux’s Austen Ivereigh, Charles Collins and John Allen discussed a possible “summer surprise” from Pope Francis – floating a social encyclial a new Marian dogma, and a changing of the guard at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith respectively.

Ivereigh forecast that Francis may be working on a major social teaching document, perhaps only the third encyclical of his papacy after Lumen Fidei in June 2013 (which Francis acknowledged was mostly the work of Pope Benedict XVI) and Laudato Si’ in 2015 (dedicated to the care of creation.)

As Ivereigh sees it, this would be a document that takes as its point of departure the situation of migrants and refugees, a major concern of Pope Francis, but broadens things out to a treatment of the dynamics of globalization in the early 21st century.

Collins, meanwhile, had a truly “outside the box” possibility. He conceded from the outset there’s only a 10 percent shot of this happening, but it’s still worth thinking about: Pope Francis proclaiming a dogma of Mary as Co-Redemptrix, Mediator of all Graces and Advocate.

Finally, Allen floated the idea that Pope Francis at some point over the summer may replace German Cardinal Gerhard Müller as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

If Francis wanted to be completely transparent, he’d probably name Argentine Archbishop Víctor Manuel “Tucho” Fernández as Müller’s replacement, since it’s fairly obvious that Fernández is the figure Francis relies on when he wants a theological assessment of something. However, there’s good reason to believe that Francis likes Fernández where he is, free of the labyrinth of the Vatican, and is unlikely to bring him to Rome.

Assuming that’s the case, who might Francis tap to take over from Müller?

Allen floated the counter-intuitive idea that one candidate could be Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, widely seen as the Church’s leading reformer on clerical sexual abuse.


3. “Life is winning in America,” Pence encourages Catholic prayer breakfast

Matt Hadro and Adelaide Mena, Catholic News Agency, June 7, 2017

United States Vice President Mike Pence exhorted those in attendance at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday to continue to be a “voice for the voiceless,” after proclaiming that “life is winning” in the nation.

Pence addressed an estimated crowd of 1,300 at the 13th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast attended by many Catholic leaders including Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A., and Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington.

Pence also reflected on the importance of daily prayer, saying that “in these challenging times I encourage you to take time every day to pray” with confidence, insisting that there is “so much need for healing” today.

The National Catholic Prayer Breakfast has taken place each year since 2004 as a response to St. John Paul II’s call for a “new evangelization.” Political leaders are invited to attend and speak, but the event is non-partisan.

He focused some of his speech on persecuted Christians worldwide, maintaining that the Trump administration is committed to promoting and protecting the freedom of religion. He said the administration “stands with those who are persecuted for their faith around the world” and “stands with the most vulnerable, the aged, the infirm, and the unborn.”

Pence also cited President Donald Trump’s executive order on religious freedom, issued last month, as an “action to protect men and women of faith in the public square.”


4. Abusing assisted suicide laws: Insurance companies take advantage of patients seen as too expensive to keep alive

By Tammy Bruce, The Washington Times, June 7, 2017, Pg. B1

With the passage of assisted-suicide laws, there are new reports that health insurance companies are refusing to cover lifesaving medical care and are offering to pay patients to kill themselves instead.

It is, after all, cheaper.

The debate surrounding legalizing assisted suicide is largely cast as one focusing on an individual who genuinely wants to end his or her life because of the pain and suffering they’re experiencing due to a terminal medical condition. But this issue is wholly different — the possible cold-blooded and brutal abuse of those laws by bureaucrats in insurance companies against patients whom they determine are too expensive to keep alive.

Right now just California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Montana and the District of Columbia have legalized physician-assisted suicide. But the trend is spreading.

Free Beacon reported, “Bills to legalize assisted suicide are being debated in 14 states, while 15 others, from liberal Connecticut to conservative Utah, have already defeated legislation in 2017. Nevada became the centerpiece of the debate over the practice after the Senate passed assisted suicide by one vote in May. The bill is now up for debate in the state Assembly and is attracting partisans on both sides of the debate.”

Allowing insurance company bureaucrats to overrule how a doctor will treat a patient at any point is absurd, but in an age when some states are legalizing assisted suicide, it can be downright deadly.


5. Former Pontifical Academy for Life Members Concerned Over Its Current Course: A number of issues have been cited regarding the actions of Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, whom Pope Francis appointed as the academy’s president last November

By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, June 6, 2017

In the nine months since Pope Francis appointed him president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia has made significant but contentious changes to the institution.

The Italian prelate implemented new statutes in November that not only summarily ended the terms of the 172 members of the academy (with some subject to possible renewal), but also removed a requirement for new members to sign a statement promising to defend life in conformity with the Church’s magisterium.

The pontifical academy, founded by Pope St. John Paul II and professor Jerome Lejeune in 1994, is dedicated to promoting the Church’s consistent life ethic and carries out research on bioethics and Catholic moral theology. Over the years it has promoted and developed the Church’s teaching on various areas of medical ethics, including procreation, in vitro fertilization, gene therapy, euthanasia and abortion.

In May 19 comments to the Register, Archbishop Paglia vigorously defended his actions, urging his critics to read what he has said and written in defense of life, marriage and the family, especially his recent talks given in the United States.

But his actions as head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and before his appointment last year, have caused deep concern among many of its former members.

According to a founding member of the academy, Christine Vollmer, president of the Latin American Alliance for the Family, his actions as academy president amount to the “elimination” of the institution which St. John Paul II in his “great wisdom” set up to “neutralize” the world’s increasing disregard for human life.

Many see the ending of members’ terms as a purge aimed at precisely replacing them with those who are less rigorously protective of all human life and, according to Vollmer, without the experience of the “struggle ‘on the ground.’”

But although these changes have taken place under Archbishop Paglia, the academy had problems even before his arrival.

Vollmer said the Secretariat of State had been “increasingly ‘packing’” the academy with individuals who had “little to bring in the way of pro-life knowledge or activity” and said she and others were “dismayed” by limits placed on their discussions.