1. Pope to canonize 2 Fatima children a century after visions.

By Barry Hatton, Associated Press, May 10, 2017, 6:31 AM

Three shepherd children in Portugal were jailed and threatened with being boiled alive in olive oil when they claimed the Virgin Mary appeared to them 100 years ago. The Catholic Church doubted their story too.

Now, the Portuguese youngsters’ long-ago testimony is giving the Catholic Church its youngest saints who did not die as martyrs. Pope Francis plans to observe the centenary of their visions by canonizing Francisco and Jacinta Marto this weekend when he makes his first pilgrimage to Fatima.

During the FridaySaturday visit, Francis will also likely seek to make Fatima’s message of peace and prayer resonate today, church officials say.


2. Court case could close Kentucky’s last clinic.

By Alex Swoyer, The Washington Times, May 10, 2017, Pg. A3

Kentucky could become the first state in the nation without an abortion clinic — if a judge sides with the government in a case that’s set to define how far states can go in putting restrictions on the constitutional right to an abortion.

State officials have said EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville no longer has legally valid proof of having arrangements with a hospital and ambulance company should emergency complications arise during a procedure.

But lawyers say that would leave the state without any operating clinics, and said this would run afoul of the Supreme Court’s rulings that regulations cannot make women unable to exercise their right to abortion.

Legal analysts, though, said the state’s case was probably undercut last year by a Supreme Court decision striking down a similar Texas law that required abortion clinics to meet the same standards as other surgical facilities, including hallway widths and staffing needs.


3. Francis’s trip to Fatima will be short, but hardly irrelevant.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, May 10, 2017

His May 12-13 outing to Fatima is considered by many observers as the easiest of Francis’s foreign trips so far, with security concerns not being as high as they were when he visited an active war zone when he went to the Central African Republic, nor as politically charged as his two-day trip to Egypt last month. Nonetheless, it’s far from irrelevant.

Pope Francis is headed to Fatima, Portugal, for what will be the shortest two-day trip of his pontificate. He’ll be there for just 25 hours to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the famed apparitions of the Virgin Mary to three young shepherds, which became the center of one of the most storied Catholic devotions in the world.

Speaking of shepherds, he’ll declare two of them saints, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, during a Mass expected to draw 400,000 people on Saturday. They will become the two youngest, non-martyred saints in Church history.

At first sight, the story of the Fatima apparition is a simple one. In 1917, three young children, Lucia de Santos, who was 10, and her two cousins, the Martos, aged seven and nine, saw Mary, who identified herself as “Our Lady of the Rosary.”

During the six times the Virgin showed herself to the little shepherds, she urged them to pray the rosary, and to urge penance for the conversion of sinners and the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.

The three topics are bound to be in Francis’s heart during his visit. As a strong Marian devotee, he’s urged Catholics to pray the rosary countless times and to put in practice what the Church calls works of mercy.

A fourth recurring issue of the Fatima messages, that of world peace through Mary, will probably be front and center.


4. Don’t let Venezuelans fall into despair, Pope tells bishops.

By Catholic News Agency, May 10, 2017

In response to Venezuela’s violent riots, inflated prices, and political mistrust, Pope Francis urged the country’s bishops to continue promoting a culture of encounter.

“Dear brothers, I wish to encourage you to not allow the beloved children of Venezuela to allow themselves to be overcome by distrust or despair since these are evils that sink into the hearts of people when they do not see future prospects,” Pope Francis said in a May 5 letter to the bishops.

“I am persuaded that Venezuela’s serious problems can be solved if there is the desire to establish bridges, to dialogue seriously and to comply with the agreements that were reached.”
Riots have spiked in Venezuela in recent years, resulting from unemployment, food and medicine shortages, and President Nicolás Maduro’s authoritarian policies.


5. Ronald Reagan, John Paul II, and Fatima.

By Paul Kengor, Crisis Magazine, May 10, 2017

It was June 6, 1987. Ronald Reagan was on his way to Rome to meet with Pope John Paul II. Their first meeting at the Vatican had taken place five years earlier, June 7, 1982, whereupon the two men shared their mutual convictions that they believed God had spared their lives from assassination attempts the previous year for a special purpose—to defeat atheistic Soviet communism. For John Paul II, that near-death experience had occurred on May 13, 1981, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima, whose intercession he credited with saving his life.

Now, on June 6, 1987, Ronald Reagan, en route to seeing the Holy Father again, was hearing all about Fatima. He heard it from Frank Shakespeare, his ambassador to the Vatican.

To be sure, this wasn’t the first time that Reagan had heard about Fatima. … Here, in this article, however, I will share just one especially illuminating example that has been completely missed by historians.

This date was May 9, 1985, and Reagan was giving a speech in Portugal to the nation’s assembly.

[Reagan] stated:

[“]Human beings are not just another part of the material universe, not just mere bundles of atoms. We believe in another dimension—a spiritual side to man. We find a transcendent source for our claims to human freedom, our suggestion that inalienable rights come from one greater than ourselves.

No one has done more to remind the world of the truth of human dignity, as well as the truth that peace and justice begins with each of us, than the special man who came to Portugal a few years ago after a terrible attempt on his life. He came here to Fatima, the site of your great religious shrine, to fulfill his special devotion to Mary, to plead for forgiveness and compassion among men, to pray for peace and the recognition of human dignity throughout the world.

When I met Pope John Paul II a year ago in Alaska, I thanked him for his life and his apostolate. And I dared to suggest to him the example of men like himself and in the prayers of simple people everywhere, simple people like the children of Fatima, there resides more power than in all the great armies and statesmen of the world.[“]

For the first and final time (publicly, that is) of his presidency, Reagan had mentioned Mary and the children of Fatima. In a powerful statement that deserves pause for reflection, the president of the United States said that in the prayers of those children of Fatima there resided “more power” than in all the world’s great armies and statesmen.

As President Reagan uttered the word “Fatima” to the chamber, a pause followed as the astonished deputies awaited their translation for confirmation of what they thought they might have just heard. When the corresponding words came through in their language, vigorous clapping ensued. This was not what they had expected from a head of state addressing them in formal session, and especially from an American Protestant president.

How did the media miss this at the time? Well, for one, this was a 10-day trip through Europe by Reagan, where the Bitburg controversy ensued. That was pretty much the only thing the media cared about. And the very few sources that did note Reagan’s Portugal speech—such as the New York Times (albeit barely)—made no mention whatsoever of the Fatima reference. The liberal media could not give a rip about some silly stuff about visions of Mary by three overly pious shepherd kids.

But for Catholics, amid the centenary of Mary’s first appearance in Fatima, it will be very intriguing to learn that not only were the likes of their faithful pontiff John Paul II obviously interested in Fatima, but so was the pope’s vital Cold War partner, Ronald Reagan. And it was the two of them who joined together in the 1980s to wage battle against the beast—against the very communist threat that the Lady of Fatima had warned the world about in 1917. They, too, wanted to crush the head of that serpent. And ultimately, they prevailed.