1. Pope presses call for Catholic-Lutheran unity in Sweden, By Jan M. Olsen and Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, November 1 at 6:00 AM.

Pope Francis pressed his call for Christians to forge greater unity, urging Sweden’s tiny Catholic community on Tuesday to set aside divisions with Lutherans as the two churches commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Francis celebrated Mass under chilly, 8-degree Celsius (46F) skies in the Malmo sports stadium, packed with Nordic Catholics as well as immigrants from the Philippines and beyond for the final event of his overnight trip to southern Sweden.

“Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians,” the pope said in his homily.

On Monday, Francis and the heads of the Lutheran World Federation commemorated Martin Luther’s revolt against the abuses of the Catholic Church, praying together for forgiveness at Lund’s cathedral. They signed a joint declaration pledging to put the errors of the past behind them and pursue theological talks with the goal of letting Lutherans and Catholics share in the Eucharist.


2. Pope Francis Arrives in Sweden to Commemorate Lutheran Reformation, By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2016, Pg. A7.

Pope Francis highlighted two major priorities of his papacy at the start of a two-day visit to Sweden: efforts to heal the 500-year-old rift between Catholics and Protestants and concern for the plight of migrants.

The head of the global Catholic Church joined Lutheran leaders on Monday to celebrate their churches’ efforts to help the poor and marginalized—including migrants—before an audience of thousands. The gathering featured the testimony of refugees and culminated in the pope reiterating his previous calls on governments for open-door policies on migration.

Speaking in his native Spanish, Pope Francis thanked countries that have assisted refugees and other migrants, adding that concern for “outcasts and the marginalized” was a priority for all Christians.

The pope’s words had particular resonance in Sweden, once one of the most accommodating European countries for displaced persons, offering all Syrians fleeing the war extended residency permits if they reached the country. But after a surge in migrant arrivals and rising support for the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party, the country has implemented some of the tightest rules in Europe on who may enter.

In an interview with a Swedish Jesuit priest published last week, the pope said he hadn’t wanted a papal Mass to distract from the ecumenical significance of his visit, but finally agreed to the “fervent request” of the country’s small Catholic community. He was scheduled to celebrate Mass at a stadium in Malmö on Tuesday morning before flying back to Rome.


3. Pope Francis, in Sweden, Urges Catholic-Lutheran Reconciliation, By Christina Anderson, The New York Times, November 1, 2016, Pg. A11.

Almost 500 years after Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door, setting off more than a century of religious warfare and forever changing the practice of Christianity worldwide, Pope Francis on Monday urged atonement and Christian reconciliation.

Visiting the cities of Lund and Malmo in southern Sweden for a joint Catholic-Lutheran commemoration of the Reformation, the pope observed the 499th anniversary of Luther’s protest of the sale of indulgences by noting the beneficial impact it had on Catholicism.

“With gratitude we acknowledge that the Reformation helped give greater centrality to sacred Scripture in the church’s life,” the pope said in a joint declaration at Lund Cathedral with Bishop Munib A. Younan, the head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and the president of the Lutheran World Federation.

Although Sweden is predominantly Lutheran, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockholm counts 113,000 members in 44 parishes throughout the country.

Anders Arborelius, who converted to Catholicism when he was 20, is the country’s first Catholic bishop of Swedish origin since the Reformation.

“We are leaving the past behind us and focusing on what we have in common, that we can together go out and help people,” he said in a telephone interview on Sunday.

Although the ecumenical service on Monday marked a reconciliation, there are still major doctrinal differences between the churches, on subjects like the role of women in the church and the Eucharist.


4. What’s unpopular with voters? Taxpayer funding of abortion, Catholic News Agency, October 31, 2016.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has backed an end to the Hyde Amendment, which bans most federally-funded Medicaid payments for abortion.

However, only about 36 percent of likely voters want an end to the ban on taxpayer-funded abortion, Politico reports.

About 57 percent of Clinton voters backed an end to the Hyde Amendment. But among likely Trump voters, 77 percent support the Hyde Amendment policy, while only 19 percent are opposed.

The amendment, named for the late U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde, has been added to spending bills in Congress annually for forty years.

Republicans rank abortion as a top health care concern, but behind other issues such as the future of the 2010 health care law known as Obamacare, the government’s role in slowing the rise of health costs, and Medicare. For Democrats, abortion ranked seventh in importance, with Medicare ranked first.

About 25 percent of likely voters said abortion is extremely important to their choice for president. Women were much more likely than men to say abortion policies are extremely or very important.


5. Religion may be a miracle drug: Column, By Tyler J. VanderWeele and John Siniff, USA Today, October 28, 2016, 8:30 AM.

If one could conceive of a single elixir to improve the physical and mental health of millions of Americans — at no personal cost — what value would our society place on it?

Going a step further, if research quite conclusively showed that when consumed just once a week, this concoction would reduce mortality by 20% to 30% over a 15-year period, how urgently would we want to make it publicly available?

The good news is that this miracle drug — religion, and more specifically regular church attendance — is already in reach of most Americans. In fact, there’s a good chance it’s just a short drive away.

Indeed, health and religion are very much connected. Professor VanderWeele’s new research with colleagues at Harvard University — building on more than 20 years of prior work in this area — suggests that attending religious services brings about better physical and mental health. Adults who do so at least once a week versus not at all have been shown to have a significantly lower risk of dying over the next decade and a half. The results have been replicated in enough studies and populations to be considered quite reliable.

Where else today do we find a community with a shared moral and spiritual vision, a sense of accountability, wherein the central task of members is to love and care for one another? The combination of the teachings, the relationships and the spiritual practices — over time, week after week, taken together — gradually alters behavior, creates meaning, alleviates loneliness, and shapes a person in ways too numerous to document.

Who could possibly conceive of such an elixir, one that stands to change society in ways small and large, subtle and profound? We’ll leave that question to a higher power.