1. Both Pope and Brazil’s bishops to be tested in Bolsonaro era.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, November 2, 2018

Brazil is also a political and economic pacesetter, especially across Latin America, where developments in the country’s most populous nation and largest economy, with an estimated GDP of $2.25 trillion, are always influential outside its borders.

That brings us to Brazil’s national elections on Wednesday, in which far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro captured the presidency, fairly easily outdistancing his leftist challenger with 55 percent of the popular vote.

Though it’s too easy to fall into over-simplifications in such things, it’s probably fair to say that in the abstract the 63-year-old Bolsonaro probably is not quite the head of state Pope Francis might have wanted for Argentina’s traditional Latin American rival.

The fact that Bolsanaro has been dubbed the “Trump of the Tropics” provides some hint of where the tensions lie.

To begin with, the author of 2015’s Laudato si’, the first-ever papal encyclical devoted entirely to environmental themes, and the pontiff who’s called a special Synod of Bishops next year on the Pan-Amazonian region in part to focus on themes of conservation and sustainability, likely wasn’t exactly cheered by Bolsanaro’s promise on the campaign trail to open up parts of the Amazon to greater commercial exploitation.

One could go on – Bolsanaro’s attitudes towards immigrants, indigenous persons, the LGBT community, the poor, and so forth. The big-picture doesn’t change, which is that Bolsonaro comes off as, at least potentially, a Latin American version of U.S. President Donald Trump and Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, meaning not exactly friends of the social agenda laid out by Francis.

Brazilians may well need that kind of assurance again now, and, given the centrality of the Church in national affairs, it’s hard to imagine where else it might come from. Supplying it will be tough, however, if the bishops aren’t able to achieve a degree of cohesion among themselves.


2. “With the Help of the State”.

By Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., Crisis Magazine, November 2, 2018

Jennifer Roback Morse’s new book, The Sexual State, is a lively and forceful examination of where we came from, where we are now, and where we ought to be on matters of human life. The book presents a complete argument, based on empirical evidence, about how divorce, contraception, abortion, gay lifestyle, and gender neutrality fit together in a descending sequence of laws and practices that, enforced by the state, have set an elite class against the normal good of normal human beings.

Morse’s Ruth Institute maintains one of the most thorough and insightful web sites in political and cultural affairs about all issues that concern family life. Her two previous books, Smart Sex and Love & Economics, already demonstrate Morse’s mastery of the economic, moral, and spiritual sides of womanhood, of the needs of children, of what the state can and cannot do. Morse writes with verve, often with justifiable anger, with a wealth of personal experience about all sides of family life. She is herself married with two children, one adopted, a doctorate in economics, a debater, speaker on college campuses and at legislative hearings. The book is replete with examples of what she has in mind. The reader soon realizers that she knows what she is talking about, the good as well as the awful.

The book carefully outlines the history and development of these ideas that subvert healthy family life. This book, read along with Leon Kass’s Leading a Worthy Life and Robert Reilly’s Making Gay Okay form a basic trilogy to explain the causes and origins of the deviation from the good that we see everywhere in modern public and private life. One cannot go away from the Morse book without a deep concern that the Church itself is no longer fully reliable in defending the needs of families in the modern world. Even so, the book is enormously helpful in how the issues we must face are careful laid out. There will be no change for the better until we see why change is both necessary and possible. The Sexual State offers an unsurpassed analysis of how we arrived where we are and how we can begin to reverse course.


3. Christian woman acquitted in Pakistan to leave country.

By Munir Ahmed and Asim Tanveer, The Associated Press, November 1, 2018

A Christian woman acquitted in Pakistan after eight years on death row for blasphemy plans to leave the country soon, her family said Thursday, and authorities said they arrested two prisoners last month for conspiring to kill her.

Radical Islamists mounted rallies across the country for a second day after Pakistan’s Supreme Court in a landmark ruling overturned the 2010 conviction against Asia Bibi for insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. The charge of blasphemy carries the death penalty in this majority Muslim nation.

Bibi’s acquittal posed a challenge to the government of Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan, who came to power this summer partly by pursuing the Islamist agenda. He asked protesters not to “test the patience of the state.”

On Thursday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the government was avoiding the use of force against demonstrators to resolve the issue peacefully.

Bibi’s acquittal, however, has been seen as a hopeful sign by Christians in Pakistan, where the mere rumor of blasphemy can spark lynchings. Religious minorities, who have been repeatedly targeted by extremists, fear the law because it is often used to settle scores and to pressure minorities.

Bibi was arrested in 2009 after she was accused of blasphemy following a quarrel with two fellow female farm workers who refused to drink from a water container used by a Christian. A few days later, a mob accused her of insulting Islam’s prophet, leading to her 2010 conviction.
Bibi’s family has always maintained her innocence and says she never insulted the prophet.


4. Abuse cover-up over, priest leaves home next to Iowa school.

By Ryan J. Foley, The Associated Press, November 1, 2018

A retired priest who lived for months next to a Roman Catholic school in Iowa moved out Thursday, hours after his history of sexually abusing boys became public knowledge following a 32-year cover-up.

The Rev. Jerome Coyle left the Marian Home in Fort Dodge, Iowa, according to a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Sioux City, who said an acquaintance had agreed to take him in.

The move follows an Associated Press story exposing the diocese’s three-decade cover-up of abuse by Coyle, now 85, who was placed at the home this summer without the knowledge of nearby Saint Edmond Catholic School administrators or parents.

Also Thursday, the Iowa attorney general’s office said it has opened an information-gathering inquiry into the handling of clergy abuse. Attorney General Tom Miller said that he was appalled by cases of abuse and cover-up that had been documented in Pennsylvania and “cases in Iowa that have gone unreported.”


5. The Life of the Saints as the Living Reading of God’s Word, All Saints Day.

By Fr. Roger Landry, American Bible Society Retreat and Pilgrimage, Giustiniano Hotel, Rome, November 1, 2018, Homily
Fr. Roger J. Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts and the National Chaplain of Catholic Voices USA.

The following points were attempted in the homily: 
As we continue on our pilgrimage, today we are able to celebrate all those who have “finished the race,” “kept the faith” and received the “crown of righteousness.” Every pilgrimage is meant to help us on the pilgrimage of life and the saints we celebrate today — not merely the famous ones but all those, including the most humble, unknown and forgotten, including, we pray, those who passed on to us the treasure of the faith — are the alpine climbers of Mt. Everest who want to help us and show us how to follow in their footsteps to the summit of the celestial Jerusalem. They are the ones who longed to see God’s face, as we pray in the Psalm today, and now behold it. They are the beloved children of God who, as St. John foretells in the second reading, now are fully like God because they see him as he is. 

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for holiness.” Through the Eucharist in which Jesus comes to make us holy, together on this great feast day, surrounded at Mass by all the saints in heaven, that “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1) who are cheering us now on to victory, we ask the Lord help us have that hunger, to have that thirst, that desire for holiness, for living the beatitudes, for saying yes to Christ and no to the standards of the world, so that one day with all the saints we fête today we will indeed be filled in heaven forever.