1. Pope Francis Extends Priests’ Ability to Forgive the ‘Grave Sin’ of Abortion, By Elisabetta Povoledo and Liam Stack, The New York Times, November 22, 2016, Pg. A4.

The Roman Catholic Church will allow priests throughout the world to grant absolution for abortion, the Vatican said on Monday, making permanent a policy that Pope Francis announced a year ago.

In a document marking the conclusion of the church’s yearlong Jubilee of Mercy, the pope extended a policy of allowing priests — and not only bishops or special confessors — to grant forgiveness for abortion, which the church considers a sin. The announcement was a signal of the pope’s vision of a more welcoming, merciful and inclusive church.

Under canon law, abortion brings automatic excommunication unless the person receiving or performing it confesses and receives absolution. Abortion is considered a “reserved sin,” meaning that permission to grant forgiveness usually must come from a bishop.

Bishops could already delegate the authority to grant absolution to parish priests — and many bishops in the United States had done so — but the practice varied widely by country and even by diocese. In parts of the world, observant Catholics who have sought absolution for abortions have faced delays at times, or even rejection.

“Now that right is extended to all priests,” he said, noting that changes would have to be made to canon law to reflect the new practice.


2. Dolan wants stronger push against physician-assisted suicide, By Nancy Wiechec, Catholic News Service, November 21, 2016.

The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities has called for increased efforts and “renewed vigor” to stop legalized physician-assisted suicide after the practice was approved by voters in Colorado and the District of Columbia City Council.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York urged Catholics to join medical professionals, disability rights groups and others “in fighting for the authentic care” of people facing terminal illness in a statement released Nov. 21.

“The act of prescribing a fatal, poisonous dose, moreover, undermines the very heart of medicine,” Dolan said. “Doctors vow to do no harm, and yet assisted suicide is the ultimate abandonment of their patients.”

“Patients need our assurance that they are not a burden – that it is a privilege to care for them as we ourselves hope to be cared for one day. A compassionate society devotes more attention, not less, to members facing the most vulnerable times in their lives.”


3. Bork to the future this holiday season: Robert Bork’s analysis of American culture has proven true, By Kathryn Jean Lopez, The Albany Herald, November 21, 2016.

Bork wrote: “The fear of religion in the public arena is all too typical of Americans, and particularly the intellectual class, today. Religious conservatives cannot ‘impose’ their ideas on society except by the usual democratic methods of trying to build majorities and passing legislation. In that they are no different from any other group of people with ideas of what morality requires. All legislation ‘imposes’ a morality of one sort or another, and, therefore, on the reasoning offered, all law would seem to be antithetical to pluralism.”

Fast-forward two decades, and Mary Eberstadt has written a book titled “It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies.” In it, she chronicles some of the people who have been victims of this insistence on driving real religion — that is, religion that actually says something about life and law and offers a way to live that is challenging and even beneficial to society — from the public square.

In “Slouching Toward Gomorrah,” Judge Bork wrote: “Only religion can accomplish for a modern society what tradition, reason and empirical observation cannot. Christianity and Judaism provide the major premises of moral reasoning by revelation and by the stories in the Bible. There is no need to attempt the impossible task of reasoning your way to first principles. Those principles are accepted as given by God.”

During the Obama administration, there have been unprecedented encroachments on religious liberty in the United States. But they don’t resonate with the public, for two reasons, as best I can tell: People don’t believe it’s really happening and they don’t know what freedom of conscience means, and how deeply it affects us all — including the health of our politics.

It is dangerous to believe, and not just because of intolerance. It’s dangerous to believe because it changes your life and challenges you to something better. And if we’re better, we’ll see again why it’s so necessary.


4. Proclaim Christ the king of mercy, pope says at end of Holy Year, By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, November 20, 2016, 8:03 AM.

Following Christ the King, whose regal power is love and mercy, means the whole church and each Christian must “follow his way of tangible love,” Pope Francis said.

Celebrating the feast of Christ the King Nov. 20 and officially closing the extraordinary jubilee celebration of the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis insisted, “we have received mercy in order to be merciful.”

In his homily, Pope Francis said that even if the Holy Door is closed, “the true door of mercy, which is the heart of Christ, always remains open wide for us.”

The power of Christ the King, he said, “is not power as defined by this world, but the love of God, a love capable of encountering and healing all things.”

Like the “good thief” who turned to Jesus on the cross and was assured a place in heaven, anyone who turns to God with trust can be forgiven, the pope said. “He is ready to completely and forever cancel our sin, because his memory — unlike our own — does not record evil that has been done or keep score of injustices experienced.”

At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis signed his new apostolic letter, “Misericordia et Misera,” (Mercy and Misery), which a papal aide announced was written to affirm that the commitment to sharing the merciful love of God continues because it is “the heart of the Gospel.”