1. Pope Confirms 2018 Visit to Ireland, Prime Minister Says, By The Associated Press, November 28, 2016, 12:28 PM.

Pope Francis confirmed plans Monday to make a 2018 trip to Ireland, a Roman Catholic country devastated by the clerical sex abuse scandal, where same-sex marriages are legal and a constitutional ban on abortion is being questioned.

Francis confirmed the plans during a meeting with visiting Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.
“The pope has confirmed that he is coming to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families,” Kenny told reporters.

The prime minister said talks were under way about whether Francis would visit Northern Ireland, which St. John Paul II avoided as pope in 1979 on security grounds.


2. Pope: Christian humility is the virtue of “the childlike”, Pope Francis’ Daily Homily, November 29, 2016.

Pope Francis said on Tuesday that true Christian humility is the virtue of the childlike and is never a theatrical humility. His words came at his morning Mass celebrated in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.

Taking his inspiration from the day’s readings the Pope’s homily was a reflection on how God reveals himself to the humble and childlike rather than the wise and learned as recounted in the gospel of Luke. He noted that the day’s first reading from the book of Isaiah is also full of references to little things such as the small shoot that “shall sprout from the stump of Jesse” rather than an army that will bring about liberation. Pope Francis went on to explain how in the Christmas story too the leading figures are the small and the humble.

“Then at Christmas, we see this smallness, this little thing: a baby, a stable, a mother, a father… little ones.  (They have) big hearts but the attitude of a child.  And the Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit comes to rest on this shoot and this small shoot will have the virtue of the childlike and the fear of the Lord.  He will walk in the fear of the Lord. Fear of the Lord is not terror: no, it is putting into practice God’s commandment that he gave to our father Abram: ‘Live in my presence, be perfect,’ Humble – this is humility, fear of the Lord is humility.”


3. Religious freedom report highlights threat of ‘Islamic hyper-extremism’, By Inés San Martín, Vatican Correspondent, Crux, November 28, 2016.

In recent years Christians and other minorities in the Middle East have not only suffered violence and persecution, they have been victims of kidnapping, hanging, crucifixion, executions and sexual enslavement, but also abandonment, she said.

“The West has turned its back on us,” said Rodrigo, who’s been serving in the Middle East for 20 years.

The situation she described doesn’t happen only in Syria, where Unicef estimates half a million children live under siege, almost completely cut off from humanitarian aid and basic services.

According to the latest report from the papal charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), presented in the United Kingdom last week, the situation is getting steadily worse.

The Religious Freedom in the World report was compiled by in-country experts, including journalists, academics and commentators, and examines the degree to which nation states uphold the principle of religious freedom and the impact of destabilizing extremist groups within society.

The report even speaks of a new form of religiously motivated violence, described as “Islamist hyper-extremism.”


4. Fidel Castro’s War on Religion, By Paul Kengor, National Catholic Register, November 28, 2016.

Fidel Castro, from 1959-2006 the world’s longest-running Marxist dictator, is dead at the age of 90. He was no friend of the Cuban people, or of Cuban Catholics. He was a brutal leader who was responsible for the deaths of thousands, and who silenced the prayers and voices of many more.

Being a devoted communist, Fidel Castro was possessed with a hatred of religion. In Cuba, like everywhere else, communists launched their standard war on faith. From country to country, no ideology has so consistently and viciously attacked Christianity like communism — starting with the Bolsheviks in 1917 and resounding throughout the century ahead. As Mikhail Gorbachev put it, communists launched a systematic “war on religion.”

Cuba was no exception. From the moment that Castro took hold in January 1959, churches were in trouble. The regime quickly launched a propaganda campaign against the faithful, describing Catholics as “social scum.” By the late 1960s, Christmas was banned on the island. Churches were shut down. Priests and their parishioners were silenced, arrested or placed under tight surveillance, with every word of every service or homily monitored by government church-watchers infiltrating the pews. Any criticism, especially of the Marxist regime, was very dangerous. One could not be a member of the Communist Party in Cuba (the only party legally permitted, including for any government jobs) without professing a belief in atheism.

To appreciate the gravity of the assault by Castro, we need to first appreciate the historical roots of the faith in this country that was once more than 90% Roman Catholic. People were proud of it, and they practiced the faith naturally and vigorously. In fact, the island was once a pilgrimage center.


5. U.S. Abortion Rate Continues To Decline, by Michael J. New, National Review – The Corner, November 28, 2016, 4:34 PM.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week released its Abortion Surveillance report for 2013, revealing that the abortion rate in the U.S. continued its steady decline from previous years. In the 46 states reporting data for both 2012 and 2013, the overall number of abortions fell by almost five percent. The decline was widespread, as the number of abortions fell in 41 of the 46 states that reported data for each of these two years. In fact, the U.S. abortion rate has declined consistently since it peaked in 1980; it fell by approximately 15 percent between 2004 and 2013 and has fallen by over 40 percent since 1980.

Interestingly, for the past 14 years, the CDC has almost always released its annual Abortion Surveillance report on or around Thanksgiving weekend. (Declining abortion numbers are certainly a reason for thanks.) Because the release date coincides with a major holiday, these abortion trends tend to receive relatively little attention from the mainstream media. This late-November release also means that the already limited coverage receives even less attention from readers due to the holiday. For this reason, pro-lifers would do well to especially highlight this long-term decline in our country’s abortion rate. It is perhaps the best evidence of the success we have had in enacting protective laws, shifting public opinion, and building a culture of life in the United States.