1. Can the Democrats Move Right?, By Ross Douthat, New York Times Online, November 30, 2016, Op-Ed Columnist.

Since Election Day the great intra-Democratic debate over What Went Wrong has been dominated by two visions of how liberalism should be organized, identity politics versus economic solidarity, with writers variously critiquing or defending each tendency, or arguing that they are complements and that any tension can and ought to be resolved.

So the incentives are there to look for issues where Democrats might plausibly move rightward, back toward voters they have lost. And so are the issues themselves. The Democrats have ceded a lot of territory in their recent gallop leftward, and it wouldn’t be that hard to come up with a revised version of the (again, Bill) Clinton playbook suited to the present time.

For instance: Democrats could attempt to declare a culture-war truce, consolidating the gains of the Obama era while disavowing attempts to regulate institutions and communities that don’t follow the current social-liberal line. That would mean no more fines for Catholic charities and hospitals, no more transgender-bathroom directives handed down from the White House to local schools, and restraint rather than ruthlessness in future debates over funding and accreditation for conservative religious schools. Without backing away from their support for same-sex marriage and legal abortion, leading Democratic politicians could talk more favorably about moral and religious pluralism, and offer reassurances to people who feel themselves to be dissenters from a very novel cultural regime.


2. Martin Scorsese Meets Pope as Film on Jesuits Screens in Rome, Reuters, November 30, 2016, 7:00 AM.

Pope Francis on Wednesday met Martin Scorsese after a special screening in Rome of the Oscar-winning director’s new film “Silence,” about Jesuit missionaries in 17th century Japan, the Vatican said.

For Scorsese, who spent a year in a “minor seminary”, a high school for boys considering the priesthood, the meeting came almost thirty years after many conservative Church leaders condemned his 1988 film “The Last Temptation of Christ”.

The encounter held significance too for the 79-year-old pope, a member of the Jesuit order who as a young priest in Argentina had wanted to go to Japan as a missionary but could not for health reasons.

Scorsese, 74, attended a special screening of “Silence” on Tuesday night for more than 300 Jesuit priests. A second screening was planned for a smaller audience in the Vatican on Wednesday afternoon, though it was not clear if the pope would attend.


3. A (Liturgical) New Year’s Resolution, By George Weigel, First Things, November 30, 2016.

There was an awful lot of this airbrushing before and during the recent consistory for the creation of new cardinals. And I regret to note that one striking example of it came in a Catholic News Service video-interview with Cardinal Kevin Farrell, recently transferred from Dallas to Rome to lead the new Vatican dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life. In that interview, the cardinal, who in 2014 was eager for me to give the University of Dallas commencement address in order commemorate the recently canonized St. John Paul II, seemed to have forgotten that John Paul ever existed.

Thus Farrell, praising “Pope Francis’s great charisma” and “how the people flock to him” and the “amazing” way “he comes down to the people,” finished his tribute to the man who had named him cardinal by saying that all of this was “unthought of and unheard of twenty years ago.”


Was John Paul II shot in his apartment by an interloper who had sneaked past the Swiss Guard? Or was he shot by a would-be assassin standing in the midst of one of the vast throngs the Polish pope drew to St. Peter’s Square for over twenty-five years? Has Cardinal Farrell forgotten that, just before Mehmet Ali Agca’s shots rang out, John Paul had handed a small child he had embraced and blessed back to its mother? That was thirty-five years ago this past May 13. Which means that it’s preposterous to say that it was “unthought-of and unheard of twenty years ago” that a pope should mingle with crowds and embrace the people who were flocking to him. It was happening fifteen years and more before that.

Pope Francis’s contributions to Catholic life are obvious enough that they needn’t be promoted by falsifying history, playing to the Church’s secular critics, or defaming brothers and sisters in Christ. Neither the Holy Father nor the New Evangelization is well-served by such tactics.


4. Pope Francis: “Never been such a clear need for science” to protect the planet, By Brady Dennis, Washington Post Online, November 29, 2016, 4:32 PM.

Pope Francis this week implored world leaders not to postpone the implementation of global environmental pacts, an appeal that appeared aimed at President-elect Donald Trump’s vows to end the United States’ leading role in combating climate change.

The pope’s remarks came during a gathering of scientists at the Vatican, at which he said there has “never been such a clear need for science” to guide human actions to safeguard the future of the planet.

“It is worth noting that international politics has reacted weakly — albeit with some praiseworthy exceptions — regarding the concrete will to seek the common good and universal goods, and the ease with which well-founded scientific opinion about the state of our planet is disregarded,” the pontiff said, according to a translation provided by the Vatican. He added that the “‘distraction’ or delay” in implementing global agreements on the environment demonstrates how politics have become submissive “to a technology and an economy which seek profit above all else.”

At the Vatican, Francis praised the work of scientists, who he said must remain independent and emerge as leaders in fighting for climate action.

“I would say that it falls to scientists, who work free of political, economic or ideological interests, to develop a cultural model which can face the crisis of climatic change and its social consequences,” he said, “so that the vast potential of productivity will not be reserved for only a few.”


5. Vatican judge says cardinal-critics of pope could lose red hats, By Inés San Martín , Vatican Correspondent, Crux, November 29, 2016.

According to a senior Vatican judge, four cardinals, including American Raymond Burke, who recently published a letter in which they asked Pope Francis to clarify his document on the family, Amoris Laetitia, could lose their red hats over what he termed the “very grave scandal” they’ve caused.

“What Church do these cardinals defend? The pope is faithful to the doctrine of Christ,” said Father Pio Vito Pinto.

“What they [the cardinals] have done is a very grave scandal, which could even lead the Holy Father to take away their red hats, as it’s happened already in some other times in the Church,” Vito Pinto said.

The priest, appointed in 2012 by emeritus Pope Benedict XVI as head of the Vatican’s main working court, also known as the Roman Rota, was quick to clarify that his words don’t mean Francis has made such a decision, simply that he could.

“Whether you [or the pope] agree with what the cardinals asked, it wouldn’t be wise [to ask for their resignations] because they’re asking questions that many people have, both ‘left’ and ‘right,’” he said, adding that at the end of the day, the cardinals did what they’re supposed to do: “Advise the pope.”

Martens said that if consulted by Pope Francis, he would advise him to invite the four cardinals for a conversation, because among other reasons, by taking the red hats away, he would be doing the opposite of what he preaches, which is inviting people to dialogue.


6. You may dislike him, but Trump is the best pro-life chance we’ve got, By Brendan O’Morchoe, Crux, November 29, 2016.

The pro-life movement finds itself in a unique – and arguably enviable – position as both houses of Congress and the presidency are controlled by self-proclaimed pro-lifers.

Thankfully the 2016 presidential election cycle is over and while the candidates left countless things to be desired, the nation is left grappling with a president who essentially insulted his way to the nation’s highest elected office.

But it’s over, at last. While pro-lifers, including myself, never had Donald Trump as their first choice, he’s now the president, for better or worse.

Many pro-lifers have questioned his creds as a true believer in the protection of innocent life. But does it matter now?

No. It matters that he is the first president elected that made specific pro-life promises on the campaign trail: to defund Planned Parenthood, appoint pro-life Supreme Court Justices, pass a ban on abortion at 20 weeks, and permanently ban taxpayer funding of abortion. No candidate has ever before made those promises.

It doesn’t matter if pro-lifers like President Trump or not. He represents the best opportunity the pro-life movement has had to pass life-saving legislation at the national level in at least a decade.

The pro-life movement is the courageous prayer warriors spending countless hours praying outside abortion facilities, counseling women and men considering abortion.

It is the student standing up for the preborn and bringing resources for pregnant and parenting students to campus. It is the family who opens their home to a woman in need. It is the couple who steps out in faith to adopt a child. It is the activists who give freely of themselves to end the greatest human rights injustice our world has ever known.

That is the face, and the heart and soul, of the pro-life movement. We are a grassroots movement with a huge opportunity. Let’s not squander it by waiting for the perfect president.


7. The “Concern”, By Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., Crisis Magazine, November 30, 2016.

But none of these issues seems to be what most concerns people. We are used to maintain that the principle of contradiction binds us to the truth of things. Catholicism is a religion that takes mind seriously. Revelation and reason do not contradict each other. These affirmations about reason and revelation indicate a certain confidence in our Catholicism. When spelled out, what the faith teaches makes sense in all areas. We can articulate what we are talking about without claiming that we grasp absolutely everything about the mystery of being. In fact, we claim that we do not understand everything in all its intelligibility. We do not confuse ourselves with the gods.

What we can figure out by ourselves makes sense also. We hold that what was revealed by Christ still holds and was intended to do so over time. Among these teachings and practices that were revealed was that of the consistency over time of the content of revelation. This consistency of its intelligibility was to be upheld in particular by the office of the papacy.

In this light, the “concern” that exists today is whether the promise to Peter that what Christ did and held would be kept alive in its fullness. The Church thus must avoid contradicting itself; that is, teaching one thing in one generation or area and its opposite in another. We are not concerned here with equivocation or impreciseness. If some pope did cross this line, we can at least suspect that he would not admit it or see the point. If he had the issue pointed out to him and saw its import, he would simply acknowledge what is the truth and be done with it. Otherwise, a drawn-out struggle would follow to decide who is right.

So, briefly, to conclude, what is the “concern” that so many have? It is whether a shrewd way of undermining what had been handed down has been introduced into the Church. I myself do not think opposing “legalism” in favor of “discernment” is a good idea. Law and equity, discernment of both good and bad spirits, are necessary. Not all questions need to be clarified immediately. I, at least, belong to the school of thought that thinks that the most important ones should be clarified. It is not “legalism” to do so. We are not a people who seek to live in darkness. We seek to live in the light that teaches us about what is.