1. Clarence Thomas speaks.

By Kathleen Parker, The Washington Post, November 6, 2019, Pg. A25, Opinion

Nearly everyone has an impression of him — and most are mistaken. For, if they knew Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas better, they’d most likely be celebrating and naming streets after him.

Thomas is an American hero. Born to nothing, he grew up knowing only hard labor and unyielding discipline, episodes of deep faith, years of searing anger and stints as a seminarian and a college revolutionary. Ultimately, he graduated from Yale Law School and earned a seat on the highest court in the land.

And, yet, because he’s a conservative, a sin especially grave to some because he is black, and because he opposes Roe v. Wade, he is reviled by the many who, were he ideologically otherwise, would herald him as a triumph of individual will and grace over seemingly insurmountable odds.

This is the takeaway from a new documentary about Thomas, who granted director Michael Pack full access. The two-hour film, “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words,” is a distillation of 30 hours of interviews in which Thomas tells his story, up close and personal, as if sitting across a table.


2. Fearlessness and the American Bishops in Rome.

By George Weigel, First Things, November 6, 2019

That faith-based fearlessness might well inspire the bishops of the United States on their upcoming ad limina visits to Rome and the “thresholds of the Apostles”: the pilgrimage that every bishop is required to make on a regular basis, during which the Americans will meet in regional groups with Pope Francis and officials of the Roman Curia. Why ought the bishops display fearlessness in Rome? Because their task during the ad limina cycle that begins this month and concludes in February 2020 will be to correct the cartoon view of the Church in the United States that is widespread in the Vatican these days.

According to the cartoon, U.S. Catholicism is dominated by a rigid, legalistic cast of mind, more eager to condemn than to convert, warped by imports from the evangelical Protestant “prosperity Gospel” and beholden to wealthy Catholics with a hard-right political agenda. As any serious student of U.S. Catholicism knows, this is a vicious lie. But it has been successfully sold in the Vatican (and then broadcast by the more hard-edged mouthpieces of the present pontificate), despite the fact that an early version of the cartoon was propagated in Rome in 2013 by the now-disgraced Theodore McCarrick. The developed cartoon was then used to bully Third World bishops at Synod-2018, where warnings were issued against forming alliances with the Americans, who were “against the Pope.”

That, too, was a lie. With the possible exception of the Italian conference, no bishops’ conference in the world has been more deferential to the Holy See than the U.S. conference. But then the people propagating that lie are over-the-top ultramontanists—papal absolutists—whose idea of the range of the pope’s teaching authority, and the deference due it, might make even Pius IX blush, at least a little (and on his better days). To such minds, even respectful challenge is infidelity.

For all its faults—and they are many—the Catholic Church in the United States lives the New Evangelization better than any other local Church in the developed world.  More acute minds in Rome know that, though many are afraid to say it lest they be labeled “enemies of the pope.” All the more reason, then, for the U.S. bishops to correct the cartoon, respectfully but firmly, so that a serious conversation between Rome and America about the Catholic future in the United States can begin.


3. Mother Teresa Award honors those who fight modern slavery.

By Nirmala Carvalho, Crux, November 6, 2019

From organ trafficking to sex slavery, the types of human trafficking plaguing the world were highlighted during the Mother Teresa Memorial Awards on Nov. 3.

An initiative of the Mumbai-based Harmony Foundation and the only award named for Mother Teresa endorsed by the Missionaries of Charity, the project has been running for 15 years to honor Indian and international organizations and individuals in the field of social justice.

Every year, Mother Teresa Memorial Awards and the Harmony International Conference focuses on a theme, which for 2019 is Combating Contemporary Forms of Slavery.

Contemporary forms of slavery include child labor and exploitation, sexual exploitation and slavery, bonded labor, organ trafficking and harvesting and children forced into active combat. Experts claim 40.3 million people being direct victims of contemporary forms of slavery and 71 percent of these victims are women and children.

This year’s winners included Ajeet Singh, the founder of Guria who has spearheaded the fight to combat sexual exploitation of women and children in India; Alezandra Russell, the founder of Urban Light, seeks to rehabilitate boys and men who have been victims of trafficking and exploitation in Thailand; Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, which seeks uphold ethical practices in medicine and its fight against organ trafficking; Free A Girl, which works to help train female lawyers in Asia and Latin America, and is dedicated to fighting sexual slavery; and Hasina Kharbhih, the founder of Impulse NGO Network, which seeks to train women to entrepreneurs as a means of preventing human trafficking in South Asia.


4. Moderates add exceptions to South Carolina abortion ban bill.

By Jeffrey Collins, The Associated Press, November 5, 2019,

A group of moderate senators restored exceptions for rape and incest on Tuesday to a measure to ban nearly all abortions in South Carolina, sending the bill to the state Senate floor for a potential 2020 election year fight.

The exceptions may be crucial for the bill to have any chance to pass. A proposal to ban abortions without them failed last year in South Carolina’s Republican-dominated Senate.

Similar bills have passed in recent years in Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio. Missouri approved a ban on abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy and Alabama lawmakers simply outlawed all abortions. All of them remain tied up in courts.


5. Cardinal Pell objected to Vatican hospital loan.

By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency, November 5, 2019, 11:12 AM

A 50 million euro loan request to secure the purchase of a bankrupt hospital was vetoed by Cardinal George Pell and financial authorities at the Institute for Works of Religion, commonly called the Vatican Bank, before it was approved by the Holy See’s central bank, APSA, where the loan breached international regulatory agreements.

According to several Vatican officials, in late 2014 two cardinals requested that the IOR, the Vatican’s commercial bank, grant a 50 million euro loan to a for-profit partnership between the Holy See’s Secretariat of State and a religious order, which intended to purchase a bankrupt Italian hospital, then in government-administered bankruptcy.

Their loan proposal was rejected in 2015, when the IOR board determined that the IDI would never be able to repay the loan, senior sources at two Vatican financial agencies told CNA.

Officials at APSA and the Prefecture for the Economy told CNA that Pell was vocally opposed to the loan proposal. The cardinal was at that time charged by Pope Francis with reforming Vatican finances.

It was clear the proposal would have “been a case of throwing good money after bad. There was no question of a return to stability, let alone profit,” one official told CNA.

After conflict over the loan, Pope Francis withdrew oversight authority over APSA’s investment decisions from Pell’s office. Multiple Vatican sources told CNA that decision was strongly influenced by lobbying from Becciu.

Cardinal Becciu was also responsible for the cancellation of a proposed external audit by PricewaterhouseCooper of all Vatican finances, and opposed to Cardinal Pell’s intention to end the practice of keeping some Holy See assets and funds “off books.”


6. Common Good Capitalism and the Dignity of Work.

By Sen. Marco Rubio, The Public Discourse, November 5, 2019

Common good capitalism is about a vibrant and growing free market. But it is also about harnessing and channeling that growth to the benefit of our country, our people, and our society. Because after all, our nation does not exist to serve the interests of the market. The market exists to serve our nation and our people. Adapted from remarks delivered at the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America.

A few weeks ago, the Attorney General gave a speech about religious liberty at Notre Dame. The reaction was a cautionary tale about how, if a Catholic public official speaks to a Catholic audience on the connection between our faith and public policy, he or she will be accused of supporting a “religious theocracy” right out of The Handmaid’s Tale.

In 1891, in the midst of an Industrial Revolution that was transformative and disruptive, and the rise of socialism, Pope Leo wrote an encyclical titled Rerum Novarum. I wanted to revisit what he wrote because we are once again in the midst of transformative and disruptive economic change. And we once again face rising calls for socialism.

The economy he described as the right response was one in which workers and businesses are not competitors for their share of limited resources, but instead partners in an effort that benefits both and strengthens the entire nation. This describes not just the kind of economy most of us want here in America; it describes our economy during our nation’s most prosperous and secure moments.

Yet, for some reason, we have drifted far from this kind of society. We are quite familiar and enthusiastic about our rights, but not nearly as familiar or excited about our obligations.

Therefore, an America in which no one is held back by their gender, the color of their skin, or their ethnic origin is no longer just morally right. It’s a national imperative. Because in this competition with a near-peer adversary with three times our population, we need all hands on deck and can’t afford to leave anyone behind. This is a difficult challenge we face. But being America has always been difficult. For, in the words of the late sociologist Robert Bellah, the American tradition—the “transcendent goal” of our politics—renders sacred our “obligation to carry out God’s will on Earth.”

That is the difficult goal accepted by each generation before us. And we are the beneficiaries of their sacrifices and achievements. Now we must decide whether to accept the challenge of our time. Now we must author the next chapter in the story of the nation that changed the world. We have the opportunity to create an America greater than it has ever been: to give our children and grandchildren the chance to be the freest and most prosperous people who have ever walked the Earth. If we succeed, America will once again transform the world. And the twenty-first century will be known as The New American Century.


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