1. Senate Dems delay Brownback confirmation, gamble people’s lives.

By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is Legal Advisor for The Catholic Association Foundation, The Hill, November 9, 2017, 6:40 AM

Politics. It is the only word to describe delay on the full senate vote to confirm Gov. Sam Brownback as ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom (IRF). But petty politicking has no place where fundamental human rights are at stake. It is time for the senate to do its job and confirm the eminently qualified Brownback.

On October 26, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations approved Gov. Brownback’s nomination. The normal course of business is the unanimous consent of the full senate, but Democratic Party leadership plans to delay and insist on a floor vote to confirm Brownback. The Senate’s responsibility to confirm the IRF ambassadorship should not be an occasion for continued obstructionism by politicians at odds with the president. Those persecuted throughout the world because of their faith deserve more.

Encouraging the international community to embrace religious pluralism promotes one of our greatest rights — the right to believe (or not) without governmental interference or third party interference or persecution.  Politics should not get in the way of America’s leadership in promoting international religious freedom. We urge the senate to promptly confirm Governor Brownback as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.   


2. Chaput: Controversies have obscured the ‘great wisdom and beauty’ of ‘Amoris’.

By Christopher White, Crux, November 9, 2017

In an address on Wednesday to the National Assembly of Filipino Priests USA in Houston, Texas, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said the controversies over Amoris Laetitia have “obscured much of the good in the document.”

Titled “Amoris Laetitia and the Nature of Mercy,” Chaput’s remarks focused on three major areas: “the pastoral challenges Amoris Laetitia seeks to address; the pastoral challenges the text itself may seem to create; and how we as priests need to respond as ‘missionaries of mercy.’”

Amoris Laetitia, Francis’s landmark apostolic exhortation on marriage and family life, is the outcome document resulting from two Synods on the Family called by Francis in 2014 and 2015. Chaput’s remarks were delivered at the third annual gathering of Filipino priests, aimed to promote more effective pastoral leadership.

“Fidelity to the received and constant wisdom of Catholic teaching is paramount. So the spirit behind our Philadelphia guidelines, grounded in Amoris Laetitia, is the following. As a Church we need to meet people where they are. We need to listen to their sufferings and hopes. We need to accompany them along the path of their lives. That demands from us as priests a spirit of patience and mercy. We need to have a bias toward welcoming, and a resistance to seeing individual persons merely as parts of alien or alienated groups,” he continued.

“The divorced and civilly remarried are not exiles from Church life. They need to be invited back. The same applies to persons with same-sex attraction. Jesus Christ died for all of us, and we need to behave in a manner that embodies his love.”

Yet Chaput also cautioned that “‘accompanying’ people also means that we need to guide them in the right direction – gently but also honestly, speaking the truth with love…We can’t simply confirm people in their mistakes. Scripture is very clear about right and wrong sexual relationships and behavior.”

Chaput concluded his remarks by observing that “the curse of our age is loneliness” and that it was the duty of the priest to respond to the challenges created by this in order to “be the presence of God’s love in the world.

“There’s no greater mission of mercy than that,” he said, “and no greater joy in the life of a priest.”


3. Republican leaders take heat over proposed elimination of adoption tax credit.

By David Sherfinski, The Washington Times, November 9, 2017, Pg. A1

Republican leaders are taking major heat from their own members over their proposal to eliminate the adoption tax credit, with conservatives saying they can’t stomach eliminating a policy that has been a major contributor to the pro-life movement.

While by no means the largest of the tax breaks facing trims in the Republican tax-cut bill, the adoption credit is symbolically large, using federal taxpayers’ money to ease the path for would-be parents struggling with the high cost of adoption.


Under the current tax code, families can claim a credit of up to $13,570 to cover expenses associated with completing an adoption. Nixing the credit would save the government $3.8 billion over the next decade, a pittance compared with proposed tax breaks that add up to hundreds of billions of dollars.

But Republican leaders said if their goal is to flatten the tax code, then things like the adoption credit have to be targets for cutting.

[Ways and Means Committee Chairman] Kevin Brady said in practice it also becomes a special interest break, chiefly used by higher-income Americans who itemize their deductions on their tax returns but unused by the majority of Americans who take the standard deduction when they file.

The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List is also among the groups fighting to keep the break.

“This important tax credit helps tens of thousands of families each year offset the steep costs of adopting children. We urge the pro-life House to remove this provision from their bill immediately,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the group.


4. Italy’s ‘Smiling Pope’ Inches Closer to Sainthood.

By Reuters, November 9, 2017, 5:24 AM

Pope John Paul I, who served for just 33 days as Pontiff in 1978 before his abrupt death, has moved a step closer to sainthood, the Vatican said on Thursday.

Known as the “smiling Pope” because of his good nature, Albino Luciani’s reign as head of the Catholic Church was the shortest in modern times and his shock demise fueled press speculation that he might have been murdered.

The Vatican has always denied the rumors, saying he died of a heart attack.

As a first step to placing him among the Church’s swelling ranks of saints, the Vatican said Pope Francis had backed a vote by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints to recognize the “heroic virtues” of Pope John Paul I.

This means John Paul I, the last Italian to be made pontiff, can now move on toward beatification, the final step before sainthood. Beatification would require a miracle attributed to his intercession.


5. Pope Seeks to Defuse Korea Tension, Push Nuclear Disarmament.

By Associated Press, November 9, 2017, 3:21 AM

Pope Francis is seeking to defuse rising nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula and to boost support for disarmament with a Vatican conference that will bring together 11 Nobel Peace Prize winners, United Nations and NATO officials, and representatives from a handful of countries with the bomb.

For some analysts, Francis’ address at the gathering Friday will provide a welcome break in the heated war of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as Trump continues his first trip to Asia as president.

The Vatican hopes the conference will do more by further discrediting the Cold War-era idea that atomic weapons serve a purpose for deterrence and global security.

The conference is the first major international gathering since 122 countries approved a new U.N. treaty in July calling for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. However, none of the nuclear powers and no NATO members signed on. They argued the treaty’s lofty ideals were unrealistic given the rapid expansion of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

The Holy See has consistently opposed nuclear weapons and supported nonproliferation and disarmament efforts, and history’s first Latin American pope has strongly backed that line. But Francis brings to the table arguments based on his other papal priorities: that atomic weapons are a threat to the environment, that the costs of developing them could be put to far better use, and that the world would be a far safer place if dialogue prevailed over confrontation.


6. Holy Smoke! Vatican to stop selling cigarettes.

By Associated Press, November 9, 2017, 6:56 AM

The Vatican announced Thursday that it would no longer sell cigarettes to employees in its duty free shop and supermarket — giving up an estimated 10 million euros ($11 million) a year in profits.

The Vatican said Francis took the decision because “the Holy See cannot contribute to an activity that clearly damages the health of people.” A statement cited World Health Organization data finding that smoking is the cause of more than 7 million deaths annually around the globe.

A 2015 book based on leaked Vatican documents, “Avarice,” reported that cigarette sales bring in an estimated 10 million euros a year to the Vatican City State and are the second-most important source of income after tax-free gas sales.


7. Bashing prayer proves how little secular elites understand faith.

By Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie and Maureen Malloy Ferguson, Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie is a Policy Advisor for The Catholic Association and Maureen Malloy Ferguson is the Senior Policy Advisor for The Catholic Association, The Hill, November 8, 2017, 9:00 AM

In response to the “thoughts and prayers” for the recently bereaved in the tragic church shooting in Texas, there has been a firestorm of scorn from some politicians and celebrities mocking the faithful. Ridiculing people who pray is nothing new in elite society, of course, but our hyperactive social mediaamplifies the mockery, and the shoot-from-the-hip style of our Twitter culture sometimes leaves people sorry later for their insensitivity.

Prayer, as any one knows who practices their faith sincerely, is not a superstitious talisman against suffering and death. The famous philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, is said to have put it this way: 

“The function of prayer is not to influence God but to change the nature of the one who prays.”

The purpose of prayer is not to ask God to organize our lives as we would have them be, but to organize our own minds and hearts to accept the hardships and trials that life inexorably brings. And even more than to simply accept, to triumph over them, replacing despair with hope, hate with love, and separation with unity. Every American of faith knows that most of the survivors of the awful tragedy in Sutherland Springs will respond not with disbelief in the power of prayer, but instead will redouble their supplications. Because like C.S. Lewis, they will be filled with the knowledge of their helplessness and need, and they will turn to the only real source of help.

For the bereaved, God will not take away their pain, but he can make them stronger than their suffering. They will receive the graces they ask for in abundance. Things ineffable like forgiveness and love and hope and comfort, and of course “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” The millions who pray for the people of Sutherland Springs long to help them, and so they turn to the one who can. And they ask that their prayers help their suffering brothers and sisters.

These are elevated concepts, much higher and nobler than the realm of politics and tit-for-tat twitter threads. There is a vast brotherhood of Americans praying together in their need and weakness, and seeking help and strength for themselves and for others. It would be wonderful if those who are shut away in their secular bubbles, lacking supernatural understanding, at least refrain from poking fun at the good hearts who do what people everywhere, up and down the ages, have done in the face of tragedy — pray.