1. Our Lady of Fatima: The Virgin Mary promised three kids a miracle that 70,000 gathered to see.

By Katherine Arcement, The Washington Post, October 13, 2017, 3:00 AM

The children were tending a flock of sheep outside the tiny village of Fatima, Portugal, when they first saw the angel. He was transparent, they said, and shining like a crystal.

Lucia Abobora, 9, and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, 6 and 7, were stunned.

“He said, “Do not be afraid. I am the angel of peace. Pray with me,’” Abobora — later renamed Lucia de Jesus de dos Santos — recounted in her memoir, “Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words,” published in 1976.

During the rest of 1916, as World War I raged in Europe, the angel showed himself two more times to the children. But they told no one what they’d seen.

In the spring of 1917, something more extraordinary began unfolding — visions that would put three children on the path to sainthood and transform Fatima from an ordinary village to the site of a Catholic shrine venerated and visited by millions.

The Virgin Mary appeared to the children on May 13, 1917 as “a lady dressed in white, shining brighter than the sun, giving out rays of clear and intense light,” dos Santos wrote. She promised to come to the children on the 13th of each month.

News of the visions spread by word of mouth, and the following month a small crowd waited with the children to witness the second apparition June 13. At the third sighting, on July 13, the children said the Virgin Mary revealed three secrets to them about the future.

Thousands of people began streaming to Cova da Iria, the site of the Virgin Mary apparitions. On Sept. 13, 30,000 people were present when dos Santos said the Virgin Mary told her, “In October I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.”

On that day, Oct. 13, 1917, the crowd of believers had swelled to 70,000.

About 2 p.m., some began to see what later became known in the Catholic Church as “the Miracle of the Sun.” The rains that had plagued the day ceased, and the sun emerged from behind clouds to spin and tremble for 10 minutes.

On May 14, 2000, Cardinal Angelo Sodano disclosed the third of the three secrets — the only one that still remained a mystery. The first was a vision of World War I ending and World War II beginning, and the second was the rise and fall of Soviet Communism. But the third, the cardinal said, was a vision of a bishop in white falling to the ground under a hail of gunfire.

This was interpreted by the church as a foretelling of the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II’s life in 1981. The pope credited the Virgin Mary of Fatima with saving his life.

The same year as this revelation, Jacinta and Francisco Marto became the youngest children beatified — the first step to being canonized — by the Roman Catholic Church who did not die as martyrs. This year, on May 13, Pope Francis canonized the Jacinta and Francisco at a massive mass in Fatima.


2. Cardinal Sarah Confirms Vatican Retains Last Word on Translations: In a new article, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship discusses the effects of the Pope’s recent revisions to canon law governing liturgical translations.

By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, October 13, 2017

Cardinal Robert Sarah has weighed in on Magnum Principium, Pope Francis’ motu proprio on liturgical translations, reassuring the faithful that the Vatican will continue to safeguard any changes or new liturgical translations to ensure they remain faithful to the original Latin.

In an article in the French Catholic journal L’Homme Nouveau, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) confirmed that the motu proprio’s change to Canon 838 — which shifts some responsibility for translating liturgical texts away from the Vatican to local bishops — will still require the Vatican to give approval to any such changes or translations.

The article, officially dated Oct. 1 — the day on which Magnum Principium (The Great Principle) came into effect — bolsters the guidance issued with the motu proprio by Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the CDW. Archbishop Roche stressed that the Vatican’s role in confirming texts remains an “authoritative act” presupposing “fidelity” to the original Latin.

Cardinal Sarah’s statements on the matter contradict those who see the motu proprio as a gateway to more liberal vernacular interpretations of liturgical texts, inconsistent with their Latin original.

The Holy Father, who signed Magnum Principium Sept. 3, authorized changes to Canon 838 that decentralized the translation process, giving local bishops responsibility for translating liturgical texts, while retaining the Vatican’s authority to approve or reject a proposed translation.

The CDW will no longer instruct bishops to make proposed amendments, but retains authority to confirm or veto the results at the end of the process.


3. Pope’s Death Penalty Remarks Signal a New Approach to Development of Doctrine: What the Holy Father’s call for revision of the Catechism means for U.S. approach to criminal justice.

By J.D. Flynn, National Catholic Register, October 12, 2017, 2:37 PM

On Wednesday, Pope Francis told a gathering in Rome that the Catechism of the Catholic Church should significantly revise its treatment of the death penalty.

The gist of the Church’s current teaching on the death penalty is this: the state has the right to execute criminals, if there is no doubt about that the crime was grave and the offender is guilty. The state cannot justly execute a criminal if it can protect the common good and public safety equally well through nonlethal means. It is the job of the state to judge its own civil conditions and capacity for punishment, in order to determine how to apply those principles, but, when doing so, it should take seriously the moral direction of popes and bishops who have repeatedly said that the death penalty seems unnecessary in the context of developed nations.

On Wednesday, Francis proposed a strikingly different vision. He said that the death penalty “is in itself contrary to the Gospel.” For many theologians, this language, and the idea that the death penalty “in itself” is contrary to the Gospel, has evoked the theological concept of “intrinsically evil acts,” a group that includes torture, rape, lying, abortion and sexual immorality.

The distinction is important. Intrinsically evil acts are understood to be wrong in all cases, regardless of the circumstances, intention or rationale. The morality of other kinds of acts is judged, in part, by circumstances. The traditional teaching on the death penalty puts it in the latter category; the morality of a particular execution is partially determined, as the Catechism explains, by the state’s ability to secure the common good in other ways. 

If the Pope proposes that doctrine has developed, and that capital punishment is an intrinsically evil act, this would mean that there are no circumstances, in any time and place, in which it can be justified.

Francis’ speech recognized this distinction. He explained that thinking about the death penalty in a new way is the result of the development of social doctrine.

Francis proposes that because the Church has gradually developed a deeper understanding of human dignity, over time, we are now able to recognize that execution is always immoral.

The development of doctrine is a thorny theological concept. Theologians have already begun asking whether Francis’ proposal represents a development of prior positions, or a rupture from them. This debate will be complex, likely contentious and not quickly resolved. But given increased attention to the death penalty in the last half-century, it is an important question to resolve.  


4. Christians outnumber Muslim refugees to U.S. in last 15 years.

By Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service, October 12, 2017

Muslim refugees to the United States, whose numbers have recently increased, have still been far outpaced by Christian refugees over the last decade and a half.

As the Trump administration continues to enforce a travel ban affecting six Muslim-majority and other countries, a Pew Research Center report tracking the influx of displaced people finds that 47 percent of refugee arrivals in fiscal 2017 were Christian and 43 percent were Muslim.

In the previous fiscal year, a record number of Muslim refugees were admitted. Pew said 46 percent of refugees entering this country were Muslim, compared with 44 percent who were Christians.

“Even with the recent rise in the number of Muslim refugees, far more Christian than Muslim refugees have been admitted into the U.S. since fiscal 2002,” writes Phillip Connor, a senior researcher with Pew, in the new report.

In that 15-year period, almost 425,000 Christian refugees crossed U.S. borders, making up 46 percent of refugee arrivals. In comparison, 33 percent, or slightly more than 302,000, of admitted refugees were Muslim.


5. Christians in Middle East feel ‘abandoned, betrayed’ by the West.

By Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency, October 12, 2017, 10:20 AM

As interreligious tensions and a migration crisis continue in the Middle East, key Church leaders in the region have said Christians largely feel abandoned by the international community, which has done little to help resolve the situation.

According to Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Christians in the Middle East “feel that we have been abandoned, even betrayed, because we were hoping that the international community would defend our rights and provide us with the equal chance to live in our homeland, but that wasn’t the case.”

The patriarch is in Rome for the Oct. 9-12 plenary assembly marking the centenary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Oriental Institute, founded by Benedict XV.