1. In synod’s married priests debate, somebody finally names elephant in the room.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, October 17, 2019

In a Synod of Bishops where priest shortages in the Amazon have been driving discussion of ordaining married men, the surprise really isn’t that someone finally noticed there’s another solution, one that doesn’t require changing the traditional criteria for getting a Roman collar.

The only surprise, probably, is that it’s taken this long for someone to say it out loud.

Yet there was Bishop Johnny Eduardo Reyes, apostolic vicar of Puerto Ayacucho, Venezuela, on Tuesday night, naming the elephant in the room during a meeting titled “On the way with the synod, witnesses and martyrs of the faith in the Amazon.”

Basically, Reyes’s question was why some of the gaggle of priests in Rome don’t fan out into the field, serving places such as the Amazon instead.

“All these priests and religious that we see on TV… It cannot be that they’re all studying in Rome,” he said. “The distribution of priests and religious is not good.”


2. The South Sudanese Bishop Trying to Bring War to an End in the World’s Newest Country.

By Belinda Luscombe, Time Magazine, October 16, 2019

South Sudan ranks just above Syria and Afghanistan as the least peaceful country in the world. Its people are being force-fed the full toxic stew of warfare: violence, child soldiers, warlords (remember Joseph Kony?), famine, displacement, statelessness. Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala, who heads the Catholic church in the Tombura-Yambio diocese in the country’s southwest, is trying to broker a peace between its warring factions.

The country, whose population is largely Christian, won its independence from Sudan in 2011 after a protracted campaign that involved thousands of lost lives and billions of dollars of foreign aid, mostly from the U.S. By 2013, it had slipped back into violence. Since then, the U.S. has spent about $4 billion on humanitarian assistance, most of it on food aid.

Today, two-thirds of the country’s citizens are displaced or living without adequate food or shelter.

Bishop Kussala, the Vatican’s representative at the peace negotiations, grew up in refugee camps with his grandmother after his village was attacked and his mother killed when he was nine months old. Before South Sudan gained independence he ran churches and taught in refugee camps in the neighboring Central African Republic.

Along with other faith leaders, he has had some success in brokering a peace for the Western Equatoria region in which he works, partly by persuading rebel armies to lay down their arms and partly by persuading the cowboy-hat wearing South Sudanese President Kiir to honor existing peace agreements.

In an interview in New York City to raise money for the Sudan Relief Fund, he talks about why Americans should not give up on the newest member of the United Nations.

TIME: South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011. But it fell back into conflict within two years. Why?

BISHOP EDUARDO HIIBORO KUSSALA: I don’t call it a tribal or ethnic war, but a war of ignorance. These people for centuries never had a country of their own. To organize a nation needs a lot of work. A Minister of Finance or a Minister of Foreign Affairs was [previously] a commander in the bush fighting. And nearly 95% of the population don’t know how to read and write. When there are property disputes and problems, people take care of security within their communities, within their own tribal bodies.

TIME: Given how much the U.S. has already spent, what would you say to Americans who say that South Sudan is just too much of a mess to meaningfully help by giving more money?

BISHOP EDUARDO HIIBORO KUSSALA: I would say that they should consider us like people who are on life support. If you remove it, the people will die. If we go back into war, things will be worse. Are we going to sit and see people slaughtering themselves? The second thing is that [the money] will also bring some sort of development program. Young people join the rebels just because they want to make ends meet. They don’t have another job; they say, “I’m joining the rebels, maybe the leaders say they will give me a hundred dollars.”


3. Political Correctness Is Bad for Kids.

By Erica Komisar, The Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2019, Pg. A17, Opinion

Family life shouldn’t be politicized, but a new poll suggests that it is. Only 33% of U.S. liberals “agree that marriage is needed to create strong families,” according to the survey from the Institute for Family Studies. The figures are 80% of conservatives and 55% of moderates.

On this subject, the conservative majority is right. Marriage provides children both emotional and material security, and the ideal environment for children is a loving household with both a sensitive and empathic mother and a playful, engaged and protective father. It’s a shame that political correctness inhibits discussions of what’s best for children.

Children need a balance of secure attachment and healthy separation, and the traditional two-parent structure provides it. Mothers are uniquely suited for sensitive nurturing, which helps regulate distress and is critical to early development. Fathers provide balance by teaching children to regulate their aggression and become independent.

All children face adversity, and society’s growing emphasis on individualism over interdependence makes those troubles harder to overcome. So does the insistence on denying that some family structures are less than ideal.

Ms. Komisar is a psychoanalyst and author of “Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters.”


4. Barr stirs rage among atheists, secularists, Says Judeo-Christian faith is U.S. foundation.

By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times, October 17, 2019, Pg. A1

Attorney General William Barr offered a withering evisceration of anti-religious sentiment last week, defending the central role of Judeo-Christian moral standards in American democracy, accusing “militant secularists” of an assault on religion that has become as intolerant as religions they criticize.

“Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake — social, educational, and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social media campaigns,” he said.

The attorney general, a Catholic, said the country’s founders saw religious liberty as the scaffolding on which they hung the government, promoting the moral discipline that made limited government possible.


5. Legal assisted suicide puts people with disabilities at risk, report finds.

Catholic News Agency, October 16, 2019, 1:24 PM

Leaders in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops applauded the National Council on Disability for its recent research on the risks of assisted suicide for people with disabilities.

“Every suicide is a human tragedy, regardless of the age, incapacity, or social/economic status of the individual,” said Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, and Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida.

Naumann is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Dewane heads the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

“The legalization of doctor-assisted suicide separates people into two groups: those whose lives we want to protect and those whose deaths we encourage,” the bishops said. “This is completely unjust and seriously undermines equal protection under the law.”

Last week, the National Council on Disability released findings of a national investigation into the effects of assisted suicide laws on people with disabilities.

In its examination, the council said it found “that the most prevalent reasons offered by someone requesting assisted suicide are directly related to unmet service and support needs.” The agency called on lawmakers to remedy these unmet needs through changes in legislation and funding.


6. US Supreme Court in the Eye of the Storm.

By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, October 16, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court opened a blockbuster 2019-2020 term with a docket featuring cases that address abortion restrictions, “LGBT” rights, immigration, gun rights, school vouchers and the death penalty.

The high-profile cases confirm the court’s increasingly central role in deciding hot-button issues that a polarized Congress has struggled to address. And the resolution of these cases by a court with a conservative majority guarantees that its rulings will fuel partisan divisions in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

Thus far, the most consequential move by the justices is their recent decision to grant review of a controversial Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. Two years ago, the court struck down a similar law restricting Texas abortion providers, but the recent appointments of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have raised pro-lifers’ hopes that the Louisiana law will be upheld in a ruling that will come by late June.

“The justices’ decision to take up the Louisiana case is welcome news,” Gerard Bradley, a professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School, told the Register. “The additions of Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh since the court’s last major abortion ruling in 2016, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, is reason to be optimistic about the outcome of this new case.”

Bradley said he expected the justices will “significantly expand states’ general authority to regulate abortion.”

But he cautioned that the decision to review the case should not be seen as “an occasion for the court to reconsider Roe itself.”


7. Cardinal Robert Sarah: A Prophetic Voice for the Catholic Church.

By Father Paul Scalia, National Catholic Register, October 16, 2019

The Day Is Now Far Spent is the third book by Cardinal Robert Sarah and his interlocutor, Nicolas Diat. Like the first two books, it follows the same interview/conversation format used by both John Paul II (in Crossing the Threshold of Hope) and Cardinal Ratzinger (in The Ratzinger Report and Milestones).

It is an effective style. The questions to Cardinal Sarah can at times seem more leading and less interactive. But that doesn’t hurt the final product, as Diat’s questions bring forth powerful reflections and exhortations from the 74-year-old cardinal, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.


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