1. Pope deplores Somalia bombing that killed over 300.

By Associated Press, October 18, 2017, 5:18 AM

Pope Francis has deplored the Somalia bombing that killed more than 300 people.

At the end of his Wednesday public audience in St. Peter’s Square, Francis said “this terrorist act merits the strongest laments” especially since it struck an already suffering population.


2. Whose Bourgeois Morality?

By George Weigel, First Things, October 18, 2017

In the latest round of debate over Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family, a fervent defender of the document sniffed at some of its critics that “the Magisterium doesn’t bow to middle-class lobbies” and cited Humanae Vitae as an example of papal tough-mindedness in the face of bourgeois cultural pressures. It was a clever move, rhetorically, and we may hope that it’s right about the magisterial kowtow. But I fear it also misses the point—or, better, several points.

At the Synods of 2014 and 2015, to which Amoris Laetitia is a response, the most intense lobbying for a change in the Church’s traditional practice in the matter of holy communion for the divorced and civilly remarried—a proposal the great majority of Synod fathers thought an unwarranted break with truths taught by divine revelation—came from the German-speaking bishops: prelates who represent perhaps the most thoroughly bourgeois countries on the planet. 

There was, of course, far more going on in the 2014-2015 German campaign to permit holy communion for the divorced and civilly remarried than lobbying on behalf of the bourgeois morality of secular, middle-class societies. There was, for example, the ongoing, two-front German war against Humanae Vitae (Blessed Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical on the morally appropriate means of family planning) and Veritatis Splendor (St. John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical on the reform of Catholic moral theology). We are told, now, that a commission is examining the full range of documentation involved in the preparation of Humanae Vitae. One hopes that that study will bring to the fore what Paul VI realized when he rejected the counsel of many and reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to natural family planning as the humanly and morally appropriate means of regulating fertility.

For what Pope Paul realized—and what he had the courage to stand against, despite fierce pressures—was that a deeper game was going on beneath the agitations of various “middle-class lobbies” for a change in the Church’s position on artificial means of contraception. What was afoot was an attempt, reflecting currents in the German-speaking world of Catholic theology, to enshrine the moral method known as “proportionalism” as Catholicism’s official moral theology. And according to proportionalists, there is no such thing as an intrinsically evil act: Every moral action must be judged, not only in itself, but by a person’s intentions and the action’s consequences.

This, Paul VI realized, would be a disastrous concession to the spirit of the age. But the proportionalists didn’t quit the field after their defeat in Humanae Vitae, and that brings us to Veritatis Splendor. John Paul II had spent the greater part of his academic and intellectual life trying to reconstitute the foundations of the moral life in a confused age dominated by (if you’ll pardon the phrase) a bourgeois culture and its laissez-faire concept of morality. 

And still the proportionalists wouldn’t quit; one German commentary critical of Veritatis Splendor went so far as to claim that the German-speaking world had a special, privileged responsibility for Catholic theology. It was a statement of breathtaking arrogance, not least because it was made by theologians whose local churches were largely empty of congregants, thanks in no small part to the bourgeois lifestyle of post-war Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

There are, indeed, “middle-class lobbies” in the Church, but they’re primarily the by-product of Catholic Lite and its destruction of Catholic life and practice. The sorry condition of German-speaking Catholicism is a case in point.


3. Department of Justice announces settlement in HHS mandate suits.

By Adelaide Mena, Catholic News Agency, October 17, 2017

A week after issuing new religious freedom guidelines to all administrative agencies in the federal government, the U.S. Department of Justice has settled with more than 70 plaintiffs who had challenged the controversial HHS contraceptive mandate.

The Oct. 13 agreement was reached between the government and the law firm Jones Day, which represented more than 70 clients fighting the mandate. Made public Oct. 16, the agreement states that the plaintiffs would not be forced to provide health insurance coverage for “morally unacceptable” products and procedures, including contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.

“This settlement brings to a conclusion our litigation challenging the Health and Human Services’ mandate obliging our institutions to provide support for morally objectionable activities, as well as a level of assurance as we move into the future,” said Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. in an Oct. 16 letter to priests of the archdiocese.


4. A modern horror: global persecution of Christians at historic peak, report says, By Catholic News Agency, October 17, 2017, 3:02 PM

Anti-Christian persecution is “worse than at any time in history” and in many cases genocide and other crimes against humanity “now mean that the Church in core countries and regions faces the possibility of imminent wipe-out,” says a new report from Aid to the Church in Need.

The report, titled “Persecuted and Forgotten?”, covers the years 2015-2017. Its contents are bleak, describing Christianity as “the world’s most oppressed faith community.” Anti-Christian persecution in the worst regions has reached “a new peak” and its impact is “only now beginning to be felt in all its horror.”

“In 12 of the 13 countries reviewed, the situation for Christians was worse in overall terms in the period 2015–17 than within the preceding two years,” said the report’s executive summary, released Oct. 12.  

John Pontifex, the report’s editor, commented that “In terms of the numbers of people involved, the gravity of the crimes committed and their impact, it is clear that the persecution of Christians is today worse than at any time in history. Not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution.”

China, Eritrea, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Syria were ranked “extreme” in the scale of anti-Christian persecution. Egypt, India, and Iran were rated “high to extreme,” while Turkey was rated “moderate to high.”


5. Pro-Life Redefined at the Vatican.

By Joel R. Gallagher, Crisis, October 18, 2017

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the PAV, recently redefined the term “life” for the Catholic Church, stating that the PAV will now refocus its pro-life mission to include issues of migration, arms control, poverty and the environment. He suggested that to be authentically pro-life is to be pro-life in every way and everywhere.

Inarguably, migration, arms control, poverty and the environment are important to the life and mission of the Church, but they are not, nor have they ever been, properly part of the Church’s pro-life mission for good reason. To include them as such conflates the philosophical foundation of each issue and inevitably, and perhaps intentionally, confuses the faithful and destroys the logically, unifying element of the PAV. The reasons why we must defend innocent life from the moment of conception is different than why and how we must care for God’s creation and the poor, or welcome the stranger into our home (or lands). The effort to include these issues in the pro-life mission of the Church is a foul language program that the political Left has instituted for years in American politics that aims to highlight the supposed hypocrisy of political conservatives and to coerce or shame conservatives and the relatively uninformed, centrists into supporting their own polices and philosophical positions. In this effort, the Left has either destroyed language or irrationally and artificially redefined terms. This is an assault on organic language development that occurs naturally through human living and interaction. Language is a powerful tool that not only changes for a variety of reasons as we progress through history, but it affects the way we think and what we believe. For this reason, the language assassins of the Left are hard at work.

Traditional pro-life Catholics are right to be suspicious of the intrusion of the Left’s foul language tactics into the PAV because it appears to be an effort to coerce or shame them into accepting the Left’s dogma by deemphasizing the focus on abortion.