1. The extremist ‘Party of Science’.

By George F. Will, Columnist, The Washington Post, October 19, 2017, Pg. A21, Opinion

What would America’s abortion policy be if the number of months in the gestation of a human infant were a prime number — say, seven or eleven? This thought experiment is germane to why the abortion issue has been politically toxic, and points to a path toward a less bitter debate. The House has for a third time stepped onto this path. Senate Democrats will, for a third time, block this path when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brings the House bill to the floor, allowing Democrats to demonstrate their extremism and aversion to bipartisan compromise.

Democracy, which properly is government by persuasion rather than majority bullying or executive or judicial policy fiats, is a search for splittable differences. Abortion, which supposedly is the archetypal issue that confounds efforts at compromise, has for two generations — since the Supreme Court seized custody of the issue in 1973 — damaged political civility.

Pro-abortion absolutists — meaning those completely content with the post-1973 regime of essentially unrestricted abortion-on-demand at any point in pregnancy — are disproportionately Democrats who, they say, constitute the Party of Science. 

On Oct. 3, the House passed (237 to 189) the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act banning abortions (with the usual exceptions concerning rape, incest and the life of the mother) after the 20th week. The act’s supposition is that by then the fetus will feel pain when experiencing the violence of being aborted, and that this matters. Of course, pro-abortion absolutists consider the phrase “unborn child” oxymoronic, believing that from conception until the instant of delivery, the pre-born infant is mere “fetal material,” as devoid of moral significance as would be a tumor in the (if they will pardon the provocative expression) mother.

Whether a 20-week fetus has neurological pathways sufficient for feeling pain is surely a question that science can answer, if it has not already. 

Getting a scientific answer to the pain question, even if it is “yes,” should gratify the Party of Science. If the answer is “yes,” those who think fetal suffering is irrelevant can explain why they do.

When — the sooner the better — the House bill comes to the Senate floor, Democrats will prevent a vote on it. This will be a tutorial on the actual extremists in our cultural conflicts.


2. Appeals Court Finds World War I Memorial Unconstitutional: Court in Richmond rules that a cross honoring veterans ‘breaches’ wall between church and state.

By Jacob Gershman, The Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2017, Pg. A2

A nearly century-old, 40-foot cross honoring World War I veterans in Bladensburg, Md. represents an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, a divided federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., found that the cross “breaches” the wall of separation between church and state.

The concrete, Celtic cross was erected in 1925 by the American Legion and towers above a pedestal on a busy highway median about a half-hour drive from Washington, D.C. The site honors 49 men from Prince George’s County who died in World War I.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, a bicounty agency, acquired title to the property in 1961.

The American Humanist Association, sued the agency in 2014, argued that the cross violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which bars the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.”

Judges in recent years, have disagreed about the constitutionality of memorial crosses on government property.


3. Judge rules illegal-immigrant minors have abortion rights.

By Alex Swoyer, The Washington Times, October 19, 2017, Pg. A1

Illegal-immigrant minors in the U.S. have an unfettered constitutional right to obtain an abortion, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, ordering both the Trump administration and Texas officials to back off and allow a 17-year-old girl being held in a government-run shelter to be taken to a clinic.

Americans United for Life, a pro-life group, said by requiring the Texas shelter to facilitate the girl’s abortion, it meant taxpayer money was going to the procedure.

“Once again an activist judge has declared abortion ‘access’ more important than U.S. law and policy that prohibits federal funding and support of elective abortion,” said Catherine Glenn Foster, president of AUL.


4. On the Pope and America, sometimes a cigar’s just a cigar.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, October 19, 2017

Because there’s a perception that Pope Francis has a problem with Americans (or, at least, some of them), almost anything involving this pope and the stars and stripes is subject to intense examination. Francis’s upcoming Nov. 2 visit for All Souls’ Day to a Rome cemetery where thousands of WWII-era American soldiers are buried likely will be no exception.

Sometimes, however, it turns out that a cigar is just a cigar.

First of all, All Souls’ Day commemorates the Christian faithful who have died, and Francis has the custom of visiting a Roman cemetery every year on that day to say Mass. In 2014 and 2015, he went to Rome’s famed Verano Cemetery, where last year it was Prima Porta. In principle, therefore, there’s nothing novel about him going out to Nettuno, 45 miles south of Rome, to visit the “Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial.”

No doubt, Nettuno is an evocative place, and carries deep emotional significance for members of the American armed forces. Roughly 7,800 members of the U.S. military are buried at the 77-acre cemetery, which is located near Anzio where the Allied beach landings took place for the campaign to push the Germans out of Italy.

What takes the starch out of the idea that the pope’s agenda for All Souls Day this year was shaped by thoughts of America, however, is that both in Francis’s mind and in Italian public opinion, it won’t even be the most important thing he does that day.

The peak moment instead will come after the Mass at Nettuno when Francis stops at the Fosse Ardeatine, the site of a 1944 massacre carried out by German troops occupying Rome in retaliation for a partisan attack on an SS battalion in Rome the day before. Roughly 33 SS soldiers died in that attack (the number later rose to 42), and the Germans declared that the Romans would pay by a ratio of 10-to-1. The reprisals were not only personally authorized by Hitler, but he declared that they must be carried out within 24 hours.

Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI all visited the Fosse Ardeatine during their reigns, and, by now, Romans have come to expect their bishop to do so at some point.

What all this suggests is that this All Souls’ Day, Francis almost certainly doesn’t understand himself primarily to be making a statement about the United States. Instead, he doubtlessly sees himself to be making a statement about war in general – one with obvious significance for the U.S., especially given the present crisis over North Korea and its threat to deploy nuclear weapons, but one hardly restricted to Americans.

Francis is a “Peace Pope,” after all, one already convinced that the world is fighting a “piecemeal” Third World War in the early 21st century. The stop at Nettuno allows Francis to recall the lives tragically cut short by war, while the Fosse Ardeatine highlights the spasms of horror and cruelty warfare inevitably generates.


5. Five keys to Catholic education, according to Cardinal Versaldi.

By Catholic News Agency, October 19, 2017, 12:04 AM

Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, proposed last week five keys for pastoral education “to respond in depth to the current challenges of society.”

Proclamation of the Christian life

“The Catholic school has both the right and duty to not only teach in consistency with its own values, but also to have an inner dynamic of  proclaiming and living the Christian life,” Cardinal Versaldi said.

The witness of charity

Cardinal Versaldi said a school community’s  witness must be “obviously noted for” its charity, which makes “the values conveyed through its teaching credible and attractive.”

Ongoing formation of teachers

The ongoing formation of professors in teaching methods and especially in “their spiritual growth  and their truly living out their faith … is not a waste of  time or effort which takes way from their actual  teaching,” Cardinal Versaldi said.

Working together with the Church

Cardinal Versaldi said the school’s pastoral ministry must work side by side with the local Church and parishes so that they “mutually help each other out in their different  roles” without “imposing  on the school the responsibilities that mostly belong to the parish or vice versa.”

Providence as a guide

“Schools need to deepen their knowledge of what’s going on in society in both its positive and negative aspects, discerning  the signs of the times, animated not by a paralyzing pessimism but rather with Christian hope founded on the faith that human history is always guided by Divine Providence despite people’s free will,” the cardinal stated.

“It is important to maintain this faith and translate it into the work of education as an overriding way of acting in order to become protagonists in a true renewal of the social scene without letting oneself be manipulated by the various political factions.”