1. Waking Up From Spiritual Sleepwalking, We studied hundreds of parishes to figure out what makes the vibrant ones shine, By William E. Simon Jr., The Wall Street Journal, October 21, 2016, Pg. A11, Houses of Worship.

Four years ago I founded Parish Catalyst, which supports the development of Catholic parishes. In 2013 we conducted 244 interviews with pastoral leaders from Catholic communities across the country. The thousands of pages of data informed us of the most common strengths and most persistent challenges in today’s churches.

While over 90% of pastors considered the spiritual growth of their parishioners to be the strongest characteristic of their communities, about 75% believed they still needed to improve. Pastors make spiritual development an explicit goal of parish life, plan strategically, and devote the necessary resources to achieve it.

This focus on growing engagement has been stimulated by profound changes in the Catholic tradition. In the past, lay Catholics once saw their role as “pray, pay and obey.” Yet since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, ordinary Catholics have become increasingly active.

With the growing priest shortage and recent financial setbacks, flourishing parishes practice shared leadership, relying on lay staff and volunteers to perform tasks that were once the exclusive domain of the clergy, such as liturgical planning, sacramental preparation and religious education. We found that greater lay leadership builds a stronger community, since opportunities for spiritual growth are no longer limited to Sundays.

Perhaps the biggest lesson is that many Catholics would be ready to make a deeper commitment if they could be encouraged and equipped to do so. This is easier than in the past, and many churches are beginning to take advantage of the tools and strategies that modern technology has to offer. They’re also creating a sense of belonging that reaches far beyond the ethnic enclaves that defined Catholic churchgoing in the 19th and 20th centuries. The religious and nonbelievers will both benefit, as strong parishes with engaged parishioners help their communities and beyond.


2. Clinton stands by partial-birth abortion vote, By Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, October 21, 2016, Pg. A4.

Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor for The Catholic Association, said abortion at every stage of pregnancy can be justified by appealing to the “health” of the mother, due to the Supreme Court’s broad interpretation of that term.

Citing the highest court’s 1973 decision in Doe v. Bolton, she said Mrs. Clinton “tried to hide behind rhetoric about the ‘health’ of the woman, which she knows full well has been defined by the Supreme Court to include ‘all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman’s age — relevant to the well-being of the patient.’” ” ‘Health’ is a legal loophole you can drive a truck through,” Ms. Ferguson said in a statement.


3. Exclusive: Vatican and China in Final Push for Elusive Deal on Bishops, Reuters, October 21, 2016, 5:36 AM.

For more than six decades, China’s ruling Communist Party has strongly opposed Rome’s right to ordain Chinese bishops in a bitter contest for authority over as many as 10 million Catholics on the mainland. Bishops, priests and lay Catholics loyal to Rome have faced persecution, which has sparked scepticism over the détente in some Catholic quarters.

In yet a further sign of progress, the Vatican has reached a decision to recognize at least four Chinese bishops who were appointed by Beijing without the consent of the pope and so are considered illegitimate by the Holy See, according to Catholic Church sources and others briefed on the talks. The decision follows a breakthrough meeting in mid-August in Beijing between the Vatican representatives to talks with China and several of these bishops.

For the Vatican, an agreement on the ordination of bishops is important because it would lessen the possibility of a formal split within the Catholic Church in China, which is divided between a community that follows the state-sanctioned Catholic hierarchy and an “underground” community that swears allegiance only to the pope in Rome. A deal on the ordination of bishops would help to unite these two communities, say Catholic Church and Vatican sources.


4. Pope: urges Christians to reject envy and conflicts and work for unity, Pope Francis’ Daily Homily, October 21, 2016.

Pope Francis said humility, gentleness and magnanimity are the three key attitudes to build unity within the Church and urged Christians to reject envy, jealousy and conflicts. He was speaking at his Mass celebrated on Friday in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.

Taking his inspiration from the greeting at Mass “peace be with you,” the Pope focused his homily on what is required to nurture peace and unity and avoid war and conflicts. He said our Lord’s greeting “creates a bond” of peace and unites us to create a unity of spirit and warned that if there’s no peace and if we aren’t able to greet each other in the widest sense of the word, there will never be unity. The Pope explained that this concept applies for unity in the world, unity in the town, in the district and in the family.


5. Kansas City archbishop calls Kaine ‘cafeteria Catholic’, By Associated Press, October 20, 2016.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, has gone on the offensive against Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, calling the Virginia senator an “orthodox” Democrat and a “cafeteria Catholic.”

Naumann of Kansas City said in his weekly column that Kaine is “picking and choosing the teachings of the Catholic Church that are politically convenient.”

Referring to the vice presidential debate, Naumann wrote that it was “painful to listen to Senator Kaine repeat the same tired and contorted reasoning to profess his personal opposition to abortion while justifying his commitment to keep it legal.”

“It is ironic that Senator Kaine expressed such profound concern about imposing his religious beliefs on others, while supporting efforts: 1) to coerce the Little Sisters of the Poor and other faith-based ministries to violate their conscience by including abortifacients, contraceptives and sterilizations in their employee health plans; 2) to put small business owners (e.g., florists, bakers, photographers, etc.) out of business with crippling fines if they decline to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies; and 3) to force every American taxpayer to help fund abortion,” Naumann wrote.

“Be wary of candidates who assume to take upon themselves the role of defining what Catholics believe or should believe,” the Kansas City archbishop wrote.


6. Al Smith dinner reflects Church’s ability to bring people together, By Christopher White, Crux, October 20, 2016.

But across town, a similar story (with a bit more star wattage but less hip-hop) took center stage last night at the 71st annual Alfred E. Smith dinner where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton shared a meal and a dais, with New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan as the only thing between them.

The Al Smith Dinner dates back to 1945, honoring the legacy of the nation’s first Roman Catholic presidential candidate. Beginning in 1960 with Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, it’s become an occasion for presidential contenders to put politics aside for an evening and roast one another and themselves while raising millions for children in need.

But after all was said and done, it was [Cardinal] Dolan who took to the lectern to ease the felt tension and to remind the room of why they had gathered in the first place: New York’s children who are in need of the financial support of Catholic charities.

He also didn’t hesitate to add that among the evening’s attendees were a Mexican immigrant who relied on the Church’s charity works to learn English, and a woman who decided against abortion and found aid from the Church-a polite reminder that there are areas where both candidates remain out of step with the Church.

As Dolan closed out the dinner, his message suggested that it won’t necessarily be a campaign that will be there to meet these needs-it will be the Church. For Catholics of all political persuasions, this Al Smith dinner should be a reminder that faithful citizenship isn’t just a matter of what we do on November 8th-it’s what happens afterwards that really counts.


7. What the George Soros network saw in a ‘Catholic Spring’ group, By Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency, October 20, 2016, 6:02 AM.

A reputed “Catholic Spring” group played a key role in influencing Barack Obama’s controversial 2009 Notre Dame speech, and its campaigns “broadened the agenda” of Catholic voters to see abortion as just one of several election issues.

This is according to a leaked memo attributed to George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.
The group, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, was founded in 2005. While early backing from billionaire financier George Soros’ philanthropic network was previously reported, a 2009 memo leaked earlier this year seems to provide the foundations’ view of the group’s early activities.

CACG has helped to transform Catholic values in the mainstream media and in the public discourse on religion and politics, thereby thwarting previously successful attempts by the conservative movement to use religious faith for partisan advantage,” said the memo.

Other more recent documents leaked from the Soros foundations indicate the grantmaker aims to change Ireland’s pro-life laws against abortion as a model for Catholic countries. The grantmaker also took part in a $7-8 million dollar effort to respond to 2015 media reports appearing to show the abortion giant Planned Parenthood was involved in the illegal sale of fetal tissue and organs.