1. Vatican denies risk of default over structural deficit.

By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, October 22, 2019, 9:07 AM

A top Vatican administrator is denying the Holy See risks default over its structural deficit, saying claims in a new book about possible financial ruin are overblown.

Archbishop Nunzio Galantino, president of the office that manages the Vatican’s real estate and other assets, told the Avvenire newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference Tuesday that all that is needed is a “spending review” to bring down costs.

Galantino was responding to claims in a new book published Monday, “Universal Judgment” by Italian author Gianluigi Nuzzi, that has added to speculation about the Vatican’s finances and the state of Pope Francis’ promised reforms.

The Vatican hasn’t published a budget since 2015 and has been without an in-house auditor or economy minister for more than two years, fueling conspiracies about its financial health.


2. Fired Indianapolis Catholic school counselor files lawsuit.

The Associated Press, October 22, 2019, 3:10 PM

A former guidance counselor at an Indianapolis Catholic high school who was fired for being in a same-sex marriage is suing the archdiocese.

Shelly Fitzgerald’s federal lawsuit names the Indianapolis archdiocese and Roncalli High School as defendants. It alleges that Fitzgerald was discriminated against and faced retaliation because of her sexual orientation.

Fitzgerald married her wife, Victoria, in 2014. Fitzgerald had worked at Roncalli High School for 15 years before being placed on administrative leave last year because of her same-sex marriage. She was later fired.

The archdiocese said in a statement that the U.S. Supreme Court “has repeatedly recognized that religious schools have a constitutional right to hire leaders who support the schools’ religious mission.”


3. The Democratic Primary’s God Deficit.

By Frank Bruni, The New York Times, October 23, 2019, Pg. A27

The most recent Democratic debate lasted three hours and, according to one transcript I checked, exceeded 30,000 words.

Almost none of them were about religion.

While the percentage of Americans who don’t identify with any religion has grown significantly over the past decade — to 26 percent from 17 percent, according to a sweeping survey by the Pew Research Center — it’s still the case that more than half of Americans say that they pray daily and 45 percent attend religious services at least once a month.

But you wouldn’t know it to tune into the Democratic primary.


4. Pope Francis: Synodality brought pagans to ‘reject idolatry’.

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, October 23, 2019, 4:20 AM

Pope Francis said Wednesday that the first Christian evangelization of the pagans opened up “a very lively controversy” as the early Church discerned how to absorb new members from outside the people of Israel.

In the Acts of the Apostles, “a very delicate theological, spiritual and discipline issue is addressed,” Pope Francis said Oct. 23. “That is, the relationship between faith in Christ and the observance of the Law of Moses.”

“They proposed not to impose circumcision on the pagans, but only to ask them to reject idolatry and all its expressions,” Pope Francis said in his weekly catechesis in St. Peter’s Square.

The pope said that the assembly of Jerusalem, as described in the Acts of the Apostles 15:7-21, “offers us an important light on how to deal with differences and seek the truth in love.”


5. Letters From the Synod-2019: #8.

Edited by Xavier Rynne II, First Things, October 23, 2019


“Inculturation” has been a buzzword throughout the Catholic world—and especially the developing Catholic world—for decades. Rarely has it gotten such a workout, or taken such a beating, as at Synod-2019.

The basic idea of “inculturation” is not hard to grasp: The Church must proclaim the gospel in a variety of cultural settings, and it’s good evangelical practice to draw what one can from each culture so that the basic kerygmatic proclamation, “Jesus is Lord,” can be “heard” in a given culture. This practice goes back at least as far as Acts 17: 16–34, St. Paul’s famous encounter on the Areopagus with the great and good of first-century Athens. And while the fruit of that particular encounter was minimal, the “inculturation” of the gospel has reaped a great harvest over the centuries. Perhaps the most successful example of a thoroughly effective inculturation in Latin America is the tilma of St. Juan Diego with its image of Our Lady of Guadalupe: a manifestly indigenous Mother of God whose vesture is replete with indigenous symbols.

The Catholic Church exists, by divine will, to proclaim the gospel, offering humanity the gift of friendship with Jesus Christ, who is the unique savior of the world. That proclamation is what the Catholic Church is for, or it is nothing. If the Church is simply another non-governmental organization in the good-works business, it is nothing. Yes, the Church and its people do good works. But those good works only have real ecclesial meaning if they are done “through Him, and with Him, and in Him,” as the Church prays daily at Holy Mass.

This point has not been sufficiently stressed at Synod-2019. Not at all. And that identifies one of the main challenges that Synod-2019 poses for the Church in the immediate future, to which topic these LETTERS will return.


6. The Ideological Hijacking of Pope St. John XXIII.

By George Weigel, First Things, October 23, 2019

With his liturgical memorial (October 11) falling on the fourth full day of the Special Synod for Amazonia, which sometimes seems bent on recycling every tried-and-failed nostrum from the 1970s, it was inevitable that certain portside Catholic commentators would continue their effort to spin Pope St. John XXIII into a smiley-face, chubby Italian grandpa whose approach to the future of the Church was somewhat Maoist: “Let a thousand flowers bloom!”

If, however, the spinners had bothered to read the excerpt from Pope John’s opening address to Vatican II in the Divine Office for October 11, they might have been given pause. For after some opening words of thanks to divine providence for having brought the Council to its solemn opening, the pope had this to say: “[The] critical issues, the thorny problems that wait upon man’s solution, have remained the same for almost 20 centuries. Why? Because the whole of history and of life hinges on the person of Jesus Christ. . . .”

To be sure, John XXIII understood that evangelization was not an exercise in logic-chopping; most modern men and women were unlikely to be converted by the proclamation of syllogistic proofs. So the Church needed a contemporary way of expressing ancient truths. But as Pope John insisted in Gaudet Mater Ecclesia, those truths must be expressed “with the same meaning and the same judgment” (in some translations, “with the same meaning and import”). That was a direct quote from St. Vincent of Lerins, a 5th-century monk who wrote an important treatise on what we know as the “development of doctrine.” And it stands in sharp contrast to, and critique of, the bogus image of John XXIII as a pope unconcerned with doctrinal solidity and continuity.

It took the Church more than 20 years to grasp the full meaning of Gaudet Mater Ecclesia, as I also explain in The Irony of Modern Catholic History. Today, however, the living parts of the Catholic Church are those committed to a truth-centered evangelization that manifests itself in compassionate witness as well as compelling proposal. The dying parts of the Church are those still misreading John XXIII.


7. Catholic agency says Nobel Prize can shine light on peacebuilding in Ethiopia.

Crux, October 23, 2019

A leading Catholic aid agency in Ethiopia is working to “foster lasting peace and address the root causes of the conflict” affecting the country, and hopes the recent Nobel Peace prize for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will “spotlight” the positive results recently achieved in the East African country.

“We applaud Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, for being awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. Ahmed’s leadership on restoring peace with Eritrea is an important reminder to us all that progress is indeed possible, even under the most trying of circumstances,” John Shumlansky, the Ethiopian country representative for the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) told Crux.

CRS is the official international development arm of the U.S. bishops conference.

The 43-year-old Abiy was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for sweeping political reforms and for making peace with long-time rival Eritrea.

Eritrea – a former Italian colony – was later joined with Ethiopia in 1955. The province fought a decades long insurgency before officially gaining independence in 1993.

However, border disputes continued, and the two nations fought a 1998-2000 war that left over 100,000 people dead. A peace agreement wasn’t signed until 2018, when Abiy made several unilateral concessions to push it through, even though Ethiopia held the stronger military position.


8. Facing fresh charges of financial scandal, all the pope’s men strike back.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, October 22, 2019

Facing a new wave of purported financial scandals, with a major piece in Italy’s most widely-read newsmagazine by one well-known journalist on Sunday and the launch of a new book by another Monday night, on Tuesday the empire struck back, with two of the pope’s closest counselors going on the offensive.

“To me, it seems that what’s going on more than anything else is a precise strategy to discredit us,” said Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, a member of the pope’s council of cardinal advisors and one of his closest allies.

“They want to strike the papacy,” the 76-year-old Honduran prelate said in an interview with Italy’s largest-circulation daily newspaper, La Repubblica. “First they depicted a church largely made up of pedophiles, now they’re suggesting economic recklessness, but it’s not so.”

Meanwhile, Italian Bishop Nunzio Galantino, tapped by Pope Francis last June as the new head of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA), the Vatican’s true financial powerhouse, also came out swinging in an interview with Avvenire, the Italian bishops’ paper of record.

Galantino is also seen as an extremely close papal ally.

Galantino also rejected suggestions that the financial controversies and leaks are the product of internal resistance to Francis and his reforms inside the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s central administrative bureaucracy.

“To oppose the pope to the Curia is a worn-out journalistic cliché,” he said. “We’re all continuing to work to balance income and expenses, and in that we’re doing exactly, and only, what the pope wants.”

“Other readings of the situation call to mind The Da Vinci Code, an absolutely fictionalized approach to reality,” Galantino said.


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