1. The Death Penalty, Nearing Its End, The New York Times, October 24, 2016, Pg. A20, Editorial.

Although the death penalty is still considered constitutional by the Supreme Court, Americans’ appetite for this barbaric practice diminishes with each passing year.

The signs of capital punishment’s impending demise are all around.

For the first time in nearly half a century, less than half of Americans said they support the death penalty, according to a Pew Research poll released last month. While that proportion has been going down for years, the loss of majority support is an important marker against state-sanctioned killing.

At the same time, executions and new death sentences are at historic lows, and each year they go lower. In 2015 only 49 new death sentences were handed down, the lowest one-year total since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

Since there were about 14,000 murders around the country last year, it’s easy to imagine that the small number of newly condemned people shows that the justice system is focusing on the “worst of the worst.” But that’s wrong. In fact the crimes of the people sentenced to death are no worse than those of many others who escape that fate. Rather, nearly all of last year’s death sentences came from a tiny fraction of counties with three common features: overzealous prosecutors; inadequate public defenders; and a pattern of racial bias and exclusion. This was the key finding of a two-part report recently issued by the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard Law School.


2. Pope: ‘God calls us to be merciful and good, not rigid’, Pope Francis’ Daily Homily, October 24, 2016.

Pope Francis on Monday warned against excessive rigidity and said God gives us the freedom and the gentleness to be merciful.

He was speaking during the homily at morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta.

Drawing inspiration from the Gospel reading of the day which tells of when Jesus, who was teaching in the synagogue, healed a crippled woman and ignited the anger of the righteous, Pope Francis said “it is not easy to keep to the path indicated by God’s Law.


3. As battle for Mosul rages, Pope appeals for an end to violence in Iraq, by Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency, October 23, 2016, 6:24 AM.

With the Iraqi Army currently embroiled in an effort to liberate Mosul and the Plains of Nineveh from the Islamic State, Pope Francis Sunday offered prayers for an end to violence in the country so it can move forward on the path of hope and reconciliation.

“In these dramatic hours, I am close to the people of Iraq, in particular those from the city of Mosul,” the Pope said Oct. 23.

“Our hearts are shocked by the heinous acts of violence that for too long are being committed against innocent citizens, whether they are Muslims, Christians or whether they belong to other ethnic groups and religions,” he said, and voiced his sadness that many have been killed “in cold blood,” including children.


4. Notable & Quotable: The Catholic Choice for President, ‘All of us backward-thinking Catholics who actually believe what Scripture and the Church teach would be so very grateful.’, The Wall Street Journal, October 22, 2016, Notable & Quotable.

Of course it would be wonderful for the Clinton campaign to repudiate the content of these ugly WikiLeaks emails. All of us backward-thinking Catholics who actually believe what Scripture and the Church teach would be so very grateful.

In the meantime, a friend describes the choice facing voters in November this way: A vulgar, boorish lout and disrespecter of women, with a serious impulse control problem; or a scheming, robotic liar with a lifelong appetite for power and an entourage riddled with anti-Catholic bigots.

In a nation where “choice” is now the unofficial state religion, the menu for dinner is remarkably small.


5. Whoever wins, abortion foes see 2016 as setback, By Sandhya Somashekhar and Katie Zezima, The Washington Post, October 22, 2016, Pg. A1.

Antiabortion activists, already experiencing a difficult year, say their movement faces a pivotal moment as another Democrat who staunchly supports abortion rights appears likely to occupy the White House.

First came the death of Antonin Scalia, an ardent ally on the Supreme Court. Then came a stinging defeat before the justices over a sweeping Texas law regulating abortion providers. Now, activists are afraid that Hillary Clinton is headed to victory — and angry that Donald Trump has done his share, they say, to set back a movement that has strived to show sensitivity toward women.

For years, antiabortion activists have succeeded in advancing their agenda in part by not vilifying women. They have portrayed women as sometimes coerced into the procedure — in other words, they are victims as much as their unborn children are. Activists have targeted groups and doctors who perform abortions and have pushed restrictive laws in the name of women’s health.

Trump has not followed that playbook. Earlier this year, he suggested that women who have abortions should be punished, a position he later reversed. His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said in a recent interview with the New Yorker that the remark was “a great example of him just undoing decades of work where we worked really hard.”

“Politically, we’re on defense,” said Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League. “There are some really serious things at stake in this election, and we’ve seen the legislation we fought hard for being rolled back by the Supreme Court.”


6. Thoughts on the Iowa Caucus of the Catholic Church, By John L. Allen Jr.., Editor, Crux, October 22, 2016.

It may be election season in America, but that’s definitely not the vibe one gets in ecclesiastical Rome these days. Pope Francis is in good health, he remains fully in charge and operating at a breakneck pace, and there’s no sense that a transition is imminent.

As a result, no one’s spending a great deal of time thinking about papabili, meaning potential candidates for the papacy, because most people don’t believe the job is going to be available anytime soon.

On the other hand, there’s a consistory next month, meaning the event in which a pope creates new cardinals, so at least in theory the candidate pool is getting fresh blood. Moreover, virtually all the cardinals of the world will be in Rome for the event, which makes a consistory the closest thing in the Catholic Church to the Iowa Caucus – an early campaign milestone, when all the candidates are on display and anything seems possible.

Granted, from a faith point of view there’s something far more important than a political cattle call that will be happening on Nov. 19.


7. Papal summer residence, shunned by Francis, opened to public, Reuters, October 21, 2016, 7:08 PM.

It may come as a surprise to most people, but about 40 children were born in the bedroom of the pope at the pontifical summer residence south of Rome.

Now that bedroom, which became a makeshift delivery room when the residence housed refugees during World War Two, and the rest of the papal apartments have been opened to the public as part of a museum.

The frugal Pope Francis decided not to used the villa – similar to but smaller than some of Europe’s royal residences, judging it too luxurious and grandiose.