1. Communion snub for Biden an act of religion or politics, Church stirred campaign talk.

By Seth McLaughlin, The Washington Times, October 31, 2019, Pg. A1

It may have seemed a snub at the time, but one political observer says when former Vice President Joseph R. Biden was denied Holy Communion at a Catholic church in South Carolina last weekend, it may have been intentional.

Matthew Green, a political scientist at Catholic University, said Mr. Biden could have chosen to attend a church where the priest had known views about abortion and those receiving Communion.

 The Rev. Robert E. Morey, the pastor at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, said he denied Communion to the Democratic presidential hopeful because it would have been wrong to give the church’s imprimatur to someone so publicly out of step on the church’s pro-life teachings.

“Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other and the church. Our actions should reflect that,” Father Morey told The Florence Morning News. “Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of church teaching.”

The Catholic Church has struggled with its handling of liberal politicians such as Mr. Biden who deviate from the church’s teachings, in part because the idea of withholding Communion has polarized the people in the pews.


2. For Bishops, It’s Anything but a Woman.

By Sara McDougall, The New York Times, October 31, 2019, Pg. A19, Opinion

The modern Catholic Church is beset with serious problems. Among them is that not enough men want to be priests.

On Oct. 26, in a “revolutionary” decision, the bishops gathered at the Vatican voted 128 to 41 to allow an exception to what has essentially been a 1,000-year ban on the ordination of married men as priests.

According to the laws of the Catholic Church, known as canon law, that priests might marry or not is man-made law, therefore mutable, while the exclusion of women is divinely ordained. But the priesthood itself is a man-made invention, an amalgam of Judeo-Roman and other traditions, refined and also only rather belatedly attached to the mass, a ritual performance that re-enacts and celebrates the most important tenets of Catholic faith.


3. Missouri tracked Planned Parenthood patients to identify failed abortions.

By Yasmeen Abutaleb and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, The Washington Post, October 31, 2019, Pg. A6

Missouri’s top health official said Tuesday that the state monitored detailed personal information about Planned Parenthood patients, in some cases reviewing women’s menstrual cycles, with the aim of identifying those who had failed abortions.

Randall Williams, the state health director, said his goal was protecting patient safety. But critics called it an invasion of women’s privacy and demanded his resignation and an investigation by the governor.

Williams, an OB/GYN, testified as part of a week-long state hearing to determine whether the state’s lone abortion clinic can keep its license, the Kansas City Star reported. Williams said he had a state health inspector review information that included medical identification numbers, dates of procedures and the gestational ages of fetuses. The review also included the date of each patient’s last period but did not include their names, the Star reported.

Williams said he attempted to use that data to determine if women who went in for follow-up appointments after abortions at Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri suffered complications. He sought the information after state officials refused to renew the clinic’s license in June, citing concerns over multiple “failed abortions,” which required additional procedures, and a patient who suffered life-threatening complications.


4. In latest Vatican money mess, there may be scandal but perhaps no sin.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, October 31, 2019

Roughly a decade ago, under Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, Italian Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples was named a target by Italian prosecutors for his role in alleged corruption in public work contracts while he was Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 2001 to 2006.

In a nutshell, prosecutors claimed Sepe gave various Italian public officials sweetheart deals on apartments and other residences in Rome owned by Propaganda Fidei, at the same time that massive amounts of state funds were being allocated for remodeling projects on congregation properties, including its famed headquarters in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna. The suspicion was of an unstated but clear quid pro quo – I’ll get you an apartment, and you vote for my funding.

While Sepe was never charged and denied any wrongdoing, technically the probe remains open awaiting further developments.

As the probe of the London transaction unfolds, it may turn out that there were violations of the Vatican’s new requirements for financial transparency and accounting as decreed by Popes Benedict XVI and Francis, or it may not.

It’s also arguable that whatever the legal dimension of the affair may be, there’s something a bit incongruous about the Vatican under a pope who’s the apotheosis of a “poor church for the poor” spending hundreds of millions to acquire property in the swanky London neighborhood of Chelsea to reap profits from rentals to the upper crust.

That said, it’s also arguable that whatever judgment one reaches, Becciu himself didn’t, and doesn’t now, believe he did anything wrong – because, honestly, it’s hard to argue the point that this is how things have always been done.


5. Martyrdom cause for All Hallow’s Eve church massacre in Iraq completes first phase.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, October 31, 2019

Five terrorists from Iraq, Syria and Egypt, killed two priests and 45 lay Catholic faithful, one of whom was pregnant. The attack lasted over four hours, until the police raided the church. At this point, the terrorists blew themselves up. They were never officially identified.

Fathers Thaer Saadulla Abdal, 32, and Waseem Sabih Kas Boutros, 27, had been ordained in 2006 and 2007 respectively, in the same cathedral where they were martyred.

“Materially, the hundreds who were in the church could have died,” said Argentinian Father Luis Escalante, who’s serving as an assessor for the martyrdom cause of the 48 men and women killed that day, including the unborn child.

At a diocesan level, in Baghdad, the cause will officially be closed today, Oct. 31. Once in Rome, it’s unknown how long it will take for the victims of the attack to be recognized by the Catholic Church as killed in odium fidei, meaning, in hatred of their faith.

Theirs won’t be the only martyrdom cause of Iraqi Christians being studied by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In August, and also with Escalante’s help, two other causes were brought forth: Sister Cecilia Moshi Hanna, stabbed to death by Islamists in 2002, and Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni and his three companions, murdered in 2007.

In recent months, there’s been a lot of buzz over a possible papal visit to Iraq next year, something Francis has stated he’d like to do. However, it all depends on the situation on the ground, which remains unstable. Despite the many challenges, Escalante said he hopes the pope will go, and that while he’s there, he’ll recognize the martyrdom that the people presented in the three causes.

“After everything they’ve been through in this short period – the fall of Saddam Hussein, the second American invasion, ISIS and the internal problems of the country – the community needs to revive their faith,” he said. “The Christians who decide to remain are a small minority that continues to become smaller. They need help. They need to feel that they’re not alone, and having their martyrs recognized as such would help.”


6. Madonna statue returned by Britons to Argentina at Vatican.

The Associated Press, October 30, 2019

Pope Francis has appeared to wipe away tears during a ceremony in St. Peter’s Square for the return of a Virgin Mary statue from Britons to Argentina.

Argentine troops had brought a statue of Our Lady of Lujan to the Falkland Islands, or Las Malvinas, when they invaded the British colony in 1982. After the two-month war, the statue ended up in a military cathedral in Britain, where it served as a focus for prayers for dead from both sides.

Following his public audience Wednesday, Francis wiped his eyes and kissed a stone plaque which honors war dead in his Argentine homeland.

The statue is going back to Argentina, while British Catholics will get a replica.


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