1. Pope Visits Italy’s Amatrice After Devastating Earthquake, Visit comes as government starts to rebuild town and relocate homeless, By Francis X. Rocca and Giada Zampano, The Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2016, Pg. A10.

Pope Francis paid an unscheduled visit Tuesday morning to Amatrice, the central Italian town hit hardest by the earthquake that killed nearly 300 people, fulfilling a promise he made in the aftermath to bring the “comfort of faith” in person.

The pope met with family members of those killed in the Aug. 24 quake and visited the town’s most-damaged area, now closed to residents.

His visit comes as the Italian government moves ahead with efforts to rebuild after the extensive damage wrought by the powerful earthquake, and to relocate the homeless from tent cities into prefabricated housing.

During an in-flight press conference on the way back from a visit to Azerbaijan on Sunday, the pope told reporters that he would make the promised visit privately and without an entourage. “I want to be close to the people,” he said.

He reached the town shortly after 9 a.m. and went straight to a temporary school opened last month, where he met with more than 100 children and other residents, including a man who lost his wife and two children in the earthquake. The man was visibly moved as he clasped the pope’s hands in greeting.


2. Conservatives Praise Mike Pence’s Debate Message, Many say that he laid out a clearer version of their views than his Republican running mate, Donald Trump, By Aaron Zitner, The Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2016, Pg. A4.

 “Gov. Pence beautifully defended the sanctity of life in tonight’s debate, and that will resonate with people of faith, for whom the right to life is a foundational voting issue,” said Maureen Ferguson of The Catholic Association, in a written statement.


3. Pope names Burbidge Arlington’s new bishop, Will be installed Dec. 6 after Raleigh diocese exit, By Julia Porterfield, The Washington Times, October 5, 2016, Pg. A10.

The Diocese of Arlington announced Tuesday that Pope Francis has chosen a successor for Bishop Paul S. Loverde, who will retire later this year.

Michael F. Burbidge, 59, will serve as the fourth Bishop of Arlington, following his formal installment on Dec. 6.

In his new role, Bishop Burbidge will oversee the quickly growing Catholic community in Central and Northern Virginia, which his predecessor describes as an opportunity and a challenge.

“We now have 458,000 registered Catholics, with an estimated number of unregistered at 160,000,” said Bishop Loverde, 76. “That’s a huge number put together.”

Bishop Burbidge has spent the past 10 years serving as the Bishop of Raleigh, North Carolina. During his tenure there, the bishop presided over a 40 percent increase in the number of registered Catholics, which the diocese hails as a major accomplishment.

He also oversaw the development of the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, a 2,000-seat mother church for the Raleigh diocese that is expected to open in the spring.

Pope John Paul II named Bishop Burbidge auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia in 2002. Four years later Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as the Bishop of Raleigh.


4. Father Pavone’s Stark Reminder, By Jennifer Harper, Washington Times, October 5, 2016, Pg. A2, Inside the Beltway.

“Dear Senator Kaine: In your public comments, you identify yourself as Catholic. Yet you want abortion to continue to be legal, as it slaughters over a million children on American soil each year,” writes the Rev. Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, in an open letter to Sen. Tim Kaine.

“This contradicts the Catholic teaching on abortion, namely, that the child in the womb must be protected. And the assertion that your ‘personal beliefs’ and ‘public actions’ can remain separate on this issue simply does not hold water.”


5. Supreme Court tosses law restricting abortion, By Associated Press, Washington Post, October 5, 2016, Pg. A3.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has thrown out another state law that would put new restrictions on abortion providers.

In a unanimous opinion handed down Tuesday, all nine justices agreed that the statute adopted by the Legislature last year “contains different and unrelated purposes” in violation of the Oklahoma constitution’s requirement that legislation cover a single subject.

The law encompasses four abortion-related topics: minors and parental consent; tissue preservation; inspection of clinics; and legal liability for abortion providers.


6. Why I oppose D.C.’s assisted-suicide bill, By Ashley E. McGuire, Washington Post Online, October 4, 2016, 8:18 PM.

When I learned last year that the city government was considering an assisted-suicide bill, I was appalled. As a young mother, the thought of raising my children in an environment of state-approved suicide was terrifying. When I learned that my own representative, Councilwoman Mary Cheh (D), was the sponsor of a bill with the Orwellian title “Death With Dignity Act,” I took action and testified at the council’s public hearing. I testified just two seats down from Brittany Maynard’s best friend, who was there to advocate for the bill. 

The troubling spike in suicide tracks neatly with the advent of bills to legalize euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide; Oregon was the first state to legalize it in the mid-1990s. Last fall, a study published by the National Institutes of Health confirmed the obvious: Making suicide legal and more accessible, even if solely in cases of terminal illness, leads to an increase in total suicide rates.

The law is a powerful teacher. I want the laws of my city to teach my children that the only just and merciful response to suffering is love and care, not death.


7. Pence Slams Clinton, Kaine Over Taxpayer Funding of Abortion, By Bill McMorris, Washington Free Beacon, October 4, 2016 11:27 pm.

Pro-life and Catholic groups criticized Kaine for flip-flopping on abortion in order to become Hillary’s running mate.

“Tim Kaine’s abortion flip-flops are too-little, too-late for pro-life Americans who are wondering how a politician can call himself a committed Catholic and still receive a 100 percent rating from NARAL,” Grazie Pozo Christie, policy adviser for The Catholic Association, told the Washington Free Beacon.

Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director who now works as a pro-life activist, said that the Hyde Amendment has saved lives. She called Kaine “an extremist on abortion” despite his self-described personal opposition.


8. How Not to Argue about Pope Francis, By Matthew Sitman, Commonweal Magazine, October 4, 2016, 3:36pm.

First Things literary editor Matthew Schmitz is no stranger to these efforts to denigrate Pope Francis. … Last week, Schmitz was at it again, asking the following in the New York Times: “Has Pope Francis Failed?

The real reason for Schmitz to address Francis’s failures, if that’s even what they are, is to make Francis look as bad as possible, and to imply that he’s bolstering his own popularity at the expense of the church he leads. As Schmitz puts it:

Something more fundamental may stand in the way of a Francis effect. Francis is a Jesuit, and like many members of Catholic religious orders, he tends to view the institutional church, with its parishes and dioceses and settled ways, as an obstacle to reform.

It’s important to realize that the “evidence” Schmitz adduces to support this is largely nonsense. Take this claim: “[Francis] describes parish priests as ‘little monsters’ who ‘throw stones’ at poor sinners.” Francis actually did not describe parish priests that way at all. What he did claim is that those guiding and training future priests should be careful to form the minds and hearts of seminarians. “Otherwise,” he said, “we are creating little monsters” (emphasis mine). If you just read Schmitz, you’d assume that Francis believes your average parish priest is a monster who enjoys hounding humble, simple, faithful Catholics. The reality is that, in the context of speaking to a specific audience, Francis expressed his hope that seminaries would train warm, pastorally minded priests. It’s also worth noting that Francis said this in November of 2013, three years before the phrase “throw stones” appeared in Amoris laetitia. Why would Schmitz link them as if Francis used them together? And would Schmitz prefer priests who did throw stones?

Here’s another example of disingenuously using Francis’s words:
He has said that Catholics who place an emphasis on attending Mass, frequenting confession, and saying traditional prayers are “Pelagians” — people who believe, heretically, that they can be saved by their own works.

Francis simply never said this. If you follow the link provided, he did invoke “Pelagians” in a July 23 “morning meditation” that urged the audience to be “Christians of action and truth” and not merely “Christians of words.” At least in the text provided, Francis never mentions attending Mass, going to confession, or saying traditional prayers, let alone stating that those who participate in such practices are Pelagian. Why would Schmitz invent such a claim?


9. Reforming the Vatican’s Finances: Souls are at Stake, By Samuel Gregg, The Stream, September 8, 2016.

Significant reform of the IOR began under Benedict XVI, something for which he receives little credit. But there’s no question that one reason why Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio SJ was elected as Benedict’s successor was the sense that only an outsider could clean out the stables. Bergoglio also had a strong reputation for austerity and detachment from material things.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, however, Francis X. Rocca argues that Pell’s reform effort is being undermined from within. The whole piece is worth careful reading, not least because it identifies the major players and some of the tensions beneath the surface. But Rocca’s central argument is that, having been brought from Australia by Pope Francis to streamline and make transparent the Vatican’s finances, Cardinal Pell is finding his powers to do so steadily reduced by the man who gave him the job in the first place.

Whatever the cause, any serious obstruction or even termination of Pell’s efforts to make all the Vatican’s institutions fully financially transparent and subject to modern auditing requirements surely would be judged as a major failure of this papacy. Moreover, given the amount of time and words Pope Francis spends denouncing what he regards as various economic and financial injustices, that rhetoric will seem somewhat hollow if there’s any perception he couldn’t get his own house in order.