1. Pope Francis Doesn’t Fear Schism.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2019, Pg. A9

Pope Francis made his most explicit public acknowledgement of tensions with conservative Catholics in the U.S., saying he hopes the divisions within the church don’t lead to a schism.

The pope has been criticized by conservative Catholics, many of them Americans, for playing down traditional teachings on marriage, sexuality and bioethics while focusing on social causes such as climate change and migration.

“I pray that there will not be schisms, but I am not afraid,” the pope said Tuesday to reporters accompanying him on his flight to Rome after a weeklong trip to Africa.


2. Returning From Africa, Pope Reflects on Critics.

By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, September 11, 2019, Pg. A10

Faced with sustained opposition from Catholic conservatives in the United States who accuse him of driving traditionalists to break with the church, Pope Francis said on Tuesday that he hopes it doesn’t come to that, but isn’t frightened of it either.

“I pray there are no schisms,” Francis said in a lengthy news conference aboard the papal plane as he returned from a six-day trip to Africa. “But I’m not scared.”

Francis was returning to Rome from a trip to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius that showcased the priorities of his papacy: reaching out to the poor, advocating justice for migrants and other marginalized people and protecting the environment from capitalism run amok. In doing so, he has alienated some conservatives — especially in the United States — who say he is promoting an anti-American, anticapitalist agenda and drifting from the core teachings of the Church.

The airborne news conference lasting more than an hour offered Francis an opportunity to respond to his accusers. He mused that his critics often excoriated him for saying and doing the same things that one of his recent predecessors, Pope John Paul II, said and did on issues of social justice. John Paul II, now made a saint, was a favorite of church conservatives.


3. Trump announces help for certain historically black colleges.

By Darlene Superville, The Associated Press, September 11, 2019, 12:33 AM

Historically black colleges and universities with a religious affiliation will no longer be restricted from accessing federal funding for capital projects, President Donald Trump announced Tuesday.

Trump said federal law had restricted more than 40 faith-based HBCUs and seminaries from fully tapping a program that provides federal loan guarantees for their construction projects.

“This meant that your faith-based institutions, which have made such extraordinary contributions to America, were unfairly punished for their religious beliefs,” the president told a conference on historically black colleges and universities meeting in Washington.


4. 9/11: When John Paul II grieved with America.

By Mary Farrow, Catholic News Agency, September 11, 2019, 3:28 AM

As three airliners smashed into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, and Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001, Joaquín Navarro-Valls, at the time the director of the Vatican press office, delivered the news to Pope John Paul II.

“I remember that terrible afternoon as if it were yesterday. I called the Pope, who was at Castel Gandolfo, I gave him the news. He was shocked not only by the tragedy itself, but also because he could not explain how man could achieve this abyss of evil…” he recalled in a 2011 interview with Vatican Insider.

John Paul II, who had grown up to watch his native Poland overtaken first by Nazis and then by the Soviets, and who as Pope navigated the dangerous international waters of the Cold War, was no stranger to tragedy and war.

Still, the terror attacks on the United States shook him deeply.

“He was deeply shaken, saddened. But I remember that he asked himself how so heinous an attack could happen. His dismay, in front of those images went beyond pain,” Navarro-Valls recalled.


5. Australian Justice in the Dock.

By George Weigel, First Things, September 11, 2019

In the wake of last month’s incomprehensible and (as measured by Judge Weinberg’s dissent) dangerous rejection of Cardinal Pell’s appeal, Catholic voices were heard expressing (or demanding) respect for the justice system in Australia. Perhaps the Vatican press spokesman must say such things for diplomatic purposes, although the reason why diplomatic concerns trump truth and justice in the Holy See Press Office is unclear. But as this chronology indicates, there is no reason to respect a process that reeks of system failure at every point, from the dubious and perhaps corrupt police investigation through the committal hearing, the two trials, and the appeal. There are guilty parties here. But Cardinal George Pell is not one of them.

As this scandalous process approaches the High Court of Australia, friends of Australia, both Down Under and throughout the world, must send a simple message, repeatedly: George Pell is an innocent man who was falsely accused and has been unjustly convicted of crimes he did not commit. It is not George Pell who is in the dock, now, but the administration of justice in Australia. And the only way to restore justice is for Cardinal Pell to be vindicated by the highest court in the land.

Those who cannot bring themselves to say that, in Australia or elsewhere, necessarily share in the ignominy that Australian criminal justice has, thus far, brought upon itself.


6. Pope says US critics use ‘rigid’ ideology’ to mask failings.

By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, September 10, 2019

Pope Francis said Tuesday he wasn’t afraid of a U.S. Catholic Church schism led by his conservative critics, but sees a “rigid” ideology opponents use to mask their own moral failings has already infiltrated the American church.

Asked about the criticism and risk of schism, Francis insisted his social teachings were identical to those of St. John Paul II, the standard-bearer for many conservative Catholics.

And he noted that church history is full of schisms, most recently after the Second Vatican Council, the 1960s church meetings that modernized the church.


7. On American critics, Pope says he doesn’t want a schism but he’s not afraid of it.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, September 10, 2019

In response to a question about his recent declaration that he’s honored when “Americans are attacking me,” Pope Francis said Tuesday that while he prays to avoid a schism in the Catholic Church, he’s not afraid of it either, because such rifts have occurred throughout history.

Francis also acknowledged that the U.S. is hardly the only place from which he occasionally draws fire, noting that he also has some critics within the Roman Curia, meaning the administrative bureaucracy of the Vatican itself.

Further, Francis also said that criticism isn’t always destructive, especially when it’s delivered in the open rather than behind one’s back.

Francis’s remarks came as he answered questions from the nearly 70 journalists who traveled with him during his Sept. 4-10 visit to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius.


8. Update: Memories of 9/11 attacks linger for fire department chaplain.

By Allyson Escobar, Catholic News Service, September 10, 2019, 5:23 PM

Msgr. John Delendick, a longtime New York Fire Department chaplain who is currently pastor of St. Jude Church in Brooklyn, remembers Sept. 11, 2001, vividly.

At the time of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Msgr. Delendick had just finished celebrating Mass at St. Michael’s Church in Brooklyn where he was pastor. He jumped in his car and drove as close as he could get and then walked to the scene.

When he got to the twin towers, he ran into other fire department colleagues, including first deputy commissioner William Feehan, who was later killed in the collapse. He also gave absolution to a police officer who ran to him amid a dark cloud of debris and smoke, asking the priest to hear his confession.

The hardest thing of that day, he said, was people asking him if he had seen their friends, fathers, brothers and sons — firefighters and first responders at the scene — and not knowing how to respond. It wasn’t until after returning from ground zero that Father Delendick and many families would realize that their friends and loved ones had died.


9. Fact-Checking Facebook: Pro-Life Doctors Say ‘Abortion Is Never Medically Necessary’

By Lauretta Brown, National Catholic Register, September 10, 2019

Pro-life doctors are speaking out in defense of the pro-life group Live Action after Facebook marked a claim, featured in two of the group’s videos, that “abortion is never medically necessary” as false.

However, the fact-check of the videos that Facebook relied on, in passing negative judgement on the accuracy of the Live Action videos, was conducted by two activist abortionists, Dr. Daniel Grossman of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health and Dr. Robyn Schickler with Physicians for Reproductive Health.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a pro-life physician and policy adviser for The Catholic Association, told the Register that this fact-check dispute arose because of philosophical and definitional differences regarding abortion. Christie is in complete agreement with Rose “that an abortion is never medically necessary” and referenced her own video on the topic.

“What happens is that we’re using different terms or we’re defining the terms differently on each side,” she explained “So when I say and when Lila Rose says abortion is not medically necessary, we’re talking about an actual abortion. So what’s the definition of an abortion? An abortion is the purposeful ending of a pregnancy by terminating the fetus’ life directly, right? But that’s not how the other side defines abortion.”

She explained that another layer of confusion comes from the fact that in medicine the word “abortion” is not used the way it’s used colloquially. For example, when a woman miscarries, that’s called a “spontaneous abortion,” but most people don’t think of miscarriages as abortions.

Christie said that when a woman’s life is in danger due to her pregnancy, “there’s two ways to terminate a pregnancy: by killing the child and taking the dead body out of the mother’s body or by delivering the child alive.”

“There’s a definitional problem, and then there’s also a philosophy problem,” Christie added of the disagreement over the necessity of abortion. “They’re saying — because they have no problem with killing the baby — they don’t think there’s an ethical issue to directly kill the child; then they’re lumping everything [together], so when they say ‘abortion’ they mean any intervention in a pregnancy that results in a dead child, but that’s not how regular people think about abortion. Abortion really is the direct [killing]: You kill a child, and then you remove it.”


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