1. When civil rights and religious liberty clash nonstop, what comes out on top? By Joe Davidson, The Washington Post, September 12, 2016, Pg. A13.

Jumping into the fray over civil liberties vs. religious freedom, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission issued a report Wednesday that is sure to anger conservatives with this central finding:

“Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon these civil rights,” the report said.

The chairman of the commission, Martin R. Castro, went to the hot spot of the debate with a separate statement in the report that uncloaks what often, but certainly not always, lurks behind protestations about freedom of religion.

“The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance,” Castro wrote.

For Roger Severino, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the conservative Heritage Foundation, a particularly troubling aspect of the report is what he called “the attempt to discredit sincere religious believers as being motivated by hate instead of faith and the implied recommendation that religious groups should change their beliefs on sexual morality to conform with liberal norms for the good of the country.  I would expect to see such a slanted and anti-religious report come out of China or France perhaps, but am disappointed to see it come from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.”


2. Pope: The devil seeks to divide the Church at the root of unity, Pope Francis’ Daily Homily, September 12, 2016.

Divisions destroy the Church, and the devil seeks to attack the root of unity: the celebration of the Eucharist. That was the message of Pope Francis on Monday morning at the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, on the feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Commenting on the reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians — where St Paul rebuked the Corinthians for their contentiousness — Pope Francis said, “The devil has two very powerful weapons to destroy the Church: divisions and money.” And this has happened from the beginning: “ideological, theological divisions that lacerate the Church. The devil sows jealousy, ambitions, ideas, but to divide! Or greed.” And, as happens after a war, “everything is destroyed. And the devil is pleased. And we, naïve as we are, are his game.” “It is a dirty war, that of divisions,” he repeated. “It’s like terrorism,” the war of gossiping in the community, that of language that kills”


3. Kaine says Catholic Church might change on gay marriage, Associated Press, September 11, 2016

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine is predicting that the Roman Catholic Church may eventually change its opposition to gay marriage.

Kaine, who describes himself as a devout Roman Catholic, is a U.S. senator from Virginia and a former governor of that state. He told the Human Rights Campaign during its national dinner Saturday in Washington that he had changed his mind about gay marriage, and that his church may follow suit one day.

“I think it’s going to change because my church also teaches me about a creator who, in the first chapter of Genesis, surveyed the entire world, including mankind, and said, ‘It is very good,’” Kaine said.

He then recalled Pope Francis’ remark, “Who am I to judge?” in reference to gay priests.


4. The brutal, powerful 9/11 stories of Catholic priests, By Adelaide Mena, Catholic News Agency, September 11, 2016, 3:02 AM.

On the clear, sunny morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Fr. Kevin Madigan heard an explosion overhead.

He grabbed oils for anointing and ran out the door of St. Peter’s parish in New York city and wandered towards the center of the commotion – the World Trade Center only a block away.

Fifty blocks uptown, Fr. Christopher Keenan, OFM watched with the world as the smoke rising from the twin towers darkened the television screen. Looking to help, he went to St. Vincent’s Hospital downtown to tend to those wounded in the attack – but the victims never came.

All the while, he wondered what had happened to a brother friar assigned as chaplain to the firefighters of New York City: Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, named by some the “Saint of 9/11.”

For Frs. Madigan, Keenan and Judge, the day changed their own lives and ministries, as a pastor lost nearly his entire congregation, and a friar put himself in harm’s way to take on a new position – an assignment he only received because another friar gave the ultimate sacrifice as the Twin Towers came down.


5. Zika-Funding Deal Nears With Talk of Dropping Planned Parenthood Clause, By Kristina Peterson, The Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2016, Pg. A3.

Lawmakers are edging closer to breaking a monthslong impasse over funds to combat the Zika virus, as Republican lawmakers and aides said they expected to drop a contentious provision that would effectively block funding to clinics in Puerto Rico that work with Planned Parenthood.

Lawmakers and aides from both parties said Friday they anticipated that this month Congress would pass a package combining Zika funding with a spending bill that would keep the government running until early December. The government’s current funding is scheduled to expire at midnight on Sept. 30.

Democrats have balked at a provision in the $1.1 billion legislation that would effectively prevent funding from going to clinics run by ProFamilias, a partner of Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico, where the number of Zika cases has risen sharply this summer. Republicans on Friday said that language would likely be dropped to get bipartisan support for the combined government funding and Zika package.


6. A Way to Protect Planned Parenthood Services, The New York Times, September 10, 2016, Pg. A18, Editorial.

Opponents of Planned Parenthood in recent years have cut funding to the organization that goes through the Title X Family Planning Program, which provides federal money for services like contraception, testing for sexually transmitted infections and cancer screenings. (Like all federal programs, it is largely barred from paying for abortions.) State and local governments distribute that money to health care providers, and at least 14 states took actions to cut the share they direct to Planned Parenthood.

This month, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a rule that could stop states from doing this. The rule would make clear that state governments must apportion Title X funds based on a provider’s ability to perform family planning services effectively — not on other factors like whether a provider also offers abortions.

The proposed Health and Human Services rule will be open for public comment for 30 days, after which the department will decide whether to issue a final version. If the rule takes effect, it will benefit people all over the country who need reliable reproductive health care.


7. How the response to 9/11 affected Christians in the Middle East, By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, September 10, 2016, 3:03 AM.

On the 15th anniversary of the World Trade Center terror attacks, we shouldn’t overlook how Middle Eastern Christians have suffered from the unintended consequences of U.S. post-9/11 foreign policy, says one expert.

“The U.S. Catholic bishops, in their statement after the Sept.11 attacks, made it clear that the response has to be a response that brings more peace for all, not just greater security for U.S. citizens,” said Maryann Cusimano Love, an international relations professor at the Catholic University of America.

U.S. Catholics must see themselves as part of “a global Church, and that as followers of Christ, the Prince of Peace, He came to bring peace for all, not for a narrow band,” she told CNA.
Middle Eastern Christians and other religious minorities have also suffered greatly from the unintended consequences of U.S. post-9/11 foreign policy, despite the ultimately-prophetic warnings from Catholic leaders, including Pope St. John Paul II, against the War in Iraq, Love explained.

“Christians in the Middle East are in a fight for their lives,” she said, and “in a large part the U.S. response to the Sept. 11 attacks certainly played a role in that.”