1. Buying into the great beyond, The phenomenon of faith continues to capture the attention of modern man, Editorial, The Washington Times, September 15, 2016, Pg. B2.

Still, the pathway of progress has been primarily cleared by persons driven to serve, and few are more attuned to that impulse than the religious. When rising waters claimed the homes of more than 60,000 families in Louisiana, when the president insisted on finishing his golf vacation before succoring the suffering, it was faith-based organizations like Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse, the Salvation Army and the churches that were first on the scene to provide the destitute with food, drink and solicitude for the spirit.


2. Dissent’s just fine, but what Tim Kaine offers is hypocrisy, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, The Crux, September 14, 2016.

Kaine, like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden, describes himself as a “devout Catholic.” All three politicians are open supporters of the Democratic party’s platform, which allows abortion up to the point of birth. Biden recently conducted a same-sex wedding ceremony in the Naval Observatory – the Vice President’s lodgings – and Nancy Pelosi is a proud winner of Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award.

What disturbs me, as a priest and a fellow Catholic, is not that there are Catholics who dissent from church teaching. I don’t wish for all Catholics to march in lockstep, and I treasure Catholic universality and diversity. Part of that is the tradition of dissent.

Dissenters are Catholics too. Maybe they’ve been hurt and offended by other Catholics in some way. Maybe they get angry and protest against the church’s teaching on contraception, or maybe they write articles and books arguing against particular church doctrines they don’t believe.

Like a big Italian family, we Catholics quarrel and argue and yell at each other and cry, threaten and bear a grudge, but then maybe we hug and shrug and pass the pasta.

Catholics such as Kaine, Pelosi and Biden, however, don’t do that. Instead, they grin and make nice and pretend the Catholic Church is something she is not.

When they say they are “devout Catholics” and that the Catholic Church is going to change on gay marriage, or say innocently that the Catholic Church really does allow abortion, or that the Catholic Church will ordain women one day, they are revealing themselves to be either hopelessly ill-informed about the faith they claim to follow “devoutly,” or they are being dishonest – or, perhaps, they are both ignorant and dishonest.


3. Pope’s inter-faith summit in Assisi belongs to an ongoing revolution, By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, The Crux, September 14, 2016.

When Pope Francis travels to Assisi next Tuesday to take part in a gathering of religious leaders to pray for peace, there will likely be two different reactions in various quarters, each of which risks missing the point.

For those unfamiliar with recent papal history, the gesture may well be seen as another maverick initiative by a break-the-mold pontiff, one already known for his unique style of outreach to constituencies long distant from the Catholic Church.

Those who do know the story of what happened under St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, on the other hand, may be tempted to see the Sept. 20 event as ho-hum. After all, this gathering marks the 30th anniversary of John Paul’s historic 1986 inter-faith summit in Assisi, an initiative he repeated in 1993 and 2002, and one that Benedict also presided over in 2011.

When Francis heads to Assisi next Tuesday, he’ll thus be confirming anew a sea change in Catholic attitudes towards other religions, and an historic addition to the conception of what it means to be pope.
All that, one has to say, isn’t bad for a day’s work.


4. In Michigan, a Small but Meaningful Victory for Conscience Rights, By Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review – The Corner, September 14, 2016, 1:08 PM.

In Michigan, the Catholic Church and religious health-care workers have won a small victory for conscience rights. A federal court last week rejected an ACLU lawsuit against the United States Conference of Catholics Bishops (USCCB), filed on behalf of Tamesha Means, who claimed the Catholic hospital Mercy Health Partners should have been required to provide her with an abortion when she was in the process of miscarrying. The suit asserted that an abortion would have been safer for Means than a natural miscarriage and alleged that, because of the Catholic health care system’s policy of never performing a direct abortion, Mercy “denied appropriate medical care” to Means.

But last Thursday, federal judges of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the ACLU, upholding an earlier decision to dismiss the case. According to Judge Robert Holmes Bell, who first dismissed the case in 2015, his court did not have jurisdiction over the USCCB. (The suit was brought against the USCCB because it is the body that prohibits Catholic hospitals from performing abortions, as abortion contradicts Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of all human life.) Bell also said Means’s demand for an abortion would “impermissibly intrude upon ecclesiastical matters.”

While rulings such as this one are undoubtedly a victory for religious freedom, it is essential to enact federal protections for the conscience rights of health-care workers such as the Conscience Protection Act, which passed Congress in July and is awaiting President Obama’s signature. It seems unlikely that the president will approve this legislation, but that shouldn’t stop conservatives from continuing their efforts to preserve a flourishing civil society that ensures religious freedom for all.


5. Are Religious-Freedom Advocates ‘Christian Supremacists’?, By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, September 14, 2016.

Amid an election-year debate over “transgender bathroom rights” and conscience protections for those who oppose same-sex “marriage” on religious grounds, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) issued a new report that has only deepened the acrimony and sowed fears that people of faith are being smeared as bigots.

The report, “Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles With Civil Liberties,” offers legal guidance on “adjudicating claims for religious exemptions from otherwise applicable nondiscrimination law.”

The commission concludes that antidiscrimination laws should be given greater weight in such cases and framed religious freedom as a threat to civil rights.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, the U.S. bishops’ point man on religious freedom, strongly criticized Castro’s comments in a Sept. 13 statement issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“These statements painting those who support religious freedom with the broad brush of bigotry are reckless and reveal a profound disregard for the religious foundations of his own work,” said Archbishop Lori.


6. Pope Francis: ‘to kill in the name of God is satanic’, Pope Francis’ Daily Homily, September, 14, 2016.

Pope Francis on Wednesday morning celebrated Mass for the French priest of Rouen, Fr. Jacques Hamel, whom he described, is part of the chain of Christian martyrs that runs throughout the history of the Church.

Father Hamel was murdered while celebrating Mass in his Parish Church by two men swearing allegiance to the so-called Islamic State in July.

To the congregation gathered at Santa Marta and which included Archbishop Dominque Lebrun of Rouen, along with 80 other pilgrims from the diocese, Pope Francis said that “to kill in the name of God is satanic”.


7. They’re Confessors, Not “Culture-Warriors”, By George Weigel, First Things, September 13, 2016.

For some years now, courageous Catholic bishops in these United States have been issuing a similar challenge: to avoid a “perversion of the principles” on which American democracy rests—a deterioration that reduces freedom to willfulness; to “resist the mob and the demagogue,” when the people fall for the blandishments of the sound bite and embrace candidates unworthy of public office; to see in the American democratic experiment “something more than the race for gold”; and to live the truths of Catholic social doctrine in order to “make firm the foundations on which … prosperity rests.”

In doing all this, these bishops have followed the lead of the Second Vatican Council by calling their people to live freedom nobly, not as self-indulgence but as a method of responsibility. Theirs has been a genuinely public service, for in challenging U.S. Catholics to give our country a new birth of freedom rightly understood, these bishops have called the entire country to reclaim the “principles that made her great,” including those principles that the social doctrine calls “the dignity of the human person,” “the common good,” “subsidiarity,” and “solidarity.”

For their pains, these bishops are now derided in some quarters as “culture-warriors.” It’s a title that St. Augustine, St. Charles Borromeo, and St. John Paul II (in his days as archbishop of Cracow) would have regarded as an apt description of their responsibilities when they were faced with cultural aggressions of various sorts. But the real term for the American bishops who have issued a challenge similar to Francis Parkman’s is another that could be applied to Augustine, Borromeo, and Wojtyla: “confessor”—a synonym for defenders of the faith.