1. Dilution of Doctrine, By Ross Douthat, The New York Sunday Times, September 18, 2016, Pg. SR11, SundayReview, Op-Ed Columnist.

LAST weekend Tim Kaine, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee and a churchgoing Catholic, briefly escaped obscurity by telling an audience of L.G.B.T. activists that he expects his church to eventually bless and celebrate same-sex marriages.

In a normal moment, it would be the task of this conservative Catholic scribbler to explain why the governor is wrong and the bishop is right, why scripture and tradition make it impossible for Catholicism to simply reinvent its sexual ethics.

But this is not a normal moment in the Catholic Church. As the governor was making his prediction, someone leaked a letter from Pope Francis to the Argentine bishops, praising their openness to allowing some divorced-and-remarried Catholics to receive communion.

The “private” letter was the latest move in a papal dance that’s been going on since Francis was elected. The pope clearly wants to admit remarried Catholics to communion, and he tried by hook and crook to get the world’s bishops to agree. But he faced intense resistance from conservatives, who pointed out that this reform risked evacuating the church’s teaching that sacramental marriages are indissoluble and second marriages adulterous.

In the short run this may indeed be clever. (Clearly, conservative bishops have no idea how to handle Francis’ maneuvers.) But how long will liberal Catholics be content with a settlement that still leaves same-sex relationships in a merely-tolerated limbo, and that leaves open the possibility that a new pope — an African conservative, let’s say — might reassert the letter of the law and undo Francis’ work?

How long can conservative Catholics persist in waiting for such a pope, and in telling one another — as they’ve been doingrather miserably, of late — to obey the church of 2,000 years rather than the current pontiff?

And how effectively can a church retain the lukewarm or uncertain if it keeps its most controversial teachings while constantly winking to say, “Don’t worry, we don’t actually believe all that?”


2. Catholic high school pressed to accept transgender boy, By Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, September 19, 2016, Pg. A7.

A Catholic high school in New Jersey is under fire for refusing to admit a transgender female student as a boy.

The school said it is “open to all students who want to learn in a Catholic environment” and sought to accommodate Mason in a pair of meetings with the teen’s parents in August.
Mason agreed to use the restroom and change clothes in the nurse’s office, but wanted permission to wear a boy’s uniform and be treated by the school as a boy in other respects.

Pointing to Pope Francis’s recent reiteration of church teaching in Amoris Laetitia, the school said it “could not provide the accommodations, as they would contradict Catholic teaching on gender identity.”


3. Catholic Leaders Smite Tim Kaine’s Gay Marriage Hope, During his keynote at the Human Rights Campaign dinner last week, Tim Kaine expressed hope that the Catholic church would change it’s view of gay marriage. Spoiler alert: That’s not happening, By Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, September 18, 2016, 12:15 AM ET.

“The attempt to redefine the essential meaning of marriage is acting against the Creator,” they added. 

Other Catholic figures also ripped him for the remarks. 

“Kaine is simply preaching the ‘gospel’ of another faith—and it isn’t the Catholic Faith,” wrote Catholic World Report editor Carl Olson.  

And Maureen Ferguson, a senior policy advisor at The Catholic Association, pointed out that Kaine’s hoped-for change won’t happen on Pope Francis’s watch. 

“If Sen. Kaine wants to go beyond politics to opine on the theology of the Catholic Church, he should at least consult Pope Francis’ most recent exhortation Amoris Laetitia,” she said in a statement, ‘in which Francis states, ‘There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.’”


4. Study: Faith-based activities pack great economic power, By Julie Zauzmer, The Washington Post, September 17, 2016, Pg. B2.

Religion is big business. Just how big? A new study, published Wednesday by a father-daughter researcher team, says religion is bigger than Facebook, Google and Apple — combined.

The article in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion said that the annual revenues of faith-based enterprises — not just churches but hospitals, schools, charities and even gospel musicians and halal food makers — is more than $378 billion a year. And that’s not counting the annual shopping bonanza motivated by Christmas.

Georgetown University’s Brian Grim and the Newseum’s Melissa Grim — in a study sponsored by an organization called Faith Counts, which promotes the value of religion — produced a 31-page breakdown of all the ways religion contributes to the U.S. economy.

The largest chunk of that $378 billion tally comes from faith-based health-care systems. Religious groups run many of the hospitals in the United States; Catholic health systems alone reportedly account for 1 in 6 hospital beds in the country.


5. Belgium sees first case of minor being granted euthanasia, Associated Press, September 17, 2016.

PARIS (AP) — A terminally ill minor has been helped to die in Belgium for the first time since the country did away with age restrictions on euthanasia two years ago, according to the senator who wrote the law.

Belgium is the only country that allows minors of any age assistance in dying, De Gucht said. In Holland, the lower age limit for euthanasia is 12 years.

The Belgian law has very strict rules for the euthanasia to be approved. It requires the minor to be in the final stages of a terminal illness, to understand the difference between life and death rationally and to have asked to end his or her life on repeated occasions. It also requires parental consent and finally the approval of two doctors, including a psychiatrist.
The law — one of the most far-reaching in the Western world — had wide public support when it was introduced in 2014, but was opposed by some pediatricians and the country’s Roman Catholic clergy.


6. Archbishop Chaput: Christians Must Not Indulge in the ‘Luxury of Cynicism,’ Even in This Election, By Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review Online, September 16, 2016, 6:01 PM.

There is little doubt — among conservatives at least — that religious liberty is threatened by the federal government. The Obama administration’s demand that a group of nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor, provide contraceptives to their employees has been followed by other attacks on conscience rights. Religious freedom, perhaps our most fundamental freedom, ought to be of serious concern not only to religious believers: A well-ordered society must protect the realm within which all men can consider essential questions of human existence, man’s relation to the divine, and the proper relationship between men, because the answers to these questions could have bearing on eternal life. But, of course, curtailment of this freedom is of particular concern to religious believers attempting to live out their faith in the current environment.

These matters are at the center of a lecture series at Notre Dame, arguably the nation’s most prominent Catholic university. The series, sponsored by Notre Dame’s Tocqueville Program, got underway Thursday with a lecture given by the Reverend Charles J. Chaput, who has served as archbishop of Philadelphia since 2011. Chaput’s talk, entitled “Sex, Family, and the Liberty of the Church: Authentic Freedom in Our Emancipated Age,” sought to articulate the essential role American Christians should play in redeeming today’s political culture. For him, that mission ought to be guided by the belief that the goal of human life is to achieve eternal fulfillment in heaven: He began by quoting Léon Bloy, a French Catholic convert, who said that, in the end, the only thing in life that matters is to be a saint. The pursuit of saintliness and eternal life might seem far removed from this year’s election, but that, Chaput warned, is not an excuse for Christians to disengage.

“The major parties have never, at the same time, offered two such deeply flawed presidential candidates,” Chaput said, calling both Trump and Clinton “very bad news” for our country. But he said that, despite this bleak landscape, Christians are not allowed the “luxury of cynicism.”


7. Genocide of Christians by ISIS a reality we can’t ignore, By Father Matthew Schneider, The Crux, September 16, 2016.

In that spirit, the ongoing genocide of Christians in the Middle East, especially in ISIS-controlled areas, is a reality we cannot deny.

Crux editor John Allen Jr. documented the persecution of Christians a few years back in The Global War on Christians but the situation in the Middle East has deteriorated significantly since then. Christ based his judgment in Matthew 25 on how we dealt with these least: this applies not just individually, but how we – as an at least nominally Christian nation – respond to genocide against these least of Christ’s brothers.

Recently, I was at a conference run by In Defense of Christians, a non-profit founded to help persecuted Christian minorities. Andrew Doran, a senior advisor to IDC, began the conference by laying out the arguments used to convince both the U.S. Congress and the State Department to declare the violence against Christians and Yazidis and other minorities in Syria and Iraq as genocide.

We have to change our actions – both individually and as a nation – to reflect the reality, which is that people are being exterminated based on their Christian faith. We cannot stand idly by but will be judged on how we treat these least of Jesus’s brothers.


8. Are Catholic Bishops Tilting to Hillary?, By Christopher Manion, The Daily Caller, September 15, 2016, 3:30 PM.

Curiously, while our bishops have been vocal in their condemnation of Donald Trump (like Hillary, Dolan darkly warned of his “nativism”), they have been strangely subdued in singling out the pro-abortion record of his opponent.

And that is a sordid record indeed. When Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, her Prime Mandate did not address the destruction of the Middle East, the disaster at Benghazi, and her generally gross malfeasance in matters of foreign policy. No, these were all distractions from her highest priority: “abortion, free and safe, worldwide.”

Yes, Hillary is the Sweetheart of Planned Parenthood.

The bishops know this, to be sure. And yet they imply that opposition to amnesty for illegal aliens is just as sinful as Hillary’s worldwide pro-abortion campaign. In fact, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, recently told an interviewer that that supporting the enforcement of U.S. immigration law is the moral equivalent of supporting abortion.


9. Study finds that religion contributes $1.2 trillion to US economy, By Christopher White, The Crux, September 14, 2016.

Almost two centuries later, a different narrative about the role of religion and public life has emerged. The notion that religion is antiquated, declining, and at worst, oppressive, seems to dominate much of our public discourse.

But a major new study just released in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion evidences that the country has never been more dependent on the contributions of people of faith to society, particularly from a socio-economic perspective.

According to findings from Brian and Melissa Grim, “religion in the United States today contributes $1.2 trillion each year to our economy and society.”

Impressively, this figure is more than the top ten tech companies combined-including Google, Apple, and Microsoft. Or, put in another perspective, if that figure was measured in GDP, U.S. religion would be the 15th largest national economy in the world.