1. One Year Later: Time to RSVP to Pope Francis’ Invitation, By Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Real Clear Religion, September 22, 2016
His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl is archbishop of Washington, D.C.

At this time one year ago, people from all sectors of our pluralistic community came together to joyously welcome Pope Francis to our nation’s capital. Yet, looking now at the landscape here and across the country, what we see is all manner of division and discord culturally, politically and socio-economically. Perhaps then on this anniversary of the Pope’s visit, we ought to use this opportunity to hear again his important message – and take it to heart.

Again and again, the Holy Father spoke of the vital importance of encounter and unity, pointing out that our shared world would be a much better place if we simply came together and saw in others a brother or sister. Urging that “we confront every form of polarization which would divide us,” he said that in the face of today’s problems and challenges, “we must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world.”

In our hearts, judging from the very large and well-received embrace he received everywhere he went, we know that Pope Francis is right. In his efforts to heal wounds and end conflict, we know that he offers the only true way forward if we are to have a good and just world. In our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and in the public square, we are bound to encounter people who are different from us. Imagine what it would be like if we each took to heart his words and, with our gifts and abilities, were to work for a culture of inclusion and solidarity, of love and peace, liberty and justice, all of us members of one human family.
Together we can begin to heal divisions and bring into reality the renewal our nation needs and find solutions to the challenges we face. We can build a better world together. There really is no good reason not to take on this challenge.


2. Gay couples can’t sue over marriage refusal, By Gary D. Robertson, Associated Press, The Washington Times, Pg. A3, September 22, 2016.

A federal judge has dismissed a challenge to a North Carolina law that says magistrates with religious objections can refuse to marry same-sex couples.

North Carolina and Utah are the only states currently enforcing such religious-recusal laws. About 5 percent of North Carolina’s magistrates have filed recusal notices, which prevent them from officiating at all marriages — gay and heterosexual — for at least six months. The law also allows some court clerks to decline to issue marriage licenses because of “any sincerely held religious objection.”


3. The Cruel Way of Catholics for Choice, By Mary Hallan Fiorito, National Review Online, September 22, 2016.

Olivarez’s words of caution immediately came to mind last week for many Catholics who noticed that a privately funded — not to mention oxymoronically named — Washington, D.C., lobbying group, Catholics for Choice, had launched a national public-relations campaign, taking out full-page ads in many newspapers across the nation. The ads called for taxpayer-supported abortions for those unable to pay for the elective procedure themselves.

Most Americans disagree with Catholics for Choice. After the Democratic party announced at its convention a new platform plank that called for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment (the federal law that prohibits public funding of abortion), a Marist Institute poll (July 2016) showed that a majority of Americans — even those who support legal abortion — object to the use of taxpayer funds to pay for it. What’s more, as the Washington Post reported, a “breakdown of the statistic shows that most blacks, Latinos and independent voters oppose publicly funded abortions.”

Most insulting — to Catholics, to women, to the poor, and to people of color — was that the ads featured Catholic men and women calling public funding for abortion as an imperative of “social justice.” Aside from the fact that the ads entirely avoided any discussion of the unborn child involved in the procedure (and who has no say in his or her death), they fail to explain how forcing taxpayers to pay for the private killing of unborn children might be a “social good.” Abortion leaves a poor woman no better off the day after her abortion than she was the day before. It doesn’t help a woman find a better place to live, or a better job. It doesn’t find her day care for the children she already has, or provide her with a path to self-sufficiency. Beyond paying the clinic fee, publicly funded abortion requires not one iota of investment in a poor woman’s life. It is, in the words of Olivarez, a “cruel way out.” And poor women know it.


4. Pope Francis’ Canon Law Change Strengthens Evangelism With Eastern Churches, By Peter Jesserer Smith, National Catholic Register, September 22, 2016.

Pope Francis has strengthened the Latin and Eastern Churches’ cooperative efforts in spreading the Gospel with a new decree that brings the Latin Church’s Code of Canon Law into harmony with the canon law of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

The new document from Pope Francis, issued motu proprio (on his own initiative), changes the Latin Church’s Code of Canon Law to harmonize with the existing canons on baptism and marriage in the Eastern Code of Canon Law governing the 23 other Eastern Catholic Churches spread throughout the world. It also strengthens the pastoral support for Eastern Christians in the West, reminding the faithful that they “are obliged to observe their own rite wherever they are,” and sends another powerful message in Francis’ papacy that the Catholic Church is a communion of co-equal sister Churches with their own rich rites and traditions deserving of mutual respect.

The Holy Father explained that since many Eastern Catholics have migrated to Latin-majority territories, he wanted the Latin Church’s law to promote “effective cooperation” between all Catholic communities of the Eastern and Latin Churches in any given territory. Bringing the Latin Code into harmony with the Eastern Code, he explained, would help protect and develop “these venerable Eastern rites” in the West, while respecting the traditions of the majority Latin Church.


5. Pope Francis: Vanity is osteoporosis of the soul, Pope Francis’ Daily Homily, September 22, 2016.

Pope Francis contrasted the anxiety that comes from the Holy Spirit and the anxiety that comes from a dirty conscience. During his homily during the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, he also spoke about vanity, which “masks” life, making it look like something it is not. 


6. Catholic Intelligence in a Time of Chaos, By Father George W. Butler, Crisis Magazine, September 21, 2016.

… Pope Benedict XVI delivered his Regensburg Lecture in 2006 on September 12, the climactic anniversary of the Battle of Vienna launched on September 11, when Christian civilization was saved and became a dated seared into the memory of Islamicists. Like all classics, it is a text remembered most by those who have not read it; but to give it the tribute of a reading is to be stunned, for it is one of the most prophetic papal orations of all time.

… Although the good man in Benedict could not anticipate the violent reaction of the mindless, he knew that his words would be provocative, though in the lofty sense of academic discourse: “Here I am reminded of something Socrates said to Phaedo. In their earlier conversations, many false philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates says: ‘It would be easily understandable if someone became so annoyed at all these false notions that for the rest of his life he despised and mocked all talk about being—but in this way he would be deprived of the truth of existence and would suffer a great loss.’ The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions that underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur—this is the program with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time.” The Holy Father cited the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus who tried to psychoanalyze the Jihadists of his day: “Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God… It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures.”

Whatever may issue from such dialogue, if that is possible at all, it would be brainless to deny that irrationality is the very constitutive “reason” for terrorism. It would be doubly brainless to dismiss each terrorist as a “lone wolf” as though he were acting independently of a motive common to many. Lone wolves so numerous hardly seem lonely. When men are roaming about with meat cleavers and pressure cooker bombs, it is not the moment to diagram the importance of logic. It is, however, the duty of those in civil authority to be logical, and they cannot do this without commitment to the Eternal Logos. This is why it was like pulling teeth to get the mayor of New York to name terrorists for what they are. Visiting New York the day after the bombing, the president of the United States did not mention the chaos at all. Without the Logos who orders all things, disorder is morally neutral. Then power eclipses reason, and authority masquerades as truth.