1. Iraqi Catholic Church in U.S. Torn by Immigration Efforts, In opposition to church officials, some Iraqis in the U.S. have been helping Christians escape Iraq, By Ian Lovett, The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2016, Pg. A3.

The Chaldean Catholic Church, a nearly 2,000-year-old branch of Christianity based in Iraq, is at war with itself over how to ensure its survival. And the dispute is threatening to fracture this ancient faith.

Some Chaldeans in the U.S. have been scrambling to help Christians escape Iraq, where they are being targeted and killed by Islamic State. But that work has put them in conflict with top church officials in Baghdad who say Chaldeans must stay and help preserve Christianity in the Middle East.

Since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, the Chaldean population has been steadily shifting away from its homeland. There are now around 400,000 Christians in Iraq, down from 1.4 million in before the invasion, according to church officials. Secretary of State John Kerry has called the attacks on Christians in Iraq genocide.

Meanwhile, the Chaldean population in the U.S. has ballooned to more than 250,000, mostly around Detroit and San Diego.


2. The Democrats’ Methodist Moment, Young Hillary Rodham saw the church’s social concerns shift from alcohol and gambling to sexism and racism, By Kenneth L. Woodward, The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2016, Pg. A15, Commentary.

By the time Hillary Rodham joined a Methodist youth group in the early 1960s, the church’s social concerns had shifted from alcohol, gambling and shopping on the Sabbath to racism, sexism and the war in Vietnam. Thanks in large part to South Dakota’s George McGovern, so would the concerns of the Democratic Party.

The events of 1972 inaugurate what I call the Methodist Moment in Democratic Party politics. That was the year McGovern won the party’s presidential nomination—and, coincidentally, the year former Republican Hillary Rodham became a Democratic Party activist. McGovern was the son of a Methodist minister, grew up in a Methodist manse, graduated from a Methodist college, studied for the Methodist ministry before taking a doctorate in history, and taught at his Methodist alma mater before accepting the challenge of rebuilding South Dakota’s moribund party. His stump style was prairie preacher; his reformer’s rhetoric Methodist to the core.

In 1972 the United Methodist Church, as it was by then called, held its quadrennial General Convention—the church’s highest legislative body—as it does every presidential election year a few months prior to the national political conventions. A review of the positions taken by the church reveals remarkable congruence with the Democrats’ subsequent party platform. Both opposed the war in Vietnam and called for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. Both framed the nation’s economic ills as “systemic” and proposed wholesale transformation of political, economic and social institutions.

In sum, many of today’s Nones have retained the Methodists’ ethos of righteous politics while jettisoning the beliefs, behavior and belonging that made righteous Methodists Methodists in the first place. Many Jews and Roman Catholics can and do find in progressive Democratic politics aspects of their own social-justice traditions.

But the emergence of the Nones shows us that anyone can think and act like righteous Methodists just by being a liberal Democrat.


3. Trump forming Catholic advisory to help woo bloc, By David Sherfinski and Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, September 23, 2016, Pg. A2.

Donald Trump on Thursday announced the formation of a Catholic advisory group as he looks to shore up support among a voting bloc where polling has shown him running behind 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
 Among those is Joseph Cella, founder of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, who earlier this year signed a letter calling Mr. Trump “manifestly unfi t” to be president. “If you look at the totality of Mr. Trump’s positions, such as preserving and protecting religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, providing an uplifting and empowering economic agenda and opening wide the opportunity for school choice, particularly to Hispanics and African Americans in urban areas, the diff erence couldn’t be more stark on these core issues between Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton,” said Mr. Cella.


4. Trump names heavyweight group of Catholic advisers, By Thomas Fitzgerald, The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 23, 2016, 12:12 AM ET.

The list of Catholic heavyweights signing on to advise Trump includes Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List; Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback; Francis Rooney, former ambassador to the Vatican and the GOP nominee in Florida’s 19th U.S. House district; Matt Schlapp, president of the American Conservative Union; former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating (R); U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, Republican of Ohio; Jim Nicholson, former Republican national chairman, secretary of veterans affairs and ambassador to the Vatican; longtime conservative leader Richard Viguerie; and Tom Monaghan of Michigan, founder of Domino’s Pizza and the Ave Maria University.


5. Poland Considers Near-Complete Abortion Ban, An group of Catholic-leaning lawyers has been lobbying for a far-reaching ban, quoting Poland’s constitution, By Martin M. Sobczyk, The Wall Street Journal online, September 22, 2016, 1:56 PM ET.

Polish lawmakers on Thursday began examining a bill that would effectively ban abortion, reopening a sensitive debate in the deeply Catholic nation.

Poland has some of the European Union’s most restrictive laws on abortion, allowing it only when the mother’s life is at risk, if the pregnancy is a result of a crime such as rape or incest, or if the fetus is badly damaged or has an incurable disease.

But some Polish doctors have refused to perform abortions on those grounds, saying it violates their moral convictions. An organization of Catholic-leaning lawyers has been lobbying for a far-reaching ban, quoting Poland’s constitution. It states that the country offers legal protection of human life. The lawyers organization wrote the draft legislation making its way through parliament.


6. Supporters push D.C.’s right-to-die bill, If passed, patients take life-ending pills on own, By Ryan McDermott, The Washington Times, September 23, 2016, Pg. A10.

Right-to-die advocates amassed Thursday on the steps of the District’s City Hall to call for the speedy passage of a bill that would allow doctors to provide life-ending medication to those suffering from a terminal illness.

The legislation, deemed the Death with Dignity Act, would give doctors the ability to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live.
The patient must get the opinion of two separate doctors, as well as be deemed mentally competent to make the decision. Anyone who tries to influence the patient into taking part in doctor-assisted suicide can be prosecuted under the legislation.

Diane Coleman, president of the disability advocacy group Not Dead Yet, told The Washington Times this week that assisted suicide laws risk coercing patients to end their lives if they feel like a financial or emotional burden on their loved ones. She said the D.C. legislation does not properly safeguard against the potential for abuse behind closed doors.

“People with disabilities, as well as everyone, should be concerned about the risk of coercion and abuse under these laws,” Ms. Coleman said. “And that there is really no oversight from the state to address any of that.”


7. Pope’s potential masterstroke takes charge in the Holy Land, By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, The Crux, September 22, 2016.

Nothing any pope ever does, therefore, is as consequential as the people he chooses to put in charge. On Wednesday, one of the more striking picks so far by Pope Francis officially took up his new duties, when Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa formally entered Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate to become the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, which includes Israel, Palestine and Jordan.

The choice of the 51-year-old Italian Franciscan and former Custodian of the Holy Land in June was a head-turning move by Francis, for a couple of reasons.

First, while there’s a long tradition of Italians being named the Patriarch of Jerusalem, for the last thirty years the office was held by Arabs – Michele Sabbah, who served from 1987 to 2008, is a Palestinian born in Nazareth, and Fouad Twal, who led from 2008 until this past June, is a Jordanian.

Second, while Pizzaballa is just too nice a guy not to like on a personal level (he’s a vintage Franciscan in that regard), it’s well-known that a segment of the clergy in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem has long looked on him with suspicion because of his closeness to Israel and Jewish culture.

Of course, given the long history of failed efforts to break the logjam in the Middle East, it would be highly unrealistic to suggest that Pizzaballa, by himself, will wave a magic wand and somehow get it done.

Still, if Pizzaballa is able to open channels of communication where they didn’t previously exist, that alone could make the appointment, however long it lasts, not only one of Francis’s most unusual but also one of his masterstrokes.


8. Tim Kaine: ‘A Joe Biden Catholic’, ‘He’s not a Pope Francis Catholic,’ Bishop Thomas Tobin told the Register, By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Register, September 22, 2016.

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia describes himself as a practicing Catholic who was raised in a devout household that never missed Sunday Mass. Mainstream media reports present him as a serious Catholic and often mention that he went on a missionary trip to Honduras as a young man almost 40 years ago.

Despite that image, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee has failed to reflect pro-life or basic Catholic views in his voting record. As an elected official, he has affirmed legalized abortion and defended Roe v. Wade. He has also publicly espoused other positions clearly at odds with the Church’s teachings on faith and morals, including controversial campaign-trail remarks indicating the Church will redefine marriage to include same-sex unions.

Before Pope Francis addressed a joint session of Congress in September 2015, Kaine voted against bringing a 20-week abortion ban to the Senate floor, explaining that “nothing in my Catholic faith suggests that I should support legislation that violates the Constitution” even though the Catholic Church clearly teaches that abortion is an intrinsic evil.

Kaine is often referred to as a “Pope Francis” Catholic, but Bishop Tobin said Pope Francis has disavowed the stances that Kaine has taken on issues such as same-sex “marriage,” homosexual adoption and abortion.

“He’s not a Pope Francis Catholic,” Bishop Tobin said. “He’s a Joe Biden Catholic, and that’s not a good thing.”


9. Why Catholic thinkers say the push for contraception is stale, By Adelaide Mena, Catholic News Agency, September 21, 2016.

Modern-day imperialism. Harmful to women. A failed promise. These are the ways that leading Catholic scholars described contraception – and said the Church is right to warn against it.

“What women have discovered over the past 48 years is that we don’t have a design flaw. Being a woman is good enough, and it’s a wonderful thing,” said Mary Rice Hasson, J.D., director of the Catholic Women’s Forum at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Hasson was among a group of more than 500 Catholic scholars who signed a document supporting Church teaching against contraception, as expressed in Blessed Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae.

The document, entitled “Affirmation of the Catholic Church’s Teaching on the Gift of Sexuality,” was released at a Sept. 20 press conference at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

It responded to a statement opposing Church teaching, released by the U.K.-based Wijngaards Institute. The 150 signatories of the dissenting statement argued that the Church has no reason for its teaching against contraception. They said that the use of birth control is sometimes “an ethical imperative” and that abortion-causing methods of contraception are sometimes acceptable.