1. Writer Charged With Insulting Islam Is Killed as Extremism Boils Over in Jordan, By Rana F. Sweis and Peter Baker, The New York Times, September 26, 2016, Pg. A11.

Some of the most extreme elements in Jordan made clear in recent weeks that Nahed Hattar should pay for a provocative cartoon he posted online depicting a bearded man in bed with two women ordering God to bring him cashews and wine.

So when Mr. Hattar, 56, a prominent writer from a Christian family, showed up at a court on Sunday to face criminal charges of insulting Islam, at least one man with a gun decided a trial was not enough. As three bullets ripped through the writer in front of the courthouse, Jordan’s simmering tensions boiled over.

The brazen daylight killing of Mr. Hattar in front of his horrified family was not only the latest example of violence tied to cartoon renderings of Muslim figures, it was also the sort of manifestation of extremism that Jordan’s government has struggled to contain in a nation that finds itself under pressure from multiple directions.


2. The NCAA Isn’t a Moral Arbiter—Nor Should It Be, Let my school—Notre Dame—speak for itself on restrooms and other contentious social issues, By John I. Jenkins, The Wall Street Journal, September 26, 2016, Pg. A15, Commentary.

Father Jenkins is the president of the University of Notre Dame.

Heightened respect for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens is a signal moral achievement of our time, and harboring reservations about any retrenchment is natural. Yet some citizens may wonder about the implications of substituting gender identity for biological sex in public restrooms. While attending to the rights and sensibilities of transgender persons, it’s important to also take into account the feelings of those who might be uncomfortable undressing in front of a member of the opposite biological sex.

[I]t is not the role of the NCAA to employ the economic power it derives from member universities to attempt to influence the outcome of the legal process or change legislation. When it comes to complex, contentious social issues, universities have a critical role to play in fostering reflection, discussion and informed debate. No matter how popular or profitable certain college sports become, athletic associations should not usurp that role. I was particularly disheartened that the NCAA took action without consulting its member universities.


3. Five Myths about the Middle Ages, By Matthew Gabriele, The Washington Post, September 25, 2016, Pg. B1, Outlook.

Myth No. 5: These were the ‘Dark Ages.’

Thank the preservation group English Heritage, the History Channel or even Harvard professor Stephen Greenblatt for propagating the idea that the Middle Ages placed harsh constraints on “curiosity, desire, individuality, sustained attention to the material world” and “the claims of the body,” in Grenblatt’s words. Many interpret the Middle Ages as a period when intellectual inquiry went dormant and the dominance of religion either stopped the progress of mankind or actively worked against those few brave souls trying to lift humanity up.

In reality, the conception of the Middle Ages as the “Dark Ages” began with the Enlightenment. These 17th- and 18th-century thinkers started considering how adherence to religion defined the ages of history. Before Christianity was “antiquity” (for them, good). The spread of Christianity was the “middle age” (bad). Then came the Renaissance revival of classical learning, when religion was cast off, beginning the modern world (good). Anything that held back that modern world was regressive, therefore “medieval.” Aristocracy held back equality, while the church held back science, and so on.

True, the Middle Ages contained violence, repression and terror. But those years also saw the creation of artistic marvels, the birth of the university, breakthroughs in the natural sciences and literature that still moves the soul. Modernity is no different.


4. The Political Magic of C.S. Lewis, By Peter Wehner, The Sunday New York Times, September 25, 2016, Pg. SR11, Sunday Review, Opinion.

Lewis knew that a faith-informed conscience could advance justice and that Christianity played an enormous part in establishing the concept of natural rights and the dignity of the human person. But he also believed that legislation is not an exact science; that a Christian citizen does not, in the words of Professors Dyer and Watson, “have the authority to represent his or her prudential judgment as required by Christianity”; and that no political party can come close to approximating God’s ideal. Christianity is about ends, not means, according to Lewis, and so he spent a good deal of his life articulating what he believed was the telos, the ultimate purpose, of human beings. Lewis was convinced that partisan political engagement often undermined that effort.

For those of us who believe in the truth of Christianity and still believe in the good of politics, the last several decades — and the last 15 months in particular — have often been painful. Like water that refracts light and changes the shape of things, politics can distort and invert Christianity, turning a faith that at its core is about grace, reconciliation and redemption into one that is characterized by bitterness, recriminations and lack of charity. There is a good deal of hating and dehumanization going on in the name of Christ.


5. On Communion debate, Pope Francis opts for decentralization, By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, The Crux, September 25, 2016.

Towards the end of Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s document on the family, the pontiff writes that when priests have to make judgments in concrete cases such as pastoral care of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, they are to do so “according to the teaching of the Church and the guidelines of the bishop.”

One wonders if he knew at the time just what a conflicting welter of responses that injunction would elicit.

Since the document appeared in early April, various bishops and groups of bishops around the world have issued guidelines for its implementation, and surveying the landscape, it’s abundantly clear they’re not all saying the same thing.

Some have stipulated that although divorced and civilly remarried Catholics remain a part of the Church and should be welcomed into its life, the traditional bar on giving them Communion remains fully in force.

Others, with varying degrees of caution, have suggested that Amoris does in fact create the possibility of receiving Communion after a process of discernment in some cases.

Whether it’s healthy or not may be in the eye of the beholder, but when it comes to Communion for the divorced and remarried, there’s little doubt that as things stand, decentralization is in fact just what he’s delivered.


6. Unlike Italy, pope backs anti-gay marriage push in Mexico, By Inés San Martín, Vatican Correspondent, The Crux, September 25, 2016.

After having remained quiet while Italy debated civil unions for same-sex couples in May, on Sunday Pope Francis expressed support for the Mexican bishops in their efforts to support the “family and life” amid a burgeoning national debate over gay marriage.

Also talking about Mexico, a country he visited last February, the pope also said he was praying for its violence to end, mentioning that in recent days it has affected even some priests. He was referring to this week’s murder of two priests and the kidnapping of a third, in a country that has long been one of the most dangerous ones in the world for Catholic ministers.

On Saturday, the streets of Mexico City were covered in white, as an estimated 215,000 people dressed in this color and carrying balloons participated in a rally in opposition to President Enrique Pena Nieto’s push to legalize same-sex marriage.

Despite his forceful criticism of gender education and having openly defended the Catholic concept of marriage, meaning that it’s between a man and a woman and open to life, the Argentine pontiff has mostly stayed away when particular countries debated gay marriage.

Never was this more evident than when civil union and adoption rights for same-sex couples was debated in Italy, declining to get involved in the debate, saying the pope belongs to everyone and shouldn’t comment on local politics.


7. Tens of Thousands March Against Same-Sex Marriage in Mexico, By The Associated Press, September 24, 2016.

Tens of thousands of people marched through Mexico City on Saturday in opposition to President Enrique Pena Nieto’s push to legalize same-sex marriage.

Organizers of the National Front for the Family estimated at least 215,000 people participated, and while that number could not be immediately confirmed, it was clearly one of the largest protest marches in Mexico in recent years.

“We are not against anybody’s (sexual) identity,” said Abraham Ledesma, an evangelical pastor who traveled from the border city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas, to participate in Saturday’s march. “What we are against is the government imposition … of trying to impose gender ideology in education. As religious leaders, we don’t want to be forced to marry same-sex couples and call it marriage.”

On the other side of a police barricade separating the two sides at Mexico’s Independence Monument, a far smaller crowd of same-sex marriage supporters — perhaps a couple hundred — listened to music and speeches.

“They may be the majority,” said Felipe Quiroz, a gay activist and school teacher. “But just because they are the majority, doesn’t mean they can take rights away from minorities. That would lead us to a dark period, to fundamentalism.”

Many saw the massive march as the Roman Catholic church flexing its political muscle in a country where about 80 percent of people identify as nominally Catholic.


8. Thousands March in Dublin, Abroad for Irish Abortion Rights, By Reuters, September 24, 2016.

Thousands of protestors marched in Dublin, and Irish expatriates joined in demonstrations around the world on Saturday, to put pressure on the Irish government to hold a referendum to repeal restrictive abortion laws.

Regulations in the once stridently Catholic Ireland are among the strictest in the world and next month Prime Minister Enda Kenny will call a citizens’ assembly to advise the government on whether a vote should be held to boost access to abortion.

Demonstrators marched in the rain on government buildings from Dublin’s main thoroughfare of O’Connell Street, bringing traffic to a standstill by the River Liffey as they chanted, beat drums and held placards saying “My Body, My Choice”.

Opponents demand that the amendment, which enshrines the equal right to life of the mother and her unborn child, should remain in place to safeguard all life, and a truck carrying the slogan “Abortion is violence against babies and mothers” drove through Dublin.


9. Pope greets survivors, relatives of victims of Nice terror attack, By Inés San Martín, Vatican Correspondent, The Crux, September 24, 2016.

Never one to shy away from trying to console suffering, Pope Francis on Saturday greeted one by one close to 1,000 survivors of the terrorist attack in Nice, France, in which 86 people were killed and over 400 wounded last July.

Asking them not to respond to violence with violence, the pontiff’s gesture was an attempt to transmit his “tenderness” to those gathered in Rome.

“The only way to respond to the attacks of the devil are the works of God, which are forgiveness, love and respect for one’s neighbor, even if he’s different,” Francis said in his short remarks.

Christians, Muslims, Jews, and atheists were killed or wounded during the terrorist attack, perpetrated by a non-practicing Muslim who had been recently radicalized.


10. Why I Am Still Catholic, By Maggie Gallagher, National Review Online, September 23, 2016, 1:22 PM.

I think Ross Douthat is clearly right. Pope Francis wants to let divorced and remarried Catholics take communion even if their first marriages were valid.

Francis is taking a rather well-worn, and perhaps I could say Jesuitical, path for Catholics, in somehow wanting to keep the doctrine and abandon the discipline of indissolubility by suggesting to bishops and priests that they can privately readmit divorced-and-remarried Catholics to communion after a suitable amount of “accompaniment.”

The wonder of the Catholic Church is that it has been faithful to this plain teaching that marriage creates a real one-flesh union that cannot be dissolved — it is faithful intellectually, conceptually, and legalistically, it could be said (and often is).

But converts like Ross Douthat and me came to the Church looking for a home, a refuge from the wilderness, a place where our own faith could be less intellectual, more rooted in a lived reality where we could feel less alone.

The mutterings make that more challenging to me. Why cling to what even the pope wants to discard or modify?

But then, as I look out, where would I go? Not to the Orthodox, who gave up indissolubility a thousand years ago. Not to the Protestants or the LDS, who reason much as Pope Francis does on the matter.

Sometimes home is an ideal place with a grand and loving father to protect you. Sometimes it’s just the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.