1. Has Pope Francis Failed?, By Matthew Schmitz, The New York Times, September 28, 2016, Pg. A25, The Opinion Pages, Op-Ed Contributor.

Why hasn’t the pope’s popularity reinvigorated the church? Perhaps it is too soon to judge. We probably won’t have a full measure of any Francis effect until the church is run by bishops appointed by Francis and priests who adopt his pastoral approach. This will take years or decades.

Yet something more fundamental may stand in the way of a Francis effect. Francis is a Jesuit, and like many members of Catholic religious orders, he tends to view the institutional church, with its parishes and dioceses and settled ways, as an obstacle to reform. He describes parish priests as “little monsters” who “throw stones” at poor sinners. He has given curial officials a diagnosis of “spiritual Alzheimer’s.” He scolds pro-life activists for their “obsession” with abortion. He has said that Catholics who place an emphasis on attending Mass, frequenting confession, and saying traditional prayers are “Pelagians” — people who believe, heretically, that they can be saved by their own works.

Such denunciations demoralize faithful Catholics without giving the disaffected any reason to return. Why join a church whose priests are little monsters and whose members like to throw stones? When the pope himself stresses internal spiritual states over ritual observance, there is little reason to line up for confession or wake up for Mass.


2. Harris teamed up with Planned Parenthood to target Daleiden, Emails show collaboration on law to limit secret recording, By Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, September 28, 2016, Pg. A8.

Officials from California Attorney General Kamala Harris‘ office and Planned Parenthood collaborated to draft legislation targeting the pro-life activist whose undercover videos showed officials for the nation’s largest abortion provider discussing the sale of fetal body parts, emails show.

The emails depict conversations between the state agency and Planned Parenthood over AB 1671, which would amend the penal code to make secretly recording and disseminating communications with health care providers a crime. Gov. Jerry Brown has until the end of the month to sign or veto the bill.

AB 1671 is a response to the Center for Medical Progress’ undercover video series spearheaded by David Daleiden.

Steve Cooley, a former Los Angeles County district attorney who now represents Mr. Daleiden, called the attorney general’s involvement in crafting AB 1671 “extraordinary.”

Mr. Cooley said there is a “pattern” of collaboration between Planned Parenthood and the Office of the Attorney General, noting that the abortion provider “played a major role in supplying probable cause” for the search warrant to raid Mr. Daleiden’s apartment.

“This is going after an individual, a single person who was operating as a citizen journalist,” he said. “And all the activity and the timing of it all strongly suggests a real partnership between the attorney general and Planned Parenthood.”


3. Speaking of “Deplorables”…. , By George Weigel, First Things, September 28, 2016.

Now we have Hillary Clinton, speaking to a group of LGBT activists and donors and going off-message with a rant about those Americans who fall into her “basket of deplorables”: racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes, whatever. The national media quickly consigned all that to the rear-view mirror. But let me suggest that what was dismissed as an atypical, off-message gaffe was in fact an expression of Mrs. Clinton’s true sentiments—just as Donald Trump’s boorish crack about Senator John McCain being a loser for having been a POW spoke volumes about his fitness for the presidency (or indeed for village dog-catcher). So on the chance that Mrs. Clinton is elected POTUS 45 on November 8, let’s be clear what that revelatory riff about “deplorables” tells us about what’s coming.

What’s coming is an administration in which the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services will argue in the federal courts that religious freedom in full—religious communities conducting their affairs and providing needed care for the weakest in our society according to their religious convictions about the moral life—is misogynist and homophobic, a mask behind which lurk irrational biases that cannot be countenanced in law.

What’s coming is an administration that privileges identity politics in everything from Cabinet appointments to ambassadorships.

And it means that faithful Catholics who believe in colorblind equality before the law, the dignity and value of every human life at all stages and in all conditions, marriage rightly understood, and an ethic of love that recognizes the truths built into us by the Creator and confirmed by reason will be considered … well, deplorable. And thus will likely be deplored, in any number of ways.


4. How decades of divorce helped erode religion, By Julie Zauzmer, The Washington Post Online, September 27, 1:05 PM.

Two widely recognized trends in American society might have something to do with each other.
Divorce rates climbed to the highest levels ever in the 1980s, when about half of all marriages ended in divorce.

And in the present day, Americans are rapidly becoming less religious. Since 1972, the share of Americans who say they do not adhere to any particular religion has increased from 5 percent of the population to 25 percent.

Could those two trends be related? A new study from the Public Religion Research Institute says yes. The children of divorced parents have grown up to be adults of no religion.


5. A Catholic take on the Trump v. Clinton ‘Great Debate’, By Fr. Dwight Longenecker, The Crux, September 27, 2016.

Monday night’s presidential debate reminded me of two senior citizens quarreling over a bingo game in an old folks’ home. The grumpy grandad was picking a fight with the old lady who learned long ago that the best way to calm an angry man was to keep smiling and rise above it.

Not only was religion absent from the agenda, but there was also no discussion of values, principles, morality and ethics. There did not even seem to be any evidence that either candidate had ever studied or even reflected on such matters. The conversation circled around money and power, power and money.

The Christian religion concerns more than what religious people do on Sunday morning in their churches. Christian theology has implications for every aspect of human society. Christianity includes a deep and far reaching philosophy on the meaning of life, the innate dignity of each human being, the eternal dimension of marriage, the family, the environment and the whole human experience.

This truth lies at the heart of Catholic social teaching and its fruit is the principles of human dignity, solidarity and subsidiarity. Political policies and programs are therefore based on the innate value of every human life. “Solidarity” means “I am my brother’s keeper,” while “Subsidiarity” means what is local is real.

One does not need to be a Catholic, nor even a Christian, to understand the truth, simplicity and practicality of these values.


6. Pope: overcome spiritual desolation through prayer, not pills or drink, Pope Francis’ Daily Homily, September 27, 2016.

Pope Francis said silence and prayer is the way to overcome our darkest moments, rather than resorting to pills or alcoholic drinks to escape from our woes. His comments came during his homily at the morning Mass celebrated on Tuesday at the Santa Marta residence.

Taking his cue from the day’s first reading where Job was living through a spiritual desolation and was giving vent to his sorrows before God, the Pope’s homily focused on these dark moments of spiritual desolation that all of us experience at some point and explained how we can overcome them. He said although Job was in deep trouble and had lost everything he did not curse God and his outburst was that of “a son in front of his father.”