1. On the Plane to Africa for a 6-Day Visit, the Pope Shrugs Off His American Critics.

By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, September 5, 2019, Pg. A6

In an offhand remark on the papal plane en route to Mozambique, Pope Francis on Wednesday acknowledged the sharp opposition he has faced from conservative Catholic detractors in the United States, calling it an “an honor that the Americans attack me.”

His remark came at the start of a six-day trip to Africa, as Francis shook hands in the back of the plane with a French reporter who handed him a copy of his new book, “How America Wanted to Change the Pope.”


2. Group Will Expand Telemedicine Program.

By Stephanie Armour, The Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2019, Pg. A5

Planned Parenthood Federation of America will expand a telemedicine program to connect patients with birth control and other services via smartphone.

Planned Parenthood’s tele-medicine app will be available in all 50 states by next year, officials said Wednesday.

The app, called Planned Parenthood Direct, lets patients use a smartphone to request birth control delivered to their door, obtain prescription treatment for urinary-tract infections or make an appointment at a Planned Parenthood clinic.


3. Pope urges war-torn Mozambique to cultivate ‘delicate flower’ of peace.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, September 5, 2019

On his first full day in Mozambique, a country torn apart  by a civil war from 1977 to 1992 and still struggling with violence, Pope Francis said lasting peace is not the mere absence of armed conflict but a tireless commitment to secure equal opportunities for all, because if some “are left on the fringes,” aggression will eventually explode.

“The pursuit of lasting peace,” Pope Francis said Thursday, “calls for strenuous, constant and unremitting effort, for peace is like a delicate flower, struggling to blossom on the stony ground of violence.”

Peace, he argued, demands that humanity continue “with determination but without fanaticism, with courage but without exaltation, with tenacity but in an intelligent way, to promote peace and reconciliation, not the violence that brings only destruction.”


4. Fallout from the latest chapter in Pope Francis’s love/hate bond with the US.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, September 5, 2019

Pope Francis long has had a tendency to step on his own story. His 2013 “Who am I to judge?” soundbite, for instance, delivered on the papal plane back to Rome, meant that his trip to Brazil for World Youth Day was forgotten even before the confetti could be cleared from Rio’s Copacabana beach.

Yet even by his own standards, Wednesday’s bombshell was a doozy. Aboard another papal plane carrying him to Mozambique, the pope told a French reporter that he considers it “an honor to be attacked by Americans.”

That French reporter, Nicolas Seneze of La Croix, has just published a book chronicling conservative American opposition to the pope, and Francis responded in a brief exchange during the flight. The pope’s remark thereby forms the latest chapter in what has been, from the beginning, a love/hate relationship between history’s first Latin American pope and its great neighbor to the north.

To be clear, Francis wasn’t speaking at a press conference or in any formal setting. He was chatting briefly with someone who’s written a book trying to defend him, and he no doubt just wanted to say something nice. Nevertheless, he was speaking on a plane crowded with reporters, and anyway, it’s often unreflective things said in casual settings that reveal someone’s true thoughts.

Granted, Francis probably didn’t stage-manage this moment. He was presented with a copy of a book and reacted, rather than setting out to deliver himself of an opinion about the U.S. Still, if I were from Mozambique, I’d probably wish that Francis had waited until he were back in Rome – or, really, anywhere else – before waving a red flag in front of the global media, inviting them to ignore his trip to my country.

That, perhaps, is the final proof that Francis meant what he said. In effect, he was willing to risk something about which he genuinely cares, meaning global attention to the developing world, in order to troll a group of Americans who’ve bedeviled him from the beginning – and who, let’s face it, are even less likely to stop now.


5. Do Americans Really Support Roe v. Wade?

By Alexandra DeSanctis, September 5, 2019, 5:30 AM

A new poll from the Pew Research Center purports to show that Americans tend to support the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, as well as that a majority agrees more with Democrats than with Republicans on abortion policy.

The results indicate that 70 percent of respondents do not want to see Roe overturned, while 28 percent say they do; this is little different from the results Pew found in its 2016 survey. The poll also found that 42 percent of respondents agree with the Democratic party’s abortion policies, compared to 32 who say they agree with those of the GOP. About a quarter of respondents said they don’t agree with either party’s policies.

As is often the case with public-opinion polls, especially those dealing with abortion, it’s a good idea to examine the survey questions a little more closely before entirely buying into the results.

Consider, for instance, the way the poll describes the ruling in Roe when asking respondents whether they’d like to see it overturned: “In 1973 the Roe versus Wade decision established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, at least in the first three months of pregnancy.”

In reality, the decision in Roe permitted women to obtain an abortion well past the first three months of pregnancy, especially when given the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe’s companion case Doe v. Bolton, which required states to offer a “maternal health” exception to any abortion restriction. The decision in Doe defined the health exception expansively: “all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the wellbeing of the patient.” In other words, states must ensure that abortion be available to women essentially on demand.

Most Americans are unaware of these details of how Roe changed abortion policy in the U.S. A Pew poll in 2013, for instance, found that only 62 percent of Americans even knew Roe had to do with abortion; among respondents under 30, that percentage fell to 44 percent. How much less must they understand that Roe and Doe essentially legalized abortion on demand for the entire country? And how much more unaware must the respondents to Pew’s survey be, given that the question itself presents them with inaccurate information?

Because of the complexity of the ethical, legal, and political questions surrounding abortion, imprecise surveys like the one Pew released last week are of limited use in sorting through Americans’ views on the complicated details of abortion policy.


6. Pope on critics: It’s ‘an honor if the Americans attack me’.

By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, September 4, 2019

Pope Francis acknowledged his growing opposition within the conservative right-wing of the U.S. Catholic Church and said in off-hand remarks aboard the papal plane Wednesday it is “an honor if the Americans attack me.”

Francis commented on critics of his papacy when he received a copy of a new book about his detractors in the United States, “How America Wants to Change the Pope.” Author Nicholas Seneze, who covers the Vatican for the French Catholic newspaper La Croix, presented it to Francis on a flight to southern Africa.

The plane landed in Maputo, Mozambique late in the afternoon. Francis is on a trip this that also takes him to Madagascar and Mauritius.


7. The Buffalo Abuse Cover-Up Allegations: Will ‘Vos Estis’ Be Applied?

By Lauretta Brown, National Catholic Register, September 4, 2019

In May, Pope Francis promulgated his motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi, detailing a new set of norms on handling sex abuse that included procedures for handling accusations against bishops — and one instance where many are clamoring for a thorough investigation according to these new guidelines is in the case of Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York.

No allegation of sexual abuse has been made against Bishop Malone, but he has been accused of allowing multiple priests to remain in ministry despite credible abuse allegations against them.

Questions about the Buffalo bishop’s handling of abuse claims have intensified over the last month in the wake of reports about allegations that he failed to take action initially after he was informed of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by Father Jeffrey Nowak.


8. The Legal, Political, Spiritual and Canonical Implications of Cardinal Pell’s Conviction.

By Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Catholic Register, September 4, 2019

The conviction of Cardinal George Pell in Melbourne, Australia, recently upheld upon appeal, has legal, political, spiritual and canonical implications.

The legal consequences are most obvious: Cardinal Pell is incarcerated and — if his appeal to Australia’s High Court is not successful — will have to serve as long as six years in prison.

The most important legal consequence is the changing standard of what constitutes the burden of proof in sexual-misconduct trials. Professor Gerard Bradley expertly reviewed that legal issue in the Register recently.

The trial court, upheld 2-1 by the Victorian Court of Appeal, took the position that a testimony of a single witness, entirely uncorroborated, is sufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, even in the face of vehement denials by the accused and some 20 witnesses giving evidence on the greatly implausible facts of the alleged crime. If the High Court agrees that the Court of Appeal applied the correct standard of weighing evidence, it is hard to see how any accused could be acquitted absent an evidently delusional accuser. The standard for acquittal offered by the Court of Appeal reverses the onus and requires the accused to prove the metaphysical impossibility of the crime being committed.

In the case of Cardinal Pell, a canonical process may well come to a different conclusion than the criminal process. Indeed, even though the Church does not require the same standard as criminal trials — proof beyond a reasonable doubt — it would be hard to see how a Church court could reach the same implausible verdict as the Australian courts did.

Such a result would be massively controversial and would thus require an ample amount of courage from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which hears such cases, and the Holy Father himself, given that he alone may judge the case of cardinals. Hanging in the balance would not only be Cardinal Pell’s case, but the independence and integrity of the Church’s own canon law.


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