1. Greg Burke: Pope Francis’ American Point Man, By Judy Roberts. National Catholic Register, September 7, 2016.

Before he decided to take a job as a Vatican communications adviser, journalist Greg Burke sought some apostolic advice at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul.

As he told a reporter in a 2012 interview, he prayed — and prayed some more — about whether to leave the Fox News Channel to accept the offer he had twice declined from the Vatican Secretariat of State.  

For Burke, who follows a daily prayer regimen as an Opus Dei numerary (celibate member), the answer came less as a “lightning bolt” and more as a sense that changing course was the right move.

Now, Burke’s professional life has taken yet another turn: succeeding Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi as director of the Vatican Press Office, several months after being named deputy director. Colleagues and associates say his experience on both sides of the lectern makes him well-suited for the post, as does an engaging, sociable personality that wins friends and influences people.


2. When Malcolm Muggeridge met Mother Teresa, Literary greatness didn’t becloud his appreciation of a saint, By R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. The Washington Times, September 7, 2016, Pg. B3, Opinion.

Pope Francis canonized Mother Teresa on Sunday. She was a celestial figure to many, for sweating away in Calcutta with “the poorest of the poor.” By that oft-used term was meant the poor for whom a government “poverty line” would be a luxury. Mother Teresa took in street urchins, the hopelessly sick and the dying — lost souls who were at death’s door. They were the poor that we Americans can hardly imagine. For the most part, one has to travel to the slums of “backward” countries to encounter them.

I first became aware of Mother Teresa when, in the early 1970s, I became friendly with Malcolm Muggeridge, the uniquely eloquent British journalist armed with a satirical style and biting wit. By the time I knew him he had become a major figure on the BBC, a memoirist whose memoirs had gained international literary acclaim, and a champion of Mother Teresa. In the 1930s he, a minor figure on the international left, had blown the whistle on communism as practiced in the Soviet Union, even before George Orwell. His colleagues in the British press did not welcome his revelations. His filings from Russia and Ukraine were making life difficult for them to practice their trade in Moscow, for he was exposing the famine in Ukraine that Stalin insisted did not exist.


3. Catholicism’s Empty Quarter, By George Weigel. First Things, September 7, 2016.

Québec City is also home to the relics of two of Catholicism’s newest saints, both canonized by Pope Francis in 2014: St. Marie de l’Incarnation (1599-1672), a mystically gifted Ursuline nun who helped found New France’s first schools for girls and native peoples; and St. François de Montmorency-Laval (1623-1708), the first residential Catholic bishop in North America. It was after praying at Laval’s tomb, however, that I noticed a memorial plaque more revelatory of the current state of Catholicism in Québec than the province’s notable register of saints.

Québec, a flourishing Catholic region for centuries, is now Catholicism’s empty quarter in the Western Hemisphere. There is no more religiously arid place between the North Pole and Tierra del Fuego; there may be no more religiously arid place on the planet. And it all happened in the blink of an eye. In 1937, a half-million Quebecois poured into the streets of Montréal for the funeral procession of “Brother André” of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, a passionate devotee of St. Joseph and worker of miraculous cures who would be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI as St. André Bessette. Eighty years later, no such demonstration of piety in La Belle Province could be imagined—except if Les Habitants, otherwise known as the Canadiens, won the Stanley Cup, and that would involve a rather different sort of piety.

What happened?


4. Hungary sets an example on persecuted Christians, By John L. Allen Jr., Editor. Crux, September 6, 2016.

Here’s a foreign policy pop quiz: Which government recently decided that the protection of Christians in the Middle East is a sufficiently compelling priority to justify the investment of serious resources to support it?

For Americans, alas, the answer is not the United States. Instead, it’s Hungary, which has created a new department with a budget of $3.35 million to assist persecuted Christians worldwide.

The news was first reported by Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register, and confirmed by Crux in a Sept. 6 telephone conversation with Eduard von Habsburg, the ambassador of Hungary to the Holy See.

“Hungary has been silently working in the Middle East for years in the danger spots,” Habsburg said. “This is the prolongation of a policy that’s been in place for a long time.”


5. Rubio: Drop Planned Parenthood fight to approve Zika funding, By Sarah Ferris. The Hill, September 6, 2016, 7:30 PM.

The Senate GOP’s top advocate for Zika funding said Tuesday the best chance of getting money out the floor this month is by attaching it to the must-pass government spending bill.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is endorsing a plan to save the much-disputed public health package by wrapping it into the stopgap spending bill that’s due in Congress by Sept. 30.

“The easiest way to get this paid for is to make it part of whatever we use to keep the government open for the rest of the year,” Rubio told The Hill, minutes after the Senate failed for the third time to advance a Zika funding package.

Republicans would have no choice but to eliminate the controversial provisions, such as language targeting Planned Parenthood, if the Zika package goes into the government spending bill. If not, Democrats would block the bill and accuse Republicans of trying to shut down the government over the women’s health provider – and just weeks before Election Day.