1. Pope honors Mauritius diversity, urges ethical development.

By Nicole Winfield and Helena Alves, The Associated Press, September 9, 2019

Pope Francis visited the Indian Ocean nation of Mauritius on Monday to celebrate its diversity, encourage a more ethical development and honor a 19th century French missionary who ministered to freed slaves.

Thousands of Mauritians waved palm branches as Francis arrived in his popemobile to celebrate a Mass honoring the Rev. Jacques-Desire Laval. While Catholics represent less than a third of Mauritius’ 1.3 million people, Laval is seen as a unifying figure for all Mauritians, most of whom are Hindu of Indian descent.

Francis was in the Mauritian capital Port Louis for just a few hours to honor Laval on his feast day and meet with government leaders on the final full day of his weeklong Africa trip.


2. US priest who gave out gifts in Philippines accused of abuse.

By Tim Sullivan, The Associated Press, September 9, 2019, 7:06 AM

The American priest’s voice echoed over the phone line, his sharp Midwestern accent softened over the decades by a gentle Filipino lilt. On the other end, recording the call, was a young man battered by shame but anxious to get the priest to describe exactly what had happened in this little island village.

“I should have known better than trying to just have a life,” the priest said in the November 2018 call. “Happy days are gone. It’s all over.”

But, the young man later told the Associated Press, those days were happy only for the priest. They were years of misery for him, he said, and for the other boys who investigators say were sexually assaulted by Father Pius Hendricks.

Soon after, local authorities arrested Hendricks, 78, and charged him with child abuse. Since then, investigators say, about 20 boys and men, one as young as 7, have reported that the priest sexually abused them. Investigators say the allegations go back well over a decade — though many believe it goes back for generations, and could involve many dozens of boys — continuing until just weeks before the December arrest. Hendricks’ lawyers insist he is innocent.

The AP, which does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault, has met with five of the accusers.

Hendrick’s arrest was a sudden fall for a priest who had presided over this community for nearly four decades. He rebuilt Talustusan’s chapel and installed rooftop loudspeakers to summon parishioners to Mass. He pressed officials to pave the village road. He drove the sick to the hospital, and paid school fees for poor children. Many here will still tell you how much he did.


3. How Africa is transforming the Catholic Church, Pope Francis’s visit to Africa highlights the growing trend toward decolonizing Catholicism.

By Elizabeth A. Foster, Washington Post Online, September 9, 2019, 6:00 AM

Pope Francis began a three-nation Africa tour last week, and for good reason. Africa has the fastest-growing Catholic population on the planet, which is projected to reach nearly 350 million by 2050.

As Francis reaches out to this growing population of the faithful, he would do well to look to the history of Catholicism in the region. He should do so not just to connect Catholic Africans to their past, but to underscore his own message of change. As a reformer who seeks to shake up the church, Francis can draw inspiration from Africans who played a key role in the reorientation of Catholicism in the 1950s and 1960s.

Francis’s visit comes at a moment when Catholicism is in the midst of a titanic shift, comparable in historical importance to its early spread in the Roman Empire or to the upheavals of the Protestant Reformation. The church’s strength in its longtime strongholds in Europe is evaporating. Priestly vocations are so rare there that bishops increasingly rely on clergy from Africa to lead their churches.

The church’s growth in Africa is part of its stunning success in the global south, which the election of Francis, the first Latin American pope, reflects.

The era of decolonization between 1945 and 1965 was the crucial turning point. After World War II, even as European powers were trying desperately to hold on to their African colonies, the Vatican began distancing itself from colonial regimes and exhorting European missionaries to train their own African replacements as quickly as possible.

Elizabeth A. Foster is associate professor of history at Tufts University. Her most recent book is “African Catholic: Decolonization and the Transformation of the Church.”


4. Religious freedom: Not just nice to have, but vital for national security.

By Ethan Epstein, The Washington Times, September 9, 2019, Pg. A6

But according to one State Department official, however, America’s highest ideals and its strategic interests need not always clash — and, in fact, are often in concert.

In an interview in Foggy Bottom with a delegation of international journalists facilitated by the East-West Center, Douglas M. Padgett, the strategic initiatives unit chief of the Office of International Religious Freedom, argued that countries that violate religious freedom not only abrogate a fundamental right — but pose a threat to national security as well. “From the standpoint of the U.S. government, we are convinced that as a matter of national security, as a matter of principle — and both of these things are important — the promotion and protection of religious freedom is a critical issue,” Mr. Padgett said.

Complying with an act of Congress from the late 1990s, each year, the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom prepares a report on the state of religious freedom across the globe. Perennial laggards include China and Myanmar, both of which suppress religious minorities.

While the reports have been released for some two decades now, under the current administration, religious freedom has become a central focus. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has taken a particular interest in the subject, and former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is currently the ambassador in charge of religious freedom matters.


5. On Island of Imperiled Treasures, Pope Warns of Stripping Forests for Profits.

By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, September 8, 2019, Pg. A12

Pope Francis used his first full day in Madagascar to hammer the same point home.

“Your lovely island of Madagascar is rich in plant and animal biodiversity, yet this treasure is especially threatened by excessive deforestation, from which some profit,” Francis said Saturday in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, about an hour’s drive from the lemur reserve. “The last forests are menaced by forest fires, poaching, the unrestricted cutting down of valuable woodlands.”

Francis has been making a similar case since his election in 2013, when he put environmental protection and global warming at the top of his agenda. He championed the Paris climate accord and, in 2015, became the first pope to dedicate an encyclical to protecting the earth.


6. Pope in Madagascar insists: ‘Poverty is not inevitable’

By Nicole Winfield and Trisha Thomas, The Associated Press, September 8, 2019

Pope Francis insisted Sunday that poverty isn’t inevitable and that the poor deserve the dignity of work as he visited a rock quarry in Madagascar where hundreds of people toil rather than scavenge in the capital’s biggest dump.

Francis appealed for new development strategies to fight global poverty as he visited the Akamasoa project, or “City of Friendship,” which soars on a hillside above the dump in Antananarivo. The project is the brainchild of an Argentine priest who was so overwhelmed by the abject poverty of Madagascar that he set about creating ways for the poor to earn a living.


7. Women facing restrictions seek abortions out of state.

By Christina A. Cassidy, The Associated Press, September 8, 2019, 7:19 AM

Thousands of women in the U.S. have crossed state lines for an abortion in recent years as states have passed ever stricter laws and the number of clinics has declined.

While abortions across the U.S. are down, the share of women who had abortions out of state rose slightly, by half a percentage point, and certain states had notable increases over the six-year period, according to AP’s analysis.

Abortion opponents say the intent of laws limiting the procedure is not to push women to another state but to build more time for them to consider their options and reduce the overall number of abortions.

Nationwide, 168 independent abortion clinics have closed since 2012, and just a handful opened over that time, according to the Abortion Care Network, a clinic advocacy group. But not all closures are tied to restrictive laws. Some result from provider retirements and an overall decline in unplanned pregnancies.


8. On Sunday, Pope Francis saw the best and worst of Madagascar.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, September 8, 2019

Those who follow Jesus must not manipulate the faith to serve their own agenda or ideology, abusing the name of God or religion to justify “violence, segregation and even murder, exile, terrorism and marginalization,” Pope Francis said Sunday in Madagascar, speaking to a crowd estimated by organizers to be around one million people.

The gathering included tens of thousands who had slept on the diocesan grounds of Soamandrakizay to await the pope after a prayer vigil the night before. Francis told them Jesus demands that the Gospel message be neither diluted nor narrowed, charging his followers to “build history in fraternity and solidarity, in complete respect for the earth and its gifts, as opposed to any form of exploitation.”

The pontiff quoted the “Document on Human Fraternity” signed in Abu Dhabi in February on coexistence between people of different religions, particularly Christians and Muslims.


9. Up to a million people attend papal Mass in Madagascar.

By Cindy Wooden, The Catholic Herald (UK), September 8, 2019

God’s plan for humanity involves community, mutual support, sharing and caring for each other and for the earth, Pope Francis has said.

“As we look around us, how many men and women, young people and children are suffering and in utter need. This is not part of God’s plan,” he said on September 8, celebrating Mass on a dusty, red dirt field on the outskirts of Antananarivo.

Madagascar is one of the world’s 10 poorest countries. According to the World Bank, 75 per cent of the population lives on less than $1.90 a day.

Close to 1 million people gathered on the Soamandrakizay field for the Pope’s Mass, according to local organisers. Many had spent the night, sleeping on straw mats or plastic tarps and bundled up against a windy winter chill.

At the beginning of his homily, the Pope acknowledged the sacrifice people made to get to the Mass site and, especially, the discomfort endured by those who camped out.


10. Bishop names clerics accused of abuse.

By Associated Press, The Washington Post, September 7, 2019, Pg. A2

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph on Friday released a list of 19 clerics who Bishop James Johnston Jr. said had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of children against them.

Of the 19 clerics named, 13 have died, two have been removed from ministry, and four have been laicized, or removed from the clerical state. One of the laicized clerics, Shawn Ratigan, is serving 50 years in federal prison after being convicted in 2013 of producing or attempting to produce child pornography. 


11. What Sanders said about abortion should shock us all.

By Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, Fox News, September 7, 2019
Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie specializes in radiology in the Miami area and serves on the advisory board for The Catholic Association.

The response by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to a question regarding abortion at CNN’s recent town hall on climate change for Democratic presidential candidates will surely find a prominent place in the annals of tin-eared commentaries.

A woman asked Sanders if he would make curbing population growth a key feature of his plan to address climate change if he is elected president.

“Human population growth has more than doubled in the past 50 years. The planet cannot sustain this growth,” the woman said. “I realize this is a poisonous topic for politicians, but it’s crucial to face. Empowering women and educating everyone on the need to curb population growth seems a reasonable campaign to enact. Would you be courageous enough to discuss this issue and make it a key feature of a plan to address climate catastrophe?”

But even if children are seen as mere debits in climate calculations, the great scandal of Sanders’ response is the way he automatically singled out poor populations of people of color for reduction. The optics are terrible.

A white progressive with a wealthy lifestyle that includes three separate homes and vigorous use of a private plane to travel to campaign appearances in comfort should be the last person advocating for fewer brown and black children in order to save the planet.

Sanders may see an African baby as a 58-ton carbon emitter. The child’s mother and father are more likely to see her as a dependable source of joy, comfort and support.

Bernie Sanders will probably be asked to defend his quick pivot to promoting abortion in the developing world. He may choose to simply apologize for his flat-footed response and point out that he walked it back a bit, switching to “birth control” and “women in poor countries … who may not necessarily want to have large numbers of babies.”

If so, Sanders would be missing a critical opportunity. This could be his chance to champion a culture of solidarity in the environmental movement, a culture where everyone in the human family is included when we make our calculations – a culture where everyone is valued equally.


12. Buttigieg Defends Abortion by Suggesting the Bible Says ‘Life Begins with Breath’

By Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review – The Corner, September 6, 2019, 4:33 PM

In an interview this morning on The Breakfast Club radio show, South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg attempted to rationalize his support for legal abortion until birth by suggesting that perhaps human life begins at the moment of a child’s first breath. 

But when it comes to abortion, he of the unswerving moral compass thus far has fallen silent, repeatedly demurring on whether it’s ever appropriate to limit abortion legally on moral or religious grounds. That is, until today. Now, Buttigieg apparently has managed to locate “lots of parts” of Scripture that, by his implication, would legitimize a regime of abortion on demand until the moment of birth — or even, I suppose, until a newborn child draws his or her first breath.

Evidently, the mayor has decided that it’s to his advantage to embrace the radical, unpopular position of his party, advocating that a pregnant woman alone should have control over whether the unborn human being inside her is permitted to continue living, even after the point when it is able to survive outside the womb. He should at least have the decency not to twist Scripture in defense of his abhorrent decision, and to cease lecturing us about his superior understanding of Christian morality while he’s at it.


13. Suit challenges religious liberty of Catholic hospitals over assisted suicide.

Catholic News Agency, September 6, 2019, 5:09 PM

Colorado man with cancer along with his doctor have filed a suit last month against a health system run by the Catholic Church. The suit alleges that hospital policy barring doctors from participating in assisted suicide violates state law.

Cornelius “Neil” Mahoney, 64, was told July 16 that his cancer was incurable and he would be expected to die within 4-14 months, depending on his treatment, according to a suit filed Aug. 21 in the Arapahoe County District Court by Mahoney and his doctor.

Mahoney quickly inquired about assisted suicide, having anxiety about facing death from cancer and wanting to control the place and time of his death.

Abiding by the U.S. bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives, Centura Health does not permit its employees to participate in assisted suicide.


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