Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Amoris Laetitia (and its aftermath)

News and Documentation


  • Is Pope Francis deliberately subverting papal teaching authority?, by Phil Lawler. CatholicCulture.com. 09/15/16:
    The most memorable statements of this pontificate have been made off the cuff, during airplane interviews, rather than in written documents and prepared statements. How many times have Vatican officials been forced to "clarify" a shocking papal statement, to explain away an apparent contradiction? Again and again Pope Francis has spread confusion among the faithful. But never before has it been quite so evident that he deliberately sought ambiguity, to avoid the proper use of his teaching office-- which is to resolve questions and to unify the brethren.

    If the Pope’s conscious intention is to diminish the authority of the papal magisterium, he is succeeding. If that is not his intention, I am at a loss to explain him.

  • Francis' Argentine Letter and the Catholic Response, by Elliot Milco. First Things 09/14/16:
    The real problem with the Argentine norms is their deviation from this larger and more fundamental principle: that grace truly sanctifies and liberates, and that baptized Christians are always free to fulfill the moral law, even when they fail to do so. Jesus Christ holds us to this standard in the Gospel. It is presumptuous of Francis—however benign his intentions—to decide that his version of “mercy” trumps that given by God himself.

    Worse, though, is the scandal and confusion that Francis's continued teaching on this topic will bring to pastoral praxis at the parish level, legitimizing laxism among poorly formed clergy, creating myths and half-truths about the Catholic approach to the moral law, and forming ever-larger numbers of lay Catholics who do not understand that sacramental marriage is indissoluble. All of these things are already massive problems in the Church, and this confirmation of error will only exaggerate them.

  • Pope Francis, Henri de Lubac, and the Decentralizing of Church Authority, by Dr. Samuel Gregg. Catholic World Report 09/06/16. The Holy Father wants to enhance the authority of episcopal conferences. But one of his theological lodestones -- Cardinal Henri de Lubac -- warned of the dangers of such an approach—dangers come to fruition in countries such as Germany:
    ... There was, however, another temptation which de Lubac associated with efforts to decentralize authority in the Church. He called this “ecclesial nationalism.” By this, de Lubac meant those circumstances in which Vatican II’s emphasis on local churches’ rightful freedom degenerated into “nationalist excesses.” In some cases, this concerned bishops in a given country claiming that they should be given autonomy to “creatively” address specific theological and disciplinary problems created by “local realities.”

    But, quoting Bishop André-Marie Charue of Namur, de Lubac insisted that “sociology cannot be determinate in theology.” Polygamy might, for instance, prevail in a given country. That fact, however, cannot mean that bishops in that nation somehow theologically accept polygamy as a “real world” factor to which the Church must adapt. Theological and moral truth is supposed to transform culture: not the other way round. The earliest Christians didn’t accommodate themselves to particular moral evils which proliferated in the Roman Empire. Instead, they sought to, and eventually did, change that “real world.”

    Even worse, de Lubac wrote, is when a local church tries:

    to align the universal Church with its own particularities. The somewhat arrogant conviction of having attained a degree of culture superior to those of other human groups, more particularly to that which reigns at the center of the Church, thus provokes a kind of fever of religious imperialism.

  • A Bizarre Papal Move, by Robert Royal. The Catholic Thing 09/14/16:
    So now we know. We knew before, really, but didn’t have explicit confirmation. The long, agonizing slog, however, is finally over: from Pope Francis’ invitation to Cardinal Kasper to address the bishops in Rome in February of 2014 to the pope’s letter last week to some Argentinean bishops affirming guidelines they had developed in a joint document that, in “exceptional cases,” people divorced and remarried (living in an “adulterous” relationship as we believed for 2000 years in Western Christianity), may receive Holy Communion. This whole affair is bizarre. No other word will do. ...

  • On the Buenos Aires directive, by Ed Peters. In the Light of the Law 09/13/16:
    Basically, the Argentine draft (assuming it is still a ‘draft’) directs ministers of holy Communion (chiefly parish priests) to work through concrete cases impacting access to at least three sacraments (Matrimony, Penance, and the Eucharist), guided not by the Church’s accumulated pastoral wisdom as summed up in norms like Canon 915 (which seem not even not to be mentioned!), but instead by a line of endlessly malleable considerations phrased in verbiage redolent of the 1970s. If some pastors after the publication Amoris were already being told by irate parishioners that ‘Pope Francis says you have to give me Communion’, what might they expect in the wake of his sweeping approval of this Argentine interpretation of Amoris?

  • Pope Emeritus Benedict's Ongoing Support of the Francis Papacy, by Maike Hickson. OnePeterFive.com 08/29/16:
    The ambiguities with regard to Amoris Laetitia and to the vexed question as to whether one now has to follow its content – and fully adhere to it – are obviously increasing. This is not pastoral. Confusion – especially subversive equivocation – is never pastoral. And an ambiguous teaching is not at all binding upon the Catholic conscience. ... In this situation where so many souls are at risk due to such ambiguous – and some objectively heretical – statements coming from Pope Francis, each Catholic prelate, I dare to say, has a greater duty now, in charity, to help the pope himself to correct his errors, and even some of his perceptibly hardened errors. In this context, it would be Pope Emeritus Benedict’s experienced role as the former pope, and in his role as a known theologian, to raise his clarifying voice and to help confused Catholics to find the loyal path to salvation.

  • Some Concerns about "Amoris Laetitia", by Anna M. Silvas. 06/07/16. [Republished by Sandro Magister, www.Chiesa; See also PDF format:
    I am aware that "Amoris Laetitia", as an apostolic exhortation, does not come under any rubric of infallibility. Still it is a document of the papal ordinary magisterium, and thus it makes the idea of critiquing it, especially doctrinally, mighty difficult. It seems to me unprecedented situation. I wish there were a great saint, like St Paul, or St Athanasius or St Bernard or St Catherine of Siena who could have the courage and the spiritual credentials, i.e. prophecy of the truest kind, to speak the truth to the successor of Peter and recall him to a better frame of mind. At this hour, hierarchical authority in the Church seems to have entered a strange paralysis. Perhaps this is the hour for prophets – but true prophets. Where are the saints, of "nooi" (intellects) long purified by contact with the living God in prayer and ascesis, gifted with the anointed word, capable of such a task? Where are these people?

  • Catholic Scholars Appeal to Pope Francis to Repudiate ‘Errors’ in Amoris Laetitia, by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register 07/11/16:
    A group of Catholic scholars, prelates and clergy have sent an appeal to the College of Cardinals asking that they petition Pope Francis to “repudiate” what they see as “erroneous propositions” contained in Amoris Laetitia.

    In a statement released today, the 45 signatories of the appeal say Amoris Laetitia — the Pope’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation (summary document) on the recent Synod on the Family that was published in April — contains “a number of statements that can be understood in a sense that is contrary to Catholic faith and morals.”

    The 13 page document, translated into six languages and sent to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals as well as 218 individual cardinals and patriarchs, quotes 19 passages in the exhortation which “seem to conflict with Catholic doctrines”.

    The signatories — described as Catholic prelates, scholars, professors, authors, and clergy from various pontifical universities, seminaries, colleges, theological institutes, religious orders, and dioceses around the world — then go on to list “applicable theological censures specifying the nature and degree of the errors” contained in Amoris laetitia.

  • From Casuistry to Mercy, Towards a New Art of Pleasing? — An Essay on the Malaise in the Church by Msgr. Michel Schooyans, republished by Edward Pentin. June 2016:
    The Synod on the Family has revealed – even assuming this was necessary – a profound malaise in the Church. A crisis of growth without doubt, but also recurrent debates on the question of « remarried » divorced persons, « models » for the family, the role of women, birth control, surrogate motherhood, homosexuality, euthanasia. It is futile to close our eyes: the Church is challenged in its very foundations. These are to be found in the entirety of the Holy Scriptures, in the teaching of Jesus, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, in the announcement of the Gospel by the Apostles, in an ever finer understanding of the Revelation, in the assent of faith by the community of believers. The Church has been entrusted by Jesus with the mission of receiving these truths, casting light on their coherence, commemorating them. The Church has not been given by the Lord either a mission to modify these truths, or a mission to rewrite the Credo. The Church is the guardian of this treasure. The Church should study these truths, clarify them, deepen man’s understanding of them and invite all men to adhere to them through faith. There are even discussions – on marriage for example – which were brought to a close by the Lord himself. ...

    Progressively, the rules of behaviour proceeding from the will of the Lord and handed down by the Magisterium of the Church are languishing in decline. The moral assessment of acts can therefore be modified. Not content with toning down this assessment, the casuists wish to transform the moral law itself. This will be the task of casuists, confessors, spiritual advisors and, on occasion, bishops. All must have a concern to please. They must in consequence resort to compromise, accommodate their arguments to the satisfaction of human passions: no person must be rebuffed. The moral assessment of an act no longer depends on whether it conforms to the will of God, as made known to us by the Revelation. This depends on the intention of the moral agent and this intention can be modulated and moulded by the spiritual advisor who « supports » his followers. In order to please, the spiritual advisor will have to soften the rigour of the doctrine handed down by tradition. The pastor will have to adapt his words to the nature of man, whose passions are naturally lead into sin. Hence the progressive relegation of references to original sin and grace. The influence of Pelagius (a monk of British origin, see s.) is evident: man must save himself and take his destiny into his own hands. Telling the truth forms no part of the role of the casuist, who must captivate, present a line of argument which is engaging, curry favour, make salvation easy, delight those who aspire to « have itching ears » (cf. 2 Tim 4, 3).

    In short, the eclipse of the decisive contribution of the Revelation to morality is paving the way for the investiture of the casuist and creating a space favourable to the installation of a government of consciences.

  • Amoris Laetitia and Vatican II’s Project of Inculturation, by Dr. Jared Staudt. Catholic World Report 05/26/16. Vatican II sought to initiate a dialogue with the modern world, meant to be an extension of the Church’s evangelizing mission. But things have not gone as hoped and planned.

  • Full text: Interview with Robert Spaemann on Amoris Laetitia Catholic News Agency. 04/29/16. Greatly valued as an advisor by Saint John Paul II, a friend of Benedict XVI, and widely held to be the most important German Catholic philosopher of recent decades, Robert Spaemann, emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Munich, expressed a distinctly critical interpretation of Amoris laetitia in this interview with Anian Christoph Wimmer, editor of CNA's German-language edition.

  • ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and the Constant Teaching and Practice of the Church, by Cardinal Raymond Burke. National Catholic Register 04/19/16. Cardinal Burke says a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, ‘by its very nature, does not propose new doctrine and discipline, but applies the perennial doctrine and discipline to the situation of the world at the time.'

  • Pope Francis’ “Amoris Laetitia” Is a Closeted Argument for Gay Marriage, by William Saletan. Slate.com. 04/08/16. The Pope’s own words about infertility and erotic love undermine his argument against same-sex marriage.

  • Amoris Laetitia: A CWR Symposium Catholic World Report 04/09/16.

Pope Francis Roundup

  • In Assisi, Pope Francis slams 'paganism of indifference' Catholic News Agency 09/20/16:
    "Prayer and concrete acts of cooperation help us to break free from the logic of conflict and to reject the rebellious attitudes of those who know only how to protest and be angry," he said.

    Our path toward peace "leads us to immersing ourselves in situations and giving first place to those who suffer," the Pope stated.

    "To taking on conflicts and healing them from within; to following ways of goodness with consistency, rejecting the shortcuts offered by evil; to patiently engaging processes of peace, in good will and with God’s help."

  • On Triumph of the Cross, Pope Leaves No Doubt: "Father Hamel Is Blessed". Rocco Palmo, Whispers in the Loggia 09/14/16:
    Six weeks after Fr Jacques Hamel was murdered at the altar during morning Mass in a savage attack claimed by the Islamic State, the 85 year-old French cleric was commemorated today at another intimate “parish” Eucharist – the Pope’s daily liturgy in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sancta Marthae, during which Francis expressly placed the priest’s killing as the newest of "this chain of martyrs" who, over two millennia, have "suffer[ed] in prison, with death, torture, for not denying Jesus Christ.

    "This cruelty that asks for apostasy is – let’s say the word – satanic," the Pope said, emphatically repeating twice more that "to kill in the name of God is satanic."

    Yet while the pontiff made no bones about the magnitude of Hamel's example during his homily, he later confirmed a major point he merely hinted at in the preach: in a private conversation with Hamel's ordinary, Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen – who led a diocesan group of 80 attending the Mass – the French prelate later told reporters that Pope had called for a local devotion to the assassinated priest, a statement which (despite the lack of a formal process) is tantamount to beatification, the step before sainthood.

  • Pope okays Argentine doc on Communion for divorced and remarried, by Ines St Martin. Crux. 09/12/16. "Although a recently published set of guidelines for implementing Pope Francis's document on the family in Argentina may have been only preliminary, the pontiff appears to have endorsed their main conclusion, which is that Amoris Laetitia opened the door to Communion for the divorced and remarried."

  • Pope Francis declares care for creation a new work of mercy Catholic News Agency. 09/01/16:
    “May the works of mercy also include care for our common home,” he said, explaining that as a spiritual work of mercy, care for creation “calls for a grateful contemplation of God’s world which allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us.”

    As a corporal work of mercy, he said, it “requires simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness and makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world.”

  • Pope Francis gives homeless in Rome a day out at the beach Telegraph UK 08/15/16. "For the first time in his pontificate, Pope Francis has dug into Vatican funds to provide a day at the seaside to those who normally cannot afford it – the homeless."

  • Most marriages today are invalid, Pope Francis suggests Catholic News Agency. 06/08/16:
    Pope Francis said Thursday that many sacramental marriages today are not valid, because couples do not enter into them with a proper understanding of permanence and commitment.

    While he initially said in unscripted comments that “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null,” he later approved a revision of these remarks.

    When the Vatican released its official transcript of the encounter the following day, they had changed the comment to say that “a portion of our sacramental marriages are null.”

    • The great majority of Christian marriages are valid, by Ed Peters. In The Light of the Law 06/17/16:
      To assert, then, that “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null” is really to claim that the great majority of Christians have failed to enter the most natural of human states and have failed to effect between themselves the exact sacrament that Christ instituted to assist them in it. The collapse of human nature presupposed for such a social catastrophe and the massive futility of the Church’s sanctifying mission among her own faithful evidenced by such a debacle would be—well, it would be the matrimonial version of nuclear winter. I am at a loss to understand how anyone who knows anything about either could seriously assert that human nature is suddenly so corrupted and Christ’s sacraments are now so impotent as to have prevented “the great majority” of Christians from even marrying! How can anyone responsibly even posit such a dark and dismal claim, let alone demonstrate it?

    • Pope Francis, Marriage, and the Missing Middle Term, by Edward N. Peters. Catholic World Report 06/17/16. "As happens so often when amateurs plunge into technical areas that they do not understand, Francis has taken a very narrow but plausible point and grossly exaggerated it."

  • Pope Francis announced the upcoming merger of four Pontifical Councils into one new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The new dicastery – once again neither a Congregation nor as Pontifical Council – will take over and combine the mandates of four separate Pontifical Councils from 1 January 2017.

  • Pope issues motu proprio on removal of Bishops Vatican Radio. 06/04/16. In a new Apostolic Letter, issued motu proprio, Pope Francis has established new norms providing for the removal of Bishops (or those equivalent to them in Canon Law) from their offices in cases where they have "through negligance, committed or omitted acts that have caused grave harm to others, either with regard to physical persons, or with regard to the community itself."

  • Vatican confirms meeting with pope, traditionalist Catholic leader Crux 04/04/16. Confirming reports in the Italian press, the Vatican acknowledged Monday that Pope Francis held a 40-minute meeting on Friday with Bishop Bernard Fellay, leader of a group of traditionalist Catholics known as the Society of St. Pius X that broke with Rome a quarter-century ago.


  • Pope Francis and the 'Docat': Book Q&A with Joseph Fessio, S.J. America 09/17/16. On July 26 at World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Pope Francis officially released the Docat, a youth catechism on Catholic social teaching collecting various magisterial and papal documents. Following up on the Youcat released by Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Day in 2012, Ignatius Press was once again selected as one of several international publishers for the Docat, and Father Fessio served as an editor on the English-language edition. On Aug. 18, I interviewed him by email about this book.

  • Vatican diplomacy knocked out…But, just the diplomacy? Denzinger-Bergoglio 08/28/16:
    Recently, invited by Francis, Hebe de Bonafini went the Vatican to have a private audience with Francis – whom she had earlier labelled as a “fascist”, “trash” and other things that can’t be mentioned here, though she now admits: “I did not know of your commitment to the poor.”

    Hebe-de-BonafiniThis pious pilgrim to the Eternal City had “on one occasion publicly expressed her desire for the death of John Paul II, and after he died, she said the Pontiff would “go to hell.”

    She also said clearly : “We want him to burn alive in hell. He’s a swine. Even though a priest told me that a swine is to be eaten, this Pope is uneatable.”

  • Pope Francis vs. Gender Ideology, by Robert R. Reilly. Catholic World Report 08/13/16:
    In Krakow with the Polish bishops [...] Pope Francis declared that, "We are experiencing a moment of the annihilation of man as the image of God." He specifically included within this defacement “[the ideology of] ‘gender’”. He was clearly outraged that, "Today children – children! – are taught in school that everyone can choose his or her sex…And this [sic] terrible!"

    Then he quoted Benedict XVI, who had said to him recently: "Holiness, this is the age of sin against God the Creator." Francis’ response was that, "He is very perceptive. God created man and woman; God created the world in a certain way… and we are doing the exact opposite."

  • Laudato Si: The 40 Concerns of an Exhausted Layman Unam Sanctum Catholicam 08/08/16. "On my desk, I have had a copy of Laudato Si sitting out for the past year. I've been studying it whenever I have had time in order to really comprehend what the encyclical. Over that year, I have been working on a synopsis of my thoughts on the encyclical, which I am happy to offer now in the form of an eBook."

  • A Pope Like None Before. Somewhat Protestant, by Sandro Magister. www.Chiesa. 07/22/16. The idyll between Francis and the followers of Luther. The alarm of cardinals and bishops against the “Protestantization” of the Catholic Church. But also the distrust of authoritative Lutheran theologians.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Did Pope Francis just endorse the use of contraception?

  • Pope takes the classic Vatican approach to birth control and Zika, by John Allen Jr. 02/20/16:
    Speaking about birth control in the context of the Zika pandemic, Francis cited his predecessor, Pope Paul VI. Here’s what he said, translated from Italian:
    Paul VI — the great! — in a difficult situation, in Africa, permitted sisters to use birth control for cases of violence. It’s necessary not to confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy, by itself, with abortion … avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil, and in certain cases, as in that I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.
    The reference is to Congo in the late 1950s and early 60s, where Catholic nuns faced widespread sexual violence and the question was whether birth control could be used to avoid pregnancy after rape.

    Francis said Paul VI “permitted” birth control in that context, which, to Anglo-Saxon ears, implies a formal juridical act. The line sparked a frenzy of fruitless Internet searches, as people went looking for a Vatican edict or decree that just doesn’t exist.

    Here’s what happened: In December 1961, the influential Italian journal Studi Cattolici (“Catholic Studies”) published an issue in which three Catholic moral theologians agreed that in the Congo case, contraception could be justified.

    The future Paul VI, at that stage, was still the Archbishop of Milan, and close to the currents that shaped Studi Cattolici. It was assumed the conclusions reflected his thinking. That appeared to be confirmed later when Paul VI made one of the authors, Pietro Palazzini, a cardinal.

    Paul became pope in 1963, and never issued any edict writing that position into law. Thus, when pressed about it some years later, a Vatican spokesman could accurately say, “I am not aware of official documents from the Holy See in this regard.”

  • Francis Says Contraception Can Be Used to Slow Zika, by Simon Romero and Jim Yardley. New York Times 02/18/16.
  • The damage done—again—by the Pope's interview, by Phil Lawler. CatholicCulture. 02/18/16:
    Tomorrow, no doubt, the Vatican press office will go into its now-familiar “clarification” mode. Loyal Catholic defenders of Pope Francis will argue that the Holy Father’s words were taken out of context. But this time, the problem cannot be attributed to sensationalistic reporting; the Pontiff definitely conveyed the impression that he was ready to discuss the morality of contraception in the context of the Zika epidemic. The Pope’s own words are—at best—confusing.
  • Misunderstanding the (alleged) ‘Congo contraception’ case, by Edward Peters. In the Light of the Law 02/16/16:
    A discussion could be had, I think, on whether non-marital sexual intercourse is subject to the same moral requirements as that to which marital intercourse is held. Humanae vitae does not, as far as I can see, address that question. But, as to whether a permission allegedly given to nuns to take contraceptive measures in the face of rape establishes a precedent for spouses wanting to contracept their sexual relations out of fear of possible birth defects, the conclusion seems inescapable: there is no parallel between the two cases, and so there is no precedent set.
  • Contraception, Congo Nuns, Choosing the Lesser Evil, and Conflict of Commandments, by Janet Smith. Catholic World Report "The Church has never taught that if the harms are serious enough, it is permissible to use contraception."
  • Stakes on a Plane, by Dale Price. Dyspeptic Mutterings 02/19/16:


    Wait, what?

Pope Francis Roundup



  • Francis and Kirill: Who Played Whom? Catholic World Report 02/13/16. Five details from yesterday's historical meeting suggest that while the Russian Patriarch may have thought he was first violin, the Jesuit Pope was conducting the orchestra.

  • Seven Thoughts on the "Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, by Carl E. Olson. Catholic World Report 02/12/16. The historic text is largely and thankfully free of boilerplate language and is remarkably lean and focused, while skirting the delicate matters of Ukraine and Eastern Catholics.

  • Francis and Kirill: Smoke and Mirrors, by Boniface. Unum Sanctum 02/11/16. "It is mind-boggling that uniatism is rejected as a model for reconciliation, since uniatism has historically been the single most successful method of reconciling the Orthodox."

  • Pope Francis and Catholic Traditionalists: 20 Questions for Kenneth Wolfe Catholic World Report 02/13/16. The Rorate Caeli contributor offers his thoughts on the current papacy and on growing interest in the pre-Vatican II liturgical tradition.

  • Should Pope Francis celebrate the Reformation?, by Fr. Dwight Longenecker. 02/11/16:
    In commemorating the Reformation, we should be honest and realistic. The Protestant Reformation shattered Western Christendom and led to war, schism, division, heresy, and strife. But if we are honest, we should also consider the contributions the churches of the Reformation have made to world Christianity over the past 500 years, the greatest of which was the renewal of the Catholic Church known as the Counter Reformation. It was, arguably, only because of the reformers’ critiques of the Catholic Church that the great wave of 16th- and 17th-century renewal and missionary work could have taken place.

  • Pope Francis: Praxis vs. Doctrine?, by Andrea Gagliarducci. Monday Vatican 02/25/16. "“Realities are more important than ideas.” This is one of the four principles Pope Francis lists in “Evangelii Gaudium,” the apostolic exhortation that represents a sort of program for his pontificate. This principle will perhaps be put into practice in the upcoming months, in another apostolic exhortation, the second by Pope Francis. Who Pope Francis really is will be understood thanks to this document."

  • The Pope Who Didn’t Like Catholicism OnePeterFive. 12/2/15:
    If you are a typical observant Catholic who has struggled with this papacy, dealt with distress caused by his words and actions, and generally struggled with dislike for the pontifex, it’s OK. Well, all right, it’s not: honestly, it is both strange and painful for a Catholic to be at odds with the Successor of Peter.

    It is, however, completely understandable.

    Why? Because, in this case, he gives every indication of not liking you first.

    In fact, I think it’s safe to say that we are dealing with the fascinating–and unique–spectacle. Namely, a Bishop of Rome who truly dislikes the Church.

  • 2015: The Year Catholics Misunderstood the Pope: Four seasons of Francis rocking our world, by Tom Hoopes. Aleteia. 02/28/15:
    Pope Francis demonstrates all the good that you get from a pope who has an emphatic, plainspoken style. He also shows the confusion it can cause. Some say, “What more does he have to do before you admit Pope Francis is trouble?” But you can look at the man who keeps a Way of the Cross and a Rosary in his pocket and also say, “What more does he have to do before you admit he is devout and faithful?”
  • The Off-the-Cuff and Out-of-Focus Papacy, by Carl Olson. Catholic World Report 12/01/15. Since chastising orthodox bishops at the conclusion of the Synod, Pope Francis has often resorted to scoldings, ambiguities, and mixed messages:
    ... There is one key moment of the 2015 synod that Weigel does not mention—the moment that was, for me, the most revealing of all: the final address by Pope Francis to the synod fathers. I've read and studied hundreds of papal texts, and I've never read anything quite like it. It was a sort of papal tantrum, quite unbecoming both the office and the man. Sure, this pope is known for his scolding. But that address was a new and disconcerting low, and anyone who has been following this pontificate and these synods knows that the Holy Father's scathing remarks were aimed squarely at those bishops who had stood their ground on the matter of Holy Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.

  • Cardinal Sarah, Bishop Schneider Respond to Pope’s Comment on Intercommunion "It’s not a matter of following your conscience", by Dianne Montagna. Aleteia 11/30/15:
    Earlier this month, Pope Francis stirred controversy when he expressed comments about intercommunion while addressing a gathering of Lutherans in Rome.

    Responding to a question from a non-Italian Lutheran woman who voiced her regret that she couldn’t receive Holy Communion with her Catholic husband, the pope said that while he would never dare give permission for her to receive the Eucharist because it’s not his competence or jurisdiction, he said she should “talk to the Lord and then go forward.”

    Owing to confusion over the pope’s words, we asked Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, for their opinion on the matter.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pope Francis, Kim Davis and Yayo Grassi

Who met whom, when?

  • Kim and Francis, by Dr. Robert Moynihan. Inside the Vatican 09/29/15:
    On Thursday, September 24, in the afternoon after his historic address to Congress, just a few minutes before flying to New York City, Pope Francis received, spoke with, and embraced Kim Davis — the Kentucky County Clerk who was jailed in early September for refusing to sign the marriage licenses of homosexual couples who wished to have their civil marriages certified by the state of Kentucky.

    Also present was Kim’s husband, Joe Davis.

    Kim and her husband had come to Washington for another purpose — Kim was to receive a “Cost of Discipleship” award on Friday, September 25, from The Family Research Council at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

    “Thank you for your courage“

    Pope Francis entered the room.

    Kim greeted him, and the two embraced.

    There is no recording of this conversation, or photographs, as far as I know. But “there is not any thing secret that shall not be made manifest, nor hidden, that shall not be known and come to light.” (Luke 8:17)

    Kim Davis gave me this account of the meeting shortly after it took place.

    “The Pope spoke in English,” she told me. “There was no interpreter. ‘Thank you for your courage,’ Pope Francis said to me. I said, ‘Thank you, Holy Father.’ I had asked a monsignor earlier what was the proper way to greet the Pope, and whether it would be appropriate for me to embrace him, and I had been told it would be okay to hug him. So I hugged him, and he hugged me back. It was an extraordinary moment. ‘Stay strong,’ he said to me. Then he gave me a rosary as a gift, and he gave one also to my husband, Joe. I broke into tears. I was deeply moved.

  • Lawyers For Kim Davis Say She Met With Pope CBS News. 09/29/15.
  • Vatican Source: Pope Blindsided By Meeting With Controversial Kentucky Clerk CBS News. 10/01/15:
    Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich is on his way to Rome tonight. Before he left, he spoke out for the first time on that controversial meeting between Pope Francis and Kim Davis, the county clerk from Kentucky who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

    Cupich in essence told CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine not to read too much into it.

    A highly placed source inside the Vatican claims the Pope was blindsided.

  • Statement regarding a meeting of Pope Francis and Mrs. Kim Davis at the Nunciature in Washington, DC (Fr F. Lombardi, Director of the Press Office of the Holy See), 02/10/2015:
    The brief meeting between Mrs. Kim Davis and Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC has continued to provoke comments and discussion. In order to contribute to an objective understanding of what transpired I am portatili clarify the Following points:

    Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who Had Been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are two to the Pope's characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of His former students and his family.

    The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her Should not be Considered a form of support of her position in all of its Particular and complex aspects.

  • CNN Exclusive: Pope held private meeting with same-sex couple in U.S., by Daniel Burke. 10/02/15:
    he day before Pope Francis met anti-gay county clerk Kim Davis in Washington last week, he held a private meeting with a longtime friend from Argentina who has been in a same-sex relationship for 19 years.

    Yayo Grassi, an openly gay man, brought his partner, Iwan Bagus, as well several other friends to the Vatican Embassy on September 23 for a brief visit with the Pope. A video of the meeting shows Grassi and Francis greeting each other with a warm hug. ...

    In an exclusive interview with CNN, Grassi said the visit was arranged personally with the Pope via email in the weeks ahead of Francis' highly anticipated visit to the United States.

    "Three weeks before the trip, he called me on the phone and said he would love to give me a hug," Grassi said.

    The meeting between the Pope and gay couple adds another intriguing twist to the strange aftermath of Francis' first-ever trip to the United States. Since news broke on Tuesday of Francis' meeting with Davis, conservatives have cheered the seemingly implicit endorsement, while liberals have questioned how much the Pope knew about her case.

    The two encounters -- one with a gay couple and one with a government official who ardently opposes homosexuality -- have left the Vatican scrambling to issue statements that seek to de-politicize the Pope's meetings and agenda.

  • The Shady Group That Played Pope Francis The Daily Beast 10/05/15:
    According to Davis’s lawyer, Mat Staver, the meeting came “from the Vatican itself”—which reads as his deceptive way of saying, “Pope Francis didn’t actually invite Davis to the embassy, but someone with Vatican connections did, so we’re going to keep saying Vatican over and over until enough people think the Holy Father actually invited our client to meet him.”

    Though many pressed Staver to release the name of the Vatican official, he held out as long as he could until eventually the secret broke. The meeting was initiated by Archbishop Vigano, Vatican ambassador to the U.S., who is a strong opponent of same-sex marriage.

    Last spring, for example, Vigano attended an anti-gay rally organized by the National Organization for Marriage. In a press release, NOM called Vigano the “official representative of Pope Francis,” which—as is implied by the designation—they took as a papal seal of approval for their fight against gay marriage. (This is why Vigano has won himself the ire of many Catholics—he should’ve known that when he wades into a culture war, he drags Francis unwittingly with him.)

  • Meet Yayo Grassi, the gay man who is friends with Pope Francis Washington Post 10/02/15:
    Grassi brought his boyfriend of 19 years, Iwan, and four friends to the Vatican Embassy for a private audience. Grassi, wearing a bright blue blazer, embraced his former teacher, now clothed in white, and then introduced him to Iwan and his friends. When news broke about Kim Davis’s attendance at the Vatican, Grassi decided to speak out. “Although I didn’t know any details, I knew immediately that he had nothing to do with this, that this was arranged by other people without telling him the real character” of Davis, Grassi said. “I received from friends of mine a lot of quite disturbing mail, telling me that ‘This is your pope, look what he did, and he’s a coward,’ and my defense is ‘We don’t know anything. Just wait until things come out.’ And I’m extremely pleased that I was right. And I never had any doubt that I was right.”

"I can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscientious objection. But, yes, I can say conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right. Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying 'this right that has merit, this one does not.' It (conscientious objection) is a human right. It always moved me when I read, and I read it many times, when I read the Chancon Roland, when the people were all in line and before them was the baptismal font – the baptismal font or the sword. And, they had to choose. They weren’t permitted conscientious objection. It is a right and if we want to make peace we have to respect all rights.

Terry Moran, ABC News: "Would that include government officials as well?"

Pope Francis: "It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right."

Pope Francis

Responses & Reactions (Hysterical and Otherwise)

  • Kim Davis Bleeding in the Rearview Mirror, by Austin Ruse. Crisis 10/16/15:
    First, a few largely uncontested facts: it was Vatican personnel who invited Davis to meet the pope in Washington DC. Neither Kim Davis nor anyone connected to her requested the meeting.

    What’s more, Kim Davis met privately with the pope. Whether you call it an audience or an encounter or any other thing, it took place in private. To put an even finer point on it, she was not on a rope line to shake his passing hand, neither was she in a line of people to meet him one by one.

    Lastly, while Vatican personnel wanted the meeting to be private, Davis was told at the meeting, the secrecy of the meeting was to last only until the pope left the country.

    After the news of the meeting broke the gay mafia inside and outside the Church went berserk. ...

  • The Vatican must speak on conscientious objection, by John Allen Jr. Crux 10/02/15:
    The bottom line is that the Vatican has thrust itself squarely into the middle of a debate that’s destined to become steadily more intense. The only way out is a thoughtful and clear statement on what exactly the Church understands by “conscientious objection,” and the sooner the better.

    If Rome wants to get past Kim Davis and back onto higher ground, that’s the way forward.

  • Why the media lost its mind over Kim Davis meeting Pope Francis, by Michael Brendan Dougherty. The Week 10/01/15:
    It's not just the scribes in the media who are scrambling for answers. It's Jesuits, too. James Martin, SJ rushes to explain that, in all likelihood, Kim Davis was just another woman presented to the pope. Missing every chance to confront the obvious prejudice surrounding the meeting, he instead clears any potential obstacle to those prejudices. The pope may not know her. The meeting may have been arranged by another bishop. He's just being nice. "Not to put too fine a point on it, but Pope Francis also met Mark Wahlberg, and that does not mean that he liked Ted," Martin concludes.

    The last flourish is exquisite for the way it makes the class prejudice explicit. Nothing to see here, folks. Just a vulgar woman who was snuck in. The Holy Spirit is definitely not afoot. It was practically an accident, really. Or perhaps it was some dastardly conservative bishop who allowed the cool pope to embrace someone universally despised by the great and good. She's been married four times. Believe me, if he knew, he'd throw her into the well.

  • What to Make of the Pope Francis-Kim Davis Meeting?, by Michael Sean Winters. National Catholic Reporter 10/01/15:
    Somebody messed up. A source at the bishops’ conference told me on background that the meeting happened “against the advice of the bishops’ conference.” Other reports in both the Washington Post and the New York Times agree that the meeting was arranged by a “Vatican official.” Seeing as the meeting happened at the nunciature in Washington, it could only have happened with the approval and participation of the nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. Perhaps he did not understand how Davis’ case was not really an instance of conscientious objection. Perhaps, he felt sorry for her, as I did, because sending that poor woman to jail was overkill by the judge. Perhaps he did not see how the news of this meeting would trample on the pope’s message and begin to drown out everything else the pope said or did during his six days here....
  • What it means that Pope Francis met Kim Davis, by John Allen Jr. Crux 10/01/15:
    The fact that the Vatican has chosen not to comment probably means, at least in part, that they don’t want to be dragged into a detailed discussion of Davis’ situation.

    That said, there’s no way to view the encounter other than as a broad gesture of support by the pope for conscientious objection from gay marriage laws, especially taken in tandem with his statement aboard the papal plane that following one’s conscience in such a situation is a “human right” – one, he insisted, that also belongs to government officials.

  • How Pope Francis Undermined the Goodwill of His Trip and Proved to Be a Coward, by Michelangelo Signorile Huffington Post 09/30/15:
    I would have more respect for the pope if he had publicly embraced Kim Davis and made an argument for her, as he did in his visit with the Little Sisters of the Poor, who are battling against filling out a form to exempt themselves from Obamacare's contraception requirement, claiming that even filling out the form violates their religious liberty -- even though I vehemently disagree with the pope on that issue. I'd have more respect if he boldly, explicitly made a public statement (not the vague, general statement he made on his plane on the way home only in response to a reporter's question about Davis), as he did in trying to stop the execution of a Georgia inmate who was put to death this morning. But by meeting with Davis secretly, and then at first having the Vatican neither confirm nor deny the encounter -- and now having the Vatican say it "won't deny" the meeting while it still won't offer any other details -- the pope comes off as a coward.
  • The Pope and Kim Davis: Seven Points to Keep in Mind, by James Martin, SJ. 09/30/15:
    It’s hard to know how much the Pope Francis knew about each individual who was introduced to him during his long trip to the United States. Did he know much about Kim Davis before meeting her? Was he following her case before he entered the country? Did he learn about the controversy from a local bishop after he arrived? Or was her story quickly relayed to him in a receiving line? And how was it explained to him? "Holy Father, this is Kim Davis who…"
    • Jesus and the Woman at the Well: Seven Points to Keep In Mind, by Matthew Schmitz. First Things 10/01/15. "For those wondering what all of this means, it’s probably best not to interpret a meeting that Jesus will not speak about, and also to be careful about swallowing wholesale the interpretation of those who would use this meeting to support their own agenda."
  • Fallout from the Francis-Davis Meeting? , by Robert Mickens. Commonweal 09/30/15:
    This new revelation will leave many people scratching their heads in disbelief and wondering what in God’s name Francis is up to. Because throughout his six days in Washington, New York, and Philadelphia he was careful to downplay—and even avoid mentioning—the many hot-button issues that are the bull’s eye of America’s so-called “culture warriors,” for whom Kim Davis has become a celebrity and icon.

    Americans who disagree with Davis, including many Catholics, were enraptured with Pope Francis precisely because he did not publicly wade into these issues or lend support to the cause she and her supporters are trying to take forward.

    Some of them will now think that the “people’s pope,” as the fawning American media continuously called him during the visit, is either two-faced or being duped by his advisors.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Apostolic Journey of the Holy Father to Cuba, to the United States of America and Visit to the United Nations Headquarters

NOTE: This roundup will be ongoing and updated over the course of next week, in continuity with Pope Francis' visit to Cuba, The United States and the U.N. Please stay tuned for further updates.

From the Vatican

Formal Addresses of Pope Francis



  • Nine things you missed from Pope Francis' time in Havana, by María Ximena Rondón. Catholic News Agency. 09/21/15.
  • Pope Francis’s Advice to Existentially Sad Millennials The Atlantic 09/21/15. "The pontiff went off-script with some grandfatherly wisdom in Cuba."
  • Cuba: Pope Makes Unscheduled Stop at Jesuit Parish Zenit News Service 09/21/15. "the Pope stopped at the Iglesia de Reina (Church of the Queen) on his way to yesterday’s celebration of Vespers at the Cathedral of Havana. The parish, also known as the Church of the Sacred Heart and St. Ignatius of Loyola, is the home of the Society of Jesus in Cuba."
  • Photos: Pope Francis visits Cuba [Photo compilation] 09/20/15.

  • Pope and Fidel Castro Meet, Exchange Books Zenit News Service. 09/20/15:
    Vatican Radio reported that the Pope gave Castro several books, including one by Italian priest Alessandro Pronzato and another by Spanish Jesuit Segundo Llorentea. The Holy Father also gave him a book and two CDs of his homilies, as well as his two encyclical letters, Lumen Fidei and Laudato si'.

    In return, Castro gave Pope Francis an interview book titled "Fidel and Religion," written in 1985 by Brazilian priest Frei Betto. The dedication reads: "For Pope Francis, on occasion of his visit to Cuba, with the admiration and respect of the Cuban people."

    The director of the Vatican press office, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said the meeting was "familiar and informal," and the two men spoke about "protecting the environment and the great problems of the contemporary world."

  • Pope Francis meets Fidel Castro after warning against ideology, by Nicole Winfield. Associated Press. 09/20/15:
    ... At one point, Francis was approached by a man who grabbed onto the popemobile and appeared to be speaking emotionally to the pontiff, who touched him on his hand and head before he was pulled away by security agents. Later video showed what appeared to be the same man throwing leaflets in the air, and backers of a Cuban dissident group said on Twitter he was a member of the political opposition.

    The head of the opposition group Ladies in White said 22 of the 24 members of her group who wanted to attend Mass were prevented from going by Cuban security agents. Two other well-known Cuban dissidents said agents detained them after the Vatican invited them to the pope’s vespers service at the Cathedral of Havana.

    Marta Beatriz Roque and Miriam Leiva, both longtime dissidents, received invitations from the office of the papal ambassador in Havana to attend the service but said they were arrested as they tried to travel to the cathedral.

A Cuban dissident is prevented by security personnel from approaching the popemobile as Pope Francis arrives at Revolution Square in Havana, Sept. 20, 2015.
  • [Question to Pope Francis]: "would you like to have a meeting with the dissidents, and if you had that meeting, what would you say?":
    Rosa Flores, CNN: Good afternoon, Holy Father. I am Rosa Flores of CNN. We understand that more than 50 dissidents were arrested outside the nunciature [in Cuba] as they were trying to have a meeting with you. First, would you like to have a meeting with the dissidents, and if you had that meeting, what would you say?

    Pope Francis: Look, I don’t have any news that that has happened. I don’t have any news. Some yes, yes, no, I don’t know. I don’t know, directly. The two questions are about reading the future. Would I like this to happen? … I like to meet with all people. I consider that all people are children of God and the law. And secondly, a relationship with another person always enriches. Even though it was soothsaying, that’s my reply. I would like to meet with everyone. If you want me to speak more about the dissidents, you can ask me something more concrete. For the nunciature, first, it was very clear that I was not going to give audiences because not only the dissidents asked for audiences, but also audiences (were requested) from other sectors, including from the chief of state. And, no, I am on a visit to a nation, and just that. I know that I hadn’t planned any audience with the dissidents or the others. And secondly from the nunciature, some people made some calls to some people who are in these groups of dissidents, where the responsibility was given to the nuncio to call them and tell them that I would greet them with pleasure outside the catedral for the meeting with the consecrated (religious). I would greet them when I was there, no? That did exist. Now, as no one identified themselves in their greetings, I don’t know if they were there. I said hello to the sick who were in wheelchairs. … Oops, I’m speaking Spanish. I greeted those who were in wheelchairs, but no one identified themselves as dissidents; but from the nunciature calls were made by some for a quick greeting.

  • Pope Francis lays out gentle critique of Cuba’s Socialist revolution, by John Allen, Jr. Crux 09/20/15.

  • Pope plans to duck dissidents in Cuba, spawning criticism Washington Post 09/18/15:
    Pope Francis plans to meet with Cuba’s president and its priests, its young and its sick, its churchgoers and its seminarians as he travels around the island starting Saturday. But not with its dissidents.

    The absence on Francis’ agenda of any meeting with the political opposition has sparked bitter critiques from dissidents who say they feel let down by an institution they believe should help push for greater freedom in Cuba.

United States

  • Kim and Francis, by Dr. Robert Moynihan. Inside the Vatican 09/29/15:
    On Thursday, September 24, in the afternoon after his historic address to Congress, just a few minutes before flying to New York City, Pope Francis received, spoke with, and embraced Kim Davis — the Kentucky County Clerk who was jailed in early September for refusing to sign the marriage licenses of homosexual couples who wished to have their civil marriages certified by the state of Kentucky.

    Also present was Kim’s husband, Joe Davis.

    Kim and her husband had come to Washington for another purpose — Kim was to receive a “Cost of Discipleship” award on Friday, September 25, from The Family Research Council at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

    “Thank you for your courage“

    Pope Francis entered the room.

    Kim greeted him, and the two embraced.

    There is no recording of this conversation, or photographs, as far as I know. But “there is not any thing secret that shall not be made manifest, nor hidden, that shall not be known and come to light.” (Luke 8:17)

    Kim Davis gave me this account of the meeting shortly after it took place.

    “The Pope spoke in English,” she told me. “There was no interpreter. ‘Thank you for your courage,’ Pope Francis said to me. I said, ‘Thank you, Holy Father.’ I had asked a monsignor earlier what was the proper way to greet the Pope, and whether it would be appropriate for me to embrace him, and I had been told it would be okay to hug him. So I hugged him, and he hugged me back. It was an extraordinary moment. ‘Stay strong,’ he said to me. Then he gave me a rosary as a gift, and he gave one also to my husband, Joe. I broke into tears. I was deeply moved.

  • Pope Francis met Argentine family who travelled 11,000 miles to Philadelphia Catholic News Agency. 09/29/15.
  • I can forgive an abuser, but understand those who can't, Pope says Catholic News Agency. 09/28/15.
  • Pope makes impromptu stop at statue marking Jewish-Catholic unity Catholic News Agency. 09/27/15:
    Pope Francis paid an unscheduled visit to St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia this afternoon to bless a statue celebrating improved Vatican relations with the Jewish community.

    The bronze statue, titled “Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time,” depicts two figures – signifying Christianity and Judaism – sitting beside each other and displaying their sacred texts in postures of dialogue.

    “This statue is exactly a demonstration of two sisters of the same dignity, the church and the synagogue,” said Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi.

  • Pope Francis to bishops: Stop wishing for the good old days Crux 09/27/15:
    “A Christianity which ‘does’ little in practice, while incessantly ‘explaining’ its teachings, is dangerously unbalanced. I would even say that it is stuck in a vicious circle,” he said. “A pastor must show that the ‘Gospel of the family’ is truly ‘good news’ in a world where self-concern seems to reign supreme!”
  • For Pope Francis, it's imperative: religious liberty is a gift from God. Defend it. Catholic News Agency. 09/26/15:
    In a Philadelphia moment laden with symbolism, Pope Francis on Saturday encouraged all Americans and all religions to unite against efforts that would limit religious freedom.

    “May this country and each of you be renewed in gratitude for the many blessings and freedoms that you enjoy. And may you defend these rights, especially your religious freedom, for it has been given to you by God himself,” the Pope said Sept. 26.

  • Pope Francis hailed for transcending liberal/conservative divide, by Matt Hadro. Catholic News Agency. 09/26/15. "This day Congress took a pause from divisions and focused on higher things."
  • Famous Homosexual Serves as Lector During Pope Francis’ NYC Mass: Massive Scandal Erupts in NYC, by Matthew Pearson. ChurchMilitant.com. 09/26/15.
  • Pope Francis challenges priests, religious to inspire vocations, love for Church Catholic World Report 09/26/15. In homily at Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, Francis reflects on the words of Leo XIII to the young St. Katherine Drexel: "What about you?”
  • How the Pope used the environment to preach to the UN Catholic News Agency. 09/25/15. "Pope Francis’ appeal to the United Nations General Assembly to care for both the environment and the human person was actually a deft move to introduce more Church teaching to the body, a U.N. expert explained."
  • Why the Name of Jesus Wasn't Mentioned in the Pope's UN Speech, by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register 09/25/15.
  • Francis moves from solemn to spontaneous, by Inés San Martín. Crux 09/25/15. "Pope Francis was able to shed a bit of the formality that has marked his US trip so far, meeting with the families of 9/11 victims before an interreligious service at Ground Zero, then smiling and joking with immigrant schoolchildren at a Catholic school in East Harlem."
  • With the Pope at Ground Zero, by Francis X. Clooney, SJ. America 09/25/15.
  • Destruction is always personal, Pope Francis reflects at Ground Zero Catholic News Agency. 09/25/15.
  • Pope Francis picks Ground Zero for interfaith healing, by Lauren Markoe. Crux 09/24/15:
    Much of Catholic America is excited about Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States — and so are many American Muslims.

    Francis’ visit, said Imam Sayyid M. Syeed, “is even more important for Muslims than it is for Catholics.”

    A pope 1,000 years ago exhorted Christians to launch the First Crusade against Muslims, explained Syeed, of the Islamic Society of North America. Now, he continued, there is a pope who wants to destroy hatred the world over, a pope who named himself for a 13th-century saint who counseled Christians to cease their violence against Muslims.

    “This pope,” the imam said, “is our pope.”

  • Congressman swipes Pope Francis’ drinking glass New York Post 09/26/15:
    When Pope Francis concluded his historic address to Congress on Thursday, dozens of lawmakers followed as he left the podium, hoping to clasp the hand or touch the garments of His Holiness.

    Then there was Rep. Bob Brady (D-Pa.), who instead dashed to the podium to swipe the pope’s drinking glass.

    The half-full glass of water has now become something of a holy relic for the congressman. ...

    “Anything the pope touches becomes blessed,” Brady told the paper.

  • In Pope Francis' Congress Speech, Praise For Dorothy Day And Thomas Merton NPR (National Public Radio) 09/24/15.
  • Pope in NYC: I'm with you in recovering from the abuse scandal Catholic News Agency. 09/24/15:
    In his first address in New York, Pope Francis lamented the suffering caused by the sexual abuse scandal in the United States – not only for the trauma inflicted on the Church's most vulnerable members, but also for the shame it has brought to priests and religious in general.

    “I know that, as a presbyterate in the midst of God’s people, you suffered greatly in the not distant past by having to bear the shame of some of your brothers who harmed and scandalized the Church in the most vulnerable of her members,” he said addressing clergy and religious gathered for Evening Prayer at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City Sept. 24.

    “I accompany you at this time of pain and difficulty, and I thank God for your faithful service to his people,” he said, adding they have “come forth from the great tribulation.”

  • New York Sets Rock-Star Welcome for Pope Francis, by Thomas L. MacDonald. National Catholic Register 09/24/15:
    Deacon Greg Kandra of the Diocese of Brooklyn says he will find a warm welcome: "You’d be hard-pressed to find [a Catholic] in New York City who doesn’t adore this Pope,” said the popular blogger. “I hear it all the time from believers and nonbelievers, who tell me, without prompting, ‘I love this Pope.’ It’s a cliché to call him a ‘rock star,’ but let’s be honest: He is a rock star — and someone both familiar and new. I think he’s offering the world a slice of Catholicism that is often overlooked: Beyond the rules and the tradition, beyond the theology and the history and the hierarchy, there is hope."
  • The pope name-dropped a radical Catholic activist, and Bernie Sanders couldn’t be happier Washington Post 09/24/15:
    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was the lone Democratic presidential hopeful -- and the only Jewish contender -- in the House chamber for Pope Francis's speech. When he left, he was beaming, as the pope had cited an American Catholic whom Sanders had plenty of praise for.

    "The name Dorothy Day has not been used in the United States Congress terribly often," said Sanders in a short interview. "She was a valiant fighter for workers, was very strong in her belief for social justice, and I think it was extraordinary that he cited her as one of the most important people in recent American history. This would be one of the very, very few times that somebody as radical as Dorothy Day was mentioned."

  • Pope Francis Walks Among Poor and Marginalized in DC Farewell National Catholic Register 09/24/15. "After delivering an historic address to Congress, the Holy Father went to St. Patrick’s Church and Catholic Charities’ headquarters in Washington to spend personal time with the city’s social periphery."
  • Repent! Pope Francis lectures America on immigration, abortion, gay marriage and the Syrian refugee crisis in first-ever Capitol Hill address by a sitting pontiff Daily Mail 09/24/15.
  • Catholic University students and faculty moved and challenged by Pope Francis Catholic World Report 09/24/15.
  • Francis and Sophie's secret: girl who hugged pope delivers immigration plea The Guardian 09/23/15. "Five-year-old Sophie Cruz makes it past security to greet Pope Francis at parade before hand delivering letter asking pontiff to push for US immigration reform."
  • Inside Pope Francis' Tour of the White House, by Megan Keneally. ABC News. 09/23/15. The public was not able to see Pope Francis after he finished his remarks on the South Lawn and headed inside the White House, but now a collection of photos gives a sense of the pontiff's tour.
  • Pope Francis made surprise stop at Little Sisters of the Poor to show support, by Matt Hadro. Catholic News Agency. 09/23/15:
    Pope Francis paid a short visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor community in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to support them in their court case over the contraception mandate, the Vatican's spokesman revealed. ...

    The sisters had filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration for its 2012 mandate that employers provide insurance coverage for birth control, sterilizations, and drugs that can cause abortions employee health plans. The sisters have maintained that to provide this coverage would violate their religious beliefs.

  • Pope Francis to Obama: Religious freedom is beyond price, by Anne Schneible. Catholic News Agency. 09/23/15:
    Pope Francis Wednesday reminded U.S. president Barack Obama that religious freedom is one of America's most “precious possessions,” while lauding the nation's Catholics their work toward a society marked by tolerance and inclusivity.

    "With countless other people of good will, (American Catholics) are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty," the Pope said Wednesday, addressing the U.S. commander-in-chief at the White House in Washington, D.C.

    "That freedom remains one of America's most precious possessions."

    Echoing the appeals by the U.S. bishops on the issue of religious freedom, the pontiff told President Obama: "All are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it."

  • Photos: Pope Francis visits the US Crux 09/22/15.
  • Pope Francis Ditches Lunch with Congress to Dine with DC’s Homeless, by James Woods. U.S. Uncut. 09/23/15.
    Pope Francis arrived in Washington DC today and immediately showed why his poll numbers are higher than any American politician by turning down lunch invitations from members of Congress to instead dine with 300 members of the homeless community after his scheduled Thursday address.
  • It’s official: The pope declares Junípero Serra a saint, by Ines San Martin. Crux 09/23/15:
    In what is likely to be the most controversial move of his six-day visit to the United States, Pope Francis declared Spanish missionary Junípero Serra a saint Wednesday, calling him a “protector of Native Americans.”

    The pope’s decision to canonize the 18th-century Franciscan priest drew criticism because of accusations that Serra forced Christianity on the region, was complicit in the decline or elimination of native populations, and enslaved converts to the faith.

    • Pope Francis: St. Junipero was "the embodiment of a Church which goes forth" Catholic World Report 09/23/15:
      "Junípero Serra left his native land and its way of life," Pope Francis reflected. "He was excited about blazing trails, going forth to meet many people, learning and valuing their particular customs and ways of life. He learned how to bring to birth and nurture God’s life in the faces of everyone he met; he made them his brothers and sisters."

      Although some have raised concerns about St. Junipero Serra’s work with Native Americans, Pope Francis joined many others who insist that Serra worked tirelessly to protect the rights and dignity of the people whom he served.

      "Junípero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it. Mistreatment and wrongs which today still trouble us, especially because of the hurt which they cause in the lives of many people," Pope Francis said.

    • Biography of Junípero Serra, "The Apostle of California" United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
    • Why Pope Francis' Canonization of Junipero Serra Is So Controversial, by Meredith McGraw. ABC News. 09/23/15. "Serra, a Franciscan monk who worked to evangelize the California coast during the 18th century, has been criticized for using coercive force and corporal punishment on Native Americans."
  • Pelosi, Biden Say They're Pro-Abortion and Pro-Church National Catholic Register 09/22/15:
    “I actually agree with the pope on more issues than many Catholics who agree with him on one issue,” Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, told The New York Times during an interview timed for Pope Francis's Sept. 24 address before Congress.

    That "one issue" is legal abortion, which has eliminated the lives of an estimated 57 million unborn children since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Roe v. Wade.

  • Pope Francis arrives in the US; denies being a leftist, by John Allen Jr. Crux 09/22/15:
    “Maybe there’s an impression I’m a little bit more leftie, but I haven’t said a single thing that’s not in the social doctrine of the Church,” Francis insisted, referring to official Catholic teaching on social questions.

    At one stage, the pontiff even challenged a journalist to give him an example of something he’s said that was “too strong.”

    Asked about a recent Newsweek cover story asking if the pope is Catholic, Francis joked that “I’m ready to recite the Creed if need be,” referring to an ancient statement of core Catholic beliefs recited at every Mass.

  • Thursday’s event will be the first time a pope has addressed a joint session of Congress, by Andrea Gagliarducci. Catholic World Report 09/21/15. "On Thursday Pope Francis will become the first Bishop of Rome to address a joint session of the US Senate and House of Representatives. During his speech he will tackle the misinterpretation of his words on economics and politics."
  • Fun facts and more about life aboard the papal plane Separating myth from reality about 'Shepherd One', by John Allen, Jr. Crux 09/18/15.
  • Pope's video message for Cuba: I will be among you as a missionary of mercy. 09/18/15:
    I wish to be among you as a missionary of God's mercy and tenderness, but allow me to encourage you too to be missionaries of God's infinite love. May no-one lack the witness of our faith and our love. May all the world know that God always forgives, that God always stays by our side, that God loves us.
  • That “strange” alliance that unites Obama and the Vatican, by Paolo Masrolilli. "The Vatican Insider" La Stampa 09/14/15. "The reports present Obama with a description of Bergoglio and the Vatican structure and then deal with specific points of common interest and areas of potential co-operation: fight against poverty and hunger, environment, war in Syria, peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine, Cuba, human trafficking."
  • Pope Francis appeases the Castros in repressive Cuba The Washington Post Editorial Board. 09/21/15:
    The pope is spending four days in a country whose Communist dictatorship has remained unrelenting in its repression of free speech, political dissent and other human rights despite a warming of relations with the Vatican and the United States. Yet by the end of his third day, the pope had said or done absolutely nothing that might discomfit his official hosts.

    Pope Francis met with 89-year-old Fidel Castro, who holds no office in Cuba, but not with any members of the dissident community — in or outside of prison. According to the Web site 14ymedio.com, two opposition activists were invited to greet the pope at Havana’s cathedral Sunday but were arrested on the way. Dozens of other dissidents were detained when they attempted to attend an open air Mass. They needn’t have bothered: The pope said nothing in his homily about their cause, or even political freedom more generally. Those hunting for a message had to settle for a cryptic declaration that "service is never ideological."

  • White House Invites Several Opponents of Catholic Teaching to Greet Pope Francis Breitbart.com. 09/16/15:
    In a stunning show of political indecorum, Obama has invited a series of individuals who publicly flout Catholic teaching, including a pro-abortion religious sister, a transgender woman and the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, along with at least two Catholic gay activists.


  • U.S. Catholicism after the papal visit: sunrise or eclipse?, by Fr. Brian W. Harrison. O.S. LifeSite News 09/28/15:
    Last night saw the conclusion of Pope Francis' historic visit to three leading U.S. cities. We saw media adulation and adoring crowds everywhere. But many of us, trying to see the big picture, are wondering about his overall message, as indicated by the relative priority he gave to various current issues. The general tone and spirit of the Holy Father's trip was well captured by a cartoon that has been doing the rounds: a downcast Obama, in the Confessional with Francis, says, "I'm the most pro-abortion President ever"; and the Pope responds through the screen, "But what's your position on climate change?"
  • After the Pope's visit – an exclusive interview with Archbishop Chaput, by Michelle Bauman. Catholic News Agency 09/29/15:
    Francis got to see the reality of American faith and life on this trip in a uniquely powerful way. In Washington he experienced our political center. In New York he encountered our greatest financial and international city. But in Philadelphia he saw the face of a great city built and sustained by ordinary Americans – the face of nearly a million everyday working people enthusiastically in love with him. I think he'll remember that. ...

    Pope Francis told the U.S. bishops that family “is the primary reason for my present visit.” What is the significance of the Pope making his first papal visit to the U.S. in the context of the family?

    Family has been a constant theme of his pontificate. It's the basic cell of society. Because of the global influence of the United States, problems here have an impact around the world. Given all the current issues in our country related to the nature of marriage, the breakdown of families and the purpose of human sexuality, the timing of the papal visit seems pretty logical."

  • Impact of Pope’s U.S. Visit; Pope Francis and Family Issues Religion & Ethics Newsweekly 09/25/15. [Audio] "Pope Francis energized American Catholics and others with his message of peace, compassion, justice, and human dignity; and some Catholics hope that the Church under Pope Francis will be open to reform on divorce, contraceptives, and marriage."
  • US trip shows that the ‘Pope Francis honeymoon’ is still in full swing, by John Allen, Jr. Crux 09/26/15:
    There were turns of phrase or gestures along the way that might have gotten another pontiff into trouble – his disparaging reference to “crying nuns” in Cuba, for instance, or his fairly tough language on religious freedom on Saturday, or the fact that, despite being expected to meet victims in private Sunday morning, he has had very little to say publicly about the clerical sexual abuse scandals.

    None of that, however, really put a dent in the “People’s Pope” storyline.

    Perhaps that will be another sense in which Francis becomes a pope of firsts, disproving the conventional wisdom that honeymoons always someday end.

  • What Pope Francis Really Said About (Gay) Marriage -- and What He Did Not, by Michelangelo Signorile. The Huffington Post 09/25/15:
    The United States this past June did something that the Catholic Church and the Vatican have for years railed against: granted marriage equality to its gay and lesbian citizens.

    Yet, Pope Francis had nothing to say about it. Not then and not now.

    Considering that Pope Benedict often vocally expressed harsh condemnation of marriage equality -- even traveling to Spain to speak out against it when that country was among the first to legalize marriage for gays and lesbians and called it a "threat to the future of humanity"-- it's astonishing how silent Francis is on the issue.

  • Weigel: “The Church the Pope wants in the US already exists” "Vatican Insider" La Stampa 09/25/15. The conservative Catholic intellectual says he hopes Francis "fills out" the picture of the United States and American Catholicism that he will bring to its shores.
  • Francis at the United Nations, by R.R. Reno. First Things 09/25/15:
    The speech to Congress was in all likelihood ghostwritten by someone in Cardinal Wuerl or Cardinal McCarrick's stable. That would explain its cautious, small feel. They represent a wing of American Catholicism that wants to get along with the dominant liberal establishment, which requires downplaying “divisive” issues. It was telling that in that speech “a man and a woman” or “a mother and a father” made no appearance in the material on the importance of the family.

    No so the United Nations speech. It had vim and vigor. He emphasized the leitmotif of his papacy: criticism of our global system and its “social and economic exclusion.” He warned his audience not to be satisfied with “declarational nominalism,” a wonderful turn of phrase that both draws on specialized Catholic insider terminology (nominalism) and chastises the United Nations (and other international organizations) for issuing empty declarations.

  • Pope Francis, Abortion, and a Missed Opportunity with Congress, by Jonathan Leidl. National Catholic Register 09/25/15:
    Yesterday, Pope Francis addressed a number of issues by name when he spoke to Congress. He talked about immigrants; he delved into economics; and he got very specific on environmental degradation, the arms trade, and abolishing the death penalty.

    One issue that Pope Francis did not get specific about was abortion.

    • Planned Parenthood Slams Pope Francis Over Abortion Speech, Women's Rights International Business Times 09/25/15. "Planned Parenthood has harsh words for Pope Francis after the leader of the Roman Catholic Church championed life -- including before birth -- in his address to Congress on Thursday. Francis and the church are limiting women's rights by urging Catholics not to use contraception, said a spokesman for the women's health organization."
  • The Political Evanescence of the Papal Visit: Pope Francis, the One Week Wonder, by Matthew Franck. First Things 09/25/15:
    In the internal life of the Church in the U.S., Francis’s visit has undoubted real meaning—in the lives of bishops, priests, religious, and lay people who flock to his Masses and other gatherings, or only view them from afar, and in the things he does and says as supreme pontiff during his visit. Still more important will be his episcopal appointments, his reforms of canon law, his guidance on the pastoral care of the family during and after the upcoming Ordinary Synod, and a hundred other decisions he will make from Rome. These practical deeds of the Pope, as Ross Douthat observes, will carry more weight in shaping the future, not just of American Catholicism but of the universal Church.

    But here in a free and democratic society, Francis will come, and he will go, and our politics will go on as though he had never visited. This I count as fundamentally a good thing.

  • Francis and the Politics of Projection, by Matthew Hennessey. City Journal 2015:
    ... While the Left fantasizes about an imaginary Hero Pope come to beat up the American Right for its views on social issues, the real Pope will be on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, endorsing a markedly traditional Catholic view of the family, reflecting the structure of the Holy Family itself and forming a kind of fortress against what he’s called the “ideological colonization” of same-sex marriage. The family, he said earlier this year, is “threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.” Does that sound like a pope come to tear the Church down—or a pope come to protect it?
  • Even on Wall Street, Pope Francis attack on 'idolatry of money' strikes a chord, by Harriet Sherwood. The Guardian 09/24/15. Some commentators find the pontiff’s apparent scepticism about capitalism troubling but some in finance feel his call for more humanity is needed.
  • A hidden gem in the Pope's speech to Congress, by Phil Lawler. CatholicCulture.com 09/24/15. "Too many options, and yet not enough options? There’s material there for a modern-day Chesterton: a paradox that exposes the insanity of our society."
  • Pope Francis' Awesome Drop Mic Moment on Religious Liberty, by Matthew Archbold. National Catholic Register 09/24/15. "OK. You've gotta' admit, this is the perfect response to the most blatant display of hypocrisy seen in days in our nation's capital ..."
  • 20 Key Quotes from Pope Francis’s Address to Congress, by Joe Carter. The Acton Institute. 09/24/15.
  • When Francis Came to Cuba: Questions from a Cuban Catholic, by Carlos Eire. First Things 09/24/15:
    Pope Francis is not exactly the silent type when it comes to social, political, or economic issues. When he thinks something is wrong, he lets the world know, as he has just done in his encyclical Laudato Si’, in which he champions environmentalism and excoriates materialist consumerism. A few months ago, in Bolivia, he spoke of “the unfettered pursuit of money” as nothing less than “the dung of the devil.”

    So, why is it that he refrained from calling the Castro regime and other such failed experiments in materialist totalitarian communism “the dung of the devil”? Is communist materialism any less fiendish? Is communist political and economic repression any less reprehensible? Why didn’t he call Raúl and Fidel Castro to repentance? Why did he praise them instead?

  • What Francis Said and Didn't Say in Congress, by R.R. Reno. First Things 09/24/15:
    Francis gave no support to Catholics who have fought abortion, the redefinition of marriage, doctor-assisted suicide, and other cultural issues. He also made no mention of threats to religious liberty.

    He may have omitted some of these topics because he wants to steer clear of appearing to intervene directly in our political debates. Congress presently has before it specific legislation to defund Planned Parenthood and expand religious liberty (an issue tied to conflict over same-sex marriage). This is a good reason to take care. Nevertheless, complete silence on these issues demoralizes those who are on the front lines of these battles.

    The only specific issues Francis mentioned before Congress are associated with progressive politics: abolition of the death penalty, global warming, and arms control. This reinforces the trends of this papacy, at least in relation to the United States. Francis discourages conservative Catholics, more by silence than anything else. He encourages progressives, both by his silences and his affirmations.

  • Some Quick Thoughts On the Pope’s Congressional Address, by Steve Skojec. OnePeterFive 09/24/15:
    In addition to the fact that this [Francis' reminder of the "Golden Rule"] is the most bare-bones acknowledgement of the sanctity of life one could get in a speech before a governmental body that sends half a billion dollars a year to an organization that kills millions of children and sells their parts to the highest bidder, the entire emphasis was placed on abolition of the death penalty, which is not even consonant with the long-held teaching of the Church. (And as a friend asked me after reading the speech, “When did ‘murderer on death row’ become a stage of human development?”)
  • Pope Francis, Dialogue and Affirmative Orthodoxy, by Fr. Gaurav Shroff. "Pope Francis clearly said today that he is speaking in continuity with his predecessors. His call to humble parrhesia, to be a Church that speaks from a position of poverty, is one that is eminently in line with his immediate predecessor."
  • Pope Francis' Challenge to Conservatives, by Ramesh Ponnuru. Bloomberg.com. 09/23/15:
    Aside from a line about how the Golden Rule requires the protection of human life at all stages of development, and a veiled reference to his opposition to same-sex marriage, Pope Francis said nothing that would discomfit a progressive (at least one who can put up with a lot of mentions of God). He called on Americans to be generous to immigrants, to abolish the death penalty, to fight poverty and hunger "constantly and on many fronts," and to protect the environment. These are, of course, goals that are more often associated with the American left than with its right, and so Francis' words carry more of a challenge to Republicans than to Democrats.

    But the pope's argument was couched in terms that appeal to Americans of all political persuasions. There was no pointed rebuke of those who oppose particular climate change policies or immigration initiatives. The only specific policy Francis endorsed was abolishing capital punishment. Liberals can easily make the case that their policies flow naturally from the values the pope invoked in his speech. But most conservatives accept those values too, and those conservatives who listened to the speech with an open mind can make the case that they have a superior understanding of how to act on them.

  • Counterpoint: Pope has listened to conservative Americans, by Samuel Gregg. Chicago Sun-Times 09/24/15:
    For me, however, as a migrant to the United States, it was especially gratifying to watch Francis say very positive things to say about America. The word “liberty” was used no less than five times, "freedom" seven times, and "subsidiarity" (a Catholic expression for protecting liberty) twice. He also invoked America’s "spirit of enterprise," and repeated what he’s said elsewhere: that "Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world.” And while insisting that more needs to be done to address poverty, the pope also exclaimed, "How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty!"

    All this suggests that Francis has listened — as he said he would — to those American Catholics who’ve suggested that some of his previous statements about economic life weren’t attentive to the facts about poverty and the most effective ways of diminishing it.

  • Why Pope Francis Sounds Like a Democrat, by Molly Ball. The Atlantic 09/24/15:
    Francis is not an American politician, but his perspective on the state’s role in these issues lines up pretty well with that of most American Democrats. To greatly oversimplify, Democrats believe the U.S. needs to regulate the economy and the environment, while allowing people to make their own choices about whom they marry and whether to have an abortion. Republicans—again, oversimplifying greatly—think people should generally be able to do what they want with their money and their carbon footprint, but social behavior should be regulated by the state. Francis aligns more with Democrats than Republicans on other issues: He favors immigration reform, played a major role in the Obama administration’s détente with Cuba, and supports the Iran nuclear deal. No wonder the president and other American liberals are trying to claim him—and conservatives see him as a threat.
  • Simplicity Si, Oversimplification No, by the Editors. National Review 09/24/15:
    Where Pope Francis and many of those who share his tendencies go wrong is on a question of priority: They simply assume prosperity sufficient to support their redistributionist programs. “Business,” the pope says, “is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity, . . . especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.” There is some bad economics in that (jobs are a means, not an end) and some vast understatement: It is not the case that business “can be a fruitful source of prosperity” — it is, in human material experience, practically the only source of prosperity. And it doesn’t just happen. Rather, there are necessary preconditions without which prosperity cannot emerge: the rule of law, physical security, property rights, the freedom to engage in commerce and trade. The pope is not the first man of his political stripe to implicitly argue that we can put to good use the fruits of capitalism while holding capitalism itself at arm’s length. The pope’s antipathy here is difficult to miss: In an act of sweeping equivocation, he spoke of the need to “combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology, or an economic system,” as though Google executives were posting Internet videos of Bing users being beheaded.

    "No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions," Margaret Thatcher wryly observed. "He had money as well." The United States, the English-speaking countries, Western Europe, and Japan grew wealthy for particular reasons, just as Argentina stagnated for particular reasons. Our great complaint with the Holy Father is that he does not seem to be much interested in what those reasons are.

  • A Contemplative Visits Congress, by Kathryn Jean Lopez. "The Corner" National Review 09/24/15.
  • Francis falters in addressing sex abuse, by Dennis Coday. National Catholic Reporter 09/23/15:
    I have to wonder where is the forthrightness we have come to expect of Pope Francis. At the very least he could have used the words "clergy sexual abuse of minors." This oblique reference will do nothing to assuage the fears of victims’ advocates who believe Francis is more public relations manager than crisis manager when it comes to sexual abuse.

    Praising the bishops for the courage they have shown before acknowledging the pain of the victims, will undoubtedly raise the charges of "he just doesn’t get it."

  • What Did Pope Francis Say About the Unborn at the White House?, by Steve Skojec. OnePeterFive 09/23/15:
    There was ... something about being “committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination”. A brief mention of religious liberty made it in, too. But a statement about protecting the unborn in the presence of the most pro-abortion president in US history — especially as Congress is attempting to defund Planned Parenthood — didn’t make the cut.
  • Francis 2.0 emerges in America: Pope and Church are a package deal, by John Allen Jr. Crux 09/23/15:
    ... Without sacrificing his charismatic, populist edge, Francis appears determined to reinsert himself into the context of the Church he leads, and the teaching and world view it represents.

    Pope Benedict XVI was fond of saying that Christ can’t be separated from the Church, as if one could follow Jesus but reject his Church. Maybe part of what Francis is saying now is that’s it also a mistake to separate the pope from the Church.

  • The Invincible Ignorance of Pope Francis, by Rich Lowry. Politico 09/23/15:
    The pope’s capitalism is parody seemingly drawn from the pages of Noam Chomsky. It is a system “where the powerful feed upon the powerless.” This kind of exploitation has been the norm through human history, and it will never disappear. But there is less of it in the advanced West, where property rights, the rule of law, open political systems and market competition make it much harder for an entrenched elite to despoil ordinary people. That the pope doesn’t realize this constitutes a serious moral blind spot.
  • Pope Francis gives hope to gay Catholics, by Matthew Albright. USA Today 09/23/15. "I am married to a man, and I’m sure that if he met me (Francis) would say congratulations and be very happy about it."
  • Pope Francis arrives and he's not the 'Prada Pope', by Maria Puente. USA Today 09/23/15.
  • The Limits of Papal Celebrity
    1. Personalities tend to be more popular than institutions, so we should be skeptical about claims that the popularity of a given pope will translate into a “revived” church.

    2. Francis’s appeal is based largely on his anti-institutional image—his willingness to disregard rules and call out entrenched interests—and so his popularity is especially unlikely to translate into increased attachment to the church. ...

  • What's a Jew to Do When the Pope Comes on Yom Kippur?, by Emma Green. The Atlantic 09/22/15.
  • As the Pope Comes..., by Joseph McAuley. America 09/22/15.
  • A "Son of the Church", Francis Confounds both the Right and the Left, by Michael J. Nader. Catholic World Report 09/22/15. "Like his predecessors, Pope Francis’ economic teachings are squarely within the Catholic social tradition."
  • 6 Times You Were Flat-Out Lied To About Pope Francis, by Michael Marinaccio. Medium.com. 09/21/15:
    Ahead of the Pope’s visit to the United States, a trip that will be wrought with sound-bytes, drama, and press releases, I thought it would be fitting to put together a short list of instances where the Holy Father has been completely taken out of context or mis-reported (flat-out lied about) by the national media and press corps. ...
  • For Conservatives, Sowing Confusion, by Amanda Erickson. Washington Post 09/18/15:
    When Steve Skojec heard that Jorge Mario Bergoglio had been elected pope, he got a queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. He can’t say why, exactly — though he follows Vatican politics closely, he didn’t know much about Francis then. But as he watched the new Catholic leader greet the crowds on his office television in Manassas, Va., he was filled with dread.

    "I felt a discontinuity," he said. "A disruption."

  • Why conservatives are going nuclear on Pope Francis, by Damon Linker. The Week 09/22/15. "For today's conservative movement, politics has become the first thing, the last thing, and everything in between. No wonder it's lost all patience for the politically inconvenient pontiff."
  • America Meets Francis, by Joan Frawley Desmond. A Nation Awaits a ‘Pastor and Prophet’. National Catholic Register 09/21/15. "Pope Francis’ tendency to speak off the cuff and dispense with formality adds a wild card to a high-stakes visit that has stirred hope and excitement, but also defies hard predictions."
  • Pope Francis could reframe the US religious freedom debate, by John Allen Jr. Crux 09/21/15.
  • The Patron Saint of the Left: Why Pope Francis isn’t the liberal rock star American Catholics think he is, by William Saletan. Slate 09/20/15.
  • Why the Pope's Friendliness to Castro? Cardinal's Story Might Offer a Clue, by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register 09/21/15:
    Some Cuban human rights activists are looking wistfully on Francis’ predecessor, whose more direct approach, in contrast to the more dialogue-based Ostpolitik of Blessed Paul VI, helped lead to the downfall of Soviet communism.

    Much of this affinity no doubt has to do with Francis' clear sympathy for some Marxists even if he disagrees with the ideology (he once said he has met many "who are good people").

    But an exchange between Cardinal Renato Martino and Fidel Castro in the 2000s also partly shows why Francis, the Holy See — and Benedict XVI, too, to a large extent — have stressed more dialogue than condemnation when it comes to dealing with the Cuban regime.

    Meeting Fidel during a visit to the country as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Martino presented the former communist revolutionary with a copy of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church that his dicastery had just produced. “He responded with some surprise,” Cardinal Martino, now honorary president of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, told me. “Castro said that in his view, much of the teaching it contained was identical to what he and his regime had been trying to apply to Cuban society for years!”

  • Pope Francis: A Red Line between the US Trip and the Synod, by Andrea Gagliari. Monday Vatican 09/21/15.
  • Francis’ visit to Cuba and the US will be about politics but above all about pastoral care, by Andrea Tornielli. "The Vatican Insider" La Stampa 09/18/15.
  • "Conservative" Catholics, Pope Francis, and CNN Spin, by Carl Olson. Catholic World Report 09/17/15. "It's an unfortunate fact that secular media outlets so often resort to sensationalism, shallow reporting, and partisan rhetoric when addressing the complexities of Catholicism."
  • INTERVIEW: Head of US Bishops: Pope Does Not Speak as Economist Nor Politician, But as Pastor of Souls Zenit News Service. 09/17/15. In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with ZENIT this week, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, a native of Pennsylvania who was appointed Bishop of Louisville, Kentucky, by Pope Benedict, said Pope Francis is not coming to the United States to teach economic theory, but to very firmly and strongly reaffirm the tradition of our Catholic social teaching and to celebrate God's plan for marriage and the family.
  • Stephen Colbert on Pope Francis, Politics and Faith Salt & Light Television. "Fresh off his premiere on CBS’ The Late Show, comedian Stephen Colbert discusses Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to the United States."