Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

The ‘Francis effect’ is about more than politics by Allison Walter: “During my sleep-deprived adventure, I saw my church come alive, with millions gathered together in song in the city streets because they have renewed hope. I had strangers tell me that they’re giving the church a second chance. I saw young people who’ve lost faith in governments and institutions in tears because Francis gives them something to believe in.”

West ‘walking into abyss’ on Syria by Charles Lister: “The vast majority of refugees now entering Europe are fleeing Assad’s murder machine, not IS or al-Qaeda. Ever since Syrians took to the streets in March 2011, the Western response has been both feeble and noncommittal, but the world is now in need of real leadership. Unfortunately, it seems our leaders are walking into the abyss with their eyes closed.”

Time will tell if Pope Francis’ visit has truly changed America by John Allen: “Going forward, perhaps one good way to gauge the political impact of Francis’ trip is not whether left and right suddenly agree with one another, but whether American liberals and conservatives at least become less likely to demonize one another over the issues Francis has identified as part of a single continuum of concern for life and dignity.” Read More

CNN: Pope Met Privately with Same-sex Couple During US Trip

Just when we thought the pope’s private meetings in the US might recede from the limelight, CNN is reporting:

The 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, 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 declined to disclose details about the short visit, but said it was arranged personally by the Pope via email in the weeks ahead of Francis’ highly anticipated visit to the United States.

Vatican: Pope’s Brief Encounter with Kim Davis Does Not Reflect Support For Her Position

The Vatican has finally offered some clarity on the Pope Francis-Kim Davis meeting with a statement that undermines claims that Pope Francis intended to demonstrate support for her position. The statement reads:

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 able to 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 due 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.

Alan Kurdi, Martyr

Civil war has ravaged Syria for more than 4 years. In that time, almost a quarter million people have been killed (in documented deaths alone), at least 7.6 million civilians have been displaced from their homes and remain in Syria, and nearly 4 million refugees have left their country in search of peace and security. Estimates are that at least half of the refugees are children.

For much of these last four years, the international community has hardly taken notice of the conflict or chaos, to say nothing of working toward consensus on what ought to be done for the growing number of people forced to flee for their lives because of this inaction. Although the U.N. made an appeal for $8.4 billion in aid to address this crisis at the end of 2014, there was not enough political will to fund even half this amount. Read More

Millennials, the Whole Life Approach, and the Democratic Party

On Monday, I spoke at the 2015 Democratic Revival at the National Press Club. Here are my prepared remarks:

My position on abortion is progressive not conservative. I believe in robust government action to protect the lives of unborn children, as I refuse to draw a distinction between humans and persons. All humans are persons. To depersonalize or dehumanize others is the first step to stripping them of their innate dignity and worth in order to take away their fundamental human rights. The gravest injustices of history follow this script, and social justice is achieved by resisting these efforts and defending the vulnerable—the poor, the disabled, the sick, the enslaved, the disenfranchised, the repressed, and those who have not yet been born.

The solution to abortion, as expressed in the #chooseboth campaign, is a comprehensive approach that secures legal protection for unborn life, while addressing the root causes of abortion, particularly the economic vulnerability faced by many pregnant women and families struggling to make ends meet who feel unable to choose life. Only a pro-woman, pro-child approach, which addresses crucial issues like healthcare, prenatal care, a living wage, childcare, and family leave can lead to the abolition of abortion. Restrictions on abortion are necessary and just, but they will never be enough. We need a communitarian approach that reflects a progressive commitment to government action and social justice if we want to build a successful culture of life. Read More

Prada or Nada?: 3 Simple Fashion Tips from Pope Francis

This post by Henry Longbottom, SJ is also featured on The Jesuit Post.

A few weeks back, we heard of Papa Francesco’s escape from the confines of Vatican City to pay a visit to — of all places — his opticians. The tourists and journalists went wild, and the world applauded another instance of this humble Holy Father who loves to do the ordinary things in life. What struck me as particularly poignant, though, was his insistence that the optician only replace the lenses; he wanted to keep the frames.  Why?  Presumably because there was nothing wrong with them; they were well made, he had chosen them carefully, and rather liked them.  In other words, he eschews the type of anxious consumerism that Laudato Si identifies as leading people to “get caught up in a whirlwind of needless buying and spending” [203].

At this juncture I should make a small confession.  I love consuming.  My commendable inquisitive nature is matched by my less virtuous acquisitive habits.  And on a recent trip to the Italian city of Milan, I was reminded that I belong to a rare breed of contemporary Jesuit.  I am fascinated by the world of fashion. Read More

The Power of Being Named

Like many Catholics, I have family on my mind nowadays. These are exciting times with the Pope’s recent trip to the U.S. in the run-up to next month’s Synod on the Family. With its focus on family issues—like cohabitation, contraception, same sex marriage, divorce, and annulment—last year’s synod stirred up plenty of emotions and controversy. Francis’ openness to discussion and to hearing a variety of viewpoints has given many hope that the Church might soon change its approach to some of these issues, an approach that some people consider backwards or even bigoted. Indeed, the Pope’s recent streamlining of the annulment process stands as proof that this pontiff is genuinely intent on changing certain aspects of how the church operates. Still, others have been frustrated by the slow pace at which these changes are occurring and by the Pope’s insistence that Church doctrine—on marriage, for example—cannot and will not change. With so much at stake, Vatican experts like John Allen project that next month’s synod will involve no less controversy than the last.

As exciting as all this is, for my wife and me, the excitement about the upcoming synod and the Pope’s time on American soil pales in comparison with the excitement surrounding the anticipated arrival of our first child in November. Over the years, we have had many impassioned conversations about a variety of Church teachings on family matters, but these days our minds are consumed by one thought—very soon we will have a family of our own. Read More