Between Pope and President, a Disconnect on Religious Freedom

09/23/2015 Comments (4)

Pope Francis, in his first message on U.S. soil, introduced several subjects during his speech at the White House welcome ceremony:

  • Immigration reform,
  • "Support [for the] institutions of marriage and the family at a critical moment in the history of our civilization," 
  • "Fidelity to the nation's founding principles," including the defense of religious liberty "from everything that would threaten or compromise it."
  • "Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation." 

We can depend on the media to keep immigration reform and climate change front and center. Indeed, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal both posted headlines that narrowed the...READ MORE

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Pelosi, Biden Say They're Pro-Abortion and Pro-Church

09/22/2015 Comments (22)

“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.

Pelosi does not explain how she conducted her survey of Catholic opinion, nor did the Times' reporter request a spreadsheet or stats backing her peculiar assertion. But it is worth noting here that Pelosi departs from Catholic teaching on other matters. For example, she endorses ...READ MORE

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Peter Steinfels and Mark Regnerus Tackle Contraception Debate

09/21/2015 Comments (30)

Like a bitter child nursing an old grievance against a parent well into adulthood, progressive Catholics cling to the belief that Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae damaged the moral credibility of the Church. Indeed, they blame the controversial papal letter for the faithful's subsequent lack of support for other teachings that deal with abortion, same-sex relationships and premarital sex.

"Nothing has divided the church more than its prohibition against contraception, even among married couples," writes Peter Steinfels in a Sept. 11 op-ed in the Washington Post.

The author of A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America, Steinfels is the former religion...READ MORE

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Vatican Pushes Back on Guest List for White House Welcome to Pope

09/18/2015 Comments (42)

Pope Francis has provided vital political leverage for President Obama’s controversial decisions to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba and to negotiate the Iran nuclear deal.

The pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si, which calls for the faithful and all people of good well to show respect for both nature and the most vulnerable people in our midst, has also lifted the president’s climate-change boat. There are also strong papal stands on immigration issues and income inequality.

Obama will have a chance to show his appreciation when he greets Pope Francis at a Sept. 23 welcome ceremony organized by the White House. And guess who’s coming?

There’s Gene Robinson — the first openly gay...READ MORE

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New 'Fast-Track Annulments' May Be Rarer Than Expected

09/16/2015 Comments (3)

Dioceses across the United States have been bombarded with questions about the annulment news from the Rome.  

In short order, the Diocese of Madison, Wis. has already released a very timely document (Frequently Asked Questions Re: Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesusthat should prove helpful to Catholics seeking an annulment and Church leaders concerned about setting realistic expectations. Naturally, other dioceses will be issuing their own guidance that may well conflict with aspects of this document.

Here's how the diocese handles the so-called 'fast-track annulment process' that has stirred up a furor among some canonists, but also generated excitement among couples hoping to circumvent what...READ MORE

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Will Gov. Jerry Brown Legalize Assisted Suicide in California?

09/15/2015 Comments (25)

Will Jerry Brown, the famously idiosyncratic governor of the Golden State, sign or veto the assisted suicide bill passed by the  state legislature on Sept. 11?

Brown has not signaled his position on the issue. But he has criticized the legislature's end run around the normal process for vetting and debating legislation -- especially a bill that will mark a radical break with how California physicians have approached end of life care.

The bill's opponents hope Brown will take a dim view of the legislature's decision to set aside  a critical discussion about a looming problem with healthcare for the poor in order to fasttrack an assisted suicide bill -- not the most reassuring message to...READ MORE

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Catholic Monk Meets Drone on a Sunday Afternoon

09/06/2015 Comments (9)

Brother Joseph on his wind turbine at Portsmouth Abbey School in Rhode Island (Photo by Jez Coulson)

A late-August encounter between a camera-armed drone and a man sunbathing on a towering wind turbine drew millions of viewers to the YouTube video and stirred debate about the privacy issues raised by the cool but intrusive flying gadgets. 

In the video, the drone’s camera pans a portion of Rhode Island’s glorious coastline before it moves in to examine the turbine tower, and then draws near to the peaceful figure gazing at the verdant landscape bordered by the  sea. 

Strikingly, the sunbather seems unbothered by the intrusion and happy to share the experience of a peaceful Sunday afternoon  

What’s the secret to his generous spirit and equanimity? Maybe the fact that he’s a Benedictine...READ MORE

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Jail for Ky. Clerk: "God's Moral Law Convicts Me and Conflicts With My Duties"

09/03/2015 Comments (38)

Fondazione Cariplo [CC BY-SA 3.0 (

Today, U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to be placed in federal custody until she agrees to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Judge Bunning's decision followed Davis' failure to secure an emergency injunction from the U.S.  Supreme Court.

According to USA Today, "The judge said that fines were not enough to force her to comply with his previous order to provide the paperwork to all couples and allowing her to defy the order would create a 'ripple effect.'"

"Her good-faith belief is simply not a viable defense," Bunning said. "Oaths mean things."

He said his ruling applied to two other Kentucky clerks who have also refused to issue...READ MORE

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About Joan Desmond

Joan Desmond
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Joan Frawley Desmond, is the Register’s senior editor. She is an award-winning journalist widely published in Catholic, ecumenical and secular media. A graduate of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies of Marriage and Family, she lives with her family in California..