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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Zero Hour for Teacher Contract Battle at San Francisco Catholic High Schools

08/19/2015 Comments (34)

San Francisco seen through the Golden Gate Bridge, by Daniel Schwen [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

This week, the protracted teacher contract battle that has roiled the Archdiocese of San Francisco will reach a turning point. By Aug. 20, the 300-plus teachers at the four Catholic high schools under the direct jurisdiction of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco will have registered their support or opposition to the contract hammered out over the past seven months, amid sidewalk protests, petition campaigns and a full-page newspaper ad that called on Pope Francis to remove the archbishop.

Negotiations between the local church and representatives of an American Federation of Teachers local have resulted in a slew of concessions won by the union.

It secured the removal...READ MORE

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People for the Ethical Treatment of People

08/09/2015 Comments (22)

Cecil the lion at Hwange National Park in 2010. By Daughter#3 [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

The mainstream media's strikingly different response to the killing of Cecil the lion and the undercover videos that appear to show Planned Parenthood's trafficking in fetal body parts highlights the challenge the pro-life movement continues to face.

But here's a glimmer of optimism from Mary Eberstadt, who urges pro-life activists to grab the opportunity to explain why Cecil the Lion should inspire Americans to think more deeply about the treatment of human animals in abortion clinics, where they are killed and dismembered, and sold for research.

In National Review's upcoming print issue, Eberstadt writes:

To point out the obvious similarities between pictures of callously destroyed...READ MORE

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George Weigel and Cardinal Schönborn Offer Hopes and Predictions for the Synod

08/01/2015 Comments (12)

With the ordinary synod just weeks away, the California-based Napa Institute invited Cardinal Christoph Schönborn and author George Weigel to share their thoughts about this much-anticipated event in the life of the universal Church.

While the public conversation between the Austrian cardinal, who led the vast effort to draft the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Weigel covered other matters, their thoughts regarding the synod were especially fascinating.

Here’s an edited transcript of their exchange:

Cardinal Schönborn: I am confident about this synod, but I think we all have to pray. The main importance of this synod, for me, is the fact that it is on marriage and family. Pope...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..