Cardinal O'Malley on The Francis Factor

03/20/2014 Comments (24)

Pope Francis made his first appearance on the world stage shortly after his election, when he stood gravely on the balcony and stared out at the vast crowd of well wishers in St. Peter's Square. He said, "Good evening," and then stunned his audience when he said, "pray for me."

He turned down the papal apartments, and booked a permanent room in the Vatican residence where he could rub elbows with the staff and visitors from near and far.

He routinely offers spiritual counsel and prayers via the telephone, sends alms to the poor, and  goes around the Vatican turning off lights. 

Last year, during Holy Thursday, he visited prisoners in a local detention center, and washed the feel of a...READ MORE

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Arizona Governor Brewer Vetoes Religious Freedom Bill Widely Attacked as "Anti-Gay"

Media headlines described the bill, SB1062, as "allowing denial of service to gays," but a group of top legal scholars said it did no such thing.

02/26/2014 Comments (81)

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed a religious freedom bill that had been widely characterized in the media as "anti-gay."

Over the past week, the governor's office reportedly received thousands of calls related to the bill, which news paper headlines described as a license for businesses to discrimination against persons with same-sex attraction.

During a brief press conference, Brewer said that the bill "does not address a specific or pressing concern" and that she had other legislative priorities.

"I have not heard of one example in Arizona where business owners' religious liberty has been violated," Brewer said. "The bill is broadly worded, and could result in unintended and...READ MORE

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Downton Abbey Spotlights Abortion as Character Makes an Examination of Conscience

SPOILER ALERT: This post discusses the Feb. 9 episode of Season Four.

02/12/2014 Comments (18)

My husband and I have embarked on a new family tradition: we watch Downton Abbey every Sunday evening unless we have more important plans. 

Aside from the costumes and the setting, we love the way the show's creators use seemingly ordinary moments of domestic life to illuminate deeper truths about the healing power of virtues like charity and justice.

Recently, when the plot turned to a positive pregnancy test for Lady Edith, the unmarried daughter who has fallen in love with a married man who has disappeared during a trip to Germany, I wondered how the show would address her problem.

Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey is a Catholic, but the show has never served as a...READ MORE

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Legal Counsel for Pro-LIfe Groups Challenges Obama Comments on IRS Scandal

02/06/2014 Comments (21)

Just before the start of the Super Bowl, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly conducted a live 10-minute interview with President Obama.

Topics covered included allegations accusing the Internal Revenue Service of targeting and harassing conservative groups that had applied for tax-exempt status. When pressed on the IRS issue, Obama acknowledged soome “bone-headed decisions,” but dismissed O’Reilly’s question about whether the controversy signaled a broader problem of “corruption” at a powerful government agency.

O'REILLY:  You're saying no corruption?


O'REILLY:  None?


OBAMA:  There were some -- there were some bone-headed decisions...

O'REILLY:  Bone-headed decisions...


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'War on Women' Will Strike Again: Have We Learned Anything?

Charles Krauthammer offers strategic advice that will ignite further debate.

01/31/2014 Comments (62)

Washington is gearing up for another round of the "war on women," as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle filed briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments on Hobby Lobby's legal challenge to the HHS mandate in March.

The last time around, in 2012,  partisan forces effectively re-framed opposition to both the contraception mandate and abortion as a "war on women." Will that strategy work again, or will those who view the mandate as a threat to religious freedom win this round?  

In a  column today in the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer offered his strategy for diffusing the hysteria and winning the debate, with the mid-term elections looming ahead.  


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Pope Francis to Notre Dame: Defend Religious Freedom

In the wake of Notre Dame's announcement that it would comply with the HHS mandate, the pontiff calls for "unambiguous testimony" to "Catholic identity."

01/30/2014 Comments (2)

We read a lot about how Pope FRancis wants to back off from hot-buttom topics like abortionand religouis freedom. But you wouldn't guess that from the pope's remarks during a Jan.30 meeting with the University of Notre Dame's president and members of the board of trustees.

The meeting took place about a month after the university drew unwelcome headlines when it announced it would comply with the HHS contracepiton mandate, after a court denied its petition to secure an 11th hour reprieve. Guess the news reached the Vatican, because the pope used the occasion to offer  pointed remarks about the need for Catholic universities to defend religious freedom and to embrace, rather than...READ MORE

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Not Part of the Script—Pope Francis' Critique of Abortion Ignored, Spun by Media

01/15/2014 Comments (29)

[UPDATE: Here's an interesting analysis of the media's treatment of Pope Francis' remark regarding persons with same-sex attraction: "Who am I to judge?"

The mainstream media has devoted much time to advancing a specific narrative of Pope Francis. He thinks Catholic leaders are "obsessed" with hot button issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. He believes that capitalism has failed to help the poor. The pope did indeed say such things, but he is not the only pope to do so, and he has said much more besides, which allows us to place his remarks in context. 

Nevertheless, the media drumbeat continues.

Last week, when I began to research a brewing controversy in Seattle, provoked...READ MORE

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HHS Contraception Mandate: Notre Dame "Pulls the Trigger"?

Notre Dame has notified faculty and employees that they will be contacted by a third-party administrator, following the university's failure to obtain a preliminary injunction.

01/02/2014 Comments (124)

Today, Notre Dame reportedly alerted faculty and employees that a third party administrator would be in touch to outline provisions of the HHS contraception mandate. Apparently, co-pay free contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacient drugs and devices will now be available in the employee health plan for "Our Lady's University."  Here's an update on Bench Memos from Gerard Bradley, a professor of law at Notre Dame:

Two days ago I reported here that the Seventh Circuit denied Notre Dame’s motion for a stay of enforcement, pending appeal of the District judge’s decision to force the university to comply with the “contraception” mandate starting with the new health plan year. That...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..