by A. Joseph Lynch
I. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
FRANCIS ON CIVIL UNIONS: Pope Francis made headlines this week after apparently approving gay civil unions. Much of what has been said is getting debunked. For more, watch our explanation video from the Religion, Sex, and Politics YouTube channel.
VATICAN-CHINA DEAL RENEWED: The controversial deal reached between the Vatican and China has been renewed. While we at AoA have supported efforts between the Vatican and China to reach an agreement, we recognize that not everyone agrees. Here are two criticisms of Ostpolitik by George Weigel, one from this year and another from 2016. This what Dr. Pence said of the 2018 Vatican-China accord:
All bishops are now in communion with Rome. This will be one of the two most important achievements of the Francis papacy. Francis understands the importance of treating China as a nation and a great civilization. To understand China is to understand their great fear of disorder and their historical tendency to consider religious practice and loyalties as a source of rebellion. Of course the Pope's masterful diplomacy has been criticized by the individualistic writers of the "West". They know not of what they speak. This is an essential form of public fraternity which is a fruit of Christian brotherhood. People with no memory of the Taiping Rebellion and the bloody wars of the 20th century have no appreciation of the importance of representatives of nations and the Church making institutional agreements. May this serve as a template for agreements among Americans, Russians, and the Chinese as nations. The tired voices that criticize Pope Francis for enacting the "failed policies of Ostpolitik" do not understand that the initiatives of Pope John Paul II rested on the previous conciliatory work of OstPolitik and Vatican II. There is a similar cartoon history of how the US won the Cold War which downplays the significant contribution of Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski as well as the Nixon-Kissinger China opening that anti Communist conservatives bitterly opposed. From all the tired voices, the least reflective criticism comes from George Weigel who wrote a great biography of John Paul II. The great war against Satan is the war of ordered loves vs chaos. The Vatican-China accord is a huge step toward ordered love.
SPIRITUAL ILLITERACY? Bishop Grech of Malta has accused faithful Catholics of "spiritual illiteracy" for wanting to receive sacraments - especially the Eucharist - during the current pandemic lockdowns. Grech has argued that, "The Eucharist is not the only possibility that the Christian has to experience the mystery and to meet the Lord Jesus." It sounds like Grech might be the illiterate Catholic in this regard. True, Catholics can "meet Jesus" in other modes, but meeting Him in the Eucharist is the highest and most profound way in which the faithful on Earth can encounter the living Christ. There are sadly many illiterate Catholics in Europe and North America - but those who understand the reality of the Eucharist and the sacraments are among the Church's most literate believers.
II. PRESIDENT TRUMP AND AMERICA
THE FINAL DEBATE: President Trump and Joe Biden debated for a second and final time this week. The debate was much more controlled than their first outing. Trump hammered Biden on multiple fronts, and Biden seemed to be off his game from the start. Indeed it was Biden, not Trump, who brought up Giuliani and the emerging Biden scandals thanks to his son, Hunter. As the night wore on, Biden looked at his watch, echoing the moment when George HW Bush lost the 1992 debate doing the same thing. In the final moments of the debate, Biden inadvertently took Trump's baiting question regarding the oil industry by saying, “I would transition from the oil industry, yes." These words may have just cost Biden the election. In the wake of the debate, Trump raised a record $26 million. And better than money, Rasmussen released its daily tracking of presidential approval among likely black voters. As of yesterday, Trump is at a personal record of 46%.
BIDEN SCANDALS EMERGE: The October surprise has dropped on the Biden family as the contents of Hunter Biden's laptop begin to emerge. Images and text messages apparently reveal a depraved lifestyle by Joe's son, but particular focus has been placed on a shady business deal that Joe seemed to have via Hunter with China. We've been told that the most damaging evidence will be revealed tomorrow, so we expect more information to come. Tony Bobulinski, ex-business associate of the Biden's, made a public statement corroborating the China scandal and is being interviewed by the FBI. While it's still uncertain how this might impact the election, the "laptop from hell" will haunt Biden if he wins and may play a role in his eventual removal from office.
BIG TECH SCRUTINY: In the wake of Twitter and Facebook's attack on the NY Post's damning story about Biden family corruption, both social media giants have been called to testify before the Senate. Meanwhile Google has been hit with an antitrust case by AG Barr. Little will be accomplished before Election Day, but something must be done to regulate big tech if Republicans win next month. Big tech is clearly attempting to tip the balance in Biden's favor. Should we be surprised that the NY Post story has been locked down by Twitter and Facebook when Joe Biden has hired Jessica Hertz (a Facebook executive) and Carlos Monje (a Twitter executive)? Joe Biden seems to be the only American who can physically call Twitter or Facebook with his problems... and make them go away.
III. THE NATIONS
FRENCH TEACHER KILLED: A French history teacher was brutally decapitated by a Muslim (who bribed students to identify their teacher) after the teacher used Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Muhammad. Macron said that the teacher “embodied the Republic.” Others - including Church Militant - praised France for standing up to Islam by projecting Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Muhammad on a government building. What we must recognize is that these images are a deep form of blasphemy to Muslims the world over. Using free speech as an excuse to commit anti-religious, bigoted, blasphemy is not the appropriate use of free speech. The killings surrounding the cartoons was not justified - but neither is glorying in an assault on the religion's nearly two billion adherents.
ARMENIA-AZERI WAR: The fight between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues as Islamic Turkey supports their Islamic-Turkic cousins and Russia supports Armenia. Rumors swirl that Turkey has sent anti-Assad Syrian militants to help the Azeris while Armenia condemns them for civilian destruction - including an attack on a historic Armenian church. Here is a short video about the origins of the conflict from Caspian Report.
WAR WITH CHINA? A major arms deal between the US and Taiwan is threatening to bring war to the region. President Xi Jinping has instructed the military to prepare for war.
SUDAN-ISRAEL RELATIONS: Sudan has joined the UAE and Bahrain in normalized diplomatic ties with Israel and we are told several more Mideast states are preparing to follow suit. Although it it's been a remarkable achievement by President Trump, we fear the aim is to build a regional anti-Iran coalition rather than seek long term regional peace. If this is the case, the diplomatic accomplishments may be much more short term than we might think.