A FRIDAY PAPAL TWEET – POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR SEPTEMBER – VATICAN INSIDER HOSTS JESUIT ASTRONOMER, FR. CHRISTOPHER CORBALLY – SEEING IS BELIEVING, RIGHT? – THE CASE OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

A FRIDAY PAPAL TWEET: War is the mother of all poverty, a vast predator of lives and souls.

POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR SEPTEMBER

The Holy Father’s universal prayer intention for September is: “That opportunities for education and employment may increase for all young people.”

His intention for mission work and evangelization is: “That catechists may give witness by living in a way consistent with the faith they proclaim.”

VATICAN INSIDER HOSTS JESUIT ASTRONOMER, FR. CHRISTOPHER CORBALLY

There is a direct link between my vacation and my guest this week on the interview segment of Vatican Insider. Because of a very serendipitous meeting with an astronomer seated next to me on my flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, I discovered that the IAU – International Astronomical Union –was holding its general assembly in Honolulu and I imagined that the Vatican, a very respected authority in this field, would be present.

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That was indeed the case and I met up with Jesuit Father Christopher Corbally in the Hawaii Convention Center in week two of the IAU meeting. Fr. Corbally is an astronomer with the Vatican Observatory Research Group in Tucson, home to the famous VATT, Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope. Among other things, he is a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, the American Astronomical Society, and a member of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science.

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I had to do a crash course about the IAU before we met at the convention center, and hopefully made sense with my questions and his answers. So join us this weekend as we talk planets and stars and galaxies!

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As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

SEEING IS BELIEVING, RIGHT?

Here’s another riveting Francis moment!

Vatican Radio reported on Pope Francis’ visit Thursday afternoon to a Roman optician when he surprised a crowd of both locals and tourists as he stepped out of his Ford Focus on Rome’s tony Via del Babuino, not far from the ultra fashionable Spanihs Steps in the heart of Rome. The Pope was at the store to get his lenses for his glasses.

“I don’t want to change the frames,” he told the owner of the shop. “Just new lenses.”

Alessandro Spiezia, the owner of the optical shop, told The Associated Press he was supposed to go the Vatican on Wednesday, but the Pope’s secretary informed him Pope Francis wanted to instead go to his shop. Spiezia made the original pair of glasses for the Holy Father last year.

Pope Francis was in the shop for about 40 minutes, accoring to Vatican Radio, because Spiezia also gave him an eye exam.  While this was going on, a large crowd started gathering outside the shop to look at the Pope.

At the end of the encounter, Pope Francis made sure to settle his bill, saying “Please, Alessandro, let me pay what is owed.” He then got into his car, accompanied by a driver, and returned to the Vatican.

THE CASE OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

I got the following email today from the Becket Fund For Religious Liberty. It was entitled “Federal Judges Criticize Ruling Against Little Sisters of the Poor“Predict that “clearly and gravely wrong” decision “will not long survive” 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an almost unprecedented move, five federal judges issued an opinion sharply criticizing their court’s refusal to correct its recent decision that would force the Little Sisters of the Poor to assist the federal government with its contraception distribution scheme.

The opinion calls the decision against the Little Sisters “clearly and gravely wrong—on an issue that has little to do with contraception and a great deal to do with religious liberty.” The five judges criticized the decision of their colleagues for refusing to accept the Little Sisters’ sincere beliefs, warning that, “it is not the job of the judiciary to tell people what their religious beliefs are.”

“Yesterday’s opinion offers important support to the Little Sisters’ request that the Supreme Court hear their case,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead counsel for the Little Sisters of the Poor. “These judges understand that courts and bureaucrats should not be telling nuns what the Catholic faith requires.”

After a divided three-judge panel ruled against them, the Little Sisters promptly petitioned the Supreme Court to hear their case. Although the Little Sisters had not asked the entire Tenth Circuit to reconsider the panel’s opinion, the Tenth Circuit conducted a vote on its own initiative to determine whether the entire court should re-hear the case. When the court declined, the five judges issued their opinion explaining why the Little Sisters deserve protection (See video).

The opinion further criticizes the decision against the Little Sisters as reflecting a “dangerous approach to religious liberty.” The opinion noted that the reasoning of the court could be used to second-guess the religious beliefs of any faith, including religious minorities like Jews requesting a kosher diet.

But knowing that the Little Sisters and other religious ministries have already asked the Supreme Court to intervene, the five judges explained: “Fortunately, the doctrine of the panel majority will not long survive. It is contrary to all precedent concerning the free exercise of religion.”

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and a legal team including former Solicitor General and leading Supreme Court advocate Paul Clement filed the cert petition on behalf of the Little Sisters, their health benefits provider Christian Brothers, and the Baptist ministries GuideStone, Reaching Souls, and Truett-McConnell College.