Say what? Pope Francis is making headlines again today after several Jesuit magazines simultaneously published an interview in which the pontiff talked about the Roman Catholic Church’s emphasis on orthodoxy and morality. Those who advocate for a relaxing of Church doctrine applauded the comments as a sign Francis wants to move away from traditional fights against same-sex marriage and abortion. But that’s not what he really said: “It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. We have to find a new balance, otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the gospel.” In other words, to protect its moral teachings, the Church must focus, first and foremost, on people. Sounds a lot like what Jesus said.
Symbolic vote. House Republicans voted together this morning to pass a stopgap spending bill that will keep the government solvent until mid-December while stripping Obamacare of its funding. The measure has no chance of surviving in the Senate, or making it past President Barack Obama, who has promised to veto any spending bill that targets his healthcare reform package. After today’s symbolic vote, House members must decide whether to pass a spending bill that doesn’t penalize Obamacare or force a government shutdown. The government’s spending authorization will run out at the end of this month.
Headed for the high court. The Obama administration has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court a lower court’s decision to give craft store chain Hobby Lobby a temporary reprieve from Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate. The appeals court granted the reprieve while the Green family, which owns the company, and the government battle over the requirement that businesses provide health insurance coverage to employees for contraceptive and abortifacient drugs. Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom also appealed a contraceptive mandate case to the nation’s high court yesterday on behalf of a Pennsylvania woodworking company. The conflicting appeals court decisions in the two cases make it more likely the Supreme Court will take them both under consideration. Another 65 challenges to the mandate are pending in lower courts across the country.
Baby steps. Syrian officials have started sending information about the country’s chemical weapons stockpile to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Hague-based international watchdog. President Bashar al-Assad’s government had until Saturday to provide a list of all its weapons. OPCW officials hope to be on the ground and inspecting sites, by November. Despite the apparent success (so far) of the Russian-brokered deal to get Syria to give up its chemical weapons, skeptics in the United States and Europe say Assad is just stalling to stave off an American attack while his troops continue to battle rebel forces attempting to overthrow the government.