Slatest PM: Pope Francis' Latest Surprise Comes in the Form of a Question

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 5 2013 4:16 PM

Slatest PM: Pope Francis' Latest Surprise Comes in the Form of a Question

Pope Francis
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican September 11, 2013.

Photo by Tony Gentile/Reuters

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Pope's Latest Surprise: NBC News: "Pope Francis is shaking things up again. The pontiff with a penchant for surprises is making new waves by launching a survey of his flock on issues facing modern families — from gay marriage to divorce. Very specific questions are being sent to parishes around the globe in preparation for next year's synod of bishops, a grassroots effort that experts say is unprecedented. ... Vatican watchers say Francis' polling attempt is extraordinary on two levels: first, because it seeks input from rank-and-file Roman Catholics and second, because it touches on issues that might have been considered off-limits in past papacies. ... The document sent to every nation's conference of bishops notes that the ancient church and its members are grappling with 'concerns which were unheard of until a few years ago.' Same-sex unions, mixed marriages, single-parent families and surrogate mothers are all mentioned in the prelude to a list of questions that get into the nitty-gritty of 21st century life."

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A Sampling of the Qs:

  • "What pastoral attention can be given to people who live in these types of [same-sex] union?"
  • "In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?"
  • "Do [the divorced and remarried] feel marginalized or suffer from the impossibility of receiving the sacraments?"
  • "In cases where non-practicing Catholics or declared non-believers request the celebration of marriage, describe how this pastoral challenge is dealt with."

It's Tuesday, November 5th, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest.

Election Day (For Some): Associated Press: "Big judgments about the direction of the country will have to wait on this Election Day as voters around the country express opinions on a couple of governors' races, several mayoral races and a host of local issues. Among the contests around the country Tuesday are governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey, mayoral races in some of America's biggest cities and whether to spend more than $217 million to revive Houston's shuttered Astrodome. From ballot initiatives to mayor's races, these off-year elections will shed virtually no light on how the American public feels about today's two biggest national debates - spending and health care. Those will have to be addressed in next fall's midterm elections." Full rundown of the races here.

Rand Talks 'Mistakes': New York Times: "Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who in recent weeks has had to explain a series of plagiarism charges, said in an interview Tuesday that he was being held to an unfair standard, but that there would be an office 'restructuring' to prevent future occurrences. Sitting in a conference room in his Senate office complex, Mr. Paul, drawn and clearly shaken by the plagiarism charges, offered a mix of contrition and defiance. He said that he was not certain whether it would affect his prospects should he decide to run for president in 2016 ... and he asserted that was being unfairly targeted. Acknowledging that his office had 'made mistakes,' he said he was putting a new system in place to ensure that all of his materials are properly footnoted and cited. ... 'What we are going to do from here forward, if it will make people leave me the hell alone, is we’re going to do them like college papers. ... We’re going to try to put out footnotes. We’re going to have them available. If people want to request the footnoted version, we’re going to have it available.'"

Speaking of 2016: Politico: Republican voters remain undecided over their favorite candidate for the 2016 presidential election while Democrats are rallying heavily behind Hillary Clinton as their front-runner, according to a new poll released Tuesday. The Public Policy Polling survey shows that Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul are the favorites among Republican voters, tied at 16 percent. But Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Jeb Bush closely follow at 15 and 14 percent, respectively, setting up a virtual tie between the four potential candidates. Things are much clearer among Democrats, with Hillary Clinton trouncing Vice President Joe Biden — the second place candidate — by 55 points. She receives 67 percent of Democratic support compared to his 12 percent.

The Syria Update We All Expected: Reuters: "The United States and Russia failed on Tuesday to agree a date for a Syrian peace conference, remaining divided over what role Iran might play in talks to end the civil war and over who would represent Syria's opposition. 'We were hoping that we would be in a position to announce a date today; unfortunately we are not,' said U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who chaired the meeting at the United Nations in Geneva. ... Brahimi conferred with senior U.S. and Russian officials before widening the talks to include representatives from Britain, France and China, as well as Syria's neighbors Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, and the Arab League. Brahimi said he would bring Russian and U.S. officials together again on November 25 and hoped that opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would have agreed on delegates to represent them some days before that."

Counting the Active Shooters: ABC News: "In recent days, police have responded to active shooter incidents at an airport, a shopping mall and a school, highlighting the increased frequency of rampage attacks and the diversity of locations in which they occur. While the violent crime rate is dropping nationally, the incidence of mass shooting events has sharply increased in the past recent years, according to a new study. 'We used to see an attack once every other month. Now we see more than one a month,' said J. Pete Blair, a criminal justice professor at Texas State University who recently completed a study of the phenomenon. He defined an active shooter as an incident 'in which someone goes somewhere with the intent or potential of committing mass murder, even if they don't kill anyone.' Before 2008, there were around seven events in any given year, according to Blair's research. In 2010 a record-breaking 21 incidents took place. Another 11 were recorded in 2011, and 15 in 2012, Blair said. ... Blair, whose research is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Texas Governor's Office, found that most mass shootings occurred where people spend most of their time – at work, and school. Forty percent of events occur at businesses, 30 percent at schools (from kindergarten to universities,) 18 percent occurred in outdoor public places and 12 percent occurred in other locations."

That's all for today. See you back here tomorrow. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds

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