In today's Catholic Daily Roundup, top stories include Secretary Kerry's historic visit to Cuba, Pope Francis' recommendation to engaged couples, and a young Jorge Bergoglio's aspirations before the priesthood.

"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty" (Mahatma Ghandi)

Today's Reading: “I gave you a land that you had not tilled and cities that you had not built, to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant." (Joshua 24:13)

In the News:

  • Secretary of State John F. Kerry opened a history-making visit to Cuba on Friday to lead ceremonies to raise the American flag at the U.S. Embassy for the first time in more than 50 years. In a day scripted with sweeping symbolism, Kerry was also scheduled to meet a broad range of envoys from the top leaders to political activists who hope the new openings with Washington will offer more room for opposition voices on the island.
  • Presidential candidates are converging on the Iowa State Fair this weekend and Joe Biden is on vacation. As August drags on, he is is sill considering a late White House run, making a select few phone calls to supporters as they consider how he could make a late entrance to the presidential race. The calls don't focus on a Biden 2016 run - someone who spoke with the vice president this week said the conversation focused on his family after his eldest son's death earlier this summer.
  • After months of dealing with the broadly held public view that the Iraq War was a mistake and a continual unwillingness to rehash and criticize his brother’s record, Jeb Bush has settled on a strategy: unapologetically arguing that the war, however misconceived, brought about an opportunity for a more stable Middle East, one that the current Democratic administration squandered. He again sought to cast blame on the Obama administration for its failure to achieve a “fragile but secure” peace in the region that has been overrun by ISIS militants.

Pope Francis and church news:

  • At Pope Francis' weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, the Pope urged engaged couples not to rush into marriage. He said that couples who are seeking to marry, even those who have lived together, should value their engagement period as a time to grow in mature love and in profound knowledge of each other. He even gave engaged couples a reading assignment; Alessandro Manzoni's classic novel The Betrothed, which is the story of a couple who remains faithful to each other throughout their engagement despite much hardship.
  • Pope Francis continues to inspire hope in the LGBT community. While he has emphatically emphasized heterosexual unions as essential to child rearing, he also famously uttered the words "who am I to judge?" when asked about the activities of a celibate and homosexual priest. This has provided hope for American Catholics in the LGBTQ community, especially in the wake of so many individuals being dismissed from their church positions based solely for their orientation.
  • According to Pope Francis' nephew, the Pontiff had no ambitions for the Papacy, but accepted only in response to the will of the Cardinals. Similarly, even the Priesthood seems to have been a matter of spiritual serendipity: on the day he was meant to declare his intentions for his girlfriend, he passed a Cathedral and realized his "true love was for God."

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