1. House votes to undo Obama rule protecting Planned Parenthood funds.
By Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, February 17, 2017, Pg. A2
The House voted on Thursday to overturn a rule forbidding states from divesting taxpayer dollars from Planned Parenthood in what was President Obama’s parting gift to the nation’s largest abortion provider.
Issued by the Department of Health and Human Services shortly before Mr. Obama left office, the rule prohibited states from considering whether a clinic performs abortions in distributing Title X dollars, which are earmarked for family planning services.
The House voted 229 to 188 to overturn the rule in an effort spearheaded by Rep. Diane Black, Tennessee Republican, and Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa Republican.
Pro-choice groups have argued that divesting taxpayer dollars from Planned Parenthood and reallocating them toward clinics that do not perform abortions will hurt women’s health.
But pointing to Planned Parenthood’s shoddy record on providing women’s health care, Grazie Pozo Christie, a policy adviser for The Catholic Association, said the rule will actually help women receive services ranging from cancer screenings to prenatal care.
”We have seen that a needy woman is not able to get real care at Planned Parenthood,” Ms. Christie said in a statement. “The abortion giant offers no mammograms, no prenatal care, and ultrasounds only if the woman is there to get an abortion. Passing this resolution lets states fund the health clinics that are true lifelines for poor women.”
2. USCCB leaders urge Trump to protect religious liberty.
By Catholic News Service, February 16, 2017, 3:42 PM
Catholic Church leaders in a Feb. 16 statement said they were encouraged that President Donald Trump may be considering an executive order to protect religious freedom and said they would be grateful if he would move forward with the pledge that his administration would “do everything in its power to defend and protect religious liberty.”
“As Christians, our goal is to live and serve others as the Gospel asks. President Trump can ensure that we are not forced from the public square,” said the statement from committee chairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The statement was jointly issued by: New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty; and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.
3. Vatican inequality talks start in California farm heartland.
By Janie Har, Associated Press, February 17, 2017, 1:12 AM
Pope Francis said that “no people is criminal and no religion is terrorist” in a welcome letter read aloud at a conference on economic inequality that opened Thursday in the small farming city in California.
The gathering of Catholic clergy and activists in Modesto, California, came as the world grapples with the impact of President Donald Trump’s efforts to change U.S. immigration policy.
The pope said that he was not speaking of anyone in particular in pointing out people who scapegoat, but of a social and political process that flourishes around the world.
Modesto lies in California’s agricultural heartland where Latino immigrants represent a significant part of the labor force for the area’s farmers. It’s the first time that the event will be held in the United States after Pope Francis nearly three years ago launched global meetings to explore the “economy of exclusion.”
The conference was scheduled before the U.S. presidential election and before the Trump administration issued its ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
4. Stop Hurling Insults and Listen, Pope Francis Tells Politicians.
By Reuters, February 17, 2017, 7:24 AM
Politicians should lower the volume of their debates and stop insulting each other, Pope Francis said on Friday, adding that leaders should be open to dialogue with perceived enemies or risk sowing the seeds of war.
“Insulting has become normal,” he said in a 45-minute-long improvised talk to university students in Rome. “We need to lower the volume a bit and we need to talk less and listen more.”
Francis, the son of Italian migrants to Argentina, also warned against anti-immigrant movements and urged that newcomers be treated “as human brothers and sisters”.
“Migrations are not a danger. They are a challenge for growth,” he said, adding it was important to integrate immigrants into host countries so they keep their traditions while learning new ones in a process of mutual enrichment.