1. No takers for D.C.’s law on ending life. 

By Fenit Nirappil, The Washington Post, April 11, 2018, Pg. B1

Nearly a year after the District enacted a law allowing terminally ill patients to end their lives — over the objections of congressional Republicans, religious groups and advocates for those with disabilities — not a single patient has used it.

And just two of the approximately 11,000 physicians licensed to practice in the District have registered to help patients exercise their rights under the law. Only one hospital has cleared doctors to participate.

“Even those who say go ahead and pass the law — they don’t want to participate in it,” said G. Kevin Donovan, the director of the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University Medical Center who opposed the law. “They want other people to do it for other patients. It’s very difficult for a physician to directly send their patients to death because everything in their training is to try and do what’s good for their patients.”

In the District, Sibley Memorial Hospital is the only hospital to publicly say its doctors may participate.

MedStar Georgetown and Providence, which are affiliated with the Catholic Church, oppose it. Kaiser Permanente and the rest of the MedStar network are crafting policies for their doctors, representatives said. Howard University Hospital has no policy, and representatives of George Washington University Hospital and the city-owned United Medical Center did not respond to requests for comment.


2. Mass attendance in U.S. down in recent years, Gallup poll finds. 

By Catholic News Agency, April 11, 2018

Catholic pews in the U.S. are emptying, according to data from a recent Gallup survey, which showed that Mass attendance is down to a 39 percent weekly average over the past 10 years.

From 2005-2008, Catholics reported attending Mass on a 45 percent average within seven days, but it has since dropped 6 percent from 2014-2017.

The average Mass attendance in 1955 was at 75 percent, which roughly consisted of all age groups. During this time period, around three in four Catholics had attended Mass within the past week.

But, that number is slowly changing, pointing to a historic shift in the Church, with some interesting percentages within the younger age groups.

The younger demographic – aged 21 to 29 – saw a slight rise in weekly Mass attendance from 2005-2008 at 29 percent. This then dropped in 2014-2017 to 25 percent.

This rise and drop among the younger demographic is mainly due to the fact that younger adults are more likely in recent years to identify with non-Christian religions across the board. In 2016, Gallup reported that one in five Americans are associated with no religious identity at all.

The Gallup study did note that the decline in weekly Mass attendance has shown that the overall proportion of Americans identifying as Catholic is “holding fairly steady,” which they attributed to the growth of the U.S. Hispanic population.


3. French President Macron to bishops: ‘Give us wisdom, not solutions’. 

By Claire Giangravè, Crux, April 11, 2018

As France tackles the same culture wars on immigration and bioethics pervasive across the West, the country’s young and charismatic leader told the country’s Catholic bishops Monday that while their wisdom is cherished, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will get the outcome they desire.

“We listen to [the voice of the Church] with interest, with respect, and we can even make our own many of its points. But this voice of the Church, we both know deep down cannot be ordering,” the French President Emmanuel Macron told bishops on Monday.

“It can therefore only be questioning,” Macron said.

In January, Macron launched the “Etats généraux de la bioéthique” – the “Estates General of Bioethics” to engage in a six-moth debate concerning the intersection between society and technology. Among the most contested issues are the possibility of legalizing euthanasia, which is currently illegal, and allowing in-vitro fertilization for single women and lesbian couples.

In the spirit of promoting dialogue, France’s National Ethics Advisory Committee began a consultation with citizens, organizations and religious institutions in order to prepare a final document to be presented to the French parliament to aid in their deliberation.

In response, the French bishops published on their site a series of dossiers presenting the Catholic perspective, stressing the importance of children being brought up with fathers and the need to increase palliative care for patients.

Also, 118 French bishops signed a declaration titled “End of life: Yes to the urgency of Fraternity,” which was presented in Lourdes on March 22 during the course of their plenary assembly.

In line with Pope Francis’s new apostolic exhortation on holiness, Gaudete et Exsultate, which addresses the need to have an all-encompassing concern for life from the unborn to the refugee, Pontier told Macron in his speech that it’s essential to welcome the many immigrants and refugees pouring into the country.

Recently, the French president has promoted a controversial new law on immigration, which tries to apply more efficiency to asylum applications while at the same time enforcing stronger penalties for undocumented immigrants. The law has been cheered by many on the right in the country, while many on the left have seen it as a betrayal.

France has also been the scene of several terrorist attacks over the past decade, which has fueled anti-Muslim rhetoric. On March 24, a lieutenant and Catholic convert, Arnaud Jean-Georges Beltrame, exchanged places with a hostage of a terrorist attack in Trèbes, France, where he was shot and stabbed to death by his captors.


4. In multiple ways, Pope Francis lays out a spirituality of the ordinary. 

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, April 11, 2018

Pope Francis on Monday, with his new apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, laid out a beguiling vision of holiness not as matter of heroic achievement or extraordinary mystical experience, but rather something worked out in the concrete details of everyday life – like a loving parent raising a child, or “small gestures” and sacrifices such as deciding not to pass on gossip.

Ultimately, as Francis sees it, becoming saints is a matter of showing the same mercy to others that God shows to humanity. Mercy, to use the phrase Francis employed in his bull establishing a special jubilee in 2016, is “the beating heart of the Gospel.”

It’s a message with potential resonance for people everywhere, including the very “seekers” and “nones” who have become the apple of the eye of the Church’s most ardent evangelists. The question is how to make sure it doesn’t all just remain words on paper, but actually begins to permeate and infuse the life of the Church at the retail level.

That, in a nutshell, is where the Missionaries of Mercy come in.

On Ash Wednesday in 2016, Pope Francis created and commissioned this new corps of priests, including both diocesan clergy and also priests from religious congregations. He didn’t conceive of the Missionaries of Mercy as a new order or movement, but rather as an informal network of priests who, within the pre-existing circumstances of their lives and ministries, would take on a special responsibility for becoming instruments of mercy.

From the beginning, Francis, in terms of his pastoral and political priorities, has been a pope of the little guy – the champion of the average person, the underdog, and the forgotten.

Taken in tandem with Gaudete et Exsultate, his messages to the Missionaries of Mercy on Tuesday suggest that now he’s also trying to lay out a spirituality for the little guy, a path to holiness both for the world and, in a special way, for his priests, which sees the ordinary as the key to it all.