1. Court preserves access to abortion pill but tightens rules, By Paul J. Weber and Jessica Gresko, Associated Press, April 13, 2023, 6:50 AM A federal appeals court preserved access to the abortion pill mifepristone for now but reduced the period of pregnancy when the drug can be used and said it could not be dispensed by mail. The ruling late Wednesday temporarily narrowed a decision by a lower court judge in Texas that had completely blocked the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the nation’s most commonly used method of abortion. The Texas order unsettled abortion providers less than a year after the reversal of Roe v. Wade already dramatically curtailed abortion access. The case is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/2023/04/13/texas-abortion-pill-appeal/a7872bec-d9c2-11ed-aebd-3fd2ac4c460a_story.html__________________________________________________________ 2. Holy Land Christians say attacks rising in far-right Israel, By Isabel Debre, Associated Press, April 13, 2023, 2:41 AM The head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land has warned in an interview that the rise of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government has made life worse for Christians in the birthplace of Christianity. The influential Vatican-appointed Latin Patriarch, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, told The Associated Press that the region’s 2,000-year-old Christian community has come under increasing attack, with the most right-wing government in Israel’s history emboldening extremists who have harassed clergy and vandalized religious property at a quickening pace. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/04/13/christians-easter-attacks-netanyahu-jerusalem/2eef44a4-d9c6-11ed-aebd-3fd2ac4c460a_story.html__________________________________________________________ 3. Feds seek no jail time for vandal who defaced Catholic church, By Kerry Picket, The Washington Times, April 13, 2023, Pg. A2 Federal prosecutors have offered a no-jail plea deal to a vandal who admitted to defacing a Catholic church with profane graffiti, destroying a Virgin Mary statue, assaulting a church worker and resisting arrest. The Justice Department lawyers recommended three years probation for Maeve Nota, a 31-year-old transgender person who damaged the St. Louise Catholic Church in Bellevue, Washington. Nota attacked the church last year in response to the Supreme Court overturning the nationwide right to abortion, according to court records. Nota caused $100,000 worth of damage to the church, which included smashing a glass door to gain entry and spray-painting messages on the walls such as “f—- Catholics,” “rot in your fake hell,” “kid groomers,” and “woman haters.” Nota also sprayed paint into the face of a church worker.  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/apr/12/feds-want-no-jail-time-pro-abortion-vandal-who-def/__________________________________________________________ 4. Ending FDA’s ugly alliance with Big Abortion, Agency abandoned its responsibility to protect Americans’ health and well-being, By Erik Baptist, The Washington Times, April 13, 2023, Pg. B1, Opinion Last Friday, a federal district court in Texas ruled that the Food and Drug Administration overstepped its authority with its 2000 approval of chemical abortion drugs. The ruling is a welcome reminder that the FDA exists to serve the American people, not the abortion lobby. The lawsuit started in November when the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine challenged the FDA’s approval of the chemical abortion drug regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol. In the initial complaint, the alliance pointed out that the FDA didn’t do the required testing and ignored citizen petitions for more than 16 years, all while catering to abortion organizations such as Planned Parenthood and abortion drug manufacturers. Then in January, Danco Laboratories, the secretive offshore operation that manufactures chemical abortion drugs, filed to intervene in the case on behalf of the FDA.  The FDA has made it clear that it cares more about what’s good for the abortion industry than what’s good for everyday Americans. Now, finally, the federal judiciary is requiring the FDA to do its job: work for the health and well-being of Americans. Erik Baptist, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom (@ADF Legal), represents four doctors and four medical associations in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/apr/12/ending-fdas-ugly-alliance-with-big-abortion/__________________________________________________________ 5. Military hospital chided for shift in Catholic pastoral care, By David Crary, Associated Press, April 12, 2023, 4:34 PM The management of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center has drawn criticism from a prominent archbishop — and some members of Congress — by choosing not to renew a contract for Franciscan priests to provide pastoral care, and instead hiring a secular firm to oversee provision of those services going forward. For nearly two decades, priests from the Holy Name College Friary in Silver Spring, Maryland, had ministered to service members and veterans hospitalized at Walter Reed, a renowned medical facility in nearby Bethesda. Walter Reed said it notified the Franciscans in March that their contract would not be renewed, and that another bidder for the new contract had been selected — secular defense contractor Mack Global LLC. The medical center said it issued a cease-and-desist order on April 4 — in the midst of Holy Week — when Franciscans continued to provide pastoral services after their contract expired on March 31. The events dismayed Timothy Broglio, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and also is archbishop for the Military Services.  Eleven other members of Congress, including Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Roger Marshall of Kansas, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin inquiring why the contract was awarded to a secular contractor “which cannot fulfill the statement of work.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/2023/04/12/military-hospital-catholic-priests-walter-reed/b4b9a9e2-d964-11ed-aebd-3fd2ac4c460a_story.html__________________________________________________________ 6. Report shows 6% decrease in abortions in six months after Dobbs decision, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, April 12, 2023, 3:00 PM Legal abortions in the United States decreased by more than 6% in the first six months that followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning the nearly 50 years of abortion precedent set in Roe v. Wade, according to a report from the pro-abortion nonprofit Society of Family Planning.  The average number of monthly abortions decreased from 82,270 in the two months before Roe v. Wade was overturned to 77,073 in the six months that followed the decision. This is a monthly decrease of about 5,377 abortions, which is about 32,260 fewer abortions over six months. Although the number of abortions fluctuated month to month, every month that followed the Supreme Court decision had fewer abortions than April 2022. The national abortion rate fell from 13.2 per 1,000 women who are of reproductive age in April to 12.3 per 1,000 over the six-month period after the decision.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/254081/report-shows-6-percent-decrease-in-abortions-in-six-months-after-dobbs-decision__________________________________________________________ 7. Easter, Sacramental Mercy and the Eucharistic Revival, As we enter more deeply into the Eucharistic Revival, it’s important to grow in our awareness of the connection between the Eucharist and reconciliation, between devotion to Jesus’ sacramental self-giving and his sacramental mercy, By Father Roger Landry, National Catholic Register, April 13, 2023, Opinion Catholics can easily recall when Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist: during the first Mass, which began during the Last Supper with the words of consecration and finished the following afternoon when Jesus gave his body and poured out his blood for us on Calvary. Far fewer Catholics, however, know when Jesus instituted the sacrament of penance and reconciliation, which may be one of the reasons some today take it for granted. He did it on the evening he rose from the dead, which shows just how crucial Jesus considered it in his salvific mission and manifested what the sacrament of reconciliation is meant to bring about. Just as in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, whenever we return to the Father’s house through this sacrament, the Father rejoices because his “son who was dead has come to life again” (Luke 15:24). Jesus wanted explicitly to link our resurrection through this sacrament to his resurrection from the dead. Every reconciliation is meant to be a resurrection. So he walked through the closed doors of the room where the 10 apostles were huddled together. He first words were “Peace be with you.” He had become incarnate to establish the definitive peace treaty between God and the human race through the forgiveness of our sins, and he was about to commission the apostles to continue this very mission.  These two sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist are intrinsically related. Just as a loving mother cleans and feeds a child, so God through these sacraments wipes us clean of our sins and fills us with supernatural nourishment.  As we live the novena and Divine Mercy Sunday during the Eucharistic Revival, it is a great time for us to recognize the intrinsic connection between the two sacramental floodgates of confession and the Holy Eucharist and grow in gratitude and love for Jesus in both. Father Roger Landry, Catholic chaplain at Columbia University, is ecclesiastical assistant to Aid to the Church in Need USA. Father Landry, a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, has been appointed by the U.S. bishops a “National Eucharistic Preacher.” https://www.ncregister.com/commentaries/easter-sacramental-mercy-and-the-eucharistic-revival

__________________________________________________________ 8. They’re Back!, By George Weigel, First Things, April 12, 2023, Opinion As the estimable Larry Chapp recently put it on his blog, Gaudium et Spes 22, “the deepest, most important, most contentious, most divisive, and most destructive debates [after Vatican II] surrounded moral theology, especially after Humanae Vitae and the massive dissent from it that followed.” Dr. Chapp also notes that you had to have lived through those debates to grasp, today, their volatility. For the dissenting theologians (and the bishops who tacitly or overtly supported them) were gobsmacked by Pope Paul VI’s re-affirmation of the Church’s long-standing ban on artificial means of contraception—and even more so by the moral reasoning by which he reached his decision. For the “birth control debate” during and after Vatican II was never just about the morally acceptable means of exercising the moral responsibility to regulate fertility. It was also about the theological guild’s determination to enshrine the theory known as “proportionalism” as the Church’s official moral theology. Dr. Chapp again: [“]“[P]roportionalism” . . . taught that there can be no absolute moral norms since moral actions are largely determined . . . by the concrete circumstances in the life of the person committing the act . . . [which were] almost always . . . fraught with the ambiguity of “difficult and mitigating” circumstances. It is a bit of a caricature, but for the sake of a useful shorthand . . . proportionalism is a subspecies (in Catholic drag) of situation ethics.[”] How did otherwise intelligent people come to the absurd conclusion that there are no absolute moral norms that might not bend before “difficult and mitigating” circumstances? (What about murder, rape, and torturing children?) That’s a long story, involving the Sage of Königsberg, Immanuel Kant, and the Edinburgh philosopher David Hume.’  The Catholic debate over proportionalism ought to have been settled by two of John Paul II’s encyclicals. In 1993, Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth) rejected proportionalism as a legitimate Catholic method of doing moral theology by authoritatively teaching that there are, in fact, intrinsically evil acts that are absolutely forbidden morally. Two years later, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) illustrated that point by authoritatively teaching that the willful taking of innocent human life, abortion, and euthanasia are always gravely evil, irrespective of difficult and complicating circumstances.  But the theologians’ guild never conceded defeat and is now promoting proportionalism in, of all places, Roman universities. Thus in May 2022, Fr. Julio Martinez, S.J., gave a lecture at the Pontifical Gregorian University (a hotbed of proportionalist thinking during the post-conciliar debates); there, he charged that Veritatis Splendor had tied knots (his phrase) in Catholic moral theology, completing a process of knot-tying that had begun with Humanae Vitae, which did not “discern and consider the circumstances [of] . . . marriage and family life . . . in an accurate way.” Fr. Martinez also complained that Veritatis Splendor was ill-advised in insisting that the Church’s magisterium has the responsibility of “teaching morals in a very precise and clear way.” The good news was that Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia had “introduced discernment” (formerly a method of spiritual direction) into the Church’s approach to the ethics of human love in “the concrete circumstances of marriage and family life,” which is “a really new thing in moral theology.” Whether or not that is what Amoris Laetitia did (or intended to do), Fr. Martinez was endorsing proportionalism as a superior method of moral reasoning that would “untie the knots” created by Humanae Vitae and Veritatis Splendor—irrespective of the latter’s authoritative rejection of proportionalism’s bottom-line claim that there are no absolute moral norms because there are no intrinsically evil acts. Cue George Orwell: “One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.” Proportionalism’s return has had effects beyond the theologians’ guild. It has played an influential role in the German apostasy and in the commentary of various bishops on LGBT issues. The great Dominican moral theologian Servais Pinckaers once wrote that moral theology is “the meeting place of the Church’s theory and practice, thought and life.” So these are not just games intellectuals play. Which is why this degradation of moral theology, and its effects, will not go unremarked in the next papal conclave.        George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington, D.C.’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2023/04/theyre-back__________________________________________________________

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