1. Vatican reportedly rejects German bishops’ proposal for intercommunion of spouses.

By Catholic News Agency, April 19, 2018

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has reportedly rejected a planned proposal by the German bishops’ conference to publish guidelines permitting non-Catholic spouses of Catholics to receive the Eucharist in some limited circumstances.

Austrian news site kath.net has reported that Vatican sources say the CDF, with papal approval, has suspended the German bishops’ proposal, and sources close to the congregation have confirmed this to CNA.

It is not clear whether the Vatican has asked the bishops’ conference to modify the contents of the draft guidelines, whether they have suspended the development of a draft while the matter is considered further, or whether it has been entirely rejected.

In February, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising announced that the German bishops’ conference would publish a pastoral handout for married couples that allows Protestant spouses of Catholics “in individual cases” and “under certain conditions” to receive Holy Communion, provided they “affirm the Catholic faith in the Eucharist.”


2. New Jersey Supreme Court rules churches ineligible for renovation grants. 

By Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, April 19, 2018, Pg. A6

The New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously ruled Wednesday that it’s a violation of the state constitution to award historic preservation grants to houses of worship.

The 7-0 decision reversed a lower court ruling that said church involvement in the program was permissible because the government used “neutral criteria” to determine grant recipients.

Diana Verm, an attorney for the nonprofit Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed an amicus brief in the case, said Wednesday’s ruling goes against last year’s Trinity Lutheran v. Comer decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states can’t bar religious institutions from participating in government aid programs.


3. As nuns lead fight against trafficking, governments say they’re listening. 

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, April 19, 2018

Though a sprawling network of Catholic activists, usually featuring determined members of women’s religious orders, are helping to lead today’s social and humanitarian crusade against human trafficking and modern-day slavery, they know they need the unique resources and powers of governments to turn the tide.

A Rome summit on consumerism on Wednesday suggested that at least some governments around the world are listening.

De Parme was speaking at an April 18 event sponsored by the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission, a body jointly sponsored by the Union of Superiors General and the International Union of Superiors General, the main umbrella groups in Rome for men’s and women’s orders around the world.

The event was titled “Consumerism: A Push Factor in Human Trafficking,” and was devoted to exploring how demand for prostitution and other illicit services often drives an illegal industry estimated at around $150 billion and believed to be the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world, now outpacing even the drug trade.

One hopeful sign in the struggle against trafficking, Umo said, is that it’s essentially apolitical, attracting support from leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds and outlooks. To prove the point, he cited the fact that both Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump have flagged ending human trafficking as a social and political priority.


4. Chinese Catholics warned by provincial officials not to take children to Mass. 

By Catholic News Service, April 18, 2018

Catholics in China’s Henan province have been warned that venues will be closed if they do not adhere to the revised regulations on religious affairs.

Ucanews.com reported that a clampdown on religious freedom has intensified in the province in recent months, with crosses removed from churches, minors banned from entering churches, church-run kindergartens closed and children expelled from Mass.

Now Henan Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and Henan Catholic Administration Commission have jointly issued a circular, warning worshippers to take the new rules seriously.

It warned people to follow “the principle of religion and education separation” and the revised regulations on religious affairs. It said no religious venue should hold training sessions and no children should be brought to church by parents.


5. Court blocks law that diverts money from Planned Parenthood.

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Associated Press, April 18, 2018, 1:33 PM

A federal appeals court on Wednesday blocked an Ohio law that tried to divert public money from Planned Parenthood in an anti-abortion push by GOP lawmakers.

The Ohio law targeted the more than $1.4 million in funding that Planned Parenthood gets through the state’s health department. That money, mostly from the federal government, supports certain education and prevention programs.

The law would bar such funds from going to entities that perform or promote abortions.

The restrictions, which had been slated to take effect in 2016, were signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich during his failed presidential bid.

A federal judge blocked the law that same year. Wednesday’s ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld that lower-court decision.


6. Catholic Cardinal Meets Saudi King in Historic Visit to Riyadh. 

By Reuters, April 18, 2018, 9:04 AM

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman met French cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran in Riyadh on Wednesday during the first visit to the kingdom by such a senior Catholic authority, Saudi state news agency SPA reported.

It followed a flurry of meetings between senior Saudi figures and representatives of other Christian traditions in recent months, raising hopes of more openness in the kingdom which hosts Islam’s holiest sites but bans the practice of other faiths.

The meeting between the king and Tauran, who heads the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, is the first between the current Saudi ruler and a Catholic official.