1. Pope: Women have ‘legitimate claims’ for justice, equality.

By The Associated Press, April 2, 2019, 5:38 AM

Pope Francis says women have “legitimate claims” to seek more justice and equality in the Catholic Church, but has stopped short of endorsing more sweeping calls from his own bishops to give women decision-making roles.

Francis on Tuesday issued a document inspired by an October 2018 meeting of bishops on better ministering to today’s young Catholics. 

In the lengthy document “Christ is Alive,” Francis endorses no such conclusion.


2. Alabama lawmakers seek to outlaw almost all abortions.

By The Associated Press, April 2, 2019, 1:17 AM

Alabama lawmakers are proposing to outlaw almost all abortions as conservatives take aim at the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Alabama lawmakers on Tuesday will introduce legislation to make it a felony to perform an abortion at any stage of pregnancy unless the mother’s health is in jeopardy. If enacted, it would be the most restrictive in the country and certain to be challenged in court.

Emboldened by new conservatives on the Supreme Court, abortion opponents in multiple states are seeking to ignite new legal fights to challenge Roe v. Wade.

Kentucky and Mississippi approved abortion bans once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which happens at about six weeks.


3. Pope’s team may need to explain new reluctance on ‘zero tolerance’.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, April 2, 2019

Tuesday made official a transition that’s been quietly underway for a while in terms of the Vatican’s response to the clerical sexual abuse scandals: Pope Francis and his aides are rethinking, if not the substance of a “zero tolerance” policy, at least the rhetoric of it, becoming increasingly unwilling to use that phrase.

Confirmation came with release of a document from the pontiff drawing conclusions from last fall’s Synod of Bishops on young people, where tensions over “zero tolerance” formed one of the major pieces of drama. In the end, Francis’s 35,000-word, 63-page text discusses the abuse crisis at some length, devoting almost 1,000 words to the subject, but makes no mention of “zero tolerance.”

Here’s the thing: There may be compelling reasons for caution about the phrase, beginning with the point that it seems to have come to mean wildly different things depending on who’s using it.

However, if the pope is now planning to avoid a term he himself helped to cement as a pillar of the Church’s commitment to reform, somebody will need to explain why – otherwise, people may be tempted to think this reconsideration is actually a retreat.


4. US envoy to Vatican says China must be ‘called out’ on religious freedom.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, April 2, 2019

Perhaps illustrating part of the logic for a new “ministerial” on religious freedom, meaning a gathering of government representatives at the minister’s level to be hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in July, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich says it’s critical that China be pressured to clean up its act.

“We need to continue to speak the truth and call out religious persecution, regardless of where it occurs,” Gingrich told Crux. “Until the Chinese government alters its counterproductive policies towards people of faith, the United States will continue to voice its concern.”

Gingrich, who’s served as U.S. President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Vatican since December 2017, spoke ahead of an April 3 event titled “Stand Together to Defend International Religious Freedom,” co-sponsored by her embassy and the #StandTogether Project, a digital platform devoted to publicizing anti-Christian persecution.

Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State and hence the pope’s top diplomat, is scheduled to speak at the event.

At a first-ever ministerial conference on religious freedom convened by Pompeo last year, among the featured speakers was a Chinese Uighur Muslim forced to serve in a labor camp for several years. Gingrich insisted that’s not an isolated case.


5. Pope calls abuse crisis a ‘scourge’ in youth doc, omits ‘zero tolerance’.

By Elise Harris, Crux, April 2, 2019

In a major new document on young people, Pope Francis acknowledges the clerical sexual abuse crisis as a major challenge to the Catholic Church’s credibility, but, following the lead of a summit of bishops last fall upon which it’s based, notably omits any reference to a “zero tolerance” policy.

The new apostolic exhortation titled Christus vivit, meaning “Christ is Alive,” was released April 2 and is harvested from discussions of the Oct. 3-28, 2018, Synod of Bishops on “Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment,” which focused on youth aged 16-29.

The document was signed by the pope during a March 29 daytrip to Loreto, where the Nazareth home of the Holy Family is believed to be housed after having been transported in the late 13th century.

The document treats a wide range of issues facing young people today, from the emergence of a new digital culture to migration, from abortion and drug addiction to youth homelessness and poverty. In keeping with the discussions at the October synod, the abuse crisis comes in for extended treatment in a section titled “Ending every form of abuse.”


6. An ‘Unplanned’ Twitter Outage, A politically incorrect movie overcomes social-media obstacles and dismissive film critics to score at the box office.

By James Freeman, Wall Street Journal Online, April 1, 2019, 4:21 PM, Best of the Web, Opinion,

What would we do without experts? Film critics who didn’t ignore the new movie “Unplanned” generally rejected it. Executives across various media platforms have intentionally or accidentally limited its marketing. But audience members are giving the film rave reviews according to a survey firm called CinemaScore. And “Unplanned” was a box-office overachiever in its weekend release. The movie also sparked a new conversation about whether social media companies are discriminating against people with whom they disagree.

 A number of television networks refused to run advertisements for the film. Then the Hollywood Reporter noted what happened on the film’s opening weekend:

The Twitter account for the anti-abortion movie Unplanned was briefly suspended on Saturday, but has since been restored to Twitter.

The timing of the Saturday blackout—during the weekend of the movie’s theatrical debut—was a remarkable coincidence given that the film’s Twitter account has been active since August.


7. The Real-Life Power of ‘Unplanned’.

By Ashley McGuire, RealClear Politics, April 1, 2019
Ashley McGuire is a senior fellow with The Catholic Association and the author of “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female.” 

If you’re a 14-year-old girl where I live, you can walk into a clinic and get an abortion without your parents ever knowing. But if you want to go see “Unplanned,” a movie about abortion that opened in theaters nationwide Friday, you’ll need Mom or Dad (or some adult guardian) to accompany you. This is the strange state of affairs in our modern era, where abortion continues to be one of the most divisive political issues of the day.

“Unplanned” is the story of Abby Johnson, a former director of a Texas Planned Parenthood clinic, and the youngest in its history, at that. For eight years, she somehow worked at one of Planned Parenthood’s busiest abortion mills without ever watching one transpire. Until, one day, she did.

It was the moment, she describes, that “changed everything.”

The message of “Unplanned” is ultimately a hopeful one. It’s a story about freedom and healing, something no doubt countless post-abortive women are in search of. Abby had two abortions herself, worked for the biggest abortion provider in the country, and was able to walk away and find peace. It’s a story that every woman harmed by abortion has the right to hear. 

But it’s a story, and a film, that is certainly deserving of its R rating. Because sometimes the only way we can move forward into the light is to start by looking at the harshest of truths. 


8. Unplanned Helps Pro-Lifers Tell the Truth about Abortion.

By Abby Johnson and Lila Rose, National Review Online, April 1, 2019, 2:09 PM

Abortion may be one of the most hotly debated topics in America, but it’s a word that not many people can readily — and accurately — define. The abortion industry uses vague terms like “choice,” “autonomy,” “reproductive rights” or “reproductive health,” “essentially a miscarriage,” and “gently emptying the uterus” to cloud the conversation. In a discussion of abortion, we are told to consider only the mother and her choice. The other party is only a “product of conception” or an “undifferentiated mass of uterine matter.”

Equally vague is our language about the way abortions are performed, which we hardly ever hear described in medical terms. That is why the recently released film Unplanned is so important. Seeing the truth about abortion will change people’s minds on the procedure and society’s view of this heinous human-rights abuse. It did for us.

Abby Johnson
Unplanned tells the story of a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who comes face to face with the reality of abortion. That director was me. I worked for Planned Parenthood for eight years but, mid-career, I began to have misgivings. I saw that Planned Parenthood was willing to fire employees if they did not meet their abortion quotas and that there were monetary bonuses for directors who did meet the quotas. I saw how that lent itself to the pressuring and manipulation of pregnant women in our clinics.

Lila Rose
Abby is not the only woman whose life was changed by witnessing the harsh reality of abortion. As a young girl, I saw a photograph of an aborted baby, only ten weeks old, in a pro-life book tucked away on my family’s bookshelf. That image stuck with me. I saw the image of tiny arms and legs, torn apart by a powerful suction abortion, and I remember thinking, “Is this real?”

Abby Johnson is the founder and director of And Then There Were None and author of Unplanned and The Walls are Talking. Lila Rose is the founder and president of Live Action.


9. Pro-life health care network gets a boost from federal HHS grant.

Catholic News Agency, April 1, 2019, 04:54 PM

Low-income individuals and families in California will be able to receive taxpayer-funded services from a Catholic-backed pro-life health care network, thanks to a federal grant from the Department of Health and Human Services and the end of a rule that required grantees to give abortion counseling.

“With this grant, the administration has opened up a new avenue of health care choices for low income and underserved women and their families in California,” Kathleen Eaton Bravo, founder and CEO of Obria Group, said March 29. “Many women want the opportunity to visit a professional, comprehensive health care facility – not an abortion clinic – for their health care needs; today HHS gave women that choice.”

The $1.7 million grant for 2019 will be used to expand services to low income individuals and families in four California counties. The grant could total up to $5.1 million through 2022, provided funds are available, the grantee complies with standards, and the project shows progress.

Before the Trump administration’s February change to federal rules, Title X-funded providers were required to counsel patients that abortion is an option to end pregnancy, a requirement dating back to the Clinton administration in the 1990s. That requirement discouraged many prospective grantees from applying.