1. The Resurrection of Notre Dame, How they choose to rebuild will speak more to France’s future than its past.

By William McGurn, The Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2019, Pg. A15, Opinion

Easter Sunday found Paris especially joyful. Even as the French mourned their wounded cathedral, they took comfort from a promise made by President Emmanuel Macron within hours of the fire. Their beloved Notre Dame, he told them, will be rebuilt. But what exactly will France be rebuilding?

Will the rebuilt Notre Dame be yet another museum? Or might the rebuilding help resurrect an appreciation for the sense of transcendence that gave this building life? The restorers may work in wood and stone, but as the French rebuild they will be addressing fundamental questions about their own, increasingly troubled identity.

 Modern France is not the Soviet Union. But like communism, laïcité in practice often reflects the worst caricatures of a dominant religion obsessed with rooting out all dissent. For sheer imperiousness, yesteryear’s alliance between church and crown has nothing on today’s alliance between the French state and French secularism.

Mr. Macron says the cathedral will be rebuilt in five years, and men and women the world over are responding with generosity and encouragement. The French are rightly determined to hang on to their history. But what kind of Notre Dame they end up rebuilding will tell us more about France’s future than about its past.


2. U.S., India Warned Sri Lanka Weeks Before Easter Attacks.

By Uditha Jayasinghe and James Hookway, The Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2019, Pg. A1

Authorities here said an international terror group likely supported an obscure local Islamist group in carrying out a series of bombings that killed at least 310 people on Easter Sunday, weeks after the government had received warnings from the U.S. and India about a possible attack.

Government officials of this island nation said some of the suicide bombers and others ar- rested were linked to an obscure radical Islamist group known as National Thowheeth Jamath, a group the government singled out to police for monitoring as a possible threat after the foreign security services issued their warning.


3. In One Blast, Over 100 Worshipers Died.

By Eric Bellman and Newley Purnell, The Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2019, Pg. A8

Moments later, the church in this predominantly Catholic community north of Colombo was covered with blood and debris, its roof a gaping hole.

“I saw the people fall to the ground,” said Father Shamira Rodrigo, an assistant parish priest who was sitting in front of the altar when the explosion ripped through the congregation. “They were bleeding. They were carrying the dead. They were running here and there.”

 Christians, most of them Roman Catholic, make up only about 7% of Sri Lanka’s population, which is predominantly Buddhist, with Hindus making up around 13% and Muslims roughly 10%. But the neighborhood around St. Sebastian’s has hundreds of Catholic families, statues of saints on street corners and the name “Jesus” emblazoned on rickshaws.

“Everyone in the village has lost someone,” she said, looking at St. Sebastian’s across the street. “The church is where we used to go when we felt sad. Now when we go it is stained with this awful memory.”


4. Are Christians Privileged or Persecuted?, How Western liberalism’s peculiar relationship to its Christian heritage leaves non-Western Christians exposed.

By Ross Douthat, New York Times Online, April 23, 2019

The murderous radicals who set off bombs and killed hundreds on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka chose their targets with ideological purpose. Three Catholic churches were bombed, and with them three hotels catering to Western tourists, because often in the jihadist imagination Western Christianity and Western liberal individualism are the conjoined enemies of their longed-for religious utopia, their religious-totalitarian version of Islam. Tourists and missionaries, Coca-Cola and the Catholic Church — it’s all the same invading Christian enemy, different brand names for the same old crusade.

Officially, the Western world’s political and cultural elite does its best to undercut and push back against this narrative. The liberal imagination reacts with discomfort to the Samuel Huntingtonian idea of a clash of civilizations, or anything that pits a unitary “West” against an Islamist or Islamic alternative. The idea of a “Christian West” is particularly forcefully rejected, but even more banal terms like “Western Civilization” and “Judeo-Christian,” once intended to offer a more ecumenical narrative of Euro-American history, are now seen as dangerous, exclusivist, chauvinist, alt-right.

And yet there is also a way in which liberal discourse in the West implicitly accepts part of the terrorists’ premise — by treating Christianity as a cultural possession of contemporary liberalism, a particularly Western religious inheritance that even those who no longer really believe have a special obligation to remake and reform. With one hand elite liberalism seeks to keep Christianity at arm’s length, to reject any specifically Christian identity for the society it aims to rule — but with the other it treats Christianity as something that really exists only in relationship to its own secularized humanitarianism, either as a tamed and therefore useful chaplaincy or as an embarrassing, in-need-of-correction uncle.


5. U.S. religious liberty czar says ‘no signs’ of change in China since Vatican deal.

By Christopher White, Crux, April 23, 2019

The U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom believes the United States and the Vatican should be partners in pursuing religious freedom, including in China.

“We want to stand with them [the Vatican], particularly on the issue of religious freedom,” Ambassador Sam Brownback told Crux.

Last month, during a weeklong tour of Taiwan and Hong Kong, Brownback said that China is “at war with faith,” noting the country’s rising tides of discrimination against Muslims, Catholics, and Buddhists.


6. California School IDs To Include Planned Parenthood Hotline?, A proposed state law mandating that IDs include such hotlines is only one of the new pro-abortion state initiatives that target young Californians.

By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, April 23, 2019

A new bill moving through California’s state legislature, the Pupil and Student Health Act, would require student IDs to include a “sexual or reproductive health hotline.”

AB-624 would amend the state education code to mandate that the tollfree number be posted on the identification badges that are already required by many  campuses, from middle school through college, and would include religious institutions of higher education.

Another proposed bill, the College Student Right to Access Act, or SB-24, calls for the provision of chemical abortions at all 34 California public colleges and universities. The bill is scheduled to be brought to vote Wednesday in the Senate Education Committee. Last year, then-Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed similar legislation, but he has retired, and his successor, Gov. Gavin Newsom, is expected to sign the bill should it successfully move through the state legislature.

These breaking developments have sparked intense opposition from pro-life legislators and activists. They argue that both measures give Planned Parenthood and other abortion business greater access to young people, shaping values and real-time choices. And they contend that the mandated posting of the hotline on student badges would force young pro-lifers to promote an organization they vehemently oppose.


7. Court sides with Philly over same-sex parents in foster care.

By Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press, April 22, 2019, 5:37 PM

Philadelphia city government can require that contractor Catholic Social Services does not discriminate against same-sex couples in its foster care program, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the city after it stopped placing children with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s agency because it would not permit same-sex couples to serve as foster parents.

The court ruled the city did not target the agency because of its religious beliefs but acted only to enforce its own nondiscrimination policy in the face of what seemed to be a clear violation.

“We’re disappointed that the court decided to let the city place politics above the needs of kids and the rights of parents, but we will continue this fight,” said Lori Windham, a lawyer for Catholic Social Services.


8. Tennessee lawmakers send governor ‘triggered’ abortion ban.

By Kimberlee Kruesi and Jonathan Mattise, The Associated Press, April 22, 2019, 9:50 PM

A proposal that would effectively outlaw most abortions in Tennessee if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade is headed to the governor’s desk.

State lawmakers in both the House and Senate overwhelmingly advanced the legislation on Monday, with just a handful of Democrats voting against. The legislation is expected to be signed into law after newly elected GOP Gov. Bill Lee has repeatedly promised to support any bill that limits abortion in Tennessee.

The so-called trigger ban would take effect within 30 days if the high court overturns Roe v. Wade. It includes exceptions for medical emergencies only, not for rape or incest. Doctors who violate the law would face a felony charge under the ban.