1. Pope Francis to Visit Egypt in Wake of Attacks: Trip comes as Islamist terrorism tests efforts to improve relations between the faiths.

By Francis X. Rocca and Dahlia Kholaif, The Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2017, 5:30 AM

Pope Francis will pursue efforts to reach out to Muslims during a visit to Egypt this week that comes as rampant Islamist terrorism is posing the greatest test to dialogue between the faiths since the Vatican made it a priority half a century ago.

The pope has earned approval in the Muslim world for his attempts to improve relations. He has washed the feet of Muslims during Holy Week ceremonies and, when he brought a dozen Syrians back with him from a Greek refugee center last year, all were Muslims. He condemned the 2015 massacre in Paris of the staff of Charlie Hebdo after it mocked the Prophet Muhammad, but also said those who deride other faiths can expect a strong response.

Yet some Catholics also want the pope to challenge Muslims more vigorously to repudiate religiously inspired violence and intolerance, amid continuing Islamist terrorism and persecution of Christians in some Muslim-majority countries—including church bombings in Egypt on Palm Sunday that killed more than 40 people.


2. Ireland could legalize abortion just as Pope Francis visits the country.

By Charles Collins, Crux, April 26, 2017

Ireland is getting closer to legalizing abortion, after a special “Citizens’ Assembly” studying the issue recommended the country change the pro-life amendment to its constitution, which was ratified in 1983.

The vote could lead to a referendum in the middle of 2018, just as the country is expecting a visit by Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin.

David Quinn, the director of the Iona Institute, a Dublin-based pro-family think tank, told Crux a referendum was a foregone conclusion, and the Citizens’ Assembly was just political gamesmanship.

“This has always been an exercise by the government in trying to deflect any criticism it might get if was to announce a referendum unilaterally,” Quinn said.

Both Ireland’s Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and the Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar have called for a referendum on the issue in 2018, although given the steps involved in the process, such a vote probably could not be held until the middle of that year at the earliest.

Which is interesting, since the World Meeting of Families is taking place in Dublin in August of 2018, and the pope is expected to attend.

It will be the first papal visit since Pope John Paul II visited the country in 1979, just four years before the country passed its pro-life amendment.


3. Justice dept. yet to drop birth-control appeal, despite Trump’s pledge.

By Paige Winfield Cunningham, The Washington Post, April 26, 2017, Pg. A3

President Trump had promised religious groups that he would reverse the Obama administration’s requirement that employers provide birth control to their employees under the Affordable Care Act.

But his Justice Department indicated Monday that it’s not yet giving up a fight with religious schools and nonprofits that are suing over the contraception mandate.

The department has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit for an additional 60 days to negotiate with East Texas Baptist University and several other religious groups objecting to a requirement to which they are morally opposed.

The request doesn’t necessarily mean that Justice plans to continue defending the mandate; the agency could be buying extra time as the new administration figures out its next move.


4. Abortion litmus test: Democrats slide back into culture-war politics.

By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter, April 26, 2017

Ilyse Hogue knows best. The president of NARAL Pro-Choice America tore into Sen. Bernie Sanders for joining in a rally for Democratic mayoral candidate Heath Mello in Omaha, Nebraska. The rally was part of the “Unity Tour” sponsored by the Democratic National Committee, featuring Sanders and new DNC chair Tom Perez, although Perez did not attend the actual rally in Omaha.

“The actions today by the DNC to embrace and support a candidate for office who will strip women — one of the most critical constituencies for the party — of our basic rights and freedom is not only disappointing, it is politically stupid,” said Ms. Hogue. If the Democrats are to be unified, it will be on her terms, and her terms are that the Democratic Party impose a litmus test on the issue of abortion rights. And, Sen. Sanders, whose voting record is 100 percent-approved by Hogue’s organization, had best toe her line.

The sin against the abortion rights’ canon that Mello committed was to support a law in the Nebraska legislature that required doctors to inform women seeking an abortion that they had a right to receive an ultrasound beforehand. How is that not “pro-choice”? 

Democrats lost the White House precisely because the smart people in the Beltway and in Brooklyn forgot that many people outside those precincts do not think the way they do. For many of us, abortion is an infamy, as the Second Vatican Council stated. We are not anti-women. We are not unsympathetic to the plight of women facing a crisis pregnancy. According to Hogue and, sadly, now Perez, there appears to be no room for us in the Democratic Party. That means the Democrats will continue fighting the culture wars. It is a recipe for remaining a minority party.


5. Pope Francis gives a surprise TED Talk, calls for a ‘revolution of tenderness’.

By Colby Itkowitz, The Washington Post, April 25, 2017, 9:05 PM

Pope Francis used a world forum dedicated to promoting cutting-edge ideas to spread his own revolutionary message: “We all need each other.”

“When there is an ‘us,’ there begins a revolution,” the world’s most powerful religious leader told the room of scientists, academics, tech innovators, investors and cultural elites in a surprise videotaped message at the international TED conference Tuesday evening.

Keeping with the intent of the week-long conference to share strategies to make the world better, Francis’s contribution to that conversation was to urge the people gathered here to use their influence and power to care for others.



***************** Special Note *******************

All of us at The Catholic Association mourn the loss of our great friend Kate O’Beirne. National Review invited colleagues and friends of Kate to share some of their memories of her. We hope you will read all these wonderful recollections and tributes. We have included the full text of one from TCA founder Ann Corkery.

Remembering Kate O’Beirne
By Ann Corkery

There are only two moments in life that truly matter: Now and at the hour of our death. Kate O’Beirne was truly prepared at the moments that matter. Kate had all the gifts and she was truly present at each moment sharing her gifts. She was tall, blond, beautiful, kind, smart, quick, loyal, and thoughtful. Though she was a magnificent public presence, in private she was a great wife and mother, as anyone who knows her husband Jim or her sons Phil and John can attest. Her great love was domestic policy, but she was a shrewd political commentator in an ocean of pundits who added nothing to the public discourse. She treated the arguments of the Left with respect and tried to understand and distill them. Amazingly, she would share with her opponent their most winning points. She breezed into a room like a goddess, but she would notice the shyest, youngest, or most awkward person in the room and would bring her into the warmth of the circle. 

We all adored Kate, but her humor and faith warmed me the most. Though she prepared thoroughly for every television appearance, she was so quick. Once we were touring Saint Peter’s and were at the balcony window where the newly elected pope steps out to greet the crowds, Kate peaked behind the sheer curtains to see Saint Peter’s Square below. The Monsignor pulled her back and she said, “Oh, I wanted the faithful to say, “Habemus Papa! We have our first blond Pope!” 

However, Kate used her Catholic humor for more than laughter. She was instrumental in bringing many people into the Church. To one brilliant adult convert she said, “You are just too smart not to be a Catholic.” She was also the godmother of Robert Novak who converted later in life. At one awards dinner honoring him, she said, “I am Bob Novak’s godmother. Imagine how cute he was at his baptism.” Obviously, she delighted everyone who struggled to imagine the “Prince of darkness” in baptismal white. 

We teasingly calling her “Kate the Great” which was her nickname in high school. She would say the reason she was popular in her all-girls high school was she was so tall and couldn’t steal their boyfriends. So typical of Kate’s humility and humor. Kate’s book is entitled Women Who Make the World Worse. Kate was a woman who made the world far, far better. I can’t imagine now a world without her. Our consolation is she is going to welcome us one day to heaven. 

Ann Corkery is a partner at Stein Mitchell Cipollone Beato & Missner LLP.