1. Trump admin cites abortion as it halts funding to UN agency. 

By Josh Lederman, Associated Press, April 4, 2017, 3:55 AM

The U.N. Population Fund will lose $32.5 million in funding from the 2017 budget, the State Department said, with funds shifted to similar programs at the U.S. Agency for International Development. The administration accused the agency, through its work with China’s government, of supporting population control programs in China that include coercive abortion.

In a lengthy memorandum obtained by The Associated Press, the State Department said the U.N. fund partners with China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, responsible for overseeing China’s “two-child policy.” It said the U.N. collaborates with the Chinese agency on family planning.


2. The Twilight of White Christianity: Why the most ardent racial nationalists are becoming increasingly secular.

By William McGurn, The Wall Street Journal, April 4, 2017, Pg. A17

A century ago it would have been easy to conflate whiteness and Christianity. Europe and North America together then accounted for 4 out of 5 of the world’s Christians. Today Christians on these two continents are outnumbered by their coreligionists in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

By 2050, reckons the Pew Research Center, 1 of every 3 Christians will be African. These are easily available facts, but the ignorance is striking. For example, how many journalists who think of “evangelical” as “white” appreciate that the tradition of America’s black churches is also largely evangelical?

Philip Jenkins, a Baylor University professor and author of “The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity,” describes what he says is a tectonic shift southward this way: “The church started in Asia and Africa, and now it’s coming home.”

Manifestly Europe has entered a post-Christian era. But its Christianity was not killed by outsiders coming in. This was death by suicide. If Europe’s Islamic population threatens anything, it is the cramped and arid secularism that long ago replaced Christianity as the Continent’s reigning creed and is so plainly ill-equipped to meet today’s challenge.

Meanwhile, Christianity continues to grow in the global South, upending many a pet assumption in the process. Within the Anglican communion, for example, it’s hard not to notice that challenges to the progressive theology favored by the church’s white Englishmen and Englishwomen often come from the church’s nonwhite contingents in Africa and Asia.

In an Atlantic piece about what happens when conservatives stop going to church, Peter Beinart makes a similar point. “The alt-right is ultraconservatism for a more secular age,” Mr. Beinart writes. “Its leaders like Christendom, an old-fashioned word for the West. But they’re suspicious of Christianity itself, because it crosses boundaries of blood and soil.”

Indeed. How ironic that the champions of white nationalism are finding their most formidable obstacle to be global Christianity—and especially its increasingly nonwhite demographic.


3. Pope allows schismatic society to celebrate marriages. 

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, April 4, 2017, 8:56 AM

Pope Francis has taken another step to bring a breakaway traditionalist society back under the Vatican’s wing by decreeing that its priests can celebrate marriages that will be recognized by Rome.

The measure announced Tuesday follows the pope’s decision in 2015 to allow priests of the schismatic Society of St. Pius X to validly hear confessions.

The permissions come amid continuing negotiations to regularize the status of the Swiss-based society, which split from the Vatican over the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

Francis is no friend of Catholic traditionalists, and many commentators have noted the irony of a possible deal being reached during his pontificate rather than Benedict’s. But Francis is less a doctrinal purist than Benedict and has sought to make his church as inclusive as possible, bringing back excluded Catholics from all margins.


4. Pope makes appointments amid criticism of sex abuse response.

By Associated Press, April 4, 2017, 8:32 AM

Pope Francis has named a new official to oversee the Vatican office that processes clerical sex- abuse cases amid mounting criticism over the years-long backlog of cases and Francis’ handling of the problem.

The nomination of Monsignor John Kennedy as head of the discipline section of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith is the second abuse-related appointment Francis has made in recent days. On Saturday, he named the Rev. Hans Zollner, one of the Catholic Church’s top experts on abuse and protecting children, as an adviser to the Vatican’s congregation for clergy.