1. Court cases put private schools’ ‘ministerial exception’ in spotlight.

By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, February 12, 2020, Pg. A6

Religious school associations and Republican members of Congress are marshaling support for an April showdown in the Supreme Court over the “ministerial exception,” under which private schools invoke their religious status when faced with wrongful termination lawsuits by staff.

The plaintiffs argue that they were teachers, not ministers of the Roman Catholic faith.

“They [the educators] teach daily religion classes, they lead students daily in prayer, they’re really the primary means by which the Catholic church teaches the faith to the next generation,” said Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel with Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the law firm defending the Catholic schools. “They [students] get more religion from these teachers than the parish priest.”


2. Pro-life victories in the new year: The Trump administration grants Texas a waiver with a policy favoring childbirth over abortion.

By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, February 12, 2020, Pg. B4, Opinion

On Jan. 22, the 47th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that imposed abortion on demand across the nation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) granted the state of Texas a Medicaid waiver to fund the Healthy Texas Women program, which serves women who earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty limit. In 2011, the Texas legislature ended state family-planning funding for abortion businesses, including Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion chain.

The Trump administration’s decision to reverse the policy of the Obama years and grant Texas a waiver is long-awaited vindication — especially in light of Planned Parenthood’s annual report, which reveals massive increases in both abortions and taxpayer funding at the same time total patients, cancer screening and prevention services, breast exams, pap tests, and even contraceptive services have all steeply declined. The Texas waiver restores approximately $350 million a year to fund authentic health care options for women and families – not abortion. This major victory will likely need to be defended in court. However, it already has solid public support with six in 10 Americans opposed to taxpayer-funded abortion.

In 2014 California’s Department of Managed Health Care ruled that all state-regulated insurance — even for churches and nuns — must fund abortion on demand in health care plans. Once again, the Obama administration sided with the abortion lobby, refusing to enforce long-standing federal law that explicitly protects against this type of discrimination.

Thankfully, there is a new prolife president in charge. In a win for conscience rights, on the morning of the March for Life the HHS announced it will take action against California for violating the law.

Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of the na-tional pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List. She serves as national co-chair of Pro-Life Voices for Trump


3. Pope Rebuffs Call for Married Priests in the Amazon: Shortage of priests led to calls to ease rules that have governed the church for centuries.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2020, 6:29 AM

Pope Francis has decided against relaxing rules on celibacy for Roman Catholic priests, declining a proposal from bishops that he allow married men to become priests in Latin America’s Amazon region to tackle a shortage of clergy there, the Vatican said Wednesday.

The decision is a surprise and a setback for progressive bishops who have advocated for married priests to relieve a clergy shortage in various parts of the world. It is likely to cheer conservatives, including retired Pope Benedict XVI, who have warned that breaking the millennium-old tradition of clerical celibacy would undermine the church’s identity.


4. Burial Service Set for 2,411 Aborted Baby Remains Found in Abortionist’s Garage.

By Dr. Susan Berry, Breitbart, February 12, 2020, 6:29 AM

The Indiana attorney general has scheduled a burial service Wednesday for the 2,411 aborted babies whose remains were discovered in September in the Illinois garage of abortionist Ulrich Klopfer after he died.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis T. Hill Jr. announced the remains of the aborted babies would be memorialized at a graveside service at Southlawn Cemetery and Palmer Funeral Home in South Bend where Klopfer performed abortions.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a policy adviser for The Catholic Association, said the graveside service “offers an opportunity for closure to the thousands of women who have wondered and worried that it is the remains of their children that were found on the property of Indiana abortionist Ulrich Klopfer.”

“It also acknowledges a universal truth that cannot be extinguished, even by decades of aggressive attempts to normalize the procedure,” she added, “that abortion ends the life of an unborn human being whose only crime was that of being unwanted or inconvenient.”


5. Pope Francis’ Amazon exhortation calls for holiness, not married priests.

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, February 12, 2020, 4:00 AM

Pope Francis published his response to the Vatican’s 2019 Amazon synod in an apostolic exhortation Wednesday. Despite widespread speculation following the synod, the pope does not call for married priests, but seeks to expand “horizons beyond conflicts.”

Querida Amazonia, Pope Francis’s much-anticipated post-synodal apostolic exhortation, presents the pope’s “four great dreams” for the Pan-Amazonian region’s ecological preservation and “Amazonian holiness.”

While Pope Francis did not rebuff the idea directly in his exhortation, the Vatican’s editorial director, Andrea Tornielli, addressed it in a column released alongside the apostolic exhortation

Speaking of priestly celibacy, Tornielli wrote that “the Successor of Peter, after praying and reflecting, has decided to respond not by foreseeing changes or further possibilities of exceptions from those already provided for by current ecclesiastical discipline, but by asking that the essentials be the starting point,” for discussions regarding priestly ministry in the Amazon.


6. In Querida Amazonia, pope calls for women in Church leadership, but not diaconate.

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, February 12, 2020, 4:30 AM

Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the Amazon calls for women in the South American region to be included in new forms of service in the Church, but not within the ordained ministries of the permanent diaconate or priesthood.

To admit women to Holy Orders “would in fact narrow our vision; it would lead us to clericalize women, diminish the great value of what they have already accomplished, and subtly make their indispensable contribution less effective,” the exhortation, published Feb. 12, states.


7. States weigh fetal-remains bills amid abortion debate.

By Lindsay Whitehurst, Associated Press, February 11, 2020, 5:49 PM

A law requiring abortion and medical providers to cremate or bury fetal remains passed the state Senate Tuesday in Utah, one of several states considering similar measures that abortion-rights advocates say stigmatize the procedure.

The proposals come after the U.S. Supreme Court last year upheld a similar Indiana law signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence. Supporters say the requirements, which also apply to miscarriages at medical facilities, would be more dignified and create space if people need to grieve.

Similar bills regulating the disposal of fetal remains have been introduced in six other states: Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. Two of those, Pennsylvania and Ohio, have also passed through one chamber.


8. More US firms are boosting faith-based support for employees.

By David Crary, Associated Press, February 11, 2020, 10:30 AM

It has become standard practice for U.S. corporations to assure employees of support regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation. There’s now an intensifying push to ensure that companies are similarly supportive and inclusive when it comes to employees’ religious beliefs.

One barometer: More than 20% of the Fortune 100 have established faith-based employee resource groups, according to an AP examination and there’s a high-powered conference taking place this week in Washington aimed at expanding those ranks.

“Corporate America is at a tipping point toward giving religion similar attention to that given the other major diversity categories,” says Brian Grim, founder and president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation that’s co-hosting the conference along with the Catholic University of America’s Busch School of Business.


9. Spanish government passes 1st hurdle to legalize euthanasia.

By Barry Hatton, Associated Press, February 11, 2020, 11:31 AM

Spain’s parliament has endorsed an effort by the new Socialist-led government to legalize euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide.

After early elections twice last year thwarted the Socialist party’s attempts to change the law, parliament voted Tuesday by 201 votes to 140 in favor of accepting its euthanasia bill for consideration.

The step puts the bill on a path to possible approval.


10. Sen. Sasse reintroduces Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection bill.

By Matt Hadro and Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency, February 11, 2020, 2:30 PM

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a new hearing on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act on Tuesday, with legislators again considering the measure to mandate medical treatment for infants who survive and attempted abortion.

The Feb. 11 committee hearing comes after Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) reintroduced the bill for the 2020 legislative session. The Senate blocked the legislation in 2019, and a House of Representatives version was similarly stalled.

The bill does not make abortion illegal, nor does it create any obstacles that would prevent a woman from having an abortion. Instead, it requires that doctors who discover that a baby has been born alive following an attempted abortion provide appropriate medical care to the infant.


TCA Media Monitoring provides a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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