1. D.C.’s assisted-suicide law likely to take effect. 

By Jenna Portnoy, Mike DeBonis and Aaron C. Davis, The Washington Post, February 16, 2017, Pg. B1

Republicans on Capitol Hill said Wednesday that Congress is unlikely to act in time to block the District’s assisted-suicide law before it takes effect Saturday, handing city officials an inadvertent victory against congressional intervention.

“Very doubtful it can get to the finish line,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which voted Monday to strike down the D.C. law. “We’re just flat-out running out of time.”

But as the city prepares to implement the law, federal lawmakers are working on another line of attack: using the appropriations process to neutralize the law.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) said that he was confident the assisted-suicide law could be effectively stifled through the appropriations process and that he would “absolutely” pursue such an amendment.


2. In latest round of meetings, papal advisors cover court, bishop selection. 

By Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency, February 15, 2017, 8:01 AM

Pope Francis and his Council of Cardinals met for the 18th time this week to continue discussion on reforming the Roman Curia, focusing on how new bishops are chosen and the streamlining of several offices, including the Vatican tribunals.

According to a Feb. 15 Vatican communique, after opening their meetings with a declaration of support for Pope Francis and his reform efforts, the cardinals “have begun to examine the ‘Diaconia of Justice,’” and so dedicated a good chunk of this week’s meetings to the three Vatican tribunals.

Each of the nine members of the council were present for the entirety of the Feb. 13-15 round of meetings, with the addition of Msgr. Dario Vigano, prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, who gave an update on his dicastery’s work. In keeping with their custom, the cardinals concelebrated Mass with the Pope in the chapel of the Santa Marta guesthouse the first two days of the meeting.

As usual, Pope Francis was present for the majority of the sessions 

The council of cardinals will conclude its last session Wednesday evening, and is set to meet again April 24-26 to continue discussion on moving forward in reforming curial structures.


3. Could C9 cardinals backing the pope have unintended fallout? 

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, February 15, 2017

Recently Pope Francis’s “C9” council of cardinal advisers issued a statement supporting the pope in light of recent attacks, and the intent was clearly noble. It’s worth pondering, however, if it could have unintended consequences, including pressuring other bishops to follow suit.

First, one could ask whether such a statement lends a significance to the anti-Francis blowback that heretofore was debatable.

From the beginning, most commentators have been cautioning against exaggerating the dimensions of such resistance, pointing out that the mere fact it can raise a fuss on Twitter, or produce a few posters, doesn’t mean it’s got a large sociological footprint.

Second, it’s also worth considering whether the C9 may have unwittingly put pressure on other groups of bishops around the world to follow their lead and issue their own statements of support for the pope.

One could imagine, for instance, the next time the full College of Cardinals gathers for a consistory, media coverage may focus on whether they too will issue a statement – and, if they don’t, people may ask why not, who blocked it, who’s on which side, and so on almost ad infinitum.

None of this is to suggest that the cardinals’ statement wasn’t either timely or appropriate. When you’re playing on a big stage, however, sometimes you also need to be thinking about the next act.


4. Vatican denies that pope slammed US oil pipeline project. 

By Inés San Martín, Crux, February 15, 2017

Although Pope Francis defended a right of “informed consent” by indigenous peoples regarding “economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth,” the Vatican has denied it was a specific reference to a controversial oil pipeline in the United States.

“Pope Francis made no explicit reference to any concrete case,” Paloma Garcia Ovejero, the Vatican’s deputy spokesperson, told Crux.

“Evidently, he’s informed of the numerous problems that affect indigenous peoples, but there’s no element in his words that would give us a clue to know if he was talking about any specific cases,” Garcia Ovejero said.


5. Citing pro-life momentum, thousands demonstrate to defund Planned Parenthood.

By Kevin Jones, Catholic News Agency, February 15, 2017, 12:27 PM

More than 10,000 pro-life advocates gathered at some 227 protest locations in 43 states and the District of Columbia on Saturday to call for the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

The protests, organized under hashtags like #ProtestPP, were headed by the leaders of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, Created Equal and the Pro-Life Action League.

Organizers reported a crowd of about 200 supporters in Pittsburgh, 300 in Orange, Calif., 400 in Cincinnati, and 450 in St. Paul, Minn., to name a few.