1. Biden’s stance on abortion contradicts his Catholicism, By Ramesh Ponnuru and Robert P. George, The Washington Post, February 18, 2021, 8:00 AM, Opinion
Joe Biden is only the second baptized Catholic president of the United States, and the first since abortion became a central issue in our politics. The Catholic Church’s opposition to the deliberate killing of unborn children is both firm and well-known. But Biden supports an almost unlimited right to abortion and federal funding for it. That juxtaposition is renewing the debate about the moral obligations of conscientious Catholic citizens, including public officials.

It is a moment for Catholics, laity and clergy alike, to be clear about what the church teaches. Catholicism is quite capacious: It has room for many political tendencies. A Catholic may in good conscience believe that the federal government must do more to regulate markets to serve the common good, or that excessive regulation has contributed to poverty and should be relaxed, or something in between.

But Catholic teaching imposes limits on what policies can be supported. No Catholic should, for example, approve a policy that leads to the routine and large-scale separation of children from their parents in the name of combating illegal immigration. Indeed, Catholics are called to oppose any such policy. To the extent we fail in this duty — because of partisanship, timidity, hardness of heart or some other reason — we fall short of what our faith demands.
So it is with abortion.

Biden, however observant he may be in other respects, does not accept the church’s teaching on this subject. He flagrantly rejects it.
Ramesh Ponnuru is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion. Robert P. George is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University.
2. Abolish the Federal Death Penalty, It can’t be fixed. It can’t be reformed. Its flaws are inherent. Its time has come., By Elizabeth Bruenig, The New York Times, February 18, 2021, 5:00 AM, Opinion
President Biden has said he abhors the death penalty. He could urge his Justice Department to abandon pursuit of executions, withdraw pending notices of intent to seek capital sentences in federal cases, decline to defend government appeals in capital proceedings, and commute all 49 remaining federal death sentences to life in prison.
And he should. But as long as the death penalty remains an option for future presidents, future killing sprees could — and almost certainly will — recur. Mr. Biden’s campaign promised to urge Congress to abolish the federal death penalty. Now we must demand that he keep that promise; the country is ready.

Moving to abolish the death penalty might seem like bold action for a politician as dedicated to healing the country’s political rift as is Mr. Biden. But there are reasons to believe that conservatives are no longer especially wed to the death penalty, despite Mr. Trump’s efforts to politicize the issue.
Republicans in red states — like Kansas, Wyoming and Kentucky — have sponsored bills to end capital punishment. In 2019, New Hampshire abolished its death penalty, thanks to a bipartisan coalition in its Senate.

3. South Carolina governor awaits bill banning most abortions, By Jeffrey Collins, Associated Press, February 18, 2021, 1:03 AM
A bill banning most abortions in South Carolina is likely heading to the governor’s desk Thursday and he has promised to sign it into law as soon as he can. The measure is unlikely to take effect, however, as it faces almost certain challenges in court.
Federal law, which takes precedence over state law, currently allows abortion. But groups that oppose abortion restrictions must file a lawsuit to stop the local measure from taking effect — something that has happened in every one of the dozen states that passed similar measures before South Carolina.
Supporters of restrictive abortion laws are trying to get the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court in the hopes that — with three justices appointed by Republican former President Donald Trump — the court could overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision supporting abortion rights.
4. A trio of conservative groups tries to torpedo two top Biden nominees, The ad campaign is biting. It has real money behind them. But is it too late?, By Meridith Mcgraw, Politico, February 18, 2021, 5:00 AM
A trio of conservative organizations are launching a multi-million dollar advertising blitz aimed at undermining two of President Joe Biden’s high-profile nominees.
The ad buy, first reported by POLITICO, will air across cable news networks in Washington, D.C. and digital platforms starting Thursday.
The campaign is being led by the advocacy groups Judicial Crisis Network, Heritage Action for America, and Americans for Public Trust. And it’s being modeled after the effort the groups spearheaded to galvanize support for Trump’s three Supreme Court Justice nominees in the weeks leading up to their respective confirmation hearings.
This time, however, the trio is going negative, hoping to torpedo the confirmations of Vanita Gupta, Biden’s nominee for associate attorney general, and Xavier Becerra, the Democratic attorney general of California and nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services.

In addition to ad buys, the groups have planned a supplemental campaign of texts, email, calls, and member activism. Other conservative groups supporting the campaign include Catholic Vote, which is contacting 350,000 of its activists to urge them to call their senators; Susan B. Anthony List; and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. CatholicVote and Susan B. Anthony List are especially focused on Becerra and Gupta’s anti-abortion records.
5. A cardinal in the dock would mark real reform in Vatican justice, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, February 18, 2021, Opinion
From the outside, the commonplace assumption about the Vatican’s system of criminal justice probably is that it’s too lenient, because, as people would see it, the system boils down to Vatican personnel policing their peers and thus, many likely assume, the temptation is to go easy.
Insiders, however, have long felt it’s precisely the other way around. The whole point of Vatican tribunals, as they rather cynically perceive it, is to deliver lower-level scapegoats to insulate senior figures from culpability, so the system is stacked in favor of the prosecution.
Basically speaking, if you’re indicted for a crime in the Vatican City State, your odds of acquittal are roughly the same as winning the lottery.

On Tuesday, Pope Francis moved to address the perception that the system is rigged against defendants with a series of reforms, such as modifying the requirements for “in absentia” trials – cases of what the Vatican traditionally calls “contumacy,” meaning a stubborn refusal to comply with authority – as well introducing the possibility of reduced sentences for good behavior and rehabilitation programs.
The reforms came in a motu proprio, meaning a change to the law made on the pope’s personal initiative.

In the eyes of many Vatican-watchers, however – especially the Vatican’s lower and mid-level personnel, many of them laity, who live with the constant awareness that if something goes wrong, they may be the ones to take the fall – no reform will be considered meaningful until high-ranking officials are exposed to the same legal liability as everyone else.
In other words, the problem isn’t just offering greater protection to defendants. It’s expanding the set of potential defendants to include not simply those who execute criminal schemes, but higher-ups responsible for preventing such wrongdoing who either drop the ball or who are actually complicit.
6. The Intercession of the Grateful Dead, Picking up the rosary again is like returning to a fireside feast., By Mike Kerrigan, The Wall Street Journal, February 18, 2021, Pg. A15, Opinion
Lent seems a particularly apt time to get the rosary back into my daily rotation. It’s been like returning to the seat of honor at a fireside feast where, despite my long absence, the fare somehow has remained warm. For a moment, I am home.

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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