1. Billy Graham: A North Carolina farm boy brought the Gospel to the world. 

By The Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2018, Pg. A16, Editorial

Billy Graham was born on a North Carolina dairy farm four days before the armistice ending World War I. He died Wednesday at age 99. In the century in between, the preacher who found Christ at a tent revival in Charlotte would bring the good news to an estimated 215 million people in 185 countries, along the way mastering every available medium from radio and television to old-fashioned revivals in sports stadiums.

As the tributes pour in, much of the emphasis has been on the famous who called on him for spiritual advice, including Presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton. But he also had a much larger populist cultural and religious influence.

The West in general, including the U.S., has become far more secular than in Graham’s heyday, and it is hard to imagine another man of faith enjoying the same prominence and influence today. America’s largely secular media also seem to revel in demonstrating that anyone prominent in religious life is a fallen idol.

Then again, Billy Graham knew that if the hope and salvation he preached found a welcome reception in people’s hearts, it wasn’t because of the charm or charisma of the messenger. It was because of the power of the message.


2. Sports Illustrated’s guide to culture: This year’s swimsuit issue lays bare all the contradictions of the #MeToo movement.

By Grazie Pozo Christie Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie is a Policy Advisor for The Catholic Association, Angelus News, February 21, 2018

This year’s Valentine’s Day, with its airs of romantic love and devotion, came during what may have been the climax of the confused #MeToo movement: a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue without any actual swimsuits.

In the name of empowerment, naked models in the February issue are wearing words of love and human dignity, written in black marker on their skin, instead of the traditionally tiny bikinis. These words are meant to inspire titillated men to look past their skin to their personhood, an act that would require superhuman virtue. 

Our modern culture has done all it can to strip Valentine’s Day of meaning, pulling it down from its height as the commemoration of a Christian saint associated with romantic love to an opportunity to release movies about perverse sex.

The tragedy, of course, is that the models, and the world along with them, believe that a culture soaked in sex, which celebrates their prurient nakedness as empowering and liberating, is one that could also read properly the signposts of their dignity written in marker on their skin. Impossible.

Compounding the problem is the situation encapsulated in the Sports Illustrated “swimsuit” issue. Posing naked to titillate strange men is pure, sordid Venus, no matter how many signs of personhood you draw on your skin. This is not empowerment but slavery to the tyranny of sex, which occupies the space that wholesome and dignifying romance — Valentine — should rightfully fill.  

Really, it’s an ancient/modern tragedy. The #MeToo women, and especially the poor naked models in Sports Illustrated, are longing for Valentine in a world of pure Venus.


3. Attacks against India’s Christians doubled in 2017. 

By Catholic News Agency, February 21, 2018, 12:02 PM

Compared to 2016, attacks against Christians in India by Hindu extremists more than doubled in 2017 amid efforts to label the religious minority a danger to the state.

The persecution ranges from threats and physical violence to destruction of church property, but false allegations against Christians have also increased.

According to a report from Persecution Relief, last year 736 incidents of attacks occurred throughout India compared to the 348 that happened in 2016. Most of these are “daring physical attacks,” the report said, but the victims of these attacks were also accused of sedition, discrimination, and destruction of religious property.


4. Irish government report on religious orders shows “substantial improvements” on sex abuse. 

By Charles Collins, Crux, February 21, 2018

Ireland’s Child and Family Agency said 29 of 135 church bodies were rated “excellent” in its recent audit, while 16 were rated “unsatisfactory.”

The agency, called Tulsa, issued its ‘Audit of Religious Orders, Congregations and Missionary Societies Safeguarding Arrangements and Management of Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse – Volume II’ on Feb. 20.

“This audit was undertaken as a recommendation of the Ferns report in 2005. It is the second volume of work which covers the period from 1996 up to 2015. From this audit it is clear that these church bodies have made substantial improvements over time to adhere to child protection and safeguarding guidelines,” said Brian Lee, Tulsa’s director of quality assurance.

Pope Francis is expected to visit the country during the World Meeting of Families, which is taking place in Dublin from August 21-26, 2018.


5. U.S. Catholics urged to join pope in prayers for South Sudan, Congo. 

By Catholic News Service, February 21, 2018

The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops encouraged Catholics across the nation to join with Pope Francis Feb. 23 for a special day of prayer and fasting for peace, with special prayers for Congo and South Sudan.

“Tragically, violent conflict rages in both nations” and “innocent families suffer” in both countries, said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston in a Feb. 14 statement.

He noted that South Sudan won its independence in 2011 “only to find itself a victim to corruption and a bloody civil war.”

In Congo, “the government fails to honor the constitution as the Catholic Church courageously promotes a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the ruling and opposition parties,” DiNardo said.

Pope Francis announced the special day of prayer as he recited the Angelus prayer at the Vatican Feb. 4.


6. Court: Kansas can’t cut Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood.

By Roxana Hegeman, Associated Press, February 21, 2018, 7:27 PM

Kansas can’t cut Medicaid funds to a Planned Parenthood affiliate over videos anti-abortion activists secretly recorded in 2015, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision leaves in place a lower court’s preliminary injunction that blocked Kansas from ending the contract. It is the fifth of six circuits to uphold the right of patients to receive health care from their preferred qualified provider.