1. Pro-Life, but Left Out.

By Lauren Enriquez, The New York Times, February 27, 2017, Pg. A21

Though the [Women’s] march was driven by the left, it claimed to speak for women in general, and indeed women of all ages, races and states poured onto the National Mall. Yet lost in the action, then and since, is any sense of what the movement stands for; ultimately, it settled for a sense of what the movement is against: not just a caricature of Mr. Trump as a misogynist hellbent on sending women back to 1950s America, but anything associated with him as well. Perhaps most pointedly, while the Women’s March claimed to stand for love, nonviolence and inclusion, its organizers staunchly refused to extend that “inclusion” to pro-life women.

We cannot overlook the significance of this act, because it reveals a fatal chink in the armor of the new feminist resistance movement: its radical position on abortion. This movement will thus be unable to unite American women because it rejects the position that most American women take on abortion — that it should be completely illegal, or legal but with significant restrictions.

According to the latest Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll, an annual survey of views on abortion, just over half of all women want to see further restrictions on abortion. To millions of women, including young people like myself, this is not just a policy stance; it informs many areas of our lives as women. To us, “resistance” has to include opposition to the lie that freedom can be bought with the blood of our preborn children.

Anti-abortion women reject the version of “feminism” that infers that we cannot be equal to men unless we snuff out what is unique about us as women: our ability to protect, nourish and nurture new life inside of our bodies. We resist the conventional wisdom that women will succeed in school, career and life only if they relegate childbearing to an elusive “ideal” moment in time. We reject the pressure to believe that killing our children and living full lives are mutually inclusive. They’re not.

As a woman who has been involved in the pro-life movement for my entire adult life, I want to obliterate the stereotype that the people working to end abortion hate women. My movement empowers women in tangible ways. At Human Coalition, where I work, we extend tangible, compassionate help to pregnant women who believe that abortion is the best or only option available to them. This is an underserved group, and we are working to stand in the gap for them.


2. Francis becomes 1st pope to visit an Anglican church in Rome.

By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, February 26, 2017, 1:23 PM

Pope Francis on Sunday became the first Catholic pontiff to visit an Anglican parish in Rome, using the historic occasion to press for greater closeness after centuries of mistrust, prejudices and hostility between the two churches.

Francis and the Anglican bishop in Europe, Robert Innes, prayed side-by-side in the All Saints Church not far from the Spanish Steps.

Innes welcomed Francis by praising the Roman Catholic leader for his solidarity with refugees and migrants.

Francis in his homily acknowledged that Anglicans and Catholics had long “viewed each other with suspicion and hostility” and that there were “centuries of mutual mistrust.”

“At times, progress on our journey toward full communion may seem slow and uncertain, but today we can be encouraged by our gathering,” the pontiff said.

He encouraged both faiths to be “always more liberated from our respective prejudices from the past.”


3. Pope says he’s studying possible trip to South Sudan.

By Associated Press, February 26, 2017, 12:18 PM

Pope Francis says he’s studying the possibility of going to South Sudan, the East African nation suffering famine and civil war.

Francis said while visiting an Anglican church in Rome on Sunday that Anglican, Presbyterian and Catholic bishops had asked him to “please come, even for a day.”

The pope says they asked him to visit with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the Anglican leader who also has decried the suffering in South Sudan.

Francis and his aides are studying the possibility. He didn’t specify if they were considering a trip just by him, or one with Welby.

The pope has demanded concrete actions to get food to starving people in South Sudan. The United Nations and others have accused the nation’s government of blocking or restricting aid deliveries.


4. Robert George’s Conservative Thinking in the Age of Trump: The Princeton legal scholar on America’s refugee policy, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and his ‘I told you so’ moment with liberal friends over the recent flood of executive orders.

By Alexandra Wolfe, The Wall Street Journal, February 25, 2017, Pg. C11

Dr. George, 61, is the director of Princeton’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions; has served on commissions that advised presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama on such issues as bioethics and civil rights; and was chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom for two years.

Dr. George himself is the grandson of immigrants from Syria (on his father’s side) and Italy (on his mother’s). Born in Morgantown, W.Va., where he was raised Catholic, he has degrees from Swarthmore College, Harvard Law School, Harvard Divinity School and Oxford University.

He got to know Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch through his Oxford adviser, the Australian philosopher of law John Finnis. (Both studied with Dr. Finnis, though 10 years apart.) “I’m hoping the Senate will confirm him,” Dr. George says. “I guess this is too much to hope for…to confirm him without controversy,” he adds with a laugh.

Both he and Mr. Gorsuch embrace the idea of natural law—the view, most fully developed in Catholic thought, that there are clear moral standards governing human behavior and that these can be discovered by the use of reason. Dr. George argues that the American founders had natural law in mind when they created the Constitution, but he doesn’t think that judges should invoke natural-law principles that are not set forth or clearly implied in the Constitution to strike down legislation, especially in ruling on such controversial issues as abortion and gay marriage. As with presidential power, he thinks that judicial power should be exercised within strict constitutional limits.


5. Pope quietly trims sanctions for sex abusers seeking mercy.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, February 25, 2017, 7:54 AM

Pope Francis has quietly reduced sanctions against a handful of pedophile priests, applying his vision of a merciful church even to its worst offenders in ways that survivors of abuse and the pope’s own advisers question.

In some cases, the priests or their high-ranking friends appealed to Francis for clemency by citing the pope’s own words about mercy in their petitions, the church official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the proceedings are confidential.

“With all this emphasis on mercy … he is creating the environment for such initiatives,” the church official said, adding that clemency petitions were rarely granted by Pope Benedict XVI, who launched a tough crackdown during his 2005-2013 papacy and defrocked some 800 priests who raped and molested children.


6. USCCB committee chairmen applaud decision on transgender directive.

By Catholic News Service, February 25, 2017

The chairmen of two U.S. bishops’ committees Feb. 24 praised President Donald Trump’s repeal of the Obama administration’s directive on transgender access to bathrooms.

The guidance, issued last May by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education, “indicated that public pre-K through 12 schools, as well as all colleges and universities, should treat ‘a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex,’” said the bishops’ joint statement.

The document “sought to impose a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with sensitive issues involving individual students,” said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education.

“Such issues are best handled with care and compassion at the local level, respecting the privacy and safety concerns of all students,” they said.

In rescinding the directive, the Trump administration said that addressing of transgender access to bathrooms is best left to the states and local school districts, not the federal government.

“Pope Francis has taught that ‘biological sex and the sociocultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated,” said Archbishop Chaput and Bishop Murry, quoting from Amoris Laetitia, the papal document on marriage and family.

“The Catholic Church consistently affirms the inherent dignity of each and every human person and advocates for the well-being of all people, particularly the most vulnerable,” the two prelates said. “Children, youth and parents in these difficult situations deserve compassion sensitivity, and respect. All of these can be expressed without infringing on legitimate concerns about privacy and security on the part of all young students and parents.”


7. U.S. senator sees Vatican as partner in fight against modern-day slavery.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, February 24, 2017

Republican Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee was in Rome this week for meetings with Vatican officials, including the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to discuss a partnership between the United States and the Holy See on one of Pope Francis’s core social justice concerns: Human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

“We see the Vatican, the Holy See, as a great partner in this effort. I know the pope has spoken about it on several opportunities,” the Republican senator from Tennessee told reporters on Friday.

The meeting between Corker and Vatican officials took place on the same day President Donald Trump pledged to work on “solving the human trafficking epidemic, which is what it is,” calling it “a priority for my administration.”

Trump was speaking at a Session on Domestic and International Human Trafficking, held at the White House on Thursday.

Corker is also the Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations committee, and late last year he was rumored to be a candidate for Trump’s Secretary of State.

As Corker pointed out on Friday, there’s an estimated 27 million people today living in slavery, more than at any time in the world’s history. An estimated 24 percent of the total are in sexual servitude, with 76 percent of them in hard labor.