1. Ecumenical, interfaith experts in Rome ponder promise and perils of division.

By Claire Giangravè, Crux, January 10, 2018

Participants at a global conference in Rome this week on ecumenism and interreligious dialogue pondered both the promise and peril of divisions within different Christian and religious traditions, not just among them, acknowledging those tensions often get in the way of forging closer ties, but also insisting they have an upside.

One expert went so far as to issue a rule of thumb for understanding another tradition – don’t focus just on where that tradition is compact, he said, but also where people are fighting among themselves.

It’s important that “each religion participating in dialogue acknowledge its vulnerabilities and inner tensions, and for the other partner to be attentive to the tensions and disagreements in its own culture and the other,” said Robert Gimello, Research Professor of Theology and East Asian Languages & Cultures at the University of Notre Dame.

The discussion came as part of a second installment at an international conference called ‘The Whole is Greater than Its Parts: Christian Unity and Interreligious Encounter Today’, organized by the World Religions World Church (WRWC) program of the University of Notre Dame and staged at Notre Dame’s Global Gateway facility in Rome.

Church leaders, theologians, and scholars of global religions from various parts of the world came to Rome Jan. 8-10 to address the most pressing matters regarding dialogue between the Church and other religions, including Muslim/Christian tensions, international ecumenical models such as India and ongoing debates in Christianity over a whole variety of matters.


2. March for Life events planned across the U.S.

By Catholic News Agency, January 9, 2018

Forty-five years after the Supreme Court ruling that mandated legal abortion nationwide, hundreds of thousands are expected to attend rallies supporting the dignity of life, from conception to natural death.

The National March for Life, held each year in Washington, D.C., typically draws large crowds from across the country. This year, the march will be held on Jan. 19 and will feature the theme, “Love saves lives.”

Speakers include Pam Tebow, mother of former NFL player Tim Tebow; Congressmen Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Chris Smith (R-NJ); and Sister Bethany Madonna from the Sisters of Life.

The D.C. march is one of the largest annual political rallies in the United States. Numerous other cities across the U.S. will also hold Masses, marches, and other events on or near the Jan. 22 anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

March for Life Chicago is set to take place on Jan. 14 at Federal Plaza from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Speakers will include former Planned Parenthood director Ramona Trevinoa and clergy such as Cardinal Blase Cupich; Bishop Donald Hying of Gary, Indiana; and Orthodox Bishop Paul of Chicago and the Midwest.

California will host multiple pro-life rallies this month. The fourth annual OneLife LA event will take place on Jan. 20 from 12:00-4:00 p.m. in Los Angeles, where thousands of people will march to declare “a commitment to valuing and protecting all human life, particularly the most vulnerable in our community,” according to the event’s website.

The LA march will include a one-mile walk from La Placita Olvera to the LA State Historic Park, where there will be speakers, musicians and food.

Up the coast from LA, the 14th annual West Coast Walk for Life will take place in San Francisco on Jan. 27 at 12:30 p.m. at the Civic Center Plaza. The event will include speakers such as pro-life author Terry Beatley; former abortion doctor John Bruchalski, who now runs a pro-life family clinic in Washington, D.C.; and Rev. Clenard Childress of the New Calvary Baptist Church.

Denver, Colorado will also host a Celebrate Life March on Jan. 13. Before the march, Masses will be celebrated at seven different locations. Afterwards, a rally will be held at the steps of the state capitol at 1:00 p.m.

Speakers at the Denver March will include Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, the Denver Sisters of Life, and Dr. Don Sweeting, president of Colorado Christian University, among others.


3. US appeals court: Tennessee abortion amendment vote was OK.

By Jonathan Mattise, Associated Press, January 9, 2018, 3:58 PM

A federal appeals court dealt abortion opponents and state elections officials a victory Tuesday by ruling that Tennessee won’t have to recount votes on a constitutional amendment passed in 2014 that allows tougher abortion restrictions.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opinion Tuesday says the state’s vote counting method on Amendment 1 was reasonable and true to the meaning of the Tennessee Constitution. It also says the count didn’t infringe on the voting rights of the plaintiffs, eight abortion rights advocates who sued the state.

The order overturns an April 2016 district court that called Tennessee’s vote-counting on Amendment 1 unconstitutional and fundamentally unfair and ordered a recount, which was put on hold pending the appeal.

Amendment 1 says that nothing in the state constitution “secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion” and empowers state lawmakers to “enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion.”

After the amendment’s adoption, lawmakers passed a 2015 restriction that made abortion clinics meet hospital-level surgical standards, only to see that law permanently halted in spring of 2017 in a federal lawsuit. In the same lawsuit, the state is still defending a 2015 restriction that requires counseling and a 48-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions.

And in spring 2017, Gov. Bill Haslam signed a law that bans abortions after 20 weeks on fetuses determined to be viable.


4. US Bishops Set Course on Liturgical Translations: In the wake of Magnum Principium’s changes to the process for approving liturgical translations, the U.S. bishops are charting a careful path forward.

By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, January 9, 2018

When Pope Francis altered the sensitive process of approving liturgical translations with the Sept. 9 release of his apostolic letter Magnum Principium (The Great Principle), some headlines predicted a return to the “liturgy wars” of the late 20th century.

But Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), quickly directed members to withhold all public comment on Magnum Principium until the relevant U.S. bishops’ committees could study the document.

Finally, toward the close of 2017, the conference leadership signaled that the practical outcome of Magnum Principium, which the Pope issued motu proprio (of his own accord), would be limited in the U.S, at least for the present.

“Implications of Magnum Principium for Liturgical Translations,” a seven-point memo developed by the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship and the USCCB Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, concludes that the papal document does not mandate a reassessment of previous translations approved by the U.S. bishops. The memo also makes clear that the motu proprio, while requiring changes to the process of approving texts submitted by bishops’ conferences, does not constitute a break with Liturgiam Authenticam, Pope St. John Paul II’s 2001 instruction that called for a more literal and faithful translation of Latin texts than had been the case in the wake of the Second Vatican Council.

“The motu proprio is not retroactive and … approved translations remain in force,” read the first statement in the memo, which was published in the December 2017 newsletter of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship.

And contrary to some speculation that the bishops might reconsider approved translations of the Roman Missal, the report affirmed the conference’s “right to propose revisions to the translation of the missal,” but signaled that such a process would be laborious and unlikely.

Archbishop Cordileone

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, a member of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, told the Register that Pope Francis’ decision to limit the Holy See’s involvement in the translation process will, in the case of English-speaking countries, put more weight on the work of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), which was formed in 1963 and will continue to prepare the translations for the bishops’ review.

The Memo’s Context

The USCCB’s memo was attributed to Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, and Archbishop Bernard Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis, then chairman of the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, both of whom issued a joint response to Magnum Principium in a letter dated Nov. 3, 2017, and presented at the U.S. bishops’ meeting that month in Baltimore.

The memo was designed to formally clarify the practical impact of Magnum Principium on the U.S.-based translation process, following the document’s release and the very public debate it set off at the highest levels of the Holy See.

What’s in Store

Looking ahead, U.S. Church leaders and experts suggest that the long-term impact of Pope Francis’ motu proprio will hinge on the work of the ICEL and its relationship to the USCCB and the 10 other full members of the commission, including Australia, Canada, England and Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Scotland and South Africa.


5. Indiana latest state to consider assisted suicide.

By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency, January 9, 2018, 4:46 PM

A bill to legalize assisted suicide in Indiana has come under fire by Catholic and pro-life groups shortly after it was introduced in the Indiana Legislature.

House Bill 1157, which was introduced by State Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington), would allow adults who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness to end their own lives with the assistance of a doctor, following a 15-day waiting period and other psychological examinations.

Pierce submitted a similar bill during last year’s legislative session, however, the bill did not make it out of committee.

Currently, six states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized assisted suicide. The most recent of these was the District of Columbia, whose law went into effect in February of 2017.