1. Xavier Becerra’s Nonprofit Problem, They don’t spend donors’ money on his priorities. As Biden’s health secretary, he could try to coerce them, By James Piereson and Naomi Schaefer Riley, The Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2021, Pg. A17, Opinion
No federal agency works as much with nonprofits as the Department of Health and Human Services. That is one reason Xavier Becerra, President-elect Biden’s pick to lead the agency, will face opposition. His record, as California attorney general since 2017 and in Congress for nearly a quarter-century, has been one of hostility to nonprofit institutions and the donors who support them.
In the House Mr. Becerra often accused charitable foundations of failing to donate funds equitably. …. He asserted that there was “disproportionate giving . . . skewed against people of color.”
Not content merely to criticize, Mr. Becerra threatened to use federal power to get his way. “We’re not trying to mandate something,” Mr. Becerra told the council, “but we will if you don’t act.”

Mr. Becerra has also set his sights on religious nonprofits. In 2019 Mr. Becerra led a group of states in trying to stop the Trump administration from exempting religious organizations from rules barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity. These included religious foster-care agencies that find homes for some of the most vulnerable children but say that certifying a home with a gay couple violates their religious principles.

Religious organizations run many of America’s hospitals, nursing homes, senior centers, foster and adoption agencies, after-school programs and hospices. Mr. Becerra seems to want the power to cast their principles aside in favor of his own ideological mission. He holds many views of this kind, well outside the American mainstream, and would have broad discretion to act on them as health and human services secretary. Private foundations and religious organizations are correct to be wary of his appointment.
Mr. Piereson is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Ms. Riley is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.
2. Appeals court considers university officials’ personal liability for religious discrimination, By Catholic News Agency, January 14, 2021, 12:56 AM
A federal appeals court heard arguments on Wednesday on whether public university officials can be held personally liable for religious discrimination.
The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on Wednesday in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship v. University of Iowa, the case of a Christian group kicked off the school’s campus because of its faith-based policy requiring leaders to be Christian.
“This is a case of deliberate, express, religious viewpoint discrimination,” stated Daniel Blomberg, senior counsel at Becket who is representing InterVarsity Christian Fellowship before the Eighth Circuit Court.
3. North Dakota bill would charge abortion provider with murder, By James MacPherson, Associated Press, January 14, 2021
Performing an abortion in North Dakota would amount to murder and come with a life prison sentence under a bill proposed by a conservative Republican lawmaker who is a Lutheran pastor.
Rep. Jeff Hoverson’s bill, which is co-sponsored by some of the Legislature’s other most pro-life members, also would make it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison to help women get abortions, including by giving them rides to abortion clinics.
The bill doesn’t have the support of Republican leaders, so it’s unlikely to pass and would surely face a legal challenge even if it did. But it’s the latest in a series of anti-abortion bills put up for consideration in a state that has some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws on its books.
4. Why We Catholics Are So ‘Hung Up’ on Abortion, By Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Catholic New York, January 13, 2021, 4:45 AM, Opinion
Why are you Catholics so hung up about abortion?” this rather well-known political leader asked me.
“Well, let me tell you,” I happily replied.
“For one, thanks for acknowledging how urgent this matter is for us. I don’t mind at all agreeing with you: we Catholics are ‘hung up’ on abortion.”
I went on. “Actually, we’re obsessed with the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of all human life! Yes, the innocent, helpless life of the baby in the womb, but also the life of the death row prisoner, the immigrant, the fragile elderly, the poor and the sick.”
I wasn’t done. “And it’s not just ‘you Catholics’ who are very upset about the unfettered abortion-on-demand culture in which we live. Most Americans, of any religion, or none at all, report they are as well. As a matter of fact, this is not a uniquely ‘Catholic’ issue at all, but one of human rights. We didn’t learn that abortion was horrible in religion class, but in biology, and in our courses on the ‘inalienable rights’ tradition in American history.”

Don’t worry, the pro-abortionists reassured us forty-eight years ago. You’ll learn to accept this. We dread taking the life of the little infant in the womb, too. Abortion will be kept safe, legal, and rare! It would be limited to the earliest weeks of pregnancy, and only resorted to in extreme cases like the endangerment of the mother’s life. And we’d never force people whose conscience disagrees with us to perform or pay for one.
So much for the reassurances! We have hardly gotten used to it. Abortion remains the hottest issue in our politics, with polls showing that most Americans want restrictions on its unquestioned use, and do not want their taxes to pay for it.
Now, the pro-abortionists no longer call abortion regrettable, but celebrate it and brag about it! No longer do they argue that the question about the viability of the “fetus” is one impossible to answer. Readily do they admit it’s a baby. It’s just that, for them, the desire of another trumps the baby’s right to life.
Rare? Forget about it! Now it’s an unfettered right, at any time during the pregnancy, up to and including the very birth, with demands that sincere health care professionals whose consciences rebel at the grizzly procedure be forced to perform them, that tax money pay for them, that our foreign policy insists other countries promote them, and that the freedom of employers who abhor them still offer insurance to cover them.
We’re even more “hung up” now, as our new president, whom we wish well, and who speaks with admirable sensitivity about protecting the rights of the weakest and most threatened, ran on a platform avidly supporting this gruesome capital punishment for innocent pre-born babies.
5. North Dakota bill would force priests to violate confession seal in abuse cases, By Mary Farrow, Catholic News Agency, January 13, 2021, 9:01 PM
Three North Dakota state legislators introduced a bill this week that would oblige Catholic priests to violate the seal of confession in cases of confirmed or suspected child abuse, on penalty of imprisonment or heavy fines.
The bill was introduced Jan. 12 by state senators Judy Lee (R), Kathy Hogan (D), and Curt Kreun (R), and state representatives Mike Brandenburg (R) and Mary Schneider (D).
The current mandatory reporting law in North Dakota states that clergy are considered mandatory reporters of known or suspected child abuse, except in cases when “the knowledge or suspicion is derived from information received in the capacity of spiritual adviser”, such as in the confessional.
6. Ohio requires in-person administration of medical abortion, By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency, January 13, 2021, 7:01 PM
The governor of Ohio has signed a bill which requires physicians to be present during the administration of the first drug of an abortion pill regimen, banning the practice of “telemedicine abortion” procedures in the state.
Senate Bill 260 was passed by the Ohio House of Representatives by a vote of 54-30, which was along party lines.
Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed the bill into law Jan. 9.
7. Kentucky lawmakers pass two pro-life bills early in legislative session, By Catholic News Agency, January 13, 2021, 3:29 PM
Lawmakers in Kentucky on Monday sent two pro-life bills to Governor Andy Beshear’s desk, both of which are likely to become law thanks to veto-proof majorities.
House Bill 2 would allow the state attorney general to directly investigate and prosecute abortion facilities for violations of recently enacted state laws, without relying on the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, as is currently the case.
In October 2020, an appeals court upheld several of Kentucky’s regulations on abortion clinics including that abortion facilities to have a transfer agreement with local hospitals, within a certain distance, in case of medical complications that could arise from abortions.
The second bill, Senate Bill 9, would make it illegal for medical professionals to deny medical care to babies born alive during abortions— a goal that has garnered support in several states and on the national level.
SB 9 also provides for born-alive infants to be legally recognized as persons under Kentucky law.
8. North Korea, Nigeria among the worst countries for Christian persecution, By Catholic News Agency, January 13, 2021, 1:27 PM
For the twentieth year in a row, North Korea tops the list of countries where Christians face oppression, according to a group that reports on global Christian persecution.
The advocacy group Open Doors released its annual World Watch List on Tuesday, documenting the countries where Christians face the most threats for their faith. North Korea again tops the list, and Nigeria has worsened to the point of entering the top 10 countries for persecution of Christians.
Overall, 340 million Christians worldwide face persecution, according to Open Doors, an increase of 30 million from last year.
9. Vatican City begins administering first doses of coronavirus vaccine, By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, January 13, 2021, 9:35 PM
Vatican City State began administering the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday.
Vatican residents and employees and their families are receiving their doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine in the atrium of the Paul VI Audience Hall.
Pope Francis also received his first dose of the vaccine on Jan. 13, according to Argentine newspaper La Nacion. He will reportedly receive the second dose in about three weeks.
10. Joe Manchin’s Wife: ‘Biden Administration Will Be Just as Strong’ as Trump on Religious Freedom, By Dr. Susan Berry, Breitbart, January 13, 2021
The Post reported Tuesday that Gayle Manchin, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), said she has spoken with the Biden transition team about religious freedom.
Manchin asserted:
[“]The Biden administration will be just as strong. I certainly congratulate the [Trump administration]. Trump put a spotlight on [religious freedom]. I believe the Biden administration will continue that.[“]

“It’s alarming to Catholics to see Joe Biden tout his Catholic faith and then turn around and say he would immediately go after the Little Sisters of the Poor and reinstate the rules that would force them to either violate their faith or pay crippling fines,” Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association, said in a statement to Breitbart News.
“Is there anything more contradictory than touting your faith while simultaneously threatening nuns who serve the elderly poor?” she asked.

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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