1. Anti-Catholic bigotry is alive in the U.S. Senate.

By Michael Gerson, The Washington Post, January 18, 2019, Pg. A19, Opinion

Those who want to understand how Democrats manage to scare the hell out of vast sections of the country need look no further than the story of Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and the Knights of Columbus.

In considering the confirmation of Brian Buescher to a federal judgeship last month, Harris and Hirono submitted written questions that raised alarms about his membership in “an all-male society comprised primarily of Catholic men.” “Were you aware,” Harris asked, “that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?” And: “Have you ever, in any way, assisted with or contributed to advocacy against women’s reproductive rights?” And: “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed marriage equality when you joined the organization?”

For those who know the Knights of Columbus, this is a bit like accusing your Aunt Harriet’s knitting circle of being a Mexican drug cartel. In most of the country, the Knights of Columbus is a respected fraternal organization consisting of men who hand out coats to needy children, promote devotion to the Virgin Mary, support crisis pregnancy shelters and protest doggedly each year in the March for Life.

Hirono regards the traditional moral views of the Knights as “extreme positions.” The difficulty with this line of reasoning is that they are exactly the same positions of the Catholic Church itself. So why wouldn’t a judge’s membership in the Catholic Church — with its all-male clergy, opposition to abortion and belief in traditional marriage — be problematic as well?

This is not just a liberal excess; it is a liberal argument. Religious liberty, in this view, reaches to the limits of your cranium. You can believe any retrograde thing you want. But you can’t act on that belief in the public square. And you can’t be a member of organizations that hold backward views and still be trusted with government jobs upholding the secular, liberal political order.

The answer to all of this is a great American value called pluralism. The views and values of Americans are shaped in a variety of institutions, religious and nonreligious. No one is disqualified from self-government by a religious test. So people who are members of the Knights of Columbus and members of the American Civil Liberties Union can participate on an equal footing.

There are limits, of course. Membership in a terrorist group or the Ku Klux Klan is disqualifying, because they are motivated by hate and seek the violent subjugation of their neighbors. But if liberal Democrats want to compare the Catholic Church to a hate group, good luck with that. They will offend the last religious traditionalists they haven’t already and alienate a good many others besides.


2. With parties further apart on abortion, March for Life highlights the divide.

By Julie Zauzmer, The Washington Post, January 18, 2019, Pg. B1

The newest class in Congress heralds a redrawing of the battle lines in the ever-contentious fight over abortion. Not so long ago, many moderate members of Congress broke from their parties over this deeply felt issue. Now, Republicans who support abortion rights are “nearly extinct.” Democrats who oppose abortion are a “dying breed.”

At the March for Life, the largest annual antiabortion event, which will take place Friday on the Mall, the increasing polarization of the antiabortion movement as an almost solely Republican issue will be in stark relief.

Leaders of the march enthusiastically welcome support from President Trump and from Vice President Pence — while insisting they want to maintain a bipartisan standpoint and a diverse crowd of attendees.

But some liberal-leaning antiabortion activists criticize the March for Life for alienating Democrats by embracing polarizing figures, from the president and vice president to this year’s featured speaker, Ben Shapiro, a popular conservative commentator.


3. The House rebukes a member, There must be no place in America for racial or religious bigotry.

The Washington Times, January 18, 2019, Pg. B2, Editorial

It has become a commonplace that bigotry is on the rise in the United States. Given that America is more diverse and that there are more opportunities available for racial minorities than ever before in U.S. history, we’re not so sure that this is so. But bigotry has no rightful place in America, and we’re happy to see it dying out.

We note, however, that there appears to be one notable exception to this trend. Hatred of Jews — an ancient pathology, known popularly as “anti-Semitism” — does appear to be on the rise. And it’s not “whataboutism” to note that this is largely a sin of the left.

A poll taken two years ago purports to show the normalization of anti-Semitism in American life, an increase in 40 percent of Americans who hold anti-Semitic views. Among the poll’s findings are that 31 percent of Americans believe Jews are “more loyal to Israel than to America,” and that a quarter believe that Jews “talk too much” about the Holocaust.

The dangers are not merely academic. Anti-Semitic hate crimes rose by 57 percent between 2016 and 2017, the Anti-Defamation League 
reports. And who can forget the slaughter that unfolded in Pittsburgh last year when 11 worshipers were murdered in a synagogue? That atrocity was the worst mass killing of Jews in American history.

Anti-Semitism is a scourge with thousands of years of history. It’s probably naive to think it will ever die out. But trends indicate things are moving in the wrong direction.


4. Lonely pro-life Democrats to join annual march, Party pushing away abortion opponents.

By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, January 18, 2019, Pg. A1

The 46th annual March for Life on Friday in Washington promises a diverse lineup of speakers to address tens of thousands of marchers — including two elected pro-life Democrats, an increasing rarity on the national stage.

“Certainly, inside Washington, you don’t find pro-life Democrats,” Mr. Lipinksi told The Times. “But about 30 percent of Democratic voters identify themselves as pro-life. And it is a political mistake if the Democratic Party is not welcoming of pro-life candidates and voters.”

Ms. Jackson and Mr. Lipinski are featured speakers for Friday’s rally in downtown Washington. 


5. Bishops’ pro-life leader says abuse of minors ‘upends’ witness.

By Christopher White, Crux, January 18, 2019

In the thick of the clergy sex abuse crisis, thousands of American Catholics descended on the nation’s capitol in protest of abortion where Archbishop Joseph Naumann reminded them that the abuse of minors is antithetical to the Church’s pro-life witness.

“For all Catholics, the last several months have been profoundly difficult,” he said. “We have been devastated by the scandal of sexual misconduct by clergy and of past instances of the failure of bishops to respond with compassion to victims of abuse and to protect adequately the members of their flock.”

“The abuse of children or minors upends the pro-life ethic because it is a grave injustice and an egregious offense against the dignity of the human person,” Naumann continued. “Moreover, the failure to respond effectively to the abuse crisis undermines every other ministry within the Church.”

Naumann’s remarks came on Thursday evening at the National Prayer Vigil for Life, which occurs each year on the eve of the March for Life, an annual event in protest of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion throughout the United States.

This marks Nuamann’s inaugural year as head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) pro-life committee, and, as is custom for that position, he served as principal celebrant and homilist for the Mass.


6. The Tense Debate Over Gay Priests, Efforts to blame abuse cases on a ‘homosexual subculture’ in the Catholic hierarchy have divided the church and drawn charges of scapegoating.

By Francis X. Rocca, Wall Street Journal Online, January 17, 2019, 11:48 AM

Since last summer, the Catholic Church has been roiled by accusations that retired Archbishop Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., molested male minors and sexually harassed adult seminarians and priests over more than two decades. The case has reignited a long and tense debate among Catholics over the question of homosexuality in the all-male priesthood. Some bishops, other clergy and laypeople have cited Archbishop McCarrick’s rise to power, despite widespread rumors of sexual misconduct, as evidence of a “homosexual subculture” in the hierarchy that they blame for allowing sex abuse and covering it up.

A study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, commissioned by the USCCB and published in 2004, found that 81% of the reported victims of sex abuse by priests were male.

One point that all sides in the debate seem to agree on is that the priesthood today is a disproportionately gay vocation. Of the 37,000 priests in the U.S., Father Martin estimates that gay men make up anywhere between 25% and 40%. Janet Smith, a professor of moral theology at a seminary in Detroit who has called for “eradicating…homosexual networks” in the clergy, believes the proportion of “active homosexuals” varies widely but constitutes as much as 50% of the priests in some U.S. dioceses.

Some argue that the clerical life poses an unreasonable challenge for gay men. “It’s just not a good place for people with same-sex attraction to be in a same-sex environment,” said Msgr. Charles Pope, a pastor in Washington, D.C., who has written on the subject for the National Catholic Register. “If an alcoholic came to me and said, ‘I’m sober and I’m going to get a job working in a bar,’ I’d say, ‘That’s not a good match for you.’”

Father Martin agrees that “people who cannot live celibacy should not be clergy” but says that there is no reason to think gay people are less equipped to do so. “The catechism says that celibacy is what all gay people should do, so gay priests are following the catechism to the letter,” he said. “If you’re saying that gay men can’t be celibate, you’re saying that the catechism can’t be lived.”


7. At pro-life Mass, Naumann calls for mercy.

By Catholic News Agency, January 17, 2019, 9:00 PM

The pro-life movement must be one of mercy, said Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City Thursday night, at the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.

“The pro-life ethic challenges us to care about the sacredness of every human being throughout the life spectrum. We are called always and everywhere to promote the dignity of the human person,” Naumann said in his homily at the Mass, which preceded the nation’s annual March for Life Friday.

Attending the Mass were pro-life supporters, seminarians, priests and bishops from across the country ahead of tomorrow’s March for Life, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands from across the country. 

The archbishop said the idea that pro-lifers care only about the unborn is “simply not true.” He pointed to the care and work of volunteers who give their time and money to support pregnancy centers and other programs to support pregnant women in difficult circumstances.


8. Senate Rebukes Harris and Hirono on Knights of Columbus.

By Jeffrey Cimmino, Washington Free Beacon, January 16, 2019, 7:02 PM

On Wednesday the Senate approved a resolution that rebuked two Democratic senators for questioning judicial nominees about their membership in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal service organization.

The resolution, introduced by Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), affirmed “the sense of the Senate that disqualifying a nominee to federal office on the basis of membership in the Knights of Columbus violates the Constitution of the United States.” The Senate proceeded to affirm the resolution without objection.

Last month, Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii), both on the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned a judicial nominee about his membership in the Knights of Columbus and whether it would affect his ability to fairly judge cases. Brian Buescher was nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska.

Hirono sent written questions claiming “the Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions. For example, it was reportedly one of the top contributors to California’s Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage.” She also asked if Buescher would quit the group if confirmed “to avoid any appearance of bias.”

Sasse’s resolution also referenced the anti-Catholic bigotry Democratic president John F. Kennedy faced during his presidency, and cited the Knights of Columbus’s “proud tradition of standing against the forces of prejudice and oppression such as the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Germany.”

After the resolution was affirmed, the Nebraska senator said he would report back to Buescher “that he can ignore those questions that he received about whether or not he would resign his membership in the Knights of Columbus.”