1. March for Life ‘extra special’ with Trump: Pro-choice Obama cast pall over last year’s event.

By Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, January 27, 2017, Pg. A1

Hundreds of thousands of students, activists and congregants will take to the streets of the nation’s capital Friday, as the March for Life, no longer mired in the shadow of a pro-choice president, renews its fight to eradicate the practice of abortion.

Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow at The Catholic Association, said the annual march allows the pro-life movement to reflect on the accomplishments of the previous year and prepare for work still to be done. She said this year’s event will be “extra special” because of the gains the movement made in the general election.

“This is the first time I’ll be at the march when there’s a real opportunity to enact pro-life policies,” Ms. McGuire said.

The largest pro-life gathering in the world, the March for Life convenes every year on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade to protest the 1973 Supreme Court decision creating a constitutional right to an abortion. Dozens of other pro-life rallies are held in major cities around the world.

The mood at this year’s march will be drastically different from last year’s, Ms. McGuire said.

Weeks before last year’s march, President Obama cast a pall over the proceedings by vetoing a bill to defund Planned Parenthood.

“Last year’s march took place after seven years of President Obama’s aggressive, hostile pro-abortion policies in pretty much every direction,” Ms. McGuire said. “I think ‘uncertainty’ is the right word to describe the direction we were going.”

One of the reasons the March for Life is such an uplifting event, Ms. McGuire said, is the number of young people who attend. Tens of thousands of high school and college students from across the country bolster its ranks every year.

“The first year I ever went, it seemed more like a rock concert than a political march,” she said. “The fact that the most pro-life generation is the one coming up is real cause for optimism.”

The March for Life is taking place less than a week after the Women’s March on Washington, a decidedly pro-choice demonstration that attracted hundreds of thousands to protest the inauguration of Mr. Trump.

Ms. McGuire said the pro-life march provides a compelling counterpoint to some of the views espoused at the Women’s March.

“It serves as a reminder that women are not united on this issue,” she said. “If you go to the March for Life and see how female it is, how many women are there, I think it offers an important contrast.”

But Maureen Ferguson, a senior policy adviser at The Catholic Association, said it’s not fair to compare the staying power of one women’s rights rally to a march in its 44th year.

“In a sense, it’s like comparing apples and oranges,” Ms. Ferguson said. “That was the first major outlet after this very divisive election, whereas the March for Life is something that has happened for 44 years. Rain, sleet, freezing temperatures — it happens year after year after year across the country to stand up for life.”

A report published by the Media Research Center this week showed that the Women’s March received 129 times more coverage than last year’s March for Life.

“I’ve never seen the media add up all the state marches, all the people that march around the world like they did with the Women’s March,” Ms. Ferguson said. “We know every year that the March for Life is vastly undercovered. Maybe that will change this year.”


2. Pope Francis Routs the Knights of Malta.

By Sohrab Ahmari, The Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2017, Pg. A13

One of Europe’s smallest states, the Vatican, has overrun another. After weeks of tension, on Wednesday Pope Francis effectively took control of the Sovereign Order of Malta, a 900-year-old religious group that also exists as an independent state under international law.

The rift between the Holy See and the order is more than a fascinating legal drama: It’s a proxy for a wider spiritual rift between Catholic traditionalists and a pope trying to sideline them by increasingly authoritarian means.

The Holy See has thus effectively destroyed the order’s sovereignty. Legal overreach aside, the controversy sheds light on a papacy capable of ruthless politicking, a reality that belies Pope Francis’ reputation in the media for lenience and conviviality.

It’s also notable that the Maltese affair has divided the church along familiar lines. As with other recent disputes—communion for the divorced-and-remarried; the status of the Latin Mass; Vatican engagement with China’s Communist regime—conservatives are on one side and Pope Francis is on the other. It won’t escape traditionalists that the pope has now humiliated a Catholic knight for upholding moral orthodoxy.


3. Conservatives See Hope in a Long Abortion Fight.

 By Jeremy W. Peters, The New York Times, January 27, 2017, Pg. A15

Sensing a political opportunity they have not had in more than a decade, social conservatives are preparing for a lengthy fight over abortion rights that promises to widen the culture war fissures that Republicans have tried for years to bridge.

Two fights now loom in Washington that are galvanizing the right as it solidifies control of two branches of government and moves to dominate the third: an effort in Congress to eliminate Planned Parenthood’s federal funding and President Trump’s forthcoming choice of a Supreme Court nominee.

Cutting off Planned Parenthood is part of the larger and messier debate over repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans so far have been unable to do. Even if the law is scrapped, there is no guarantee a Planned Parenthood funding ban could easily move forward, given that left-leaning women’s groups will bring intense pressure upon moderate Republicans to vote against it.

Mr. Trump has committed in writing to choosing a Supreme Court nominee who opposes abortion. But a Democratic filibuster of Mr. Trump’s choice seems likely, which would force Republicans to confront the difficult question of jettisoning the Senate filibuster for all presidential nominees, once and for all. 

While the ease and speed with which Republicans can act is in doubt, the new president’s commitment is not. Barely in office a week, Mr. Trump has already taken steps to reassure his anti-abortion base. Earlier this week, he reinstituted a Reagan-era policy prohibiting foreign aid to health providers abroad that discuss abortion as a family planning option.

In a show of solidarity with the movement, Mr. Trump is sending Vice President Mike Pence to speak at an anti-abortion rally in Washington on Friday that is expected to draw thousands.

The president’s appointments so far, both in his cabinet and among other senior White House positions, include many committed and longtime opponents of abortion. 


4. DC’s March for Life to highlight gains by abortion opponents.

By Ben Nuckols, Associated Press, January 27, 2017, 3:45 AM

For the first time in years, abortion opponents will have all the political momentum when they hold their annual rally Friday on the National Mall.

In Congress, Republican majorities in both chambers are vowing to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which provided more than a third of the nation’s abortions in 2014. They also hope to ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Trump has pledged to sign both measures if they reach his desk.

Less than a year ago, with Barack Obama’s second term winding down, things were markedly different. The Supreme Court struck down Texas’ strict regulations on abortion clinics as interfering with a woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. And with polls at the time suggesting Hillary Clinton would likely defeat Trump, abortion opponents worried about an era of liberal majorities on the court.

“The horizon looked bleak for the pro-life movement,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life.

Americans remain deeply divided on abortion.

The latest Gallup survey, released last spring, found that 47 percent of Americans described themselves as pro-choice and 46 percent as pro-life. It also found that 79 percent believed abortion should be legal in either some or all circumstances.


5. The Beauty of a Soul Opened Up by Grace.

 By Fr. Roger Landry, The Anchor, January 27, 2017

For those who love St. John Paul II, last Saturday was a big family celebration, when Pope Francis authorized the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree of heroic virtues for Jan Tyranowski (1901-1947), the Polish tailor who played an indispensable role in helping the young Karol Wojtyla become a man of prayer and apostolate and assisted him to discern his priestly vocation. Without Jan Tyranowski, there likely would never have been John Paul II, and his life provides a compelling witness of lay sanctity that deserves to be better known and emulated.

In Jan we see a model of adult conversion from spiritual mediocrity to the holiness to which God calls each of us. He was a nondescript 34 year-old used to fulfilling his religious duties but not much more when he heard a homily in which one of the Salesian priests at St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Krakow emphasized, “It’s not difficult to be a saint!” They were revolutionary words at the time for a layman, because it was presumed that if one wanted to become holy, the path was as a priest or religious. That an accountant-turned-tailor not only could become holy but could do so in his day-to-day life was a thought that changed his life.

In short, he became serious about his faith, about his soul, and about the direction of his life.

Even though he was an extreme introvert, he eventually forced himself to overcome his temperament in order to pass on the fruits of his contemplation to others. After the Nazis invaded Krakow in 1939, they deported and killed in the concentration camps a third of Krakow’s clergy, including 11 of the 13 Salesians at Jan’s parish, leaving only two elderly clerics behind. There was no way these two priests alone could continue to pass on the faith to the young at a time a severe crisis. They needed help. Jan was at first reluctant, deeming himself too shy and incapable, but the desperate priests prevailed.

So he started to form Living Rosary cells, groups of 15 young men, each of whom would commit to praying one specific decade of the Rosary each day so that, together, they would recite the entire Rosary for the needs of each member and for the enormous needs and intentions of their people under Nazi occupation. The men would commit themselves to supporting each other as spiritual brothers. 

Among those he recruited and made a leader of a Living Rosary group was Karol Wojtyla. Tyranowski was the one who introduced him to St. John of the Cross, whose writings would dramatically influence the development of his mind and soul and on whom he would write one of his two dissertations. 

John Paul, who retained a picture of him in his bedroom for the rest of his life, said about him, “He was one of those unknown saints [who]… disclosed to me the riches of his inner life, of his mystical life. In his words, in his spirituality and in the example of a life given to God alone, he represented a new world that I did not yet know. I saw the beauty of a soul opened up by grace.”

As Tyranowski is advanced on the road toward canonization, his life is a potent reminder that sanctity is in the reach of everyone whose soul is open to grace.


6. Pence, a longtime hero for the antiabortion movement, will join the March for Life.

By Sarah Pulliam Bailey, The Washington Post, January 26, 2017, 8:01 PM

Vice President Pence will join Friday’s March for Life, a move from the White House considered historic by march organizers. President Ronald Reagan made a video for the march in 1988 and President George W. Bush called in to the march in 2008, but no president or vice president has spoken at the march before, according to a march spokeswoman. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s senior counselor, will also speak at the march.

March organizers say they expect tens of thousands of people to march at the event that annually draws activists from across the country. This year, organizers believe they will see a surge of energy with the ascension of a president who is expected to move forward on antiabortion policies, including defunding Planned Parenthood and appointing an antiabortion Supreme Court justice.

Pence, who has called himself an “evangelical Catholic,” has long been a hero among antiabortion activists and as governor of Indiana signed what was considered some of the strictest laws on abortion.

During an interview with ABC News’s David Muir that aired Wednesday night, President Trump voiced concerns that the press doesn’t cover the March for Life.

“You’re going to have a lot of people coming on Friday,” Trump said. “And I will say this, and I didn’t realize this. But I was told you will have a very large crowd of people. I don’t know as large or larger. Some people said it will be larger, pro-life people, and they say the press doesn’t cover them.”


7. How the Abortion Debate Rocked Progressivism.

By Mary Eberstadt, Time Magazine, January 26, 2017

Together, the Women’s March on Jan. 21 and the March for Life on Jan. 27 highlight a reality that isn’t going away: forty-four years after Roe v. Wade, the politics of abortion in America is more polarized and divisive than ever. Why?

Consider the about-face by the Women’s March. No event in our time has been heralded as more diverse and inclusive of women everywhere — until an antiabortion group called New Wave Feminists took the marchers at their word and tried to join ranks. They got the boot. “The Women’s March’s platform is pro-choice, and that has been our stance from day one,” the excluders explained.

Like-minded absolutism has led groups like the ACLU to sue Catholic hospitals and otherwise work against charitable Christian organizations. Emergency pregnancy centers run by antiabortion groups — where women can get free medical advice and other help, as well as more prosaic aid like diapers and baby furniture — have also become targets of progressives. The ACLU has sued the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops over its work on the southern border. The Catholic Church is instrumental in alleviating humanitarian need there, but these days defending abortion trumps helping refugees.

This is a sea change for progressivism. Until the 1990s or so, nationally respected Democrats like Sargent Shriver and Robert Casey of Pennsylvania enjoyed good standing in the party without having to recant their pro-life stances.

Similarly, even yesterday’s champions of abortion rights weren’t nearly as uncompromisingly dogmatic as they’ve become. During the 2008 campaign, the recent Democratic standard bearer, Hillary Clinton, could call for making abortion “safe, legal and rare.” Such careful rhetoric was in keeping with reality. Yet by 2016, with its declaration of newly “unequivocal” support, the Democratic Party platform was agreed by all sides to be the most “progressive” in history — more supportive of abortion rights than ever before.

Until just a few years ago, progressives had a choice between their opinions on abortion and their opinions about everything else. Now they don’t. Will this choiceless stance prove acceptable to all people of the left, beyond coastal elites? Will today’s abortion-rights absolutism help the Democratic Party that progressivism calls home — or cleave it? Tomorrow’s elections may hinge in part on answers to just those questions.


8. Cardinal Dolan: Abortion undermines everyone’s human rights.

By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, January 26, 2017, 5:06 PM

In a culture where abortion is prevalent, no one’s rights are safe, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York insisted at a national pro-life Mass before the March for Life.

“We come together this sacred evening in a church we claim as a sanctuary, in a land historically termed a sanctuary, on a planet the creator intended as an environment of sanctuary,” said Cardinal Dolan, chair of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee, in his homily at the March for Life vigil Mass on Thursday.

“Why?” he asked. “To reclaim the belief that the mother’s womb is the primal sanctuary, where a helpless, innocent, fragile, tiny baby is safe, secure, nurtured and protected.”

The March for Life vigil Mass was held Thursday evening at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

The national march is the largest pro-life rally in the world, annually drawing hundreds of thousands of walkers. It is held on or around the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision of Jan. 22, 1973 that mandated legal abortion throughout the nation.  

“Can any of us be safe, can any of us claim a sanctuary anywhere when the first and most significant sanctuary of them all, the mother’s womb protecting a tiny life, can be raided and ravaged?” he asked.

A host of evils occur if abortion is prevalent, he explained. “Should it shock us, my friends, as Pope Francis asks in his ongoing global examination of conscience, that a culture that violently intrudes upon the life of baby in the sanctuary of his or her mother’s womb, would soon lose reverence for all places intended by God as safe, secure, and nurturing?”