1. Most Americans don’t want a standing ovation for abortions until birth, But Democrats do.

By Ashley McGuire, USA Today Online, January 30, 2019, Opinion
Ashley McGuire is a senior fellow with The Catholic Association.

A standing ovation for abortion? That’s what New York’s Reproductive Health Act got in the Senate chamber when it passed last week. Lawmakers and bystanders stood and applauded a law that legalizes abortion all the way up until birth, for any reason.

The left may be celebrating the bill’s passage, but it is wildly out of step with American sentiment on the issue. American support for late-term abortion continues to decline; one poll last year found that a mere 13 percent of Americans support abortion all the way into the third trimester. And most Americans don’t think abortion is something to celebrate, or “shout” to borrow from the pro-choice lobby’s public relations campaign. A majority of Americans, in fact, say abortion is immoral.

But the bill did more than extend abortion up until labor pains begin. The bill drops the requirement that only doctors perform abortion and decriminalizes violence against children in the womb. Even if it’s by a woman’s thug boyfriend.

What happened in New York last week is somber and tragic. But it was a teaching moment for us all in that it made plain the left’s position on a deeply divisive issue. As the bishop of Albany wrote in a letter to his parishioner, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, pleading him not to sign the bill, “Do not build this Death Star.

The reality is that the left has moved past building Death Stars to celebrating death itself.

Ashley McGuire is a senior fellow with The Catholic Association, and the author of “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female.”


2. Pakistani court upholds woman’s blasphemy acquittal. 

By Shaiq Hussain, The Washington Post, January 30, 2019, Pg. A11

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld its decision to acquit a Christian woman on charges of blasphemy that kept her on death row for eight years, clearing the way for her to leave the country. 

Asia Bibi, 47, was released from prison in November and taken to a secure, undisclosed location for her safety, according to authorities. She may now leave Pakistan and is expected to join her daughters in Canada, where they were granted political asylum.

The court originally acquitted her on Oct. 31, prompting three days of paralyzing street demonstrations and death threats against the judges responsible for the decision by radical groups calling for her execution. Bibi’s lawyer fled the country at the time but later returned for the final hearing after the decision was appealed.

Bibi’s case strikes at the heart of one of the top issues in Pakistan: its strict blasphemy laws that have often been wielded against minorities, including an estimated 3 million Christians, in this Sunni-Muslim-majority nation of more than 200 million.

Just the accusation of blasphemy is often enough to motivate lynch mobs. No one charged with blasphemy has yet been formally executed under the law, however.


3. Some Praise, Some Criticism in Stories of Christian Educations.

By Dan Levin, The New York Times, January 30, 2019, Pg. A15

In a polarized nation, where clashing religious and ideological views unfold daily on social media and television and radio talk shows, the Twitter hashtag #ExposeChristianSchools ignited a firestorm. Its creator, Chris Stroop, a former evangelical Christian, urged those who had attended Christian schools to use it and “tell how traumatizing those bastions of bigotry are,” calling out Vice President Mike Pence, whose wife decided two weeks ago to return to teaching at a private Christian school that does not allow gay, bisexual or transgender students, parents or employees.

The hashtag generated thousands of responses — first in the immediate aftermath of the news that Karen Pence would return to Immanuel Christian School in Northern Virginia, and then more after a video of a confrontation between a group of Catholic high school students and a Native American man at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington went viral. 

We asked people on Twitter to share their experiences of Christian schools. We received hundreds of responses from people of all ages and Christian backgrounds, from Evangelical to Catholic. Many expressed gratitude for the faith-based education they received, while others described trauma and rejection. Many others expressed a combination of both. All were eager to explain how their schooling shaped their lives and worldviews.



4. Pro-life backlash hits states ‘codifying’ Roe.

By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, January 30, 2019, Pg. A1

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has reawakened the abortion debate with the sweeping Reproductive Health Act, lending momentum to similar abortion- friendly bills in other states — and igniting a backlash from the pro-life movement.

Legislation in New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia to loosen abortion restrictions are advancing as Democrats take advantage of their state legislative gains to “codify” the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, citing fears about a looming threat from a judicial branch increasingly being shaped by President Trump.

Planned Parenthood and the pro-choice movement — One World Trade Center was lit pink afterward to celebrate — even as the outcry from abortion opponents continues to escalate.

Catholic leaders have sparred over whether Mr. Cuomo should be excommunicated. The New York Post ran a front-page op-ed Tuesday by Cardinal Timothy Dolan headlined “Canon Fire: Why are gov and Dems alienating Catholic voters?”

Pro-life advocates, citing a Marist Study released this month showing 75 percent of U.S. adults oppose abortion after the first three months of pregnancy, warned that Democrats have overplayed their hand by pushing bills that go beyond what polls show the public supports.


5. The Courageous Honesty of Peter Steinfels. 

By George Weigel, First Things, January 30, 2019

Peter Steinfels’s long career in journalism included years of service as editor of Commonweal (from which perch he took me to the woodshed more than once), followed by a decade as senior religion correspondent of the New York Times. Steinfels has now done the Catholic Church in the United States—and American society as a whole—a tremendous service by telling some disturbing truths about the August 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report on clerical sexual abuse in six Keystone State dioceses. His lengthy article, “The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report: Not What It Seems,” was published on Commonweal’s website on January 9; it is required reading for those determined to grapple with the linked problems of sexual abuse and episcopal failure in the Church.  

Like anyone with a grain of moral sensibility or human feeling, Steinfels, long a leader of U.S. Catholicism’s liberal wing, was revolted by the graphic stories of sexual predation contained in the grand jury report, which Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro presented with great fanfare last August 14. Yet unlike other journalists who bought Mr. Shapiro’s lurid presentation hook, line, and sinker, Steinfels actually read the entire report—and then took the trouble to sift through its hundreds of pages to see if the data supported the charge that “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all.” 

After what must have been weeks of painstaking research, Dr. Steinfels reached a harsh but, to my mind, persuasive conclusion: Attorney General Shapiro’s office had produced an “inaccurate, unfair, and fundamentally misleading report” whose “shortcomings should not be masked by its vehement style, its befuddling structure, or its sheer bulk.” 

That is not only bad for the Church; it’s bad for all of American society. So let the Church, while cooperating fully with state investigative agencies, create and support a panel of distinguished, retired judges (preferably non-Catholics) to review the reports that issue from those investigations—and then publish an analysis of each report’s probity, fairness, and reliability, absent any editing of the panel’s conclusions by Church authorities.


6. Cuomo’s sinful war with New York’s cardinal.

New York Post, January 30, 2019, Editorial

At issue are the Catholic Church’s long opposition to two bills the Legislature just passed: the Child Victims Act and the Reproductive Health Act. The gov is gleefully distorting the facts in both cases.

He charges, as he put it Monday on Albany’s WAMC radio, that “the bishops have worked to protect the church over doing justice.” No: The part of the CVA that they’ve opposed has been a provision for nearly unlimited civil lawsuits, which is a huge gift to trial lawyers — a powerful special interest that donates big-time to the Democratic Party.

Dolan, in particular, has moved aggressively to give some recompense to abuse victims. (No one pretends money alone is enough.) He’s even mortgaged land by St. Patrick’s, to the tune of $100 million, to fund the first round of payouts.

And his commission to dig up facts hidden for decades has been relentless — setting in motion the fall of a top Vatican official, DC’s ex-Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

The gov keeps pretending the RHA merely codifies Roe v. Wade and current practices. In fact, it extends New York abortion rights all the way up to birth, indemnifies anyone who “accidentally” delivers a live baby and then lets it die on the table — and lets non-doctors perform abortions.

Yes, the Catholic Church opposes abortion across the board. But that doesn’t mean it can’t raise issues that trouble even militant atheists.


7. Catholic-Muslim dialogue at heart of pope’s Abu Dhabi trip, archbishop says. 

By Nirmala Carvalho, Crux, January 30, 2019

Pope Francis will “encourage the Catholics throughout the world to continue to put into practice the teachings of the Church regarding dialogue with Muslims” when he visits the United Arab Emirates, according to one expert on interreligious dialogue.

Francis will be the first pope to visit the Arabian Peninsula on his Feb. 3-5 visit to Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE.

During his trip, the pontiff will meet with the international Muslim Council of Elders, participate in an interreligious meeting and celebrate Mass for the local Catholic population, mainly foreign workers.


8. Dallas Charter Culture and the Covington Controversy.

By Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Catholic Register, January 29, 2019

How could the bishops of Kentucky get it so wrong?

It’s partly another consequence of the sexual-abuse crisis, wherein the protocols for handling allegations have created an environment where immediate action precedes investigation. That post-Dallas Charter culture is well-known inside the Church, but can be a bit surprising when encountered by the general public.

Still, despite the quick exoneration, it was a very bad week for the boys of Covington Catholic High School. It was a worse week for the bishops of Kentucky. It is a terrible thing to be the victim of slander due to rash judgment. It is morally worse to perpetrate slander because one is guilty of rash judgment.

The bishops of Kentucky were lightning-quick to condemn the conduct of the Covington Catholic students after the March for Life. The Diocese of Covington, led by Bishop Roger Foys, and Covington Catholic High School condemned the students the very day the original video came to light, without waiting to view the entire recording or even hear alternative explanations.

The purpose of the Dallas Charter was not only to enhance the protection and safety of minors, but to effect a culture change when there were allegations, or even suspicions, of sexual abuse. The protection-and-safety measures have been massively successful; the incidents of priestly sexual abuse have fallen so dramatically that in some places it has been many years since any allegations, founded or unfounded, have been made.

The culture has changed, too. The days when a bishop would automatically believe “his” priest over the allegations of a layperson, a journalist or even the police are long over. Indeed, there are now cases where both law enforcement and the lay-led review panels judge an allegation to be unfounded and still the bishop is reluctant to return a priest to ministry. The pendulum swings and still seeks for the center.