1. Planned Parenthood would lose federal funding as part of an Obamacare repeal, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said, By Mike DeBonis, The Washington Post, January 6, 2017, Pg. A1.

Republicans plan to strip Planned Parenthood of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding as part of their rapid push to repeal President Obama’s health-care overhaul, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Thursday.

Ryan said a defunding measure would appear in a special fast-track bill that is expected to pass Congress as soon as next month. “Planned Parenthood legislation would be in our reconciliation bill,” he said at a news conference in response to a question about plans to defund the organization.

Reconciliation is a special congressional procedure allowing legislation to bypass a Senate filibuster, meaning it would need only a simple majority of senators to pass rather than a 60-vote supermajority.

Ryan made his comments two days after a special investigative panel formed by Republicans issued a report recommending that Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, lose its access to Medicaid reimbursements and federal family-planning funds. The GOP report also recommended that Congress allow states to exclude abortion providers from their Medicaid programs.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the conservative Susan B. Anthony List, hailed Ryan’s commitment as a “victory for women’s health care.”

“We commend Speaker Paul Ryan on his continued resolve to fund women’s health care, not abortion,” she said.


2. Transgender man sues Catholic hospital for refusing surgery, By Sandhya Somashekhar, Washington Post Online, January 6, 2017, 6:00 AM.

A transgender man filed suit against a Catholic hospital in New Jersey on Thursday for refusing to allow a surgeon to perform a hysterectomy on him at the facility.

The Supreme Court is slated this year to take up the question of how schools must treat transgender students’ use of bathrooms and other sex-segregated spaces.
In the complaint, Conforti says he was born with female anatomy but struggled with depression related to his physical form, particularly after his mother died of breast cancer in 2004. He began presenting as a man.

In 2014, after receiving a formal diagnosis of gender dysphoria, he began taking male hormones and underwent a double mastectomy. But he was warned by his doctor that the hormone therapy could increase his cancer risk, so he decided to undergo a full hysterectomy, in which his female reproductive organs are removed.

Conforti called the hospital where his surgeon of choice was approved to do surgeries to confirm that the procedure could be done there. But he was turned down, he says in the complaint, in an email from Father Martin D. Rooney, director of pastoral care and mission services.

“This is to follow up to your e-mail inquiring about scheduling a total hysterectomy here at St. Joseph’s to remove all female parts based on the medical necessity for Gender Reassignment,” Rooney wrote, according to the complaint. “This is to inform you that as a Catholic Hospital we would not be able to allow your surgeon to schedule this surgery here at St. Joseph’s.”


3. Pope decries ‘prophets of doom’ wanting only ‘the usual fare’, By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, January 6, 2017.

Bringing the Vatican’s holiday season to a close on Thursday with a Mass for the feast of the Epiphany, Pope Francis delivered a strong homily on a “holy longing for God” as the answer to “prophets of doom” who think “nothing can change” and stubbornly cling to “the usual fare.”

Epiphany celebrates the New Testament story of the Three Wise Men, or Magi, who went in search of the infant Jesus. The pontiff said they were guided by a positive “inner restlessness,” which left them “open to something new.”

“A holy longing for God is the memory of faith, which rebels before all prophets of doom,” the pontiff said.

The phrase “prophets of doom” has a long history in papal rhetoric, including a famous address by St. Pope John XXIII at the opening of the Second Vatican Council in October 1962. In the decades since, it’s generally become used in Catholic parlance to characterize resistance to proposals for reform.

Francis said Thursday that “holy longing” draws people out of that reaction.


4. The Pope’s homily on the feast of the Epiphany, Pope Francis’ Daily Homily, January 6, 2017.

Pope Francis presided over Mass for the feast of the Epiphany which was celebrated on Friday in St Peter’s Basilica:

“Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?  For we have observed his star in the East, and have come to worship him” (Mt 2:2).

With these words, the Magi, come from afar, tell us the reason for their long journey: they came to worship the newborn King.  To see and to worship.  These two actions stand out in the Gospel account.  We saw a star and we want to worship.