1. The Pro-Life Divide

By Jennifer Harper, The Washington Times, June 12, 2017, Pg. A2

From a new Gallup poll: 49 percent of Americans say abortion is “morally wrong”; 65 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of Democrats agree. Another 43 percent overall say abortion is “morally acceptable”; 27 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of Democrats agree.

In addition, 50 percent overall say abortion should be legal “in only certain circumstances”; 56 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Democrats agree. Another 29 percent say it should be “legal in all circumstances”; 14 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of Democrats agree. And finally, 18 percent say abortion should be “illegal in all circumstances”; 28 percent of Republicans and 8 percent of Democrats agree.


2. Pope to Nigerian priests: you’ll be fired if you don’t obey

By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, June 11, 2017, 1:57 PM

Pope Francis has laid down an ultimatum to defiant Nigerian priests: lose your job if you don’t obey me and your bishop.

Francis met June 8 at the Vatican with a delegation from the Ahiara diocese, where priests have been refusing to accept the 2012 appointment by the then pontiff, Benedict XVI, of the local bishop.

Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, reporting the pope’s unusually harsh order, said Sunday that Francis was acting “for the good of the people of God” by threatening to suspend the priests from the ministry if they didn’t pledge in a letter, by July 9, “total obedience” to Francis and accept Bishop Peter Okpaleke’s appointment.

Francis’ move to end disobedience to the Vatican aims at ensuring the growing church there will be loyal to the pontiff.

His remarks to the visiting delegation indicated how dangerous he viewed any rebellion against papal authority.

He has often taken a conciliatory tone in resolving disputes, but in this one he was entertaining no diplomacy. He demanded that each priest in the diocese write to him asking forgiveness and “clearly manifest total obedience to the pope.”

They must also accept the bishop chosen by Rome. If, within a month, each priest doesn’t do so, he will be “ispo facto suspended,” such as from the celebration of the sacraments, and “will lose his current office,” Francis warned.


3. Three ironies about a dramatic show of papal muscle in Nigeria

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, June 11, 2017

It’s been clear for some time the situation in Ahiara is toxic. Benedict XVI appointed a new bishop in 2012, Peter Ebere Okpaleke, an outsider who doesn’t belong to the Mbaise ethnic group that dominates the diocese. That produced a strong backlash from the clergy in Ahiara, who suspected tribal bias and demanded that one of their own be named.

Francis lays out his demands, accusing the recalcitrant priests of wanting “to destroy the church,” and saying he’d even considered suppressing the diocese. Instead, he’s demanding they all write to “clearly manifest total obedience to the pope,” including their willingness to accept the bishop he appoints.

While we wait to see how things play out, here are three ironies about the situation worth pondering.

First, in other parts of the world, the Vatican quietly often takes the ethnic and linguistic composition of a diocese into account when naming bishops.

In Africa, however, since the era of Pope Paul VI, the preference often has cut the other way, in favor of naming bishops from outside the dominant ethnic group. The idea has been that the Church in most parts of Africa is still very young, often barely past the first generation, and it’s important to drive home the universality of the faith by showing how it transcends conventional tribal loyalties.

In other words, the practice is designed as a challenge to racial prejudice. Yet the Mbaise clergy clearly don’t see it that way, viewing what’s happening as another chapter in their own suppression.

Assuming Francis gets the show of submission he’s demanded, good Church politics going forward may counsel finding an acceptable Mbaise priest to name to a high-profile gig somewhere else fairly soon, as a way of proving the deck isn’t stacked against them.

Second, it’s become a staple of the Western Catholic view of the world to presume that Africa represents a powerful conservative force in Church affairs. That’s become a core part of the narrative, for instance, surrounding debates over Amoris Laetitia, the pope’s controversial document on the family.

However, if by “conservative” one means always inclined to defer to ecclesiastical authority, the Ahiara standoff clearly shows things aren’t quite that simple. Africans are every bit as capable of being rambunctious and rebellious as, say, German Catholics, or, for that matter, Americans.

Third, the situation also confirms a key insight about Pope Francis.

Popularly, he’s seen as a lovey-dovey man of dialogue and peace, including calling for a more decentralized and collegial Church, always counseling restraint and “tenderness.” Yet beneath the surface still beats the heart of a classic Jesuit superior, and when the time comes for obedience, he fully and completely expects to get it.


4. Senate GOP Plans to Strip Planned Parenthood Funding in Health Bill: Move could create another concern for centrist Republicans considering whether to back the legislation

By Michelle Hackman, The Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2017, 7:00 AM

Senate Republicans plan to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood Federation of America and add several other abortion restrictions to their health-insurance overhaul bill, creating another potential concern for centrist GOP senators who are considering whether to back the legislation.

Republican leaders believe they have the votes to keep the defunding measure in any final Senate bill, people familiar with the discussions said, though they still could remove it should that be the deciding factor in the bill’s passage.

Coupling the Planned Parenthood measure in particular with the GOP’s Affordable Care Act repeal legislation threatens to drive away at least two centrist Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

A wild card could come in the form of Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, Republican who is considered one of the chamber’s most vulnerable lawmakers in the 2018 midterm elections. At an April town-hall meeting, Mr. Heller told constituents who asked about the network of women’s health clinics, “I have no problems with federal funding for Planned Parenthood”—a statement his office later walked back.

People close to the senator say he feels squeezed on the issue and believes it could have political consequences for his campaign. Should Mr. Heller signal to GOP leaders that he is hesitant to vote against Planned Parenthood, that would likely kill the defunding provision.


5. UN and Catholic Group Agree to Cooperate on Promoting Peace

By Associated Press, June 9, 2017, 3:49 PM

The United Nations formally agreed Friday to cooperate with the Community of Sant’Egidio, a Catholic lay group that works behind the scenes to prevent conflicts and bring warring parties to the peace table.

At a ceremony at Italy’s U.N. Mission, Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and Sant’Egidio’s President Marco Impagliazzo exchanged letters formalizing the relationship that dates back 30 years to the war in Mozambique.

Feltman said the U.N. wants to recognize “the incredible role that the Community of Sant’Egidio has been playing … often very, very quietly and very discreetly” to promote peace.


Impagliazzo said Sant’Egidio, with almost 70,000 members working in over 70 countries on four continents, is now “stronger” because of institutional support from the United Nations which will enable “closer and more effective cooperation.”

Sant’Egidio has collaborated with the U.N. in past crisis situations including in Mozambique, Burundi and Guatemala, Impagliazzo said, and it is currently engaged in trying to help end conflicts in Central African Republic, South Sudan, Senegal’s Kasama region, and Libya.


6. New Video Confirms That Planned Parenthood Is Fighting a Losing Battle

By Grazie Pozo Christie, Independent Journal Review, June 9, 2017

Ethically-challenged and less-than-comprehensive in its scope, Planned Parenthood may be fighting a losing battle for our money. We have been given more reasons than we need to finally redirect federal and state tax subsidies away from the abortion giant.

Another undercover video from David Daleiden at the Center for Medical Progress showed their doctors and executives speaking way too frankly at an industry meeting.

Dr. Uta Landy, founder of the Consortium of Abortion Providers of Planned Parenthood said: “An eyeball just fell down into my lap, and that is gross!” [laughter from the crowd] And from a Dr. Ann Schutt-Aine: “I might ask for a second set of forceps to hold the body at the cervix and pull off a leg or two, so it’s not a PBA (partial birth abortion).”

This is hard and callous indeed… [U]ndercover videos like the one described above indicate to the American public that their money might be better spent elsewhere.

Defunding Planned Parenthood means redirecting tax money intended for pap-smears, breast exams, and contraception to Community Health Centers. These are federally-funded health clinics located in minority and poor neighborhoods, caring for the indigent and the working poor. There are over 8000 of these in the country, and they provide the non-abortion services available at Planned Parenthood, like STD checks and contraception, but also pediatric, adult and prenatal care.

Their own report refutes the corporation’s claim to be an indispensable part of the health care safety net for the poor. Their few (less than 650 and dropping) clinics, with their small range of services are a drop in the bucket compared to the strong medical safety net created by Community Health centers, which served over 24 million patients in 2015, 62% of them minorities and all of them needy.

Patients get better care, with more services and covering more of their necessities, at these health centers. The over half-a-billion dollars in yearly government largess to Planned Parenthood would do more for more people if redirected to these centers.