1. Question heading into Amazon synod: Will it stir the pot or calm the waters?

By Elise Harris, Crux, March 1, 2019

So far Pope Francis has held three synods of bishops, two of which were high-octane affairs featuring major clashes, and one that produced a soothing era of good feelings. With his fourth synod poised to open in just seven months, the question of which kind of discussion this gathering will turn out to be can’t help but come to mind.

Titled “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology,” the gathering is on the Pan-Amazonian region of South America, which includes parts of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela and Suriname and will take place Oct. 6-27.

A preparatory document released in June 2018 indicated that key discussion points for the meeting will be the role of women in the Church, the rights and traditions of indigenous people, and possible suggestions for greater access to the Eucharist in a region with few priests.

Should this year’s discussion kick up any dust, it would almost certainly be over two key issues: climate change and the ordination of viri probati, meaning mature married men, to the priesthood.


2. Vatican’s deals with states reflect its drive to project ‘soft power’.

By Claire Giangravè, Crux, March 1, 2019

Though the Catholic Church shares many things in common with other world religions, one thing making it unique is that it’s the only one with its own diplomatic corps that negotiates deals with other states, technically known as “concordats.”

Some of those deals were long overdue, others born of necessity or even desperation – as the saying goes, “You don’t negotiate concordats with your friends” – but a conference in Rome on Thursday suggests they all show a willingness of the Church to adapt to the times.

“The social changes that took place in the last century, especially after World War II, are so diverse that even terms based on basic roots we would like to rely on are quickly expired and change constantly,” said Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State and a veteran of Holy See diplomacy, during his introductory speech.

But according to Parolin, treaties between the Holy See and states can also provide a helpful lens to gauge either “the optimism or pessimism of the Church regarding historic events,” citing the Vatican’s Ostpolitik toward the Soviet Union as an example.

“They can express trust toward those with whom [the Vatican] is signing the concordat,” he said, but also “surrender regarding the present” and even “fear for the future.”

Yet despite it all, he added, concordats between the Holy See and states reflect “the permanent effort to adapt to religious freedoms and realities.”


3. Prohibiting late-term abortions, How Virginia can defend human life and dignity.

By Tina Ramirez, The Washington Times, March 1, 2019, Pg. B3, Opinion

Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, claimed moderates, just blocked a federal ban on the killing of bornalive abortion survivors. The legislation, introduced by Sen. Ben Sasse, was in direct response to recent remarks by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a trained pediatrician, who said of a baby born alive during an attempted abortion: “if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen … The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

Note the intended “abortion” is called a “delivery” by the governor.

Prohibiting late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb is the compassionate position. A 20-week-old baby’s ability to process information intelligently, feel pain and breathe [if necessary] unaided are the hallmarks of life and the dignity and respect it requires from all of us.

It is time to build a culture of life for all people — all ethnicities, genders, abilities, born and unborn.

Tina Ramirez is a contributing author and editor of “Human Rights in the United States: A Dictionary and Documents (2010 and 2017)” and a former congres-sional aide who founded and directs a human rights organization in Richmond, Va.


4. Missouri lawmakers closer to passing expansive pro-life bill.

By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency, February 28, 2019, 3:09 PM

The Missouri House of Representatives voted 117-39 Wednesday to send the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act to the Senate.

The bill approved by the House Feb. 27 would ban most abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision.

State Representative Nick Schroer, the bill’s sponsor, told CNA in an interview that his bill started out as a simple “Heartbeat Bill” that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. He said courts have thrown out similar bills in the past in other states, including last month in Iowa. Still, he expressed confidence about this bill’s chances.


5. Napa Legal Institute Launches to Help Catholic Groups in the ‘Next America’.

By Lauretta Brown, National Catholic Register, February 28, 2019

A unique nonprofit organization debuted recently with the innovative goal of helping Catholic organizations fortify themselves against potential legal challenges in a cultural landscape that is increasingly hostile to people of faith.

The Napa Legal Institute was launched at the end of 2018 by the Napa Institute and is led by Napa Institute’s president and general counsel John Pfeiffer, executive director Josh Holdenried, and chairman Tim Busch.

The group’s mission is “to provide corporate, tax, philanthropic and other non-litigation legal and financial education to protect and advance the missions of nonprofit organizations aligned with the Catholic faith.”

He said the group is a nonprofit organization that will serve as “an educational and legal resource for other Catholic nonprofits or nonprofits aligned with the Catholic faith who need more corporate sophistication in order to operate in the 21st-century culture.”