1. Pope open to studying ordination of married men as priests. 

By Associated Press, March 9, 2017, 3:39 PM

Pope Francis says the church must study whether it’s possible to ordain married men to minister in remote communities facing priest shortages.

In an interview published Thursday with Germany’s Die Zeit, Francis stressed that removing the celibacy rule is not the answer to the Catholic Church’s priest shortage. But he expressed an openness to studying whether so-called “viri probati” — or married men of proven faith — could be ordained.

The “viri probati” proposal has been around for decades, but it has drawn fresh attention under history’s first Latin American pope thanks in part to his appreciation of the challenges facing the church in places like Brazil, a huge Catholic country with an acute shortage of priests.

He has also said that while he favors a celibate priesthood, celibacy technically can be up for discussion since it’s a discipline of the church, not a dogma.

The church allows some exceptions to the rule. Priests in the eastern rite Catholic Church are allowed to be married, as are married Anglican priests who convert to Catholicism.

In the interview, Francis also confirmed Colombia was on his travel itinerary for 2017, as well as India and Bangladesh. He ruled out Congo, which had been rumored, but mentioned Egypt as a possibility. Francis also recently said he hoped to visit South Sudan.


2. Why Planned Parenthood must be defunded. 

By Kelly Riddell, The Washington Times, March 10, 2017, Pg. B2, Commentary

President Donald Trump tried to make a deal this week, and it was really simple.

Planned Parenthood could continue to receive its $500 million in federal funding annually, if it would stop performing abortions.

It was a non-starter.

Planned Parenthood’s prohibited from using federal funds to provide abortions. The Hyde Amendment, which was signed into law in 1976, bars the use of taxpayer money to pay for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or danger to a pregnant women’s health.

Of course, that’s all a farce — a fact that was proven by Ms. Richards rejecting Mr. Trump’s proposal outright.

Since money is fungible, taxpayer funds are used by the organization to free up its overhead costs, so it can subsidize its abortion clinics. 

A whopping 86 percent of the organization’s non-government provided revenue is garnered from the abortions it provides, generating a significant portion of its profit. Moreover, there’s been several cases where Planned Parenthood has, in fact, billed taxpayers for abortions.

You see, the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funds from being used specifically for abortions, but it doesn’t account for state dollars, vis-a-vis Medicaid programs. 

It’s an abortion provider. Period.

It’s time to federally defund.


3. Vatican official urges US, Europe to do more for migrants and refugees. 

By Inés San Martín, Crux, March 10, 2017

According to Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, former Vatican representative to the UN in Geneva, “There’s no room for compassion fatigue with the Middle East.” He also said that competition for resources between Russia and the U.S. is part of the “root problem” of the conflict in Syria and Iraq.

On the situation of Iraq and Syria at large, Tomasi said the response from the international community has to be both humanitarian and political, “because the root problem of the present situation is found in the desire to dominate the region. There’s a conflict between Sunni and Shia, between government forces and ISIS.”

“And not to be dismissed easily, is the competition for resources from the part of the Russian Federation and the United States,” Tomasi said.


4. Venezuela’s opposition leader asks: Where is the Vatican?

By Crux Staff, Crux, March 9, 2017

The opposition in Venezuela is growing increasingly frustrated with the Vatican’s role in facilitating an end to the country’s political crisis. Henrique Capriles, who narrowly lost the presidential election to Socialist Nicolas Maduro in 2013, on Wednesday said that the Vatican “seems distant” to the hardship being faced by ordinary Venezuelans, and that Venezuela must be a priority for the pope.

After winning the elections for the National Assembly in 2015, the opposition invited Pope Francis to lead negotiations with Maduro to end the political stand-off. The pope appointed longtime Vatican diplomat Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli as his chief negotiator between the government and the opposition, but the talks broke down in December.

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who served as the papal representative to Venezuela from 2009 until 2013, sent a letter to Maduro that month detailing the concerns of the Holy See.

Parolin listed four issues that needed to be addressed in order to continue the talks: Solving the food and medicine crisis; agreeing to a timetable for elections; guaranteeing the constitutional authority of the National Assembly; and the release of political prisoners.

None of these demands were met, and the opposition refuses to return to the negotiating table until the government fulfills its promises.

Despite Parolin’s letter, the Vatican still has not officially ended its role as mediator, which has prevented other international actors from filling the void.

Capriles said three months of inactivity is only making the situation worse. “With the greatest respect and affection towards Pope Francis and Archbishop Celli, Where is the pope?” he asked. Capriles said that every day children are dying, sick people don’t have medicine, and nearly a fifth of the population go through the garbage to find food.