1. Pope Francis Waves a White Flag at Vladimir Putin, In urging the victim to yield to the aggressor, he repudiates centuries of Catholic teaching., By George Weigel, The Wall Street Journal, March 14, 2024, Pg. A15, Opinion The leaders of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church visited Washington this month to make the case for continued U.S. aid to their beleaguered but unbroken country. The bishops used rational arguments for national self-defense that drew on just-war theory, the ancient tradition of Christian moral realism that first took systematic form with St. Augustine in the fifth century. Major-Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halyč and Archbishop Borys Gudziak—the head of the Ukrainian church and its senior U.S. prelate, respectively—also explained why Russia’s defeat in Ukraine is essential to peace in Europe and vital to the American interest. Shortly after these serious adult conversations took place, Pope Francis erupted in another off-the-cuff interview, instructing Ukraine to have the “courage” to seize the “white flag” and negotiate with Russia: “When you see that you are defeated, that things are not going well, you have to have the courage to negotiate.” In the interview, there was evidently no papal call to Russia to cease its aggression, which has cost tens of thousands of Ukrainian lives and done a trillion dollars worth of damage. There was no papal demand that Catholics be allowed to worship freely in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories, where Catholic rites are now banned. There was no papal insistence that Russia release the tens of thousands of kidnapped Ukrainian children who are being “re-educated.” There was no papal condemnation of Russian war crimes in Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol and elsewhere. Nor did the pope denounce the Russian Orthodox Church’s relentless campaign of disinformation in support of Vladimir Putin’s war.  Francis’s pontificate parallels the deterioration of moral reasoning about world politics throughout the leadership of mainline Protestant denominations. A year before the 80th anniversary of the martyrdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, judicially murdered for resisting the Nazis’ perpetration and conduct of World War II, Christian leaders throughout the West wallow in a gelatinous liberal internationalism: unable to recognize the imperative of militarily deterring aggressive regimes, bewitched by the notion that weapons cause wars, incapable of grasping that totalitarians advance with genocidal purpose. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishops are an exception. They stood in a line of theological continuity with St. Augustine, St. Aquinas, Bonhoeffer and other Christian realists when, in a March 10 response to the papal call to raise the white flag, they declared that “Ukrainians cannot surrender because surrender means death.” “Ukrainians will continue to defend themselves,” they wrote, because “recent history has demonstrated that with Putin there will be no true negotiations.” Any agreement with a dictator who has denied Ukraine’s nationhood wouldn’t be “worth the paper on which it is written.” Russia’s goal, as Mr. Putin has stated, is the eradication of Ukraine. Ukraine’s aim, the bishops declared, is the defense of “freedom and dignity to achieve a peace that is just.” That is the appropriate Christian moral response to lethal aggression. Waving the white flag in the face of evil not only begets more evil; it betrays a millennium and a half of Christian tradition in the process. Mr. Weigel is a distinguished senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author, most recently, of “To Sanctify the World: The Vital Legacy of Vatican II.” https://www.wsj.com/articles/pope-francis-waves-a-white-flag-at-vladimir-putin-ukraine-war-catholicism-cf888fcf__________________________________________________________ 2. Pope acknowledges criticism, health issues but says in upcoming memoir he has no plans to retire, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, March 14, 2024, 8:28 AM Pope Francis says he has no plans to resign and isn’t suffering from any health problems that would require doing so, saying in a new memoir he still has “many projects to bring to fruition.” Francis, 87, made the comments in an autobiography, “Life: My Story Through History,” which is being published Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of his installation as pope. Extensive excerpts were published Thursday in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. In the memoir, written with Italian journalist Fabio Marchese Ragona, Francis traces key moments of his life and their intersection with world events (World War II, Argentina’s military dictatorship and Vatican intrigue) and how they together inform his priorities as pope. Significantly, he addresses recurring speculation about his health problems, criticism from conservatives and what both may mean for the future of his pontificate. Such questions have always surrounded the papacy but the prospect of a papal resignation only became a reality with the late Pope Benedict XVI ‘s historic 2013 retirement.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/03/14/vatican-pope-autobiography-resignation/58c3dff6-e1fe-11ee-95aa-7384336086f3_story.html__________________________________________________________ 3. Antiabortion advocates want Congress to act on IVF after Alabama ruling, But Republicans are grappling with voter opinions on reproductive health issues at the ballot box, By Jacqueline Alemany, The Washington Post, March 14, 2024, 8:00 AM Antiabortion lawmakers on Capitol Hill are facing a quiet pressure campaign by some of their most influential supporters to ramp up their defense that frozen embryos should legally be considered people and advocate for legislation that would codify a central driving force of antiabortion policies. In the wake of the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos created and stored for in vitro fertilization treatments are “unborn children” — and that those who destroy them could be held liable under a wrongful death law — ardent abortion opponents at the Heritage Foundation and Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, among other groups, have sought to push lawmakers and state legislatures toward regulating IVF treatments in the United States. That could include limiting the number of embryos created during a round of IVF, legally codifying the recommended guidelines for embryos transferred during IVF cycles and limiting the use of pre-implantation genetic testing. Opponents of the effort argue that the end game is an overly burdensome regulatory environment that could eventually lead to IVF clinic closures and is part of the broader creep toward legislation that puts limits on reproductive care and abortion.   https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/03/14/ivf-congress-antiabortion-alabama-ruling/__________________________________________________________ 4. Vice President Harris will visit a Minnesota Planned Parenthood clinic that performs abortions, By Darlene Superville, Associated Press, March 14, 2024, 9:50 AM Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday plans to tour a Minnesota clinic that performs abortions and provides other reproductive care as Democrats play up their opposition to the rollback of abortion rights in an effort to help reelect President Joe Biden in November. Her visit to a Planned Parenthood facility in the Twin Cities will be the first time that a president or vice president has been to a reproductive health clinic, according to Harris’ office. The vice president’s trip to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area is part of a nationwide tour she began in January to draw attention to the fallout after the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority in 2022 overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. The decision cleared the way for Republican-led states to enact limitations or bans on the procedure.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/03/13/harris-abortion-minnesota-women-election/4cec23fc-e1ac-11ee-95aa-7384336086f3_story.html__________________________________________________________ 5. Texas Border Battle Moves to Catholic Migrant-Aid Group, El Paso organization is the first shelter along the southern Texas border to be the target of state investigations, By Elizabeth Findell, The Wall Street Journal, March 14, 2024, 9:00 AM For nearly half a century, migrants who have crossed the border near El Paso have sought shelter in a small brick flatiron building, where Border Patrol agents drop off recent arrivals daily. But now, Annunciation House and other organizations like it—many with religious affiliations—are coming into the legal crosshairs of Texas politicians seeking to stop aid to people who have crossed the border illegally Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued to revoke the registration of Annunciation House, calling it a “stash house” for migrants. A judge this week blocked the state’s efforts temporarily, saying Paxton’s office acted “without regard to due process” in a move that he said seemed predetermined to shut down the charity. Andrew Mahaleris, a spokesman for Gov. Greg Abbott, didn’t answer questions about the governor’s order but said that “Gov. Abbott expects all organizations operating in our state to comply with the law.”  The Catholic charity is the first of the shelters that dot the southern Texas border to be the target of state investigations that the governor requested more than a year ago. The state’s move on that order is sending shock waves through Texas faith-based migrant-aid organizations, which see it as an attack on their fundamental religious mission. The move has exacerbated tension between local Catholic dioceses, whose influence along the border is strong, and politicians seeking aggressive actions against migrants.   https://www.wsj.com/us-news/texas-border-battle-moves-to-catholic-migrant-aid-group-ae259f6e__________________________________________________________ 6. IVF Has Largely Restarted in Alabama. Patients Are Still Worried., The future of fertility treatment in the state remains uncertain as a new law is seen as a temporary fix, By Joseph De Avila, The Wall Street Journal, March 14, 2024, 7:00 AM  The Alabama Supreme Court ruled last month that embryos qualify as children, creating legal uncertainty over fertility treatments that forced some IVF providers to shut down services. That created a political backlash, and state lawmakers rushed to pass a law granting IVF providers legal immunity. Two of the largest clinics in Alabama restarted IVF services after the law was enacted, but legal experts say the future of those protections are on shaky ground.  Republican lawmakers who pushed the law said it was a short-term solution aimed at getting clinics to resume services. “That is exactly what most IVF clinics in Alabama have done,” a spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Kay Ivey said Wednesday. House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter has said legislators would likely form a committee to figure out next steps.  Infirmary Health’s Center for Reproductive Medicine in Mobile said last week it wouldn’t resume services until it received clarification on the immunity provided by the new law. It said the law doesn’t sufficiently address fertilized eggs stored across Alabama.   https://www.wsj.com/us-news/law/ivf-has-largely-restarted-in-alabama-patients-are-still-worried-93c48e75__________________________________________________________ 7. FDA on the Docket at Supreme Court: What to Know Ahead of Abortion-Pill Case, The March 26 hearing before the Supreme Court will mark the first time the high court has considered a major case on abortion since Dobbs in 2022., By Judy Roberts, National Catholic Register, March 14, 2024, Opinion  Abortion advocates like to say their fight for the right to terminate life in the womb is simply about “women’s health,” but that assertion is being challenged by a case going before the U.S. Supreme Court March 26. At stake in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration is the federal lifting, in 2016 and 2021, of restrictions by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on use of the chemical abortion pill mifepristone, making it easier to obtain.  Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, who has filed an amicus brief with The Catholic Association in the Supreme Court case, agreed. “As a practicing radiologist specializing in diagnostic radiology,” she told the Register, “I see every day how critical ultrasound is in protecting women.” Although a fetal ultrasound is not a requirement for prescribing mifepristone, when a physician attends a patient personally, Christie said, one often is done as a natural part of the exam. By eliminating the in-person visit, the FDA in effect has taken away the only reliable method of determining the age of the embryo or fetus. “That is unconscionable,” she said, “because women very often are wrong about how pregnant they are. In my own personal experience, one of the reasons we perform ultrasounds is to date the pregnancy. More often than not, women don’t know how long they’ve been pregnant. And if they’re off by a couple weeks, the complication rate shoots through the roof with chemical abortions.” Just last week, Christie said, she saw a patient who thought she was seven weeks’ pregnant based on the date of her last cycle. Her baby’s actual gestation was 13 weeks. Christie also is troubled by the FDA’s removal of the in-person follow-up visit, during which a doctor would make certain that the chemical abortion was complete, and nothing remained in the uterus. If the uterus is not evacuated, the patient can experience bleeding and cramping, which could lead to hemorrhaging, infection, sepsis and even death. “By eliminating the follow-up visit,” Christie said, “… the woman ends up in the emergency room and has to be followed there. It’s not fair to her to have a Wild West approach to something so serious. It’s like we’re back to the back alley.” Christie’s amicus brief also points out that the reliance on emergency-room care brought about by the FDA’s deregulation of mifepristone “means that Catholic hospitals and Catholic emergency-room doctors, nurses and other health-care providers can be conscripted into completing attempted abortions, or otherwise participating in medical treatment that facilitates an abortion, in violation of their conscience.”  Although Christie said she wishes chemical abortions were never practiced and continues to do what she can to promote the dignity of life, she sees the loosening of restrictions on them as a different injustice because they are putting women at great risk. “As long as chemical abortions exist — and I wish they didn’t — I would like them to be safe for women.” https://www.ncregister.com/news/supreme-court-abortion-pill-fda-what-to-know__________________________________________________________ 8. My dinner with Pope Francis: Examining the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, By Andrew P. Napolitano, The Washington Times, March 14, 2024, Opinion I spent last week living and studying at the Vatican as a guest lecturer at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, or PASS. This organization of scholars explores ideas of interest to the Vatican. Last week, PASS addressed the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas; last Friday, March 8, was the 750th anniversary of his death. This is not an esoteric subject. Aquinas taught that all rational people are capable of discerning right from wrong and good from evil by the exercise of free will and human reason, and they do not need the government to aid them in this endeavor. This is generally known as natural law. My presentation was on the concept of natural rights, a derivation of natural law.  Now, back to the pope. Catholics believe that he is the Vicar of Christ on earth. But the current pope may be the worst in history. He has watered down church teachings on marriage, sexuality and confession. He has suppressed the Mass that every canonized saint in heaven attended and participated in. His attacks on traditional theology and liturgy are the opposite of what he is supposed to do — which is to preserve them. Nevertheless, it was surreal when he was brought into the guesthouse dining room; he was using a walker and had an assistant at each arm. It was bizarre when he sat with his back to us. I wanted to go up to him and greet him, but the Swiss Guards had warned us not to approach him or call out to him. Two days later, I turned a corner in the guesthouse lobby, where he was 10 feet away. I gently bowed and whispered, “Your Holiness.” He looked at me and moved on. Pope Francis is in poor health. He can barely speak or walk, and he radiates sadness. I was thrilled to reside in his home for four days, but I don’t think he’ll be there much longer. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2024/mar/13/my-dinner-with-pope-francis-examining-philosophy-o/__________________________________________________________ 9. Hong Kong bill threatens confessional seal, warn advocates, By Luke Coppen, The Pillar, March 13, 2024, 2:42 PM Catholic priests could face pressure to violate the sacramental seal of confession if a new security bill becomes law in Hong Kong, human rights advocates said Wednesday. A group of 13 activists and three organizations signed a March 13 statement expressing “profound and grave concerns about the implications for the practice of freedom of religion or belief in Hong Kong” if lawmakers approve the Safeguarding National Security Bill. Activists’ concerns focus on Clause 12 of the bill, which says that if citizens are aware that another person “committed, is committing, or is about to commit an offense,” they must disclose the information to a police officer or face a 14-year prison sentence.  https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/hong-kong-bill-threatens-confessional__________________________________________________________

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