1. Texas judge hears arguments in challenge to FDA’s approval of abortion drug, By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, March 16, 2023, Pg. A6 A federal judge in Texas heard arguments but did not rule Wednesday on whether to block the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a pregnancy-termination drug, a case viewed as the most significant legal battleground on abortion since the fall of Roe v. Wade. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys urged U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk to withdraw or suspend the FDA’s 2020 decision on mifepristone, arguing that the agency fast-tracked the drug for political reasons without adequately studying its safety when used to end pregnancies.  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/mar/15/texas-judge-hears-arguments-challenge-fdas-approva/__________________________________________________________ 2. Utah bans abortion clinics in wave of post-Roe restrictions, By Sam Metz, Associated Press, March 15, 2023, 9:07 P Utah’s Republican Gov. Spencer Cox signed legislation Wednesday that will by next year ban clinics from providing abortions, setting off a rush of confusion among clinics, hospitals and prospective patients in the deeply Republican state. Administrators from hospitals and clinics have not publicly detailed their plans to adapt to the new law, adding a layer of uncertainty on top of fear that, if clinics close, patients may not be able to access care at hospitals because of a variety of staffing and cost concerns.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/03/15/utah-abortion-clinic-ban-roe-wade-access/06c32ee8-c394-11ed-82a7-6a87555c1878_story.html__________________________________________________________ 3. Wisconsin Republicans propose abortion ban exceptions, By Scott Bauer, Associated Press, March 15, 2023, 3:23 PM Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature unveiled a bill Wednesday that would create rape and incest exceptions to the state’s 1849 abortion ban and clarify when abortions that protect the health of the mother would be allowed. But the bill would not return the same rights that were in place under Roe v. Wade. The measure drew immediate bipartisan opposition, however.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/03/15/abortion-ban-wisconsin-republicans-exceptions/10d3e1de-c33a-11ed-82a7-6a87555c1878_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. Catholic watchdog names bishops tied to sex abuse and urges pope to act, By Marisa Iati, The Washington Post, March 15, 2023, 5:01 PM Prominent researchers of accountability for clergy sexual abuse called on Pope Francis on Wednesday to release the names of bishops investigated by the Vatican since the implementation of 2019 rules that overhauled how the church responds to abuse accusations. The watchdog group, BishopAccountability.org, criticized the pope at a news conference for failing to give a “full accounting” of the impact of the revised rules, which they called a landmark effort to combat abuse. The organization also released a list, based on news reports from around the world, of 40 bishops who have been investigated under the four-year-old law.  In a letter to Francis, the organization urged him to answer “the faithful’s yearning for accountability” by releasing a detailed list of church officials investigated for alleged abuse or for mishandling abuse claims that were brought to them. The rules, implemented in June 2019, devised a way for bishops to help police their own ranks, among other changes, and were the first significant step toward formalizing a process for investigating abuse allegations in the church. https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2023/03/15/catholic-sex-abuse-bishops-pope-francis/__________________________________________________________ 5. Ohio abortion measure would end parental consent for gender surgeries, critics warn, Protect Women Ohio is spending $5 million in TV ads to fight the amendment, By Brianna Herlihy, Fox News, March 15, 2023, 6:48 PM Parents in Ohio are fighting a state constitutional amendment that they say would strip the rights of parents to give consent on abortion or gender-altering surgeries. Protect Women Ohio (PWO), which describes itself as a “pro-woman, pro-parent coalition,” launched a multi-million-dollar television and digital ad campaign statewide today aimed at defeating the “extreme amendment” to the Ohio Constitution.  Opponents of the bill like Judicial Crisis Network’s Carrie Severino and Frank Scaturo say the amendment would “effectively obliterate most limits to abortion or sex-change surgery, among its other far-reaching consequences.” “Headlines have largely framed the proposed amendment as a means of adding a right to abortion to the state constitution,” the duo said in an op-ed Monday published in National Review. “The proposed amendment would outlaw virtually any restrictions on abortion and all other procedures, including sex-change surgeries, that touch on reproduction, for both adults and minors,” they said. “It would cancel out not only parental-consent laws but also mere parental notification for minors’ abortions or sex-change surgeries; strike down health protections for people of all ages who undergo these procedures, including requirements that a qualified physician perform them; and erase any meaningful limits on late-term abortions.” “Moms and dads will be cut out of the most important and life-altering decisions of their child’s life, if this passes,” said Molly Smith, PWO board member said Wednesday. “This extreme amendment eliminates any current or future protections for minors requiring parents be notified and consent before their child undergoes a procedure like an abortion or sex change surgery.”  https://www.foxnews.com/politics/ohio-abortion-measure-end-parental-consent-gender-surgeries-critics-warn__________________________________________________________ 6. Vatican court tosses objections to Milone lawsuit, A Vatican City court has rejected a litany of objections from the Secretariat of State, allowing a wrongful dismissal lawsuit filed by the Holy See’s former auditor general to go ahead., By The Pillar, March 15, 2023, 10:39 AM Judges in Vatican City overruled this week a litany of objections from the Secretariat of State, allowing a wrongful dismissal lawsuit filed by the Holy See’s former auditor general to go ahead. The three judge tribunal announced Tuesday that Libero Milone and his former deputy can go ahead with a multimillion dollar claim against their former employers, despite a host of legal objections raised by Vatican officials, and despite the prospect of criminal prosecution which the former auditor has called retaliatory. The decision, signed March 9 but communicated to the parties by decree on March 14, rejected several arguments from lawyers for both the Secretariat of State and Milone’s former department, the Office of the Auditor General. The court also set a date for a second hearing in May.  https://www.pillarcatholic.com/vatican-court-tosses-objections-to-libero-milone-lawsuit/__________________________________________________________ 7. Francis, Germany, and the ‘schism card’, Have German bishops committed the crime of schism? Will the Holy See declare it?, By JD Flynn and Ed. Condon, The Pillar, March 15, 2023, 7:08 PM The deputy chairman of the German bishops’ conference on Thursday invited Catholics in his diocese to contact parishes for liturgical blessings of their same-sex partnerships and other relationships regarded as morally illicit in the Catholic Church. The move comes after the “synodal way” – an assembly of laity and bishops aiming to reform the Church in Germany – approved last week a resolution urging German bishops to officially permit same-sex blessings in their dioceses. Because the Vatican announced recently that such blessings are impossible for the Church, some Catholics have asked whether Bishop Franz-Josef Bode’s announcement is formally an act of schism, a canonical crime which carries with it the penalty of excommunication.  But is it an act of schism — defined as “the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him?” Conventional wisdom would probably say it is. But there will be some canonists willing to argue that it’s not — that Bode has called people to same-sex blessings, but he hasn’t actually done them, yet. It might seem a hairsplitting distinction without a difference, but there is at least the argument that Bode right now is in the proximate occasion of schism – very near to committing to it – but until he formally permits, instructs, or presides over an illicit blessing, he’s only talked about refusing to submit to the pontiff, but not actually done it. Of course, it might seem unlikely to some that Francis and other Vatican officials are not responding to Bode because of a nuanced internal debate about the precise parameters of schism as a canonical crime.  Whatever the reason Francis has not acted, the German bishops seem comfortable daring him to try something — betting, perhaps, that they’re big and too far down the road to see discipline from the pope. Those bishops are not the only ones waiting to see if the pope will blink. With Bode making headlines, Catholics around the world are tuning in, with some wondering if the pope will take a dare to defend the Vatican’s own instruction on the doctrine of the Catholic faith. The German bishops are betting he won’t. https://www.pillarcatholic.com/francis-germany-and-the-schism-card/__________________________________________________________ 8. Praying for Bishop Álvarez, The Nicaraguan bishop is currently being held prisoner on trumped-up charges by the anti-Catholic Ortega regime., By Andrea M. Picciotti-Bayer, National Catholic Register, March 15, 2023, Opinion At Tuesday’s National Catholic Prayer Breakfast held in Washington, D.C., attendees heard inspiring speeches, honored beacons of the faith and prayed for the persecuted.  We bowed our heads in a special moment of prayer for Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, who has been sentenced to prison for more than 26 years on trumped-up charges by his country’s president, Daniel Ortega.  Back in the 1980s, Ortega was leader of Nicaragua’s Marxist Sandinista government. His regime was fawned over by some Catholics in the U.S., who were thrilled that Ortega’s minister of culture was Father Ernesto Cardenal, a proponent of liberation theology who defied canon law in order to become a politician. They were embarrassed when Pope John Paul II, who visited Nicaragua in 1983, reprimanded Father Cardenal — and dismayed when the Sandinistas were voted out of power in 1990.  Shortly after the release of the U.N. report, Pope Francis spoke out. In an interview with an Argentinian website, he suggested that Ortega was “unstable” and, borrowing from the U.N., also likened his government to that of Hitler’s Germany. President Ortega noticed and, not surprisingly, lashed out. He immediately closed the Vatican embassy in Managua and the Nicaraguan embassy to the Holy See in Rome. Presumably, relations will be restored once Ortega is gone; his appalling career will soon come to an end, and when it does, Bishop Álvarez will be recognized as a national hero for standing up to Ortega. And in the meantime, Catholics must continue to pray for the courageous bishop from Matagalpa and demand, via our Church and political leaders, that his witness not be ignored. https://www.ncregister.com/commentaries/praying-for-bishop-alvarez__________________________________________________________ 9. Judge OKs release of Baltimore church sex abuse report, By Lea Skene, Associated Press, March 14, 2023  A judge on Tuesday granted the Maryland Attorney General’s Office permission to publicly release a redacted version of an investigative report detailing sex abuse allegations against more than 150 Roman Catholic priests and examining the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s response. Officials declined to provide a timeline for when the release would take place. Completed last year by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, the report has remained under seal because it contains information obtained from church officials via grand jury subpoenas, proceedings that are confidential in Maryland. But lawyers for the state asked the court for permission to release their findings, and Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Robert Taylor ruled last month that a redacted version should be made public. https://apnews.com/article/baltimore-church-abuse-report-redactions-d02d3a6e90d4fa87e83072f8f1597f09__________________________________________________________ 10. National Catholic Prayer Breakfast speakers address attacks on human dignity, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, March 14, 2023, 1:30 PM Ongoing attacks against human dignity were the focus of this year’s National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, which took place in Washington, D.C., Tuesday morning. Addressing an audience of more than 1,000 people, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archbishop Borys Gudziak brought attention to the human toll of the continuing war in Ukraine.  Catholic bioethicist Carter Snead, director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame, spoke about the continued threat of abortion to the unborn and mothers.  Mary Rice Hasson, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, accepted the 2023 Christifideles Laici Award honoring the work of the laity. She is the co-founder and director of the Person and Identity Project. In her speech, Hasson brought attention to the increasing gender ideology indoctrination in public schools, yet another form of attack against human dignity facing children outside the womb.  Since 2004, the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast has gathered politicians and Catholic leaders from across the country for a morning of prayer and fellowship. Other key leaders in attendance this morning included Sen. Pete Ricketts, R-Nebraska; former U.S. Attorney General William Barr; and the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253866/national-catholic-prayer-breakfast-speakers-address-attacks-on-human-dignity__________________________________________________________

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