1. Seeking a Peace Treaty in the War of the Sexes.

By Kathryn Jean Lopez, Angelus, March 2, 2017
[Interview with author Ashley McGuire, a Senior Fellow with The Catholic Association.]

Denial has brought chaos. A new book urges beginning again.

“Sex has become scandalous,” Ashley McGuire writes in her new book, Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female. “Sex,” she writes, “needn’t be a scandal. It should be a source of potential and the starting point for true equality. The things that make us different can’t be changed, but understanding them can help us to build a better and more just society that gives both men and women the chance to live freely and authentically.”

“[W]e live in a world of sexual denial. We are increasingly trying to treat men and women as if they were exactly the same. And then we’re surprised by the growing sexual confusion.”

Ashley McGuire: Yes, I think the greatest threat to women’s equality with men is the denial of woman as a category altogether. I think the Sexual Revolution was predicated on denying fundamental realities about women – in particular, reproductive realities. The idea behind the Sexual Revolution was to “liberate” women to be sexually more like a man (or rather the most base stereotype of a man), and doing so required making her body infertile like a man’s. Or as I quote Hugh Hefner in the book, “Women were the major beneficiary of the sexual revolution. It permitted them to be natural sexual beings, as men are. That’s where feminism should have been all along.” In fact, this idea is very patronizing, referring to women as a “beneficiary” and implying that there is something “unnatural” about the feminine approach to sexuality.


2. Abuse Survivor Leaves Pope’s Panel on Protecting Minors: Former commission member blames Vatican bureaucracy for not enacting policies and recommendations.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, March 2, 2017, Pg. A18

An Irish survivor of clergy sex abuse has resigned from Pope Francis’s commission for the protection of minors, strongly denouncing the Vatican for hindering the committee’s work and bolstering critics who say the current pontificate has failed to adequately address the problem.

In announcing her resignation, Marie Collins, who suffered abuse from a priest as a child and has been a prominent campaigner for the Catholic Church to act more forcefully on the problem, accused the Vatican of leaving the committee under-resourced, failing to disseminate guidelines to bishops on dealing with cases and neglecting to respond to letters from victims.

Pope Francis established the commission in 2014 to advise him on ways to prevent sex abuse by priests and church employees. Ms. Collins’s departure means there is now no abuse survivor serving actively on the commission, since Peter Saunders, a British advocate for sex abuse victims, was forced to take a leave of absence last year after criticizing the pope’s record on clerical sex abuse.

In separate statements posted on her website and provided to the National Catholic Reporter, Ms. Collins wrote that the panel’s work suffered “constant setbacks…directly due to the resistance” in the Vatican bureaucracy.

She wrote the “shameful” lack of cooperation had been particularly strong in the office “most closely involved in dealing with cases of abuse,” an apparent reference to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was given sole authority over abuse cases in 2001.


3. Trump to promote voucher plan at Catholic school in Florida.

By Dave Boyer, The Washington Times, March 2, 2017, Pg. A5

On the heels of his call for an education bill to fund school choice nationwide, President Trump will visit a Catholic school in Orlando, Florida, on Friday to promote school vouchers.

The president will hold a “listening session” at St. Andrew Catholic School, a pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school where 295 students receive scholarships funded by the state’s increasingly popular tax credit program. Students there are predominantly black and from low-income families.

During his first address to Congress this week, Mr. Trump urged lawmakers “to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youths, including millions of African-American and Latino children.”

“These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home-school that is right for them,” the president said.


4. Citing ‘Resistance,’ Abuse Victim Quits Papal Panel.

By Elisabetta Povoledo and Gaia Pianigiani, The New York Times, March 2, 2017, Pg. A10

A high-profile member of a commission advising Pope Francis on ways to protect minors from sexual abuse by the clergy resigned from the panel on Wednesday, citing what she called “cultural resistance” from the Vatican.

Marie Collins, who was molested by a priest in Ireland when she was 13, expressed frustration over what she called reluctance among the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy to implement the commission’s recommendations — even those approved by the pope.

“I feel I have no choice but to resign if I am to retain my integrity,” Ms. Collins said in a statement to National Catholic Reporter. The lack of action, she wrote, “is a reflection of how this whole abuse crisis in the church has been handled: with fine words in public and contrary actions behind closed doors.”

Ms. Collins was one of two victims of clergy sexual abuse appointed by Francis to the commission when it was created in 2014. A year ago, the commission suspended the other victim, Peter Saunders, after he accused the panel of failing to deliver on its promises of reform and accountability, and he has been on a leave of absence since.

In outlining the initiatives proposed by the commission in the past three years, Ms. Collins spoke of “stumbling blocks” and the difficulties it had faced in getting cooperation from various Vatican departments.

But the last straw, she said, was that a Vatican department was refusing to cooperate with a recommendation that all correspondence from victims of clerical abuse receive a response.

“I find it impossible to listen to public statements about the deep concern in the church for the care of those whose lives have been blighted by abuse, yet to watch privately as a congregation in the Vatican refuses to even acknowledge their letters!” Ms. Collins said.

In her statement, Ms. Collins noted her disappointment over the reduction of punishments against abusive priests that Francis had allowed in some cases.

The Associated Press reported last week that Francis had lessened sanctions against a handful of pedophile priests in an effort to apply his vision of a merciful church. 


5. Euthanasia Laws Neglect Mental Health Problems.

By Cullen Herout, Crisis Magazine, March 2, 2017

Advocates typically maintain that abuse of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) laws is extremely difficult, and when it comes to the legalization of PAS, we have nothing to worry about. Despite the fact that safeguards designed to prevent abuse are wholesale neglected in other areas of the world where PAS and/or euthanasia have been legalized for any substantial amount of time, supporters of the practice cling relentlessly to the notion that we here in the United States can better regulate and monitor the safeguards against abuse.

One of the safeguards that often gets touted is the idea that persons with mental illness cannot access PAS. Last year, as I was testifying in opposition to a bill to legalize PAS here in Nebraska, this point was made clear. The sponsoring senator looked right at the person on the stand and stated that persons with mental illness were unable to attain prescriptions for life-ending medications.

Fact check: False

While this senator would have us believe that persons with mental illness are prohibited from acquiring life-ending medications, no such prohibition exists. But not only that, the laws themselves do a dreadfully inadequate job of prescribing protocol in the cases of mental illness. This ultimately leads to an inadequate screening process for mental health problems prior to accessing PAS.


6. China’s Self-Defeating Religious Crackdown: Will Beijing double down on its religious controls or learn to ease its grip?

By Sarah Cook, The Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2017, 1:04 PM

Using a combination of violent and nonviolent methods, Chinese authorities have sought to curb the rapid growth of religious communities and eliminate certain beliefs and practices, while also harnessing aspects of religion that could serve the party’s political and economic interests. 

These actions have been effective at limiting religious expression. 

Nevertheless, the party is facing considerable policy failures. First, religious groups, beliefs and practices targeted for extinguishment have survived or spread, representing a remarkable failure of the party’s repressive capacity. 

Second, government actions—such as intentional bottlenecks in official clergy training, intrusive bans on benign expressions of piety and unrealistic registration requirements for places of worship—appear to be backfiring, driving more believers to unofficial congregations. 

Third, official actions are generating resentment, assertiveness and activism among populations that might previously have been apolitical. Members of nearly every group examined in the study, including leaders in “patriotic” associations, have engaged in some form of direct protest. 

Such outcomes undercut the party’s stated goals regarding religious affairs, such as having harmonious relations between faiths and encouraging practice within state-sanctioned places of worship. They also undercut its broader priorities of advancing legal reform and preserving social stability.

To extricate themselves from this losing battle, Mr. Xi and other party leaders could seize on recent openings as opportunities to begin a general course correction and increase the space for religious practice.

A potential agreement with the Vatican on bishop appointments and recognition of the pope’s authority have yielded optimism among some Catholic leaders. Meanwhile, the purge of certain officials in Mr. Xi’s anticorruption campaign has indirectly improved conditions for Falun Gong practitioners in some locales. Still, these modest developments have been overshadowed by increasing persecution of Protestant Christians, Uighur and Hui Muslims, and Tibetan Buddhists.


7. Despite opposition, assisted suicide law takes effect in nation’s capital.

By Richard Szczepanowski, Crux, March 1, 2017

The District of Columbia has joined six states in the country that allow doctors to prescribe lethal medications to terminally ill patients who want to end their lives. Pro-life advocates vehemently rejected the assisted suicide law, saying it would lead to abuse and harm the city’s most vulnerable populations. 

Although the District of Columbia City Council voted 11-2 on November 15 to approve the “Death with Dignity Act” and Mayor Muriel Bowser signed it into law in December, it still faced possible defeat by federal lawmakers.

The Home Rule Act of 1973 gives the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives a small window in which they have the right to overturn District laws.

Since the deadline passed with no action, the law went into effect on February 18.