1. Vatican to Open Archives on Wartime Pope Pius XII.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2019, Pg. A9

Pope Francis said on Monday that he would open the Vatican archives on Pope Pius XII, bowing to decades of requests from historians and Jewish groups who have questioned why the wartime pope stayed silent during the horrors of Nazi-controlled Europe.

Pope Pius has been criticized for his failure to speak out against the Holocaust, as well as for his earlier record as the Vatican’s Secretary of State, when he negotiated a concordat establishing the Holy See’s relations with Nazi Germany.

“We know that Pope Pius played an important role in efforts to save Jews from the clutches of the Nazis,” said Rabbi Rosen.

Pope Francis said on Monday that the new access would vindicate his wartime predecessor and show how Pope Pius attempted to “keep lit, during the periods of most intense darkness and cruelty, the flame of humanitarian initiatives, of hidden but active diplomacy.” Pope Pius directed Holy See diplomats as well as monasteries and convents in Nazi-occupied Europe to assist Jews, according to a 2012 book, “The Pope’s Jews.”


2. Pope Francis to open archives on controversial World War II-era papacy.

By Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, The Washington Post, March 5, 2019, Pg. A12

Pope Francis said Monday that the Vatican would open its archives on the World War II papacy of Pius XII, long viewed by many as having failed to speak out against the atrocities of Nazi Germany.

The move, coming after 13 years of work by Vatican archivists, is intended to shed light on the actions and thoughts of a pontiff whose still-contested reputation has made it difficult for the Catholic Church to come to terms with its role during the war. 

Francis said the archives on Pius’s 1939-1958 papacy will be opened to researchers March 2, 2020. 


3. 21 states seek to block federal rules on funding for family planning services.

By Ariana Eunjung ChaThe Washington Post, March 5, 2019, Pg. A2

A coalition of 20 states and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) separately announced lawsuits Monday seeking to block changes to the Title X family planning program that would shift tens of millions of dollars from Planned Parenthood toward faith-based clinics.

The rule imposes what administration officials have referred to as a “bright line” of physical and financial separation between the provision of family planning and abortion services, effectively requiring Planned Parenthood to drastically alter its operations, or forego an estimated $60 million in annual funding.

It also bars federally funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions – a prohibition that opponents call a “gag” rule, arguing it will compromise medical ethics and potentially endanger women’s lives.

Maureen Ferguson, senior policy adviser with The Catholic Association, has argued the rule “simply clarifies that abortion is not an appropriate method of family planning. … The difference between the two is profound. Title X money is appropriated by Congress for preventative family planning services, and was never meant to subsidize abortion clinics.”


4. Trump-appointed justices question limits on churches.

By Robert Barnes, The Washington Post, March 5, 2019, Pg. A3

The justices appointed by President Trump to the Supreme Court said Monday that the court should protect the ability of churches and other religious organizations to receive historic preservation funds from local governments. 

Such a case should not be “difficult,” Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote in a statement joined by Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Samuel A. Alito Jr. Like Kavanaugh, Gorsuch was nominated by Trump. 

“Barring religious organizations because they are religious from a general historic preservation grants program is pure discrimination against religion,” Kavanaugh wrote. 

Nonetheless, the three agreed with the Supreme Court’s decision to stay out of a New Jersey case in which the state’s highest court said awarding historic preservation grants to churches with active worship programs violated the state constitution. 

Kavanaugh’s opinion comes a week after the court listened to arguments about the most highprofile case of its term regarding the separation of church and state: whether the 40-foot Bladensburg Peace Cross on public land in a Maryland town is an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.


5. Pope Francis: Latin America needs a new Catholic presence in politics.

By Courtney Grogan, Catholic News Agency, March 4, 2019, 10:56 AM

Pope Francis called Monday for a new approach to politics in Latin America that incorporates the principles of Catholic social teaching.

“A new presence of Catholics in politics is necessary in Latin America,” Pope Francis told the Pontifical Commission for Latin America’s seminar participants March 4.

Pope Francis clarified that there is no “single form of political commitment for Catholics,” no “Catholic party,” and stated that “the same Christian faith can lead to different commitments.”

The pope pointed to the example of recently canonized Saint Oscar Romero. He said the saint saw “many lay people who wanted to change things, but who often went astray with false ideological answers.” Romero helped them to “rediscover the reasons why it is worth doing politics, but from the Gospel, overcoming ideologies.”