1. Conor Lamb’s whopper of a lie on Catholicism and abortion.

By Maureen Ferguson, The Washington Examiner, March 7, 2018, 1:25 PM, Opinion
Maureen Ferguson is a senior policy adviser for The Catholic Association.

Remember when President Barack Obama insulted small-town Pennsylvania voters by saying they bitterly “cling to guns or religion”? In next week’s special election, there is a strange new twist to this condescending attitude towards people of faith coming from the Democratic congressional candidate, Conor Lamb.

In a recent interview, Lamb oddly invoked his religion to defend his position in support of late-term abortion. He tells us that he never learned the term “pro-life” in Catholic school, and therefore he would vote against any limits on abortion, and would even oppose a recent bill to ban abortion past 20 weeks of pregnancy. This late-term abortion ban has bipartisan support in Congress, including that of senior Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.

“I’d have voted against it,” Lamb said, adding that although he is Catholic, he would not describe himself as pro-life. “I just want to say, I don’t use the term ‘pro-life’ to describe what I personally believe, because that’s a political term,” he said. “It’s not one that you learn in Catholic school or anywhere else in the church.”
In small-town Pennsylvania, where many are proud to cling to their religion, those numbers are probably much higher in favor of protecting innocent life. And as Conor Lamb’s Republican opponent, Rick Saccone, pointed out in a debate, the issue of protecting late-term babies from abortion is simply a human rights issue: “This isn’t a matter of religious faith, this is a matter of protecting our most helpless constituents, those that don’t have a voice.”


2. Women activists make strategic choice to steer debate past priesthood.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, March 8, 2018

To say that the Catholic Church, at least at the level of public impressions, has a “women problem” is hardly a novel insight. Beginning in the 1970s, coinciding more or less with the rise of feminism as a major Western political and cultural force, the Vatican has felt compelled to issue a major statement on the role of women in the Church, especially the hotly debated question of female priests, every 20 years or so.

The ongoing ferment persuaded John Paul to bring out another document, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, in 1994, not only reviewing the case for the all-male priesthood but seeking to eliminate “all doubt” that the Church’s answer might change.

“It is the province of the Magisterium to decide if a question is dogmatic or disciplinary: In this case, the Church has already decided that this proposition is dogmatic and that, because it is divine law, it cannot be changed or even reviewed,” John Paul wrote.

It’s now been 24 years since Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, which means that the Vatican is slightly overdue for another major statement.

Judging from the attitudes of leaders at a conference on women in the Church taking place in Rome this week – though, pointedly, not on the 108-acre grounds of the Vatican itself, as it has for the past four years – when that statement comes, it may need to concentrate less on what the Church says “no” to, and more on that to which it’s prepared to say “yes.”


3. Parsing the “T”.

By George Weigel, First Things, March 7, 2018

Many people seem tongue-tied when it comes to the “T” in “LGBT.” The virtue-signaling mother in that beauty shop notwithstanding, there’s an intuitive understanding that we’re dealing here with real psychological distress—“gender dysphoria,” in the technical vocabulary—and that this and similar problems ought not be political ping-pong balls, because lives are at stake. Unfortunately, that reticence to discuss the “T” storm inside the broader “LGBT” tsunami leaves the field to partisans of “gender reassignment” in all its forms, which now include prescribing puberty-blocking drugs to pre-pubescent children who claim to be something other than what they are. Moreover, nine states, the District of Columbia, and thirty-three local jurisdictions have laws banning mental health professionals from offering “conversion therapies” to minors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. California, leading the Gadarene rush over the cliff as usual, now provides state-funded “sex-reassignment surgery” to prisoners; the first recipient of this “benefit” was Shiloh Heavenly Quine, a first-degree murderer/kidnapper serving a life sentence with no chance of parole.

No one familiar with the relevant literature denies that gender dysphoria is real, or that the formation of gender identity is sometimes a complicated and tortuous business. In today’s cultural and political climate, however, to suggest that the current stampede to accept claims that a decade ago would have been regarded as signs of serious psychological disturbance—and that are still regarded as such by eminent psychiatrists—is to risk being shamed and cast to the margins of society as a bigot. Like the rest of the “LGBT” phenomenon, the “T” has become thoroughly politicized, indeed weaponized.


4. Are religious sisters exploited by the Church? Three sisters respond.

By Mary Rezac, Catholic News Agency, March 7, 2018, 3:19 PM

Last week, the women’s edition of a magazine distributed in the Vatican published an article claiming that religious sisters in the Church are poorly treated and economically exploited.

The article appeared in Women Church World, a monthly women’s magazine published by L’Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of Vatican City. The Associated Press called the story an “exposé on the underpaid labor and unappreciated intellect of religious sisters.”

In the article, three religious sisters, whose names have been changed, expressed that the work of women religious is undervalued, that sisters are treated poorly by the priests and bishops they serve, and that they are not recognized or paid fairly for their work.

But several religious sisters have told CNA that the article does not reflect their experiences in religious life.

Mother M. Maximilia Um, who is the Provincial Superior of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton, Illinois, said that the article might indicate specific problems in particular sisters’ situations, rather than systemic institutional problems.

“None of the concerns or problems pointed out in this article can really be completely dismissed, but…I don’t think that they can be confined to relationships between men and women, and those who are ordained and those who are not,” she said. “I suppose in the end it’s a problem as old as sin.” 


5. Why Chinese Bishops Seek Communion With Rome — and Beijing.

By Peter Jesserer Smith, National Catholic Register, March 7, 2018

The Catholic Church’s house in China has been divided for nearly 60 years between an official and an underground church. But many of China’s bishops, including those approved by the government, see that house already starting to fall into ruin unless the Vatican and China’s government reach a deal to reunify the episcopacy and reinvigorate the Chinese Church through one communion with Rome.

Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, an American-born priest from the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, is a full-time consultant to the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development who has traveled to China each year since 2008 to visit with the Church there and assist the Vatican’s efforts at reconciliation. Msgr. Figueiredo knows the problems China’s bishops have shared with him for the past 10 years and was entrusted with a heartfelt letter from the seven remaining illicitly ordained government bishops, not recognized by the Vatican, asking the Holy Father to restore them to full communion.

Since St. John Paul II, the Vatican’s explicit policy has recognized one Catholic Church in China, although the shepherds are divided between an official approved church and an underground one loyal to Rome but not recognized by the government. Approximately 60 bishops in China are recognized by both the Vatican and the Chinese government, while nearly 30 bishops are recognized by only the Vatican. Many dioceses, however, have no bishop. Both sides are reportedly near a deal that would include a papal pardon and regularize the remaining seven bishops recognized only by the government.