1. How Trump Can Expand School Choice: A scholarship tax credit would put poor kids in good private schools—and relieve packed public ones. 

By Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2017, Pg. A19

While addressing Congress last week, President Trump called for passage of “an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth.” He added that families should be able to choose “public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home” schooling. These comments, and his subsequent visit to St. Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Fla., are encouraging. I hope Mr. Trump will push Congress to makes scholarship tax credits available to working-class families nationwide.

These programs provide tax credits for individuals or corporations that donate to nonprofit scholarship organizations.

I have seen firsthand why Catholic families and leaders support scholarship tax credits. They help advance educational and economic justice. They strengthen society by creating opportunity for those who might not otherwise have it. Recipients of the credits aren’t the only ones who benefit. Last year the Peabody Journal of Education reviewed 21 studies on how school choice affects test scores of nonparticipating students. Twenty concluded that competition led to improvements in affected public schools.

The taxpayer also saves money. Providing alternatives reduces both school overcrowding and costs. Public-school classrooms would not be able to handle the considerable influx of children if Catholic and other religious schools closed. We save the public money, and we educate children just as well, if not better, for half the cost when you compare Catholic school tuition with public school spending per pupil.

That’s why a national solution is needed to bring relief to families who need it. Since a federal scholarship tax credit program would enact sweeping change swiftly, it needs to be done right.

Cardinal Dolan is archbishop of New York


2. New York’s Archbishops: How They Shaped the City and the Church

By Sam Roberts, The New York Times, March 9, 2017

As the spiritual leader of nearly three million Catholics in the nation’s second-largest archdiocese, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan remains a force to be reckoned with. But if Edward N. Costikyan were still cataloging New York’s top 10 power brokers, would the cardinal make the cut?

Most institutional power has diffused since New York magazine published those lists almost a half-century ago. But the organized church has been particularly enfeebled by a combination of mid-20th-century white flight, child sexual abuse cases and its failure to engage enough young people and newly arrived immigrants.

George J. Marlin and Brad Miner trace its evolution, from 1850 to the present, in the timely “Sons of Saint Patrick: A History of the Archbishops of New York From Dagger John to Timmytown” (Ignatius Press, $34.95).

The authors, who approach the subject with solid canonical and conservative credentials, note that Catholicism started inauspiciously in New Amsterdam — a French Jesuit missionary, who was later tomahawked by Native Americans, counted three Catholics there, including himself, in 1643.

“Sons of Saint Patrick” is a good biography. It would have been even better given more contextual overlay like the author’s conclusion that “in the 21st century, the church spirals into even greater debt because so much of what was built in the 19th century and sustained in the 20th has now become unaffordable.”

Still, the authors conclude, there are “few other religious leaders in New York who have had or are likely to have the moral influence of its Catholic archbishop.”


3. Democrats work on ‘Day Without a Woman’. 

By Valerie Richardson and Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, March 9, 2017, Pg. A1

In retrospect, a better name for the International Women’s Day protest Wednesday might have been “a day without a liberal suburban public school teacher.”

Staffers at three large U.S. school districts played hooky Wednesday in honor of the general strike dubbed “A Day Without a Woman,” but elsewhere it was business as usual for most women.

The U.S. protest, sponsored by the Women’s March on Washington, urged women to avoid engaging in paid or unpaid work, to wear red and to shop only at local women-owned businesses in order to call attention to the “economic injustices women and gender nonconforming people continue to face.”

Pro-life women used the occasion to mark the “the millions of girls who are missing from the world because of abortion, in particular those who were targeted because they were girls,” said Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association.

“That is why millions of women like myself want nothing to do with the dark irony of claiming to be pro-choice and celebrating a day without women,” Ms. McGuire said in a statement. “We will happily go to work today, both in caring for our families, and in fighting for an end to the anti-woman injustice of abortion.”

The pro-life movement has been excluded from the Women’s March, which holds a strong pro-choice stance. One of the two premier partners of the Women’s March is Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.


4. Rules of thumb for processing the latest papal bombshell. 

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, March 8, 2017

Pope Francis has an endless capacity for memorable media soundbites…Pastors are increasingly trying to help ordinary Catholics process these bombshells, and here are three basic rules of thumb.

We got another entry on Wednesday in a new interview with a German newspaper, in which Francis denies seeing American Cardinal Raymond Burke as an “adversary,” signals a cautious opening to discussion about married priests, voices alarm about the rise of political populism in Europe, and takes a gentle swipe at what he calls “fundamentalist Catholics.”

Whenever these bombshells explode, pundits and commentators go into overdrive trying to explain (and sometimes spin) what the pope actually meant. Less noticed, however, is the grassroots pastoral challenge they create, as parish priests and other Church personnel scramble to answer people’s questions about what was said and what it might mean.

The idea was to give people some tools for standing back from whatever the latest sensation may be, and trying to make sense of it. I offered three basic rules of thumb.

First, whatever else these bombshells may be, they are clearly not a formal expression of the pope’s teaching authority. If Francis wanted to declare a new dogma binding on Catholic consciences, he knows how to do it, and a one-off zinger in a press conference isn’t it.

Second, it’s important to remember that these one-liners don’t always capture the pope’s own priorities. Often they’ve come in response to questions other people have asked him, rather than something he brought up himself.


Third and finally, it’s essential to put these utterances in context in order to grasp what Francis really meant.


5. What the US bishops want to see in health care reform. 

By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, March 8, 2017, 3:29 PM

As Congress considers a new health care law, the U.S. bishops are calling for a plan that does not fund abortion, but respects conscience rights, while also ensuring universal access to affordable health care.

“The Bishops of the United States continue to reject the inclusion of abortion as part of a national health care benefit,” four committee chairs for the U.S. bishops’ conference said in a letter to Congress this week, while adding that “all people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care.”

The bishops’ letter, sent to all members of Congress on Tuesday, was signed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee; Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chair of the bishops’ religious liberty committee; Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, chair of the bishops’ migration committee; and Bishop Frank Dewayne of Venice, chair of the bishops’ domestic justice and human development committee.

In the letter, the bishops responded to House Republicans’ recently unveiled plan to take the place of the Affordable Care Act.


6. Pro-life movement remembers victims of abortion on ‘A Day Without a Woman’. 

By Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, March 8, 2017

Feminists are skipping work Wednesday to show the world what it would be like without women, but the pro-life movement says the world will already never know the hundreds of millions of mothers, daughters and sisters who have been lost to abortion.

Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association, called the day “a sad reminder of the millions of girls who are missing from the world because of abortion, in particular those who were targeted because they were girls.”

“That is why millions of women like myself want nothing to do with the dark irony of claiming to be pro-choice and celebrating a day without women,” Ms. McGuire said in a statement. “We will happily go to work today, both in caring for our families, and in fighting for an end to the anti-woman injustice of abortion.”


7. The New Planned Parenthood Ad Touting Children As A Blessing Is A Really Hard Sell. 

By Grazie Christie, Independent Journal Review, March 7, 2017

Worried about the prospect of losing their federal funds, Planned Parenthood has revamped their strategy. They went from lobbying for federal funding for abortion before the election to now running an ad featuring a patient who thanks Planned Parenthood for helping her not to choose abortion.

This ad shows a young woman who did not abort her son because a doctor at a Planned Parenthood told her to go home and sleep on her decision to terminate. She is thankful because she recognizes that her son has filled her life with joy.

It was a slew of other videos that provided much of the impetus for defunding in the first place. These showed Planned Parenthood doctors and administrators callously discussing the harvest and sale of the body parts of aborted fetuses.

Although the corporation denies violating any laws, it seems clear that profit is a stronger motivator at the clinics than the medical and human needs of the women that go to them in crisis. So the House of Representatives passed a resolution allowing states to redirect federal Title X funding (meant for contraception, prenatal care and cancer screening) away from Planned Parenthood and toward comprehensive health care clinics.

This is the first, but surely not the last, consequence of an election that put the party that’s not devoted to preserving the corporation’s tax subsidies in the driver’s seat.