1. The Bishop Who Took On the Führer

By Sohrab Ahmari, The Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2017, Pg. A15, Opinion

At the zenith of Hitler’s power, Clemens August Graf von Galen used his pulpit as the bishop of Münster to rail against Nazi dictatorship, earning him the moniker “Lion of Münster.”

Galen was in no position to take up arms. His best weapon was his homilies. Of these, the most consequential was delivered on Aug. 3, 1941. It concerned the T4 program.

Innocent Germans were being murdered, he told his diocesans, “because in the judgment of some official body, on the decision of some committee, they have become ‘unworthy to live,’ because they are classed as ‘unproductive members of the national community.’ ”

[S]hortly after the bishop’s homily in 1941, T4 was terminated. By then 70,000 to 100,000 innocents had been murdered. Another 100,000 people with disabilities would be killed before war’s end, albeit in a less systematic fashion.

Nazi crimes remain without parallel, but some European countries today boast 100% termination rates for fetuses with Down syndrome. Others allow voluntary euthanasia for patients with an ever-growing list of nonterminal conditions.

Not even the Catholic Church is immune. Lay officials at the Brothers of Charity, a Belgian religious order, plan to permit nonterminal mentally ill patients to be euthanized in the order’s hospitals—over the brothers’ objections. Belgian law prohibits health-care facilities from refusing to allow euthanasia on conscience grounds. Violators risk fines and damages.


2. Those 29 times presidents and popes have intersected

By Inés San Martín, Crux, May 19, 2017

Unless there’s an unexpected change in schedule – and, with these two mavericks, one never knows – Pope Francis and President Donald Trump will meet each other for the first time on Wednesday. The encounter will take place in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, where the pontiff meets most heads of state who visit him.

The two have spoken about each other, but this will be the first time they actually address one another directly.

This will not, however, be the first time a U.S. president and the pope meet. It won’t even be the first time Francis has encountered an American president, as he’s met with Barack Obama twice, once in Rome and once in Washington.

The first sitting U.S. president to meet a pope was Woodrow Wilson, back on January 4, 1919. He encountered Benedict XV at the end of the First World War.

The first president to meet a pope was Ulysses S. Grant, who paid a visit to Pope Leo XIII in 1878, but it was after Grant had left office.


3. ‘We cannot rest’ while Christians are being persecuted, advocates say

By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, May 19, 2017

Christians around the world have been models of forgiveness amidst persecution, but Western Christians must support them, religious leaders insisted at a world summit last week.

“We cannot rest, we cannot be content, we certainly can’t be complacent knowing our sisters and brothers are being oppressed, imprisoned, and killed,” Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. stated in his May 12 keynote address at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians.

“When fellow Christians suffer, we suffer too. Injustice, this extraordinary injustice, should arouse in us the need to speak,” he continued.

Last week’s D.C. summit, hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, featured more than 600 Christian leaders from 130 countries, including those who have suffered persecution in countries like Syria, North Korea, Iraq, Egypt, and Cuba.

The gathering was meant to shed light on narratives of Christian persecution amidst totalitarianism, secularism, tribalism, or religious extremism, and enable leaders to collaborate on pushing for religious freedom and tolerance.

Vice President Mike Pence addressed the summit on Thursday, as well as Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church. Cardinal Wuerl delivered the keynote address on Friday.

As a world leader, the U.S. has a key role in fighting religious persecution around the world, former congressman Frank Wolf told CNA, but in the “past several years” international religious freedom has been “kind of ignored” by members of both parties in Congress.

The Trump administration must make some key hires to ensure that religious freedom has a prominent place in American diplomacy and foreign policy, he said, including the appointment of an Ambassador at-Large for International Religious Freedom.


4. Abortion poses hurdle for Senate healthcare bill

By Rachel Roubein, The Hill, May 19, 2017, 6:00 AM

Abortion has emerged as a potential stumbling block for Senate Republicans as they seek to craft an ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill that can garner 51 votes.

Senators are fretting that a provision in the House healthcare bill that bars financial assistance from being used to buy plans covering abortion will be stripped out under the Senate’s rules of reconciliation. Republicans hope to use that special budgetary procedure to bypass a Democratic filibuster.

If the Senate parliamentarian rules that the abortion provision is out of bounds, Republicans could have a problem on their hands.


5. Pope Tells Geneticists That Destroying Embryos Is Unjustifiable

By Reuters, May 18, 2017, 11:03 AM

Pope Francis praised scientists working on treatments for genetic diseases on Thursday but condemned any use of human embryos in medical research.

“I encourage you to carry out (your work) in ways that do not contribute to nourishing the ‘throwaway culture’ that sometimes creeps into the world of scientific research,” he said at an event aimed at raising awareness of Huntington’s disease, a degenerative brain condition.

“We know that no end, even a noble one like the expectation of a benefit for science, for other human beings or for society, can justify the destruction of human embryos,” Francis added.