1. Pope visits Roman shrine to pray for peace, especially in Syria. 

By Inés San Martín, Crux, May 2, 2018

Popes, like other world leaders, speak a great deal, and their words are always parsed for hidden and implied meanings. Yet popes are also spiritual points of reference, and sometimes they can say more with silence than with speech.

That was the case with Pope Francis on Tuesday, who spent over an hour at a Roman shrine praying for peace, particularly in Syria, but during most of his visit he avoided the microphone, using it only to impart a final blessing.

Despite his silence on Tuesday, there’s no doubt as to what was on Francis’s mind when he prayed the rosary, as he’d referred to it twice in three days.

“Today, at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Divine Love, as we recite the Rosary, we pray especially for peace in Syria and throughout the world,” Francis tweeted on Tuesday. “I invite you to pray the Rosary for peace during the entire month of May.”

He’d said similar words on Sunday at the end of his weekly Regina Coeli prayer, when he asked those gathered and those joining from their homes to pray the rosary throughout the month of May – considered by the Church as Mary’s Month – with peace and an end to the conflict in Syria as specific intentions.

Francis has called for peace in Syria repeatedly, including while addressing diplomats at the end of the year and during his Urbi et Orbi blessings on New Year’s and Easter. During the first year of his pontificate, he led a prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Square for peace in the war-torn nation.

In July he’ll be going to the southern Italian city of Bari for an ecumenical prayer for peace in Syria. He’s invited the patriarchs and head of Christian communities that have a presence in the Middle East, including the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill.

Though impossible to come by precise statistics, the number of casualties since the Syrian war began in March 2011 is estimated at 400,000 people, a majority civilians.


2. Pro-lifers see disarray as Richards leaves Planned Parenthood, Abortions rise, health care falls. 

By Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, May 2, 2018, Pg. A1

Cecile Richards received a hero’s send-off on her last day as president of Planned Parenthood, but pro-life activists say her uncompromising stance on abortion and alliance with the Democratic Party have left the organization on shaky ground.

During her 12-year tenure, which officially came to an end Monday, Ms. Richards made Planned Parenthood into a political powerhouse that routinely spends tens of millions of dollars to elect Democrats to office. Yet growing political influence and increased taxpayer funding coincided with fewer medical services, fewer patient visits, massive clinic closures — and more abortions.

Ms. Richards oversaw the performance of more than 3.5 million abortions during her tenure at Planned Parenthood.

The number of abortions performed at Planned Parenthood has increased by nearly 11 percent since 2006, Ms. Richards‘ first year on the job, despite a more than 23 percent decline in patient visits.


3. Lawmakers call on Trump to cut abortion providers’ Title X funding. 

By Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, May 2, 2018, Pg. A5

Nearly 200 members of Congress and 100 state and national pro-life groups are calling on the Trump administration to take taxpayers out of the abortion business.

The coalition sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Monday asking him to cut off abortion providers from Title X dollars, which are earmarked for family planning services.

“For far too long the Title X Family Planning Program has been integrated with abortion centers,” the letter read. “It is time to act swiftly to disentangle abortion centers from the Title X network. Doing so would be consistent with the President’s pledge and subsequent actions to defund Planned Parenthood and reallocate funding to alternative providers.”

The letter was signed by 41 senators and 153 representatives.

Pro-life leaders from the Susan B. Anthony List, National Right to Life, Students for Life of America and Live Action also signed the letter.


4. Iowa lawmakers approve the most restrictive US abortion law. 

By Associated Press, May 2, 2018, 7:51 AM

Iowa lawmakers have passed what could be the most restrictive abortion legislation in the country.

Republican lawmakers with control of the statehouse passed the so-called “heartbeat” bill early Wednesday, with back-to-back chamber votes along party lines.

The legislation would effectively ban most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, with exemptions for cases of rape and incest. Critics say that would ban the medical procedure before some women know they’re pregnant.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is anti-abortion, hasn’t indicated whether she’ll sign the bill into law.