1. White House Acts to Ease Birth Control Coverage Rule for Religious Objectors

By Robert Pear, The New York Times, May 30, 2017, Pg. A14

Federal officials, following through on a pledge by President Trump, have drafted a rule to roll back a federal requirement that many religious employers provide birth control coverage in health insurance plans.

The new rule will fulfill a campaign pledge by Mr. Trump. “I will make absolutely certain religious orders like the Little Sisters of Poor are not bullied by the federal government because of their religious beliefs,” he said in October in a letter to leaders of Roman Catholic organizations.

Because the policy change is embodied in an interim final rule, it could take effect immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. When agencies issue interim final rules, however, they typically invite public comments and can later revise the rules in light of those comments.

Mark L. Rienzi, a lawyer at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty who represents the Little Sisters, said the new rule would go a long way to address their concerns. But he said they would still seek a court order to ensure that the government could not impose similar requirements in the future.


2. Judge may hold anti-abortion activist in contempt

By Sandhya Somashekhar, The Washington Post, May 29, 2017, Pg. A13

A federal judge is considering whether to penalize an antiabortion activist for Internet postings that included covertly recorded videos and the names of abortion providers that were supposed to be barred from public release.

District Judge William H. Orrick of San Francisco late Thursday directed David Daleiden and his attorneys to take down at least 11 names and several hours of video secretly filmed at two National Abortion Federation conferences, which they had posted online this week.

Daleiden’s criminal defense attorneys, Steve Cooley and Brentford Ferreira, initially posted the videos and names publicly hoping to draw out women who had been harmed by the doctors featured in them, Ferreira said in an interview. Ferreira rejected the idea that doing so left the providers vulnerable to violence.

In remarks on Cooley’s firm’s website, the attorneys called Daleiden an investigative journalist and described his revelations as “the most infamous and disturbing story of unethical and illegal medical practices since the Tuskegee Institute scandal.”

They argued that the names of the abortion providers Daleiden secretly recorded at the National Abortion Federation conferences became part of the public record earlier this month, when Becerra disclosed them to Daleiden’s legal team.


3. Why women aren’t choosing adoption – and how pro-lifers can change that

By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, May 29, 2017, 3:55 PM

The Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C. hosted a three-part panel series on adoption on May 8, May 15, and May 22. The goal was to discuss how the pro-life movement can create a “radical culture of hospitality” for those facing a crisis pregnancy, and for their children.

Today, mothers choose abortion at a far greater rate than adoption. In 2014, there were almost 1 million abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, but there were only 18,329 infant domestic adoptions, according to numbers provided by the National Council for Adoptions.

“Adoption as a real solution is often overlooked,” said Elizabeth Kirk, a writer and researcher who spoke on one of the CIC panels.

There are several reasons for this, she explained. Women have said in studies that “adoption is not a realistic option for them” and that they would suffer more guilt in leaving their child to an unknown future than in terminating the pregnancy.

They may also be facing pressure from loved ones or advisors against adoption.

Dr. Grazie Christie, a radiologist and a policy advisor for The Catholic Association… shared her own decision to adopt after having four children.

“We didn’t need a child. We had plenty of children,” she said of her family, yet “we had so much” and wanted to adopt as “an act of love.” They adopted a child from outside the U.S.

Yet she wasn’t ready for the skepticism and criticism she faced for her decision.

“We got a lot of negativity from people around us,” she said, including questions and observations like “You’re crazy,” “You don’t know what you’re going to get,” “You’re going out to get other people’s problems and bring them home,” and “Don’t you have enough children?”

“I was pained by it,” she said, but when she received her new daughter and began caring for her, “it was hands-down the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me.”

“We have to very much, very specifically, very purposefully build a culture of adoption,” Dr. Christie said. “It has to be seen as yet another way that God matches children with their parents.”


4. The White House and Congress should respect D.C.’s decision on ‘Death with Dignity’

By The Editorial Board, The Washington Post, May 28, 2017, Pg. A20

PROPONENTS OF the District’s Death With Dignity law breathed a sigh of relief when a Republican effort to block the law led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz failed.

The city needs to make a priority of getting the program operational as soon as possible. It would underscore the importance of the District’s right to home rule and might make it a bit harder for Congress to undo, although given Republican animus toward the District, nothing should be taken for granted. Mr. Trump once said he wanted what was best for District residents and was even open to possible congressional representation for the District, but he has aligned himself with Republican adversaries of the city. In addition to the rider on the death with dignity law, the budget proposal also retains the current riders that block the District from spending its own funds on abortions for low-income women and marijuana commercialization.


5. Deafening silence on Müller confirms key insight on Francis papacy

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, May 28, 2017

German Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, recently had controversial things to say both about ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ the pope’s document on the family, and on female deacons. The fact few have reacted confirms a key insight about Pope Francis, which is that his network of informal advisers is far more important than organizational charts.

Once upon a time, the earth shook when prefects of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith spoke. Historically, the congregation has been known as la suprema, the “supreme” department within the Vatican, because it had the final word on issues involving doctrine – and since there’s little the Catholic Church does that doesn’t involve doctrine in some form, that’s an awfully broad mandate.

That’s simply not the case under Francis, who perhaps has not quite “sidelined” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but who certainly does not rely on it as his primary touchstone for assessing the doctrinal implications of his decisions.

When Francis wants a theological assessment of something, it’s clear that he’ll rely more on informal advisers such as Argentine Archbishop Victor Fernandez than on Müller, part of this pope’s general strategy of preferring to work around people who aren’t quite in sync with his agenda than to formally replace them.

As a result, seasoned Vatican-watchers no longer assume that when the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith speaks, it’s a hint of looming papal policy. Instead, Müller has become another voice in the conversation, someone to be respected for his senior position and theological credentials, but certainly not a pipeline to what the pope may be thinking or planning.


6. A supposedly anti-capitalist pope channels his inner entrepreneur

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, May 28, 2017

At the level of crass public imagery, Pope Francis is generally seen as a critic of capitalism and hostile to both big business and a free-market economy. Saturday, however, was one of those days that explodes stereotypes, as Francis made it clear that he actually has a fairly romantic notion of what business at its best is all about.

The occasion was a visit to the Italian port city of Genoa, from which, as the pontiff recalled, his own family once set sail for a new life in Argentina. Francis made a stop at the notorious Ilva steel plant, known for high levels of pollution, deadly workplace accidents, and management corruption scandals.

Despite his alleged skepticism of the for-profit sector, Francis professed deep admiration for entrepreneurs and business owners.

“There can’t be a good economy without good businessmen, without their capacity to create and to produce,” he said.

In effect, Francis made four business management points on Saturday.

[1.]Exploiting and mistreating workers isn’t just morally and spiritually wrong, it’s economically self-defeating.

[2.]The concept of a “meritocracy” that’s at the heart of some self-congratulating capitalism rhetoric is false.

[3.]There’s a difference between entrepreneurship and “speculation,” with the former being noble and the latter dangerous and unethical.

[4.]Successful businesses are essential to democracy.


7. How Nationalism Can Solve the Crisis of Islam: Transnational liberalism breeds resentments and anxieties that are only beginning to surface across the developed world

By Sohrab Ahmari, The Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2017, Pg. A11, Opinion

Last Sunday President Trump stood before Muslim leaders in Riyadh and declared: “America is a sovereign nation, and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens. We are not here to lecture. We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship.”

Amid the journalistic uproar that greets nearly everything Mr. Trump says, few noted the connection he made between these two concepts: We are sovereign, and we don’t want to lecture. By putting them together, the president scrambled the pattern that has long shaped the West’s relations with Islam.

For decades, the West has seen itself as an empire of rights and liberal norms. There were borders and nations, but these were fast dissolving. Since rights were universal, the empire would soon encompass the planet. Everyone would belong, including Muslims, who were expected to lose their distinctness.

It didn’t work, as the latest jihadist attack, at a concert for teens in Manchester, England, attests. So it makes sense to consider alternatives. Judging by his Saudi speech, Mr. Trump wants to revive the nation-state as the primary political vehicle for encountering Islam. The nation has clear—and limited—territorial and cultural boundaries. It says we are this, and you are that.
To the French philosopher Pierre Manent, such thinking is the beginning of wisdom. “We have a big problem with Islam,” he tells me. “And it’s impossible to solve it through globalist, individualist, rights-of-man mantras.”

He regards Islam as a powerful and “starkly objective” faith. Wherever it spreads, it brings a set of “authoritative mores,” whose adherents constitute the faithful community, or ummah. This is in contrast to Christianity, with its emphasis on subjective, inner assent to the Redeemer, distinctions between the visible and invisible church, Caesar and God, and so on.
Islam instead rests on a political geography that divides the world, Mr. Manent has written, between the “house of submission,” where the faith reigns, and the “house of war,” where it doesn’t. As a political form, Islam thus most closely resembles an empire, he argues. The trouble—for Muslims and for the West—is that since the Ottoman collapse in 1924, it “has been an empire without an emperor.”

Like Tocqueville, Mr. Manent sees much to admire in the American experiment. Even as Europeans have sought to pool or even abandon their sovereignty, he says, “Americans remained very much attached to the idea of a people making its laws to protect itself.”

True, “this people was open to the world, since of course it was formed by immigration. But people came from all over the world, not to be human beings but to be citizens of the United States, which had a keen sense of its exceptionalism and unique character.” In the Second Amendment, the persistence of the death penalty, and the reluctance of U.S. courts to follow foreign precedents, Mr. Manent sees “not a proof of American barbarism” but of democratic vigor.

And realism. Europeans, he says, imagined the world was so safe for liberty that they could discard the harsh, Hobbesian elements of power. Americans recognize that the modern world still has one foot in the state of nature, and this calls for the sovereign prerogatives of self-preservation: We are sovereign—we don’t lecture.