1. AMA Rebuffs Advocates of Physician-Assisted Suicide. 

By Cullen Herout, Cullen Herout is a pro-life, pro-family writer. He is a licensed mental health practitioner, and has worked for almost six years with the post-abortion ministry Rachel’s Vineyard, Crisis Magazine, May 8, 2018

Over the past few years, proponents of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) have been pushing the American Medical Association (AMA) to amend its Code of Ethics as it pertains to the practice.

In 2016, a delegation from Oregon asked the AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) to recommend that the AMA adopt a neutral stance on physician “aid in dying.” In 2017, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser approached the Council recommending that it develop a distinction between suicide and “aid in dying.” Many were concerned that amending the AMA’s Code of Ethics would be a major step for those advancing a progressive end-of-life agenda.

But after considering these recommendations, the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs recently released report 5-A-18, and the answer from the Council was a resounding “no.” While the Council’s refusal to take a neutral stance on PAS was pleasantly surprising, perhaps the most noteworthy takeaway from the report was the forthright way the questions of linguistic engineering were answered.

Through and through, the report called out and rejected attempts to alter the terminology made by proponents to make PAS more palatable to the American people.

But no matter how a person dresses it up, suicide is suicide, and doctor participation is doctor participation. Changing the language may get more Americans on board, but it does not change the nature of the practice. Thankfully, the Council saw through these deceptive efforts:

In the council’s view, despite its negative connotations… the term “physician assisted suicide” describes the practice with the greatest precision. Most importantly, it clearly distinguishes the practice from euthanasia. The terms “aid in dying” or “death with dignity” could be used to describe either euthanasia or palliative/ hospice care at the end of life and this degree of ambiguity is unacceptable for providing ethical guidance.

But the CEJA’s rejection of these recommendations is a reminder that the battle against PAS and euthanasia is not yet lost even though many local AMA chapters have gone in the opposite direction. The AMA has offered a reprieve giving opponents of PAS an opportunity to build up a culture of life within the medical profession. While the public conversation rages on, it’s good to know that there are many individuals setting the ethical standards in this country who still believe that doctors have no business facilitating the suicides of their patients.

Renowned bioethicist Wesley J. Smith sums up this report quite nicely: “Good. A doctor’s role is to heal, palliate, counsel, and treat. It should never be to help kill.”

Well said.


2. Catholic colleges, conflicted conservatives. 

By Korey D. Maas, Korey D. Maas is an associate professor of history at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, The Washington Times, May 8, 2018, Pg. B3

Conservatives have defended the right of private institutions to adhere to their doctrinal commitments and craft health care policies, hiring practices and course content that aligns with that vision. Liberals, for their part, have seen such practices and policies as a thinly veiled form of discrimination and have urged the government to intervene at these institutions.

A recent situation at Wisconsin’s Marquette University, however, has complicated that divide a good deal. John McAdams, a tenured professor of political science, was suspended after public comments made about a graduate instructor who had silenced classroom criticism of gay marriage. He sued, lost, and then appealed to the state’s highest court, which has now taken up the case. 

The fact of the matter is that it’s not quite so clear-cut as that. Conservatives may well be inclined to side with Mr. McAdams because of shared social values and hope that the Wisconsin Supreme Court will rule in his favor. But before they leap to his defense, they must consider the full complexities of the situation and the precedent that it will set for future incidents at other institutions.

To begin with, Marquette is not simply a university. Nor is it merely a private university. It is a Catholic and, more specifically, a Jesuit university. … Most obviously, it raises the question of whether First Amendment speech protections apply at a private, religious university in the same way they would at a public institution.

Less obvious, but more tangled, is the question of Marquette’s motive. Court documents filed in Mr. McAdam’s behalf, for example, regularly describe him as the victim of a stifling campus orthodoxy. The reference here is not to the theological orthodoxy of the church, however, but the social orthodoxy of “political correctness.”

In this light, it is especially curious that conservatives — traditionally keen to defend the liberties not only of religions institutions, but of the whole panoply of voluntary associations that stand between the individual and the state — have so reflexively sided with Mr. McAdams.


It is, to be sure, entirely possible that Marquette is mistaken about its mission as a Catholic university. It is entirely possible that the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities misunderstands the “Jesuit values” that inform and animate that mission. That would still make it no more wise or prudent — or conservative — to invite the secular state to dismiss, discern or define the mission and values by which a private, religious institution is guided and governed.


3. A time of reckoning for religious freedom, America’s faith is a beacon, and must not be extinguished. 

By Robert Charles, Robert B. Charles served as assistant secretary of State under George W. Bush, and served in the White Houses of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, The Washington Times, May 8, 2018, Pg. B1

Sometimes, the merry-go-round of false narratives deserves to be stopped, history reasserted. America’s religious roots are under intense pressure today from the media, state governments, educational institutions and litigious atheists. We are at a time of reckoning — and so is our role in the world as a beacon of religious freedom.

The saddest fact is that all the world is watching as we disassemble the long-standing right to religious liberty on which our country was founded — and to which persecuted Christians and others look with hope.

Today, flagrant violation of an individual’s religious liberty, and persecution of Christians and other religions globally, is pervasive. Globally, one in 12 Christians is persecuted, bringing the number to roughly 215 million, and 600 million are prevented from practicing their faith.

America is an essential beacon for religious liberty, and we — of all people — must not be complicit in dimming that light.

If we do not draw the line here, supporting faithful Christians, Jews, Muslims and others in their morally protected right to freely believe and live by tenets of a sincerely held faith, what does the First Amendment mean? If we do not respect every American’s faith, what do we respect?

And if we do not live by fidelity to such founding principles, where do the persecuted around the world look for hope?

This is a time of reckoning, of America with itself. Religious Americans, which is most of us, should be unafraid to stand for a historical, legal, ecclesiastical and moral tradition that is unique in all the world. We must resist religious intolerance, from the media to madcap book banning. Time to stop the merry-go-round.


4. Met exhibit makes a case for bridge between faith and fashion. 

By Claire Giangravè, Contributing Editor, Crux, May 8, 2018, Opinion

Not everyone got it. For that matter, not all of those previewing the May-October Met exhibit on the Catholic imagination bought the curator’s pitch that the show was building a bridge between culture and faith.

Not everyone, but some, looked at the opulent vestments on loan from the Vatican and whispered in hushed voices: “Look at the rich extravagance of the Church!” “This is not the right venue for the Catholic Church.”

Again, not everyone got it. But many, gasping in awe before the creative power of the Catholic narrative, did.

“To me, the idea of beauty and aesthetic can bridge the gap between the believer and the non-believer,” said Andrew Bolton, curator of the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute, in an interview with Crux.

The biggest exhibit of its kind in the history of the museum – with over 110 items on display – was carefully prepared and presented by its curators. Divided in three sections, the show pays caring homage to the longstanding tradition of Catholicism influencing fashion and vice-versa.

The power of Catholicism, according to Bolton, is its narrative, where complex topics such as the incarnation, are told though compelling stories that stick in the mind of faithful and non-believers alike.

Not all of the reporters and fashion-lovers attending the press preview of the exhibit were willing to jump on the wagon of Catholicism’s powerful storytelling, but many gawked and marveled before the Church’s millennia-old ability to inspire beauty – and, why not, even faith.


5. Bogus Vatican deal confirms Saudis’ religious freedom headache. 

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

Anyone who’s covered the Vatican for a while knows that a good chunk of the job isn’t so much reporting the actual news, but debunking “fake news” that others have shot out into the ether. We got an example this week, with a bogus story that Saudi Arabia had entered into an agreement with the Vatican to support the construction of Christian churches in the country.

At the moment, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the Middle East without a single functioning Christian church within its borders.

In essence, the story, reported by the Egypt Independent, was that the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdel Karim Al-Issa, and French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, had struck an accord for the construction of churches for Christians living in Saudi Arabia during an April 16-21 visit by Tauran to Saudi Arabia.

Constitutionally speaking, Saudi Arabia is premised on Wahhabism, meaning a strict interpretation of Islamic law. In general, public attitudes towards Christianity are fairly negative, and Christians are consigned to a sort of second-class citizenship. Christians and members of other religious minorities are severely restricted in their ability to gather for worship, or to share their faith with anyone else.

Three Christian house churches were reportedly closed recently, some after being raided by police. In the past year, several Christians have been forced to leave the country as a result of their beliefs or faith-related activities. Several years ago, when an Italian soccer team toured the county, it was asked to replace crosses on its uniforms with dashes in order to avoid giving offense.

Christian women face special threats, with rape and sexual harassment being regular features of life in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation.

Today, that anti-Christian bias is reportedly taking on an even sharper edge due to a rapid spike in the country’s Christian population. Because of an influx of expatriate workers from Lebanon, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Korea, the Catholic population alone of Saudi Arabia today is estimated to be around 1.5 million, out of a total population of around 32 million.

In light of the Vatican denial, two questions above all suggest themselves: Who put out the false report, and why now?

While we don’t know for sure, the fact that the story first appeared on an Egyptian news site suggests it was the Saudis, or at least someone with close ties to the Saudi regime, who instigated it. The face-value explanation would seem to be that someone wants the Saudis to be seen as not overtly hostile to Christianity, or to religious pluralism generally, presumably in order to discourage trade embargoes or other sanctions Western governments might impose.

How to manage Western trade relations with a country that continues to frustrate religious freedom claims is something experts will continue to debate. In the meantime, it remains unclear when the cherished dream of Saudi Arabia’s Catholic minority to open its own church might be realized.


6. Pope Francis and Cardinal Marx deliver contrasting takes on Marxism. 

By Inés San Martín, Crux, May 8, 2018

Typically, Pope Francis and German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich are considered allies. Recently, however, the two men offered contrasting takes on the legacy of one of the modern world’s most influential social and political movements – ironically enough, “Marxism.”

While the Bavarian cardinal said in a recent interview that the father of Communism had “unmistakably” influenced Catholic social teaching, Francis wrote in the preface of a collection of writings of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI on faith and politics that Marxism is wrong to deny humanity’s dependence on God.

The book on Benedict’s writings, titled Liberating Freedom: Faith and Politics in the Third Millennium, will be released in Italian on Friday at a Rome presentation in the Senate. It will include the pope emeritus’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, and the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani.

The preface was published in advance on Sunday by the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

Quoting one of the texts from Benedict included in the book, Francis says the state is “not the totality,” and that by demanding to be “the totum of human possibilities and hopes,” as the Roman State did, it forges and impoverishes humanity.

“With [this] totalitarian lie, [the Roman state] became demonic and tyrannical,” the pope emeritus wrote in the text quoted by Francis.


7. Alliance Defending Freedom booted from Amazon Smile program over ‘hate group’ label. 

By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency, May 7, 2018, 11:16 AM

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian legal organization that promotes life, marriage and religious liberty, has been removed from the “AmazonSmile” charitable giving program after being designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

AmazonSmile is a program that allows users to choose a nonprofit foundation to receive a small percentage of their Amazon purchases. ADF has been part of the program since its inception in 2013.

Recently, however, the group said it was told that this was no longer the case, due to the SPLC’s designation of the group as an “Anti-LGBT” extremist group.

Alliance Defending Freedom, which has won hundreds of legal victories, including seven cases at the Supreme Court, focuses on “defending religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.”


8. In new video, Pope applauds ecumenical push against modern-day slavery.

By Inés San Martín, May 7, 2018

In a new video directed at his home country of Argentina, Pope Francis on Monday renewed his appeals to fight modern-day slavery and applauded ecumenical efforts among various Christian churches to join forces in the struggle.

“Slavery is not something from the past,” Francis said in the video. “It’s a practice that has deep roots and it manifests itself today and in many forms: human trafficking, exploitation through debt, exploitation of children, sexual exploitation and forced domestic work are some of its many forms.”

According to the latest statistics shared by Francis in his message, there are more than 40 million people, men, but above all women and children, who are enslaved today. The pope said those numbers are “probably underestimated.”

Most experts say there are more slaves today than ever before, and it’s often considered among the top three most profitable illegal industries in the world, together with drug and arms trafficking.

Francis was addressing a May 5-8 forum on slavery promoted by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, as well as the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, which Francis once led, and the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute of Berkley. It’s being hosted by Buenos Aires’s Ecumenical patriarchate.


9. Vatican releases pope’s schedule for visit to Geneva. 

By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, May 7, 2018

During his one-day visit to Geneva, Pope Francis will highlight the importance of Christians praying and working together on their ecumenical journey.

He will visit the ecumenical center of the World Council of Churches, where he will be part of an ecumenical prayer service and meeting June 21. The pope will also meet privately with the president of the Swiss confederation and celebrate Mass with the local Catholic community.

The papal visit is part of celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches – a fellowship of Christian communities and churches, seeking visible unity among Christians.

The Vatican released the pope’s schedule, the pope’s 23rd trip abroad, May 7.


10. Vatican bling takes center stage at new Met fashion exhibit. 

By Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press, May 7, 2018, 1:49 PM

If you’re going to wield power, you need to dress the part — and it seems few have understood that better than the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church through the centuries. That’s one of the key takeaways from the latest mega-exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, a look at the influence of Catholicism on fashion. It opens Thursday and runs through Oct. 8.

If you’re looking for modern examples of the relationship between the two, consider that they called Pope Benedict XVI the “Prada Pope,” based on rumors — urban legend, it turns out — that his stylish red loafers were from the storied fashion house. They weren’t, and actually his predecessor, John Paul II, had a similar pair, now on display at the Met — part of a long papal tradition. That didn’t stop Benedict from being named Esquire’s 2007 Accessorizer of the Year.

But examples go back earlier — WAY earlier, according to “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” the Met’s annual spring fashion exhibit and the biggest one yet, spanning a full 25 galleries and stretching from the Metropolitan on Fifth Avenue to its Cloisters branch in upper Manhattan. As always, the show makes its debut at the star-studded Met Gala on Mondaynight. Will the celebrity bling match the Vatican bling? Not likely.

Take, for example, just one stunning tiara that glimmers in the Institute’s galleries, a three-tiered concoction that gleams with 19,000 gems — 18,000 of them diamonds, along with rubies, sapphires and emeralds. It was a gift from Queen Isabella of Spain to the 19th-century Pope Pius IX, who wore it at Christmas Mass in 1854.

Or a huge white-and-gold papal mantle — a voluminous cape of taffeta embroidered with gold metal thread, tinsel and paillettes. A set of 12 such vestments took 15 workers some 16 years to complete, the museum says.

They are just a few of the 42 items that curator Andrew Bolton, who has become known for his blockbuster Met exhibits, brought back from the Sistine Chapel’s sacristy at the Vatican.