1. Pope to meet head of Myanmar army and Rohingya refugees: Vatican.

By Philip Pullella, Reuters, November 22, 2017, 7:48 AM

Pope Francis will meet the head of Myanmar’s army on a visit to the country and Rohingya refugees while he is in Bangladesh, both late additions to his tour of the two countries next week.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke, briefing reporters on the trip, said that he would meet the head of the army, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, on the morning of Nov. 30 in a church residence in Yangon.

Human rights monitors have accused Myanmar’s military of atrocities, including mass rape, against the stateless Rohingya during so-called clearance operations following insurgent attacks on 30 police posts and an army base.

The pope will separately meet the country’s defacto civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi in the capital Naypyitaw, on Nov. 28 in an encounter that was already on the schedule.

Burke said that a “a small group” of Rohingya refugees will be present at an inter-religious meeting for peace in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka on the afternoon of Friday, Dec 1.


2. Little Sisters of the Poor forced back into court to fight birth control mandates.

By Claire Chretien, Life Site News, November 21, 2017, 2:56 PM

The Little Sisters of the Poor are returning to court to defend themselves against lawsuits from the states of Pennsylvania and California that would force them to cooperate with the provision of contraception and life-ending drugs.

“It is utterly incomprehensible that in a free country like the United States, Catholic nuns who care for the elderly poor are being harassed with new lawsuits to force them to provide contraceptives and abortifacients,” said Maureen Ferguson, senior policy adviser for the Catholic Association. “The Little Sisters of the Poor finally received relief from the federal government’s executive order on religious liberty, yet now the politically motivated state attorneys general of Pennsylvania and California are on the attack.”

Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow for the Catholic Association, said the Pennsylvania and California attorney generals are “known for their liberal bona fides” and “need to get the memo that it’s time to move on.”


3. Brazil nears constitutional ban on abortion with no exceptions.

By Frederic Puglie, The Washington Times, November 22, 2017, Pg. A1

Bucking a regional trend toward more liberal abortion laws, conservative lawmakers in Brazil are one step away from enacting a constitutional ban on ending pregnancies — even if they result from rape or could endanger the mother’s health.

A special committee of Brazil’s lower house voted Nov. 8 to enshrine “the inviolability of the right to life from conception” in the country’s Carta Magna, as the federal constitution is known, setting off at times raucous protests from pro-choice activists in more than 30 cities. For final approval, the amendment still needs a two-thirds majority in the full Chamber of Deputies, as well as in the Senate.

Abortion is illegal in Brazil, home to the world’s largest Catholic community, except when pregnancy is a result of rape, if it endangers the mother’s life or if the fetus has anencephaly, in which a baby is missing parts of the brain and skull. The government estimates that more than 1 million abortions are performed in unregistered clinics each year.

Ultimately, the amendment passed by an 18-1 vote. The no vote came from the sole female commission member present. The final tally was telling, said prominent pro-choice activist Debora Diniz, and showed how little the lawmakers knew about the lives of half of their constituents.


4. Vatican beefs up oversight of diplomats after 2 sex probes.

By Associated Press, November 21, 2017, 2:29 PM

Pope Francis has beefed up the Vatican’s oversight of its diplomatic corps after two recent cases of alleged sexual misconduct and other instances of its ambassadors going off-message from the pope.

The Vatican said Tuesday that Francis had created a new section in the secretariat of state to coordinate the selection, training and service of its diplomats.


5. Where the revolution has led: An interview with Mary Eberstadt.

By JD Flynn, Catholic News Agency, November 21, 2017

Catholic author Mary Eberstadt is a senior fellow of the Faith & Reason Institute, and the author of several best-selling books, including Adam and Eve After the Pill and How the West Really Lost God. In the Nov. 6 issue of The Weekly Standard, Eberstadt published “The Primal Scream of Identity Politics,” an essay exploring the contours of contemporary American politics, our search for identity, and the importance of the family. She spoke to Catholic News Agency editor-in-chief JD Flynn.

Flynn: What are identity politics?

Eberstadt: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines identity politics as “political activity and theorizing founded in the shared experiences of injustice of members of certain social groups.” This is not politics as usual. It’s instead an assertion of identity with one or another group that’s said to be oppressed. Believing oneself to be a victim is part and parcel of “identifying” in this way.

I wrote the essay not to dismiss the primal nature of identity politics, but instead to try and understand where all that deeply felt irrationalism is coming from.

What do we lose because of the surge in identity politics?

For starters, we’re losing an elemental piece of Catholic and other theology: The idea of free will.


6. Nuns Back in Court as State AGs Fight for Planned Parenthood: Pennsylvania and California AGs have collected more than $25,000 from abortion industry.

By Bill McMorris, The Washington Free Beacon, November 21, 2017, 3:00 PM

The Little Sisters of the Poor are once again at the center of a religious liberty court battle as California and Pennsylvania attempt to force them to cover abortifacients, by overturning a federal exemption from the Trump administration.

The Catholic nuns battled the Obama administration all the way to the Supreme Court to exercise their conscience rights against Obamacare’s birth control mandate. The Department of Health and Human Services announced a new rule in October that would grant a conscience exemption to the nuns, whose mission focuses on assisting the elderly poor.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro have each filed legal challenges to force the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious organizations that object to abortifacients to finance them in their employee healthcare plans.

Becerra and Shapiro have both received substantial political support from the abortion industry.

Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania was one of Shapiro’s largest campaign donors in his 2016 campaign, shelling out nearly $20,000 in the race, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Shapiro’s campaign website features a Stand with Planned Parenthood page and said he would make abortion rights a top priority. He announced his lawsuit challenging the Trump administration at a press conference held in a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood clinic.

Becerra also received thousands of dollars from Planned Parenthood and NARAL during his tenure as a U.S. congressman. He has aggressively policed pro-life activists in office, filing 15 charges against Center for Medical Progress investigators over their undercover footage detailing Planned Parenthood’s organ harvesting operations.

Religious activists praised the Little Sisters of the Poor for taking up the fight of religious liberty. Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a policy advisor to The Catholic Association, said government regulators are distracting the nuns from their mission to fight policymakers interested in “political points” over religious liberty. He accused the mandate’s backers of harboring anti-Catholic views in their attempts to force lay employers and religious organizations to violate church teaching on birth control.

“Once again, the Little Sisters of the Poor are forced to divert their attention from the care of the poor and elderly to defend themselves from the relentless bullying of those who want nuns to distribute contraceptives and abortifacients,” Christie said. “These attempts seem to be based on naked ambition and anti-Catholicism.  We are confident that the Little Sisters will ultimately obtain the legal protection they deserve.”