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March for Life Works to Maintain Unity in a Time of Division

posted on January 18, 2019

Catholic News Agency’s Michelle La Rosa writes about divisions within Friday’s pro-life rally in Washington, which is reminiscent of the broader divide in politics, as the nation reaches the fourth week of a government shutdown. Some more liberal March for Life supporters, like Democrats for Life board member Charles Camosy, have criticized the event’s inclusion of conservative keynote speaker Ben Shapiro. La Rosa adds, “The rise of nontraditional groups – such as New Wave Feminists, Rehumanize International, and Secular Pro-Life – has raised questions about whether the pro-life movement must also take a definitive stance on immigration, health care, gun control, and other policy issues regarding human dignity in other walks of life.”

Read at Catholic News Agency

Cardinal Wuerl Apologizes to Priests, McCarrick Victim, Says He Forgot He Knew About Harassment Allegations

posted on January 18, 2019

The Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein reports, “D.C.’s embattled Catholic leader, Donald Wuerl, under fire in recent days for untruthful statements regarding what he knew about the alleged sexual misconduct of his predecessor, Theodore McCarrick, apologized late Tuesday, saying he forgot he knew about the allegations.” Wuerl apologized directly to former priest Robert Ciolek, who accused McCarrick of sexual assault. Ciolek said, “He’s shown himself to be better at expressing sorrow for actions of others. But he remains unable or unwilling to acknowledge the truth of his own actions.”

Read at The Washington Post

Jewish Women Divided Over Women’s March Face Difficult Choices

posted on January 18, 2019

Religion News Service’s Yonat Shimron writes about divisions among Jewish women over Saturday’s third annual Women’s March on the National Mall in Washington. The outcry centers on the march organizers’ failure to distance themselves from anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Shana Becker, a Jewish lawyer and activist who is helping lead an independent Women’s March on January 26, writes of the march’s founders: “Their acts and omissions with relationship to anti-Semitism distract from the Women’s March and its allies, and cause harm.” Some Jewish women continue to support the march for its broader goals of electing Democratic leaders and building inclusivity.

Read at Religion News Service

2 U.S. Service Members, 2 U.S. Civilians Killed in Syria Blast

posted on January 18, 2019

The Associated Press’s Bassem Mroue reports, “Two U.S. service members and two American civilians were among those killed in an explosion while conducting a patrol in Syria on Wednesday, the U.S. military said, an attack that came less than a month after U.S. President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw troops from the war-torn country.” The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in the town of Manbij, which killed 16 people. Mroue adds, “Trump’s shifting timetable for pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, a country he described as ‘sand and death,’ has left allies and other players in the region confused and jockeying for influence over a withdrawal strategy that appeared to be a work in progress.”

Read at The Associated Press

Edith Espinal Has Spent 18 Months Hiding from ICE in a Church. How Much Longer Will the Authorities Let Her Stay?

posted on January 18, 2019

For The New Republic, Stephanie Russell-Kraft profiles Edith Espinal, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico with a deportation notice who has taken sanctuary in Ohio’s Columbus Mennonite Church since October 2017. Russell-Kraft writes, “Her security at Columbus Mennonite is based largely on the assumption that ICE officers won’t enter a church building. This isn’t law, but rather a policy established in a 2011 memo by then-ICE Director John Morton.” The number of people seeking sanctuary has increased under Trump’s presidency due to a series of executive actions, and activists are beginning to worry that authorities will disregard their long-standing respect for religious institutions and begin to breach sensitive locations to deport immigrants.

Read at The New Republic

Anti-Semitism Casts Long Shadows Over Jewish Festival of Lights

posted on December 4, 2018

Religion News Service’s Yonat Shimron reports, “In the days and weeks leading up to Hanukkah, which began Sunday (Dec. 2), many Jews have felt defeated as a steady wave of anti-Semitic incidents roiled the country.” Last week, a psychology professor in New York found swastikas spray-painted outside her office; two weeks ago, a mural honoring the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre was vandalized on the campus of Duke University; three weeks ago, a man interrupted a performance of Fiddler on the Roof in Baltimore by yelling “Heil Hitler.” Shimron writes, “As they celebrate an ancient military victory, in which a band of Jewish rebels rose up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors and rededicated the temple in Jerusalem, many are still reeling from Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue shooting.”

Read at Religion News Service

GOP Lawmakers’ Reality: They Won’t Cut Planned Parenthood

posted on December 4, 2018

POLITICO’s Alice Miranda Ollstein reports, “Congressional Republicans are giving up on years of promises to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood as Democrats prepare to take control of the House, a major setback for the conservative movement after controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House for the past two years.” The president of the anti-abortion group Students for Life of America said, “It’s a huge frustration. We worked so hard to elect supposedly these pro-life Republican officials, and we expected results.” Miranda Ollstein adds that some anti-abortion groups are planning to defund Planned Parenthood through other avenues, like state laws, federal regulation, and the courts.

Read at POLITICO

Facing the Flock

posted on December 4, 2018

The Washington Post’s Terrence McCoy writes about the difficulties South Dakota priest Brian Christensen must face in addressing his congregants after another priest at his church was accused of sexual abuse. After the arrest of the Rev. John Praveen, Christensen said to his congregants of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, “Jesus knew suffering in so many ways … Today, we as a parish family are suffering. Suffering because our brother has been arrested. A child and a family are suffering. The church, the body of Christ, our parish community of the cathedral is suffering.”

Read at The Washington Post

Advent, Explained

posted on December 4, 2018

Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson writes about the season of Advent, which begins four Sundays before Christmas and is often celebrated with countdown calendars. Wilkinson writes, “In addition to being about the anticipation of Jesus’s birth (the first coming), Advent is also set aside as a time of quietness and austerity, meant to keep Christians from glossing over the brokenness of the world and to encourage them to anticipate the Second Coming.” She adds, “Advent calendars (in one form or another) were adapted some time in the 19th century by German Lutherans as a way to mark the days of the season leading up to Christmas.”

Read at Vox

How a Corporation Convinced American Jews to Reach for Crisco

posted on December 3, 2018

For NPR, Deena Prichep reports on how Crisco, a kosher, vegetable-based shortening often used to fry latkes, found its way into the recipes of American Jews, especially around Hanukkah. Kerri Steinberg, author of Jewish Mad Men, reveals that in 1933 New York ad man Joseph Jacobs used a cook book called Crisco Recipes for the Jewish Housewife to promote Crisco to Jewish immigrants, who were eager to assimilate. Rachel Gross, a Jewish studies professor at San Francisco State University and a former postdoctoral fellow at the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, said, “The Yiddish-speaking mother, presumably, is going to bring a knowledge and a familiarity with traditional Ashkenazi baked goods. And the English-speaking daughter is presumably, Procter & Gamble hopes, going to bring a willingness to use modern products like Crisco.”

Read at NPR