Paid family leave high on the agenda, says Ivanka Trump
US politicians are moving towards giving increased support to families, Ivanka Trump has said. Speaking at a National Review Institute event, President Trump’s daughter said that “For the first time in the history of the paid family leave discussion, we’re getting to a place with legislators where it’s not ‘Should paid family leave be a policy priority?’ but ‘What’s the best design for a paid family leave programme?’ ”
Both Republicans and Democrats have put forward legislation that would increase support for those with family responsibilities. The Family Act would require employees and businesses to pay into a fund which could then be used for birth, adoption, illness recovery or caring for a family member. Other proposals would redistribute money from social security or tax credits.
Sherwood Park, Canada
‘Litmus test’ for Catholic politicians
A Canadian MP has warned that the country’s political system is increasingly hostile to Catholicism, as Conservative leader Andrew Scheer comes under pressure for his beliefs. MP Garnett Genuis told Canada Catholic News: “I don’t see other leaders and candidates being asked theological questions, as if there is some kind of litmus test that only Catholics have to pass to be considered for office.”
Scheer has said he would oppose any efforts to limit abortion, earning criticism from the Catholic community, but has also come under scrutiny from the mainstream media who have repeatedly pressed him to reveal his views on homosexuality.
South Bend, Indiana
Philosopher: friends don’t need to be perfect
The Catholic philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre has said that, while friendship needs moral virtue, it doesn’t require us to be perfect. Speaking at a conference at Notre Dame University, MacIntyre observed that for Aristotle, to have deep friendships “we have to be good in ways and to a degree that … if we’re honest, many of us know that we’re not”.
MacIntyre, best known as the author of After Virtue, said that a friend must “care enough about us and about our flourishing as human agents” to help us correct our mistakes and get rid of our illusions. However, he said, in remarks reported by the Catholic News Agency, sin and failure are part of our lives, and moral growth is “the work of a lifetime”.
Pro-life group ordered to pay Planned Parenthood $870,000
A judge has ordered a pro-life organisation to pay Planned Parenthood $870,000 (£671,000) in damages, after the activists secretly recorded staff of the abortion provider discussing the uses of the organs of unborn children.
Beginning in 2015, members of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), led by David Daleiden, posed as representatives of an organisation which dealt in foetal body parts. Their secret videos appear to show Planned Parenthood staff discussing how to extract organs from babies being aborted. Planned Parenthood’s lawyers claimed CMP was not performing a journalistic role, but showing “malice” towards the organisation. CMP is planning to appeal.
Pope reveals ‘lowest moment’
Pope Francis’s “lowest moment” came last year in Chile, he has revealed to a biographer. On January 18, 2018, Francis dismissed allegations against Bishop Juan Barros, who was accused of covering up abuse, as “all a calumny”. The Pope told reporters in Iquique: “When they bring me proof, we can talk.”
The Pope told the writer Austen Ivereigh, who reveals the remark in a new book, that he then “realised something was wrong” and was inspired to see the underlying problem as “the corruption of power”.
Bishops urge peace after church attacks
Chile’s bishops have called for national dialogue and an end to the violence that has wracked the country for the past month, the Catholic News Service reports.
Their pleas came in two messages after demonstrators ransacked the Assumption of Mary parish in Santiago, the Chilean capital, burning pews and statues. Other parishes too were attacked, including one in the southern city of Valparaiso. At least 20 people have died and several thousand have been injured in protests sparked by economic inequality. Chileans are “tired of injustice,” the bishops have said.
‘Liturgy of thanksgiving’ for same-sex couple
An Austrian diocese has confirmed that a priest presided over a service for two women in a civil union, LifeSite has reported.
Fr Michael Kopp, a priest of the diocese of Graz-Seckau, celebrated what a diocesan spokesman called “a liturgy of thanksgiving.” The spokesman said that it was “not a sacramental liturgy”, and thus was not claiming that same-sex relationships could be equated to marriage.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 2003 instruction says that where same-sex unions have been given an equivalent status to marriage, “clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation” in recognising such unions, the CDF said.
Cathedral hit by worst flooding for 52 years
The crypt of St Mark’s Cathedral has been flooded, after the biggest rise in Venice’s water level since 1966. The city’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, tweeted: “Venice is on its knees,” after inspecting the damage with the Patriarch of Venice, Francesco Moraglia.
The Patriarch has made emergency funds available, and has prioritised helping the homeless, urging the city’s parishes to open their doors to the vulnerable.
Pell’s final chance
Cardinal George Pell’s conviction for child abuse will be examined one last time. The High Court has agreed to hear the cardinal’s appeal. A decision is expected in March or April. His first appeal was rejected by Victoria’s appeal court, but one of the three judges issued a 200-page dissent.
Bishops and pro-life groups reject UN document
Kenya’s bishops have joined international pro-life groups in rejecting the final document of a UN summit, the Catholic News Service reports. The Nairobi Summit, which marked the 25th anniversary of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, focused on the inclusion of abortion as vital to “reproductive rights”, and on the introduction of same-sex unions.
Bishop Alfred Rotich, vice chairman of the family life commission of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the Catholic News Service that there were “a lot of lies and wrong ideologies in the conference. They are trying to recreate humanity, taking the position of God.”
Lib Dems deselect candidate over marriage and abortion
A former Labour Member of Parliament who joined the Liberal Democrats has been deselected as a parliamentary candidate because of his views on abortion and same-sex marriage.
Rob Flello was due to stand for the seat of Stoke-on-Trent South in next month’s general election, until the Lib Dems decided “how greatly his values diverge from ours”. Flello, a convert to Catholicism, has voted against redefining marriage and in favour of protecting unborn children. (Rob Flello writes about his deselection in this week’s Diary)
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