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U.S. bishops deplore Biden’s ‘grevious’ repeal of pro-life policies

January 28, 2021 CNA Daily News 3

Washington D.C., Jan 28, 2021 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- Leading U.S. bishops decried President Biden’s repeal of pro-life policies on Thursday.


President Joe Biden, a Catholic, issued a presidential memorandum on Thursday afternoon repealing the Mexico City Policy. His act allows for the U.S. to again fund international pro-abortion groups through family planning funding and global health assistance.


The U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB) warned that, under Biden’s order, the U.S. would be contributing to abortions and abortion advocacy in the developing world.

“It is grievous that one of President Biden’s first official acts actively promotes the destruction of human lives in developing nations,” Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City and Bishop David Malloy of Rockford stated on Thursday. Archbishop Naumann is the chair of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee, and Bishop Malloy is chair of the bishops’ international justice and peace committee.


“This Executive Order is antithetical to reason, violates human dignity, and is incompatible with Catholic teaching,” the bishops said.


In his sweeping order “Protecting Women’s Health at Home and Abroad,” Biden stated his administration’s commitment to promoting women’s “reproductive health.”


The Mexico City Policy, named for the location of the UN population conference where it was first announced in 1984, was instituted by President Reagan. It bars taxpayer funding of foreign NGOs that provide or promote abortion as a method of family planning. Presidents traditionally either repeal it or reinstate it as among their first actions upon entering office.


While the policy originally applied to several hundred million dollars of U.S. international family planning funding, the Trump administration expanded it to apply more than $8 billion in global health assistance.


Biden on Thursday repealed those actions and instructed several federal agencies, as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), to begin reaching out to global health partners and instructing them that the previous prohibitions on abortion advocacy or referrals no longer apply.


In response, Archbishop Naumann and Bishop Malloy asked Biden to stop funding pro-abortion groups and work with the Church on “integral human development.”


“We urge the President to use his office for good, prioritizing the most vulnerable, including unborn children,” the bishops stated.


“As the largest non-government health care provider in the world, the Catholic Church stands ready to work with him and his administration to promote global women’s health in a manner that furthers integral human development, safeguarding innate human rights and the dignity of every human life, beginning in the womb,” the bishops said.


Through Biden’s order, the administration is also withdrawing from the Geneva Declaration, a statement signed by the U.S. and 31 other countries in October stating that abortion is not an international human right.


Additionally, the administration will once again fund the United Nations’ population fund (UNFPA). The Trump administration had stopped funding the UNFPA because of concerns that it partnered with China on family planning, and thus was complicit in forced abortions and sterilizations.


Pro-life advocates have long warned that China’s one-child policy—now a two-child policy—had resulted in women being forcibly sterilized or having to abort their child if they had too many children.


In a 2011 address at Sichuan University in China, then-Vice President Biden told his audience that “I fully understand” China’s one-child policy and that he was “not second-guessing” it, while also warning of the demographic challenges it posed.

In addition, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently declared that China was committing genocide against Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in the northwest province of Xinjiang; Pompeo cited reports of mass forced sterilizations, birth control, and abortion on Uyghur women in making his genocide determination.


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White House: Biden will reverse Mexico City Policy

January 28, 2021 CNA Daily News 1

Washington D.C., Jan 28, 2021 / 06:43 am (CNA).- President Joe Biden announced Thursday morning that he will be reversing the Mexico City Policy.


The policy prohibits U.S. funding of foreign NGOs that perform or promote abortions as a method of family planning. The White House announced that Biden would be issuing a Presidential Memorandum later on Thursday that “immediately rescinds the global gag rule, also referred to as the Mexico City Policy.”


The policy, first instituted by President Reagan in 1984, is traditionally rescinded or reinstated by new presidents upon entering office. Republican presidents have enacted the policy, while Democratic presidents have all rescinded it.


In 2017, the Trump administration reinstated it and subsequently expanded upon it. While the policy traditionally applied to a limited amount of international family planning funding—ensuring it did not go to groups promoting abortion as a method of family planning—the administration expanded it to include billions of dollars in global health assistance.


Rep.Chris Smith (R-NJ) stated on Wednesday evening that the Trump administration’s expanded policy—Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance—was critical to ensuring U.S. taxpayers were not complicit in promoting abortions abroad, especially in countries with pro-life laws.


“Many countries throughout the world have been besieged by aggressive and well-funded campaigns to overturn their pro-life laws and policies,” Smith said. “The Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy was designed to mitigate U.S. taxpayer complicity in global abortion.”


Smith pointed to a new Marist poll showing that more than three-quarters of Americans oppose their tax dollars funding abortions in foreign countries.


“Americans overwhelmingly oppose using U.S. foreign aid to subsidize abortion,” he stated.


In addition, Biden will direct the Department of Health and Human Services to review and consider rescinding another pro-life policy, the Trump administration’s Protect Life Rule.


That policy required recipients of Title X family planning funds to not refer for abortions, nor be co-located with abortion clinics. As a result of the rule, Planned Parenthood withdrew from the Title X program in 2019 and forfeited around $60 million per year in grants.


The White House on Thursday said the memorandum to be signed by Biden “reflects the policy of the Biden-Harris Administration to support women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States, as well as globally.”


Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci—White House chief medical advisor on COVID-19—promised board members of the World Health Organization that the administration would rescind the Mexico City Policy and uphold


“And it will be our policy to support women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and  reproductive rights in the United States, as well as globally,” Fauci said. The term “sexual and reproductive health and rights” is commonly used in international diplomacy to refer to a number of procedures and issues including abortion and contraception.


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George Weigel: Cupich’s criticisms of Gomez are baseless

January 22, 2021 CNA Daily News 7

CNA Staff, Jan 22, 2021 / 07:56 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Jose Gomez, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, showed courage in releasing a statement on the day of President Joe Biden’s inauguration despite opposition from within the conference, said papal biographer and longtime Church observer George Weigel.

Weigel said Gomez displayed “episcopal courage” at a time when others demanded “a reprise of the accommodationist approach to Catholic public officials long championed by Theodore McCarrick.”

Weigel, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Washington D.C.’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, penned an essay published in First Things on Friday, commenting on the statement released by Gomez on Inauguration Day and the subsequent criticism from Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago.

The statement from Gomez noted that Biden’s inauguration marks the first time in 60 years that a president has professed the Catholic faith. This presents a unique circumstance, Gomez said, particularly because Biden is in support of legal abortion and has pledged to increase taxpayer funding for it.

Cupich later criticized Gomez for releasing the statement, saying it was an “ill-considered statement” that “was crafted without the involvement of the Administrative Committee, a collegial consultation that is normal course for statements that represent and enjoy the considered endorsement of the American bishops.”

Norms from the bishops’ conference, however, indicate that standard procedures were followed ahead of the release of the statement.

Weigel argued that Gomez releasing a statement on the inauguration was in keeping with the recommendations from the Working Group on Engaging the New Administration created by the bishops at their November 2020 meeting.

As Gomez told his brother bishops, Weigel said, the working group had proposed “a letter to the new president from Archbishop Gomez, writing as a pastor. The letter would promise support for the new administration in areas of agreement. It would also identify administration policies, including abortion, that the bishops believed violated human dignity, and it would urge the new president to reassess his positions on these questions.”

The letter did just that, Weigel said. It noted numerous issues of concern among both political parties, but said that “the continued injustice of abortion remains the ‘preeminent priority’.”

“By any reasonable standard, Archbishop Gomez’s statement was balanced and measured; absent the controversy that erupted before and after its release,” Weigel said.

However, he said, “Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark put intense pressure on Archbishop Gomez to make no statement, as did the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre.”

Weigel said the controversy “underscored the statement’s firm, clear, and unambiguous stance on the ‘preeminent priority’ of the life issues—and thus heightened the impact of those parts of the statement that the dissident cardinals may have found so objectionable that they tried to quash the entire document.”

He said Cupich’s suggestion that Gomez was somehow acting against the norms of the bishops’ conference “is itself unfair and irresponsible.”

“To suggest that there was something unprecedented here is to falsify history,” he said. “What was indeed unprecedented, as Archbishop Gomez pointed out in his statement, was the situation of a president of the United States who professed a devout and heartfelt Catholicism and yet was publicly committed to facilitating grave moral evils.”


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Secretary of State nominee says he will fill LGBT position at agency

January 22, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2021 / 02:45 pm (CNA).- President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State pledged to appoint an LGBTI envoy at the agency, and says he will permit embassies to fly the “Pride” flag if confirmed. 


Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee to lead the U.S. State Department, was asked about filing the LGBTI Special Envoy position at the agency during his confirmation hearing before members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 19. 


Filling the position is “a matter, I think, of some real urgency,” said Blinken, who served as deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration. 


The administration created the special envoy position in 2015 to help counter violence against persons identifying as LGBTI around the world, as well as helping overturn laws criminalizing same-sex conduct. 


“We’ve seen violence directed against LGBTQI people around the world increase,” said Blinken on Tuesday. “We’ve seen, I believe, the highest number of murders of transgender people, particularly women of color, that we’ve seen ever.” 


However, when the position was first created, some religious freedom advocates warned that the administration’s objective could be “more revolutionary” than simply countering violence abroad. They told CNA that the agency could pressure developing countries to redefine marriage and promote transgender ideology.


The Trump administration did not fill the position.


Blinken said on Tuesday that he believed that the United States is “playing the role that it should be playing in standing up for and defending the rights of LGBTQI people is something that the Department (of State) is going to take on, and take on immediately.” 


Blinken further pledged to “repudiate” the 2020 Commission on Unalienable Rights, established in 2019 by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and which produced a report on human rights in 2020. 


The report stated “Foremost among the unalienable rights that government is established to secure, from the founders’ point of view, are property rights and religious liberty.” 


In 2019, it was reported that U.S. embassies were prohibited from flying the LGBT “Pride” flag during the month of June, which is traditionally known as “Pride Month.” 


Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) asked Blinken if he would change this policy as secretary of state. Blinken said that the U.S. embassies would be permitted to fly the flag.