25 Things That Caught My Eye: Life in America, Ukraine and Religion, Lent, & More | National Review

25 Things That Caught My Eye: Life in America, Ukraine and Religion, Lent, & More | National Review


1. Father Jacques Hamel murder: Catholic archbishop says ‘justice is done’ as 4 are convicted

2. Biden promotes abortion policies on International Women’s Day

“Every person deserves the chance to live up to their full God-given potential, without regard for gender or other factors,” Biden, a Catholic, said in his March 8 statement. “Ensuring that every woman and girl has that chance isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s also a strategic imperative that advances the prosperity, stability, and security of our nation and the world.”

Biden went on to detail his administration’s efforts intended to improve the status of women, including the launch of “a whole-of-government effort to protect reproductive rights.” He concluded with a call to “renew our efforts to advance dignity, equality, and limitless possibilities for all.”

A girl’s possibilities are obliterated by abortion, as it happens.

3. WHO Calls Down Syndrome A ‘Severe Birth Defect,’ Blasted By Parents Of Special Needs Children

4. Alexandria [Va.] was asked to honor abortion providers. Then Catholics and conservatives spoke up.

5. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith & Tessa Longbons: The FDA Should Follow England—And the Science—on Mail-Order Abortion

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided last December to eliminate a longstanding patient safeguard stipulating that abortion pills could only be dispensed in person. But for abortion advocates that wasn’t enough. The “safer than Tylenol” claim is part of their ongoing effort—with willing help from spoon-fed journalists—to make abortion pills seem risk-free.

Meanwhile, the British government moved in the opposite direction. It announced at the end of last month it would reinstate a requirement that women who want the abortion pill first see a medical professional in person. The reason: safety.

The in-person requirement had been temporarily suspended in England during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Department of Health and Social Care faced significant political pressure to make the suspension permanent. The ruling Conservative government is overwhelmingly pro-choice. But after an extensive review of safety problems that arose during the rule’s suspension, Health Minister Maggie Throup said the priority must be “women being able to access health services in a safe, secure way.”

Among the safety concerns identified in the government review, one stands out.

“Domestic abuse was raised as an issue in the public consultation,” the Department of Health and Social Care said. “We intend to work closely with the Violence Against Women and Girls sector and the Domestic Abuse Commissioner to ensure safeguarding and domestic abuse are central to ongoing work.” England now acknowledges abuse and exploitation of women and girls are among the very real risks associated with mail-order abortion.

Without direct, in-person consultation between a pregnant woman and a medical professional prior to chemical abortion, not only is it difficult to diagnose serious risk factors such as an ectopic pregnancy, but the door is left wide open for vulnerable women and girls to be bullied or physically forced into an unwanted abortion. Unfettered and unfiltered access to abortion pills dramatically reduces the possibility of detection and deterrence.

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7. Jakub Grygiel: Miracle on the Dniepr

Even more important, many religious leaders in Ukraine have firmly stood by the nation, much as the Catholic Church hierarchy in Poland did during the communist dictatorship. Ukraine has bishops, both Greek Catholic and Orthodox, with guts. They have no doubt that their defensive war is just, and they praise the soldiers and citizens lining up to destroy Russian military assets and defend Ukraine.

On February 24, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, gave a powerful speech. (Recall that this church was almost destroyed by Communist Russia; now it finds itself again on the frontlines of a war.) In its clarity and courage, Shevchuk’s appeal should serve as a model for others, especially in the West. He did not mince words: Russia, a “treacherous enemy,” attacked Ukraine, which now has the duty to “defend its dignity before God and humanity, its rights for existence and the right to choose one’s future.” He continued: “It is our natural right and sacred duty to defend our land and our people, our state and all that is dearest to us: family, language and culture, history and the spiritual world.” In a rallying call, Shevchuk added: “Today we solemnly proclaim: ‘Our soul and body we offer for our freedom!’” There is no joy in war. But there is honor in fighting a just war.

The vision of a Catholic Church on the battlements may be unsettling to Western sensibilities. The last few years have created the impression that the Church exists to serve primarily as an NGO promoting social justice, or a social service organization tending to individuals seeking personal affirmation. It’s a vision of the Church as a global, nationless entity, restraining from judgment and always in favor of a conflict-mitigating compromise both domestically and internationally.

This is not what we see in Ukraine. The role of the Church is not to be a global diplomat, encouraging parties in conflict to lay down arms as if the attacked were morally equivalent to the aggressor. The miracle on the Dniepr is that Ukraine’s religious leaders—Shevchuk as well as Bishop Edward Kawa in Lviv and others—are showing that the Church and secular institutions share the role of defending the nation under an unprovoked attack by a hostile state. Zelensky is fulfilling his task in his sphere, arranging diplomatic support and moving forces. The bishops are in the bunkers, celebrating the liturgy. As a result, as Shevchuk pointed out on February 27, “We once doubted whether our institutions are strong. Now we see that our state has passed and is passing the test of strength.”

8. Mindy Belz: Ukraine’s Believers and the ‘Christian’ Putin

9. ‘Pray for the conversion of Vladimir Putin’: Philadelphia’s Ukrainian archbishop reacts to Russian invasion 

10. George Weigel: Needed: An Ecumenical Reset

For Kirill to act as an instrument of Russian state power is nothing new. He has been doing that for decades. His February 27 statement set a new low, however, deliberately invoking Christian imagery to falsify what was going on in Ukraine. The technical word for such willful, aberrant use of the things of God is blasphemy. Kirill’s profane agitprop also undercut his own Church in Ukraine, whose leader, Metropolitan Onufry, condemned the Russian invasion.

Ever since the early 1960s, the Vatican has been infatuated with the idea of a bilateral entente with Russian Orthodoxy. Whatever its noble intentions, that has been a fool’s errand and it is past time for an ecumenical reset. If two of the most venal, corrupt organizations on the planet—the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, the world soccer hegemon—can sever relations with Russia because of its lethal aggression, the Vatican can surely inform Patriarch Kirill that the Holy See’s ecumenical contacts with Russian Orthodoxy are suspended until Kirill condemns the invasion of Ukraine, thereby proving himself something other than Putin’s puppet.

11. Eric Patterson: Religious nationalism’s role in Russia’s war with Ukraine

12. Brian Grim: The little-known connection between religious freedom and Putin’s war

religious freedom in Russia means only freedom for the Russian Orthodox Church and freedom from heresy and falsehoods as defined by that church.

13. Russian Priest Arrested for Delivering Sermon Against Ukraine War

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16. Street Photography by Juri Nesterov Documents Ukrainian Life Across Decades

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20. Babylon Bee: Sex Offenders, Pedophiles, And Democrats Hardest Hit By Florida’s New Parental Rights Bill

21. Michael Shellenberger: Slow-Motion Suicide in San Francisco

The city is carrying out a bizarre medical experiment in which they are helping homeless drug addicts use drugs. ‘It’s handing a loaded gun to a suicidal person.’

22. Tish Harrison Warren: We’re All Sinners, and Accepting That Is Actually a Good Thing

My favorite definition of sin comes from the English author Francis Spufford. He says that most of us in the West think of sin as a word that “basically means ‘indulgence’ or ‘enjoyable naughtiness.’” Instead, he calls sin “the human propensity to mess things up” — only he doesn’t use the word “mess,” and his word is probably closer to the truth of things.

This propensity is not only passive like an accident, but is also “our active inclination to break stuff,” Spufford says, including “moods, promises, relationships we care about and our own well-being and other people’s.”

This is the slow dawning that I had about myself in college, and with it came liberation. Far from being a crushing blow of self-hatred, the realization of my actual, non-theoretical sinfulness came with something like a recognition of grace. I saw that I was worse than I’d thought I was, and that truth knocked me off the eternal treadmill of trying to be better and do better and get it all right. It allowed me to slowly (and continually) learn to receive love, atonement, forgiveness and mercy.

23. Mike Aquilina: To meet Jesus this Lent, why not consult the Church’s oldest ‘Doctor’?

24. Monsignor Charles Pope: Bite Your Tongue! A Homily for the 8th Sunday of the Year

25. Bishop James D. Conley: Drawing Nearer to Christ

Lent is a wonderful opportunity to allow God to make real change in our lives through growth in charity. His suggestion of giving up gossip for Lent is particularly timely because we live at a time of such great division and animosity. Russia and Ukraine are literally at war with one another due to Russia’s violent aggression. This conflict needs our prayers to arrive at a peaceful end to this fight. In our own land over the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have experienced here in the United States a great divide over how to best respond to this crisis.

We live in a world marred by division among peoples, and yet this was not the Lord’s design. He has called all men to be saved. As St. Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:8). Jesus instituted the Church as his Mystical Body where we are united in him.

It may seem very obvious, but the season of Lent is a journey that we travel through together. During Lent, the Church throughout the entire world ponders the mystery of Christ’s love for us as we enter into his passion. Lent is a communal activity, something which bonds us together as members of the Church in a penitential way. Throughout the year’s liturgical calendar, we have times to both feast and fast, that is, we celebrate solemnities with great joy, but also fast in penance.





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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.