#ShortNews: Trump issues order to protect religious freedom

US President Donald Trump has issued an executive order to protect religious freedom, promising that the federal government will respect the rights of believers.

The executive order, issued at a May 4 ceremony attended by religious leaders of different faiths, affirms the commitment of the Trump administration to protect religious freedom, and vows to find solutions to conflicts over issues—most notably the “Obamacare” mandate for contraceptive coverage—that have prompted religious institutions to file legal challenges to federal regulations.

“No Americans should be forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenets of their faith,” the President said at the Rose Garden ceremony. His executive order pledged that federal officials would “vigorously enforce” laws protecting religious freedom, would respect the freedom of church groups to engage in public debate “to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law;“ would “consider issuing amended regulations” for the federal health-care mandate; and would instruct all government agencies to comply fully with the provisions of law protecting religious freedom.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, speaking in his capacity as president of the US bishops’ conference, said that the executive order “begins the process” of alleviating religious-freedom concerns. He explained:

In recent years, people of faith have experienced pressing restrictions on religious freedom from both the federal government and state governments that receive federal funding. For example, in areas as diverse as adoption, education, healthcare, and other social services, widely held moral and religious beliefs, especially regarding the protection of human life as well as preserving marriage and family, have been maligned in recent years as bigotry or hostility — and penalized accordingly. But disagreement on moral and religious issues is not discrimination; instead, it is the inevitable and desirable fruit of a free, civil society marked by genuine religious diversity.


#ShortNews: Pope’s prayer intention for May 2017

The prayer intention of Pope Francis for May 2017 is “that Christians in Africa, in imitation of the merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace.”

This year the Vatican has inaugurated a new system for announcing the Pope’s monthly prayer intentions. Rather than announcing two intentions (one general intention, one for the missions) in advance each month, the Pope is working with the Apostleship of Prayer to create a video message promoting one intention each month, while allowing for the possibility of additional urgent intentions.