Austin, Texas, May 25, 2017 / 12:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Catholic Church in Texas will work to promote more foster parenting, following the state legislature’s approval of strong legal protections for religious adoption and foster care agencies.

“Now Catholics can join other people of good will and serve Texas’ children in good faith,” said Jennifer Carr Allmon, executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops.

This fall, the bishops’ conference has said, it will work with diocesan offices on a campaign to encourage Catholic families to be foster parents.

“Most Catholic Charities in the state had withdrawn from serving foster children,” the bishops’ conference said May 22. “The new law removes a significant barrier to Catholics serving children in the foster care system and will trigger greater recruitment efforts by Catholic parishes and ministries.”

The bill, called the Freedom to Serve Children Act, could protect the ability of organizations and individuals in Texas’ foster care system who have sincerely held religious beliefs to remove themselves from actions that would directly violate their faith.

It has multiple applications. It could allow groups opposed to abortion to avoid helping a minor obtain an abortion. It could allow groups that believe children should be placed only with a married adoptive mother and father to provide foster services without facing lawsuits from same-sex couples.

The bill passed the Texas Senate May 22 on a 21-10 vote. Democratic Sen. Eddie Lucio of Brownsville joined Republicans to support the bill, saying it would help add more private adoption agencies to Texas’ system: “It’s about increasing capacity, it’s about providing homes for kids.”

The bill now heads to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign the bill.

The Texas House of Representatives had passed the bill by a 93-49 vote on May 10, largely along party lines.

Private foster care and adoption agencies receive about 25 percent of child placement funding in the state, the Associated Press reports. Some groups had suspended services for fear of discrimination lawsuits.

In other states and the District of Columbia, long-serving Catholic adoption agencies have been shut down by laws against sexual orientation discrimination or new state funding rules that would have required them to place children with same-sex couples.

A Texas Department of Family and Protective Services report indicates that 314 children slept in state offices, hotels, shelters and other temporary housing between Sept. 1 and March 31, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

The bill drew opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union and LGBT activist groups like the Human Rights Campaign.

Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, charged that the bill would “prioritize discrimination over the best interest of kids in the child welfare system.”

Critics voiced concern the bill would allow foster parents to prevent children from being vaccinated. Some critics objected to protecting foster parents’ abilities to limit children’s access to contraceptives and abortion.

South Dakota passed a similar bill in March, but no other states currently have similar legislation.

NEW YORK, May 24, 2017 /Christian Newswire/ — Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on how the media are spinning the meeting between President Trump and Pope Francis:

The first news report I heard this morning on the meeting between the president and the pope was on radio: WCBS said reporters were taking note of the fact that President Trump smiled but Pope Francis did not. That must mean something, of course. But it does not—it means nothing. As even the New York Times and the Washington Post acknowledged, the two were beaming when they shook hands. So what?

When I met the pope, he had a winning grin when we shook hands, but looked serious for a group shot. That’s the way he is. Imagine if the president wasn’t smiling and the pope was. Would that mean Trump had just been put in his place? What if neither was smiling? Would that mean they hate each other?
Other media outlets played the same game:

  • “The president smiled broadly beside the pontiff, who appeared subdued and stone-faced before the 30-minute private conversation.” (NBC News)
  • “They posed for photographs and then sat down at the papal desk, the pope unsmiling, as their private meeting began.” (CBS News)
  • “While Trump flashed a wide grin, the Pope offered only a modest smile—his demeanor, business like.” (CNN)

There was no breaking news story about the content of the meeting, but the Vatican did release a statement saying, “Satisfaction was expressed” by both the president and the pope on several issues, including “their joint commitment in favor of life, religious liberty and freedom of conscience.” Those are non-negotiable issues of paramount importance.

Most of the media were content to recycle the same discredited story about the president and the pope from 2016.

In February 2016, a reporter from Reuters misrepresented Trump’s position on illegal immigration to the pope. The Holy Father was told that Trump thinks it is okay to break up families when deporting illegal aliens. This is untrue.

In fact, Trump explicitly told Chuck Todd that he would never do that. After the media distorted what Trump said, the pope said if someone said he was only interested in building walls, that would not be Christian. He added that he would give him “the benefit of the doubt.” Trump was then told that the pope said he was not Christian, and he responded by saying that was “disgraceful.”

In other words, both men were misled about what the other said about him. The media continued to float these falsehoods today.

President Trump and Pope Francis disagree on climate change and immigration, but they have more in common on abortion, gay marriage, gender ideology, and religious liberty than what divides them. The real difference was between President Obama and Pope Francis—on these issues and others—though the media failed to report it.

TUPELO, Miss., May 23, 2017 /Christian Newswire/ — This afternoon, American Family Association (AFA, www.afa.net) President Tim Wildmon hand-delivered another 500,000 #BoycottTarget pledge signatures to Target headquarters in Minneapolis, after which AFA leadership briefly met with Target senior management about the retailer’s dangerous and misguided restroom and fitting room policy that puts women and children at risk.

Last spring, AFA delivered the first 1 million signatures to Target leaders, who politely but passively listened to AFA’s concerns over the policy. The past year since that first meeting has been a dismal one for the retailer, with revenues falling and stock prices plummeting.

“American Family Association is again appreciative that Target representatives were willing to accept the signatures of another 500,000 Americans who are alarmed by this ongoing policy,” Wildmon said. “Yet, even after the retail chain struggled with multiple negative headlines over their sinking sales this past year, Target gave no indication it would make any changes to this policy that is alienating millions of families.”

After AFA’s delivery of the first million signatures last year, Target stated it would add single-stall restrooms in stores not already equipped with them, but has otherwise not altered the policy.

“Therefore,” Wildmon continued, “AFA’s #BoycottTarget campaign will continue as strong as it began, and we are confident that tens of thousands more will join the movement and voice their concerns over Target’s policy. We will not back down from this very destructive and agenda-driven policy and will continue to fight for the more than 1.5 million Americans who have already signed the #BoycottTarget pledge.

“Most importantly,” he added, “we ask that all who agree with AFA’s #BoycottTarget pledge remain committed to not visiting Target stores or shopping online through Target.com. Target’s financial numbers have shown that these families who have chosen to shop elsewhere are making a huge difference.”

Last week, the embattled retailer announced its 2017 first-quarter earnings. Target’s same-store sales fell 1.3 percent, while overall revenue in the first quarter dropped 1.1 percent from the same period a year ago, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

After the earnings announcement, Wildmon noted that leadership problems abound at Target, with stockholders seemingly questioning whether the company is in qualified hands. In fact, just one person in CEO Brian Cornell’s 10-member original executive team remains employed at Target. Additionally, Cornell’s already-generous cash-and-stock compensation was recently slashed by one-third.