Listening In: 5 Stories That Lit Up the Internet This Week

Catholic hot takes on the top 5 trends of the week

(photo: Pete Linforth/CC0/Pixabay)

Here’s a look at the top 5 stories that lit up the internet this week: 


5. Funeral for one El Paso victim

With the devastating loss of life on Aug. 6 that claimed 22 lives at an El Paso Walmart, a tragic story now shines with a glimmer of hope as one man, Antonio Basco, who lost his wife of 22 years in the mass shooting, prepared to bury his wife Friday. Speaking about his beloved Margie Reckard who worked at Walmart, Basco said, “When I met her she was an angel and she still is, I was supposed to be the strong one, but I found out I’m the weak one, and she’s going to be missed a lot...”

Perches Funeral Home, where his wife services occurred, shared on their Facebook page that Basco “had no other family” and “welcomes anyone to attend his wife's services.”

Well the public did indeed respond and as Margie was laid to rest, Basco was joined by at least a thousand people who attended his wife’s vigil, all moved by the devastating story. Speaking to ABC News, funeral director at Perches Funeral Home, Harrison Johnson said, “The outpouring and amazing response from all over, not just our city, but the country was more than the capacity of the venue that we had.” Due to the overwhelming response of phone calls and emails, they changed to a larger venue to accommodate the attendees. 

It's inspiring to see so many respond and show their love and support to Antonio Basco and his wife Margie. It reminds me of that beautiful line that Fred Rogers always reminded his viewers, what is mother had told him when bad things happen: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”


4. Planned Parenthood opting out of Title X “absent emergency judicial relief.”

As the Trump Administration’s new guidelines for Title X funding go into effect Monday, Aug. 19, barring any funds to be used for abortion referrals, Planned Parenthood has pulled out of the program. Attorneys for the abortion giant say in a letter to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, that they will be forced to withdraw “absent emergency judicial relief.” In the letter the organization laments having to leave the program saying they’ve “long been firmly committed to its Title X patients and to the Title X program, which it has served for nearly 50 years.”

It’s hard not to see this move as a ploy given the statistics on abortion services within the company and the guidelines of Title X and the new Protect Life Rule. The program has always sought not to allow federal funding for abortion. If Planned Parenthood offers a wealth of services that do indeed promote women’s health, why pull out? The Department of Health and Human Services even offers organizations the right to stay in the program and receive Title X funds as long as they demonstrate “good faith efforts” to comply with the Protect Life Rule. Given recent statements from former presidents of the organization including most recently Dr. Leana Wen and Cecile Richards, it’s easy to see why this wouldn’t be in the cards.

The only doctor to ever preside over Planned Parenthood, Dr. Wen was let go due to her inability to focus strictly on abortion rights given her desire to promote actual healthcare. This idea just doesn't work with the organization's political agenda. Wen's predecessor, Cecile Richards, despite public claims of offering all sorts of ‘healthcare’ options for women including breast cancer screenings, also had to share the brutal truth in 2015 about Planned Parenthood abortion facilities not even owning mammogram machines when asked by members of Congress including Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah:

The current interim Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson calls the new Protect Life Rule, “a gag on health care providers,” calling it, “a blatant assault on our health and rights, and we will not stand for it.” 

But looking at the cold hard facts, it appears that the organization doesn’t fit the bill for the broad scope of Title X funds. Speaking to Politico, HHS Director of External Affairs Mia Palmieri Heck said, “There are 4,000 Title X service sites across the nation, with Planned Parenthood representing fewer than 400,” adding the group “is actually choosing to place a higher priority on the ability to refer for abortion instead of continuing to receive federal funds to provide a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods.”

With Planned Parenthood now opting out, perhaps more light can be shed on the thousands of crisis pregnancy centers across the nation. Hopefully some of the Title X funding can be placed in the hands of these hardworking pro-life centers, all with the aim of helping women protect life in the womb!


3. EWTN celebrates 38 years of broadcasting!

An important feast day took place this week on Thursday with the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also marking the day Mother Angelica launched the Eternal Word Television Network. The biggest religious network spanning the globe is now in its 38th year of broadcasting and not only reaches millions on television, but countless radio listeners, and readers!

Mother Angelica biographer and host of The World Over, Raymond Arroyo, marked the day on social media reminding all of us that Mother Angelica also entered religious life Aug. 15, 1944.

With her fierce Italian heritage, quick wit, and deep devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, Mother Angelica always challenges and inspires. We are thankful for her brave witness and the privilege to carry on her network today.

Happy Birthday, EWTN! Ad multos annos!


2. Abby Johnson sends her movie, Unplanned, to every abortion clinic across the country.

Abortion worker-turned-pro-life advocate Abby Johnson is reaching out to abortion workers across the country in a novel way, sending her movie, Unplanned, to EVERY abortion facility within all 50 states. The movie did exceptionally well at the box office and continues to wow online, exposing the true reality of abortion and the business that is Planned Parenthood. Even prior to the DVD release this week, the DVD was #1 on Amazon and continues to remain there.

In a sneak peek of her interview on EWTN News Nightly, Abby explains why she wants to share her story with abortion workers everywhere, saying, “We want the abortion workers to be able to see the truth that’s in the film, and to be able to hopefully have a moment where they recognize, hey, this is my story too.”

Here’s an excerpt of the interview and make sure to catch the entire piece on EWTN News Nightly (airing 6pm/9pm).

Abby also hopes the opportunity will provide those still peddling the lies of Planned Parenthood to be awakened to the reality of all the lives lost every single day from abortion. She urges anyone that is stuck working at an abortion facility to reach out to her because she's ready to help anyone that is looking for a way out. 

Bravo, Abby!


1. Stephen Colbert talks about the sacrifice of Christ on CNN with Anderson Cooper.

In an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN this week, Stephen Colbert was a valiant witness of what Catholics truly believe about human suffering. Cooper asks Colbert about a past quote in which he had said, "What punishment of gods are not gifts,” asking Colbert, “Do you really believe that?"

"Yes," replies the comedian adding, "It's a gift to exist and with existence comes suffering. There's no escaping that."

The conversation focusing on grief and the human experience went even deeper as Cooper talked about his own losses in life, adding that “You can’t have happiness without loss and suffering.”

This prompted Colbert to respond with a line that stopped me in my tracks as a Catholic watching CNN: "And in my tradition, that’s the great gift of the sacrifice of Christ…is that God does it too…so that you’re really not alone,” reiterating, “God does it too.”

Now you can say what you want about Stephen Colbert as he does miss the mark on several life and family issues including same-sex marriage and abortion, but I can only imagine that his interview hit many like the Mack truck that swerved unexpectedly into my lane. How often does the the 'sacrifice of Christ' make the nightly news? Perhaps it’s my years working in secular media where news stories are always shaped in a liberal light, but maybe it’s time to pray that little leaks of truth like this on networks like CNN keep happening, and… one day… Stephen Colbert will allow his Catholic ‘tradition’ to pour over every facet of existence, despite what seems most popular to mainstream media.