1. More foolishness from the United Nations.

By Emilie Kao and Shea Garrison, The Washington Times, April 14, 2020, Pg. B4, Opinion

Billions of people around the world exercised their religious freedom during Holy Week, but a new United Nations report threatens to undermine both this freedom and women’s rights.

The report of Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N. expert responsible for protecting religious freedom, advances a “progressive” agenda of abortion and new “rights” based on membership in sexual identity groups.

Eighty percent of the global population faces high restrictions on religious freedom, and many of these victims are women. But the report pays only superficial attention to this issue.

Instead, much of the report focuses on religion as justification for human-rights violations. The report accurately describes a few instances where religion is cynically used to justify human rights abuses perpetrated against women of minority faiths, including rape, forced sterilization and forced abortion. But then the report shockingly conflates conservative religious beliefs about life, marriage and biological sex with religious justifications for abhorrent human-rights violations.

Many women, as well as men, hold conservative religious beliefs, but the report treats their freedom to live according to these beliefs as secondary to abortion and new claims to rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity. No international treaty recognizes a right to abortion, but the report simply asserts that one exists and that it trumps a medical provider’s right to conscientious objection.

Emilie Kao is director of the DeVos Center for Religion & Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation (heritage. org). Shea Garrison, Ph.D., is vice president of international affairs at Concerned Women for America.


2. Appeals court blocks Texas ban on medical abortions during pandemic.

By Katie Shepherd, The Washington Post, April 14, 2020, 6:41 AM

Medical abortions, which end a pregnancy with pills, may continue in Texas during the coronavirus pandemic after the Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans blocked an anti-abortion portion of Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency ban on nonessential medical procedures Monday evening.

The decision by a three-judge panel may avoid an immediate Supreme Court battle over abortion access by mooting part of a petition already filed at the high court by lawyers for abortion providers.


3. Priest with blog critical of church’s abuse handling removed.

By Associated Press, April 14, 2020, 4:42 AM

A priest in Virginia was removed from his post after maintaining a blog critical of the Catholic Church’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal.

Rev. Mark White, whose blog reaches more than 1 million readers, was removed on Monday, news outlets reported. He served as the priest of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount.

His removal as the head of these two churches follows a months-long dispute with Bishop Barry Knestout, the head of the Diocese of Richmond, and other church officials over the blog.

In March, Bishop Knestout wrote a public letter addressed to White’s congregants that accused him of promoting division and disrespect within the church.


4. Australian cardinal links corruption to child abuse charges.

By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press, April 14, 2020, 7:38 AM

Cardinal George Pell has linked his fight against corruption in the Vatican with his prosecution in Australia for alleged child sex abuse.

“Most of the senior people in Rome who are in any way sympathetic to financial reform believe that they are” linked to his prosecution, the 78-year-old cleric told Sky News.

Pell said he did not have evidence of a link. But he suspected that a man who swore he had been sexually abused by Pell as a 13-year-old choirboy more than two decades ago had been “used.”


5. Cardinal Pell is Innocent and Finally Free.

By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, Real Clear Religion, April 13, 2020

In a unanimous opinion earlier this month, Australia’s highest court overturned the convictions of Cardinal Pell for molesting two choirboys in the Cathedral of Melbourne some 20 years ago. The 78-year-old prelate (and former Vatican finance minister) had already served more than a year of his six-year prison sentence before being released just days before Easter.

The accusations were, according to the high court, unsupported as a matter of law. “[T]here is a significant possibility…” the court wrote, “that an innocent person has been convicted.”

What caused Australia’s system of justice to jump so far off the rails?

Of course, shoddy police work happens. That’s why criminal prosecutors are expected to exercise discretion and refrain from bringing specious cases to trial. Pell’s prosecutors failed epically to live up to such expectations. They relied solely on the story – the story they solicited – of a lone accuser decades after the events in question. (The other alleged victim died in 2014 before he could testify but after he reportedly told his mother that the abuse never happened.) Granted, sometimes evidence in sexual abuse cases is only the testimony of the victim. That’s why in Australia, and the majority of U.S. jurisdictions, “corroborating evidence” is not required. The problem here, as the high court noted, was that “unchallenged evidence” presented by the defense created “compounding improbabilities” of guilt.

Numerous witnesses testified as to the conduct of Pell, his attendants, altar servers, and the choir as they formally processed from the Cathedral at end of mass. Pell’s practice was to remain on the Cathedral steps and greet departing congregants. The Cathedral’s master of ceremonies, consistent with Catholic Church practice, always accompanied the cardinal when Pell was in the Cathedral. There was also a “hive of activity” where the egregious assault was said to have occurred. A jury “acting rationally,” the high court concluded, was required “to have entertained a doubt as to [Pell’s] guilt.”

That didn’t happen. If it had, Australia’s high court would not have had to clean up this travesty in order to exonerate Cardinal Pell.

Cardinal Pell’s acquittal is a great victory for the rule of law in Australia. More important, in this Easter season, a good and innocent man has regained his liberty.

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is Legal Advisor for The Catholic Association Foundation.


6. US Bishops: Coronavirus Response Must Utilize Ethical Principles
Catholic ethicists and doctors say the bishops’ statement is a necessary reminder that Catholic teaching doesn’t change in times of crisis.

By Kate Scanlon, National Catholic Register, April 13, 2020

As health care professionals in the United States and around the world work to treat patients suffering from the COVID-19 virus with increasingly limited resources, Catholic bishops, bioethicists, and doctors stressed that concern for the dignity of each and every patient — regardless of age, disability or other factors — must always guide decisions about administering medical care.

Catholic doctors also explained that when triage is necessary, if can be done without forsaking patients that are members of vulnerable groups, such as the elderly or disabled.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a policy adviser for The Catholic Association, told the Register in an interview that Hippocratic medicine has commonalities with a Catholic approach because the former holds “the equal and immeasurable dignity of each and every human person regardless of their age, their race, their sex, or their stage of development.”

“Standing on that foundation then, when we come to a place where our resources aren’t able to take care of everybody that’s sick, then what we need to do is clinically distinguish between people, not on their value, their relative value as we as human beings might assess them, but simply make a clinical determination which of the patients need it most, or are more likely to benefit from the treatment,” Christie said. “So this is very different from an approach where you measure one person against another depending on their relative worth, that’s unethical, from a Catholic perspective but also from a classical medical perspective.”

Christie stressed that in situations where there is a lack of medical equipment or supplies, decisions about priority of care must be made based only on objective clinical factors, like the patient’s immediate needs and chances of survival.

“It’s not proper to distinguish between two patients and say, this patient is more worthy of my care because this patient is younger,” she said.


7. Appeals court blocks Oklahoma COVID-19-related abortion ban.

By Associated Press, April 13, 2020, 11:06 PM

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a lower-court order that overturned the Oklahoma governor’s ban on abortions during the coronavirus outbreak emergency.

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allows abortions to continue in Oklahoma, the ban issued by Gov. Kevin Stitt notwithstanding. In an eight-page opinion, the panel said it was letting stand a temporary restraining order issued April 6 by U.S. District Judge Charles Goodwin in Oklahoma City because it caused the state no irreparable harm, since Goodwin’s order expires April 20.


TCA Media Monitoring provides a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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