1. Religious worship is a human right, even in China. Bring David Lin home, By The Washington Post, April 22, 2024, 6:45 AM, Editorial
David Lin wanted to create a space in China for people to worship as they choose. A pastor from an evangelical Protestant church in California, Mr. Lin told his family that, on many visits, he found a yearning for faith in China. He became active in the “house church” movement of believers who seek to pray independent of the party-state. For this, Mr. Lin has been wrongfully imprisoned in Beijing for nearly two decades. Secretary of State Antony Blinken should use his visit to China, starting Tuesday, to demand Mr. Lin’s freedom.
China has experienced a surge in Protestantism since the days of Mao, but the government insists that worshipers stay within the “Three-Self Patriotic Movement,” a state-sponsored protestant organization. This has led many who do not want to register with the state — and give the government control over their religious practices — to turn to unofficial or underground congregations, known as “house churches” because they often meet in people’s homes. The house churches often are made up of people seeking nothing more than quiet places to practice their faith, but at times house church leaders have collided with the state. Mr. Lin was active in the house church movement at the time of his arrest in 2006.

Mr. Lin, now 68 years old, should not spend another day locked up. From prison, he can call his family only twice a month for five minutes each time. He has been deemed a religious prisoner of conscience by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and has been designated as wrongfully detained by the U.S. State Department under the Levinson Act.

Mr. Lin is hardly alone — China holds thousands of political and religious prisoners. It denies basic freedoms of speech, belief and assembly to its people. Mr. Blinken will undoubtedly have a busy agenda when he visits Beijing, but should pause and make time to appeal to China’s leaders to free Mr. Lin. The secretary should have no hesitation telling China’s leaders that Mr. Lin was not engaging in fraud in his effort to worship God outside close state control.
Beliefs and convictions are universal human rights, not a reward to be bestowed or withheld by the Chinese Communist Party and its overweening state.
2. Newsom proposes law to help Arizonans get abortions in California, By Mariana Alfaro, The Washington Post, April 22, 2024, 6:25 AM
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said Sunday he would introduce legislation that would help Arizonans get abortions in his state, a move that comes after the Arizona Supreme Court this month ruled that a near-total abortion ban from 1864 can take effect in the coming weeks.
The court decision has already had a notable impact on the politics in Arizona, a pivotal battleground state for the November election. It is also testing the limits of Republican support, especially after the GOP-controlled Arizona legislature last week failed to repeal the Civil War-era law.
Newsom announced the proposal during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Inside with Jen Psaki,” saying it was time for those who support access to abortion to respond to Republican-led bans on the procedure with assertiveness.
The California governor also unveiled a new ad targeting proposed legislation in Alabama that would make it illegal for people to help minors get abortion care without informing a parent or legal guardian. Newsom’s political action committee, Campaign for Democracy, is paying for the ad as part of its focus on abortion rights.

3. Pew Research: Biden in trouble with Catholic voters, By Ken Oliver-Méndez, Catholic News Agency, April 22, 2024, 6:00 AM
Incumbent U.S. President Joe Biden, a Catholic, is battling a high unfavorability rating among his fellow Catholics, according to survey data released by the Pew Research Center.
According to the data, neither Biden nor his Republican rival, former president Donald Trump, are viewed favorably by a majority of Catholics surveyed, but Biden is the more unpopular of the two.
The findings were part of a presentation on “Religion and Politics Ahead of the U.S. Elections” by Pew’s associate director of research, Greg Smith, at the 2024 annual conference of the Religion News Association, which concluded over the weekend.
Included in the data provided by Smith, Pew’s late February survey of 12,000 U.S. adults found that only 35% of Catholics hold a favorable view of Biden while 64% have an unfavorable view of the incumbent president.

4. Morning sickness? Prenatal check-ups? What to know about new rights for pregnant workers, By Alexandra Olson and Claire Savage, Associated Press, April 20, 2024, 9:05 AM
Pregnant employees have the right to a wide range of accommodations under new federal regulations for enforcing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act that supporters say could change workplace culture for millions of people.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency in charge of enforcing the law, adopted an expansive view of conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth in its proposed regulations, including a controversial decision to include abortion, fertility treatment and birth control as medical issues requiring job protections.

The EEOC included abortion among the conditions covered under the law. The rules state, however, that employers are not obligated to cover expenses related to the procedure or to offer health insurance that does.
The EEOC regulations argue that including abortion is consistent with the agency’s longstanding interpretation of other laws under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
But the decision drew condemnation from Republican lawmakers who had championed the law’s passage. The five-member EEOC’s two Republican members voted against the regulations.
In a statement explaining her dissent, Commissioner Andrea Lucas said the agency broadened the scope of the law “to reach virtually every condition, circumstance, or procedure that relates to any aspect of the female reproductive system” in ways that “cannot reasonably be reconciled with the text” of the law.
Melissa Losch, a labor and employment attorney at the New Orleans-based firm McGlinchey Stafford, said she expects the regulations to give rise to further litigation. Losch cited the example of a worker living in a state with a restrictive abortion law requesting time off to undergo the procedure in another state. The EEOC rules provide “no good answer” about whether granting such a request would conflict with restrictive state abortion laws, she added.

5. Idaho group says it is exploring a ballot initiative for abortion rights and reproductive care, By Rebecca Boone, Associated Press, April 19, 2024, 7:08 PM
A new Idaho organization says it will ask voters to restore abortion access and other reproductive health care rights in the state after lawmakers let a second legislative session end without modifying strict abortion bans that have been blamed for a recent exodus of health care providers.

Idaho has several anti-abortion laws on the books, including one that makes performing abortions a crime even in medical emergencies unless they are done to save the life of the pregnant patient. The federal government has sued Idaho over the ban, contending it violates a federal law that requires hospitals to provide stabilizing care — including abortion — if a patient’s life or health is at serious risk.

6. Vatican: Nuns who feuded with Texas bishop will be governed by monastery association, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, April 19, 2024, 6:40 PM
A Carmelite monastery that has engaged in a yearlong feud with Diocese of Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson will be governed by a religious association of monasteries going forward — but must normalize relations with the bishop, per a Vatican order.
The Association of Christ the King in the United States of America will oversee the “government, discipline, studies, goods, rights, and privileges” of the Arlington-based Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity. This decision ends the bishop’s role as the pontifical commissary, which had previously given him governing authority over the monastery. 
“It is my prayer that the Arlington Carmel will now have the internal leadership needed to save the monastery and enable it to flourish once again, in unity with the Catholic Church,” Olson said in a statement.
A feud between the monastery and the bishop began in late April of last year when the bishop launched an investigation into the Reverend Mother Superior Teresa Agnes Gerlach. She was ultimately dismissed from religious life for alleged sexual misconduct with a priest over the phone and through video chats.

The Vatican’s letter to Olson thanked the bishop for his “heroic and thankless service to the local church and the Carmel of Arlington as pontifical commissary” and noted the “hardship and unwarranted public attention” brought to the diocese over the past year. 
“We are fully aware that the health and longevity of this monastic community was always your goal, throughout the ordeals of the last year,” the letter read.

7. Biden DOJ report: ‘No malicious intent’ behind leaked FBI memo targeting traditional Catholics, By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, April 19, 2024, 6:00 PM
The Department of Justice released a report to Congress on Thursday that concluded that the analysts who created an internal memo linking traditionalist Catholics to violent extremists “failed to adhere to FBI standards” but showed no evidence of “malicious intent.”
Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s 10-page report found no evidence that anyone ordered either of the unidentified analysts who authored the memo to find a link between racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVE’s) and members of any religion or political affiliation. The report concluded there was no “underlying policy direction” indicating a link.
“We also found no evidence that Analyst 1 or 2 took investigative steps beyond searching FBI and other databases to obtain information for the [memo],” the report said.
The since-retracted leaked memo, dated Jan. 23, 2023, originated from the bureau’s Richmond office. It claimed that racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists will likely become more interested in “radical-traditionalist Catholic ideology” within the next 12 to 24 months “in the run-up to the next general election cycle.”

8. U.S. bishops on new federal rule: Employers should not be forced to facilitate abortions, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, April 19, 2024, 4:30 PM
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on Friday criticized a new rule from the Biden administration that will force employers to offer leave for employees seeking abortion. 
The Biden administration’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) this week issued a change to federal regulations regarding pregnant workers’ fairness, one that mandates employers make “reasonable accommodations,” including granting leave, for workers to obtain abortions.
The new rule, which is set to take effect 60 days from its publication on Friday, is part of the commission’s efforts to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), according to a final EEOC rule change announcement.
Responding to the new rule on Friday, Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, Bishop Kevin Rhoades said in a statement that “no employer should be forced to participate in an employee’s decision to end the life of their child.”

9. Abortion, Social Media, Guns: Supreme Court Poised to Impact Religious Freedom, Several cases this term have the potential to further safeguard religious freedom and protect the unborn and their mothers., By Andrea M. Picciotti-Bayer, National Catholic Register, April 22, 2024, Opinion
As we edge closer to summer, it’s time to pay even more attention to the Supreme Court. The Court will release important decisions as it wraps up its current term. Although religious liberty is not directly at issue in any case before the Court, several decisions have the potential to further safeguard religious freedom, including the court hearing oral argument on Wednesday about a crucial case that impacts mothers, babies, and doctors. Let’s take a quick look at this year’s docket:
Earlier this month, the Court allowed an Idaho law banning medical interventions for minors with gender dysphoria to go broadly into effect while a challenge to the law works its way through the courts.
Also, a unanimous Court held earlier this year that the federal government failed to meet its burden to demonstrate that removal of a Muslim from the government’s “No Fly List” mooted his case because its declaration did not disclose the conduct that landed him on the No Fly List and did not ensure that he would not be placed back on the list for engaging in the same or similar conduct in the future.
Two cases, Relentless v. Department of Commerce and Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, ask whether the Court should overrule or clarify its 1984 decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council. The court-created doctrine known as Chevron deference directs courts to defer to federal agencies’ interpretation of laws they administer when the text is silent or ambiguous. Critics argue that deferring to bureaucrats has allowed federal agencies to both take over the courts’ power to interpret the law and Congress’ power to legislate. Becket law group has raised an additional concern: the negative impact of Chevron on religious liberty. The group explains the “endless cycle of punishment” for religious objectors, like the Little Sisters of the Poor, because Chevron has “empowered federal regulators to create new ways to punish unpopular religious groups and deny them exemptions.”
Another “blockbuster” case raises questions about executive overreach in the context of abortion. In U.S. Food and Drug Administration v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, four national medical associations, their members, and four individual doctors accused the FDA of unlawfully removing crucial safety standards for pregnant women who use the abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol. Over the past eight years, the agency has removed nearly all the safety standards that ensured women and girls had medical care while taking these high-risk drugs. These safeguards included an initial in-person visit to screen for ectopic pregnancies and other serious conditions and a follow-up visit to check for life-threatening complications like internal bleeding and infection. During oral argument in March, several justices questioned whether the petitioners had the legal standing to challenge the FDA in the case. It’s alarming to think that the FDA’s hasty lifting of oversight over these powerful medications could escape judicial review.

The Court’s review of Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States could prevent the administration from manipulating EMTALA to override Idaho’s law. Oral argument begins April 24.
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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!

“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.