1. Abortion supporters blast Democratic campaign boss for denying pro-choice ‘litmus test’.

By Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, August 1, 2017, Pg. A2

The chairman of the House Democrats’ campaign arm is in hot water with pro-choice advocates for saying Democratic candidates for office do not have to support abortion rights.

In an interview with The Hill published on Monday, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico said abortion is not a “litmus test” for affiliation with the party.

The remark irked rank-and-file Democrats and pro-choice activists alike.

Howard Dean, who headed the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009, denounced the campaign committee’s stance in a tweet on Monday.

“I’m afraid I’ll be with holding support for the DCCC if this is true,” Mr. Dean said.

Laura Moser, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Texas’ 7th District, said “women’s rights are no more negotiable to Democrats than racial equality or LGBT rights.”

Renee Bracey Smith, a board member at NARAL Pro-Choice America, called out Mr. Lujan by name.

How much weight to give abortion has been a major source of contention among Democrats in the wake of the general election.


2. ‘A balance sheet on first anniversary of Pope’s unique media team. 

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor of Crux, Crux, August 1, 2017

Although you won’t find it on any official calendar, August 1 marks an important anniversary for the Vatican’s engagement with the outside world, especially the press. As of today, it’s been exactly one year since an American, Greg Burke, and a Spaniard, Paloma García Ovejero, took over as the principal spokespersons for the Holy See.

What’s the balance sheet on this unique team, one year in?

I believe two things – one, that Burke and García Ovejero have changed the Vatican’s relationship with the press for the better, and two, they’re nonetheless operating below their real potential.

Let’s begin with the positive side of the ledger.

When I began covering the Vatican 20 years ago, the Press Office was basically akin to the Death Star for most reporters. It was filled with people you feared, and was seen as more of an impediment to reporting than a resource.

All that began to change under Father Federico Lombardi during the Benedict XVI years, and has reached full flower under Burke and García Ovejero. They’re both former journalists with long experience covering the Vatican, so they know what it’s like. They’re friendly, sympathetic, and accessible, exactly what you’d want press officers to be.

Now, for the negative side.

To put it bluntly, neither Burke nor García Ovejero is perceived as a Vatican insider. Reporters call them when they need something fast and on-the-record, but when you genuinely need to know what the pope is thinking, neither is the person you’d consult. Often, they’re as caught off guard by the latest development as anyone else.


3. Charlie Gard was baptized, held St. Jude medal before death.

By Catholic News Agency, July 31, 2017, 10:31 AM

Charlie Gard, an 11 month-old British infant who made headlines around the world over a fierce legal battle on parental rights, had been baptized by April.

Around that time, a picture of his tiny fist made the rounds on the internet of him clutching a St. Jude medal.

The boy’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, on Friday issued a statement announcing his death, saying: “Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of you Charlie.”

The Catholic Association (TCA) also offered their condolences, noting that Gard and Yates had to endure both the death of their son as well as a tumultuous legal fight.

“(T)his excruciating decision should have belonged to his loving and devoted parents,” the TCA said. “There was no apparent compelling justification for the courts to override and replace the unique parental bond of love in this case, which has only added to the heartbreak of Charlie’s passing.”

The TCA statement continued: “The international response to the plight of this baby is a beautiful testament to the irreplaceable value of one human life.”


4. After Senate Defeat, Pro-Life Leaders Vow to Keep Working for Health Care Reform.

By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, July 31, 2017

After attempts to block abortion funding in health care failed with the demise of the Senate’s health care bill early Friday morning, pro-life leaders vowed to keep fighting.

“Despite the Senate’s decision not to pass legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last night, the task of reforming the health care system still remains,” Bishop Frank Dewane, chair of the U.S. bishops’ domestic justice and human development committee, said on Friday.

“The current health care system is not financially sustainable, lacks full Hyde protections and conscience rights, and is inaccessible to many immigrants,” he said. “Inaction will result in harm for too many people.”

The Senate’s efforts to pass a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replacing it met a narrow 51-49 defeat early Friday morning, with Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, providing the decisive “No” vote.

After the House passed the American Health Care Act, which both repealed and replaced the ACA, the Senate introduced its own replacement proposal, the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

The bills contained pro-life provisions, but pro-life leaders were concerned that a key pro-life provision — prohibiting any tax credits from paying for health plans with abortion coverage — would not survive in the Senate, as the Senate parliamentarian (who assesses the rules) could determine that it violated the Byrd Rule.