1. Report criticizes nations with strict religious laws, By Carol Morello. The Washington Post, August 11, 2016, Pg. A8.

Anti-blasphemy beliefs and laws have led to the imprisonment and death of religious minorities and women, particularly in Muslim countries, the State Department said Wednesday.

In its annual religious freedom report, the State Department singled out Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Pakistan and Mauritania as being among the countries where deviating from the religious norm carries harsh penalties.

“Such laws conflict with and undermine universally recognized human rights,” it said.


2. France Detains Third Man Over Church Attack, Investigators detain man in Toulouse on suspicion of collaborating in priest’s murder, By Inti Landauro. The Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2016, Pg. A7.

PARIS—French police have detained a man on suspicion of collaborating in last month’s murder of a French priest, as investigators examine whether the slaying was the work of a broader group of Islamic State followers.

The man was detained Monday in the area of Toulouse, a city 500 miles south of the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray where the attack took place in late July, a spokeswoman for France’s antiterror prosecutor said on Wednesday.

She didn’t release any other details about the suspect. Police can question him for up to 96 hours without bringing preliminary charges against him.


3. Women deacons: What happens next?, By Phyllis Zagano. National Catholic Reporter, August 10, 2016.

Pope Francis named just one woman from the Western Hemisphere to his commission on women deacons. 

That would be me.

So, what happens next? Fact is, I do not know. I assume at some point in the not-too-distant future, I will receive an invitation to go to Rome to meet with the other commissioners. Our mandate is to study women in the diaconate. 

When he spoke to the members of the Union of International Superiors General in Rome on May 12, the Holy Father said he was especially interested in the women deacons of the early church. He said he would ask the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith what it had on the matter and, yes, at the sisters’ request, he would form a commission.


4. A Crucial Victory for California Christian Universities, By David French. National Review- The Corner, August 10, 2016, 5:05 PM.

Today I wrote about the progressive culture war against California’s Christian universities. California legislators were primed to use state financial aid dollars to punish Christian schools for being Christian:

The bill, SB 1146, requires even private Christian universities to comply with extraordinarily broad anti-discrimination provisions if they accept even a single student who receives state financial assistance. This means opening single-sex dorms to transgender students. This means requiring schools to acknowledge and respect same-sex marriages to the same extent that they acknowledge and respect traditional marriages. This means requiring schools to draw no distinction between same-sex behavior and heterosexual behavior in student conduct policies.

And that’s just the start. The bill also purports to publicly shame Christian colleges, requiring them to submit documentation to the state — for publication — in the event they choose to exercise their constitutional and statutory rights to opt out of Title IX, a federal statute that explicitly creates exemptions for religious colleges.

Facing increasing opposition (including a multi-faith statement in opposition, a planned protest at the Capitol, and targeted PAC spending at the bill’s proponents) the bill’s sponsor has pulled the bill’s most dangerous provisions.


5. Where are Hollywood’s good Catholic characters?, By Deacon Steven D. Greydanus. Crux, August 10, 2016.

In yesterday’s column I maintained that when it comes to Catholic and Christian characters and imagery in contemporary Hollywood films, the negative side of the ledger is pretty bleak: Catholic or Christian faith and images, including crosses, crucifixes, and rosaries, are often linked to villainous, murderous, depraved characters.

What about the other side of the ledger: positive portrayals of Christian characters and iconography?

For at least the last 15 years, positive depictions tend to be limited to two categories: a) indie and foreign films, i.e., films made outside the Hollywood mainstream; and b) supernatural horror films.