1. A Free-Speech Lesson for J.B. Pritzker, By The Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2023, Pg. A16, EditorialDemocrats are eager to make their states havens for abortion, and in Illinois they’re willing to violate free-speech rights along the way. That’s the finding of a federal judge who has enjoined a law to silence groups that run pregnancy help centers. Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed a law amending the state’s Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act to sweep in pregnancy centers that counsel women against abortion. The law, drafted by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, regulates the antiabortion groups on grounds they engage in “deceptive business practices.” The law “is both stupid and very likely unconstitutional,” federal Judge Iain Johnston wrote in an Aug. 4 order granting a preliminary injunction. “It is stupid because its own supporter admitted it was unneeded” and had no evidence supporting its claims of deception,” he wrote. “It is likely unconstitutional because it is a blatant example of government taking the side of whose speech is sanctionable and whose speech is immunized.” The speech of abortion providers is “specifically excluded from being sanctioned under the Consumer Fraud Act,” Judge Johnston wrote.  Mr. Pritzker apparently thinks that invoking the name Trump is a justification to get away with saying or doing anything. Not under the U.S. Constitution. https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-free-speech-lesson-for-j-b-pritzker-pregnancy-center-viewpoint-discrimination-supreme-court-judge-abortion-politics-law-45afb010__________________________________________________________ 2. Spiritual Lessons From ‘The Exorcist’, By Matthew Walther, The New York Times, August 13, 2023, Pg. SR5, Opinion It is one of those strange accidents of history that the best film ever made about the Roman Catholic Church was directed by a Jewish agnostic. The career of William Friedkin, who died on Monday at 87, spanned seven decades, but to the end of his life, his best-known picture remained “The Exorcist,” a horror movie from 1973 about a demonically possessed girl whose mother enlists two Catholic priests to save her. Despite the fact that Mr. Friedkin repeatedly acknowledged the essentially religious nature of the film, “The Exorcist” continues to be regarded, like his other signature movie, “The French Connection,” as a genre picture — a very well-crafted one, to be sure — rather than what it really is: an art film premised on the idea that the claims the Catholic Church makes for itself are true — not in some loose metaphorical sense but literally. When it came out, “The Exorcist” didn’t just shock audiences with lurid scenes of projectile vomiting and spinning heads. It also forced them to acknowledge a tension, most acutely felt in the Catholic Church but omnipresent in Western society, that had grown between two rival conceptions of religion. Is religion an expression of a transcendent moral and metaphysical order? Or is it just another way of pursuing ideals of compassion and social justice, which is how many liberal theologians have popularly conceived it since at least the mid-1960s? “The Exorcist” came down on the side of tradition.   In “The Exorcist,” the opposition of modernity and tradition is dramatized through the two main priest characters, Father Damien Karras and Father Lankester Merrin. Father Karras is a typical clergyman of the modern era, a young liberal Jesuit disillusioned with the priesthood for whom secular learning and even physical exercise have usurped the role of dogma. When the mother of the possessed girl asks him how someone obtains permission for an exorcism, he replies, “I’d have to get them into a time machine and get them back to the 16th century.” By contrast, Father Merrin is an older, traditionally minded scholar-priest, an expert in ancient Near Eastern cultures who accepts the reality of the demonic and fears it. He is an embodiment of what Pope Benedict XVI once called the “hermeneutic of continuity,” a refusal to regard the 1960s as the beginning of a new divine dispensation.  In the world of “The Exorcist,” Father Merrin is a good character because he is a faithful and orthodox priest who accepts that what the church teaches is true: that we live in a moral universe in which the stakes are not life and death — as they end up being in many conventional religious dramas — but heaven and hell.  Mr. Walther is the editor of The Lamp, a Catholic literary journal, and a contributing Opinion writer. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/12/opinion/exorcist-william-friedkin-catholicism.html__________________________________________________________ 3. Pope condemns ‘unjustifiable’ assassination of Ecuadorian presidential candidate, By Associated Press, August 12, 2023, 8:00 AM Pope Francis on Saturday strongly condemned the “unjustifiable” assassination of an Ecuadorian presidential candidate and urged all Ecuadorians to work together for peace. History’s first Latin American pope sent a telegram of condolence following the brazen assassination of Fernando Villavicencio at a political rally Wednesday in the capital Quito. The killing of a figure whose life work was fighting crime and corruption has focused global attention on Ecuador’s wave of violent deaths and the country’s vulnerability to crime.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/08/12/vatican-ecuador-assassination-villavicencio-pope/db15d3b0-3907-11ee-ac4e-e707870e43db_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. US, Japanese bishops launch push for abolition of nuclear weapons, By John Lavenburg, Crux, August 12, 2023 On the 78th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, on Aug. 9, a cohort of Japanese and U.S. Catholic bishops announced a new initiative to promote the realization of a world without nuclear weapons, focusing on past acts, the present reality, and building a culture of peace. “We, the bishops of four Catholic arch/dioceses in areas impacted by nuclear weapons, declare that we will begin working together to achieve a ‘world without nuclear weapons,’” said the bishops. “We urge that concrete progress be made by August 2025, the 80th anniversary of the atomic bombings.”  https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2023/08/us-japanese-bishops-launch-push-for-abolition-of-nuclear-weapons__________________________________________________________ 5. The churches where clergy and churchgoers agree (and disagree) politically, By Yonat Shimron, The Washington Post, August 11, 2023, 12:15 PM [A] survey published in the latest issue of Politics and Religion, a quarterly journal, says that White evangelical clergy are no less conservative politically than their congregations.  Consistent with decades of past data, the new survey also shows a deep political gap between the views of clergy in more liberal Protestant denominations, as well as in the views of Catholic priests and their parishioners. More than half (53 percent) of mainline Protestant clergy say they are more liberal or much more liberal than their congregants. Among Catholic priests, 53 percent said they were more or much more liberal than their parishioners.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2023/08/11/catholic-evangelical-church-politics-trump-russell-moore/__________________________________________________________ 6. Does God Control History?, By Ross Douthat, The New York Times, August 11, 2023, Opinion After last week’s newsletter made the case for the wickedness of Stalinism and the virtues of early Cold War anti-Communism, I thought I might get dragged into a weekend social media debate about Marxism-Leninism. Not so. Instead, I managed to entangle myself in an argument about a different totalitarianism-related question: whether the destruction of Hitler’s Germany was a true and righteous judgment of Almighty God.  But I want to take a slightly different direction here, because my post about God’s purposes and the Nazi Ragnarok inspired a couple of tart rejoinders from Bronze Age Pervert himself. “If God’s judgment is loss in a war or at hand of brutal persecutors, does this mean you think God judged Jesus to be bad and the Romans to be good?” he asked. And then, “does the 30 Yrs’ War toll therefore reflect God’s judgment on a Europe that was too attached to religion?” The first question is easy to brush aside, because obviously Christians think that the way to understand God’s judgment on Christ’s life and message is in the light of his resurrection, not just his death on Calvary. There was a war on Holy Week, and Jesus won is a crude statement of the Christian message but not an inaccurate one. And if you want to frame it in terms of a conflict between Rome and Christ, the Roman Catholic especially will argue that the war in question ended with Constantine’s conversion rather than the crucifixion, with St. Peter’s Basilica standing as a victory monument. But the various crises and disasters in the Christian world since then, the Thirty Years’ War very much included, don’t admit of that kind of tidy interpretation. At the same time the serious Christian can’t just wave away the question, because we’re obliged to believe that history reveals providential intentions and designs.  But (humbly, humbly) I do, in fact, have a view of what the Thirty Years’ War and its consequences suggest about God’s actions in the modern world. And also of how that case study differs from the Nazi example — starting with the fact that Christianity was not destroyed in the 1600s, the pope did not commit suicide in a bunker while Rome collapsed around his head, and Christian ideas and Christian leaders were not remembered as icons of absolute depravity in the decades and centuries that followed. Rather, what was broken in the 17th century was a certain idea of Christendom, a certain kind of political-religious unity — and I think a serious Christian has to see in that breakage some kind of divine judgment on the Christians fighting to sustain that order.  [T]here is an account of modern history that conflates the crackup of Christendom with the decline of Christianity. It assumes that modernity as a whole has to be either a totally wrong turn (the Christian pessimist’s perspective) or a wrong turning that Christianity is responsible for and can’t save us from (the right-wing pagan brief) or else a glorious path toward enlightenment that renders traditional Christianity irrelevant (the secular optimist). Yet for Christianity, the modern era is actually two stories intertwined: a story of conflict and failure and disappointment for many Christian institutions, their division and their weakness in the face of other powers, woven together with the story of the Christian religion’s resilience and global spread.  https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/11/opinion/god-conservative-history.html__________________________________________________________ 7. Is Nicaragua’s Bishop Álvarez still alive? A U.S. congressman demands proof, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, August 11, 2023, 10:45 AM Republican Rep. Chris Smith is demanding proof from Nicaraguan Dictator Daniel Ortega that an imprisoned Catholic bishop and religious freedom advocate Bishop Rolando Álvarez is still alive. “Since there has been no reliable evidence of the bishop’s state of health or even that he is alive,” Smith said, “I call on President Ortega to provide proof to the international community that Bishop Álvarez is still alive.”  Smith further demanded that the Red Cross have “immediate access” to Álvarez “to independently examine his health without restriction and without government officials or prison guards present.” Smith, a Catholic Republican from New Jersey, also renewed his June request to meet with Álvarez in person in Nicaragua.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/255073/is-nicaraguas-bishop-alvarez-still-alive-a-us-congressman-demands-proof__________________________________________________________

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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