1. Catholic school’s expulsion of girls upheld; judge lashes out at parents. 

By Tom Haydon, NJ.com, August 15, 2017

A judge on Monday refused to order a Catholic school to accept two girls who were denied re-enrollment after their parents sued the school to get one of the daughters on a boys basketball team.

“The court does not have the authority to meddle in this decision,” Superior Court Judge Donald A. Kessler said in his ruling on the case in which St. Theresa’s School in Kenilworth denied the applications from 13-year-old Sydney Phillips and her younger sister, Kaitlyn, to return to classes.

Kessler said the girls’ father, Scott Phillips, who sought an order requiring the school to accept the girls, had “cited no law that would allow the court to interfere with the ecclesiastical (or religious) decision” denying the girls’ application to attend the school.

Kessler, reading his three-hour-long decision from the bench, lashed out at the parents over the battle with the school. The parents, Kessler said, “made the affirmative decision to make this matter public.” The judge agreed with school officials who argued that the family had disrupted the school community.

“One only need to look at the letters of Ms. Mullen, who threatened that if she didn’t get her way, there would be consequences,” Kessler said.

He also noted that the parents had complained when their older son had not been named valedictorian when he was in the eighth grade at the school in the spring 2016. During the trial, the former school principal testified that Scott Phillips called her a son of a b—- when he was informed his son was not the top student. Phillips denies making that statement.

The parents earlier this year amended their original suit against the school to include parents who signed an online petition calling for the family to be removed from the school.

Kessler criticized the parents for expanding their litigation against the school and other parents, and repeated complaints that the school had previously addressed.


2. Australia Archbishop Rejects Sex-Abuse Exception to the Secrecy of Confession. 

By Jacqueline Williams, The New York Times, August 15, 2017

Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, who as president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference represents all Roman Catholic clergy in the country, said Tuesday that he would rather go to jail than breach the seal of confession.

“The laws in our country and in many other countries recognize the special nature of confession as part of the freedom of religion, which has to be respected,” Archbishop Hart told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

His comments came a day after religious institutions across the country were forced to defend the secrecy of confession after Australia’s Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended a sweep of legislative and policy changes, one of which would require priests who hear about sexual abuse in the confessional to report it to the authorities. The 85 recommendations were aimed at reforming Australia’s criminal justice system to provide a fairer response to sex-abuse victims, the commission said.


3. Into the Breach: Knights of Columbus Play Pivotal International Role.

By Victor Gaetan, National Catholic Register, August 15, 2017

While talking to Church leaders of communities under great pressure, attending this year’s convention Aug. 1-3 in St. Louis, it became clear that the Knights play a pivotal role internationally — especially in places where U.S. sanctions or policy blindness make our government absent.

In Korea, Syria, and Lebanon — as it has done in Cuba, for example — the Knights of Columbus is fearlessly exploring ways to embody the Gospel’s directive to feed and clothe the poor, comfort the sick, and serve the half-dead victim of robbers.

Seoul in Action

Against the secular tide but with the Holy See, the Knights of Columbus are advocating a non-violent, humanitarian response to conflict and suffering on the Korean peninsula.

The Knights established its first council there 10 years ago.

The Catholic Church in South Korea is one of the Church’s fastest growing communities in the world, with approximately 5.2 million believers.

Aleppo Returning

Another priest of heroic virtue attending the Knights convention was Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart Aleppo, Syria, who has lived through Hell: murder and mass destruction, kidnappings and chaos.

Jeanbart has bravely led a once-prosperous Melkite Greek Catholic community as it resists genocide — surviving 10 bomb attacks on his home and at least six against his cathedral.

Beirut Managing

Steeped and tested in adversity, Syriac Catholic Church of Antioch Patriarch Ignatius Youssef III Younan is a prophetic speaker of truth.

Radical Muslims and their allies have created “a horrendous situation” in Iraq and Syria, which impacts the stability of neighboring countries such as Lebanon.

Some 2 million refugees from wars in Iraq and Syria live in Lebanon — a country of just 4 million. Christians are generally afraid of the United Nations-run camps, relying instead on private donations and often, the Church.

Knights Galvanizing

Tremendous, action-oriented contributions characterize the Knights of Columbus program for the persecuted Church in the Middle East.

Since 2014, the organization has raised more than $13 million for Christian refugees, providing food, clothes, medicine, and shelter to thousands of displaced people.

Advocacy is critical too: Last year, the Knights provided empirical evidence of genocidal atrocities against Middle East Christians in a major report, “Genocide Against Christians in the Middle East,” cosponsored with In Defense of Christians.


4. Assumption, Pope Francis: Mary is a symbol of how God works with the ‘little ones’, the poor. 

By Claire Giangravè, Editorial Assistant, Crux, August 15, 2017

On the feast of the Assumption, Pope Francis said that the Virgin Mary is a symbol of how God often works though the poor and unknown to carry out His plan for redemption.

“The Magnificat,” Francis told around 20,0000 people gathered in St. Peter’s square for the Angelus, “praises the loyal and merciful God, who carries out his design of salvation with the little ones and the poor, with those who have faith in Him, who trust his Word, like Mary.”

On the feast of the Assumption, when Mary completes her journey on this earth, she precedes us in the pilgrimage of life and faith the pope said and concluded by asking for her intercession.


5. Pope Francis calls migrants “an opportunity for human growth”. 

By Crux, August 14, 2017

Pope Francis told a conference taking place to promote closer ties across the Mediterranean region, and that he hoped their encounter would promote an even “more generous commitment to fostering a culture of acceptance and solidarity, and thus fostering peace and fraternity among peoples.”

The Diocese of Ugento-S. Maria di Lueca – located in Puglia, on the tip of the heel of the boot of Italy – hosted the “Mediterranean: Port of Fraternity” conference August 10-14.

In his message, Francis encouraged Christians, the youth of the Mediterranean region, and all people of good will to “consider the presence of migrants an opportunity for human growth, encounter and dialogue; as well as an opportunity to announce and witness to the Gospel of charity.”

Francis encouraged them in their good work, which culminated in the signing of the Charter of Lueca, which pledges the signatories’ willingness “to preserve, to reconstruct, and to bring together the bridges linking the countries of the Mediterranean.”

Over 180,000 migrants and refugees arrived in Italy in 2016 alone.