1. Consign James Blaine to Memory Lane, The Supreme Court may finally undo the legacy of 19th-century anti-Catholic bigotry.

By Ray Domanico, The Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2019, Pg. A13, Houses of Worship

American religious schools have gotten a bad deal for centuries, but they’ll finally get their day in court next year. The Supreme Court recently decided to hear a case challenging Montana’s anti-Catholic Blaine Amendment in its next term. The high court could unravel the antireligious bias written into the constitutions of Montana and dozens of other states—and improve the lives of millions of children trapped in underperforming public schools.

The Blaine Amendments were a response to Roman Catholic, mostly Irish, immigration to the U.S. in the 19th century. Rep. James G. Blaine, a Republican from Maine, pushed for a federal constitutional amendment that would ban public support for religious schools. In 1875 Rutherford B. Hayes told Blaine that the Republican Party had “been losing strength in Ohio for several years by emigration of Republican farmers.” Hayes, who served nonconsecutive terms as Ohio’s governor, explained that “in their place have come Catholic foreigners. . . . We shall crowd them on the school and other state issues.” While Blaine’s effort failed in the Senate, a majority of states amended their constitutions to incorporate his idea.

In Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the court will decide whether the Blaine Amendment can be used to ban tuition-tax-credit programs from using philanthropic dollars to help students attend religious schools. A state trial judge held that the tax credit didn’t violate the Montana Constitution because it didn’t “involve the expenditure of money that the state has in its treasury.” The Montana Supreme Court reversed that decision, and the issue is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. If the high court invalidates this ban while also taking on the anti-immigrant bigotry at the heart of the Blaine Amendments, other states won’t be able to hide behind the law to deny support to religious schools.

Despite the dark history of the Blaine Amendment, the U.S. generally accepts and accommodates communities with a range of religious belief and fervor. But the undercurrent of bigotry has never gone away. In the past Catholics were accused of disloyalty in the same way that observant Muslims and Hasidic Jews are today. Yet Catholics dug in and built a sustainable education system. Today, given how the public sector has crowded out much of civil society, replicating the success of Catholic schools will be much harder for newer immigrants.

The U.S. becomes stronger when it bends to accommodate new religious groups rather than treating them as less than full Americans. Their ability to use schools of their religion as their children engage the larger American culture should be their right. Laws named for a 19th-century nativist bigot should not stand in the way.

Mr. Domanico is director of education policy at the Manhattan Institute.


2. Australia Panel to Rule On Appeal by Cardinal.

By Robb M. Stewart, The Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2019, Pg. A16

Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Vatican official ever to be jailed for child sexual abuse, could be freed next week if he wins his appeal against the conviction.

A panel of Australian judges will rule on whether to quash the cardinal’s conviction for assaulting two young choir boys inside the cathedral that was the center of his diocese in the late 1990s.

The main argument of the cardinal’s appeal was that the guilty verdicts were unreasonable based on the evidence. The cardinal’s lawyers also argued that mistakes were made that prevented him from getting a fair trial. 

In hearing appeals, the supreme court can order a retrial, change the decision in a case or stand by the lower court’s ruling. It is the state’s highest court, and only the High Court can review its decisions.


3. Planned Parenthood plans to exit federal program over abortion ‘gag rule’

By Ariana Enjung Cha, The Washington Post, August 16, 2019, Pg. A3

Planned Parenthood is making good on its threats to pull out of a federal family planning program, announcing Wednesday it will end its participation Aug. 19, barring a court ruling in its favor — a move expected to leave 6 million low-income women who rely on its services scrambling to figure out whether they need new providers.

In a letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, Planned Parenthood attorneys said its affiliates had planned to refuse federal funds — but not drop out of the program — while its challenge of new Trump administration prohibitions on abortion referrals or “directed counseling” made its way through the courts. Planned Parenthood leaders have said it is morally and medically wrong to not be able to offer their clients complete medical information.

But Health and Human Services officials recently required all participants in the program, known as Title X, to sign a pledge by Aug. 19, saying they would make a “good faith” effort to comply with the rule. HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary Diane Foley said Planned Parenthood’s proposal to remain in the program without doing that is “inconsistent.” 


4. Roe v. Wade on the fault line.

By Kristan Hawkins, The Washington Times, August 16, 2019, Pg. B3, Opinion

For more than 50 years, little changed in the legal fight over abortion after seven judges decreed its permissibility in Roe v. Wade. At the time, Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School wrote that the decision imposed “limits on permissible abortion legislation so severe that no abortion law in the United States remained valid.”

That was then; this is now. As Planned Parenthood’s new president, Alexis McGill Johnson, told CBS, “We are very concerned about Roe. We have a court that hangs in the balance.”

In fact, the abortion decision forced on America in Roe rests on a virtual San Andreas legal fault line,shaky, legal ground that experts, both pro- and anti-abortion, have watched closely. Witha number of cases headed to the U.S. Supreme Court to probe the cracks in the ruling, that fragile foundation is in question. But it’s not only pro-life legal experts who see serious flaws in Roe.

 The first time abortion was in court, the facts about its impactwere not addressed, but the pro-life movement is now ready for that debate. Pregnancy is not a disease cured by abortion, which leaves behind its own problems without delivering prosperity. After an abortion, a woman still needs social, economic and educational equality. Rather than getting rid of one person because they might suffer, let’s address the suffering and equip both mother and child to succeed.

Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America. 


5. When Catholics Fight Back.

By Casey Chalk, Crisis Magazine, August 16, 2019

SB 360, also known as Senate Bill 360, a proposal requiring priests in California to break the sacramental seal of confession, was placed on hold by its sponsor, State Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), on 9 June, right before a hearing on the bill. For months before the vote, activists in California, across the nation, and even in Rome raised their voices against SB 360, securing a victory against this gross violation of religious liberty and Catholic practice. However, triumphant tones must be tempered: Hill has publicly stated his intention to re-propose this bill at a later time. There are thus important lessons to be learned from the activism that effectively blunted this anti-Catholic legislation, ones we would do well to understand as we brace for the next attack.

One of these lessons is the importance of passionate celerity. The grassroots campaign against SB 360 began quickly and intensely at many levels, which enabled it to spread into a movement that elicited the activism of religious liberty advocates — both inside and outside the Church — far and wide. Immediately after Hill introduced the bill in February, a number of important organizations mobilized to respond.

Another lesson is the need for a strong, unified response led by the Catholic hierarchy. Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez wrote a letter to all parishioners, asking for their spiritual and civic help, explains Domingo. After this episcopal call, the Archdiocese collected 140,000 signed letters that were delivered to Assembly members, especially members of the Public Safety Committee, who would be meeting on June 9th. “The most important player in this victory was Los Angeles Archbishop Gomez.

The third lesson gleaned from the from the successful action against this anti-Catholic legislation is the importance of garnering support from outside the Church, be it from fellow Christians or any persons whose beliefs or opinions intersect with Catholicism on issues like religious liberty.

Fourth and finally, educating the populace, both legislators and voters, about Catholicism, was also essential.

Domingo explains that “we learned there was confusion over the sacrament itself—how it took place, what was involved, and what benefit it provided.” In conversations with legislators, Archdiocesan officials told stories of the many people affected by the sacrament — to include prisoners and gang members — that made a “significant impression on legislators and helped shift the conversation entirely.”


6. New Jersey’s medically assisted suicide law put on hold.

By Mike Catalini, The Associated Press, August 15, 2019

A New Jersey judge put a temporary hold on a new law allowing terminally ill patients to seek life-ending drugs.

The order means that New Jersey’s recently enacted measure cannot be enforced by the state attorney general and comes in response to a lawsuit brought by a doctor practicing in the state.

Dr. Yosef Glassman’s lawsuit argues “that immediate and irreparable damage will probably result in view of the fact that if its enforcement is not immediately enjoined, New Jersey citizens can actually begin dying.”

Glassman, whom the suit identifies as a physician and an Orthodox Jew, argues that the law is an affront to religious doctors.


7. Why The World Needs To Allow Women To Shout Their Adoptions, People often think that if a child is unwanted by a birth mother, he is unloved. But placing a child for adoption is a profoundly loving choice.

By Anonymous, The Federalist, August 15, 2019

When defending a woman’s power to abort her child in May, Alabama state Rep. John Rogers, a Democrat, made remarks before the legislature that took a dark turn. “You bring them in the world unwanted, unloved, you send them to the electric chair,” Rogers said. “So, you kill them now or you kill them later,” reported the Washington Examiner.

Rogers’ remarks incurred anger from people on all sides of the abortion debate, but the resulting maelstrom did not address the most damaging part of his argument: the assumption that “unwanted” is synonymous with “unloved.”

In the late 1980s, my birth mother placed me for adoption, making me one of around seven million adopted Americans counted today by Adoption Network Law Center. I was raised by an incredible couple who gave me all the love I could ask for, and taught me the life skills I needed to be successful—and, although this fact ought to be fairly obvious, to avoid any contact with an electric chair.

My parents never let me doubt that my birth mother had placed me for adoption because she loved me. It was part of the language they used every time we spoke about how I became their child. Their assurances rung true when, as an adult, I was given the letter my birth mother left for me after I was born. “If I loved you a little,” her letter said, “I would keep you. But I love you a lot so I’m going to give you up.”

 I was adopted through Catholic Charities. When my birth mother was pregnant with me, Catholic Charities ensured she had a safe home with a wonderful family who fed her and cared for her, and with whom she remains in close contact to this day. Catholic Charities covered her medical expenses, ensured she had access to counseling before I arrived, and continued to provide counseling for a full year after I was born. At my birth mother’s request, she was even allowed to choose my parents.

The sets of possible parents presented to my birth mother had been subjected to a series of interviews, home visits, and group counseling sessions before they were considered fully vetted. When my birth mother sent me a scan of the profile of the parents she chose, which she kept in a memento box for two-and-a-half decades, it was clear that Catholic Charities had heeded her deepest wishes. The profile indisputably, and with heartwarming accuracy, describes my beloved mom and dad.

In spite of the work that Catholic Charities does to care for pregnant mothers and find stable, loving homes for children, the group is now under attack. In Michigan, Attorney General Dana Nessel came to a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union that forces the state to terminate contracts with private agencies that refuse to place children for adoption with same-sex couples. Nessel’s agreement contravenes a previous “child-protection law specifically allowing faith-based agencies to operate according to their religious principles,” according to a Detroit News editorial penned by Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, a legal adviser for The Catholic Association Foundation.

The group targeted by the ACLU’s lawsuit, St. Vincent Catholic Charities, is entrusted with the care of 450 foster children each year. The Federalist’s Nicole Russell reported that in 2017, St. Vincent Catholic Charities “recruited more new adoptive families than nearly 90 percent of the other agencies in its service area.” If Nessel is successful, according to St. Vincent Catholic Charities’ CEO Andrea Seyka, she “would close down Catholic foster and adoption programs across Michigan.”


8. ‘You cannot be a Catholic and sit on the sidelines,’ archbishop says.

By Josephine von Dohlen, Catholic News Service, August 15, 2019, 2:45 PM

In a crowded bar, bustling with young adult Catholics from the Washington area for the monthly Theology on Tap, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory shared his pain over what this archdiocese suffered in the past year due to priestly abuse scandals, and encouraged the young adults to turn to the Eucharist as a source of healing.

“I’m not quite as young as you, but I, too, am let down by the leadership in the church,” Archbishop Gregory said. “I’ve been embarrassed. I’ve been embarrassed as a Catholic, as a priest, and as a bishop, because of the behavior by some of my fellow clerics.”

“When the family has been embarrassed, everyone in the family feels embarrassed, and I do too,” said the 71-year-old archbishop. “I know this past year has been an extraordinarily painful year for Washington.”

Hundreds attended Theology on Tap Aug. 13 to hear from the archbishop, who answered questions ranging from his daily prayer life and his favorite restaurants in Rome, to his conversion story as a young boy in Chicago. He also answered questions about the abuse crisis, inclusivity and sensitivity within the church, and evangelization.

“You cannot be a Catholic and sit on the sidelines,” Archbishop Gregory told the young people. “To be a member of the church means you’ve got to get in and get your hands dirty in the mix of the whole arena of faith from what we believe and profess to how we live and treat one another. … You can’t not invest yourself into this family.”


9. Knights of Columbus Open Critical Conversation for Parents on Child Sex Abuse.

By Peter Jesserer Smith, National Catholic Register, August 15, 2019

The Knights of Columbus is the largest Catholic fraternal association in the world and is opening a conversation among Catholics about child sex abuse: what it is, how to prevent it, and how to respond. Most parents have a hard time engaging the topic, in no small part due to pervasive stereotypes that offer a false reassurance that their family is immune from child sexual abusers.

According to 2016 data from a CDC-Kaiser Permanente study, one in five children (24.7% of women and 16% of men) are sexually abused by the time they turn 18. U.S. Department of Justice information on sexual offenders states that most victims knew their abuser, and approximately 30%-50% of young victims are sexually abused by other youth.


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