1. Jimmy Lai, a Man for All Seasons, When a billionaire becomes a dissident, the takeover of Hong Kong is complete, By William McGurn, The Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2020, Pg. A15, Opinion

Taped on the wall by my desk is a photo of Jimmy Lai in handcuffs. It was taken a week ago, the day 200 Hong Kong police raided his Apple Daily newspaper and arrested him. It is my most treasured photo of Jimmy, who also happens to be my godson, having been baptized in 1997 just before the handover of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty. The point is that though the handcuffs were intended to humiliate him, every man, woman and child in Hong Kong saw them for what they were: a badge of honor.

Soon Jimmy will go to trial on charges from sedition to colluding with foreign powers. It’s utter rot, of course. If he finds himself facing prison, it is only because Communist China, for all its size and power, fears any Chinese who insists on speaking the truth.

As a billionaire, Jimmy could easily have escaped arrest and an almost certain prison sentence. He could have trimmed Apple’s editorial sails, sold it off, or simply remained at one of his residences abroad where the authorities couldn’t touch him.

But anyone who thought this a real possibility doesn’t know Jimmy Lai. He is where he is today because he chose handcuffs and arrest rather than run away or abandon his convictions. All Hong Kong knows this. They also know that if even a billionaire isn’t safe, no one is.

In any just society, Jimmy Lai would not be threatened. But Hong Kong is no longer such a society. In its place we are left with the powerful witness of a good man willing to give up everything except his principles, even if it means trading in the life of a billionaire for the prison cell of a Chinese dissident.


2. Poll Finds Catholics Divided by Race and Party in 2020 Election, By Catholic News Agency, August 18, 2020

A new Pew Research poll shows white and Hispanic Catholics split over who they will vote for in the 2020 presidential elections.

According to a survey of 11,001 American adults conducted in July and August, released August 13, Pew found clear differences among racial groups within religious denominations over who they supported in the upcoming presidential election.

Pew found that registered voters who identify as white Catholics planned to support President Donald Trump by a margin of 19 points; 59% to 40%. Of those survey respondents who said they were supporting Trump in November, 42% said they “strongly” favored Trump. Only half of Joe Biden’s white Catholic supporters said they were “strongly” supporting the former vice president.

Conversely, among registered voters who identified as Hispanic Catholics, only 33% said they were supporting Trump, with 20% of those saying they “strongly” supported the president’s reelection. Sixty-five percent of Hispanic Catholics surveyed said they supported Biden, with 23% of those saying that they “strongly” supported the candidate.


3. Catholic anti-abortion leaders scrutinize priest’s decision to lead prayer at DNC, Some Catholic anti-abortion leaders are concerned about Fr. James Martin’s decision to speak at the DNC, By Sam Dorman, Fox News, August 17, 2020

A host of Catholic anti-abortion leaders are expressing concern about Fr. James Martin’s decision to speak at the Democratic National Convention (DNC), because they argue the party has embraced political positions that are antithetical to Church teaching.

Biden further complicated his appeal to Catholics when he teamed up with Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., his running mate whom The Catholic Association senior fellow Maureen Ferguson accused of “anti-Catholic bigotry.”

“The Democrats know they have a Catholic-problem because the Biden-Harris ticket has demonstrated complete disregard for the lives of unborn children and an aggressive stance against religious liberty. Kamala Harris’ history of anti-Catholic bigotry only adds insult to injury,” she told Fox News. Harris and her colleague, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, previously came under fire for the way they questioned a judicial nominee’s ties to the Knights of Columbus, which is anti-abortion, and has taken conservative positions on other social issues.

Harris led what some have described as an unlawful prosecution against David Daleiden, whose undercover videos famously prompted federal and state probes into Planned Parenthood.


4. On Biden, Abortion and Communion, Ed Condon, National Catholic Register, August 17, 2020

At a previous ecclesiastical stop on the campaign trail last year, a South Carolina priest denied Biden Communion for his public stance on abortion.

A predictable section of the media, both secular and Catholic, rushed to condemn the Charleston priest for “politicizing” the Eucharist and supposedly wielding Communion as a stick to beat the poor former VP.

Just as predictably, most commentators either mangled or ignored the clear teaching of the Catholic Church — and the standing policy in the local diocese — that those like Biden who “consistently support abortion on demand are cooperating with evil in a public manner” and “especially those running for or elected to public office are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

“Jesus ate with sinners!” they said, and will again. Indeed, he did. The Eucharist is not a reward for the righteous, they quote Pope Francis as saying, again correctly.

But, of course, neither is Communion just a symbol, a matter of “eating with” or a badge of belonging. It is — if you believe in what the Catholic Church teaches — the actual Body and Blood of Christ, and taking it while in a state of grave sin does one grave spiritual harm. It is for this reason, among others, that priests should not admit politicians like Biden to Communion — not just as punishment, but to prevent them doing further harm to themselves.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has previously pointed out that many pro-abortion Catholic politicians, like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, are essentially hoping for the condemnation of the Church so they can present themselves as “proud to dissent” and “as a kind of martyr to the cause.”

It’s the politicians who are the ones playing politics with the sacraments, the thinking runs, and giving them the progressive merit badge of being condemned by the Church would be counterproductive.


But this studied stance by many bishops risks playing politics with the sacrament right along with the politicians. It can give the impression that even though it may endanger Biden’s soul to receive the sacrament while professing views that place him outside a state of grace, that’s his problem not theirs. It does not project a clear message of pastoral concern for Biden, the sacrament or the wider community.

Of course, it is understandable that many bishops want to shy away from publicly confronting politicians about their faith. But while many say they have privately told them to refrain from presenting themselves to Communion, it seems to have had little effect.

Meanwhile, giving the impression that politics trumps Church teaching sends a message about what Catholics should put first — a message Joe Biden and others have already taken to heart. 

Ed Condon is a canon lawyer and the Washington bureau chief of Catholic News Agency.


5. Trump rule on transgender health blocked at the 11th hour, By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press, August 17, 2020, 6:20 PM

A federal judge blocked the Trump administration on Monday from enforcing a new regulation that would roll back health care protections for transgender people.

Finalized days after the Supreme Court barred sex discrimination against LGBT individuals on the job, the regulation from the federal Department of Health and Human Services was to have taken effect Tuesday.

Monday’s preliminary injunction from U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block in Brooklyn bars the administration from enforcing the regulation until the case can be heard in court and decided.


6. Letter from lawmakers urges Democrats to make room for pro-lifers, ‘moderate’ abortion position, By Julie Asher, Catholic News Service, August 17, 2020

About 100 current and former Democratic lawmakers from several states urged the Democratic Party’s Platform Committee Aug. 14 “to moderate its official position on abortion,” saying many party leaders support abortion policies “radically out of line with public opinion.”

“Many Democratic leaders support abortion at any time, for any reason; this position is opposed by 79% of Americans,” said the letter, posted on the website of Democrats for Life. It was sent three days ahead of the start of the virtual Democratic National Convention Aug. 17-20.

Signers included Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and two former governors, Bill Ritter of Colorado and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who also is a former U.S. senator; 57 state legislators, including Sen. Katrina Jackson of Louisiana, who sponsored the bill overturned by the Supreme Court in June that required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at hospitals near the clinic where they did abortions; several U.S. senators and U.S. House members; elected county officials; and Democratic Party leaders around the country.


7. Cardinal Pell speaks on maintaining hope in prison, Vatican finances, By Catholic News Agency, August 17, 2020, 4:20 PM

Cardinal George Pell, who was acquitted this year after becoming the highest-ranking Catholic cleric ever to be convicted of sexual abuse, spoke this week about how he maintained hope during his 400 days in prison.

“The virtue of Christian hope is different than Christian optimism. No matter what your circumstances are in this life, eventually all will be well. A good God is in charge, even though terrible things happen,” Pell, 79, said in an interview aired Aug. 16.

Inefficiency and corruption have hurt the Vatican for years, he said, citing the recent London property scandal as an example of a situation that typifies both.

The Church is not a business, he stressed; those in leadership roles in the Church must be very strong and vigilant against corruption.

Still, he expressed some optimism that the Vatican’s Council for the Economy— to which Pope Francis appointed 13 new members, including six women, in April— will be successful in rooting out corruption by taking a “firm stand on the basic issues.”

“Most if not all of the crooks are out of the system,” he opined.


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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!
“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.