1. Bishop orders church faithful back to the pews, Catholic leaders weigh lifting ‘dispensation’ during pandemic, By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, August 19, 2020, Pg. A6

A Mass-free Sunday no more, says the Roman Catholic bishop of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who last week became one of the first prelates in the U.S. to order his flock back to weekly church attendance in the middle of a global pandemic.

Bishop Donald DeGrood asked parishioners in an Aug. 10 letter whether their fear of going to church become of the virus was “morally justifiable.” In the same letter, he removed the general dispensation — or exemption — from mandatory Mass attendance for all parishioners save for the elderly, those with health complications and their caretakers.

The change is believed to be one of the first in the nation among Roman Catholic dioceses, reports Catholic News Agency.


2. Pope: Rich can’t get priority for vaccine, poor need help, By Associated Press, August 19, 2020

Pope Francis on Wednesday warned against any prospect that rich people would get priority for a coronavirus vaccine.

Francis said: “It would be sad if, for the vaccine for Covid-19, priority were to be given to the richest! It would be sad if this vaccine were to become the property of this nation or another, rather than universal and for all.”

He also said it would be scandalous if all the economic assistance in the works, most of it using public funds, ends up reviving industries that don’t help the poor or the environment. He gave four criteria for choosing which industries should be helped: “those which contribute to the inclusion of the excluded, to the promotion of the last, to the common good and the care of creation.”


3. Trump fetal tissue ethics panel urges rejection of nearly all research plans, By Amy Goldstein, The Washington Post, August 19, 2020, Pg. A3

A new advisory board, created to review the ethics of proposed fetal tissue research grants, is urging the Trump administration to block government funding for nearly all of the applications — essentially seeking to ban support for most such scientific work.

The recommendation that the National Institutes of Health withhold funds from all but one of a slate of 14 research proposals means that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who has the final say, would need to buck the will of a board he convened — and of social conservatives crucial to President Trump’s political base — for the projects to get federal support.

The only proposal the board recommended to be funded, on a 9-to-6 vote, is a study that will use fetal tissue to try to validate whether an alternative model works as well. The administration has been encouraging the development of such alternatives.


4. Do We Need a Pro-Life Litmus Test for Supreme Court Nominees?, Sen. Josh Hawley says the GOP should impose an abortion litmus test on judicial nominees to weed out those who have no problem with Roe v. Wade, but critics say it won’t work., By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, August 18, 2020

And as pro-life lawmakers and scholars continue to assess the fallout, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stepped forward to challenge the GOP’s process for vetting Supreme Court nominees, by proposing a litmus test that would confirm a nominee’s stand on Roe v. Wade before his or her nomination.

The refusal to impose such a test is partly due to the fallout from Judge Robert Bork’s failure to win confirmation as President Ronald Reagan’s Supreme Court nominee in 1987, for some political analysts a critical turning point in U.S. politics.

Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network and a seasoned veteran of Supreme Court confirmation fights, raised several related points in an interview with the Register that attacked Hawley’s proposal as unworkable in practice.

Severino worried that the imposition of a litmus test would likely render GOP Supreme Court nominees “unconfirmable,” as Republican senators in solidly Democratic or swing states have been punished by voters for supporting jurists perceived as hostile to Roe.

“Before President Reagan, Republican presidents picked judges based on arm-twisting by senators, political trading, and other non-judicial criteria,” Leonard Leo, a conservative legal movement leader who has advised the last three Republican administrations on judicial selection, told the Register. “What you are seeing now is Trump taking up that mantle and running with it. It is not about ‘outcomes.’ It is a jurisprudential outlook.”

One concrete sign of the progress that has already been made with this approach, added Leo, is that “Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992), among the most important abortion cases in our era, consisted of a five-person Republican majority. In June Medical, there is only one Republican in that majority.”

Pro-life lawmakers “calling for litmus tests, should take stock of where we are. It may not be where we want to be but it’s not fair to say that progress has not been made,” said Leo.

And as the Democrats register their worries about the Supreme Court’s composition and likely threat to Roe, conservative leaders who have helped Trump execute his mission for the courts are asking pro-life Americans to take the long view and celebrate what has been gained and stay the course.

“We just saw a Supreme Court term with 7-2 religious freedom majorities,” said Leo, in a reference to the court’s July 8 vote in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v Morrissey-Barry. and 2019 vote in The American Legion v. American Humanist Association.

“We haven’t seen this run of religious freedom wins in the history of the modern court,” said Leo. “Show me a conservative who would trade today’s Supreme Court with a court populated by [Justices] Souter, Kennedy, and O’Connor.”


5. Cardinal Dolan to offer prayer at Republican National Convention, By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter, August 18, 2020

New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan will offer a prayer during the opening evening of the Republican National Convention Aug. 24.

On Tuesday, a spokesman of the New York Archdiocese confirmed to NCR that the cardinal will offer the prayer.

“As a priest, one of my most sacred obligations is to try and respond positively whenever I am invited to pray. Prayer is speaking to God, offering Him praise, thanking Him for His many blessings, and asking for His intercession; it is not political or partisan,” said Dolan in a statement. “That is why I have accepted an invitation to pray at the Republican National Convention.”


6. Judge blocks HHS rule protecting doctors who object to transgender surgery, By Catholic News Agency, August 18, 2020, 11:21 AM

A federal judge has halted the Trump administration’s rule protecting doctors’ right to object to abortion and transgender surgery, just one day before it was to have taken effect.

U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block issued a preliminary injunction Monday stopping the rule from being enforced until it receives a full court decision.

In issuing the injunction, Block pointed to the Supreme Court’s decision in June which ruled that employers cannot fire workers because of their sexual orientation or self-determined gender identity.


7. Mexico City Policy is working, federal report finds, By Catholic News Agency, August 18, 2020, 1:00 PM

Pro-life conditions on U.S. health aid have not resulted in significant gaps in health care provision, and foreign NGOs have broadly accepted the provisions, multiple federal agencies reported on Tuesday.

The Departments of State and Health and Human Services (HHS), along with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) conducted a review of the administration’s Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy, which conditions U.S. global health assistance on recipients not performing or promoting abortions.

While the policy has existed in the past under the “Mexico City Policy,” the Trump administration expanded its pro-life provisions to apply to more than $8 billion of U.S. foreign aid.


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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