1. Planned Parenthood Exits Federal Program.

By Michelle Hackman, The Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2019, Pg. A3

Planned Parenthood Federation of America said on Monday it would withdraw from the federal Title X family-planning program rather than comply with a new Trump administration rule preventing clinics from referring patients for abortions.

The organization’s decision to forgo federal funding for contraception and other family- planning services, estimated at about $60 million a year across its affiliate clinics, will have a profound impact on the organization’s future and the patients it serves.

The Trump administration first proposed the Title X restrictions last year. The rule called for clinics that received federal family-planning funding to physically separate their abortion services in a separate building from all other services, and not to refer patients for abortions.


2. Planned Parenthood opts out of U.S. subsidies in fight over abortion referrals.

By Brendan O’Brien, Reuters, August 19, 2019, 3:12 PM

Planned Parenthood said on Monday it was withdrawing from a federal program subsidizing reproductive healthcare for low-income women after the Trump administration banned participants in the program from referring women to abortion providers.

“In withdrawing from Title X, Planned Parenthood has made it crystal clear that abortion is its number one priority,” said Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow with the Catholic Association.


3. It Just Got Harder to Get Birth Control.

The New York Times, August 20, 2019, Pg. A22, Editorial

This has been an ominous year for reproductive rights in America, with states including Georgia, Alabama and now Tennessee in a race to the bottom to pass the most extreme anti-abortion law in the nation.

But while those high-profile abortion bans make their way through the courts — they were designed to provoke legal challenges that could threaten Roe v. Wade — a more immediate threat to women’s health care has been brewing. The Trump administration has quietly been working to gut the Title X family planning program, which helps poor women afford birth control, cancer screenings and testing for H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted infections. On Monday, the administration’s efforts paid off: Planned Parenthood, which serves about 40 percent of Title X patients around the country, felt forced to withdraw from the program.

The rule bars facilities that receive Title X money from providing abortions, even with a separate source of money, as has been required by law for decades.

And that’s exactly the point for this administration: to treat abortion as though it were illegal, until perhaps that wishful thinking becomes reality. A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said last week that by leaving Title X, Planned Parenthood is “choosing to place a higher priority on the ability to refer for abortion instead of continuing to receive federal funds to provide a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services.”


4. Cardinal Pell, the highest Vatican official to face justice over abuse, appeals guilty verdict.

By A. Odysseus Patrick, Washington Post Online, August 20, 2019, 4:05 AM

The most senior priest jailed for child abuse in the 2,000-year history of the Catholic Church will face a 21st century form of justice: a decision on his appeal beamed live over the Internet.

Australian Cardinal George Pell will appear before three judges of the Victorian Supreme Court on Wednesday morning in Australia, and learn if he has been able to overturn a conviction for sexually assaulting two choir boys.

Justices Anne Ferguson, Chris Maxwell and Mark Weinberg could uphold the conviction, order a retrial, or dismiss some or all of the charges and allow the 78 year-old to walk out of the court building in downtown Melbourne a free man.


5. Cardinal Pell’s appeal verdict due but may not be final word.

By Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press, August 20, 2019

The most senior Catholic cleric found guilty of sexually abusing children will learn the outcome of his appeal on Wednesday though the verdict still may not be the final word on his convictions for molesting two choirboys in an Australian cathedral more than two decades ago.

The Victoria state Court of Appeal heard arguments from Cardinal George Pell’s lawyers and prosecutors in June. In recognition of the intense public interest, the court is taking the unusual step of livestreaming its judgment on his appeal.

Some observers suspect the long wait for a verdict after the appeals court heard Pell’s case on June 5-6 means the judges were taking time to ensure as best they can that their ruling won’t be overturned in the High Court, Australia’s final arbiter. Both sides can appeal under Australian law, so consideration in the High Court is likely.


6. Pope says popular movements are ‘antidote’ to populism.

By Elise Harris, Crux, August 20, 2019

In a forward for a new book dedicated to the so-called “popular movements” prominent in South America, Pope Francis said the groups are an alternative to the wave of populism spreading through much of global society.

A vocal critic of populist politics, Francis said the “antidote to populism and show-politics is the leading role of organized citizens, especially those who create  – as is the case of so many experiences present in the movements – in their daily lives, fragments of other possible worlds which fight for surviving the darkness of exclusion.”

Rather than a political ploy, popular movements are aimed at building the principles of solidarity and the common good, he said, adding that they demonstrate the “strength of us,” and serve as a remedy to the “culture of the self” which seeks only to satisfy one’s own interests.

Francis’s words came in a forward he wrote for a new book put out by the Vatican’s publishing house.


7. Pope expected to make Thailand visit in November: sources.

By Philip Pullella, Reuters, August 19, 2019, 10:57 AM

Pope Francis is expected to make an official trip to Thailand in November ahead of an already announced visit to Japan, becoming the first pontiff in nearly four decades to go to either country, Vatican sources say.

The three sources said the trip would be announced soon.

The late Pope John Paul visited Japan in 1981 and Thailand in 1984.

Francis’ trip to Japan, which he announced himself in January, will take him to Tokyo as well as the two cities hit by U.S. atomic bombs at the end of World War Two – Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


8. Cardinal Pell’s Groundbreaking Record on Dealing With Clergy Sexual Abuse.

By Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Catholic Register, August 20, 2019

In the discussion of clerical sexual abuse, Cardinal George Pell now occupies a unique place. He is in fact the highest-ranking Catholic official ever to be criminally charged with the sexual abuse of minors. 

The appeals-court verdict, to be delivered Wednesday morning in Melbourne (Tuesday evening in North America), is supremely important, not least for Cardinal Pell’s liberty. But the facts of the case are now widely known, and the appeals-court verdict may not change very many minds. Cardinal Pell, should the conviction be upheld, will remain a man falsely convicted in the considered judgment of many, including this writer.

But before that story dominates the days and weeks ahead, it is important to remember that Cardinal Pell was a key figure in the Church’s sex-abuse scandals long before the current charges were made in 2017. He was, in fact, widely considered to be a pioneering reformer. The travails of the past two years have obscured that.

In two major respects, the Church universal is catching up to where Cardinal Pell was decades ago.

George Pell was named an auxiliary bishop of Melbourne in 1987 and elevated to archbishop in August 1996. Seventy-five days later he established the “Melbourne Response” for victims of alleged sexual abuse.

The Melbourne Response invited victims to come forward, established an independent body to investigate claims and provided apologies, counseling and compensation — at the time, up to $50,000 in Australian currency. (It was later increased to $75,000, and then to $150,000, after Cardinal Pell had left Melbourne.)


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