1. Christians targeted in Burkina Faso amid violence by Islamist militants.

By Danielle Paquette, The Washington Post, August 22, 2019, Pg. A12

One evening in late June, gunmen stormed a village in northern Burkina Faso and ordered people who had been chatting outside to lie down. 

 Then the armed strangers checked everyone’s necks, searching for jewelry. They found four men wearing crucifixes — Christians. They executed them.

The killings in Beni, reported by Catholic leadership in the region, followed attacks on churches in the West African nation that have left at least two dozen people dead since February, according to local news reports. It was the second time in as many months that militants singled out worshipers wearing Christian imagery.

A spreading Islamist insurgency has transformed Burkina Faso from a peaceful country known for farming, a celebrated film festival and religious tolerance into a hotbed of extremism. 

The attacks aimed at Christians signal a shift in the militants’ strategy from indiscriminate gunfire to attempts at dividing communities as they seek to quash any trace of Western influence, said Chrysogone Zougmore, president of the Burkinabe Movement for Human and Peoples’ Rights, a victim advocacy group in the country’s capital, Ouagadougou. 

In February, militants sought out and killed a Catholic priest in the eastern town of Bittou, according to local news reports. 


2. Aussie headaches on Pell case could be child’s play compared to Rome’s.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, August 22, 2019

Up to this point, the ire of those who believe Cardinal George Pell is innocent of the charges of child sexual abuse brought against him in his home country has been directed largely at the Australian judiciary, most recently at a Victoria appeals court that upheld his conviction on Wednesday in a 2-1 split decision.

Assuming that ruling holds up, however, such frustration could quickly shift from the Australian system to the Vatican’s, because that’s where the action would be next – and honestly, the heartburn there could be much more intense.

Let’s begin with this: There’s a sizeable swath of Catholic opinion, encompassing both historic friends of Pell and enemies, which regards the charges upon which he was convicted as deeply implausible.

What’s been asserted is that a distinctly high-church liturgical fusspot, which is what Pell has always been, inexplicably broke off from a procession during a Sunday Mass in his own cathedral, surrounded by a phalanx of aides, acolytes and other clergy, to enter a busy sacristy on his own. While there, he supposedly discovered two young choir members also alone, and, without being seen by anyone, proceeded to sexually abuse them. He is alleged to have done this while wearing both a cincture and an alb, rendering the physical actions involved difficult to imagine.

Perhaps all that actually happened, and we may never know for sure. However, most Catholics familiar with the dynamics of a busy cathedral on a Sunday would say the odds against it are awfully long.

Pell now has 28 days to decide if he’ll appeal to the Australian High Court, and it’s anyone’s guess what might happen should he elect to do so.

While we await further developments, here’s a preliminary question to chew over.

Is it possible that as challenging as Wednesday’s ruling may have been for the three justices on the appeals court in Victoria, or as hard as the task awaiting the Australian High Court may be if Pell does indeed submit a filing, all that will seem child’s play compared to the headaches awaiting the Vatican’s own judges, depending on what happens next?


3. Lawsuit accusing ex-bishop of drunken sexual assault settled.

By John Raby, The Associated Press, August 21, 2019, 6:50 PM

A lawsuit accusing the former bishop of West Virginia’s Roman Catholic diocese of molesting boys and men has been settled.

The terms of the recent settlement are confidential, Wheeling-Charleston Diocese spokesman Tim Bishop said in a statement. The diocese declined further comment.

After Bransfield’s resignation, Francis asked Baltimore Archbishop William Lori to oversee the diocese temporarily and complete a full investigation.

Lori has said that Bransfield was able to get away with his behavior for so long because he created a “culture of fear of retaliation and retribution” that weakened normal checks and balances in the diocese. The diocese’s vicars have all resigned and been reassigned to parish work, and Lori recently announced new auditing and other measures to ensure church funds are properly administered.


4. Tennessee abortion waiting period lawsuit headed for trial.

By Kimberlee Kruesi, The Associated Press, August 21, 2019, 1:59 PM

Opponents to a Tennessee law requiring women to wait 48 hours before getting an abortion argue that such restrictions help perpetuate negative stereotypes about gender.

The argument is part of a lengthy lawsuit challenging the legality of the waiting period rule, which Tennessee’s GOP-controlled Statehouse passed in 2015.

 Currently, 34 states require women receive counseling before an abortion and 27 states require women to wait a specific amount of time, according to the Guttmacher Institute — a think tank that supports abortion rights. Only eight states, including Tennessee, prolong the waiting period longer than 24 hours.

After years of slowly navigating through the legal system, the Tennessee case is scheduled to go to trial in federal court in September.


5. Hypocrisy of ‘spiritual tourism’ destroys the Church, pope says.

By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, August 21, 2019

Christians who focus more on being superficially close to the Church rather than care for their fellow brothers and sisters are like tourists who wander around aimlessly, Pope Francis said.

People “who are always passing by but never enter the Church” in a fully communal way of sharing and caring engage in a sort of “spiritual tourism that makes them believe they are Christians but instead are only tourists of catacombs,” the pope said Aug. 21 during his weekly general audience.

Before concluding his talk, the pope prayed that God would “pour out his spirit of tenderness and circulate that truth which nourishes Christian solidarity.”

The sharing of goods, Francis said, is “far from being an activity of social assistance” but rather “the indispensable expression of the nature of the church, the tender mother of all, especially the poorest.”


6. Planned Parenthood Whistleblower Awarded $3 Million for Wrongful Termination.

By Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review – The Corner, August 21, 2019, 4:10 PM

A former Planned Parenthood employee has received $3 million in damages after a jury in Maricopa County, Ariz., determined she had been wrongfully terminated for telling supervisors about unsafe medical practices.

Mayra Rodriguez sued Planned Parenthood Arizona in 2017 just after being fired, which occurred after she had been employed in several of the affiliate’s clinics across the state for well over a decade. At the time that she was fired, she was serving in an administrative role in Planned Parenthood locations in both Glendale, Ariz., and Phoenix.

In her lawsuit, Rodriguez says she was fired after being accused of having narcotics inside her desk, a false allegation that came just on the heels of her complaints about the practices of doctors working inside Planned Parenthood’s Arizona clinics — including the unusually high complication rates for women who obtained abortions from one doctor in particular, who had also been the subject of complaints from five medical assistants.

According to her lawsuit, she made the complaints because she “was concerned about the substantial health, welfare, and safety risks to these patients, as well as the substantial risk to the health, safety, and welfare of the inevitable future of [Planned Parenthood Arizona] patients.”


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