1. Nicaragua’s never ending crackdown, The Ortega government goes after Catholic clergy., By The Washington Post, August 24, 2022, Pg. A20, EditorialDictatorship, and resistance to it, are recurrent themes of Central America’s history. Crucial to that story has been the role of the Roman Catholic Church, still the largest Christian denomination in the region, whose priests, nuns and bishops have offered support — material and moral — to democratic movements, often at the risk of punishment or death. The latest dictator to bully and threaten church leaders for political reasons is Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega. On Aug. 19, Mr. Ortega’s police arrested the Rev. Rolando Álvarez, the bishop of the country’s seventh-largest city, and placed him under house arrest in Managua, the capital. Meanwhile, five priests and two seminarians were sent to the notorious jail for political prisoners, El Chipote. This attack on the country’s preeminent religious institution is a major escalation of repression that leaders from Washington to Rome must condemn and counteract.  Thus far, the Vatican has looked to avoid confrontation in its response to the Ortega regime’s assault. Consistent with that, the pope said Sunday that events in Nicaragua give him “worry and pain,” but he did not condemn or even mention the arrests specifically, calling instead for “open and sincere dialogue.” Bishop Baez, by contrast, tweeted: “With a pained, indignant heart I condemn the nighttime kidnapping of Monsignor Álvarez. Once again, the dictatorship has surpassed even its own evil and its diabolical spirit.” Speaking truth to power that way might not be enough to end repression in Nicaragua by itself. But there can’t be progress without it. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/08/23/nicaragua-catholic-church-repression-ortega/__________________________________________________________ 2. Nicaragua Silences Final Group Of Government Critics: Priests, By Anatoly Kurmanaev, The New York Times, August 24, 2022, Pg. A1 He was the most prominent voice of protest in Nicaragua, using his pulpit to denounce the government’s detention of opponents and suppression of civic rights. Then, last week, the government came for him. Bishop Rolando Álvarez was arrested after the police raided his residence and put him under home confinement and eight of his companions in jail. The shocking arrest of Bishop Álvarez on Friday, the most senior clergyman to be detained in Latin America for political views in decades, was the latest and most aggressive move by Nicaragua’s president, Daniel Ortega, against the Roman Catholic Church. Until now, it was the only institution that had escaped his control after 15 years of uninterrupted rule. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/23/world/americas/nicaragua-catholic-church-daniel-ortega.html__________________________________________________________ 3. Abortion ‘trigger’ bans to take effect in multiple states this week. What do they change?, By Bill Keveney, USA Today, August 24, 2022, 5:00 AM New laws banning abortion are are scheduled to take effect Thursday in three states – Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas – two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion. Two more states, North Dakota and Idaho, could also put in place more restrictive abortion laws this week, depending on upcoming judicial rulings.  What is happening and why? All but the Oklahoma legislation are the result of so-called “trigger” laws, bills approved in the past to ban abortion that would take effect – i.e., be triggered – only if the Supreme Court overturned Roe and gave states the power to severely limit or even outlaw the procedure.  How many states have bans? Are more bans coming? Thirteen states have trigger bans that have taken effect, are scheduled to or are being reviewed by the courts. They already have taken effect in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and South Dakota. Without Roe, some project as many as 26 states will restrict or ban abortion at some point short of viability.  The laws going into effect this week basically amount to a near-total ban on abortion.  https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2022/08/24/abortion-trigger-bans-texas-tennessee-idaho-roe/10341496002/__________________________________________________________ 4. Why Pope Francis’ Vatican bank order is a big deal, By Ed. Condon, The Pillar, August 23, 2022 Pope Francis issued a rescript Tuesday emphasizing that all Vatican departments and institutions are required to move their investments and cash to the Institute for Works of Religion, commonly called the Vatican Bank, within the next few weeks. At first glance, the document appeared to be little more than a “hurry up” legal memo to curial departments, giving them until the end of September to finish bringing their cash and investments back into the Vatican’s own institutions from outside banks and accounts. But a close read the short text points to something else. It turns out Francis’ order on Tuesday could be one of the more significant financial policy changes of his pontificate.  The rescript says that Francis is providing an “authentic interpretation” of some norms from the pope’s new apostolic constitution governing the Roman curia, Praedicate Evangelium. But the “interpretation” actually changes part of the law completely — barely five months after Praedicate Evangelium itself was issued. The changes appear to strip away a major area of competence from APSA, the Holy See department which acts as sovereign wealth fund, contracting body, and paymaster for the curia. Francis has spent several years building up APSA as the central investment manager for the Vatican. But Tuesday’s reform appears to transfer management of all assets and investments, apart from the Holy See’s real estate portfolio, away from APSA and over to the IOR, which isn’t even a curial department at all, strictly speaking. And all this was done even without a singular mention of APSA in the text of the rescript itself. Francis’ change could also have a dramatic impact on financial accountability in the Vatican, and bring nearly all curial financial affairs under international oversight. And to accomplish that, the pope issued a “clarification” which instructed Vatican authorities to read a law to mean something totally different to what its text actually says. https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/why-pope-francis-vatican-bank-order__________________________________________________________

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