1. Virginia Gov.’s appointee resigns over social media posts.

The Associated Press, August 29, 2019, 7:23 AM

The Virginia governor’s new appointee to a state council on women’s issues has resigned because of past derogatory comments about Catholics she made on social media.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Gov. Ralph Northam’s appointee, Democratic activist Gail Gordon Donegan, resigned Tuesday from the Virginia Council on Women.

Two Virginia Catholic bishops had called on Donegan to resign after mediareports detailed some of the comments she had made on Twitter.

Some posts mocked Catholics as pedophiles. She also made vulgar comments about Republican politicians. Before she resigned, the corporate lawyer from Alexandria defended her posts, saying her father was severely beaten in Catholic foster homes. She also said her husband is an ex-Catholic “and he’s not offended by my tweets.”


2. HHS accuses Vermont hospital of forcing Catholic nurse to assist in abortion, Medical center says its investigation concluded allegations were baseless.

By Amy Goldstein, The Washington Post, August 29, 2019, Pg. A4

Federal health officials are accusing an academic medical center in Vermont of violating the civil rights of a Catholic nurse by calling on her to assist with an abortion although she had put her name on a list of staffers who objected to participating in the procedure.

The notice of violation, sent Wednesday to the University of Vermont Medical Center, is the latest example of the Trump administration’s focus on protecting “religious freedom” — a core value for antiabortion activists and other social conservatives who are key to the president’s political base.

Manion said his client was not an antiabortion activist but had placed her name on a list of employees objecting to participating in the procedure. The day of the incident, he said, the nurse had scrubbed in and, when she learned the doctor was performing an abortion, was reluctant to leave, fearing that abandoning a patient could jeopardize her license. She asked whether a coworker could replace her, Manion said, and was told that could not happen.


3. Clergy-Abuse Claims Take New Route to Court.

By Ian Lovett, The Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2019, Pg. A3

Pennsylvania’s legislature hasn’t decided if it will join the growing number of states to lift the statute of limitations on victims of childhood sexual abuse, but John Patchcoski decided he wouldn’t wait any longer for his day in court.

On Wednesday, the 57-year-old and three others sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton and two of its bishops. The four men say the same priest abused them all as children. Because Pennsylvania law requires victims of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits before they turn 30, the men are instead suing over an alleged coverup. They accuse the diocese of conspiracy and fraud in hiding systemic abuse that church officials were aware of for decades.


4. In Landmark Ceremony, a Catholic Bishop Is Ordained in China.

By Ian Johnson, The New York Times, August 29, 2019, Pg. A6

A 54-year-old priest who studied in the United States was installed this week as a bishop in China, the first to take office after a landmark deal signed last year between the Vatican and Beijing.

According to Chinese media reports that were confirmed by the Vatican, Msgr. Antonio Yao Shun was installed on Monday as bishop of Jining in the northern Chinese autonomous region of Inner Mongolia.

The ceremony in Jining seemed to signal that Beijing was willing to make compromises as part of the 2018 deal, which was signed last year to facilitate appointing new clergy.

Held in the Our Lady of Rosary Cathedral, the ceremony was attended by an estimated 1,000 faithful and 120 priests. 

The installation follows the deal in September, which was aimed at ending decades of animosity and estrangement between “underground” Catholics loyal to Rome and government-sanctioned churches.


5. HHS: Center made nurse assist in abortion, Pro-life groups praise Trump administration for issuing notice.

By Tom Howell Jr, The Washington Times, August 29, 2019, Pg. A4

The Trump administration accused the University of Vermont Medical Center on Wednesday of violating federal law by forcing a nurse to participate in an elective abortion.

The Health and Human Services Department issued a notice of violation after it investigated the nurse’s complaint from May 2018 and found evidence to support her claim. It also said the center has 30 days to comply with federal policies or risk losing federal funds.

The medical center pledged to work with HHS but said it investigated the claims behind the complaint and found they were “not supported by the facts.” It said it couldn’t go into much detail due to privacy laws.

Federal officials offered a different version. They said the Vermont center knew about the nurse’s objections, yet when she reported to a medical room one day, a doctor said, “You’re going to hate me,” because they were about to perform an abortion.

“This put the nurse in a tremendous moral quandary,” said Roger Severino, who leads the HHS’s Office for Civil Rights. “She asked for relief … but she was told ‘no.’” Mr. Severino said the nurse relented, due to career pressures, and has been “traumatized” ever since.


6. Pence backs Bible display at New Hampshire VA hospital.

The Washington Times, August 29, 2019, Pg. A2

The Bible under bolted glass at the VA Hospital received a hearty note of support from Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday, who spoke to the American Legion national convention in defiance of “politically correct” actions by the Obama administration.

“You might’ve heard even today that there’s a lawsuit to remove a Bible that was carried in World War II from a Missing Man Table at a VA hospital in New Hampshire,” Mr. Pence said in prepared remarks to the American Legion convention in Indianapolis. “Under the last administration, VA hospitals were removing Bibles and even banning Christmas carols in an effort to be politically correct.”

Mr. Pence said in the Trump administration, VA hospitals will not be “religion-free zones.”


7. Cheyenne diocese struggles with abuse revelations about popular bishop.

By Christopher White, Crux, August 29, 2019

[This is part two of Crux’s three-part investigative series into Bishop Joseph Hart, who could become the first U.S. bishop to face criminal prosecution for sexual abuse. Read part one here. Part three will run tomorrow.]

Nearly three decades had passed since Martin last stepped foot inside a Catholic church.

Yet as he sat in the pews of the Cathedral of Saint Mary in Cheyenne for Good Friday service last April, he knew Bishop Steven Biegler was speaking directly to him.

One year prior to that homily, Biegler had flown to New York to say those very words in person to Martin, a pseudonym, who after nearly two decades of unsuccessfully trying to convince both law enforcement and church officials that he was an abuse victim of Bishop Joseph Hart, finally felt some form of vindication by a bishop who believed him.

Yet not only had Biegler believed him, he had taken action – hiring outside investigators to examine claims against Hart, which they found to be credible, barring him from public ministry, and making multiple trips to the Vatican to lobby for swift adjudication.

In June, the diocese announced, and the Vatican confirmed, that Pope Francis had greenlighted a penal process for Hart, who at age 87 could become the second U.S. prelate to be removed from the priesthood in under a year’s time, the other being former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.


8. Catholic Bishops Call on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to Rescind Appointment of Anti-Catholic.

By Michael W. Chapman, CNS News, August 28, 2019, 3:25 PM

The two bishops who lead the two Catholic dioceses in Virginia called on Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to rescind the appointment of liberal activist Gail Gordon Donegan to the Virginia Council on Women because of her well-documented “pattern of ridiculing Catholic beliefs and employing stereotypes designed to malign people of faith.”

Over the years, Donegan has made numerous anti-Catholic comments on Twitter, such as “Abortion is morally indefensible to Catholic priests bcuz it results in fewer children to rape.” On Ash Wednesday in 2011, Donegan tweeted, “Go tell a Catholic they have dirt on their forehead,” and in 2010 she wrote, “Saw a bumper sticker: ‘You can’t be both Catholic & Pro-Choice.’ Add: You can be a pedophile though!”

Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow with The Catholic Association, said, “Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s appointment of an anti-Catholic activist to the state council on women’s issues is the most recent and blatant example of bigotry emanating from the Democratic party’s leadership.

“Unlike other party leaders who have tried to cloak their anti-Catholic bigotry with rhetoric, Northam’s appointee brandishes hers. Her vile tweets ruthlessly mock Catholicism and make plain her disdain for Catholics and all they believe. We call on Governor Northam to withdraw the appointment and apologize to the Catholic community for the insult it represents.”


9. Obeying God key to Christian life, Pope Francis says.

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, August 28, 2019, 4:39 AM

An important aspect of the Christian life is obeying God even when there may be consequences for going against the commands of others, Pope Francis said during the general audience Wednesday.

In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter offers “a key to the Christian life: ‘To obey God instead of men,’” the pope said Aug. 28, adding that “it is the great Christian response.”

Continuing his weekly catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, Pope Francis commented on a passage in chapter five, when the apostles are teaching and performing “signs and wonders” among the people. 


10. In Praise of Today’s Seminarians.

By George Weigel, First Things, August 28, 2019

If you’re feeling a bit down about the future of Catholicism in the United States, ask yourself these questions: Why haven’t American seminaries emptied over the past 16 months, as Crisis 2.0 continues to roil the U.S. Church and an aggressive media regularly puts Catholicism in the worst possible public light? Why haven’t the McCarrick affair, the Pennsylvania grand jury report, the Bransfield affair, and other revelations of episcopal misgovernance (and worse) caused a mass exodus of young men from priestly formation? Can you name another profession, regularly subjected to media ridicule and popular caricature, to which young men are applying in greater numbers than 20 years ago? 

I’ve been in and around seminaries and seminarians for 54 years now. I knew seminaries and seminarians during the Really Bad Patch of the post-conciliar years. And I have watched with admiration as seminary formators—not unlike the relatively junior officers who reformed the U.S. military after the debacle of Vietnam—have taken a set of severe problems in hand and put a venerable institution, essential to the Catholic future, on a much more solid foundation. Is there more to be done, in refining recruitment of students for the priesthood and reforming American seminaries? Undoubtedly (and a few suggestions will follow below). But a great deal has in fact been accomplished in the last 15 years, and it’s important that the people of the Church know it.  

The seminarians I work with know that, in seeking the priesthood of the Catholic Church under 21st-century cultural and political circumstances, they’re taking a great risk, including the risk of martyrdom (which comes in many forms). Their happy embrace of, and their determination to prepare well for, a life of risk is perhaps the most impressive thing about them. They deserve our thanks, our support, and our solidarity in prayer.


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