1. Catholic Journalists Expose a Scandal, and Liberals Scoff, A prominent priest was leading a double life, A scrappy new site called the Pillar held him to account, By Matthew Hennessey, The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2021, Pg. A17, Opinion

On July 20, the Pillar, an eight-month-old Catholic newsletter, published an investigative report that rattled the institutional church, caused a prominent priest to resign from a national leadership position and ignited a fierce debate over privacy, priestly celibacy, homosexuality among the clergy and journalistic ethics.

What came next was perhaps predictable in an American Catholic Church riven by partisan polarization and generational divisions: Prominent liberals promptly and viciously attacked the messengers.

Messrs. Flynn and Condon did their job. They didn’t steal the Grindr data. Nor did they set out to target Msgr. Burrill or any priest. They followed the trail where it led and have been as transparent as possible about their methods short of actually naming their source. There isn’t a media outlet in the country that doesn’t use anonymous sources in its reporting.

The Pillar may be new on the scene, but its journalists have previously broken big stories about financial corruption among Vatican officials. Attacking their methods or slandering them personally doesn’t diminish the uncomfortable truth of what they reported, or its importance.



2. Bigotry and Cares Act Cash, The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2021, Pg. A16, Review & Outlook

A federal lawsuit in South Carolina is taking direct aim at one of the state’s uglier legacies: the Blaine Amendment embedded in its state constitution.

Blaine Amendments are a relic of 19th-century prejudice, and meant to deny public funding for religious (read: Catholic) schools. More recently the state Supreme Court invoked the state’s Blaine language to throw out Gov. Henry McMaster’s plan for grants of up to $6,500 that could be applied to tuition at private and religious schools.

No surprise that the suit against the program was brought by a coalition that included the South Carolina Education Association, a school district and union allies. But now the opposition is fighting back in federal court. In Bishop of Charleston v. Adams, the plaintiffs—the bishop plus South Carolina’s Independent Colleges and Universities—argue that the state’s Blaine Amendment is unconstitutional and has its roots in Benjamin “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman.

The Liberty Justice Center attorneys, who are representing the bishops and the independent colleges, say that while South Carolina’s language may be broader, it shares the same ugly history. Its Blaine Amendment, they say, was “born in bigotry and prejudice based on race and religion” and as such violates the equal protection and free exercise clauses of the Constitution.



3. Pope Francis, Cardinal Sarah address pilgrims in Medjugorje, By Inés San Martín, Crux, August 3, 2021

Often placed in opposite sides of the spectrum by those who see the Church under the lens of politics and ideology, Pope Francis and Cardinal Robert Sarah were the protagonists of an unexpected coincidence Sunday: Both addressed 50,000 youth gathered in the site of an alleged Marian apparition.

Francis made himself present in Medjugorje through a message, signed on July 29 but which was read by the papal representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sunday before Sarah, the former head of the Vatican’s liturgical office, celebrated the opening Mass for the August 1-6 youth gathering.

Medjugorje has long been a bone of contention for many Catholics, since it’s at the center of an alleged, ongoing Marian apparition, that reportedly began 1981. As a general policy, the Vatican doesn’t rule on these events while they are still going on, but this small town in Bosnia-Herzegovina has become a massive pilgrimage site.



4. Can the Catholic Church profit from Italy’s “Summer of Gold?”, By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, August 3, 2021

Fifty years from now, Italians now alive probably will still smile whenever someone mentions the summer of 2021, what’s now being described as the greatest summer in the history of Italian sports, its “summer of gold.”

On that day in Tokyo, in an arc of just ten minutes, Italian athletes won gold medals in two centerpiece track and field events, one of which, the 100-meter dash, had not even seen an Italian in the finals before in the entire 125-year history of the modern Olympic games. Italy had only claimed two previous gold medals in a track event of any kind, one dating to 1960 and the other 1936.

Americans likely will have a hard time imagining the sense of national pride all this has produced. We win a lot, so much so that when we don’t, it’s irritating. Italy, on the other hand, isn’t accustomed to winning all the time, so that when they do, it’s like winning the lottery – something completely unexpected and life-changing.

Today, it’s suddenly fashionable again to be Italian. People here are sort of celebrating all those things that make them who they are – inviting the whole family over for lasagna, dressing smartly to take walks in the city center, organizing expeditions to the beach or the mountains, even getting a lump in the throat whenever they see the national flag, the green, white and red tricolore.

Seen through a Catholic lens, an obvious question about all this beckons: Will that new embrace of Italy’s roots include going to church, or, at least, maybe feeling a tick or two more Catholic?



5. Algerian Christians showing ‘great resilience’ in face of harrassment, By Ngala Killian Chimtom, Crux, August 3, 2021

Christians in the north African country of Algeria are facing increasing harassment, with three churches shut down due to alleged concerns over building safety regulations and the lack of permits.

These church closures appear to be part of a larger scheme to interfere with and ultimately drive out religious minority groups. These closures constitute direct violations of the right to religious freedom, which includes the right to worship in community with others,” said Kelsey Zorzi of Alliance Defending Freedom, which defends religious liberty.

Zorzi directs the organization’s global religious freedom office.



6. A priest’s case proves privacy is a fiction now, Congress’s failure to act permits an insidious data free-for-all, The Washington Post, August 2, 2021, Pg. A18, Editorial

The top administrator of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops resigned last month after a newsletter used data from his cellphone to confirm his use of the dating app Grindr and track his movements to gay bars. Questions about hypocrisy aside, this invasion of an individual’s intimate life should be alarming when it happens to anyone — yet it could easily happen to everyone.

The data-brokerage business is so lucrative because it’s so easy. There are scarcely any limitations on who can sell information, who can buy it and who can sell it all over again. Any thoughtful federal privacy legislation would restrict the data that companies can collect from consumers, as well as what those companies can do with it. Simply selling it to the highest bidder should be out of the question. Otherwise, a society stripped of any expectation of personal privacy pays the price.



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