1. Supreme Court’s split decision for abortion rights gives opponents an unlikely boost, By Richard Wolf, USA Today, August 31, 2020, 5:00 AM
The Supreme Court’s decision in June striking down a Louisiana restriction on abortion clinics is giving abortion opponents an unlikely opportunity in other states.
Officials in Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Oklahoma have in recent weeks argued that the high court’s narrow 5-4 ruling actually bolsters their defense of anti-abortion laws, even though the justices ruled against Louisiana.
The states’ arguments coincide with a federal appeals court decision earlier this month reinstating several abortion restrictions in Arkansas, which was based in part on the Supreme Court’s seemingly pro-choice ruling.
The flurry of activity in federal and state courts is largely due to Chief Justice John Roberts’ concurring opinion in the Louisiana case – one that doomed the state’s restrictions on abortion clinics and doctors but rebutted the standard used by the court’s four liberal justices.
2. The Year of School Choice, The GOP convention reveals a pubic awakening on education., By The Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2020, 7:10 PM, Editorial
The 2020 Republican convention focused on issues in a way that the Democratic parley did not. Perhaps most striking was the impassioned—and repeated—demand for school choice. No convention had ever featured speaker after speaker who promoted choice in human and moral terms.
Like the virtual convention format, this owes something to Covid-19. As parents, teachers, principals and students have adapted to the pandemic, too many traditional public schools have been far less nimble in serving students than have charters, private and religious schools. Many parents are realizing this won’t change as long as funding is tied to buildings and bureaucracies rather than students.

Nothing matters more to social justice than educational opportunity, and too many public schools fail to provide it. School choice is the real civil-rights issue of our time, and the GOP deserves credit for making it a marquee part of its 2020 agenda.
3. What happens when pandemic locks down a globe-trotting pope?, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, August 30, 2020
On the March day that Italy recorded its single biggest jump in coronavirus fatalities, Pope Francis emerged from lockdown to offer an extraordinary prayer and plea to his flock to reassess their priorities, arguing the virus had proved they needed one another.
Francis’ words from the rain-slicked promenade of St. Peter’s Basilica encapsulated the core messages he has emphasized during his seven-year pontificate: solidarity, social justice and care for the most vulnerable.
But the dramatic moment also underscored how isolated the pope had become during the COVID-19 emergency and a sustained season of opposition from his conservative critics: He was utterly alone before an invisible enemy, preaching to a hauntingly empty piazza.
4. As veep nominees, Mike Pence and Kamala Harris could not be more different, By Maureen Ferguson, The Washington Examiner, August 30, 2020, 12:00 AM, Opinion
Happily, both vice presidential candidates in 2020 have long records of public service. It’s therefore easy to imagine what life would be like under a President Mike Pence or a President Kamala Harris.
For people of faith and Catholics in particular, the contrast between Pence and Harris could not be more stark. In terms of their attitudes toward faith communities and their policy positions on issues of foundational importance, these two potential presidents could not be further apart.
Pence grew up in a devout Catholic family, one of six children. While he now considers himself an evangelical Christian, Pence speaks fondly of the faith of his youth: “My Catholic faith poured an eternal foundation in my life. … I was the beneficiary of an extraordinary Catholic education. … I want you all to know how much I cherish my Catholic upbringing and cherish the Church.”

Pence’s policy positions also align with that of the Church on foundational issues. They reflect a shared vision of the dignity of the human person.

As California’s attorney general, Harris sought to force the Christian family-owned business Hobby Lobby to include abortifacient drugs in its healthcare plan. She also used the weight of her attorney general’s office to prosecute aggressively and unfairly a citizen journalist who went undercover to expose Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the ghoulish market of aborted babies’ organs.
As a senator on the Judiciary Committee, Harris has displayed remarkable intolerance toward Catholics who have come before her committee. … Harris also co-sponsored a bill to gut the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the long-standing law that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and is of vital importance to people of faith.
Given the heightened importance of the vice presidential nominees this election year, a deeper dive into each candidate’s record is worthwhile. The country has gotten to know Pence pretty well over the past four years. It’s critical to envision life under Harris. She has acted time and again on her views that faithful Catholics are unfit to serve, First Amendment religious liberty protections ought to be rolled back, and the unborn child has no rights whatsoever. Harris has been dubbed the “ringleader of anti-Catholic bullying” in the Senate, and she leaves little doubt as to how she would use the power of the presidency.
Maureen Ferguson is a senior fellow for the Catholic Association.
5. Bishop Barron defends Junipero Serra: Evangelization is not ‘cultural aggression’, By Catholic News Agency, August 30, 2020, 4:00 AM
Bishop Robert Barron this week delivered a homily in support of St. Junipero Serra, an 18th century Franciscan missionary whose legacy has drawn renewed scrutiny in recent months from some who consider him a symbol of an oppressive colonial system.
“We are gathered here today in defense of the statue,” Barron said in an  Aug. 22 homily at Mission Santa Inés.
“The Church understands the very legitimate concerns of some of the protestors. Yes we are concerned about racism, oppression, righting social wrongs,” the bishop said, as well as amplifying voices that might otherwise go unheard.
“What I don’t understand is besmirching the reputation and memory of this great saint, represented by this statue,” he added, to applause from the congregation, which included Franciscan friars, members of the religious order to which Serra belonged.
“People are laying at the feet of Junipero Serra everything that bugs them about 18th-century Spanish colonialism. And let’s be honest— there was plenty wrong with 18th-century Spanish colonialism,” Barron said.
“But I refuse to accept the characterization of evangelization as a kind of cultural aggression.”
6. Celebrating the anonymous change-makers in the Church, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, August 30, 2020, Opinion
For most of my adult life, I’ve believed the following quote came from President Ronald Reagan: “There’s no limit to the good someone can do if they don’t care about getting the credit.”

There’s something fitting about it having been a Catholic priest who coined the famous phrase about being able to accomplish great things as long as you don’t want the credit, because of all environments on earth where that’s true, the Vatican merits a special pride of place.
Every now and then, the top ranks of Vatican officials may achieve a kind of celebrity.

In general, however, and especially below the ranks of the cardinals and archbishops, Vatican officials live and move in the shadows. Maybe they occasionally appear on a panel at a conference, maybe they give the odd interview to a media outlet, but for the most part they can walk down the street, move through airports and go to the movies untroubled.

It takes a special kind of courage – one might almost call it faith – to plug away, year after year, without really caring if someone ever applauds you for it.
Of course, not everyone I’m describing is pulling in the same direction. Some are conservatives, quietly trying to make the case for tradition, and others are more progressive, trying to push the envelope as far as they believe it’s presently prepared to go. What unites them are two points: First, a conviction that the institution, whatever its faults, is worth serving; and second, that accolades and renown are less important than results.
The Catholic Church already has a feast of All Saints, primarily intended for all those women and men who’ve never been formally canonized but who nevertheless quietly lived lives of exceptional holiness. Maybe we also need a feast of All Officials, designed for that vast anonymous legion of women and men who, over the centuries, have tried to do enormous good from the inside, without caring about who gets the credit.
7. Thinking ahead about the Supreme Court, and folly of countering judicial activism with litmus tests, By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, The Washington Times, August 30, 2020
President Trump surprised America during his 2016 campaign by offering a list of candidates to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. He has promised to publish a “refreshed list” in September. Thinking ahead about the high court makes sense. Given that several justices are over 70, whoever is elected president will almost certainly have the opportunity to fill a seat or two.
The nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court justices has become a brutal business, to be sure. When those in charge of the process respect the independence of the judiciary, the results have been good for religious freedom and “conscience rights” — the right of Americans to act in accordance with their consciences even if society as a whole disagrees with them.
Those rights were upheld as recently as this July, when the Supreme Court intervened on behalf of an order of Catholic nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Some Republicans seem to think that the way to counter judicial activists’ game is by imposing litmus tests. The Republican politician attempting to lead his party down this path is Sen. Josh Hawley from Missouri, at 40 the youngest member of the Senate.

Although Mr. Hawley has not been the one to point this out, recently appointed justices who were not subjected to an outcome-based litmus test before joining the bench have been consistent in protecting religious freedom and rights of conscience — not just for the Little Sisters of the Poor.

When we select judges based on their broader commitment to constitutionalism, as we have seen recently, the rights of Americans who find themselves under intolerable pressure to speak or act against their convictions are upheld. In contrast, the litmus tests promoted by Mr. Hawley and liberals before him don’t just compromise judges. They stop them from being judges at all.
Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is director of the Conscience Project, an organization advancing conscience rights through public education and amicus support in religious freedom cases.
8. Religious Groups Rip Rice for Pompeo Criticism, Religious freedom groups say criticism of ‘overt’ faith runs afoul of constitutional protections, By Graham Piro, The Washington Free Beacon, August 28, 2020, 3:00 PM
Religious liberty groups raised alarms that top Biden campaign surrogate Susan Rice’s attack on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “overt” faith could lead to future discrimination against believers.
Catholic and religious liberty groups criticized Rice’s comments for targeting Pompeo’s faith after she told MSNBC on Wednesday that “Mike Pompeo has been an overtly religious secretary of state, which in itself is problematic.”

“In criticizing Secretary Pompeo for being open about his faith, Ambassador Susan Rice perpetuates the Democratic Party’s pattern of anti-religious bigotry,” Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association, told the Washington Free Beacon.
9. Catholics resume First Communions and baptisms outdoors, By Alejandra Molina, Associated Press, August 28, 2020, 3:56 PM
Catholic churches in California have been resuming baptism, First Communion and Mass services outdoors after a series of COVID-19 closures shut down indoor church services in most of the state. California churches were allowed to reopen late May with attendance limitations, but along with businesses and other public indoor spaces, were once again shuttered mid-July as COVID-19 cases surged across the state.
10. Republican National Convention Features Strong Pro-Life Message, In a striking contrast to last week’s Democratic National Convention, during which the abortion issue was never mentioned at all, numerous RNC speakers, including President Trump, directly referenced it in their remarks., By Lauretta Brown, National Catholic Register, August 28, 2020
The Republican National Convention this week prominently featured the message that life begins at conception and that abortion is the taking of that innocent human life in the womb.
At an RNC with perhaps the most vocal pro-life message ever, speakers discussed the medical realities of abortion and spoke out against late-term abortion.
And the week culminated in a pro-life message from President Donald Trump, who made the abortion issue a part of his speech on Thursday evening while accepting the Republican nomination for the presidency. “Tonight,” he said, “we proudly declare that all children, born and unborn, have a God-given right to life.”

While Sister Deirdre referenced the science of life at conception, Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood business director-turned-pro-life speaker, described Tuesday her conversion to the pro-life movement after witnessing an ultrasound-guided abortion.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a pro-life physician and policy adviser for The Catholic Association, told the Register of Johnson’s speech that “Abby Johnson spoke as one who has witnessed firsthand the violence and tragedy of abortion. As a radiologist who regularly sees 13-week-old babies via ultrasound, I can say that, although small, he or she has all of his or her perfectly recognizable parts and organs: head, face, limbs, spine, liver, stomach, even sex organs. The destruction of such a tiny human being would leave a deep and lasting impression on anyone involved.”
11. Vatican confirms World Mission Sunday will take place amid pandemic, By Courtney Mares, August 28, 2020, 8:30 AM
The Vatican confirmed Friday that World Mission Sunday will take place as scheduled Oct. 18, underlining the importance of evangelization and support for the Church’s mission territories amid the pandemic.
“The missionary energy of the people of God remains preeminent. Faith, in fact, by its nature is missionary and the celebration of World Mission Day serves to keep alive in all the faithful this essential dimension of the Christian faith,” the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples said in a statement Aug. 28.
12. Boston Catholic priest apologizes for ‘right to choose’ statements, By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency, August 28, 2020, 10:30 AM
A Boston priest has apologized for a social media post in which he said he believes in the “right to choose” and endorsed former vice president Joe Biden. The post, made Sunday, received widespread media attention and prompted a statement from Cardinal Sean O’Malley.
“Please accept my apology for the confusion and upset caused by the Facebook post concerning the presidential election and expectant women carrying their children to birth,” wrote Monsignor Paul Garrity, pastor of the Lexington Catholic Community parish, on Facebook the evening of August 27.
13. In Sr. Deirdre Byrne RNC speech, CNN translates ‘pro-life’ as ‘anti-abortion’, By Catholic News Agency, August 28, 2020, 11:30 AM
The Spanish-language broadcast of a Catholic sister’s speech at the Republican National Convention this week replaced the words “pro-life,” with “anti-abortion,” a move that raises questions about the integrity of the broadcast.
In an Aug. 26 speech at the Republican National Convention, Sister Deirde Byrne used the phrase “pro-life” three times: once in reference to herself, once in reference to President Donald Trump, and once in reference to “America’s pro-life community.”
In all three cases, news network CNN en Español translated the phrase as “anti-aborto,” or “anti-abortion,” during its broadcast of the speech.

“Pro-vida” is a commonly used Spanish-language idiom, used analogously to the English-language idiom “pro-life.” Proponents of the phrase say it is evocative of a broad commitment to the dignity of human life, and that “anti-abortion” is a comparatively reductive rendering which does not convey the same meaning.
14. Canadian appeal court to hear case of hospice refusing to offer euthanasia, By Catholic News Agency, August 28, 2020, 2:26 PM, 12:01 PM
The British Columbia Court of Appeal has agreed to hear a case of a hospice trying to preserve its historical opposition to participation in the provision of euthanasia.
The Delta Hospice Society is due to lose $1.5 million in funding from the Fraser Health Authority, a public health care authority in British Columbia, and its permission to operate as a hospice, in February 2021.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide were legalized federally in Canada in June 2016. As of April 2019, at least 6,749 Canadians had died of euthanasia or assisted suicide.
The hospice’s case regards its efforts to hold a meeting and vote on proposed changes to its constitution and bylaws that would define its Christian identity and exclude the provision of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

TCA Media Monitoring provides a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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