1. Abortion Pills Should Be Everywhere.

By Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times, August 4, 2019, Pg. SR4, Opinion

The pills looked unremarkable; tiny, white, round, they did not betray what some abortion-rights advocates say are their epic possibilities. Mifepristone was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration nearly 20 years ago. Used in combination with misoprostol for pregnancies of up to 10 weeks, the pills are more than 97 percent effective.

But in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has imposed severe limits on mifepristone’s distribution. It can be prescribed only by doctors who meet certain qualifications, and can be dispensed only in clinics licensed to provide abortions, not retail pharmacies.

Yet thanks to the digital handiwork of an emerging faction within the global reproductive-rights movement, restrictions on abortion pills are becoming increasingly difficult to enforce.

But the pills aren’t just a way to evade today’s restrictions on abortion. Some activists argue that they can also remake tomorrow’s politics surrounding abortion — that the very presence of the underground market could force the authorities to loosen restrictions on abortion pills, eventually paving the way for an alternative vision for terminating a pregnancy in the United States: the inexpensive, safe, very early, private, at-home, picket-line-free, self-managed medical abortion.


2. The Artificial Womb Revolution, The Abortion Debate Is Stuck. Are Artificial Wombs the Answer?, The technology would allow fetuses to develop outside the female womb so women would no longer have to be pregnant.

By Zoltan Istvan, The New York Times, August 4, 2019, Pg. SR4, Opinion
Mr. Istvan writes and lectures about transhumanism. 

Could an emerging technology reshape the battle lines in the abortion debate? Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, that fight has been defined by the interlocking, absolute values of choice and life: For some, a woman’s right to choose trumps any claim to a right to life by the fetus; for others, it’s the reverse. But what if we could separate those two — what if a woman’s choice to terminate a pregnancy no longer meant terminating the fetus itself?

Artificial human wombs are still far in the future, and there are of course other ethical issues to consider. But for now, the technology is developed enough to raise new questions for the abortion debate.

Obviously, the idea that science could short-circuit a moral debate is discomforting for some. As artificial wombs improve, biobags are likely to become a hot-button topic for conservatives, who will have to decide how far they want to use technology to accomplish their ethical goals.

It is unlikely that the abortion debate will be resolved soon — certainly not as a legal matter. But as a practical and philosophical one, artificial wombs offer a way for both sides in the debate to move forward. The only question is whether we are willing to accept the increasingly central — and beneficial — role that technology can play in resolving what were once considered immutable human problems.


3. Pope encourages priests disheartened by sex abuse fallout.

The Associated Press, August 4, 2019, 9:21 AM

Pope Francis on Sunday sent a new letter to priests worldwide offering encouragement in light of the global sex abuse scandal that has shaken the Roman Catholic Church.

In a nearly 5,000-word letter sent on the feast day of St. John Vianney, patron of parish priests, the pope on Sunday acknowledged the “pain” of priests who “feel themselves attacked and blamed for crimes they did not commit.”

Francis said the Church is “fully committed” to reforms to ensure “that the culture of abuse will have no time to develop, much less continue.” He added that “if in the past, omission may itself have been a kind of response, today we desire conversion, transparency, sincerity and solidarity with the victims.”


4. Anti-Christian carnage in Nigeria could be global security nightmare.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, August 4, 2019

Nigeria is not the Middle East – Christians aren’t a tiny minority, they’re at least half of Africa’s most populous nation of 200 million, and their patience can’t be expected to be infinite. If Christians in Nigeria were ever to decide to take the fight to the enemy, the resulting violence could make the Christian/Muslim carnage in the nearby Central Africa Republic, which left thousands dead and produced almost a million refugees and displaced persons, seem a mere spat.

That background comes to mind in light of news on Friday that another Catholic priest has been killed in Enugu State in Nigeria’s southeast, with local church sources reporting they believe the attack was carried out by Fulani. Father Paul Offu became the third Catholic priest murdered in the area over the past five months.

Overall, the Jubilee Campaign, which advocates for religious freedom worldwide, recently submitted a report to the International Criminal Court claiming that Fulani assaults on Christian farming communities in Nigeria meet the international standard for a “genocide.” Their data claim that 52 such attacks took place between the beginning of 2019 and mid-June. The Nigerian-based civil society group International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law asserts that some 2,400 Christians were killed by the Fulani in 2018 alone.

Sooner or later, the international community will be forced to recognize that the fate of Nigeria’s Christian population isn’t just a human rights issue – though it’s certainly that – but also a major global security concern.


5. Surprise convent visit highlights pope’s outreach to nuns, women.

By Elise Harris, Crux, August 4, 2019

Pope Francis’s surprise visit to the Vincentian Daughters of Charity last Sunday was not only another illustration of his personal affection for those around him, but it also shed light on the order itself, which has a history of serving popes and which seems to be emerging as a Francis favorite.

Not only do the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul run the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse, where Francis resides, but on July 8 he named the order’s superior general, Sister Kathleen Appler, a full member of the so-called Congregation for Religious.

In comments to Crux, Sister Patricia Murray, executive secretary of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), praised the attention Francis has shown toward women religions in general during his time in office. The Daughters of Charity are members of the UISG.

“We have appreciated greatly Pope Francis’s increased interaction with religious sisters. His approach is warm and authentic, and there has been real dialogue and openness,” Murray said.

Not only has Francis increased the number of women religious inside Vatican departments, including the appointment of Appler and six other women to the Congregation for Religious, but they now also have seats at high-level meetings previously only open to men as full participants, Murray said.

Among these meetings is the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, which will be attended by 20 religions sisters, half of whom were named by the UISG.


6. Pope Francis prays for victims of shootings in U.S.

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, August 4, 2019, 4:35 AM

Pope Francis Sunday remembered the victims, and the families of the victims, of recent shootings in Texas, California, and Ohio, asking for prayers.

“I am spiritually close to the victims of the episodes of violence that these days have bloodied Texas, California and Ohio, in the United States, affecting defenseless people,” the pope said Aug. 4, after the recitation of the Angelus.

“I invite you to join in my prayer for those who have lost their lives, for the wounded and for their families,” Francis said. He then led those present in St. Peter’s Square in praying a ‘Hail Mary’ for the victims.

A shooting in Dayton, Ohio, in the early hours of Aug. 4, killed at least nine people and injured 16, according to CNN.

Twenty people were killed and another 26 wounded Aug. 3 when a gunman opened fire in a shopping area in El Paso, Texas, according to the Associated Press.


7. For elite D.C. school, slaves were a business Nuns’ deals helped build Georgetown Visitation.

By Hannah Natanson, The Washington Post, August 3, 2019, Pg. A1

It was common knowledge that the founding nuns owned slaves, but school lore has held that the sisters allowed enslaved children to attend Saturday school and defied the law by teaching them how to read. The 65-page report, which the school has made available online, details the businesslike efficiency with which the nuns sold scores of enslaved people to pay off debts and fund new buildings.

Georgetown Visitation sisters owned at least 107 enslaved people, including men, women and children, from a year after its founding until 1862, when the federal government made slavery illegal in the District, the report found.


8. When the Market Meets Morality, Rev. Robert A. Sirico has spent decades defending capitalism from the left, Today the attacks come from the right too.

By William McGurn, The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2019, Pg. A11, The Weekend Interview

Like most parish priests, the pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church has plenty to do keeping the pews full and his school afloat. But as co-founder and president of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, the Rev. Robert A. Sirico has another, equally demanding ministry: preaching the virtues of economic freedom.

Father Sirico, 68, co-founded the think tank in 1990 with Kris Mauren. This was an era when liberation theology was in vogue, and the U.S. Catholic bishops were issuing pastoral letters heavy on government but light on liberty. The institute is named for Lord Acton (1834-1902), a towering British Catholic intellect whose two great causes were liberty and religion.

Like Acton in his day, Father Sirico and his merry band argue that political liberty and economic liberty are the guarantors of religious liberty. Markets are by definition social, Father Sirico says, and to succeed in the market requires being attuned to your customers’ needs.

 The latest complaint concerns “woke capitalism,” in which business—especially big tech—uses its market power to stifle traditional views. Examples include Mozilla’s ousting of executive Brendan Eich for having opposed same-sex marriage, Disney and Netflix ’s threats to boycott Georgia for its tough antiabortion law, and Nike ’s yielding to Colin Kaepernick and discontinuing an American flag sneaker.

Father Sirico answers each critique.

He sees woke capitalism as an overreaction to the ridicule and intolerance that sexual and other minorities endured when the dominant culture was more traditional. If he’s right about this, he says, eventually there will be another, opposite reaction: “Woke capitalism is a trend that will ultimately immolate itself because of its increasingly obvious intolerance.“

His broader answer to the challenge of woke capitalism echoes Pope John Paul II. In his famously pro-market 1991 encyclical, “Centesimus Annus,” John Paul wrote of three spheres of human endeavor—political, economic and cultural—and said that if we are to have a moral economy, it would have to be tempered less by government than by a healthy moral culture. In other words, while laws are necessary, societies cannot be regulated into preferred social outcomes. These depend more on a healthy culture.

 Lord Acton is best known for an aphorism: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.” Father Sirico says his own favorite line from Acton is his description of liberty as a “delicate fruit of a mature civilization.” It needs constant cultivation, and that requires culture thick with free institutions, including religious ones, that understand man in all his human dimensions.

“The answer isn’t to head to the hills,” Father Sirico says. “The answer is a simultaneous liberality in our economy and vigor in our moral stances.”


9. Dr. Wen’s departure from Planned Parenthood seemed to be about one thing: abortion.

By Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, The Hill Online, August 2, 2019, 3:30 PM
Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie specializes in radiology in the Miami area and serves on the advisory board for The Catholic Association.

Planned Parenthood’s firing of Dr. Leana Wen seemingly proves that the giant, tax-funded corporation continues to be about one thing: abortion.

In the end, the former president’s plan to present Planned Parenthood as a place where basic health-care needs were being met for underprivileged Americans didn’t align with the organization’s history or its vision. This move also leads me to believe that the very nature of the organization is political. After all, guaranteeing pro-abortion rights politicians get elected is how Planned Parenthood stays in business.

For all her efforts, Planned Parenthood retains its well-earned reputation for being exactly what it has always been: a large chain of facilities with a laser focus on abortion.

Perhaps it was this reminder that precipitated Dr. Wen’s removal. The corporation’s board feels it’s time to go back to basics and secure their funding stream. In the doctor’s own words, the board “has determined that the priority of Planned Parenthood moving forward is to double down on abortion rights advocacy.”


10. We’re not ready to answer questions about JPII Institute shake-up, says Vatican.

By Christopher Altieri, The Catholic Herald (UK), August 2, 2019

The Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences has said that it is not, for the time being, answering questions regarding the ongoing implementation of its new charter and by-laws.

An official in the personal secretariat of the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who is also Grand Chancellor of the John Paul II Institute, confirmed the decision for the Catholic Herald. “This unavailability is momentary,” Fr Riccardo Mensuali explained, “because we want to be absolutely serious,” in answering questions raised.

“The institute remains desirous of giving exhaustive responses, but asks a few weeks’ time in the month of August in order to formulate adequate responses.”


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