1. China Detains an Activist Pastor.

By Eva Dou, The Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2018, Pg. A10

China is tightening a clampdown on unregistered Christian churches, with members of a prominent evangelical congregation saying police have detained its activist pastor along with scores of its worshipers.

Mr. Wang, a prominent figure in China’s Christian community, has trained his impassioned rhetorical skills on criticizing President Xi Jinping’s rule and on organizing resistance to the new regulations, which require registration of all churches, setting out strict parameters.

Across China, authorities have moved to dismantle crosses and onion domes from some officially sanctioned churches and mosques and to close unregistered ones.

On Saturday, Mr. Wang published on social media a 7,300-word manifesto titled “Meditations on the Religious War.” In it, he urged Chinese Christians to civil disobedience and accused the Communist Party of instituting “Caesar worship” by turning politics into a religion that elevates Mr. Xi to the status of the Roman emperor or Egypt’s pharaohs.

Such an ideology, he wrote, is “morally incompatible with the Christian faith and with all those who uphold freedom of the mind and thought.”


2. Court won’t review rulings that blocked Planned Parenthood defunding.

By Robert Barnes, The Washington Post, December 11, 2018, Pg. A4

The Supreme Court declined Monday to review lower-court decisions that blocked state efforts to cut off public funding for Planned Parenthood, a move that suggests a majority of the court may be steering clear of controversial issues — at least for now.

New Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh did not join the court’s three most conservative members in calling to accept the cases. Justice Clarence Thomas rebuked his colleagues for what he said was a dodge, attributing it to their aversion to taking up the issue of abortion that lurked in the case.

“Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty,” Thomas wrote. “If anything, neutrally applying the law is all the more important when political issues are in the background.”

Thomas’s dissent from the court’s decision to pass on the case revealed a split among the court’s five conservatives: Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch signed on to the statement. Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. did not.

It takes the votes of four justices to accept a case.


3. Dozens reportedly held in raid on church.

By Associated Press, The Washington Post, December 11, 2018, Pg. A8

BEIJING — Dozens of Christians have been detained in a raid on a prominent Chinese church that operates outside the government’s official Protestant organization, a U.S.-based advocacy group said Monday.

At least 80 churchgoers and seminary students from the Early Rain Covenant Church were taken away in the southwestern city of Chengdu beginning Sunday night, ChinaAid said. Those detained include the church’s pastor, Wang Yi, and his wife, Jiang Rong.

China has cracked down heavily on independent church groups this year as part of an assault on all religions.

The government requires that Protestants worship only in churches recognized and regulated by the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. Even within that framework, the officially atheist ruling Communist Party has been seeking to rein in religious expression, including removing crosses from official and unofficial churches.


4. Court Won’t Hear Cases On Planned Parenthood; 3 Conservatives Object.

By Adam Liptak, The New York Times, December 11, 2018, Pg. A15

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear two cases arising from efforts by states to bar Planned Parenthood clinics from the Medicaid program, drawing a rebuke from the court’s three most conservative justices and opening a window onto the court’s internal dynamics.

It takes four votes to add a case to the court’s docket, but the cases attracted only three — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch. Neither of the court’s other conservatives — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh — proved willing to supply a fourth vote.

That split on the right side of the court is evidence that Chief Justice Roberts is trying to keep the court out of major controversies and that Justice Kavanaugh, who joined the court in October after a fierce confirmation battle, is, for now at least, following his lead.

In the cases the justices turned away on Monday, from Kansas and Louisiana, appeals courts acknowledged that states have broad power to decide which health care providers may supply services for the program. But that power has limits, the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver, ruled in the case from Kansas, Andersen v. Planned Parenthood of Kansas, No. 17-1340.


5. Pope cites the ‘disappeared’ among those deprived of rights.

By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, December 10, 2018, 6:33 AM

Pope Francis on Monday lamented that the poor, the unborn, those imprisoned and those who have been forcibly “disappeared” do not enjoy the same human rights protections as the wealthy.

Francis marked the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with a message read at the start of a Vatican-backed conference.

In it, Francis said there were “numerous contradictions” in the way the U.N. declaration was applied and blamed the world’s profit-motivated economy that exploits the poor for the injustices experienced by the world’s most vulnerable.

“While one part of humanity lives in opulence, another sees their dignity unrecognized … their fundamental rights ignored or violated,” he said.

He cited the unborn, those deprived of education and dignified work, as well as prisoners who are tortured and held in “unhuman conditions.” But Francis also cited “victims of forced disappearances and their families.”


6. NIH Swiftly Condemns Gene Editing In China, Silent On The U.S. Fetal Harvesting Market.

By Grazie Pozo Christie, The Federalist, December 10, 2018
Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie specializes in radiology in the Miami area and serves on the advisory board for The Catholic Association.

When a Chinese scientist recently claimed to have altered the genetic makeup of two separate embryos and implanted them in a woman, resulting in the birth of twin girls, the objections from the international scientific community were swift and powerful.

National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis S. Collins condemned the act in a statement. “This work represents a deeply disturbing willingness by Dr. He Jiankui and his team to flout international ethical norms,” he said. “Lest there be any doubt, and as we have stated previously, NIH does not support the use of gene-editing technologies in human embryos.”

It’s commendable that people like Drs. Collins, Zhang, and Gu possess the wisdom and the leadership to denounce Jiankiu’s research. But it’s puzzling to me why these experts don’t also stand up for the dignity of human life on other projects that wrongly cheapen and debase human life — projects that are actually funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars.

One such multimillion-dollar project is a $13.8 million NIH contract that requires University of California San Francisco researchers to obtain the remains of aborted baby body parts for experimentation in mice with vulnerable immune systems, as first reported by CNS News.

Our own government is creating demand for aborted baby parts on the American taxpayer’s dime and our own scientists are using those remains of unborn infants (aborted at the end of the second trimester) for use in scientific research. Yet where is the public outcry on this issue from experts like Collins, Gu and Zhang? Surely their denunciations should extend to projects like this one.

It is simply beyond the pale that leaders in the U.S. scientific community would erupt with righteous indignation over gene editing on babies, but remain silent as the grave about creating a demand among scientists for aborted baby parts. It is unconscionable, and Collins should move as swiftly with his condemnation of the use of aborted baby parts as he did his condemnation of gene-editing human embryos.


7. Holy See affirms enduring importance of UN human rights declaration.

By Catholic News Agency, December 10, 2018, 3:01 AM

Seven decades after its proclamation, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is still being hailed as “a great triumph achieved at a tremendous cost,” in the words of St John Paul II.

The landmark declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris Dec. 10, 1948. It includes a preamble and 30 articles that provide for individual freedoms, denounce torture and slavery, and affirm the equal dignity of all people.

The Vatican’s diplomatic representative to the United Nations recently praised the declaration, saying the anniversary presented an opportunity to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights,” but also warned that parts of the world are experiencing the consequences of failing to uphold those rights.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, offered his reflections at a Dec. 4 conference commemorating the document’s 70th anniversary.