1. Worried about sexual harassment? Don’t force nuns to buy other people’s birth control.

By Ashley McGuire, Ashley McGuire is a Senior Fellow with The Catholic Association, and the author of Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female, USA Today, December 7, 2017, 1:30 PM

Mansplain it.

That is what Xavier Becerra and Josh Shapiro, attorneys general for California and Pennsylvania will do until they are blue in the face when they drag the Little Sisters of the Poor back into court and wax on about why the beliefs of these women are invalid.

In what these men no doubt fancied some sort of bold move that would rev up a sagging base, Becerra and Shapiro filed lawsuits in their states (with other male attorneys general from the states of New York, Maryland, Virginia and Delaware signing on) to take away the conscience protections granted to the Sisters by the department of Health and Human Services. Those protections prevent the nuns from being fined millions of dollars if they didn’t provide employees with things like the morning after pill in their healthcare plans. The nuns’ attorneys had to file a motion to intervene.

Their lawsuit comes at a time when accusations of male sexual harassment of women in all forms, in both parties, seems to be reaching a fever pitch.

Coming out in the midst of this, the Becerra-Shapiro suit to rope nuns into contraception has the same icky feel of men pushing women around. Or as Princeton professor Robert P. George put it: “Can someone tell me why taking a group of elderly nuns to court to force them to implicate themselves in providing contraception is not a form a sexual harassment?”

Those nuns have now filed for a court order to, quite literally, protect themselves from Becerra and Shapiro. One more for the abuse files.


2. Vatican prosecutors urged to go after money laundering.

By Associated Press, December 8, 2017, 3:41 AM

European evaluators have praised the Vatican’s financial watchdogs for efficiently flagging suspicious transactions but have once again faulted Vatican prosecutors for failing to bring any money laundering cases to trial.

The Council of Europe’s Moneyval evaluators issued a periodic report Friday on the Vatican’s compliance with international norms to fight money laundering and terrorist financing. The Vatican submitted to the Moneyval compliance process in a bid to shed its image as a tax haven and as part of financial reforms initiated by Pope Benedict XVI.

The report repeated the main complaint made by Moneyval in 2015, that Vatican prosecutors were freezing assets when they received reports of suspicious transactions, but weren’t following through with prosecutions.

The report noted that the Vatican’s gendarmes had recently created a financial police unit, and that the prosecutors’ office had added an assistant with experience prosecuting financial crimes. Moneyval said it hoped such developments would produce prosecutions by the time evaluators review the Vatican again in 2019.


3. Judge denies Texas churches’ aid request in FEMA lawsuit.

By Associated Press, December 8, 2017

A judge on Thursday denied an emergency request for relief funds by three Texas churches damaged during Hurricane Harvey that are suing the federal government over how it offers disaster aid to houses of worship.

The churches are suing the Federal Emergency Management Agency over a policy that denies disaster assistance to nonprofit organizations with facilities that are primarily used for political, athletic, vocational or religious activities.

The three houses of worship accused FEMA of religious discrimination by denying them equal access to disaster relief grants and not treating them on terms equal to other nonprofits.

FEMA says it hasn’t denied the churches’ applications but has placed them on hold while a change to its policy is reviewed. Pressure to change the policy has been mounting after this year’s series of devastating hurricanes damaged many churches in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In court documents filed on Monday before the federal judge’s ruling, Justice Department lawyers had said the churches haven’t “suffered, and will not suffer, irreparable injury, because their applications for … grants have not been, and will not be, denied while FEMA actively works to implement a new … policy.”

In his nine page ruling, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller said he based his decision on the current FEMA policy and not on the proposed changes, which are currently “speculative and does not impact the challenge to the current policy.” The review of FEMA’s new policy could take up to 90 days to complete.

In addition to FEMA’s proposed policy change, several members of Congress have revived legislation – first proposed after 2012’s Superstorm Sandy – that would force FEMA to pay for repairs at places of worship.


4. U.S. Catholic bishops and migration experts urge reconsideration of Global Compact. 

By Christopher White, Crux, December 8, 2017

Following the announcement last Saturday by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the United States would no longer participate in the development of a Global Compact on Migration, U.S. Catholic bishops and migration experts denounced the decision and urged the Trump administration to reconsider its position.

The Compact was an outcome goal of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which the U.S. participated in during a United Nations summit in September 2016.

“We simply cannot in good faith support a process that could undermine the sovereign right of the United States to enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders,” said Tillerson.

In response, the U.S. bishops said the decision is counterproductive to the country’s safety efforts and violates key tenets of Catholic social teaching.