1. An I.Q. Score as a Death Sentence, By Elizabeth Bruenig, The New York Times, January 13, 2020, Pg. A26, Opinion
In the United States, it is illegal to execute intellectually disabled people — a prohibition that was encoded into many statutes before the Supreme Court made it the law of the land. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act, in particular, provided that “death shall not be carried out upon a person who is mentally retarded.” Then, in 2002, the Supreme Court, in Atkins v. Virginia, forbade capital punishment for intellectually disabled people.

People tend to think they know what intellectual disability looks like, and feel erroneously certain that they would recognize it if they saw it. A 2004 opinion by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, for instance, supplied the simple-hearted, hapless character Lennie Small from John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” as an example of a person whom the majority of Texan citizens would agree ought to be exempted from the death penalty, as opposed to less obvious cases, which, the court implied, could be fictitious.
Yet intellectual disability doesn’t necessarily look like Lennie Small, or Forrest Gump, or Charlie Gordon of “Flowers for Algernon.” Lawyers, jurors, and judges can overlook it.

Since Mr. Johnson’s trial lawyers did not claim he was intellectually disabled, no court has agreed to hold a hearing to consider the evidence to the contrary in appeals over the past three decades, Mr. Johnson’s current lawyers, Don Salzman and Ron Tabak, told me.
“No court has ever applied modern medical standards, which are critical,” said Mr. Salzman.

Scholars of intellectual disability and criminal justice whom I interviewed wholly agreed on only one thing: Despite Atkins and related statutes, there are still intellectually disabled people on America’s death row.

Time was that this country barred the intellectually disabled from crossing its borders, or locked them away in squalid institutions that were little more than prisons, experimented on them, tortured them, sterilized them, executed them.
On Thursday, we will see if we have changed.
2. Report: Australia’s financial crime watchdog says it vastly overestimated Vatican transfers, By Catholic News Agency, January 13, 2021, 6:30 AM
Australia’s financial crime watchdog has said that it vastly overestimated Vatican transfers, local media reported on Wednesday.
The Australian newspaper said on Jan. 13 that the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), a government agency, attributed the miscalculation to a “computer coding error.”
According to the newspaper, AUSTRAC informed Australia’s Senate that it had discovered the mistake after it launched a “detailed review” of its initial finding that around $1.8 billion had been transferred from the Vatican to Australia in about 47,000 separate transfers since 2014.
Working with the Vatican’s Supervisory and Financial Information Authority (ASIF), AUSTRAC found that there were 362 transfers from the Vatican to Australia between 2014 and 2020, amounting to $7.4 million.
The agency also concluded that over the past six years there were 237 transfers totaling $20.6 million in the other direction: from Australia to the Vatican.

It added that Australian Federal Police and the Vatican’s financial intelligence unit were investigating four transfers to Australia from the Vatican.
It said that two of the transfers were connected to Cardinal Angelo Becciu. A total of $1.5 million was reportedly sent to a company in Melbourne between 2017 and 2018.
3. China deemed a top religious freedom concern in 2021, By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, January 13, 2021, 12:13 AM
China remains a primary human rights concern in 2021, a federal religious freedom commissioner told CNA this week.
“China remains of utmost concern to USCIRF,” said Nadine Maenza, commissioner at the U.S. Commissioner on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
4. Supreme Court wrestles with Georgia college free speech case, By Jessica Gresko, Associated Press, January 12, 2021, 2:36 PM
The Supreme Court on Tuesday wrestled with whether to revive a lawsuit brought by a Georgia college student who sued school officials after being prevented from distributing Christian literature on campus.
The school, Georgia Gwinnett College, has since changed its policies and the student has graduated. A lower court dismissed the case as moot and an appeals court agreed, but the student, Chike Uzuegbunam, is urging the justices to allow the case to move forward. He’s seeking just $1 and says he wants the Lawrenceville, Georgia, school to be held accountable for its past policies.
5. Justices say women must obtain abortion pill in person, By Mark Sherman, Associated Press, January 12, 2021, 5:51 PM
The Supreme Court ordered Tuesday that women must visit a doctor’s office, hospital or clinic in person to obtain an abortion pill during the COVID-19 pandemic, though similar rules for other drugs have been suspended during the public health emergency.
Eight days before President Donald Trump leaves office, the justices granted a Trump administration appeal to be able to enforce a longstanding rule on getting the abortion pill, mifepristone. The pill need not be taken in the presence of medical professionals.
The court split 6-3, with the liberal justices in dissent. The new administration could put the in-person requirement on hold after Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.
6. Bishops call for an end to the federal death penalty, By Catholic News Service, January 12, 2021
A joint statement from two U.S. bishops who head different committees of the U.S. bishops called for an end to the federal use of the death penalty as “long past time.”
“We renew our constant call to President (Donald) Trump and Acting Attorney General (Jeffrey) Rosen: Stop these executions,” said the Jan. 11 statement from Archbishops Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
7. Pope accepts resignation of French archbishop amid financial challenges, By Catholic News Service, January 12, 2021
Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Jean-Pierre Cattenoz of Avignon, a month after the archbishop celebrated his 75th birthday, amid ongoing questions about his management style and handling of archdiocesan finances.
Cattenoz was named to Avignon in 2002 by St. John Paul II. As required by church law, he submitted his resignation on his 75th birthday Dec. 17.
As early as 2019, about 200 faithful belonging to a group called Christians in Vaucluse had requested the archbishop’s early retirement because of what they saw as a style of governance that created “real suffering” for local Catholics. Among the contentious issues were that of personnel management, concern for the poor, people feeling unwelcomed, the lack of ecumenical and interreligious initiatives and diocesan finances.
8. Vatican Secretary of State knew of investment now under investigation, By Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency, January 12, 2021, 11:57 AM
A letter by Cardinal Pietro Parolin leaked to an Italian news outlet shows that the Secretariat of State was aware, and approved at its highest ranks, of the disgraced purchase of a luxury real estate property in London now at the center of a Vatican investigation.
The Italian newspaper Domani published on Jan. 10 a “confidential and urgent” letter addressed by Cardinal Parolin, Vatican secretary of State, to Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, President of the Institute for Religious Works (IOR) also known as “the Vatican bank.”
In the letter, Cardinal Parolin asked the IOR to loan 150 million euros (approximately $182.3 million) to the Vatican Secretariat of State. The Secretariat of State needed the money to pay off the loan contracted with Cheney Capital four months before. The Secretariat of State took the loan to buy out the shares of the real estate in London.
Cardinal Parolin described the investment as “a valid one,” said that the investment had to be safeguarded, and asked the IOR for the loan.

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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