1. Rally demands firm drop anti-religious clients, Activists cite nations’ record of persecution.

By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, July 11, 2019, Pg. A6

Rallies in more than a dozen cities across the country on Wednesday called on a powerful lobby firm to drop its foreign government clients that persecute religious minorities.

Organized by nonprofit watchdogs Save the Persecuted Christians and Nations in Action, the rallies targeted the international lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs, whose representation of foreign governments such as Saudi Arabia and China has come under fire in recent weeks.

“We are asking Squire Patton Boggs to drop known persecutors China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Cameroon, and the Palestinian Authority from their client list,” activist Dede Laugesen said outside the firm’s Denver offices. “They lobby for these countries who are known persecutors of people of faith.”

Activists staged similar rallies at the firm’s headquarters in Cleveland and its offices in Tysons, Virginia, and Phoenix and other cities.


2. Search for Girl Missing for Three Decades Leads to Empty Vatican Tombs.

By Elisabetta Povoledo, New York Times Online, July 11, 2019

The disappearance 36 years ago of a Vatican City employee’s teenage daughter, who vanished off a Rome street after attending a music lesson, has given rise to one of Italy’s most enduring mysteries, fueled by false leads, red herrings and continual media attention.

The latest installment of the drawn-out drama came Thursday morning, when, acting on a series of tips to the family, a Vatican-appointed forensic anthropologist exhumed two tombs in a cemetery inside the Vatican walls to analyze their contents.

His team found nothing.


3. Abortion Rates in U.S. Show a Steady Decline, But Not for Poor Women.

By Sabrina Tavernise, The New York Times, July 11, 2019, Pg. A17

Women getting abortions today are far more likely to be poor than those who had the procedure done 20 years ago.

Half of all women who got an abortion in 2014 lived in poverty, double the share from 1994, when only about a quarter of the women who had abortions were low-income, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights and conducts a national survey of abortion patients every six years.

There are a number of possible reasons for why this is happening. One is purely demographic: The population of women living below the federal poverty level — around $25,750 for a family of four in 2019 — has grown faster than it has among women living above it, Professor Foster said. That means there are simply more poor women subject to the risk of unwanted pregnancy who may turn to an abortion.

At the same time, women with higher incomes may have better access to highly effective contraception than before, Ms. Jones said.

Another possible reason: There are more financial resources for low-income women to pay for abortion. Ms. Jones noted that an uptick in charities that offer financial help has made it possible for more women to afford an abortion. Also, Medicaid expanded in several states under the Affordable Care Act, increasing coverage for poor women, and in turn, coverage of abortion in states that allow their Medicaid programs to pay for it.


4. The spokeswoman for America’s Catholic bishops stirs criticism among Catholics with her pro-Trump tweets.

By Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post Online, July 11, 2019, 6:00 AM

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is stirring debate with a series of tweets enthusiastically backing President Trump and striking out at Democrats including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.).

Judy Keane, who has been director of the Conference’s office of public affairs since 2016, shared the tweets and likes on her personal account, @jkeanepr, which identifies her as “dir public affairs, US Conference of Catholic Bishops.. Opinions expressed are my own.”

“The bishops, not staff, set the Conference’s federal policy positions,” Keane’s boss, James Rogers, chief communications officer, said Wednesday. “We should be mindful not to create confusion as to where the bishops might be on any particular federal policy issue. The Conference is nonpartisan and does not endorse political candidates. We take this very seriously. Judy is on leave this week.”


5. Experts engage lay movements in fight against abuse.

By Elise Harris, Crux, July 11, 2019

When it comes to child abuse inside the Catholic Church, the spotlight has been aimed primarily on clerics, yet there is an increasing push to investigate lay movements and associations, many of which have faced their own abuse scandals in recent years involving both minors and vulnerable adults.

While these movements are not yet prominent in areas such as the United States or Canada, they are exploding in other parts of the world, including many countries in South America and Europe. As they grow, there are questions as to how exactly to handle problems within these entities when they arise.

In February, the Vatican sought to tackle the abuse issue at a global level with Pope Francis’s Feb. 21-24 summit on child protection, which drew the participation of presidents of all bishops’ conferences worldwide. Some lay experts attended; however, the meeting’s primary focus were clerics and religious.

Following that summit, the Vatican released new legislation stipulating mandatory reporting of abuse, including allegations against bishops and cardinals. The motu proprio, meaning a change to Church law on the pope’s authority, was titled Vos estis lux mundi, “You are the light of the world,” and it also broadened the definition of vulnerable adults in Church law.


6. Anti-Christian Attacks in France Quietly Quadrupled. Why?

By Richard Bernstein, RealClearInvestigations, July 10, 2019

Late one night a few months ago, two teenage boys crept into the massive 13th century Cathedral of Saint-Alain in Lavaur, a postcard town in southwest France. There, they set fire to an altar, turned a crucifix upside down, threw another one into the nearby Agout River, and deformed a statue of Jesus into what the town’s mayor called “a grotesque pose.”

But there is nothing at all unusual about an attack on a Christian religious site these days in France, or, for that matter, elsewhere in Europe. The French police recorded 129 thefts and 877 acts of vandalism at Catholic sites – mostly churches and cemeteries – in 2018, and there has been no respite this year. The Conference of French Bishops reported 228 “violent anti-Christian acts” in France in the first three months of 2019 alone, taking place in every region of the country – 45 here in the southwest.

In all, according to the French Ministry of the Interior (which counted 875 anti-Christian incidents in 2018, slightly less than the tally by the police), the attacks on Christian sites quadrupled between 2008 and 2019. This has stirred a deep alarm among many Catholics and non-Catholics alike, worried that a powerful hostility to Catholicism – what they call “Christianophobia” – is sweeping their country.

“This kind of thing causes real consternation,” Henri Lemoigne, the mayor of a town on the English Channel, told a Catholic magazine after someone broke into the tabernacle of the local church and scattered its contents on the floor, evidently in search of something to steal. “People feel that their values are under attack, even their very beings.”


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