1. When competing liberties collide.

By Ingrid Jacques, The Detroit News, July 13, 2018,

Shamber Flore owes the life she has now to St. Vincent Catholic Charities. Flore, a young woman who lives near Lansing, is a fierce advocate for the adoption agency that brought her and siblings out of foster care into a stable, loving home 13 years ago.

And now that the American Civil Liberties Union has brought a lawsuit against the state of Michigan for working with faith-based adoption agencies like St. Vincent, Flore and other youth like her are standing up to defend the work these organizations do.

Michigan passed a law a few years ago, giving longstanding guidelines that protected the religious freedom of these agencies the cover of law. Those institutions are obligated to recommend gay couples to another agency. But in passing the law, the state caught the attention of the ACLU, which followed up with this federal case on behalf of several same-sex couples. A handful of other states have similar policies.

Mark Rienzi, president of Becket and a lawyer involved with the case, says that in working with religious agencies, the state is not “establishing religion.” He points to how the government works with religious hospitals and schools, as an example of other such partnerships. Michigan’s collaboration with these adoption agencies offers an important service to the 13,000 children in the foster care system.


2. Unity, Truth, and Catholic Social Thought.

By Robert P. George, First Things, July 13, 2018

Catholic social teaching is Catholic moral teaching; Catholic moral teaching includes Catholic social teaching. It is a mistake—a common one, yet a profound error—to speak and think of “social” and “moral” teaching as separate and distinct categories. We need to begin treating this way of speaking (and thinking) as unacceptable. There is one unified, integrated teaching about how we as Catholics should conduct our lives in this world and what we should promote to our fellow citizens as the just, love-affirming, liberating, life-giving way.

The polarization of our politics and culture is much remarked on. And today we find the same polarization, or something uncomfortably like it, in the Church. It is sometimes said to pit “liberal” social-justice Catholics against “conservative” pro-life and pro-family Catholics. We experience this polarization so intensely that it’s an understandable temptation to think, “Gosh, we’ve got to do something about it now! Let’s look to see if we can find a principle (or set of principles) that can then be the thing(s) around which we unite.”

Desiring unity is not a bad thing; but let’s not get the cart before the horse. We should first be focused on the question, “What is true?” Then we can unite around true principles, precisely because they are true. The truth is what we’re after. And as Catholics we believe that we know something about the truth. Not the whole truth, of course; it is not given to mortals to know the whole truth. But we know some deep and powerful truths, and they’re truths that are taught to us by the Church—including truths about how we should conduct our lives and how we should order our lives together. If, for the sake of unity or anything else, we unite around a principle (or set of principles) that isn’t true, our unity will be pretty worthless, and it won’t last. Uniting around falsehoods is of no use.


3. House committee moves to protect religious adoption agencies.

By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency, July 12, 2018, 4:45 PM

The House Appropriations Committee moved to protect the conscience rights and religious freedom of faith-based adoption agencies on Wednesday.

The committee adopted an amendment to an upcoming funding bill that would preserve federal funding for agencies who do not want to place children with same-sex couples.

The amendment was introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL). In a statement published on his website, Aderholt said that the opioid epidemic has caused the number of foster care cases to “skyrocket,” and that religious charities are needed to assist with this crisis.

However, “several states and localities across the country are not allowing religious organizations, such as Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian services, to operate child welfare agencies,” due to their refusal to place children with same-sex couples, in accord with their religious beliefs.

Alderholt said this amendment will aim to prevent religious discrimination against those agencies. The amendment mandates that the Department of Health and Human Services withhold 15 percent of federal funds for child welfare services in states that do not allow religiously-based child welfare agencies to operate in accordance with their beliefs.


4. Catholic organizations playing role in reunification of children.

By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, July 12, 2018, 4:00 PM

Some of migrant children under age 5 separated from their families by the government were reunited with loved ones July 9 with help from Catholic organizations.

About two dozen families in all were brought back together on that date with help from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services, Catholic Charities USA and a network of other agencies from around the country.

In all, the Catholic agencies will help reunite 55 families by mid-July and provide short-term care, such as food and shelter, said Bill Canny, executive director of MRS.

“Protection of families is a foundational element of Catholic social teaching and this moment calls on all people of goodwill to lend a hand to reunite these children with their parents,” said a joint statement issued the same day by MRS and Catholic Charities USA. 

Canny said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Office of Refugee Resettlement reached out to the Catholic organizations, as well as the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service in early July to help with the reunifications.

“They know we are able to tap into a vast Catholic network across the country, which proves valuable for humanitarian and disaster response,” he said.