1. Catholic schools prepare to reopen doors, Many leaders insist on learning in person, By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, July 14, 2020, Pg. A7

Catholic dioceses are moving toward reopening their schools amid the coronavirus, with some adhering to state and federal health guidelines but others advocating a more bullish approach for in-person learning.

In a joint statement to parents signed by Wisconsin schools Superintendent Peggy M. Schoenfuss, Bishop James P. Powers of the Diocese of Superior wrote: “What we would like to assure you, is that our schools are planning to re-open in the fall in our traditional face-to-face mode, unless legitimate authorities do not allow it.”

Bishop Powers isn’t alone on insisting to face-to-face learning. In New Orleans, home to 34,000 Catholic school students, many school officials are encouraging a return to in-person learning — unless the city or the state of Louisiana restricts them from opening doors.

Not every Catholic school is moving toward face-to-face instruction. A spokesperson for the Diocese of Spokane, Washington, said in-person learning is “an ongoing topic of discussion,” while the goal remains to “get as many students back on campus for as much time as possible while adhering to the guidelines.”


2. Christian students: College squashed free speech rights, Supreme Court to hear First Amendment case next term, By Alex Swoyer, The Washington Times, July 14, 2020, Pg. A4

Christian students demanding payment from a college for quashing free speech on campus will take their fight to the Supreme Court next term.

The case tests the bounds of students’ ability to collect damages when colleges and universities censor students.

Chike Uzuegbunam, a Christian, attended Georgia Gwinnett College as a student, and in 2016 he sought to distribute leaflets about his faith. He was told he had to apply for a permit for such activity within the school’s free speech zone.

Mr. Uzuegbunam did apply for a reserved space in the designated area, and was granted permission to speak about his religion and evangelize those who inquired about Christianity — but it didn’t last.

The college shut him down after a fellow student complained.


3. Vatican diplomat urges solidarity in face of growing world hunger, By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, July 14, 2020, 6:35 AM

According to a new report from the United Nations, an estimated 690 million people went hungry in 2019 — 10 million more than in 2018.

Published July 13, the newest edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report said that billions of people do not have access to nutritious food, usually  

Addressing hunger and related problems “takes just policies,” Msgr. Fernando Chica Arellano told Vatican News.

Arellano is the Holy See’s permanent observer to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

He called for greater international cooperation in the face of the report’s findings. “The world has to invest in peace, solidarity, and justice,” he said.


4. The Religious Liberty Court, By Carrie Campbell Severino, National Review, July 13, 2020, 4:16 PM, Opinion

After a Supreme Court term that ended with three major victories for religious liberty over the span of ten days, this is a good time to take stock of how far the Court has come in this area under the current majority.

For starters, let’s recall how overtly hostile the Court was to religion for many decades. The First Amendment contains two clauses concerning religion, the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. For generations, the Court interpreted the first clause in a way that treated religion with suspicion. Rather than recognizing it in terms of its text and historical meaning, it made the clause a license to shrink the right to free exercise. As Justice Thomas has noted, “The Establishment Clause originally protected States, and by extension their citizens, from the imposition of an established religion by the Federal Government.”

For years, the Court steered the government away from anything that might even tenuously smack of an endorsement of religion — not of a particular sect, but just religion in general — in a way that hindered voluntary religious practice.

After 2005, with the arrival of Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts, the Court’s checkered record gave way to greater clarity on and greater respect for religion. And in the last decade, the Court has decided an unbroken line of significant victories for religious freedom and expression:

Conservatives have made so much progress in the religious liberty arena in recent years, but it comes with a few cautionary notes.

First, there is much more to be done, so hopefully the next president will appoint more justices who embrace the text and original meaning of the First Amendment’s religion clauses.

Second, among the five most recent landmark decisions cited above, one (Espinoza) was decided by a 5–4 margin. The other four were decided by a 7–2 margin, but in three of those cases (Masterpiece Cakeshop, American Legion, and Little Sisters of the Poor), two of the liberal justices in the majority, Breyer and Kagan, signaled in separate concurring opinions that they were joining the majority on narrow grounds and ready to vote the other way under a somewhat different fact pattern or legal challenge. So if the next president picks justices who are hostile to religious liberty or prefer the strict separationism of previous eras, we could lose all of the progress we’ve made.

The situation calls to mind a remark by Benjamin Franklin. After the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the old story goes, a woman asked Franklin, “what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”


5. US Catholic bishops lament end to federal limits on payday loans, By Catholic News Agency, July 13, 2020, 12:01 PM

The revocation of restrictions on payday lenders by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau exposes poor and vulnerable persons to ‘predatory and abusive lending practices’, the US bishops’ conference said last week.

On July 7 the CFPB removed requirements that lenders ensure borrowers can repay a loan before issuing it, and limited how many successive loans could be taken out by a borrower.

“The USCCB has long advocated for a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule to prevent payday loan abuses to protect poor and vulnerable people. I am deeply disappointed by their final rule that strips away even the basic requirement that loans be made only when people can afford them, setting up workers and families to fail,” Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, chair of the US bishops’ domestic justice committee said July 10.


6. Judge blocks Georgia’s ‘heartbeat’ abortion law, By Associated Press, July 13, 2020, 5:49 PM

A federal judge on Monday permanently blocked Georgia’s 2019 “heartbeat” abortion law, finding that it violates the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ruled against the state in a lawsuit filed by abortion providers and an advocacy group. Jones had temporarily blocked the law in October, and it never went into effect. The new ruling permanently enjoins the state from ever enforcing House Bill 481.

Georgia’s measure sought to ban abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat” was present, with some limited exceptions. Cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women realize they’re pregnant, according to a legal challenge. The bill narrowly passed the Georgia General Assembly amid intense lobbying for and against.


7. Judge: Women can get abortion pill without doctor visits, By Michael Kunzelman, Associated Press, July 13, 2020, 1:10 PM

A federal judge agreed Monday to suspend a rule that requires women during the COVID-19 pandemic to visit a hospital, clinic or medical office to obtain an abortion pill.

U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland concluded that the “in-person requirements” for patients seeking medication abortion care impose a “substantial obstacle” to abortion patients and are likely unconstitutional under the circumstances of the pandemic.


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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