1. Trump abortion rule seen as blow against Planned Parenthood.

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press, July 16, 2019, 7:23 AM

Taxpayer-funded family planning clinics must stop referring women for abortions immediately, the Trump administration says, declaring it will begin enforcing a new regulation hailed by religious conservatives and denounced by medical organizations and women’s rights groups.

Ahead of a planned conference Tuesday with the clinics, the Department of Health and Human Services formally notified them that it will begin enforcing the ban on abortion referrals, along with a requirement that clinics maintain separate finances from facilities that provide abortions. Another requirement that both kinds of facilities cannot be under the same roof would take effect next year.

The rule is widely seen as a blow against Planned Parenthood, which provides taxpayer-funded family planning and basic health care to low-income women as well as abortions that must be paid for separately. The organization is a mainstay of the federally funded family planning program and has threatened to quit over the issue.


2. When Big Tech bias stifles the pro-life message, How conservative and pro-life voices online are told to shut up.

By Marjorie Dannenfelser, The Washington Times, July 16, 2019, Pg. B3

At the White House this past Thursday, President Donald Trump held a summit calling out Silicon Valley for their censorship of conservative and pro-life voices online. My organization, Susan B. Anthony List, participated in the summit, joining President Trump and our friend, Live Action President Lila Rose in demanding transparency and accountability.

The mainstream media continue to deny the evidence, but pro-life advocates have experienced a consistent, years-long pattern of bias that cannot be dismissed as mere coincidence or the error of an algorithm. It spans several different platforms and has been experienced by many different groups and individuals, including SBA List.

Since 2017, Twitter has refused paid advertising from Live Action unless they purge content from their own website — including content calling for an end to taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood. Last month Live Action learned Pinterest intentionally added them to a “pornography block list.” Pinterest then banned Live Action permanently, accusing them of “misinformation and conspiracies” and of having a detrimental effect on public safety.

Social media giants wield unprecedented control over global discourse. In her testimony to Congress, Ms. Musgrave pointed out that more than 80 percent of the U.S. population uses social media. Powerful as they are, though, these massive companies evidently are threatened by the success of the pro-life message. That is key: we would not be targeted if we were not effective. We will never quit speaking out and working to end the brutality of abortion. We are grateful to President Trump for calling on Big Tech to stop censorship and uphold principles of fairness and free speech.

Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List.


3. Persecuted Christians urge more action, fewer empty words.

By Elise Harris, Crux, July 16, 2019

Typically seen as a political non-priority, religious persecution, and anti-Christian persecution in particular, has been getting more attention since the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights was marked in December 2018.

The Declaration, written in the aftermath of World War II, includes the right to freely practice one’s religion.

Earlier this month, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt presented the final report of an independent inquiry into worldwide anti-Christian persecution.

During the July 15 launch of the report in Rome, sponsored by the UK Embassy to the Holy See, Pakistani priest Father Boniface Mendez said, “we have been waiting for 42 years for Her Majesty to pay attention to the persecution of Christians in Pakistan.”

However, for many representatives and leaders of persecuted Christian communities, agreements and commitments on paper are not enough.


4. Bishop leading “Crystal Cathedral” makeover says beauty ignites faith.

By Christopher White, Crux, July 16, 2019

On July 17, Southern California’s famed Crystal Cathedral will be dedicated as Christ Cathedral, the new seat of the Diocese of Orange.

Once the home of evangelical pastor Robert Schuller of the Reformed Church in America and his famed “Hour of Power,” the building, which is made of more than 10,000 panes of glass, was purchased by the diocese of Orange in 2012 after Schuller’s ministry went bankrupt.

Since that time, the building – and its campus – has undergone a complete transformation, physically and canonically, to become a space fitting for Catholic worship.

Ahead of its dedication, Bishop Kevin Vann spoke with Crux to chronicle the process, discuss why he believes beauty can help save the world and what he hopes that Cathedral will represent for Catholics in southern California.


5. Restoring an Ancient Church, and Perhaps a Nation’s Identity.

By Celestine Bohlen, The New York Times, July 16, 2019, Pg. A4

Poised on a forested mountainside high above Lake Prespa, at the intersection of Albania, Greece and North Macedonia, the church of St. George has kept the secret of its origins for more than 800 years.

Virtually nothing is known about who ordered the tiny church’s construction in so isolated a spot. Just as mysterious are the artists who painted its stunning ensemble of frescoes, with their elegant elongated figures clad in swirling robes, considered by art historians to represent the artistic pinnacle of the Middle Byzantine period.

The church and its frescoes hold a special place in the remarkable collection of Byzantine churches in North Macedonia, a small Balkan country that, after 26 years of independence, is still struggling to find its place in Europe.


6. HHS brings Protect Life Rule into effect.

Catholic News Agency, July 15, 2019, 5:56 PM

The Trump administration announced Monday evening that parts of the Protect Life Rule, which prohibits recipients of Title X family planning funds to refer or provide abortion services, will go into effect immediately. 

As of July 15, the Department of Health and Human Services informed Title X fund recipients that they will no longer be permitted to refer mothers for abortion services, and must keep finances separate from facilities that provide abortions. 

As of March next year, abortion facilities will no longer be allowed to co-locate with clinics that receive Title X moneys. Clinics that provide “nondirective counseling” about abortion may still receive funds. 


7. Living in Exile: How Christians Unite Against Oppression in Nicaragua, Lesther Alemán said he plans to attend the U.S. State Department’s Ministerial July 16-17 to bring awareness to the struggle for human rights in his country.

By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, July 15, 2019

Lesther Alemán, 21, a Nicaraguan student and evangelical leader, became the youthful face of anti-government protests in the wake of the Daniel Ortega regime’s brutal crackdown on activists and citizens demanding social and political reforms last year. The United Nations and Human Rights Watch have issued reports condemning the Nicaraguan government’s use of extra-judicial forces to target its critics, including Catholic bishops, and lay leaders. Hundreds have been killed and many more have been imprisoned. In April, Managua’s Auxiliary Bishop Silvio Báez fled his native land for the Vatican, after being assaulted by a pro-government mob and facing multiple death threats.

Now, like tens of thousands of other Nicaraguans, Alemán has been forced into exile. He is now living in the United States. He responded to questions from Register Senior Editor Joan Frawley Desmond about the situation in Nicaragua, his exile in the United States and his plan to attend the upcoming Department of State’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom July 16-17.

He hopes his active presence will embody the united response of Catholics and evangelicals against the intimidation, harassment and persecution of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua by the Ortega regime. If there is a “silver lining” in the crisis facing his native land, he said, it is that once polarized Christian groups have joined in solidarity against a despotic, anti-religious tyranny.

[Questions:] Why has the confrontation between the Ortega regime and anti-government protesters become a religious struggle?

[Answer:] The crisis in Nicaragua has been a socio-political crisis from the beginning. But Nicaraguans are a very religious people. To the extent that it is possible in this fallen world, we try to make Jesus Christ the Lord of the social realm in our country, by defending life and the dignity of the human person.

[Questions:] How has your Christian faith sustained your sense of hope during your exile?

[Answer:] My faith is the bulwark sustaining me ever since the crisis began. If his presence and will had not accompanied me from Day 1, I wouldn’t have moved a finger. I wouldn’t have stood up and denounced Ortega, I wouldn’t continue the struggle. I would have given up a long time ago.


Subscribe to the TCA podcast!
“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.