1. Holy See hopes UN migration agreement will defend human dignity. 

By Catholic News Agency, July 17, 2018, 12:00 AM

The Vatican’s representative at the United Nations expressed hope that a new UN agreement on best practices for international migration will guarantee respect for the human dignity of all migrants.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the UN, spoke July 13 at the concluding session of intergovernmental negotiations on migration, the culmination of a nearly two-year process.

“This first-ever comprehensive framework on migration will serve as the international reference point for best practices and international cooperation in the global management of migration, not only for Governments, but also for non-governmental entities among which are the faith-based organizations, who are truly the hands and feet on the ground to assist migrants in difficulty,” said Auza.

The agreement —  the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration— details 23 international objectives, including the eradication of human trafficking and “use of migration detention only as a measure of last resort.”

The Vatican representative told the UN that “Pope Francis encapsulates these shared responsibilities and solidarity in four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.”

The global compact on migration will be formally adopted at a UN meeting in Marrakech, Morocco on Dec. 10-11. Following a decision by the Trump administration, the United States withdrew from the negotiations in December 2017.


2. Investigation into weeping Virgin Mary statue continues. 

By Associated Press, July 16, 2018, 7:23 PM

The Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces continues to investigate a Virgin Mary sculpture in a Hobbs church that appears to be weeping.

The sculpture, which stands in the Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, has been attracting attention worldwide since visitors first reported the fluid in May.

Bishop Oscar Cantu of the diocese said Friday a sample of the fluid collected from the sculpture was sent for chemical analysis, and it was determined that it was olive oil, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

That fact doesn’t preclude the occurrence from being deemed a church miracle. But an investigation is under way to determine whether there was a natural cause behind the liquid found on the hollow bronze sculpture, Cantu said.


3. Overturning ‘Roe’ no ‘magic bullet,’ NY archdiocese lawyer says. 

By Catholic News Agency, July 16, 2018, 7:00 PM

The Director of Public Policy for the Archdiocese of New York has said that overturning the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision should not be the seen as the final objective for pro-life advocates in the United States.

But [Edward] Mechmann, a Harvard educated lawyer who previously worked in the United States’ Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, noted that an originalist majority did not necessarily mean Roe would be overturned.

Roe, said Mechmann, did not just “emerge fully formed from the brow of Justice Blackmun” [author of the decision]. Rather, it was “the result of decades of prior decisions, reaching back to the 1920’s.” Consequently, overturning Roe would involve repudiating a deeply embedded body of legal argument, he said. Such a dramatic step would “set off a political explosion that would undermine the legitimacy of the Court in the eyes of a large number of Americans.”

Such a “political explosion” might already have begun,  as abortion advocates react to the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh. Terry McAuliffe, the former Governor of Virginia, said July 9 that Kavanaugh’s nomination “will threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come.”

Even if a “pro-life” appointee were confirmed, Roe v. Wade is not certain to be overturned, Mechmann argued.

The strength of expectation around a possible reversal of Roe v. Wade has led many to assume it would result in abortion becoming illegal overnight, yet this is not the case, Mechmann said. In the event that the Supreme Court reversed itself and removed the inferred constitutional protection for abortion, the issue would again be subject to state-by-state legislation. This, Mechmann pointed out, would yield very mixed results.

A Supreme Court majority willing to overturn Roe v. Wade is not, Mechmann warns, “a magic bullet that will make all things new.” While it would be a significant victory for pro-life advocates, their work would need to continue at the state level. This would involve political and legislative efforts to protect the unborn state-by-state, and, just as important, include cultural efforts.


4. Lawsuit Targets Notre Dame’s HHS Mandate Settlement, The settlement the University of Notre Dame won on behalf of itself and 70 other Catholic institutions could be imperiled. 

By Peter Jesserer Smith, National Catholic Register, July 16, 2018

The University of Notre Dame’s settlement with the federal government to end the Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate is under fire, as a new lawsuit argues the settlement is illegal and Notre Dame must pay out free contraception to students and employees covered under its health plans.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the National Women’s Law Center, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Indianapolis-based Macey Swanson law firm filed the lawsuit in U.S. district court on behalf of some Notre Dame students against the university and the federal government. The suit maintains that Notre Dame’s new contraception policy no longer provides students “meaningful” coverage because students will face co-pays of 20%-40% for certain contraceptives and in some cases have to meet a $500 deductible.

According to the complaint in Irish 4 Reproductive Health v. Azar, the settlement is unlawful on statutory and constitutional grounds. The brief contends the Trump administration violated statutory requirements by issuing new regulations that carved out an exemption for employers with religious or moral-based objections, taking effect Oct. 6, 2017, without public notice or a 60-day comment period. These interim rules, which were the basis of the settlement, are currently blocked in separate legal challenges.

Paul Browne, Notre Dame’s vice president for public affairs and communications, told the Register the university seeks to dismiss the lawsuit in the coming weeks.

“It is meritless,” he said. “We think we have a strong case to dismiss it.”

Browne said the lawsuit was spinning harmful rhetoric that Notre Dame’s settlement amounted to a conspiracy with the Trump administration. He also pointed out that most students at Notre Dame are covered by their parents’ insurance until they are 26 years old, according to federal regulations. While Notre Dame did decide to cover a limited range of contraception, as well as natural family planning, Browne said the university drew the line at abortion-inducing drugs and devices marketed as contraception.


5. Lawmaker urges protecting religious liberty of adoption, foster agencies. 

By Catholic News Service, July 16, 2018

An amendment sponsored by a congressman from Alabama and approved by the House Appropriations Committee July 11 aims to protect Catholic and other faith-based agencies that choose, based on their religious conviction, not to place children with same-sex couples for adoption or foster care.

“As co-chairman of the House Coalition on Adoption, my goal was straightforward: to encourage states to include all experienced and licensed child welfare agencies so that children are placed in caring, loving homes where they can thrive,” Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, said in a statement. “We need more support for these families and children in crisis, not less.”

Aderholt noted that in several states and localities across the country, governments are not allowing religious organizations to operate child welfare agencies.

The amendment to an upcoming funding bill would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to withhold 15 percent of federal funds for child welfare services from states and localities that discriminate against these agencies.

Over the past several years, government actions in Boston, San Francisco, the District of Columbia and the state of Illinois have prompted local Catholic Charities agencies to stop providing adoption or foster care services because the agencies would not violate church teaching and place children with same-sex or unmarried heterosexual couples.

The most recent example has occurred in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, where in March, the city of Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services froze all new foster care placements with the archdiocese’s Catholic Social Services. On average, the Catholic agency serves 127 foster children a day placed with more than 100 families in the city.