1. Planned Parenthood President Is Ousted.

By Michelle Hackman, The Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2019, Pg. A3

Planned Parenthood Federation of America ousted its president after she had served just eight months, a surprise move that came as the organization faces growing political and legal challenges to abortion rights.

Planned Parenthood, which operates a network of women’s health clinics, confirmed the departure Tuesday of Leana Wen.

The move comes as Planned Parenthood contends with a Trump administration policy, implemented Tuesday, that bans clinics that perform abortions from receiving federal money for other women’s health services.


2. Chief of 8 months is out at Planned Parenthood, Ouster comes at perilous time for the group and for abortion access.

By Lenny Bernstein, Ariana Eunjung Cha and Amy Goldstein, The Washington Post, July 17, 2019. Pg. A1

The president of Planned Parenthood was forced out of her job Tuesday in a dispute over her management style and the direction of the nation’s largest women’s reproductive rights organization amid growing political and legal challenges to abortion. 

he board’s announcement came a day after the Trump administration implemented a new rule cutting off funding for family planning clinics that offer abortion referrals or services. Planned Parenthood stands to lose about $60 million a year — a blow that could transform the kinds of reproductive services available to poor women and girls across the country. Those services include birth control and screenings for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure, but federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for it except in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the woman. 


3. Religious freedom summit draws thousands.

By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, July 17, 2019, Pg. A8

The State Department is hosting what it calls the largest-ever international gathering on the state of religious liberty around the world, though representatives from one nearby nation were forced to stay home.

Evangelical leaders from Cuba will not be participating due to a travel ban imposed by the government, the State Department said, condemning the move by officials in Havana but saying it was precisely why such a gathering was needed.

“This is exactly the type of human rights violation that we and ministerial attendees from all over the world are working to expose and to prevent,” said State Department official Kristina Arriaga, a commissioner for the summit.

The religious liberty ministerial — attracting over 100 diplomats and 1,000 leaders from faiths ranging from Christianity and Islam to Buddhism, Judaism and others around the globe — was billed by U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green as “the largest human rights-related gathering at the U.S. Department of State.”


4. Getting human rights right, Mike Pompeo is trying, to the chagrin of the human rights establishment.

By Clifford D. May, The Washington Times, July 17, 2019, Pg. B1

At the State Department, human rights have generally been a not-so-high priority. The big kahunas tend to focus on war and peace, allies and adversaries, national security and global economics.

So it came as something of a surprise when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week launched a bipartisan Commission on Unalienable Rights. Its task, Mr. Pompeo wrote in The Wall Street Journal, “isn’t to discover new principles but to ground our discussion of human rights in America’s founding principles.”

To head the commission, Mr. Pompeo named Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard professor, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican and author of a book on Eleanor Roosevelt’s impact on human rights. She said the panel would attempt to provide clarity at a time when “basic human rights are being misunderstood by many, manipulated by many and ignored by the world’s worst human rights violators.”


5. New Trump rules prompt Planned Parenthood to forgo federal funds.

By Jessie Hellmann, The Hill Online, July 17, 2019, 6:00 AM

Planned Parenthood on Tuesday said it will forgo federal family planning funds rather than comply with new Trump administration rules that prohibit the organization from referring women for abortions.

The group announced it will no longer participate in the only federally funded program dedicated to providing contraception and other reproductive health services to low-income women, marking a victory for Trump’s conservative base.


6. Pelosi, Wolf urge US to call out China for religious freedom abuses.

By Christopher White, Crux, July 17, 2019

Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi described repression of religious minorities in China as a “challenge to the conscience of the world” Tuesday during the opening day of a high-level U.S. summit on religious freedom.

Pelosi, a Catholic and the only woman to ever hold the post of House Speaker, said that if the United States is unwilling to call out China for its abuses of religious freedom then it loses its ability to call out other countries for similar abuses.

“Violations are of such scale and so big, and the commercial interests are so significant, that it sometimes tempers our values as to how we are to act on it,” said Pelosi, noting that many countries are unwilling to take a stand on the issue because of the potential profit to be made there.

Pelosi’s remarks came during the Second Annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom sponsored by the U.S. State Department. She was joined by former Republican Congressman Frank Wolf for a discussion moderated by Sam Brownback, ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.


7. Survivor asks Pope to back bill ending statute of limitations for abuse.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, July 17, 2019

An abuse survivor in the pontiff’s native Argentina has called on Pope Francis to back a push in the country’s senate to eliminate a statute of limitations on sexual crimes against children in Argentine law.

The bill was introduced just days after Chile’s congress voted July 6 to remove the statute of limitations on child abuse from its own criminal code. An earlier effort in Argentina to lift the statute of limitations in 2011, known as the “Piazza law” for fashion designer Roberto Piazza who was sexually abused by an older brother, was subject to diverse legal interpretations and, observers say, has not been widely implemented.

Speaking with Crux, survivor Ricardo Benedetti, who says he was abused by a priest when he was 8 years old, and who is today the main force behind the new bill, said it’s important to have the support of his fellow Argentine, the pope.


8. For Eritrea’s Christians, government not the solution but the problem.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, July 17, 2019

As the world struggles to catch up with what victims and experts have known for a long time – to wit, that anti-Christian persecution is one of the world’s most pernicious human rights scourges in the early 21st century – one point steadily becoming more clear is that it’s a complicated problem with no single diagnosis and, for sure, no single cure.

An event hosted by the British embassy to the Vatican Monday at Rome’s Basilica of San Bartolomeo brought a reminder of the point, in this case from Eritrea.

Ambassador Sally Axworthy of the UK organized the event to present a new report commissioned by the British government on anti-Christian persecution around the world. San Bartolomeo was a natural setting, since the church was entrusted to the Community of Sant’Egidio in 1993 and today hosts chapels dedicated to the “new martyrs” of the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Americas.


9. The Crystal Cathedral was a monument to televangelism. It’s about to become a Catholic church.

By Mary Louise Schumacher, Washington Post Online, July 17, 2019, 6:32 AM

For years, Christians, Southern Californians and design devotees alike have anticipated the resurrection of the Crystal Cathedral, the Orange County church designed by modernist architect Philip Johnson. It was the home of televangelist Robert Schuller and his “Hour of Power” TV program, watched in its heyday by tens of millions, in 156 countries.

Touted as the largest glass building in the world when it opened in 1980, the megachurch was purchased by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange in 2012, thanks to a messy bankruptcy. The diocese renamed it Christ Cathedral and, in fact, acquired the whole architecturally significant campus, including buildings by Richard Neutra and Richard Meier.

Cost savings may have been a motivating factor for the purchase. As cathedrals go, the diocese picked it up for a song, just $57.5 million. Some see the deal as an act of architectural preservation, if not devotion.

Now, after years of anticipation and $77 million in renovations, the Catholics will get to test drive Schuller’s telegenic cathedral. The faithful have been invited to celebrate a Solemn Mass of Dedication at the Garden Grove church on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. Pacific time. The inaugural Mass will be live-streamed via the diocese’s site. Later on Wednesday, the cathedral will be open to the public, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. After that, Masses will be celebrated regularly on Saturdays and Sundays, and the church is expected to be open for public daily tours beginning in February 2020, the diocese says.


10. Cardinal Mueller criticizes ‘false teaching’ on revelation in Amazon synod doc.

Catholic News Agency, July 16, 2019, 8:27 AM

That the working document for October’s Synod of Bishops calls the Amazon region a source of revelation is a “false teaching,” Cardinal Gerhard Mueller said Tuesday.

If in the Instrumentum laboris of the Amazon synod, “a certain territory is being declared to be a ‘particular source of God’s Revelation,’ then one has to state that this is a false teaching,” the German cardinal said.

“For 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has infallibly taught that Holy Scripture and Apostolic Tradition are the only sources of Revelation and that no further Revelation can be added in the course of history,” he clarified.

Mueller’s analysis was simultaneously provided to CNA’s sister agency CNA Deutsch and several other news outlets, July 16. The working document for the special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian region, which will take place in October, was published June 17.


11. A quiver of gladness.

By Grazie Pozo Christie, Angelus News, July 16, 2019
Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie specializes in radiology in the Miami area and serves on the advisory board for The Catholic Association.

When I traveled to China to adopt our fifth child, I was part of a group of a dozen families, all adopting from the same orphanage. We spent almost three weeks together, sharing what may be the most moving experience of a lifetime.

I was the odd one in the group, as I was adding a fifth child to our family. The other families were all very small — just couples, in fact — who were going to China to become parents after biology had failed them. 

If receiving my fat-cheeked little one was bliss for me, I can’t begin to understand what it was like for these good people who had been aching for a child for many years.  

During my time in China I was fortunate to watch years of wanting and hoping come to glorious conclusion for my travel companions. 

At the social welfare institute where the toddlers were handed to their new mothers and fathers, decades of prayers were answered in the shape of daughters, mostly, who held in their little hands whole futures of happiness for their weeping parents. 

I was almost as happy, I think, because God was putting another straight and shining arrow in my quiver, and I knew just how much gladness was in store for me.   


12. Government restrictions on religion increasing worldwide.

By David Crary, The Associated Press, July 15, 2019

Government restrictions on religion have increased markedly in many places around the world, not only in authoritarian countries, but also in many of Europe’s democracies, according to a report surveying 198 countries that was released Monday.

The report released by the Pew Research Center, covering developments through 2017, also seeks to document the scope of religion-based harassment and violence. Regarding the world’s two largest religions, it said Christians were harassed in 143 countries and Muslims in 140.

This was Pew’s 10th annual Report on Global Restrictions on Religion. It said 52 governments, including those in Russia and China, impose high levels of restrictions on religion, up from 40 governments in 2007. It said 56 countries in 2017 were experiencing social hostilities involving religion, up from 39 in 2007.


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