1. The crucial questions about gender care are not political or legal, We need to know whether treatments benefit most children who receive them., By Megan McArdle, The Washington Post, July 2, 2024, 7:15 AM, Opinion
In 2021, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), issued draft guidelines for treating gender-dysphoric adolescents, including a set of minimum ages that do not seem unduly restrictive: age 14 for hormones, 15 for mastectomy, 16 for breast augmentation or facial surgeries, and 17 for genital surgery. By the time the final guidelines were issued, however, the minimum age recommendations had been removed. Last week, unsealed documents from an Alabama court case suggested that Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, and her chief of staff had pressured the group to drop or downplay the minimums, for fear they might spur “devastating legislation.”
One message from WPATH, which seems to have been addressed to Levine, reads, “We heard your comments regarding the minimum age criteria. … Therefore, we have made changes as to how the minimal ages are presented in the documents.”
Taken together, these messages suggest that Levine does not understand the ethical requirements of her job.

Yet surely, if Levine had not done these things, the administration could have come up with something more forceful than the tepid non-denial it pointed me to in a follow-up New York Times article: “Adm. Levine shared her view with her staff that publishing the proposed lower ages for gender transition surgeries was not supported by science or research, and could lead to an onslaught of attacks on the transgender community.”
The Times article also contained a new announcement, made shortly after the Levine story broke: The White House is now opposed to gender surgery for minors.
This is far too small a response. The allegations against Levine need to be investigated, and if they are true, she needs to be replaced — not only because she will have endangered children, but also to send the message that, when it comes to figuring out the proper medical treatment of children, politics never comes before science.

Last week the Economist reported that other documents unsealed in the Alabama case suggest something has gone wrong at WPATH itself, which reportedly commissioned evidence reviews from Johns Hopkins University, then tried to meddle with the result. Internal communications suggest that research should be “thoroughly scrutinized to ensure that publication does not negatively affect the provision of transgender health care in the broadest sense.” Now, assuming this is true, I’m sure WPATH sincerely believed it was doing its best for gender-dysphoric kids. But such meddling makes it harder to find out whether the group is right about that.

For that matter, I’m sure that almost everyone involved with the issue believes they’re doing the best thing for children, from red-state legislators who think they’re saving youth from unnecessary and harmful treatment, to HHS officials who have thought they were saving the same kids from being trapped in the wrong body. But they cannot all be correct. The two camps can sincerely hold such opposing views precisely because the issue is being treated as a political and legal dispute rather than a novel empirical question we have yet to fully answer. The only way to resolve that question is to set aside political positioning in favor of professionalism, passion in favor of reason, and opinions in favor of facts.
2. Biden administration under fire in Nigeria over religious freedom report, By Ngala Killian Chimtom, Crux, July 2, 2024
President Joe Biden and his administration have come under severe censure in Nigeria over the State Department’s latest report on religious freedom in the world.
Christian leaders are upset the report fails to include Nigeria in the “countries of particular concern” (CPC) watch list, which lists those nations that have engaged in or tolerated “particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”
Nigeria has a population of 230 million people, almost evenly divided between Christians, mainly in the south, and Muslims, mainly in the north.
Nigeria now has the infamous distinction of having the worst persecutor of Christians in the world. Every year, at least 4,000 Christians are killed in the country, according to Global Christian Relief.

3. The Abortion Debate Two Years After Dobbs, The court’s decision returned the issue to the states, leaving it for the American people—including our readers—to wrestle with., By Hadley Arkes, The Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2024, 10:42 AM, Letter to the Editor
Regarding “The Vindication of Dobbs After Two Years” (Review & Outlook, June 25): There is no editorial board that I respect more than the Journal’s. But a jurisprudence as morally empty as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization should be embarrassed to claim its name.
Fifty years ago the lawyers for Texas in Roe v. Wade drew on the most updated findings of embryology to point out that nascent life in the human womb has never been anything but a human being from its first moments. But the dissenters to Roe that followed never drew on that deep material. Instead they moved to the argument that a right to abortion is nowhere in the text of the Constitution, and therefore no federal judge may proclaim such a constitutional right.
This divided conservatives as to the wrong in Roe. Some objected to the fact that the decision licensed the killing of unborn children in the womb, at a rate early on of one million a year. Others thought Roe’s error was that the Court simply stepped out of its proper lane. That side prevailed in Dobbs.
Two years later, the number of abortions sits again at a million annually. For 50 years the Court taught the moral rightness of abortion. Conservatives returned the matter to the political arena without pronouncing on the rightness or wrongness of abortion and taking the first steps to plant a new teaching.
4. Vatican’s Financial Auditor Speaks Out, By Colm Flynn, EWTN, July 1, 2024, Interview
Libero Milone was appointed by Pope Francis to be the Vatican’s first ever auditor general in 2015. In a historic move, he was told that he had access to all areas, and would be free to audit the accounts of any Vatican department he wished. Formerly he had worked as chairman and CEO of Deloitte in Italy, as well as a number of big firms in the UK and USA. Milone was shocked to see the standard of accounting and bookkeeping in certain parts of the Vatican, and claims he started to encounter problems with the Vatican’s ‘old guard’ when he started to ask questions about certain transactions and sums of money. After only two years in the job, he abruptly resigned, he claims by force because he was starting to uncover major financial mismanagement and fraud at some of the highest levels of the Catholic Church.
Now Milone is taking a €9.3m lawsuit against the Vatican for unfair dismissal, loss of income, and emotional distress. The case was thrown out by a Vatican court, but Milone is now appealing.
In this extended one-on-one interview with EWTN’s Colm Flynn, Milone talks about working with Pope Francis to bring about financial reform, and the problems he started to come up against, and why he is now speaking out and telling his story.

5. Vatican budget black hole swallows Peter’s Pence, By The Pillar, The Pillar, July 1, 2024, 4:00 PM
Peter’s Pence, the annual collection to support the work of the Holy Father, reported an uptick in donations for 2023, but allocated nearly 90% of revenue to Vatican operating expenses.
And although voluntary donations climbed after 2022, total revenue to Peter’s Pence in 2023 nearly halved, after the fund disposed of millions of euros in real estate assets to help cover the operations of the Roman curia the previous year.
While climbing Peter’s Pence donations are getting headlines, the more important story told by the report is an ongoing budget black hole at the center of the Roman curia, with the Vatican’s need for cash absorbing not only donations to Peter’s Pence, but triggering a sale of the fund’s assets as well.

6. Wisconsin Supreme Court rules in favor of pro-life advocate citing ‘free speech rights’, By Gigi Duncan, Catholic News Agency, July 1, 2024, 5:00 PM
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled late last week that a court order prohibiting a pro-life advocate from approaching a Planned Parenthood employee violated his free speech rights under the First Amendment and must be overturned.
Brian Aish, a pro-life advocate who regularly and peacefully protested at a Planned Parenthood clinic in the city of Blair, began interacting with nurse Nancy Kindschy in 2019 and was eventually accused of harassment.
Holding signs that quoted the Bible and expressed his Christian faith, Aish told Kindschy in October of that same year that she “had time to repent.”

The Supreme Court unanimously agreed with Aish’s assertions that his dialogue with Kindschy — which occurred on a public sidewalk — was free speech protected under the First Amendment.
Furthermore, the unanimous ruling cited the 2023 U.S. Supreme Court case Counterman v. Colorado, which questioned the nature of a “true threat” unprotected by the First Amendment following a Colorado man’s conviction for stalking.
The case held that the First Amendment requires the government to prove at a minimum that the defendant “consciously disregarded a substantial risk that his communications would be viewed as threatening violence.”

7. Texas Supreme Court upholds ban on transgender procedures for minors, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, July 1, 2024, 3:20 PM
The Texas Supreme Court has upheld a state ban on performing transgender procedures on minors, ordering that the state is within its authority to outlaw extreme medical treatments for young boys and girls.
The court said in its 8-1 ruling that the state Legislature made “a permissible, rational policy choice to limit the types of available medical procedures for children” when it passed the law last year. 
The measure prohibits doctors from performing genital surgeries and other types of surgeries on minors as a means to facilitate a “gender transition.” It also forbids doctors from prescribing puberty blockers or any other drugs to delay the normal development of puberty and forbids cross-sex “hormone therapy” for children.
The state high court had last year allowed the law to go into effect while litigation against it played out. A lower court originally blocked the legislation. 

8. Fisher & More in China: June 2024, By Fr. Raymond J. de Souza, The Catholic Thing, June 29, 2024, Opinion
We honor St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More as models of lonely courage during “Religious Freedom Week,” which comes to a close today. As Kipling would put it in another context, they kept their heads “when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.”
Fisher and More kept their heads spiritually and morally. They lost them literally in 1535 on Henry VIII’s orders; Fisher first on 22nd June, their joint feast day, and More on 6th July.
Yet even as we honor them, their example is difficult for us to fully appreciate.
What made Fisher and More’s fidelity stand out was precisely that it was lonely; the vast majority of their peers went along with Henry’s usurpation of Rome. Fisher was the only English bishop who resisted. More was singular amongst his friends and colleagues; even his family doubted his stand.
Had we lived in the early sixteenth century, we would have seen that bending to Henry’s will was the norm. It was Cardinal Thomas Wolsey of York, Lord Chancellor, who was England’s senior cleric, not Fisher, the bishop of Rochester. Wolsey was vigorous in advancing “the king’s great matter” before Henry lost confidence in him.
Fisher only got the red hat of a Cardinal when already imprisoned; Henry greeted the news by observing if the pope sent the red hat to London there would be no head to wear it.
Our experience of tyranny in the last century is not principally that of the lonely witness, but tends toward the white-robed army of martyrs. We are more likely to know about confessors of the faith, not collaborators with the regime.

Entire national episcopates stood firm. Groups of martyrs from Mexico, Spain, Italy and Poland have already been raised to the altars.
The prominent collaborator, as played by Wolsey and later Thomas Cranmer, has not been our recent experience. While detracting not at all from the lions of the last century, they had, in large measure, the encouragement that comes from solidarity with others.

Courageous Chinese witnesses today are undermined by their peers who go along with the regime.
There is the heroic Jimmy Lai, the Hong Kong publisher and faithful Catholic. Jailed since 2020 under China’s new “national security” law, Lai’s trial is currently underway. There is little doubt about how it will end.
Lai made his billions in retail before turning to journalism, and could easily have gone abroad when Beijing started turning the screws on Hong Kong. He is not one to flee the storms; he remained, a man for all seasons.

Lai, like More, knows the added pain of being persecuted by a regime that has the cooperation of his fellow Catholics, John Lee and Carrie Lam. Lee is chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; Lam is his predecessor in a role which now consists of enforcing Beijing’s erosion of civil liberties in Hong Kong.
No doubt Lai’s jailers taunt him with the fact that his fellow Catholics have seen their way clear to support the very regime that is incarcerating him.
Jimmy Lai was baptized in 1997 just as the British handed Hong Kong back to China. He was baptized by Joseph Zen, the new coadjutor bishop of Hong Kong (wisely appointed by St. John Paul the Great before Chinese control took effect).
Zen would become bishop of Hong Kong in 2002 and was created a cardinal in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI. Zen plays the role of Fisher today.
He has not been imprisoned, but his strong voice against collaboration with the Chinese Communist regime has earned him persecution in Hong Kong and the cold shoulder in the Vatican.

The current bishop of Shanghai is cut from different cloth. Bishop Joseph Shen Bin was appointed the bishop of Shanghai in April 2023 by the Chinese Communist Party. The Vatican did not even know, let alone give its approval.
Nevertheless, Pope Francis gave his post facto approval in July. It’s possible that Shen Bin engineered his own transfer to China’s preeminent see. Regardless, he was given a prominent role at a Vatican conference last month. Cardinal Zen did not address the gathering.
Shen Bin is head of the state-created episcopal conference of China, which is not recognized as legitimate by Rome. According to its own documents, that faux-conference of bishops “supports the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, the socialist system, and adheres to the principles of independence and self-governance in political, economic, and church affairs.”
So, the Fishers amongst the fishermen of the loyal Chinese episcopate must contend with the Chinese-appointed, papally-approved bishop of Shanghai, who may well have been chosen by Beijing for the role of Cardinal Wolsey.
In 1957, Fulton Sheen wrote, “The West has its Mindszenty, but the East has its Kung.”
In 2024, in Joseph Zen and Jimmy Lai, China has its John Fisher and Thomas More.

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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!

“Conversations with Consequences” is an 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.