1. ‘Will they stop at burning an empty church?’: Anti-Christian attacks rise in Europe, By Catholic News Agency, July 22, 2020, 3:55 AM

The fire that ripped through the Gothic Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in Nantes July 18 was reported around the world. But suspected arson attacks on French churches usually do not make international headlines.

Since 2010, the Paris-based L’Observatoire de la Christianophobie (Observatory of Christianophobia) has chronicled anti-Christian incidents in France and around the world.

It has recorded these events month by month on interactive maps since 2017, placing them in six categories: arson, murder/assault, vandalism, theft, bombing, and abduction.

Following Saturday’s fire at Nantes, the organization has reported several less well-publicized incidents, including the destruction of a crucifix on the Île-d’Arz in Brittany, the slashing of paintings in a church in Auxerre, and the decapitation of a statue of the Virgin Mary in Montaud.

Statistics suggest there are nearly three such attacks a day in France, which is sometimes described as the “eldest daughter of the Church” because the Frankish King Clovis I embraced Catholicism in 496.


2. Mike Pompeo’s fight for unalienable rights, The human rights establishment wants him out of the marketplace of ideas, By Clifford D. May, The Washington Times, July 22, 2020, Pg. B1, Opinion

A year ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked a group of scholars “to furnish advice on human rights grounded in our nation’s founding principles.” In normal times, this would be a dog-bites-man story — at most. But we don’t live in normal times.

So, Mr. Pompeo’s naming of a bipartisan Commission on Unalienable Rights, chaired by Harvard legal scholar Mary Ann Glendon, author of a book about Eleanor Roosevelt, provoked outrage, anger and intolerance.

An example that sticks in my mind: A staff writer for The New Yorker suggested that Mr. Pompeo should be disqualified from any discussions about human rights because he “was, for many years, a Sunday-school teacher and a church deacon.”

Last Thursday, Mr. Pompeo formally presented the commission’s report at the National Convention Center in Philadelphia.

Within minutes, denouncements were flowing into my email inbox.

I saw no effort to actually examine and criticize the arguments made by Mr. Pompeo and his commissioners. Instead, the clear intention was to delegitimize them, to declare them subversive dissidents — violators of the orthodoxy dictated by the Human Rights Establishment.

Anyone who actually bothers to read the report — essentially an academic primer of the kind that, in normal times, college freshmen would be assigned — will find it far from extreme. Nor does it attempt to gloss over America’s human rights failures. One example: “Respect for unalienable rights requires forthright acknowledgement of not only where the United States has fallen short of its principles but also special recognition of the sin of slavery — an institution as old as human civilization and our nation’s deepest violation of unalienable rights.”

Another: “Progress toward the securing of rights for all has often been excruciatingly slow and has been interrupted by periods of lamentable backsliding.”

In listening to Mr. Pompeo and reading the report, a question occurred to me: On what basis do we — you, I, Mr. Pompeo, his critics — understand and agree that slavery is wrong?

Doesn’t our shared belief stem from the West’s development of the biblical idea that all human beings are made in God’s image?

Isn’t it influenced by the America Founders’ Enlightenment conception of rights that those who govern are obliged to guarantee, and forbidden to take away?

And isn’t it rooted in abolitionism, a movement predominantly inspired by religion? As historian Sean Wilentz has pointed out, 7 of the 10 Philadelphians who in 1775 founded “the first antislavery society in world history” were Quakers — and the outsized influence of religious activists would continue for decades.

If the mandarins of the human rights establishment see opposition to slavery springing from different sources, if they have an alternative explanation for the origins of freedom, they should have the courage of their convictions, make their case and compete in an open marketplace of ideas. They should do that civilly, with respect for differing opinions — just as if these were normal times.

Clifford D. May is founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for The Washington Times.


3. Vatican denies it intervened on exhumation of former Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco, By Inés San Martín, Crux, July 22, 2020

Though generally refraining from denying public statements from global leaders, the Vatican on Tuesday publicly refuted the Spanish prime minister’s claim Pope Francis had helped him with the exhumation of the remains of the late head of state, General Francisco Franco.

The Vatican statement came several weeks after the head of the Spanish government, Socialist Alberto Sanchez on July 8 told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, that the Argentine pontiff had helped him on the matters of Franco’s remains, an issue that has long divided Spain.

In his interview with Corriere della Sera, Sánchez defended the decision to take Franco out of the basilica, saying that “a dictator does not deserve a mausoleum, his victims cannot lie next to him. I’ve acted in a legal way, applying the Law of Historic Memory [approved by ex-President Jose Luis Rodriguez] Zapatero, and with ample popular support.”


4. AP Report Ignores Important Work Done by Catholic Church, By Maureen Ferguson, Real Clear Religion, July 21, 2020, Opinion

Imagine schools – a whole school system – where 99 percent of all high school students graduate. Imagine schools where 86 percent of students go on to college. Imagine, as well, that these same schools disproportionately educate kids of color and the economically disadvantaged in some of the toughest neighborhoods. These schools close the achievement gap, helping to right the wrongs of racism. They do so at half the cost of public schools. Imagine all this as our nation struggles to confront its racial inequities.

The good news is that you don’t have to imagine. America’s Catholic schools are, each and every school day, doing all this here and now.

You might think that there would be a bipartisan effort to rescue these schools, but the fact that parochial schools were eligible for the first round of congressional grants and loans in the initial COVID-19 relief bills has triggered a backlash.

The backlash entered a new phase when the Associated Press reported that the Catholic Church had secured Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds for its parishes, schools, and administrative offices. The PPP program was designed specifically to keep people employed. The Catholic Church, with its distinct organizational structure, employs a lot of people – including teachers, janitors, nurses, and bus drivers – and was therefore eligible for PPP loans just like any other non-profit. The AP’s report mixed “How Dare They?” shock with a veiled anti-Catholicism that would have pleased the old Blaine amendment backers.

It’s worth considering what “aid to the Roman Catholic Church” means in practice, because the church’s contributions to our society are immeasurable and benefit all Americans, Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

How so? Beyond the men and women who work in parishes, parochial schools, and archdiocesan offices across the land – American workers that the Paycheck Protection funds were meant to keep employed during the lockdown – there are the Catholic organizations, orders, and societies that have ministered to people in need from our country’s beginning.

They’re the bodies that engage in corporal works of mercy – feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and imprisoned, burying the dead and giving alms to the poor. By these works Catholics respond to the basic needs of humanity. The hospitals, orphanages, nursing homes, adoption agencies, soup kitchens, thrift shops, food banks, and organizations like the Knights of Columbus, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and Catholic Charities are “the Catholic Church.” They’re busy in the best of times and busier still amid the current pandemic. They’re also busier at a time when church collections are down because church services have been prohibited or limited.

We’re all in this together. We hear that a lot these days in speeches and television ads. The Catholic Church has acted upon this great truth from our nation’s founding right up to the current coronavirus crisis. It’s the work of our hands. How ignorant and counterproductive for politicians and the media to argue otherwise when it comes to the Catholic Church.

Maureen Ferguson is a Senior Fellow for The Catholic Association.


5. Planned Parenthood to remove Margaret Sanger’s name from N.Y. clinic over views on eugenics, By Samantha Schmidt, The Washington Post, July 21, 2020, 4:37 PM

Planned Parenthood of Greater New York will remove the name of the national organization’s founder, Margaret Sanger, from a Manhattan clinic in an attempt to reckon with her ties to the eugenics movement, the organization announced Tuesday.

“The removal of Margaret Sanger’s name from our building is both a necessary and overdue step to reckon with our legacy and acknowledge Planned Parenthood’s contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color,” Karen Seltzer, chair of the board at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, said in a statement. “Margaret Sanger’s concerns and advocacy for reproductive health have been clearly documented, but so too has her racist legacy.”


6. Michigan abortion foes drop petition drive to ban method, By Associated Press, July 21, 2020, 12:29 PM

Abortion opponents said Tuesday they’re dropping a petition drive to prohibit a second-trimester procedure in Michigan after state election officials said the campaign didn’t produce enough valid signatures.

Right to Life of Michigan said it won’t contest the conclusion when the Board of State Canvassers meets Friday.

Under Michigan law, an initiative goes to the Legislature if a group submits at least 340,047 valid signatures to the elections bureau. If lawmakers reject it, it goes on the statewide ballot for voters to decide.

In this case, the state said abortion opponents fell short. Although roughly 380,000 signatures were submitted, the elections bureau estimated that only about 333,000 were valid


7. Americans agree: abortion is not a ‘desirable good’, By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, July 21, 2020, 10:00 AM

A new abortion study has revealed the complexity of Americans’ views on abortion, and an openness to discussion. But among the report’s key findings was a unanimous agreement that abortion is not a “desirable good.”

The interview study “How Americans Understand Abortion” was published on Monday by the University of Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life. Rather than ask respondents fixed-answer questions about their views on abortion, sociologists interviewed Americans at length to elicit thoughtful answers on the morality and legality of abortion.


8. Catholic, Eastern Othodox Churches to observe day of mourning for Hagia Sophia, By Catholic News Agency, July 21, 2020, 2:01 PM

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Tuesday that July 24 “is a Day of Mourning” for Hagia Sophia. The former church and museum in Istanbul will that day be inaugurated as a mosque.

In a July 21 tweet, the USCCB said that it joins the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America “in offering our prayers for the restoration of Hagia Sophia as a place of prayer and reflection for all peoples.”


9. Chinese Christians told to replace Christ with Mao or lose government support, By Catholic News Agency, July 21, 2020, 3:00 PM

Government authorities in Shanxi, China, are ordering people who receive government assistance to replace religious symbols in their homes, including pictures of Jesus, with pictures of Chairman Mao and President Xi Jinping. Refusal to comply results in the assistance being taken away.

The religious freedom magazine Bitter Winter reported last week that officials in the city of Linfen, Shanxi province, were told in April to inspect and remove religious symbols from the homes of those receiving “social welfare payments” and to replace them with communist leaders. Those who complained would have their payments “annulled.”

The policy also applies to members of state-run churches. A member of the Three-Self Church, which is the Chinese Communist Party’s official Protestant denomination, told Bitter Winter that images of Jesus and a religious calendar were taken down from his house and replaced with images of Chairman Mao.


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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