1. The Controversial Text That Saved Me, I’m a Catholic thanks to ‘Humanae Vitae.’ It’s about a lot more than birth control. 

By Ashley McGuire, Ms. McGuire, a senior fellow at the Catholic Association, is author of “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female”, The Wall Street Journal, July 27, 2018, Pg. A15, Opinion

I first read “Humanae Vitae”—which Pope Paul VI published 50 years ago July 29—when I was 21. As a senior at Tufts University, hardly a bastion of Christian belief, sheer curiosity brought me to the controversial papal encyclical. I knew only that it banned contraception. How could a billion people around the world embrace such a backward religion?

Two years later, I was baptized and received into the Catholic Church. “Humanae Vitae” was my gateway. Disillusioned with a culture that habitually objectifies women, I found the document stirring—as did countless other converts—with its call to safeguard “the reverence due to a woman.”

The teachings in “Humanae Vitae” extend beyond organic sex. As those who benefited from its wisdom attest, holding nothing back from your spouse is a choice that can be transformative. Another fellow adherent, a lawyer, told me that embracing the teaching caused her to see not only her spouse, but everything, as sacred.

The trust spouses place in each other imitates the transcendent trust that faith teaches us to put in the divine when things aren’t fully within our control. This sounds insane to a culture where the individual reigns supreme, but marriage is, after all, a call to abandon ourselves fully to another in love.

Women in particular stand to benefit from Pope Paul VI’s prescient teachings about men, women and love. “A man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman,” he wrote. This risks reducing a woman to “a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires.” In the #MeToo era, his words are more relevant than ever. Removing contraception from the equation frustrates selfishness and demands of men that they always account for the whole woman. Women appalled by the prevalence of sexual abuse might give the document a look.

Surprisingly, receptivity to the church’s teaching on contraception is highest among millennials. That might be because “Humanae Vitae” is as radical today as it ever was. And a small but passionate cohort of Catholic youth stand ready not only to defend it, but to share its truths with a world greatly in need of them.


2. Bishops bloodied, churches besieged in Nicaragua crackdown. 

By Christopher Sherman, Associated Press, July 27, 2018, 12:09 AM

A pro-government mob shoved, punched and scratched at Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes and other Catholic leaders as they tried to enter the Basilica San Sebastian. “Murderers!” people shouted. An auxiliary bishop was slashed on the arm with some sort of sharp object.

The ugly scene in the normally sleepy town of Diriamba, an hour’s drive south of Nicaragua’s capital, was a dramatic example of how rapidly a wave of unrest has soured relations between the Roman Catholic Church and beleaguered President Daniel Ortega.

The church has tried to play a mediating role between Ortega’s Sandinista government and protesters who have increasingly demanded his ouster amid demonstrations and clashes in which about 450 people — most of them protesters — have been slain.

The church, essentially the last independent institution trusted by a large portion of Nicaraguans, is witnessing the whiplash-inducing shifts of Ortega, who appears to have regained his footing amid the most serious challenge to his power in the decade-plus since he regained office.

Last week Ortega accused bishops of being in league with coup-plotters and allowing weapons to be stockpiled in churches — without offering any evidence — and said they were “disqualified” as mediators.

Days later he reversed course again, saying he hoped the church would continue mediating and insisting that the government was not persecuting it.

The Vatican has been mostly quiet about the conflict, deferring as it usually does to behind-the-scenes diplomacy while the local church manages the situation on the ground.

Last week Pope Francis’ ambassador to Nicaragua did put out a statement expressing the pontiff’s “deep concern for the grave situation.”


3. Restoring religious liberty. 

By Steve Scalise and Randy Weber, Steve Scalise, a Republican U.S. representative from Louisiana, is the House Majority Whip. Randy Weber is a Republican U.S. representative from Texas, The Washington Times, July 27, 2018, Pg. B1, Opinion

One of the greatest things about America is our constitutionally protected right to practice our faith and live out our religious beliefs free from interference by our government. Unfortunately, over the last few decades our nation has seen a wave of attacks against religious freedom — from government overreach to activist judges and others who wish to remove more elements of faith from our national life.

Thankfully, under President Trump’s leadership, we are starting to turn the tide and restore the liberties our nation’s Founders enshrined in our Constitution. 

When asking for the American people’s support in 2016, Donald Trump produced a list of strong, constitutional conservatives from which he would choose a nominee. He followed through on his promise by nominating Neil Gorsuch. Now, with Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, President Trump has once again nominated a jurist, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who shows respect for our Constitution and commitment to protecting American rights, including our religious freedoms.

In Congress, we are working to secure even greater protections to religious liberties. 

Just when it seemed we were on a disastrous course, where our own government was undermining religious freedom at every turn, the American people stood up and demanded a change in direction. Under Mr. Trump, our government is now playing its proper role by defending our rights rather than threatening or treading upon them. He is keeping his promises to Americans of all faiths who felt marginalized by President Obama and others on the left. We are proud to stand with him and with all Americans who value faith and freedom.


4. ‘Gosnell’ producer takes new tack to market pro-life film. 

By Christian Toto, The Washington Times, July 27, 2018, Pg. A1

Filmmaker John Sullivan has faced his share of obstacles in executive-producing his latest movie, “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer.”

First came financing for the feature film, which recalls the barbaric practices of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell. The issue was resolved by a record-breaking crowdfunding campaign in 2014 that netted north of $2.1 million via Indiegogo.

Then a lawsuit filed by a judge depicted in the movie delayed its release, as did securing a distributor. The pro-life film is set for an Oct. 12 release on about 600 screens.

Now Mr. Sullivan and his crew are bracing for a lack of interest by the left-leaning media, which gave little coverage of Gosnell’s 2013 murder trial, where it was revealed that he likely had killed hundreds of babies born alive on his operating table.

Gosnell, now 77, was convicted of three first-degree murder charges and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Mr. Sullivan said he will weaponize any cultural biases to his movie’s benefit.

“We’ve used this judo in the past with journalists,” he said, citing the late Andrew Breitbart as inspiration. “Andrew was always thinking three steps ahead. [‘Gosnell‘ co-producers] Ann [McElhinney] and Phelim [McAleer] knew him, too.

“This movie was made because the media was silent on [Gosnell’s crimes]. If the media is silent again [about the film], it’s almost a story,” the executive producer said.

Team “Gosnell” is reaching out to a large group of influencers — people who can sway opinions of potential moviegoers — to sell tickets.

A “Gosnell” letter obtained by The Washington Times offers part of the sales pitch: “We are not going to let this story be ignored anymore. Pro-Abortion zealots don’t want this story to be known because it changes people’s minds about abortion, it’s that simple and that powerful. … Hearts and minds need changing too. But DC, Hollywood, Planned Parenthood and many newsrooms across the country want to suppress this story and they are powerful and dangerous.”

Mr. Sullivan hinted at a marketing secret weapon behind “Gosnell,” one his team couldn’t have predicted four years ago when they launched the crowdfunding campaign: The potential appointment of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has folks speculating about the future of Roe v. Wade.

“We’re not naive about what’s happening with Kavanaugh,” Mr. Sullivan said. “We’re looking to embrace it in a way and have a discussion about it.”


5. Pence announces Genocide Recovery Program for Iraqi minorities. 

By Courtney Grogan, Catholic News Agency, July 27, 2018

Vice President Mike Pence announced the establishment of the Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response Program on Thursday “to rapidly deliver aid to persecuted communities, beginning with Iraq.”

Speaking July 26, at the State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, Pence said that he hopes that the genocide recovery program “will not only deliver additional support to the most vulnerable communities,” but also “embolden civil society to help stop violence in the future.”

The Christian and Yazidi minorities of northern Iraq were decimated by the Islamic State in 2014. While these communities are beginning to rebuild, the mass atrocities and ethnic cleansing they endured cannot easily be overcome.


6. Court affirms order blocking Indiana ultrasound abortion law. 

By Rick Callahan, Associated Press, July 26, 2018, 4:12 PM

An Indiana mandate that forces women to undergo an ultrasound at least 18 hours before having an abortion is “an undue burden” that saddles some women with lengthy travel and additional expenses, a federal appeals court ruled this week.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday affirmed a preliminary injunction issued in April 2017 by U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt. The injunction blocked the ultrasound waiting period that then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law in March 2016.


7. Sins That Demand Justice: How Clerical Culture Failed to Stop Sexual Predators, We pray that the moral ambivalence that permitted and nurtured Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s rise will be condemned and that Pope Francis, in concert with the U.S. bishops, will begin a much-needed purification of the Church. 

By National Catholic Register, July 26, 2018, Editorial

Amid increasing allegations of sexual abuse against the disgraced U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, the Church’s most respected advocate for victims of clergy sexual abuse of minors, broke the episcopal silence and pledged that Pope Francis would take decisive action against Cardinal McCarrick and other prelates facing similar allegations.

The Church’s failure to act more quickly, he acknowledged, exposed a “major gap … in the Church’s policies on sexual conduct and sexual abuse.” And he called for a “strong and comprehensive policy” to address bishops’ violations of the vows of celibacy in cases of the criminal abuse of minors and in cases involving adults, outlining three important immediate goals.

Yet, after decades of cover-up and silence — tactics that both facilitated Cardinal McCarrick’s rise to the top of the U.S. hierarchy and also discouraged his victims and others with knowledge of his predatory behavior from speaking out — talk of policies and process seemed woefully inadequate.

Many Catholics who have followed the demoralizing spectacle of the past month want answers to urgent questions, beginning with who knew what, and when? Also in need of examination is the network of Church leaders who should have known, because of their proximity to McCarrick and the widespread whispers of his open secret. Did they fail to see the problem and ask the right questions because it would have violated some code of the current clerical culture? Finally, the faithful need to know how Church authorities could have stopped Cardinal McCarrick, if only they had the fortitude.

Pope Francis’ involvement in an investigation of McCarrick is vitally necessary if the Church is to guarantee protection for victims and clerical whistleblowers, who fear reprisals if they go public.

Once this investigation is completed, action from the Pope must be immediate, practical, systematic and deep.

The hoped-for result will be a sea change in how Church leaders address sexual immorality, including the grooming and victimization of adult seminarians and young priests by homosexuals within their ranks, in the priesthood and the episcopate as a whole.

Over the past two decades, even as the U.S. bishops sought to remove priests facing credible accusations of sexual abuse involving minors, there has been a tacit acceptance of sexual misconduct involving “adults” in many dioceses. This pattern reflects the corrosive impact of secular norms that tolerate nonmarital sexual behavior as long as it is “consensual.”

This story exposes the brutal truth, spelled out even more stunningly in the documents that accompanied the financial settlements for two of Cardinal McCarrick’s victims, that “consensual” sex is a sham in the skewed power dynamic between a bishop and young men under his authority.

Sexual purity is the only real protection for minors and vulnerable adults.

Today, we pray that the moral ambivalence that permitted and nurtured Cardinal McCarrick’s rise will be condemned and that Pope Francis, in concert with the U.S. bishops, will begin a much-needed purification of the Church.

Cardinal O’Malley has warned that, if our shepherds fail to act, they will “destroy the trust required for the Church to minister to Catholics and have a meaningful role in the wider civil society.”

The reality is a great amount of that trust already was destroyed by clergy abuse of minors. Now it faces near decimation, and it needs a complete rebuilding.

Cardinal McCarrick’s investigation is essential, but the decisions that flow from it must make changes great enough for a true renewal. Only then can our Church leaders serve as the beacons of Christ’s hope and healing for a wounded Church.