1. Vatican allegedly hacked by China ahead of key talks, By Associated Press, July 29, 2020, 7:13 AM

The Vatican and the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong have been the targets of alleged Chinese state-backed hackers ahead of talks on renewal of a landmark 2018 deal that helped thaw diplomatic relations between the Vatican and China, according to a monitoring group.

The alleged attacks by a group called RedDelta began in May with an eye on September talks to renew a provisional agreement on bishop appointments, according to a report Tuesday by the U.S.-based Recorded Future, which tracks state-backed cyber attacks. The attacks were first reported by the New York Times.

The Vatican had no immediate comment.


2. Closing churches is a grievous burden, By Matthew T. Martens, The Washington Post, July 29, 2020, Pg. A22

For 47 years and nine months of my life, attending church services was a weekly part of my routine.

That changed in March, when governments urged, and many even mandated, that Americans avoid religious gatherings.

For those who do not share my faith, this may seem a minor inconvenience. In reality, it is a grievous burden. For me, weekly religious gatherings are a matter of deep conviction.

In a 5-to-4 ruling in Calvary Chapel v. Sisolak, the Supreme Court let stand Nevada’s order allowing gamblers to crowd casinos at up to 50 percent of their capacity, while forbidding worship gatherings of more than 50 congregants. The court’s refusal to intervene was a travesty. The order, by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D), transparently favored corporate financial interests while discriminating against religious ones.

The court’s inaction stripped me of a needed basis to urge fellow believers to continue observing the government’s mandates. While I again missed church this Sunday, others responded differently. One of evangelical Christianity’s most influential pastors resorted to civil disobedience and resumed mass indoor church gatherings in California. Others will follow suit. And their defiance will predictably be a defiance of not only their governments’ most unreasonable regulations, but also the more reasonable ones. Having lost confidence in both the government’s goodwill and the court’s commitment to the constitution, the faithful will fend for themselves.

Matthew T. Martens is a partner in the Washington office of WilmerHale. He is also a seminary graduate and former U.S. Supreme Court law clerk who has litigated religious liberty cases arising out of the pandemic.


3. Rules outlined on religious-group grants, By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, July 29, 2020, Pg. A2

The Justice Department has issued a new guidance on awarding grants to religious groups, citing a recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of private schools.

Under the 10-page guidance, the Office of Justice Programs cannot exclude religious or evangelizing groups from eligibility for grant funding. The office last year provided $5 billion in grants for programs ranging from juvenile services to victim counseling to community-based crime fighting.

“Faith-based organizations have a right to equal participation in the Department’s programs,” reads the guidance.


4. House appropriations bill ends pro-life policies guiding foreign aid, By Catholic News Service, July 29, 2020

The head of National Right to Life told House members ahead of a July 24 vote on an appropriations bill that U.S. taxpayers’ money “should not become a weapon in the arsenal of pro-abortion groups as they seek to destroy the sovereignty of nations opposed to abortion on demand.”

Carol Tobias, the pro-life organization’s president, made the comments in a letter to House members urging them to vote against H.R. 7608, the appropriations bill funding eight federal departments and agencies including the State Department and its Foreign Operations program.

The House approved in a 224-189 vote along party lines.

Opponents of the measure, including Tobias and Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, said its passage effectively overturns the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy, weakens the Kemp-Kasten Amendment and increases funding for the U.N. Population Fund.


5. Argentine bishops, pro-life groups dismayed about abortion protocol, By David Agren, Catholic News Service, July 29, 2020

The Argentine bishops’ conference and pro-life groups have expressed dismay with the pending approval of a new protocol on accessing abortion.

In a brief statement July 27, the bishops backed an earlier declaration from Cardinal Mario Poli of Buenos Aires and his auxiliaries, which “expressed their particular worry for the extension without limits for the performance of an abortion and the absence of the institutional right to conscientious objection.”

On July 16, the local Buenos Aires legislature overwhelmingly approved a national health ministry protocol known as Legal Interruption of Pregnancy, which outlines the rules for accessing legal abortions in certain circumstances — such as pregnancy resulting from rape or reasons related to health — permitted by an earlier court ruling.


6. Catholic bishops fear Scotland’s hate crime law could criminalize Bible and Catechism, By Catholic News Agency, July 29, 2020, 6:00 AM

Catholic bishops have said that proposed hate crime legislation in Scotland could criminalize the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In a statement issued July 29, the bishops argued that the Scottish Government’s new Hate Crime and Public Order Bill could lead to censorship of Catholic teaching.

“We are also concerned that section 5 of the Bill creates an offense of possessing inflammatory material which, if taken with the low threshold contained therein, could render material such as the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other texts such as Bishops’ Conference of Scotland submissions to government consultations, as being inflammatory under the new provision,” they said.

The bishops made the comments in a submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee, which is scrutinizing the bill. The bill was introduced by the Scottish Government April 23.


7. ‘Beyond reprehensible’: Christian aid workers executed in Nigeria, By Catholic News Agency, July 28, 2020, 12:05 PM

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom released a statement on Tuesday condemning the execution of five aid workers kidnapped by an Islamic extremist group.

The aid workers were kidnapped last month and their killing was publicly announced last week by members of the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP). The ISWAP is a breakaway faction of Boko Haram, another Islamic extremist terrorist group.


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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