1. Lori: After ‘Trinity Lutheran,’ all anti-Catholic ‘Blaine amendments’ should fall.

By John L. Allen Jr. and Ines San Martin, Crux, July 6, 2017

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who heads the U.S. bishops’ formerly ad-hoc and now permanent Committee on Religious Liberty, said July 2 that while the recent “Trinity Lutheran” decision of the Supreme Court is great, the real endgame is to see “Blaine Amendments” barring aid to religious schools removed from state constitutions all across America.

“I think we should want them to fall,” Lori said. “They were really born out of an anti-Catholic prejudice, and they don’t treat our children as equals.”

Richard Blaine was a Republican Congressman from Maine and Speaker of the House, who in 1875 proposed amending the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to bar all forms of public aid to religious schools – which, in practice at the time, meant Catholic schools.

“What ‘Trinity Lutheran’ did was to challenge the Blaine amendment to the Missouri constitution, and they prevailed,” Lori said. “The ruling was not broad enough to strike down all Blaine amendments, and Chief Justice John Roberts put in a footnote to guarantee that we all understood this. However, it kind of put a dent in the Blaine amendments all around the county.

“It gives a key to other courts and legislations that maybe this is not the way to the future,” Lori said, “and that’s a great victory.”


2. In British Baby’s Case, Catholic Views Aren’t So Clear-Cut. 

By Dan Bilefsky and Sewell Chan, The New York Times, July 6, 2017, Pg. A7

By inserting itself on Sunday into the case of a brain-damaged, terminally ill British infant, the Vatican drew attention to the precarious intersection of ethics and biomedicine, an area in which both theology and regulation have struggled to keep pace with technological advances.

“My sense is that Pope Francis first objects to the state usurping the role of the parents to determine their child’s best interests,” O. Carter Snead, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and the director of its Center for Ethics and Culture, said in an email. “Pope Francis believes, along with Charlie’s parents, that his life — all life — is worth fighting for, regardless of the presence of disability.”

But John M. Haas, the president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, who has counseled dozens of Catholic parents with children suffering from incurable diseases or on life support, said the church teaching was clear that it was not morally necessary to provide life-sustaining treatment if there was no hope of improvement.

“The poor child is suffering from an incurable genetic disorder that can’t be cured, so there is no question that there is no moral obligation to continue intervention, according to Catholic teaching,” Mr. Haas said in a phone interview. “On the other hand, that doesn’t mean there is a moral obligation to stop life support.”


3. Doctors, courts not the enemy in the Charlie Gard case.

By Austen Ivereigh, Crux, July 6, 2017

It seems almost indecent to weigh in on Charlie Gard, whose peaceful 10-month old face, monkey toy and starry pyjamas have barely left our front pages and TV screens.

But I worry about some of the arguments and assumptions I am hearing from Catholics, especially in the United States and Italy, who have framed this as a case of euthanasia, or an illicit case of state interference in parental autonomy.

Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, one of the world’s finest and most caring children’s treatment centers, weeks ago determined that Charlie’s condition is so desperate that it is in his best interest to receive only palliative care, and for him to be allowed to die naturally.

The reason the courts have been involved is that the hospital’s decision was contested by Charlie’s parents. Connie Yates and Chris Gard are convinced he has another chance, and have captured our hearts in their desperate struggle to take Charlie abroad, for experimental treatment in the United States, or even at the Bambino Gesù children’s hospital in Rome.

That’s why Pope Francis’s statement was so well-judged. He wanted the parents to know he was with them, praying for them, and insisting they had the right to care for him right up to the end.

But the pope wasn’t – pace some interpretations – taking sides against the hospital and the courts.

By tweeting about the duty to care for life especially when it is sick, and making his pledge of proximity to the parents, Francis rightly shifted the emphasis onto their struggle.


4. Pope John Paul II’s longtime spokesman dies at age 80.

By Victor L. Simpson, Associated Press, July 5, 2017, 6:54 PM

Joaquin Navarro-Valls, a suave, silver-haired Spaniard who was a close confidant of Pope John Paul II, serving for more than two decades as chief Vatican spokesman, has died at the age of 80.

Manuel Sanchez, spokesman for the Opus Dei movement in Rome of which Navarro-Valls was a member, said he died Wednesday after a long illness. Opus Dei said on its website that he had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Navarro-Valls was fiercely loyal to John Paul, accompanying the Polish pope on most of his 104 international trips. He also performed delicate diplomatic missions, such as helping to prepare the pope’s historic pilgrimage to Cuba.


5. Let Charlie Gard live!

By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter, July 5, 2017

Little Charlie is fighting for his life not only against his own physical condition but against our culture’s equally crippled moral condition. His situation is tragic, and our culture has lost its capacity to recognize tragedy. Problems, even problems of life and death, now fall into two categories. There are those problems for which there is a technological fix and there are those problems that lack a technological fix. These latter problems our societies in the West now wish to dispose of as quickly as possible. Got pregnant when you weren’t planning? Go get an abortion. A hardened criminal with only a slim chance of rehabilitation? Stick a needle in his arm. Crime and violence destroying our cities? Don’t really pay much attention, certainly not to the need for more restrictive gun laws.

It would be one thing if Charlie’s parents had never used extraordinary means to save his little life. It would even be a different thing if it was his parents who wanted to take him off life support. That might still be morally wrong, but who would stand in judgment over them. But, to have a court order him taken off life support, in opposition to his parents’ wishes, that is very, very creepy. Little Charlie can’t make his own wishes known. His parents, empowered legally to make medical and other decisions for minor children, wish to try everything to keep him alive. But, the courts made the judgment his life is not worth living and decided to let him die.

It is shocking that so many liberals decline to take up the fight against euthanasia. I am sure it is linked in their minds, correctly, with the fight against abortion. Liberals do not want anyone challenging individual autonomy in such situations, even though it is only the autonomy of the powerful that is consulted. Some of us are liberals because it is part of the history of liberalism to stand with the little guy, to affirm the equal dignity of all men and women, whatever the “quality” of their lives. In the case of abortion, the autonomy of the woman is, to some people, more important that the protection of the life of the unborn child. I think such people are wrong. But, in this case, no one’s autonomy is being pitted against Charlie’s life. His parents want to provide him whatever treatment they can. Denying them this wish crosses a new and more hideous moral line. Who can defend such a thing?