1. Pope denounces unimaginable “hell” of Libyan migrant camps, By Associated Press, July 8, 2020, 6:19 AM

Pope Francis denounced the unimaginable “hell” of Libya’s migrant detention camps as he celebrated a Mass on Wednesday in honor of would-be asylum seekers who risk their lives for a better future.


2. What Catholicism didn’t do amid COVID shouldn’t obscure what it did, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, July 8, 2020, Opinion

It would require a deeply impoverished view of the Church, however, to conclude that Catholicism itself was somehow suspended. The truth is that no one ever hit the “off” switch on Catholic activity in terms of the Church’s sprawling galaxy of charities, movements, religious orders, lay organizations, and other forms of life.

Here are three quick examples, drawn more or less at random from an almost countless range of possibilities.

First up is the movement Servizio Missionario Giovani, “Youth Missionary Service,” better known by its Italian acronym “Sermig.”

During the coronavirus lockdown, Sermig made the decision never the close the center, housing more than 200 people during the worst of Italy’s pandemic.

Next is the ever-kinetic Community of Sant’Egidio, which, one often has the impression, has never taken a day off since it was founded by Italian layman Andrew Riccardi in 1968.

A particular favorite of Pope Francis – shortly after his election, he exclaimed from the window of the papal apartment overlooking St. Peter’s Square, “They’re great, these people from Sant’Egidio!” – the community is known for its work on conflict resolution, ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue, migrants and refugees, and poverty relief.

Then there’s the “Federation of International Christian Organizations of Voluntary Service,” which, understandably, most people prefer to call by its much shorter Italian acronym, “Focsiv.”

In partnership with the Catholic charitable federation Caritas, Focsiv recently launched a new campaign called “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread,” intended to raise awareness about the human toll of the coronavirus and to generate funds for concrete initiatives, especially focused on education and work.

Yes, what Catholicism didn’t – more accurately, couldn’t – do for much of the coronavirus quarantine is an important part of the story. But those missing pieces should never outweigh, or obscure, the myriad things Catholicism in its broadest sense did do and always will do.


3. Twins joined at head separated at Vatican pediatric hospital, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, July 7, 2020, 4:13 PM

Doctors at the Vatican’s pediatric hospital said Tuesday they have successfully separated conjoined twins whose skulls were fused back-to-back, an exceedingly rare surgery for an equally rare congenital defect.

The Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital, which is Vatican-owned but operates within the Italian public health system, brought the twins and their mother to Italy soon after their birth. The hospital said the toddlers are recovering well a month after their third and definitive separation surgery on June 5.


4. Catholic Bishops Join 1,000 Faith Leaders to Oppose Federal Executions: Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ domestic justice committee, has also called for the government to stop the executions., By Catholic News Agency, July 7, 2020

Several U.S. bishops, along with clergy and religious brothers and sisters from around the country, have signed a statement opposing federal executions that are scheduled to resume this month.

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Bishop William Medley of Owensboro, Kentucky, Bishop Oscar Solis of Salt Lake City, Bishop Thomas Zinkula of Davenport, Iowa, and Bishop Richard Pates who is the apostolic administrator of Joliet, Illinois, all joined more than 1,000 faith leaders in calling for a stop to scheduled executions of four federal death row inmates.

“As faith leaders from a diverse range of traditions, we call on President Trump and Attorney General Barr to stop the scheduled federal executions,” the statement read.

Catholic priests and religious, deacons, and lay leaders signed on to the statement, as well as members of Christian denominations, Reform Judaism and Conservative Jewish congregations, and Buddhist leaders, among others.


5. Junípero Serra and the Founding of the West, By Patrick M. LaurenceCrisis Magazine, July 8, 2020, Opinion

Nearly 80 years before the Pilgrims founded the Plymouth Colony, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo explored the coast of California under the flag of the Spanish Empire. Named after a mythical island in a popular Spanish novel, California was claimed for Spain by virtue of its nearby imperial strongholds in Mexico and Peru. However, the Spaniards made no serious effort to occupy the region until a Franciscan friar, St. Junípero Serra, arrived with other colonists in 1769. Over the next fifteen years—covering the American Revolutionary War period—Serra established nine of California’s famous missions, helped lay the foundation for much of its modern economy (including its agriculture and winemaking), and planted the seeds of the Catholic faith for generations to come.

For these reasons, Serra has been hailed as “one of the founding fathers of the United States” by Pope Francis.

In 1542, the same year that Cabrillo first explored the coast of California, King Charles I of Spain decreed the “The New Laws of the Indies for the Good Treatment and Preservation of the Indians.” The New Laws solemnly declared the illegality of native slavery, called for the gradual abolishment of the encomienda, and enjoined the colonists to protect and save the indigenous people. Colonial resistance nonetheless ensued, and legal decrees continued to be issued by the Spanish Crown. The body of law which was eventually developed over the course of three centuries became known as the “Laws of the Indies.”

Charles F. Lummis, an early Indian rights activist and founder of the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles, once remarked that “[n]o other nation in the world … has ever put into force laws so noble, so far-sighted, so humane, as those formulated by the Crown of Spain, with Church assistance, and carried out by the official and clerical administrators.” Under the Laws of the Indies, it was illegal to evict the natives from the lands upon which they lived or to place them on reservations. The separation of native children from their parents was expressly forbidden. In mind-boggling detail, the Laws of the Indies strictly enjoined the protection, education, kind treatment, and conversion of the natives while demanding that their existing habits and social systems be respected to the extent possible. These laws comprised the very first legal codes in what would eventually become the Southwestern United States.

In resisting secularization, Serra believed he was protecting the natives from colonial abuses which had oppressed the natives for centuries. As long as the natives remained under the missionaries’ protection, the natives were protected from having their labor exploited and their lands taken by nearby Spanish settlers and ranchers. Serra’s fear was that the Spanish settlers in California would treat the natives just as harshly as the encomenderos had treated them in Mexico and Peru.

Serra clearly viewed the missions as safe harbors within the larger environment of Spanish colonialism. In this respect, he believed that he stood in the tradition of the great Indian protectors of the past.

Critics of Serra often seem to assume that some other utopian alternative to the missions was possible. Yet the sober reality for the natives of California in the eighteenth century was that the arrival of a foreign colonial power was inevitable. There is no reason to think the indigenous people would have fared any better under the English, the French, the Russians, or any other foreign government, and there is good reason to believe they would have fared much worse in the absence of the missionaries. The negative experiences of the natives during the California Gold Rush go a long way to prove this point.

According to Drs. Robert M. Senkewicz and Rose Marie Beebe of Santa Clara University, Serra “profoundly believed that encounters with missionaries would prove more advantageous to eighteenth-century indigenous peoples than the other possibilities that he thought were realistically available to them, specifically domination by soldiers or settlers.” They go on to conclude that, in view of contemporary historical circumstances, Serra’s belief was “quite reasonable.” Serra thought the missions would not only prepare the natives for the next life but also protect them in the present one. This was not utopian idealism. This was a belief derived from long experience worked out over the course of centuries in an often harsh colonial world.


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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