1. National abortion ban splits the Trump campaign and Republican activists writing the party platform, Republicans may remove a vow to ban abortion from their party platform for the first time in 40 years, By Thomas Beaumont, Associated Press, July 8, 2024, 12:22 AM
Republicans may remove a vow to ban abortion from their party platform for the first time in 40 years at the behest of former President Donald Trump, who has refused to support such a ban even as he takes credit for the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The platform is a statement of first principles traditionally written by party activists. Trump’s campaign wants the group drafting this year’s platform to produce a shorter document without statements favored by many conservatives but potentially unpopular with the broader electorate.
The platform committee begins its meeting Monday, a week before the start of the Republican National Convention where Trump is scheduled to accept his third straight nomination for president.

But among the vocal abortion opponents on the platform committee, some say the aspiration of a federal ban on abortion after a certain stage in pregnancy must remain a party principle, even if it’s not an immediately attainable policy or one that necessarily helps the Trump campaign in November.

Trump was urged to keep that language in the platform, according to a letter signed by leaders of groups opposed to abortion, including Ralph Reed, Faith and Freedom Coalition founder and chairman; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; and Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List.

2. ‘Republicans need to match’: Anti-abortion groups roll out new messaging, Abortion opponents know they need to win hearts and minds. They’re using women’s stories to do so., By Megan Messerly And Alice Miranda Ollstein, Politico, July 8, 2024, 5:00 AM
The left has spent two years galvanizing voters against state abortion bans by handing a microphone to the women affected by them. Conservatives are now adopting that playbook in an effort to turn public opinion in their favor.
Anti-abortion groups’ new campaign features women speaking directly to the camera — sharing stories of eschewing abortion after being raped, receiving a diagnosis of a fetal anomaly or finding out they were too far along to legally terminate their pregnancy. They aim to match the first-person ads that Democrats and abortion-rights groups have used in key races, like the successful abortion-rights ballot measure in Ohio and Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s reelection in Kentucky.
It’s part of an effort aimed at changing the narrative on abortion after two years of bruising electoral defeats and growing support among voters for access to the procedure heading into November’s contests. A recent CBS News-YouGov poll found that 60 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and the Pew Research Center has documented a rise in support for abortion rights across the political spectrum since Roe fell.
“Democrats do this well,” said Kelsey Pritchard, director of state public affairs for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, which plans to spend $92 million this cycle in battleground states. “Republicans need to match them on this and do even better. That’s how they can get ahead in 2024.”
Anti-abortion groups have used testimonials before, including stories of people who survived abortion attempts, to argue that fetuses deserve legal protection. But this new push is meant to help people understand the reasons mothers decided not to have abortions.

3. Amid spate of elections, Pope says democracy not in ‘good health’, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, July 8, 2024, Opinion
Amid a spate of recent elections, including the European parliament, the UK, Iran and France, Pope Francis lamented the current state of democratic affairs throughout the world on Sunday, calling for fostering greater inclusion and a system in which no one is marginalized.
Speaking to participants in Italy’s 50th Catholic Social Week in Trieste, organized by the Italian Bishops’ Conference and dedicated to promoting the church’s social agenda, the pope said July 7, “It is evident that in the world today, democracy, let’s tell the truth, does not enjoy good health.”
This malady, he said, is based on a definition of democracy given by Blessed Giuseppe Toniolo, a renowned Italian economist and sociologist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who defined democracy as “that civil order in which all social, juridical and economic forces, in the fullness of their hierarchal development, cooperate properly for the common good, flowing into the final result to the prevalent advantage of the lower classes.”
The declining state of democracy, the pope said, is concerning for the world, because the good of humanity is at risk.

4. Biden administration releases report on its worldwide ‘LGBTQI+’ policy agenda, By Tyler Arnold, Ken Oliver-Méndez, Catholic News Agency, July 8, 2024, 6:00 AM
Complying with a 2021 directive from President Joe Biden, the U.S. State Department has released its third annual whole of government “progress report” on advancing what it calls the “human rights” of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons around the world.
The U.S. Department of State-led initiative details how various federal agencies are participating in the sweeping American foreign policy effort, which now includes allowing refugees and asylum seekers to select their gender on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) forms “without the need to provide supporting documentation or to match the gender listed on their identity document.”
The State Department report says it considers this and dozens of other LGBTQI+ “human rights” initiatives detailed in the report, including U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funding of a “Transformation Salon” in India “to enhance the career and entrepreneurial opportunities for the transgender community” in that country, activities that “advance our national security.”
According to the latest report, U.S. government agencies are pouring tens of millions of dollars into dozens of projects and grants to organizations worldwide that support gender ideology, transgenderism, and “combat so called ‘conversion therapy’ practices,” among other specified LGBTQI+ “human rights” priorities.

Among the efforts highlighted in the report is the administration’s commitment to “prevent conversion therapy practices (CTP) globally.”
Although the report does not define the term, CTP is understood as any therapy directed toward changing “an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity” including “behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”
The report indicates that the U.S. State Department, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and USAID have shared “current science-based knowledge with medical professionals and public officials regarding the harms of CTP.”

5. GOP Sen. JD Vance says he supports access to abortion pill mifepristone, By NBC, July 7, 2024
During an exclusive interview with Meet the Press, Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio) says he supports mifepristone “being accessible” as Project 2025 calls for limited access.
6. Vatican prosecutor who won ‘trial of the century’ trapped in a slasher movie, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, July 7, 2024, Opinion
Classic slasher movies are notorious for the plot twist in which the villain, believed to be dead, pops back up for one last stab of the knife or lunge of the chainsaw. The take-away is that just when you think the scary part is over, get ready for another jolt.
It’s a lesson which, in a different guise, chief Vatican prosecutor Alessandro Diddi is learning the hard way right now.
Last December, Diddi, the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice, finally won convictions in the celebrated “trial of the century,” a multi-headed hydra of a case that required a whopping two and half years – not to mention 69 witnesses, 85 court hearings, and millions of pages of files and documents – to end in guilty verdicts against Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu and eight other defendants for various alleged financial crimes.
Granted, the verdicts remain on appeal, and granted, Diddi has faced stiff criticism for his conduct of the trial. Yet no matter how nominal it may have been, it was still a win, and anyway, the ordeal at least seemed over.
Now, however, the question is whether the best qualifier for the apparent win isn’t so much “nominal” as “Pyrrhic.” At least four additional verdicts, some real and some metaphorical, are currently pending on the London case, which, collectively, could still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
First up is a civil case currently being heard before London’s High Court of Justice, brought by Italian financier Raffaele Mincione, one of the defendants convicted in the Vatican trial. It was Mincione who initially advised the Vatican’s Secretariat of State on the $400 million purchase of a former Harrod’s warehouse in the upscale London neighborhood of Chelsea slated for conversion into luxury apartments.

While Diddi awaits the outcome of the London case, he’s also facing a challenge on another front, this one more intellectual and academic, though it could also have real-world consequences.
Since the Vatican trial began in 2021, a number of jurists and legal scholars have challenged its legitimacy, including the claim that basic due process protections were violated. Among other things, they’ve contended that four famous “rescripts,” meaning decrees, from Pope Francis at the beginning of the process stacked the deck in favor of the prosecution.
Such criticism has been sufficiently persistent that Diddi recently felt compelled to mount a lengthy defense in the pages of the Annali di Diritto Vaticano, or “Annals of Vatican Law.” His arguments brought a stinging rebuke this week from Geraldina Boni, an expert on both canon and civil law at the University of Bologna, as well as a consultant to the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and the president of an Italian government commission on religious freedom and agreements with religious groups.
In an interview on Thursday with the Roman newspaper Il Messaggero, Boni skewered Diddi’s argument that the rescripts didn’t impugn the integrity of the trial, since they only concerned the preliminary investigation.
“An investigation and a trial are intimately connected, and, in any event, activities carried out during the investigation also can’t violate the fundamental guarantees of the persons involved,” she said, arguing that this principle is grounded in both natural and canon law.
Boni warned that unless the defects in the Vatican’s system of criminal justice are remedied, the risk is that its verdicts won’t be recognized by the Italian state, and that it could also face sanction by the European Court of Human Rights.
The third verdict potentially facing Diddi is that of a review of the convictions in the “trial of the century” currently before the Vatican’s Court of Appeals.
Not only have the defendants challenged their convictions, but even Diddi himself has appealed the ruling, arguing that the court did not sufficiently endorse his claims that the defendants acted in a coordinated and knowing fashion to pull off their fraud. (The judges presented a summary of their conclusions in December, although the full version of their verdict isn’t expected to be completed before the fall.)

Finally, there’s also the curious matter of Libero Milone, the Vatican’s former auditor general, who’s seeking almost $10 million in damages for what he describes as his forced resignation in 2017 under pressure from Becciu and the then-head of the Vatican gendarmes, Italian layman Domenico Giani.
Milone lost an initial case before a Vatican tribunal in January, and last Thursday the Vatican appeals court held a brief hearing to consider whether to take up his appeal. If the judges decline to proceed, Milone would have the option of appealing to the Corte di Cassazione, effectively the Vatican’s supreme court, which is composed of a panel of cardinals currently led by American Cardinal Kevin Farrell.
(Milone’s former deputy, Ferruccio Panicco, originally was part of the appeal, but he died last June of cancer.)
Diddi opposed Milone’s claim when it was initially filed, arguing that it should be barred by the statute of limitations, and he’s also threatened to pursue charges against Milone for allegedly spying on other Vatican personnel during his tenure as auditor general. (Milone claims he simply hired an Italian investigation firm, Falco, to help his office review public records in Italy related to Vatican contracts and hiring practices, and that it had nothing to do with illegal surveillance.)
Although Milone may be unlikely to get any satisfaction from Vatican courts, Diddi’s involvement in the case may open yet another front in which both Diddi’s motives and tactics come into question.
To be fair, Diddi, a veteran Roman lawyer, should have known this job was dangerous when he took it. Still, it’s likely that even he would not have imagined that he could prevail in the biggest criminal trial the Vatican’s ever staged, and yet, somehow, run the risk of winning the battle but losing the war.
7. Kansas’ top court bolsters a state right to abortion and strikes down 2 anti-abortion laws, The Kansas Supreme Court has reaffirmed its stance that the state constitution protects abortion access, By John Hanna, The Washington Post, July 5, 2024, 1:16 PM
Kansas’ highest court strongly reaffirmed Friday that the state constitution protects abortion access, striking down a ban on a common second-trimester procedure and laws regulating abortion providers more strictly than other health care providers.
The pair of 5-1 decisions suggests that other restrictions — even ones decades on the books — might not withstand legal challenges. The court’s dissenting justice, widely seen as its most conservative, warned that Kansas is headed toward “a legal regime of unrestricted access to abortion.”

The health and safety rules aimed specifically at abortion providers were enacted in 2011. Supporters said they would protect women’s health — though there was no evidence provided then that such rules elsewhere had led to better health outcomes. Providers said the real goal was to force them out of business.

The other law struck down by the court would have banned a certain type of dilation and evacuation, also known as D&E. It was the first state ban of its kind when it was enacted in 2015.

8. Pontifical Academy for Life releases ‘lexicon’ for end-of-life discussions, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, July 5, 2024, 1:10 PM
The Pontifical Academy for Life has released a guide that it says will help the faithful in discussing the “religious and moral ethical implications” surrounding euthanasia, assisted suicide, and other controversial end-of-life topics.
The Vatican Publishing House released the brief booklet on July 2, Catholic News Service (CNS) reported this week. The pontifical academy “distributed the booklet to every bishop in Italy,” with the book as of yet available only in Italian.
The Vatican publisher on its website describes the document as a “little end-of-life lexicon,” one that offers “a series of explanatory and in-depth entries” in order to foster “a language understandable even to the uninitiated” regarding end-of-life matters.
The document is meant to “[help] those who are trying to disentangle these issues,” in part by avoiding “that component of disagreement that depends on an inaccurate use of the notions implied in the discourse.”

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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