1. Support for legal abortion has risen since Supreme Court eliminated protections, AP-NORC poll finds, A new poll finds that a solid majority of Americans oppose a federal abortion ban and that a rising number appear to support access to abortions for any reason, By Christine Fernando and Amelia Thomson-Deveaux, Associated Press, July 9, 2024, 7:33 AM
A solid majority of Americans oppose a federal abortion ban as a rising number support access to abortions for any reason, a new poll finds, highlighting a politically perilous situation for candidates who oppose abortion rights as the November election draws closer.
Around 6 in 10 Americans think their state should generally allow a person to obtain a legal abortion if they don’t want to be pregnant for any reason, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. That’s an increase from June 2021, a year before the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to the procedure, when about half of Americans thought legal abortion should be possible under these circumstances.
Americans are largely opposed to the strict bans that have taken effect in Republican-controlled states since the high court’s ruling two years ago. Full bans, with limited exceptions, have gone into effect in 14 GOP-led states, while three other states prohibit abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, before women often realize they’re pregnant.
They are also overwhelmingly against national abortion bans and restrictions. And views toward abortion — which have long been relatively stable — may be getting more permissive.

Seven in 10 Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, a slight increase from last year, while about 3 in 10 think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

2. Pope begs for new peace efforts after latest attacks in Ukraine, Gaza, Pope Francis is appealing for concrete new measures to end the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, By Associated Press, July 9, 2024, 6:45 AM
Pope Francis appealed for concrete new measures to end the wars in Ukraine and Gaza Tuesday after attacks targeted a children’s hospital in Kyiv and a school in Gaza.
The Vatican press office issued a statement Tuesday expressing Francis’ pain over the new attacks and his “profound upset” at the spiraling of violence.
“While he expresses closeness to the innocent victims and injured, he hopes and prays that concrete paths can be identified to put an end to these ongoing conflicts,” the statement said.
Francis has frequently asked for prayers for the “martyred” people of Ukraine but tends to keep his appeals generic. He has also tended to take a balanced line toward the war in Gaza, frequently mentioning Israel and the hostages still held by Hamas alongside the suffering of Palestinians.
A Russian missile struck the Okhmatdyt children’s hospital Monday, drawing international outcry. Russia denied responsibility, insisting it doesn’t attack civilian targets in Ukraine despite abundant evidence to the contrary, including Associated Press reporting.
In Gaza, an Israeli strike last week on a school sheltering displaced Palestinians killed more than 30 people, according to local health officials. The Israeli military said that Hamas militants were operating from within the school.
3. Chief prosecutor defends Vatican’s legal system after recent criticism of pope’s absolute power, The Vatican’s chief prosecutor has strongly defended the integrity and fairness of the city state’s justice system, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, July 9, 2024, 7:28 AM
The Vatican’s chief prosecutor has strongly defended the integrity and fairness of the city state’s justice system following criticism that Pope Francis’ absolute power and his interventions in the so-called “trial of the century” last year violated the defendants’ fundamental rights.
Prosecutor Alessandro Diddi’s defense comes as the Vatican tribunal finalizes its written reasonings for its December 2023 verdicts. The tribunal convicted a cardinal and eight others of various financial-related crimes related to the Holy See’s 350 million euro investment in a London property, but has not yet explained its decisions.
Diddi published an essay last month in a peer-reviewed Italian journal, “Diritto e religioni” (Law and Religion) though he was not identified as the Vatican’s top criminal prosecutor, in keeping with the journal’s practice. Legal experts said such a publication in an academic journal was unusual, since Diddi is a party to a trial that is heading into the appeals phase.
He was essentially replying to two academics — and lawyers representing some of the 10 defendants — who have raised questions about whether the two-year trial and preceding investigation were fair.
Their critiques have raised more fundamental concerns about whether a fair trial is even possible in an absolute monarchy where the pope wields supreme legislative, executive and judicial power — and used it in this case.
These critics have cited Pope Francis’ role in the trial, since he secretly issued four decrees during the investigation that changed Vatican procedures to benefit prosecutors. And they have called into question the independence and impartiality of the tribunal itself since its judges swear obedience to Francis, who can hire and fire them at will.

The four secret decrees were signed by the pope in 2019 and 2020, giving Vatican prosecutors wide-ranging powers to investigate, including via unchecked wiretapping and to deviate from existing laws in allowing them to detain suspects without a judge’s warrant. The decrees only came to light right before trial, were never officially published, provided no rationale or timeframe for the surveillance or detention, or oversight by an independent judge.
Diddi denied the decrees impacted the suspects’ rights. He said they merely provided an “authentic interpretation” by the pope to Vatican norms.

4. Synod working document skips women, LGBTQ+, married priests, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, July 9, 2024
A working document for the final gathering of Pope Francis’s controversial Synod of Bishops on synodality, presented Tuesday in a news conference, may strike most observers as more notable for what it didn’t say than what it did.
The official working document, called an Instrumentum Laboris, for the second Rome-based session of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality, marking an official end to the three-year process, was published July 9.
At the close of last year’s initial session, a synthesis document summarizing the month-long discussion was also widely considered to be a disappointment for those hoping the synod would urge action on issues such as married priests, women’s ordination and the welcome of LGBTQ+ individuals, which were among the most emotional and contested discussion topics.
Those unhappy with the synthesis document will also likely be nonplussed by the working document for this year’s gathering, which makes no mention of priestly celibacy or the married priesthood, and which is also absent of references to the LGBTQ+ community.

5. Vatican prohibits customary Traditional Latin Mass for pilgrims in Spain, By David Ramos, Catholic News Agency, July 9, 2024, 7:00 AM
The Vatican has prohibited the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Covadonga, a rite that customarily takes place at the conclusion of the annual Our Lady of Christendom pilgrimage in Spain.  
The organizers of the fourth edition of the pilgrimage announced the prohibition in a July 6 post on X: “At the Archdiocese of Oviedo they have informed us that they have received instructions from the Dicastery for Divine Worship stating that the Traditional Holy Mass is not to be celebrated in Covadonga.” 
The pilgrimage will take place from July 27–29 starting out from Oviedo. Our Lady of Christendom explains on its website that the pilgrimage “is organized by a group of faithful lay Catholics devoted to the celebration of the Holy Mass according to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite,” otherwise known as the Traditional Latin Mass or the Tridentine Mass.
“The aim of the pilgrimage is the sanctification of the soul through the graces requested from Our Lord, through the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, offering prayers, sacrifices, and mortifications for three days. In these days of pilgrimage we especially commend our homeland and the Holy Father [to the Lord],” the website states.

6. GOP adopts platform that softens language on abortion, same-sex marriage, The scaled-back draft was approved by the 2024 Republican convention platform committee after Trump addressed the group., By Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, The Washington Post, July 8, 2024, 5:45 PM
Republican delegates adopted presumptive nominee Donald Trump’s proposed convention platform at a meeting in Milwaukee on Monday, abandoning long-held positions on abortion and same-sex marriage while embracing new plans for mass deportation and a new opposition to changing the retirement age for Social Security.

The document, with a long introduction in the voice of Trump, overruled the concerns of antiabortion activists who had announced before the meeting that they wanted the document to explicitly call for a constitutional amendment to give embryos or fetuses legal rights.
Instead, the document said that the Constitution’s due process clause grants states the power “to pass laws protecting those rights.”
“After 51 years, because of us, that power has been given to the states and to a vote of the people,” the document says, according a copy of the document obtained by The Washington Post. “We will oppose late term abortion while supporting mothers and policies that advance prenatal care, access to birth control, and IVF (fertility treatments).”
The document was presented Monday to members of the Republican convention platform committee, a group handpicked by leaders of the Trump campaign. The 2016 platform, which Trump used in his 2020 reelection campaign, called for a constitutional amendment to affirm the constitutional due process rights of embryos and fetuses, and a national law that would ban abortion, with some exceptions, after about 20 weeks of gestation.

7. Trump’s platform changed the GOP’s position on abortion. Not everyone is happy, Though no one connected to the platform committee’s proceedings publicly criticized the former president or threatened to withhold support, some delegates expressed frustration., By Megan Messerly and Irie Sentner, Politico, July 8, 2024, 6:45 PM
A small but vocal contingent on the right is frustrated with the new Republican Party platform. There isn’t much they can do about it.
Even as anti-abortion groups largely lined up behind former President Donald Trump’s platform on Monday, some prominent and rank-and-file evangelicals criticized the language for backpedaling on the GOP’s longstanding promise to use the federal government to stop abortion.

Though no one connected to the platform committee’s proceedings in Milwaukee publicly criticized the former president or threatened to withhold support, some delegates expressed frustration at the way the platform was handled. The document — which was whittled down from 66 pages in 2016 to 16 pages this year — was developed behind closed doors and hastily presented to and approved by delegates in just a few hours Monday morning.
The platform language adopted by delegates did, however, mollify many anti-abortion advocates who believe the federal government should play a role in setting abortion policy by gesturing to the 14th Amendment, which conservatives have long argued protects life starting at conception. Six prominent anti-abortion organizations signed onto a letter in which they called the new party platform “a set of common-sense promises that will Make America Great Again” and said that it reflected Trump’s commitment to “protecting life and promoting the family.”
Still, after the platform’s adoption, Perkins worked to gather support for a minority report he and others argued is more representative of where the party has historically been on abortion. Their report, in part, calls for the passage of the Human Life Amendment, which proposes to amend the Constitution to say that life begins at conception and establish legal protections for fetuses that could undo abortion protections in Democratic-controlled states.

It’s unclear whether Perkins and other delegates who opposed the abortion language in the platform Monday have a means to get their minority report heard on the floor of next week’s convention. Perkins said that the report has been submitted to the RNC chair, the co-chair of the platform committee and House Speaker Mike Johnson.

8. Opponents of Louisiana’s Ten Commandments law want judge to block it before new school year starts, By Associated Press, July 8, 2024, 5:01 PM
Opponents of a new Louisiana law requiring that a version of the Ten Commandments be posted in public school classrooms have asked a federal court to block implementation of the requirement while their lawsuit against it progresses and before the new school year starts.
A group of parents of Louisiana public school students, representing various faiths, filed the lawsuit last month, soon after Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signed the new law. In motions filed Monday, their attorneys asked for a preliminary injunction blocking the law. And they sought an expedited briefing and hearing schedule that would require the state to respond to the request for an injunction by July 19 and for a hearing on July 29. Public schools open in August.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Baton Rouge, says the law violates First Amendment clauses protecting religious liberty and forbidding laws establishing a religion.

9. ‘Black day for democracy’: German pro-lifers condemn ‘censorship zones’, By AC Wimmer, Catholic News Agency, July 8, 2024, 1:30 PM
Leading German pro-life advocates are criticizing a new law passed by Germany’s federal Parliament on Friday to establish 100-meter “buffer zones” around abortion facilities, calling it an attack on democracy and an attempt to silence Christians and other pro-lifers.
The proposed Pregnancy Conflict Act (Schwangerschaftskonfliktgesetz) claims to protect pregnant women from what supporters call “sidewalk harassment” by pro-life activists near counseling centers and facilities that perform abortions.
However, the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom has repeatedly warned of legislation to establish German censorship zones.
Cornelia Kaminski, federal chairwoman of Action Right to Life for All, issued a scathing rebuke of the law on July 5, calling it “a frontal attack on the foundations of our democracy.”
She warned that praying for women in need within a 100-meter (328-foot) radius of abortion facilities will now be punishable by a fine of 5,000 euros (about $5,400).

10. Objective Beauty of the Traditional Latin Mass Evangelizes, As this petition, and the 1971 petition demonstrates, the Latin Mass has a curiously inclusive appeal., By Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, National Catholic Register, July 8, 2024, Opinion
When the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris erupted in flames on April 15, 2019, the whole world came together to mourn the loss of great, ancient, sacred beauty that moved hearts and souls even beyond the Catholics who worship there and Catholics all around the world.
I was impressed by that phenomenon then, and I am somewhat impressed by a similar phenomenon happening now in reaction to rumors that Rome plans to place further restrictions on the celebration of the Catholic Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal (popularly referred to as the “Latin Mass” or the “traditional Latin Mass”).
On July 3, more than 40 prominent British individuals signed a letter to Pope Francis, asking him to preserve access to the Latin Mass. These signers include Catholics and non-Catholics, believers and nonbelievers alike.
Like the signers of the 1971 petition that preserved the Latin Mass in England, they highlight, in addition to spiritual concerns, a concern for the cultural heritage of the world should the Latin Mass become harder to experience. In their own petition the signers quote from the language of that 1971 ‘Agatha Christie’ petition in affirming that “‘the rite in question, in its magnificent Latin text, has also inspired priceless achievements … by poets, philosophers, musicians, architects, painters and sculptors in all countries and epochs. Thus, it belongs to universal culture.’”
To this concern the current signatories add their own voice: “The traditional liturgy is a ‘cathedral’ of text and gesture, developing as those venerable buildings did over many centuries. Not everyone appreciates its value and that is fine; but to destroy it seems an unnecessary and insensitive act in a world where history can all too easily slip away forgotten.”
They underscore, “This appeal, like its predecessor, is ‘entirely ecumenical and non-political’. … We implore the Holy See to reconsider any further restriction of access to this magnificent spiritual and cultural heritage.”
That one of the signers is the noted human-rights activist Bianca Jagger underscores the apolitical and non-ideological nature of the request. Surely “rigidity” cannot explain such an extraordinary and diverse outpouring of love for this liturgical form.
I am concerned that a skewed impression of lovers of the Latin Mass has taken hold due to a few extremists on the internet. As this petition, and previous petitions, demonstrate, the Latin Mass has a curiously inclusive appeal.
Most who attend the Latin Mass also attend the Novus Ordo (known colloquially as the Mass of Vatican II). They know that to be Catholic means we must remain inside the barque of Peter, however stormy the seas. They plead not against the new Mass but for the form they love, that feeds and inspires them — indeed, to the point that they constitute a visible proportion of those who go on to become creators of new art and beauty in which the world shares and celebrates. This is why the Latin Mass has attracted the support of nonbelievers who understand its crucial role in the creation of Western civilization.
The signers of the most recent petition include many great classical musicians — singers, pianists, cellists, conductors and including, of course, Sir James MacMillan, who spearheaded this petition effort. MacMillan is the most celebrated and most performed Catholic classical music composer of our times. His Stabat Mater was commissioned by the Vatican and performed in the Sistine Chapel.
Other important artists include the celebrated novelist, screenwriter and film director Julian Fellowes, who has won the Academy Award, Emmy Award and the Tony Award. Fellowes is perhaps best known for his role as the creator of the long-running television series Downton Abbey. Another signatory, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, is perhaps the most successful creator of musicals of our age (including Cats, Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat and the modern Passion play Jesus Christ Superstar).
The signers of the 1971 “Agatha Christie” petition also included celebrated artists and literary figures, such as poets Robert Lowell, Robert Graves, David Jones and England’s poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis; novelists such as Graham Greene, Nancy Mitford, Djuna Barnes and Julian Green, as well as the most celebrated Argentinian short-story writer Jorge Luis Borges, whose literary work gave birth to the “magic realism” movement of the late-20th century among Spanish writers in the Americas. And beyond this, the signatories included even Anglican Bishops Robert Cecil Mortimer of Exeter and John Moorman of Ripon.
There was a similar petition in 1966, organized by Christine Campo, translator of Marcel Proust (another example of a lapsed Catholic who understood the value of the Latin Mass for preserving civilization even in a secular sense), and addressed to Pope Paul VI, asking that the Latin Mass be maintained at least in monastic communities. It gathered signatures from 37 writers and artists, including two Nobel Prize winners. Among the signers were W.H. Auden, Evelyn Waugh, Jacques Maritain, French Nobel Prize-winning novelist Francois Mauriac, composer Benjamin Britten and Gertrud von Le Fort, the author of the Catholic classic Dialogue of the Carmelites, which later formed the basis of an opera by Francis Poulenc.
The Second Vatican Council taught us to read the signs of the times. One sign staring at us right now in large block letters is: Beauty evangelizes.
We live in an age when we need to leverage the power of beauty to touch minds, hearts and souls, for beauty has the quality of an inescapably real experience, one that is not subject to argument. The current cultural maxim, “You have your truth and I have my truth” leads to the refusal to recognize even obvious physical and biological reality, whereas beauty circumvents the cognitive process and hits directly to the soul. Sacred beauty lifts us out of the world of time and gives us a glimpse of that which transcends time, of what ultimately lasts, of what our goal and our final home is: the reality of God. 
Take the example of filmmaker Martin Scorsese. Even with all of the criticism for his controversial depictions of religious themes, and even of our Lord himself, Scorsese is one modern artist whose imagination was formed by the contrast between what the Latin Mass conveyed and the tough-guy culture of New York streets. As a profile in The New York Times in 2016 put it:
“Inside the old cathedral, it became clear how literally Scorsese has never forgotten — not the splendor of the church, nor the presence of suffering and death, sin and redemption, nearby. The pastor pointed out the details of a renovation: the saints retouched in their original colors, the marble and brass altar fixtures restored to the way they were before a 1970 modernizing effort. Scorsese, who left the neighborhood in 1965, didn’t need a guide. He knew every inch of the place. ‘Picture an 8-year-old boy standing right here in a white cassock, reciting a prayer in Latin,’ he mused aloud. ‘That’s me.’ … I asked him to draw a connection between [his 2016 film] ‘Silence’ and what he was seeing in the old cathedral. He tapped his forehead with two fingers. ‘The connection is that it has never been interrupted. It’s continuous. I never left. In my mind, I am here every day.’
In an age of anxiety and unreason, beauty is thus a largely untapped resource for reaching people, especially young people, with the Gospel message of hope. There is much work to do, but honoring and encouraging the special calling of artists is a key part of this labor.
In a de-Christianized age that is becoming increasingly inhospitable to any traditional sense of religion, the Church needs to operate on all cylinders. The traditional Latin Mass and the beauty it inspires is one of those cylinders. That even nonbelievers can feel an attraction to it in itself proves this point.
Why suppress what is one, among others, successful means for connecting with souls far away from Christ and bringing them into the loving and saving encounter with him within the communion of his Bride, the Church?
I trust and pray that this cri de coeur from the artists and other prominent British figures will be heard and seen for what it is: that, rather than dividing the world in the name of ideological purity, it is an opportunity to bring the world together for beauty — a path that eventually and inevitably leads to the Beauty ever ancient, Beauty ever new.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone is the archbishop of San Francisco and the founder and chairman of the board of the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship.
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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