1. Religious liberty and advocacy, with Montse Alvarado of Becket.

“Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 7

Your TCA hosts Grazie Christie, Ashley McGuire and Andrea Picciotti-Bayer are joined in studio by Montserrat Alvarado, Vice President and Executive Director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. A lively discussion about why Catholics and Americans are defending religious freedom— including how the Church’s teaching can be helpful in defending liberty— as well some of the current attacks on this fundamental aspect of human dignity.

Find out all about Becket’s work, including their advocacy for the Little Sisters of the Poor going on right now: https://www.becketlaw.org/


2. Biden Gives Trump-Wary Pro-Lifers Nowhere to Hyde, His flip-flop aligns him with his party but makes him more vulnerable than Mrs. Clinton in November.

By Matt Hawkins, The Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2019, Pg. A17, Opinion

We’ve come to expect flip-flops in a primary season but Joe Biden’s flip on the Hyde Amendment is unusually consequential. He has put himself in an even worse position than Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.

The Hyde Amendment, named for the late Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, is a 43-year-old scrimmage line on the abortion issue. Congress assumes a right to abortion under Roe v. Wade but doesn’t force Americans to fund it with tax dollars.

If Democrats have any hope of capturing the White House in 2020, they need to win back voters who backed both Barack Obama and Mr. Trump. They also need independents and Republicans who are uncomfortable with Mr. Trump. Many of those voters are pro-life, and Mr. Biden’s flip on Hyde communicates that he doesn’t want their votes.

Mr. Hawkins is a former policy director for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.


3. Could the IRS help cure the church?, A Catholic bishop in West Virginia controlled a huge slush fund — with no outside scrutiny.

The Washington Post, June 10, 2019, Pg. A18, Editorial

The breadth and depth of corruption in the Catholic Church seem boundless, and colored by the ongoing dysfunction arising from clergy sex abuse and the hierarchy’s inability to grapple with it. Some of the misdeeds and coverups have been facilitated by a law that exempts religious institutions and affiliated charitable entities from financial reporting that is required of other nonprofit organizations. Even as the Vatican, seeking to move beyond its protracted season of scandal, calls for a new era of transparency, the church’s finances in the United States remain opaque.

Other nonprofit organizations are required to file tax forms detailing their finances, called Form 990s, which are available to the public; the disclosure provides one check on abuse. Religious organizations are not required to file 990s. Payoffs that functioned as hush money to victims have been a feature of the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal, and those payments, like the “gifts” that Mr. Bransfield distributed so freely, have been enabled by the lack of transparent financial reporting requirements. If the Vatican cannot achieve real transparency by decree, Congress can and should consider doing so by legislation.


4. This archbishop called on the pope to resign, Now he’s in an undisclosed location.

By Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, Washington Post Online, June 10, 2019, 5:00 AM

The retired Vatican ambassador to Washington wrote a bombshell letterlast summer calling on Pope Francis to resign on the grounds that he had tolerated a known sexual abuser. As that letter was published, Viganò turned off his phone, told friends he was disappearing, and let the church sort through the fallout.

Nine months later, in his first extended interview since that moment, Viganò refused to disclose his location or say much about his self-imposed exile. But his comments indicate that, even in hiding, he is maintaining his role as the fiercest critic of the Francis era, acting either as an honorable rebel or, as his critics see it, as an ideological warrior attacking a pope he doesn’t like.

Viganò corresponded by email with The Washington Post over two months, writing 8,000 words in response to nearly 40 questions.

The Vatican has had little official response to Viganò. A communications official declined to comment for this story.


5. Unfinished Gaudí church gets permit, After 137 years, Barcelona approves work license for La Sagrada Famili.

By Associated Press, The Washington Post, June 9, 2019, Pg. A19

Property owners have a new yardstick by way of Spain for measuring frustration over building permit requests they suspect got lost in a local government bureaucracy. 

Barcelona City Hall finally has issued a work permit for the unfinished church designed by architect Antoni Gaudí, 137 years after construction started on La Sagrada Familia Basilica.

The city said Friday it granted the current builders a license that is valid through 2026. The builders estimate that will be enough time to finish raising the landmark Roman Catholic church’s central towers. 


6. Democrats on the defensive as abortion foes ask if party tolerates their views.

By Paul Kane, The Washington Post, June 9, 2019, Pg. A2

Now, Pelosi finds herself at the center of a growing debate about abortion rights, from a House race in Chicago to the 2020 presidential primary campaign. Next up is an effort to amend the spending bill that funds the Department of Health and Human Services that contains the very antiabortion language that prompted former vice president Joe Biden to renounce more than four decades of beliefs on access to abortion.

It’s left some Democrats who oppose abortion rights, including Catholics in critically important Midwestern battlegrounds, feeling that party leaders are happy to have their support — as long as they keep quiet about their anti-choice views.

“We’ve become so intolerant,” former congressman Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said in an interview Friday. “They’ll take our money, but they can’t come to our events or help us out in our campaigns.”


7. There is no middle ground on abortion, For many years, Joe Biden’s position on the Hyde Amendment was in the mainstream, even among Democrats.

By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post, June 9, 2019, Pg. A23, Opinion

There has long been a relatively safe space for a Democratic politician, particularly a Catholic one, to inhabit on the morally fraught issue of abortion. It was the stance that then-Vice President Joe Biden took during a 2012 debate: “Life begins at conception. That’s the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life,” Biden said. “But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews . . . . I do not believe we have a right to tell other people — women — that they can’t control their body.”

At the time, that blanket declaration was enough to satisfy most Democrats. It is not anymore — as Biden learned last week, when the man who leads all the polls for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination was thrown off balance on the question of government funding for abortion.

It was a head-spinning turnaround on a position that Biden has held practically since the dawn of his Senate career. On Wednesday, Biden’s campaign affirmed his long-standing support for the Hyde Amendment, a provision in federal law that, since the 1970s, has banned Medicaid from paying for abortions, except in rare cases. 


8. Sex abuse crisis the focus as US Catholic bishops convene.

By David Crary, The Associated Press, June 9, 2019, 12:28 PM

As the Roman Catholic church’s sex abuse scandal grows ever wider in scope in the U.S., bishops convene for a national meeting in Baltimore on Tuesday under heavy pressure to acknowledge their oversight failures and give a larger role to lay Catholics and secular authorities in confronting the crisis.

The pressure comes not only from longtime critics of the church’s response to clergy sex abuse, but also from insiders who now voice doubts that the bishops are capable of handling the crisis on their own.

Catholic leaders argue, with some statistical backing, that instances of clergy sex abuse have declined sharply with the adoption in 2002 of a charter establishing guidelines for dealing with clergy sex-abuse of minors.


9. Pope laments ‘culture of insults,’ decries church propaganda.

By Frances D’Emilio, The Associated Press, June 9, 2019, 8:28 AM

Pope Francis on Sunday lamented what he called a “culture of insults” enabled by social media and warned against nationalism and other “exclusivist ideas” that he said contrast with a Christian mission to foster harmony.

He also warned against the Catholic church’s neglecting its mission to spread joy, instead becoming an organization with propaganda as its mission.


10. Pope says Holy Spirit brings harmony to world of contradictions.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, June 9, 2019

Noting that the world today is one of contradictions and stark divisions, where there are “those who want to live to a hundred and those who cannot even be born,” Pope Francis on Sunday said that the Holy Spirit brings “harmony” because he’s a specialist in changing chaos into cosmos.

“In the age of the computer, distances are increasing: the more we use the social media, the less social we are becoming,” Francis said. “We need the Spirit of unity to regenerate us as Church, as God’s People and as a human family.”

According to the pope, humanity has the temptation to build “nests,” clinging to each one’s little group, focused only on the people and things we like, “to resist all contamination.”

“It is only a small step from a nest to a sect: How many times do we define our identity in opposition to someone or something!” he said.

Francis’s words was speaking during Pentecost Mass in St. Peter’s Square, which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles.


11. Biden Flips Over Abortion Funding, By the end of the primaries, what will be left of his moderation?

The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2019, Pg. A14, Review & Outlook

Joe Biden’s best claim to the Democratic presidential nomination is that he’s a moderate liberal who can pull centrist votes from Donald Trump. That reputation is vanishing by the week as he throws old positions over the side to accommodate his party’s activist left.

The latest to get the heave-ho is the most startling as Mr. Biden has repudiated his four-decade support for the Hyde Amendment. Passed in 1976 and renewed every year, the bipartisan Hyde rule prohibits federal funding for abortion. It has long been seen as a middle ground in the wake of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that overturned 50 state abortion laws. Abortion would be legal, but taxpayers who opposed abortion would not be forced to violate their conscience by paying for it.

Along with his big-spending climate and education proposals, Mr. Biden’s about-face on abortion may be a watershed 2020 moment. It underscores how far left the Democratic Party’s activist base has moved.


12. Vatican cardinal, other clerics to return money to W.Va. diocese.

By Shawn Boburg, Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post, June 8, 2019, Pg. A1

A cardinal at the Vatican and eight other Catholic clerics pledged on Friday to return money to the diocese of West Virginia after revelations that the bishop there used church funds to give cash gifts of $350,000 to fellow clergymen.

Over 13 years, until his recent ouster for alleged sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield wrote personal checks to clerics and was reimbursed with church money, according to a Washington Post investigation published Wednesday. Bransfield sent the checks, many for amounts in the four figures, to 137 clergymen, including two young priests he is accused of mistreating and more than a dozen cardinals.

The checks have angered many parishioners in West Virginia, one of the poorest states in the nation. They have also raised concerns about the prevalence of clerics giving such gifts to those who hold sway over their careers, as well as about the propriety of accepting those gifts. The gifts were given during years when Bransfield was building a reputation in West Virginia for living a life of opulence and allegedly sexually harassing young priests and seminarians.


13. Biden puts moderate brand at risk for 2020 with Hyde Amendment flip-flop, Pro-life activists predict he will ‘pay the price’ for the move.

By Valerie Richardson, Washington Times Online, June 8, 2019

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden may have placated progressives by switching positions on taxpayer-funded abortions, but he also put his brand at risk by swerving to the left of moderate and working-class voters at the heart of his 2020 election strategy.

Conservatives and pro-life activists argue that Mr. Biden, the Democratic presidential primary front-runner, made a stunning tactical error by reversing his 40-year support for the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for most abortions.

“His dramatic U-turn on taxpayer funded abortion is just the beginning of the Candidate Biden vs. Senator Biden abortion debate,” said Maureen Malloy Ferguson, senior fellow of the Catholic Association, in a statement.

“Does he stand by his Senate vote to ban late-term partial birth abortions, given his party’s efforts in New York, Illinois, and Virginia to allow abortion until birth?” she asked. “Next he will need to reconcile his criticism of states that have passed laws protecting unborn children, with his ‘yes’ vote on the partial-birth abortion ban.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America said it was “pleased that Joe Biden has joined the rest of the 2020 Democratic field in coalescing around the Party’s core values — support for abortion rights, and the basic truth that reproductive freedom is fundamental to the pursuit of equality and economic security in this country.”


14. Archbishop didn’t tell Vatican whole story on fallen bishop.

By Associated Press, June 8, 2019, 5:03 PM

The archbishop appointed to investigate the former leader of the Roman Catholic Church in West Virginia says he should not have redacted from his report to the Vatican the names of clergy, including himself, who received a portion of $350,000 in cash gifts from Bishop Michael Bransfield.

Archbishop William Lori oversaw a probe of alleged sexual and financial misconduct by Bransfield, who has denied wrongdoing. His team’s confidential findings in February prompted Bransfield’s ouster from ministry.

What Lori didn’t say in his final report to the Vatican in March is that he himself is among the high-ranking clergy who accepted these cash gifts.

The Washington Post reported that the before and after versions of the still-secret report to the Vatican show names of Lori and others removed.


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