1. European voters deal blow to Pope’s agenda on migration, climate change, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, June 10, 2024, Opinion
Less than a week after Pope Francis called on people to recognize migrants as “a living image of God’s people on their way to the eternal homeland,” voters across Europe dealt a potentially serious blow to that vision by rewarding far-right, anti-immigrant parties in elections for the European parliament.
While mainstream, pro-EU forces are still expected to put together a governing majority, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proclaiming the results show that “the center is holding,” a major storyline in the June 6-9 elections nevertheless was the strong showing of far-right parties in several nations.

On the whole, most observers expect the new-look European Parliament to be somewhat more Euro-skeptic, less aggressive in responding to climate change and on environmental policies, and tougher on migration.
All that may pose serious challenges for the Vatican’s diplomatic and political agenda under Pope Francis, who has repeatedly warned against the rise of the very sort of nationalist and populist forces who scored major gains.

Elections results, however, would suggest those messages weren’t quite shared by a growing number of European voters.
The results may be especially challenging for Catholic leaders in Germany, where the country’s bishops in February had called the far-right Alternative for Germany party “incompatible” with Church teaching, and a parish worker who was also a prominent party member was fired. Despite those efforts, the Alliance for Germany gained 16 percent of the vote, outperforming Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats and making it the second-largest political force in the country.
On the other hand, the growing political influence of more right-wing forces in Europe could help Francis on a couple of other fronts, including Ukraine, where Francis and some populist grouping share a skepticism about Western backing for prolonging the war with Russia, as well as the pope’s noted opposition to “gender theory,” as well as euthanasia and abortion.
In April, the European Parliament voted to include access to abortion in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, an outcome considered mostly symbolic given that all 27 member states would have to agree to such an amendment, and both Poland and Malta vowed to block it.
Given the new composition of the parliament, such measures are likely to face greater resistance.
2. Los Angeles County gives fire captain partial religious exemption in gay pride flag dispute, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, June 10, 2024, 12:08 PM
A Los Angeles County fire captain has received a partial religious exemption in his dispute with the county over the raising of a gay pride flag, although the captain’s lawyers say the accommodation is “not nearly enough.”
Capt. Jeffrey Little alleged in a May lawsuit that the Los Angeles County Fire Department violated his religious freedom when it ordered him to raise the so-called “Progress Pride” flag at the beach lifeguard station where he worked.
Little, a Christian, had requested a religious exemption to the rule. The lawsuit, filed in part by lawyers with the Thomas More Society, alleged that Little was suspended from his role in a department unit due to the dispute and subjected to an internal investigation.
It also alleged that Little’s superiors breached his privacy by informing unauthorized persons about his request for a religious accommodation, which led to him receiving a death threat in the mail.

3. MAGA Republicans tip their hand: They’re after contraception, too, There is no doubt that the GOP is waging war on women., By Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post, June 10, 2024, 7:45 AM, Opinion
For decades, the forced-birth crowd pooh-poohed pro-choice activists’ warnings that partisan right-wing judges were out to gut Roe v. Wade. “Hysterical!” “Fearmongering!” Then the six-person radical majority shredded nearly 50 years of precedent to deprive women of bodily autonomy. The right responded, “Leave it to the states, they’ll be reasonable!” What followed were a series of inhumane, unworkable and dangerous abortion bans that have threatened women’s livescreated a shortage of doctors and sparked legal chaos and endless litigation.
Next, Democrats warned that Republicans were after IVF. “Absurd!” Well, Republicans in Congress voted against protection for IVF. Alabama effectively banned it before a backlash forced a reversal.
By now, you would think Democrats’ warnings that Republicans are coming after reproductive rights, including contraception, would be heeded. But, predictably, Republicans cry foul and deny any thought of snatching away contraception access. Ah, but along came felon and former president Donald Trump who let slip he was “looking at” contraception restrictions; then he backpedaled once he realized too much candor was politically disastrous.

Voters have every reason to fear a GOP-held Congress would pass nationwide abortion ban and “fetal personhood” measures. They know that is true because Republicans continue to press these measures and simultaneously vote to block measures to protect IVF and contraception. And no one seriously believes that if elected on the strength of white Christian evangelicals’ support that Trump would veto such bills.
4. A scientific controversy at the Supreme Court, We deserve a solid foundation of data to make smart policy decisions., By Katelyn Jetelina and Heidi Moseson, THe Washington Post, June 10, 2024, 6:00 AM
In March, the Supreme Court heard a case about access to mifepristone, one of two pills used for a medication abortion. Just weeks before that, though, a scientific controversy roiled the debate: Some of the scientific studies underlying the legal challenge to the abortion pill were retracted by Sage, the academic publishing company, over methodological and ethical concerns. The Supreme Court is expected to rule in a matter of days or weeks.
This is a big deal. Removing a published article from a scientific journal doesn’t happen because of some small error. It’s unusual for a paper to be retracted (about 1 in 500), but the rate is increasing — and misconduct accounts for the majority of such instances. A retraction can be decided by the authors (after realizing a huge error) or by the publisher (over fraud, plagiarism, ethics, etc.).

The experts identified major ethical issues and scientific errors, including: A peer reviewer knew at least one of the authors of all three studies, and several are members of the same pro-life advocacy organizations, despite declaring no conflicts of interest in the study. 

We all deserve a solid foundation of data to make smart health-care decisions. This bedrock of data is highly dependent on ethical scientists and a strong review process. Retracted studies should never have reached the Supreme Court.
Katelyn Jetelina is an epidemiologist and author of the Substack newsletter Your Local Epidemiologist, where a version of this column initially appeared. Heidi Moseson is an epidemiologist at Ibis Reproductive Health.
5. Betrayed by Medicine: The Unspoken Horrors of Gender Transition, Riveting new book exposes the devastating impact of ‘gender-affirming care’ on young bodies and minds. ‘These real, lived stories are the greatest weapon in combating gender ideology,’ says journalist Mary Margaret Olohan., By Alyssa Murphy, National Catholic Register, June 10, 2024, Opinion
Mary Margaret Olohan first noticed it as a journalist around 2020-2021.
Stories and reports about “gender-affirming care” circulating across media outlets. The phrase, what Olohan calls an outright “euphemism for transgender surgeries, hormones and puberty blockers,” was a “very coordinated effort to make this seem all palatable to the public.”
“And it was around 2021 that lawmakers were introducing legislation such as the Safe Act that would protect children from these procedures,” The Daily Signal reporter and author of DeTrans: True Stories of Escaping the Gender Ideology Cult told the Register. But these efforts were met with hostility by the liberal media and advocates of gender ideology.
The book comes at an all-too-critical time, as WPATH just recently admitted to the fact that the “science” behind “gender-affirming care” had been doctored itself. And just as Olohan’s book exposes these lies and the butchering they caused of young teens who took the advice from medical professionals to heart, Olohan told the Register that the leak confirmed these disturbing facts: 
“So-called ‘gender-affirming care’ is experimental and dangerous and the transgender-promoting ‘experts’ know it. They knew that testosterone was causing tumors in some female patients. They knew that girls were losing their ability to have kids from these drugs. They knew that some patients were unable to actually give informed consent due to their serious mental-health problems. And yet they publicly continue to praise and laud ‘gender-affirming care’ and claim it is pivotal for youth who identify as transgender. These are incredibly harmful lies to vulnerable minds, and the detransitioners in my book believe they were betrayed and deeply harmed by these lies.”

6. Pope Francis appeals for urgent humanitarian aid for Gaza and backs cease-fire proposals, By Associated Press, June 9, 2024, 5:04 PM
Pope Francis called Sunday for humanitarian aid to urgently reach Palestinians in Gaza and for Israel and Hamas to immediately accept proposals for a cease-fire and release of hostages.
During his Sunday noon blessing, Francis also thanked Jordan, which this week will host an international humanitarian aid conference for Palestinians.
“I encourage the international community to act urgently, with all means, to come to the aid of the people of Gaza, worn out by the war,” he said. “Humanitarian aid must be allowed to reach those in need, and no one can impede it.”


7. A modest proposal for choosing the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, June 9, 2024, Opinion
With the imminent departure of Joseph Donnelly as the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, it seems likely the post will be vacant for a while. It would make little sense to try to ram through a nominee before the election in November, and afterwards it can take a new (or returning) administration six months, or more, to work its way down to the Vatican gig on the list of federal jobs to fill.
As a result, we have a cesura, a pregnant pause, which could provide a moment to rethink America’s approach to whom it sends as its envoy to the Vatican.
I’m going to lay out here a modest proposal I’ve been floating periodically for the better part of two decades, in the serene confidence that it’s no more likely to be taken up now than at any other point over that span. The fact I can’t get anyone to listen, however, doesn’t, ipso facto, make me wrong.
Both elements of this modest proposal are intended to expand the talent pool, as well as privileging competence and preparation over politics. To wit, I suggest the United States break with what have been two unquestioned assumptions about the position since full diplomatic relations were first launched under President Ronald Reagan in 1984:
  • First, we should end the bias in favor of political appointees in favor of giving consideration to career foreign service professionals.
  • Second, we should also break with the convention that the ambassador to the Vatican has to be a Catholic.
To be clear, these are American conventions, not Vatican requirements. Plenty of other nations appoint career diplomats to the Vatican role, and plenty also name non-Catholics.

Both of these conventions, meaning the informal rule that the ambassador has to be a political nominee and has to be Catholic, were born with noble intentions of showing respect to the Vatican. Yet over the 40 years in the U.S. and the Vatican have enjoyed full diplomatic relations, experience has shown they sometimes cut in the opposite direction, producing envoys who, despite the best of intentions, are unprepared to fully exploit the potential of the role.
Would U.S./Vatican relations be stronger if America stopped artificially handicapping itself and expanded the roster of possible choices for the ambassador’s post? In my view, unquestionably. Is that likely to happen? Probably not … frankly, it might just make too much sense to fly as policy.
8. Meet the anti-abortion group using white coats and research to advance its cause, The Charlotte Lozier Institute wants to arm the anti-abortion movement with science, but critics say its research is flawed., By Bracey Harris, NBC News, June 7, 2024, 10:08 AM
On a winter day less than two years after the fall of Roe v. Wade, Dr. Ingrid Skop beamed at a crowd of anti-abortion activists gathered at the Texas Capitol.
“The sun is shining on us. I think someone is happy with what we’re doing,” said Skop, a longtime OB-GYN, clad in a white doctor’s coat.
Her smile dropped as she launched into a speech attacking the Food and Drug Administration’s regulation of mifepristone for medication abortions. “One out of 20 women ends up needing emergency surgery with these dangerous pills,” she said.
The statistic isn’t far off, but the procedure that Skop warned of is a vacuum aspiration to clear the uterus, considered routine in miscarriage care and low-risk.
Skop’s warnings about abortion extend far beyond this rally. She is the vice president and director of medical affairs of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, established in 2011 as the research arm of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a nonprofit group that works to elect anti-abortion candidates. 
In a movement where many adherents are guided by religious or ideological beliefs, the institute has tried to win on secular grounds by offering research and studies aimed at countering the well-established scientific consensus that abortion care is safe.
Since Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022, the institute has gained visibility and notoriety as it has worked to justify abortion bans the majority of Americans don’t support. Two studies led by its vice president, James Studnicki, were cited in a federal ruling challenging the approval of mifepristone. Skop is part of a group that brought the original suit. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on a narrower version of the case this month. 
But the institute has also taken heat. The two studies were later retracted — unfairly, the authors argued — by the journal that published them.

The institute is often described as the anti-abortion movement’s answer to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy group that supports abortion rights. Skop and her peers have provided conservative officials with their own bench of experts.

9. A life-affirming choice for women: The important role of maternity homes after Roe’s reversal, By Kimberly Ross, The Washington Examiner, June 7, 2024, 5:05 AM, Opinion
The June 2022 Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has only increased the intensity surrounding the abortion debate. The ruling did not create a life-affirming culture overnight. But this was not the goal. Righting a legal and moral wrong was necessary. The abortion question is now in the hands of state legislatures and voters. Still, we view it through a large, nationwide lens. The discourse is broad and evenly divided along party lines. The real work takes place beyond the reach of fierce, angry discussion. It is the kind of work that matters far more than viral clips, protests, or interviews with enraged politicians. 
At the heart of it, the pro-life movement has always been a grassroots operation. Perhaps this has been forgotten in some ways over the years. The major focus has always been on Roe v. Wade or Casey v. Planned Parenthood and whether they would survive a Supreme Court challenge. There is nothing wrong with that priority. Legal battles are a main component of the cause. But the work to minister to women and reach them in local communities across the nation existed under Roe. The same work continues now, with an uncertain future ahead for both the country and individual states. 

When standing outside the stories of turmoil, it is easy to wonder why and how any woman could consider abortion. These reactions often come from those without lives marked by abuse, drug addiction, or unsupportive partners, parents, or families. It does little good to wonder why abortion continues to be in demand. It will always be presented as an alternative to scared women. This is the reality. A better use of time is spent meeting women where they are and journeying with them to a better life for them and their precious babies. It is in this vein that maternity homes soldier on. They are generally outside the spotlight. In some ways, this is good. The work is key and demands focus. But in other ways, the spotlight needs to be on them. They are transforming and saving lives, one by one. The lives saved now are also an investment in the next generation. Maternity homes do more to shift our nation slowly to a life-affirming culture than the most intense online disagreement could ever hope to achieve. 
Maternity homes are different from crisis pregnancy centers and similar clinics. Those clinics are essential and stand in direct contrast to Planned Parenthood. Pro-life clinic services include things such as ultrasounds (usually in limited scope), education regarding reproduction and sexual health, counseling, parenting classes for both mothers and fathers, life skill classes, adoption referrals, and clothing and other supplies for mother and baby. These clinics exist to provide compassionate care and direction to overwhelmed women. While abortion clinics offer targeted killing of the unborn, pro-life pregnancy centers do the opposite. As of 2020, there were approximately 3,000 pro-life pregnancy centers. Maternity homes are fewer in number. 

Maternity homes are an overlooked or even unknown but crucial part of the pro-life movement. These homes are nonjudgmental, nonpartisan, and truly life-changing. If anything, we need more of this and less of the fleeting activism that relies on temporary slogans or shaming. Working in the trenches, encouraging women toward life goals and achievements, and showing them they can do it is where the real cultural transformation begins. One by one.
Pro-life people eager to help have a long list of opportunities in front of them. Financially supporting maternity homes and other pro-life clinics tops that list. It is imperative that these bastions of healing and hope not only continue to operate but also thrive. We need more of them. And we need them now more than ever.
10. Airline lawyers spared religious liberty training in case about flight attendant’s abortion views, A judge’s order that three attorneys for Southwest Airlines get religious liberty training has been put on hold by a federal appeals court., By Kevin McGill, Associated Press, June 7, 2024, 2:57 PM
 An appeals court on Friday blocked a federal judge’s order that three attorneys for Southwest Airlines get religious liberty training from a conservative advocacy group, saying the judge likely exceeded his authority.
Three judges with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans put the training order on hold while appeals are pursued.
The order is an outgrowth of a case in which a Southwest flight attendant, Charlene Carter, sued the airline and her union after she was fired for sending graphic anti-abortion material and disparaging messages to a union leader and fellow employee. Carter won an $800,000 court award, also the subject of an appeal, after her attorneys argued that she was terminated for her religious beliefs.

11. Vatican official: Hundreds of millions of Christians ‘face high levels of persecution’, By Andrés Henríquez, Catholic News Agency, June 7, 2024, 11:47 AM
“More than 365 million Christians, approximately 1 in 7, face high levels of persecution for their faith,” Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Vatican secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, said at a conference on religious freedom held in Rome this week.
The conference, titled “Religious Freedom and Integral Human Development: A New Global Platform,” was jointly organized by the Sovereign Order of Malta, the Atlantic Council, and several universities, including the Pontifical Urban University of Rome and the University of Notre Dame.
In his speech, Gallagher said attacks on churches and Christian properties “increased significantly in 2023, with more Christians than ever before reporting violent attacks.”
The prelate went on to describe his concern that “according to some estimates, almost 4.9 billion people live in countries with serious or very serious violations of religious freedom.”

12. Doctors urge U.S. medical groups to ‘immediately stop’ transgender treatments on children, By Kate Quiñones, Catholic News Agency, June 7, 2024, 2:00 PM
Top medical groups and physicians have signed a “Doctors Protecting Children” declaration that expresses “serious concerns” about the treatment of minors who are uncomfortable with their biological sex, one advocate told EWTN News this week. 
Jill Simons, the executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, told “EWTN News Nightly” anchor Tracy Sabol on Thursday that the medical group has been “sounding the alarm” after the recently leaked files from the World Professional Association of Transgender Health in which transgender advocates admitted that children who receive permanently life-changing transgender procedures are too young to be capable of giving informed consent.  
Also raising alarm bells has been the release of England’s Cass Review, which found no  comprehensive evidence to support the routine prescription of transgender drugs to minors with gender dysphoria. 
Those revelations “had the overwhelming evidence that these so-called gender-affirming care treatments should not continue,” Simons said.

Eighteen health policy and medical organizations have co-signed the “Doctors Protecting Children” declaration, including the Catholic Medical Association (CMA), along with close to 100 doctors and health leaders. 

13. Republicans Are ‘Running Out of States’ to Pass New Transgender Restrictions, In an election year, efforts to pass limits on transgender rights have slowed in Republican-led legislatures., By Amy Harmon, The New York Times, June 7, 2024, Opinion
State legislatures are ending their sessions this spring with only a handful of new restrictions for transgender people on the books, a departure from the previous two years when passing such legislation became a major focus in Republican-dominated state capitols.
In interviews, conservative strategists and transgender rights advocates offered several reasons for the sudden slowdown. In part, they said, Republican state lawmakers had such a high success rate for bills limiting transgender rights in the earlier years that they had covered a lot of ground already. “We’re running out of states to pass things in,” said Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project, a national conservative advocacy group.
The smaller number may reflect an election-year recognition among Republican lawmakers that voters may rank gender identity issues below the economy, inflation and jobs. Republican leaders in the Georgia House of Representatives told reporters this spring that they had chosen to focus on “kitchen table” issues, such as an income-tax cut and funding for prekindergarten programs.
Of 28 states where Republicans control the legislature, 24 now prohibit or restrict medical professionals from providing hormone therapies for gender transition to minors; 24 bar transgender students from participating in sports that align with their gender identity; and 12 bar students from using school bathrooms that do not match their sex assigned at birth, according to the Movement Advancement Project, an L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy group that tracks state-level legislation. Most of those laws were passed before this year’s legislative sessions.

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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