1. African-American Priest, Born a Slave, Closer to Sainthood.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2019, Pg. A3

Pope Francis decreed the “heroic virtues” of the first African-American Catholic priest, thereby bringing a man who was born into slavery in the 19th century a step closer to becoming the first African-American saint.

The Rev. Augustus Tolton, who was born a slave in Missouri in 1854, will henceforth be known as “venerable” due to the papal decree, which the Vatican announced Wednesday.

Before Father Tolton can be declared “blessed,” the next step in the path to sainthood, the Vatican has to rule that a miracle—a medically inexplicable recovery from an illness—occurred after devotees prayed for his intercession with God. A second such miracle, occurring after beatification, would be required before he could be canonized as a saint.

According to Britain’s Catholic Herald, two possible miracles attributable to Father Tolton’s intercession have already been referred to the Vatican.


2. Poland’s Catholic Clergy Pressured on Abuse.

By Drew Hinshaw, The Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2019, Pg. A18

The Catholic Church in Poland has seen an uptick in accusations from people claiming to have been sexually abused by clergy as children, after a YouTube video sparked public anger at an institution that is at the political and social heart of this culturally conservative country.

The increase appears to have been prompted by the two-hour-long YouTube documentary about sexual-abuse allegations against Polish clergy, titled “Tell No One,” which has been viewed more than 22 million times. Victims’ advocates say the film has shifted the mood in a country that, they argue, has been slow to address allegations of clerical sex abuse.


3. An Abortion Red Herring in Alabama.

By Steven J. Arango, The Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2019, Pg. A15

When the University of Alabama decided to return a $21.5 million donation to investor Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. and remove his name from its law school, Mr. Culverhouse claimed it was retaliation for his speaking out against Alabama’s new abortion law. But the university’s decision had nothing to do with abortion.

The University of Alabama School of Law has taken no position on the Alabama abortion law (nor do I). It is a public institution that appropriately remains neutral and focuses on its educational mission.

 The decision to return Mr. Culverhouse’s money doesn’t hurt students; it protects them. One donor shouldn’t be able to hold a school hostage— or to hide his agenda behind abortion politics.

Mr. Arango is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law.


4. DOJ back plaintiffs in religious tuition case.

By Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post, June 13, 2019, Pg. A19

The Justice Department is throwing its support to three families suing Maine’s education commissioner, alleging he discriminated against them by not allowing public funds to be used for their children’s tuition at religious schools.

It was the Trump administration’s latest move in an effort to overturn state laws that prevent public money from being used for religious schooling, a stated goal of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Most states have similar laws, which are increasingly coming under legal attack in part because of President Trump’s 2017 executive order promoting “Free Speech and Religious Liberty.”

The Justice Department filed a “statement of interest” in the case this week, supporting the families. The department has previously submitted amicus briefs in lawsuits aiming to overturn these laws, known as Blaine Amendments.


5. Some states push to expand abortion access as others act to severely restrict it.

By Paulina Firozi, The Washington Post, June 13, 2019, Pg. A20

Democratic-led states are pushing forward a flurry of bills to expand access to abortions in a rebuttal to Republican states that have pushed to severely restrict the procedure this spring. 

Two of the most recent examples are in Nevada and Illinois, which recently approved bills repealing criminal penalties in connection with abortion and easing some restrictions to make it easier for women to get the procedure. Maine this week also enacted a measure that would allow medical professionals other than doctors to perform abortions. In all, there are 25 state legislatures that introduced dozens of bills this year that would expand abortion access as other states look to limit it, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. 


6. Quebec on cusp of banning public worker religious wear, Fierce debate echoes burqa battles in Europe.

By Barry Brown, The Washington Times, June 13, 2019, Pg. A1

Devout Sikhs, practicing Muslims, Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians working in Quebec’s public service will soon face a choice: Either honor their religious convictions or keep their jobs.

Lawmakers in Quebec’s provincial assembly are set to vote by the end of the week on a divisive measure that would ban public employees from wearing any symbol of their religion on the job, an echo of the “burqa bans” adopted by a number of European countries in recent years.

“Secularism is not contrary to freedom of religion,” Quebec Premier Francois Legault said of his government’s proposed law. For the past 10 years, Quebecois have been debating the limits of religious accommodation in the public service and now “it’s time to set the rules,” he said in a public address to the province.


7. Notre Dame symposium brings together theologians, social scientists to discuss family.

By Kathryn Jean Lopez, Crux, June 13, 2019

Editor’s Note: Gregory Popcak is the organizer of the upcoming Symposium on Catholic Family Life and Spirituality, a July meeting at the University of Notre Dame focused on the renewal of family life. Popcak, the director of Pastoral Solutions Institute, radio host, and author, talks about the scope and the goals. He spoke to Kathryn Jean Lopez about the symposium.]

Lopez: You’re putting together a Symposium on Catholic Family Life and Spirituality. What’s the plan and the hope – and the prayer?

Popcak: Let me say this up front: We are not hosting a conference. My partners and I intend to use this event to launch a movement that will facilitate the renewal of Catholic family life. I know, that sounds ambitious in the extreme, and if I were attempting this myself, the assertion would be insane. Thankfully, we have some terrific collaborators. My organization, the Pastoral Solutions Institute, is working with the OSV Institute, Holy Cross Family Ministries, and the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame to gather an internationally recognized group of theologians, social-scientists, and pastoral ministry professionals to examine several critical questions about Catholic family life that, believe it or not, have never really been sufficiently explored, much less in a systematic way, in the history of the Church.


8. New book explores ‘tenderness’ of Pope Francis.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, June 13, 2019

Pope Francis is responsible for saving at least 30,000 people from drowning in the Mediterranean, according to the founder of an NGO that rescues migrants attempting to travel from Africa to Europe.

This claim was made by Oscar Camps of Proactiva Open Arms during a book presentation on Wednesday in Madrid.

Camps said he was at first critical of the pontiff, until he saw Francis going to the Greek island of Lesbos in 2016, and returning to Rome with three migrant families on the plane.


9. U.S. bishops vote to design hotline for reporting complaints against bishops.

By Christopher White, Crux, June 12, 2019

As the U.S. Catholic bishops inch closer to enacting new protocols for bishop accountability, they concluded the second day of their high stakes spring meeting by approving a measure to design a national third-party system for reporting claims against bishops.

The third party reporting system is meant to serve as a confidential mechanism, via telephone or online, for complaints against bishops for either abuse or its cover-up. The vote on Wednesday gives approval for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to develop a more detailed reporting system before a full vote by the bishops later this year in November.

The administrative committee of the USCCB will vote in September on the financial and structural specifics before the November General Assembly.

Under the approved plan, the bishops committed to activating the third-party reporting system no later than May 31, 2020.


10. The Ongoing Persecution of a Christian Baker.

By The Editors, National Review Online, June 12, 2019, 10:53 AM

Jack Phillips is a baker. He is also a Christian. He declined to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple, who, instead of going to the bakery down the street, brought in the state government to try to force him to.

The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately held that Colorado’s so-called Civil Rights Commission had, in targeting Phillips, acted on a foundation of “religious hostility on the part of the State itself.” A second action against Phillips was dropped when the outlaw baker countersued.

Autumn Scardina, who was the complainant in the second action against Phillips, is now pursuing a third, having asked for a birthday cake to celebrate a gender transition.

That is three legal attacks on a man for the purported offense of conducting his bakery business in accordance with his own views and values.

But the point of this exercise — unlike the point of the civil-rights reforms of an earlier era — is not to provide for the integration of gay Americans into civil life or to enable them to organize their own affairs on their own terms and to engage in the pursuit of happiness in the way that seems best to them. Instead, the point of this harassment — and it is only harassment — is to bully and coerce dissidents into obedience and conformity. That “dissident baker” is a genuine political category speaks eloquently to the insanity of our times.

This is persecution, and it is unjust. It should be addressed with whatever legal and political means are necessary to bring it to a stop.

And a few people in Colorado should grow the hell up.


11. Planned Parenthood Cannot Hide Truth: Cost of Abortion Is High, and Women Are Paying the Price.

By Grazie Christie, CNS News, June 12, 2019, 11:05 AM

Planned Parenthood is sure that in Dr. Wen as spokesperson they have a winner on their hands. But as a woman and a doctor myself, I think the corporation is wrong to put so much faith in anyone’s ability to paper over Planned Parenthood’s greatest weakness in their crusade to be recognized as disinterested champions of women’s rights: the inescapable misogyny of abortion.

But proving to American women that abortion, through all nine months of pregnancy and for any reason at all, is a great good, is just too heavy a lift for any woman. The cost of abortion is high, and it is women who are paying through the nose: the female fetuses with their lives and the mothers with their money, physical pain and remorse. Go ahead and send Dr. Wen to all the talk shows, Planned Parenthood, but don’t count on her being able to hide the truth from us.  

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie practices Radiology in the Miami area and is a Policy Advisor for The Catholic Association.


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