1. Notre Dame Celebrates First Mass Since Fire.

By Nick Kostov, The Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2019, Pg. A18

Two months to the day since fire engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral and destroyed much of its roof and vaulted ceiling, the archbishop of Paris offered the first Mass in the charred building that is still in danger of partial collapse.

As work continues to stabilize the cathedral’s structure, Archbishop Michel Aupetit celebrated a Mass on Saturday for a group of around 30 worshipers wearing white hard hats.

 Many of those taking part in the Mass in Notre-Dame des Sept Douleurs—a chapel inside the cathedral that housed the Crown of Thorns, one of Christendom’s most important relics— were priests or canons. They stood close to burned debris and yellow construction vehicles. At times, worshipers took off their hard hats to read from the Bible or receive Communion.


2. Massachusetts to Weigh Abortion Bill.

By Jacob Gershman, The Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2019, Pg. A3

Abortion will take center stage at the Massachusetts State House on Monday, with lawmakers in both houses scheduled to hear a proposal to decriminalize the procedure throughout pregnancy and strip away other limits on the procedure.

Dozens of Democratic Massachusetts legislators have signed on to legislation known as the “Roe Act” in reference to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling establishing a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

It would also repeal a provision requiring physicians to takes measures to try preserve the life of a potentially viable fetus after an abortion. And it would expand state-sponsored insurance coverage of abortion.

The legislation would also redefine abortion and pregnancy in state law, deleting language that refers to a fetus as an “unborn child.”


3. Vatican Calls for Consideration of Married Priests in Remote Amazon, In a new document, the Vatican says the church should consider allowing women to perform ‘official ministry’.

By Francis X. Rocca, Wall Street Journal Online, June 17, 2019, 6:21 AM

The Catholic Church should study the possibility of ordaining married men to serve as priests in remote parts of South America’s Amazon region, where many parishes have struggled to recruit clergy, the Vatican said in a document released on Monday.

The document, which sets the agenda for an assembly of bishops in October to discuss issues in the Amazon region from environmental problems to the plight of indigenous peoples, also suggests the church should consider allowing women to perform “official ministry,” leaving open what roles women would have.

The Amazon is one of the regions in the world where the Catholic Church has had the greatest problems finding priests to celebrate Mass and hear confessions among remote communities of believers. The difficulties have led the Vatican to consider extraordinary measures that could break with centuries of Catholic practice.


4. Vatican formally opens debate on married priests in Amazon.

By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, June 17, 2019, 6:41 AM

The Vatican formally opened debate Monday on letting married men be ordained as priests in remote parts of the Amazon where priests are so few that Catholics can go weeks or months without attending a Mass.

The call for study on the proposal was contained in the working document, released Monday, for an October meeting of South American bishops on the Amazon.

The document, prepared by the Vatican based on input from the region, affirmed that celibacy is a gift for the Catholic Church.


5. At bishops summit, filling McCarrick’s chair signals hope for change.

By Christopher White, Crux, June 17, 2019

When the U.S. Catholic bishops gathered for their semi-annual meeting last week, the burning outsider question was what steps they would take to combat the clerical sexual abuse scandals that are once again scarring the Church in America.

For insiders, however, that question took on a highly specific focus: Would anyone finally sit in Ted McCarrick’s chair?

In reality, there is no chair formally designated for the disgraced former priest and cardinal whose downfall opened the floodgates for the latest wave of the abuse crisis, but, symbolically, his empty chair during recent meetings has come to represent something more.

McCarrick’s absence – once a towering figure in this august body – was a reminder of the betrayal many feel, and his name has become synonymous with the failings of the collective body of bishops and the source of rage for Catholics across the country.

In a room full of hundreds of chairs – none of which are actually reserved – one chair was just be assumed to be off-limits. It was his chair, where he had sat for years.


6. Poland becomes Europe’s testing ground for best practices on abuse.

By Paulina Guzik, Crux, June 17, 2019

Vox estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”), the new pontifical law that came into life on June 1, “for the first time in the history of the Church – creates a positive obligation to denounce”- told the Maltese archbishop in an interview for Polish Television. It also protects those who report.

The title of the document was the mantra of Scicluna’s two-hour long speech and his Q&A session for Polish bishops. It may also become a sword that Scicluna brought to Poland. He thoroughly explained the law that will eventually cut heads off bishops who put their reputation first and ignore victims.

“Victims are not enemies of the Church,” Scicluna told the Polish episcopate, “but wounded sheep.”

Scicluna praised the plans and procedures decided by the episcopal conference throughout the years. But then he asked: “What are the facts?”

“He forced us to examine our conscience,” a Polish bishop told Crux after Scicluna’s speech.


7. Britain Needs Its Own Mexico City Policy, to Stop Funding Abortion Overseas.

By Grazie Pozo Christie, National Review Online, June 17, 2019, 6:30 AM

Most Brits oppose the practice. They want to see women and children thrive, especially in places where poverty and unrest are rampant.

One of the first of the Trump administration’s many pro-life moves was to stop funding abortion overseas. Trump reinstated and expanded the Mexico City policy that President Obama did away with in 2009. If President Trump has had any doubts about the fitness of his decision over the last two years, he has only to look to the United Kingdom, where the government is busy trying to explain to the public why it saw fit to give the scandal-plagued International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) over 130 million pounds in January. Along with Marie Stopes International, the IPPF was one of only four non-governmental organizations that refused to cease performing abortions as a condition for receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in American foreign-aid money in 2017.

British taxpayers have a lot to be angry about. The polling firm ComRes found in 2017 that 65 percent of them would like to stop funding abortion overseas. There is, of course, the fact that, according to the IPPF’s own 2017 annual report, they funded the abortions of more than 1 million unborn babies that year — and that these were mainly babies in developing countries. Brits also ought to be furious about the huge salaries paid to the charity’s officials, even in the face of an ongoing investigation into allegations of corruption and intimidation by high-level employees. But all this pales in comparison with the latest revelation: According to Kenyan court documents, the IPPF “solicited the services of prostitutes for guests during official functions of the organization.”

Like Americans, the British are eager to be a force for good across our troubled world. They especially want to see women and children thrive, knowing them to be the most vulnerable in places where poverty and unrest make life a constant crisis. The two-faced International Planned Parenthood Foundation, taking money to “protect and care for women” while at the same time being a sink of corruption, is not a force for good.

Maybe it’s time not only for Americans to thank President Trump for redirecting our money away from IPPF but for the British to institute a Mexico City policy of their own.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie specializes in radiology in the Miami area and serves on the advisory board for The Catholic Association.


7. Bishop Paprocki Calls on Catholic Politicians to Take Sides.

By John M. Grondelski, Crisis Magazine, June 17, 2019

Thomas Paprocki, the bishop of Springfield (the state capital of Illinois), has issued a decree barring the Illinois State Senate President and House Speaker—both ostensibly Catholics—from receiving Communion in the diocese.  The June 2 decision took place in response to enactment of abortion legislation codifying in state law an unlimited abortion liberty through birth, in the event that Roe et al. v. Wade was judicially modified.  Paprocki’s decree also states that Illinois Catholic legislators who voted for the bill should also not receive Communion until they first are “reconciled to Christ and the Church.”

With the uptick in state legislative action on abortion this year, the problem of nominal Catholics receiving Communion while voting for abortion has again become acute.  This issue has arisen over the years: it first arose in 1973 when a Catholic justice, William Brennan, joined the majority in Roe and acquired particular visibility later in 1984 and 2004.

Then-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Ratzinger, wrote a letter to the American bishops making clear that they had an obligation to deny Communion to pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians.   When then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick related the letter to his fellow bishops, however, “Uncle Teddy” bowdlerized its contents, claiming that Ratzinger had said that denial of Communion was a matter of episcopal discretion, not demand.  Under that misrepresentation, the bishops promptly took the off-ramp and exercised their “discretion” not to address the issue.

I have no doubt we will hear the claim that denial of Communion to public officials is a violation of Church/state separation. However, it is Paprocki, not the current lax practice, which protects the distinction between Church and state.  The state may have its policies, which a Catholic politician should seek to align with human dignity, but it cannot lawfully demand that the Church disregard its own values so that a pro-abortion politician can receive the Eucharist.  It is the public official who must choose between two paths.


8. Lost in Abortion Noise: Nuance.

By Jeremy W. Peters, The New York Times, June 16, 2019, Pg. A1

The nuance in how Americans like Ms. Smith-Holmes view abortion has largely fallen out of the noisy national dialogue about when women should be able to end their pregnancies. Complex questions — of medicine, morality, personal empowerment and the proper role of government — are often reduced to the kind of all-or-nothing propositions that are ever more common in the polarized politics of the Trump era.

President Trump and the Republican Party are rallying their base by falsely portraying efforts to expand abortion rights in states like New York as condoning the murder of healthy full-term babies delivered by healthy mothers. The leading national organization for Republicans who support abortion access, Republican Majority for Choice, closed down last year, saying it saw no more space for common ground within the party.

In the Democratic Party, where politicians could once straddle the abortion divide by airing personal misgivings while also promoting supportive policies, holding a gradated view is no longer the norm. The debate on the left today is far less modulated than it was a decade ago when Barack Obama, then the party’s presidential nominee, spoke of how Americans wrestled with the issue in good faith, saying that “anybody who tries to deny the moral difficulties and gravity of the abortion issue, I think, is not paying attention.”

By contrast, Democrats running for president today often characterize abortion rights as absolute. And they steer clear of saying what polls have repeatedly shown about Americans’ views since Roe v. Wade made abortion a constitutionally protected right in 1973: It’s complicated.


9. ‘Emanuel’ film shows power of forgiveness.

By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, Voices Contributor, Christian Post, June 16, 2019

On the evening of June 17, 2015, 21-year old Dylann Roof walked into Charleston’s “Mother Emanuel” church. There, he found a group of the faithful about to begin a Bible study in the basement of the South Carolina church. They welcomed him and invited him to join them. He sat down. He listened and spoke. At the end of the hour, the participants began to pray. At that point, the young man opened fire in what became one of the country’s deadliest mass shootings at a place of worship. In the end, nine of those who had gathered that night to reflect on the Word of God lay dead. Only three survived. 

The police caught Roof the following day. He was unrepentant. He hoped his evil act in targeting one of the country’s oldest black churches would ignite a race war. He was wrong.

A new film, “Emanuel: The Untold Story of the Victims and Survivors of the Charleston Church Shooting,” tells what came next as survivors lived out Christ’s hard teaching (Matthew 18:22), to forgive the sins of our brothers “seventy-seven times.”  It’s a story of true Christian forgiveness – a story that can help all of us who struggle to multiply our capacity to forgive. 

This beautifully filmed documentary begins with important history lessons on Charleston and American race relations. 

Forgiveness – a great act of love, a great act of release – was a salve to their sorrow. Such amazing grace – God-given to anyone willing to receive it – made forgiveness abundant in Charleston, allowing the survivors and relatives of the Mother Emanuel Nine to forgive. Not just once, but 77 times or more. 

Emanuel will show nationwide in theaters for only two days, June 17 and 19. Don’t miss it. It is the unusual summer movie that all will be the better for seeing.

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is Legal Advisor for The Catholic Association Foundation. 


10. Antonin Scalia’s son looks at the faith of his father.

By Kathryn Jean Lopez, Crux, June 16, 2019

[Editor’s Note: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was one of the most influential members of the court until his death in 2016. Christopher Scalia and Ed Whelan have a new book, On Faith: Lessons from an American Believer. The book looks at the faith of the late justice, and how it affected his life. Kathryn Jean Lopez spoke to Christopher about his father, and why he felt this book was necessary.]

Lopez: Why did you feel this book needed to exist?

Christopher Scalia: This book, or at least a book like it, was my father’s idea: He’d been working on a collection of his speeches on religion before he passed away. Ed and I liked the idea of seeing that project through because it was so important to him, and because we thought people would appreciate what he had to say. So we included many of the speeches he had in mind and added excerpts from opinions involving the religion clauses of the Constitution, as well as reminiscences from people who knew him-old friends, family members, former clerks. I think the result is a collection that shows the depth of my father’s faith, as well as his concern that we were narrowing the space that our Founders cleared for religion in public life.

What was it about Antonin Scalia’s faith that we need today?

The recognition that being a religious believer means that we’ll often feel out-of-step with the world around us. He makes this point in a number of speeches, and it’s a reason St. Thomas More was one of his heroes: the saint was one of the smartest men of his age, but he also saw with the eyes of faith. My dad ended one of his favorite speeches this way: “It is the hope of most speakers to impart wisdom. It has been my hope to impart, to those already wise in Christ, the courage to have their wisdom regarded as stupidity.”


11. Court Lets Migrant Teens Seek Abortions.

By Brent Kendall, The Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2019, Pg. A6

A federal appeals court ruled the Trump administration can’t enforce a policy that prevented undocumented teenage immigrants in U.S. custody from obtaining abortions.

The policy effectively served as a blanket ban on abortion that was inconsistent with Supreme Court precedents saying the government can’t unduly burden a woman’s right to choose to a pregnancy, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit wrote in a 2-1 ruling on Friday.


12. To All the Fathers in My Life, Thank You, The dad who raised me and the priest who taught me in school helped me find my way to manhood.

By Mike Kerrigan, The Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2019, Pg. A15, Opinion

 This Sunday is a day to honor all the fathers in our lives.

While this starts with biological, step- and adoptive fathers, it doesn’t end there. Not for me, anyway. It took more than one set of male eyes to keep me from getting lost.

How fortunate, for at the head of the class stood James A.P. Byrne SJ, my second “father.” Small in stature but colossal in presence, this enigmatic priest changed my life.

The Jesuit with a reputation for brilliance and humility gave me the confidence to conquer Latin. “Have you no poetry in your soul?” he asked as I labored clumsily through Virgil. His was precisely the influence I needed. If with effort I could learn something as inaccessible as Latin, then maybe I had some spark in me after all.

 Many mentors have influenced me with their muscular Christianity, but Father Byrne’s method of shaping souls was different. He drew upon St. Francis of Assisi’s maxim: “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” The diminutive priest was a giant in my life but made himself small so students like me would aspire, as he did, to live as men for others.

This is the phrase—men for others— that runs through my mind this Father’s Day. It’s how men like my dad and Father Byrne lived, and I’m convinced it’s critical to being a good father; indeed, a good person. Find something meaningful that is bigger than yourself and live for it, simple as that. For seeking the good of another is more than living, it is loving.

To my many fathers and to all like them, thank you and Happy Father’s Day.

Mr. Kerrigan is an attorney in Charlotte, N.C.


13. Court allows abortion access for migrant teens in custody, Judges: Administration’s policy amounts to an ‘across-the-board ban’.

By Ann E. Marimow, The Washington Post, June 15, 2019, Pg. A2

The Trump administration’s policy blocking abortion services for pregnant teenagers in immigration custody functions as “an across-the-board ban” on access to the procedure, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. 

The 2-to-1 opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit means the government will continue to be prevented from standing in the way of migrant teens who seek to end their pregnancies. 

When the case initially was on appeal before the full court in October 2017, Kavanaugh’s colleagues reversed his order that would have delayed a teen’s access to abortion services. Srinivasan and Wilkins voted with the majority to allow immediate access. Kavanaugh dissented.


14. Major oil companies commit to carbon pricing at Vatican.

By Nicole Winfield and Frank Jordans, The Associated Press, June 14, 2019

Some of the world’s major oil producers pledged Friday to support “economically meaningful” carbon pricing regimes after a personal appeal from Pope Francis to avoid “perpetrating a brutal act of injustice” against the poor and future generations.

The companies, including ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Chevron and Eni, said in a joint statement at the end of a Vatican climate summit that governments should set such pricing regimes at a level that encourages business and investment, while “minimizing the costs to vulnerable communities and supporting economic growth.”

Francis attended Friday’s session and told the gathering that a “radical energy transition” to clean, low-carbon power sources was needed and that if managed well, would “generate new jobs, reduce inequality and improve the quality of life for those affected by climate change.”


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