1. The perverse zealotry of the anti-IVF movement, If they knew what patients endured, antiabortion extremists might learn more about caring for unborn babies., By David Von Drehle, The Washington Post, June 17, 2024, 7:00 AM, Opinion
Beware victorious political movements. Winning brings out the zealots, and zealots devour their friends. Consider the Khmer Rouge of 1970s Cambodia, who, at the peak of its power, was known to kill people for wearing glasses on the theory that glasses signified the elite intellectual class. As though anyone other than an elite intellectual could digest the turgid tomes of the communist canon.
It is thus with the antiabortion movement in the United States. Aflame with its success in overturning Roe v. Wade, the zealots of the movement have turned their energies against the suite of medical procedures known generally as IVF. In various state legislatures as well as the Southern Baptist Convention, the perverse result is that the supposed champions of families and babies are targeting the very families that want babies the most.
I doubt very seriously that many of the Baptists who voted last week to anathematize IVF have any experience with it. Let me tell them a little about it. No doubt it would be better for them to hear from a woman, because the process is even more excruciating for women than for men, but antiabortion zealots don’t find women to be reliable sources on the topic of reproduction. So I will have to do.

I don’t think any people alive care more about the miracle of conception, the viability of a fetus and the gift of life than IVF patients. No one suffers more acutely or weeps more bitterly over unborn babies; they are, after all, holes at the centers of our lives. How can a person of faith fail to see the creative power of God in the intelligence that makes such reproductive technology possible? What crabbed theology sees God at work in sperm and eggs and reproductive organs, yet finds only sin in the brains of scientists and doctors? Lord save us from the zealots.
2. No, the Supreme Court has not become reasonable. It did not ‘save’ mifepristone, Its ruling on mifepristone is nothing to celebrate., By Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post, June 17, 2024, 7:45 AM, Opinion
Just as they did when the Supreme Court managed to reject the utterly outlandish independent state legislature theory in Moore v. Harper, too many credulous court watchers rushed forward last week to praise the high court for its “reasonableness” in rejecting a half-baked claim to restrict access to mifepristone, the medical abortion drug. It gets no brownie points for knocking down on technical standing grounds one of the more outlandish opinions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and antiabortion activist District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk.
Despite headlines that the court was saving or preserving mifepristone, it did nothing of the sort. Worse, Americans have plenty of reason to fear what the most radical and aggressive Supreme Court since Dred Scott is up to.
The majority found that the respondent, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, lacked standing because the group’s members were already spared from any obligation to perform medical abortions by federal conscience clause protections, had only the most speculative injuries, and had to do more than prove it devoted resources to the issue to qualify for “associational” standing. (Plaintiffs cannot “spend” their way into standing, the majority held.)

As Reuters explained, “Thomas essentially attacked a long-recognized legal doctrine relied upon by associations ranging from the nation’s biggest business lobby — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — to environmental groups and gun rights advocacy organizations to challenge government policies by suing on behalf of their members.” By depriving the most able plaintiffs from challenging statutes, Thomas would give the federal government and states license to run roughshod over individual rights without necessarily changing the substantive law.

Drilling down on the majority opinion, one finds that the court says nothing that would restrict states from banning all abortions, medical or otherwise. As Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern remind us, “It remains unlawful to prescribe in states that criminalize abortion; it has even been deemed a ‘controlled substance’ in Louisiana.” Moreover, Thomas and other radicals’ pet theory for banning all abortions — expansion and contortion of the Comstock Act to prevent use of the mail to send abortion devices or literature — “will roar back with a vengeance,” the authors note, if Trump prevails and the Supreme Court, freed from worries about a national backlash, decides to take the issue on squarely.
Furthermore, while this particular plaintiff was denied standing, another party, such as a state or individual doctor, might easily establish standing to take another crack at outlawing mifepristone. 

So be forewarned: If MAGA extremists return power, they and their radical handmaidens on the Supreme Court will not hesitate to create Clarence Thomas’s America. It won’t be a place that the vast majority of Americans find congenial — or even recognizable.
3. Texas high court declines to decide if embryos are people or property, The case that was before the state Supreme Court, stemming from a couple’s divorce, could have had significant implications for IVF in Texas, By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, The Washington Post, June 17, 2024, 2:14 PM
The Texas Supreme Court on Friday declined to consider whether frozen embryos are people or property in the eyes of the law — a ruling that could have had dramatic consequences in a state where in vitro fertilization is booming.
“I’m happy that IVF stays the way it is,” said Patrick Wright, the attorney for the prevailing party in the case, who was sued amid a divorce. Yet he cautioned that the issue is likely to resurface during next year’s legislative session. “This is just the start.”
The case was brought by a Dallas-area woman after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022 and a Texas law making abortion a felony — punishable by up to life in prison — was “triggered” to take effect. That law, Caroline Antoun argues, requires her three frozen embryos to be treated as children in her divorce instead of property to be divided.
“What’s at stake is my ability to protect my unborn children,” Antoun said in a recent interview, insisting that while antiabortion groups have supported her, she’s not against abortion but for personhood and parents’ rights. “The current law is failing us.”
She could still appeal the case, including to the U.S. Supreme Court. She declined to comment Friday about her plans but said she believes the Texas judges’ decision to decline her lawsuit was motivated by politics and fear.

4. It’s Time to Remove This Trace of Anti-Catholic Bigotry from Our Laws, By Ashley McGuire & Grazie Pozo Christie, National Review, June 17, 2024, 6:30 PM
Blaine Amendments are bigoted laws that bar public funding for religious institutions, schools especially, and they are still on the books in many states. They trace their roots to the anti-Catholicism that swept the nation in the late 1800s. Facing an influx of Irish Catholic immigrants, politicians tried to amend the U.S. Constitution to prohibit direct aid from the government to Catholic parochial schools that were created as an alternative to the then-explicitly Protestant public schools.
The Blaine Amendments failed at the federal level. So many states took their own go at a “mini Blaine,” or a state-level version, to achieve the same aim. Thirty-seven states succeeded. Fast-forward more than 100 years later: The U.S. Supreme Court has examined many of these state amendments, holding that they discriminate against not only Catholic schools but all faith-based schools.
But Michigan still has a sneaky work-around. And now its constitutionality is pending before the Supreme Court.
Michigan’s Blaine Amendment, the result of a union-driven political mobilization, did not come into being until 1970. It was, you could say, a bit late to the anti-Catholic bigotry game. And perhaps as a result, its rank religious bigotry is hidden in the purported broadness of its language.
The act prohibits public funding, direct or indirect, from going to all nonpublic schools. It even bars tax exemptions for parents paying tuition at private schools. Sounds neutral enough.
But context matters. And the context of Michigan’s Blaine Amendment is that when it was passed, 98 percent of the nonpublic schools in Michigan were . . . Catholic. The Michigan supreme court recognized this sneaky subterfuge when the law was challenged. It stated that “with ninety-eight percent of the private school students being in church-related schools,” the state’s Blaine Amendment was nearly “total” in its “impact.” “As far as the voters were concerned in 1970, . . .” the court wrote, the Blaine Amendment was “an anti-parochial amendment — no public monies to run parochial schools — and beyond that all else was utter and complete confusion.”
Michigan’s Blaine Amendment was hardly neutral, and, more than 50 years later, the utter and complete confusion continues and cuts religious parents out of the taxpayer benefits afforded to secular parents in deciding how to best educate their children. It’s the worst kind of discrimination, in that it is cloaked in the language of impartiality.
But bigotry by any other name, it turns out, still reeks.
A group of parents, represented by the Mackinac Legal Center, has sued, and after losing before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, is now asking the Supreme Court to hear their case. The parents have school-age children and are seeking a tiny portion of the public-education funding riches, made all the richer by billions in covid funding for public schools, to pay for their kids’ private, religious-school education. They claim that Michigan’s 1970 Blaine Amendment disenfranchises them based on their religious views and that the amendment was adopted because of voter animus toward faith-based (read Catholic) educational institutions.
In addition to being hostile to religion, Michigan’s Blaine Amendment flies in the face of a nationwide trend toward school choice. Currently 29 states have state-funded programs that let parents control the direction of their child’s education — through vouchers, education savings accounts, tax credits, or a combination of all three. All share the common belief that one size does not fit all students when it comes to schooling. Many parochial schools boast enviable results on shoestring budgets and are a wonderful alternative to public schools for millions of families. They have had promising results for religious and nonreligious students alike.
Researcher David Figlio has shown, for example, that low-income Catholic-school students using the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship outperform their non-Catholic-school peers in both reading and math. Annual learning gains by these disadvantaged students show that the academic excellence, high expectations, and well-ordered and disciplined atmosphere at these schools are just what these students need to live up to their full potential. And, unlike Michigan’s Blaine Amendment, these schools don’t discriminate on the basis of religion. They accept students of all faiths or no faith and believe deeply — so much so that they often operate at a loss — that every child deserves to live up to his or her full academic potential.
Michigan students and their parents are being denied the chance to avail themselves of these educational opportunities because of their state’s slick but no less religiously offensive Blaine Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court should take up Hile v. State of Michigan and make sure that every Blaine Amendment, regardless of its rhetorical disguise, is rightfully ruled unconstitutional.
Ashley McGuire is a senior fellow with The Catholic Association and the author of Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female. Grazie Pozo Christie is a senior fellow with The Catholic Association. McGuire and Christie are co-hosts of the nationally syndicated radio show Conversations with Consequences.
5. Will Harvard return an alleged third-century relic of St. Sebastian to the Church?, By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, June 17, 2024, 7:00 AM
As Harvard University undergoes the process of returning some of the thousands of Indigenous human remains in its possession to those with cultural, ancestral, or religious ties to them, one Catholic group is calling on the university to return a sacred first-class relic of St. Sebastian to the Catholic Church.
“The appropriate location for a relic of St. Sebastian is a Catholic church, chapel, or shrine, not the library of a secular university,” C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, told the College Fix in May. 
“Harvard should do the right thing and donate it to a local Catholic church,” he said. In a statement to CNA, Harvard Library spokeswoman Kerry Conley said the relic was acquired by the school through a purchase from an antiquarian bookseller in 2021. 

6. Diocese of San Diego to file for bankruptcy for the second time, By John Lavenburg, Crux, June 17, 2024
With the Diocese of San Diego facing about 450 lawsuits over alleged sexual abuse of minors by priests, religious, and laity, Cardinal Robert McElroy has informed the clergy and faithful that today the diocese will file for bankruptcy for the second time.
The announcement comes about 16 months after McElroy said the diocese was considering the move.
“For the past year, the Diocese has held substantive and helpful negotiations with attorneys representing the victims of abuse, and I, in collaboration with the leadership of the Diocese, have come to the conclusion that this is the moment to enter formally into bankruptcy and continue negotiations as part of the bankruptcy process,” McElroy said in a June 13 letter.
McElroy explained that bankruptcy offers the best pathway for the diocese to both justly compensate victims of sexual abuse, and to “continue the church’s mission of education, pastoral service and outreach to the poor and the marginalized.”

7. The anti-abortion movement is making a big play to thwart citizen initiatives on reproductive rights, Anti-abortion groups and their Republican allies in state governments are using a range of strategies to counter proposed ballot initiatives that are intended to protect reproductive rights or prevent voters from having a say in the fall, By Christine Fernando, Associated Press, June 16, 2024, 2:31 PM
Reeling from a string of defeats, anti-abortion groups and their Republican allies in state governments are using an array of strategies to counter proposed ballot initiatives intended to protect reproductive rights or prevent voters from having a say in the fall elections.
The tactics include attempts to get signatures removed from initiative petitions, legislative pushes for competing ballot measures that could confuse voters and monthslong delays caused by lawsuits over ballot initiative language. Abortion rights advocates say many of the strategies build off ones tested last year in Ohio, where voters eventually passed a constitutional amendment affirming reproductive rights.
The strategies are being used in one form or another in at least seven states where initiatives aimed at codifying abortion and reproductive rights are proposed for the November ballot. The fights over planned statewide ballot initiatives are the latest sign of the deep divisions created by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision two years ago to end a constitutional right to abortion.

8. New study suggests more than two-thirds of Catholics believe the Eucharist is truly Jesus, By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency, June 16, 2024, 7:30 AM
A new study has found that 69% of Mass-going Catholics believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist — a result that calls into question the accuracy of a bombshell 2019 study from Pew Research Center, which found that only a third of Catholics believe in this core tenet of the faith. 
Vinea Research, a Catholic firm that conducted the new survey in late 2022, says the survey language it used, which was different from Pew’s, produced a figure that “more accurately represents how Catholics understand the Eucharist.”
“[U]sing language more commonly understood by Catholics, Vinea’s research indicates that many more Catholics than originally thought have an authentic understanding of the core Catholic teaching of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” the group said in a press release. 
The 2019 Pew study was widely cited as a catalyst for the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival, an initiative of the U.S. bishops beginning in 2022 to spread and deepen devotion to Christ in the Eucharist. The revival will culminate with the National Eucharistic Congress, a major gathering in Indianapolis from July 17–21. 

9. In reimagining the papacy, don’t underestimate its star power, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, June 16, 2024, Opinion
Friday was among the most remarkable single days in the entire Pope Francis era, and given the way this papacy has generated non-stop thrills, chills and spills for more than 11 years now, that’s truly saying something.
It was a long day’s journey into night, beginning at 8:30 a.m. with a still-unexplained, but nonetheless deeply amusing, encounter with more than 100 comedians from around the world – virtually every one of whom, for the record, told reporters they had no idea what they were doing in the Vatican – and ended fourteen hours later when Francis’s helicopter landed back in Rome, after the pontiff spent several hours at a G7 summit in the southern Italian region of Puglia.
Any day that begins with the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien, and then ends in the company of Joe Biden, Giorgia Meloni and Emanuel Macron, has to go down as memorable. (I leave it to the reader to mull which cast of characters, in the end, is the more laughable.)
In addition to cajoling the G7 on the ethical dimension of artificial intelligence while in Puglia, Pope Francis also conducted bilateral meetings with nine heads of state, including not only Biden but President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, as well as the Director General of the International Monetary Fund.

What’s the main take-away from this blockbuster of a day? In a word, it confirmed the pope’s star power – and not just Francis, but any pope.

Whatever the logic for the event may have been – and, frankly, no one offered a particularly cogent explanation, aside from the fact that it just seemed like a hoot – the comedians’ summit triumphantly confirmed the papacy’s unique power to convene.
The Vatican simply is the greatest home court advantage in the world, and almost no one says no to an invite from the pope.
In terms of the G7, it marked the first time a pontiff had attended the gathering of the major Western powers, and ironically it came at a moment when Francis is steadily reorienting the Vatican away from its historical pact with the West towards a more globally non-aligned stance.
Even so, the star power of the papacy was impossible to miss. An Associated Press report noted that Meloni had touted the pope’s appearance in a special video message in the run-up to the summit in Puglia, emphasizing how it lent enormous prestige to the event, and that when Francis entered the room on Friday, the normally cacophonous space fell silent, and even the heads of state seemed slightly awed.

For the most part, it’s been taken for granted ever since that rejiggering the papacy to make it acceptable to other Christian denominations means cutting it down to size, limiting its powers, especially as delineated by the First Vatican Council’s declarations on infallibility and supremacy.
No doubt, there are ways of reframing the role of the pope to allow legitimate diversity in the Christian universe to flourish. Friday, however, was also a triumphant reminder that the papacy occupies an absolutely unique niche on the cultural landscape, and represents arguably the single most precious resource that Christianity has at its disposal to engage the wider world.
If we didn’t have a papacy, in other words, we’d have to invent it – and that’s a point worth bearing in mind, especially as the project of reimagining the office unfolds.
10. The Kingdom Is a Garden, By Grazie Christie, The Catholic Thing, June 16, 2024, Opinion
Last night I awoke to the sound of thunder and the pelting of rain against the glass of my bedroom window. It was our first summer storm, the kind in which it seems some great dam in heaven fails and the long-pent-up waters rush down on us all at once.
The noise gave me a delicious shiver, for I’ve been longing for rain. My garden has been needing fresh water from above – hours of it – to soak deeply into the planting beds that have been, for many weeks, sprinkled thinly and superficially by human artifice of rubber hose and metal pipe.
This morning I surveyed the results with satisfaction. One hard shower and the air of fatigue that weeks of drought had inflicted on the leaves of the powderpuff were gone. The delicate scent of the night-blooming jasmine greeted me so sweetly. And the flamboyant tree looked positively eager to crown itself in wild orange blooms and live up to its name.
I have not been a gardener for very long, but you can tell I’m enchanted with my garden. Besides the beauty outside the window that exalts me when I’m working at the kitchen sink, my garden has opened a new window for me into the mind of God. If that sounds grandiloquent, I assure you it is not. It is the simplest and most natural thing in the world.
When Jesus walked among us long ago, the people who were so fortunate as to hear his human voice were gardeners, all of them. Some of them by profession: the vine tenders and the olive growers. But all of them by their membership in an agrarian society. The words that He spoke and the parables that he used to pry open their hearts were finely attuned to his listeners’ intimate knowledge of the way nature, and nature’s God, operates in the world of earth, rain, and seed.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2)
With these words Jesus gave us an image of the kingdom of God as a spiritual garden, in which each soul is a valuable plant or tree carefully tended for its own sake. Busy with my shears, shovel, and watering can, I have come to see how a garden is the result of the judicious hand of a loving caretaker applied to the teeming potentiality of life – a hand that plants, guides, arranges, feeds, and prunes, and even exterminates the noxious enemies that threaten.
It is at the hands of a gardener, not growing unchecked in a wilderness or thirsting in the desert, that a plant or tree achieves the fullness of its beauty and potential. It is in a garden that a plant flowers in abundance, and a tree hangs heaviest with fruit.
A garden is a safe and walled-in space in which order and form – enabling principles – are imposed with love.  In the garden in which you and I are planted, the gardener knows our highest possibilities and works incessantly to help us manifest them. He aims to delight in the perfect fruit and the glorious flower that each one of us will produce when he has done sunning and showering his grace on us.
He doesn’t hesitate to blow down or shake off our dead leaves and useless branches, or even to use his pruning shears with surgical precision. He does these painful things with great tenderness, and for our good – a fact good to remember when we are tempted to run away to the desert, or throw everything up to live wildly in the jungle.
I reflect on these things in my garden, as I lavish care on a seedling, positioning it just so and out of the killing glare of the tropical sun. I mull over my beautiful guava tree that runs a little wild in June. And it hurts me, but I lop off this unruly branch and that one. They sap her strength, you see, and draw away the nutrients she needs to make her sweet fruit.
The new tendrils of the purple queen vine I carefully tie up to the frame I’ve built for her support, so that before long her dappled trunk will be able to withstand the worst of the summer storms.
I am remorseless as I wage war against the pests that threaten the young and tender leaves and the first defenseless blooms.
In my gardening, I have come to feel the security and happiness of knowing myself to be a small tree in God’s garden. If I am attentive to my plants, how attentive is God in his infinitude of love?
He showers the spirit of life itself on me when I am parched and walls me off from the evils that surround me. I can almost feel how carefully he trains me up and supports me, and how he shelters me from the harshness of the elements. I feel the cut of his heavenly sheers without resentment now, because if he thinks that part of me must go, well then it must.
I can’t even begin to imagine how glorious a flower I will one day become, under his care.
11. Missouri abortion ban wasn’t about lawmakers imposing religious beliefs, judge says, A Missouri judge has rejected the argument that lawmakers intended to “impose their religious beliefs on everyone” in the state when they passed a restrictive abortion ban, By Heather Hollingsworth, Associated Press, June 15, 2024, 6:40 PM
A judge in Missouri says lawmakers who passed a restrictive abortion ban were not trying to impose their religious beliefs on everyone in the state, rejecting a case filed by more than a dozen Christian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalist leaders who support abortion rights.
The groups sought a permanent injunction last year barring Missouri from enforcing its abortion law and a declaration that provisions violate the state Constitution.
One section of the statute at issue reads: “In recognition that Almighty God is the author of life, that all men and women are ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among those are Life.’”
Judge Jason Sengheiser said in his ruling Friday that there is similar language in the preamble to the Missouri Constitution, which expresses “profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.” The rest of the challenged provisions contain no explicit religious language, he said.
“While the determination that life begins at conception may run counter to some religious beliefs, it is not itself necessarily a religious belief,” Sengheiser wrote. “As such, it does not prevent all men and women from worshipping Almighty God or not worshipping according to the dictates of their own consciences.”

12. Top US bishop worries Catholic border services for migrants might be imperiled by government action, A top U.S. bishop says government officials would be infringing on religious freedom if they were to restrict the Catholic Church’s work serving migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border, By Holly Meyer, The Washington Post, June 14, 2024, 2:08 PM
Government officials would be infringing on religious freedom if they were to restrict the Catholic Church’s work serving migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border, says a top U.S. bishop.
Archbishop Timothy Broglio, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, addressed the issue this week while in Louisville, Kentucky, for a USCCB meeting where migration issues, including the long wait for religious worker visas, came up repeatedly. He acknowledged recent targeting of faith-based border work by government officials, including the Texas attorney general’s attempts to shutdown a Catholic nonprofit that has operated a network of migrant shelters for decades.
“We obviously want to respect the law, but if that liberty is restricted, then yes, our religious liberty is being restricted because we can’t put into practice the precepts of the Gospel,” Broglio said during a news conference Thursday.

13. The Supreme Court’s ruling on mifepristone isn’t the last word on the abortion pill, The Supreme Court has decided to uphold federal approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, for now, By Geoff Mulvihill, Associated Press, June 14, 2024, 3:30 PM
The Supreme Court ‘s ruling on technical grounds Thursday keeps the abortion pill mifepristone available in the U.S. for now, but it won’t be the last word on the issue, and the unanimous opinion offers some clues for how abortion opponents can keep trying to deny it to women nationwide.
Some state attorneys general have indicated that they’ll press ahead, though they haven’t laid out exactly how.
And while the ruling said the anti-abortion doctors who brought the lawsuit failed to show they’ve been harmed when others use the drug, that might not stop some other plaintiff from a successful challenge.
“The decision is good that the doctors don’t have standing,” said Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, director of Aid Access, an abortion pill supplier working with U.S. providers. “The problem is, the decision should have said that nobody has standing in this case – that only the women have standing.”

14. One Week That Revealed the Struggles of the Anti-Abortion Movement, The movement looks for a path forward: “Is the goal the absolute abolition of abortion in our nation?”, By Elizabeth Dias, The New York Times, June 14, 2024
The Southern Baptist Convention voted to condemn in vitro fertilization at its annual meeting in Indianapolis this week, over the objections of some members.
Conservative lawyers pushing to sharply restrict medication abortion lost a major case at the Supreme Court, after pursuing a strategy that many of their allies thought was an overreach.
Former president Donald J. Trump told Republicans in a closed-door meeting to stop talking about abortion bans limiting the procedure at certain numbers of weeks.
In one chaotic week, the anti-abortion movement showed how major players are pulling in various directions and struggling to find a clear path forward two years after their victory of overturning Roe v. Wade.
The divisions start at the most fundamental level of whether to even keep pushing to end abortion or to move on to other areas of reproductive health, like fertility treatments.  A movement that once marched nearly in lock step finds itself mired in infighting and unable to settle on a basic agenda.
In some cases, hard-liners are seizing the reins, rejecting the incremental strategy that made their movement successful in overturning Roe. Other abortion opponents are backing away, sensing the political volatility of the moment.

For decades, the movement had honed a strategy to achieve a singular goal: ending a constitutional right to an abortion. But after that win, the anti-abortion movement has suffered a series of political losses. Democrats have won ballot initiatives in more than half a dozen states to protect abortion rights in state law.
For the first time in half a century, Republicans are trying to win a presidential election without the rallying cry of ending abortion as a mobilizing tactic for their base. The stakes are higher because it is unclear whether Mr. Trump will simply defer to their wishes in a second administration as he did in his first.

15. Biden, Pope Francis meet on the sidelines of the G7 summit, By Jeff Mordock, The Washington Times, June 14, 2024
President Biden conferred with Pope Francis in a meeting that highlighted a growing divide within the Catholic Church over the president’s policies that are out of line with church doctrine.
The meeting occurred Friday on the sidelines of the Group of 7 summit in Italy, featuring the leaders of the world’s seven largest economies. The pope is also hosting meetings with other leaders at the summit, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Earlier, Pope Francis gave a speech about the ethical implications of artificial intelligence.
Mr. Biden and the pope kept their meeting private by closing it to reporters. The White House, though, released a statement on Friday.
“The leaders emphasized the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire and a hostage deal to get the hostages home and address the critical humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” the White House said in its statement. “President Biden thanked Pope Francis for the Vatican’s work to address the humanitarian impacts of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, including his efforts to help return kidnapped Ukrainian children to their families. President Biden also reaffirmed his deep appreciation for the Pope’s tireless advocacy for the poor and those suffering from persecution, the effects of climate change, and conflict around the world.”

16. Cardinal Sarah Warns of Dangers of ‘Practical Atheism’ Even Within Church, Speaking at The Catholic University of America June 13, the former Vatican head of liturgy urged the U.S. bishops to speak courageously and the American Church to cling to the centrality of Jesus., By Shannon Mullen, National Catholic Register, June 14, 2024
More than 30 years ago, Pope St. John Paul II helped bring about the downfall of the Soviet Union, which had sought to impose its Communist atheism on his native Poland and the rest of the world.
“On one level, we won that war,” Cardinal Robert Sarah reflected in an address Thursday night at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Yet on another level, he added, that war “continues on a global and national level.” But instead of a hardened, ideological atheism, the foe today is a “practical atheism.” While it might not go so far as to deny that God exists, the senior African prelate explained, it deems him to be irrelevant to modern life.
In the decades since the collapse of the Iron Curtain, he said, this same “dangerous disease” has run roughshod across Europe, where the Catholic faith that for centuries shaped and defined not only the continent but Western civilization, is “dying or dead.” More worrisome to Cardinal Sarah, it has gained a foothold in the Church.
“How often do we hear from theologians, priests, religious, and even some bishops — or bishops conferences — that we need to adjust our moral theology for considerations that are only human,” he said.
Yet “a Church based on human resolutions,” the cardinal warned, “becomes only a human church.”
Cardinal Sarah, who is from Guinea in West Africa, served as Secretary of the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples under John Paul II, was made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, and became prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments under Pope Francis. He retired from that post in 2021 when he reached the retirement age of 75.

The Napa Institute has published the full text of Cardinal Sarah’s address here. You can also watch the address on Napa’s YouTube channel.
17. Pope Francis’ ambassador conveys Holy Father’s enthusiasm for Eucharistic revival, By Zelda Caldwell, Catholic News Agency, June 14, 2024, 12:30 PM
Pope Francis’ ambassador to the United States conveyed the Holy Father’s support for the National Eucharistic Revival in a speech Thursday at the spring gathering of the U.S. bishops held in Louisville, Kentucky.
Cardinal Christophe Pierre, who has served as the apostolic nuncio to the United States since 2016 in addition to being the Vatican’s top diplomat in Washington, D.C., is tasked with representing the pope in his dealings with the U.S. bishops. 
“Pope Francis is united with us in his desire that people rediscover the power of the Eucharist,” Pierre said.
The National Eucharistic Revival, which launched on the feast of Corpus Christi in 2022, has a mission to “renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the holy Eucharist,” as stated on its website. Sponsored by the U.S. Catholic bishops, the revival aims to inspire people to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist. 

18. Top European human rights court rules countries can’t be forced to introduce assisted suicide, By Martin Barillas, Catholic News Agency, June 14, 2024, 3:30 PM
The European Court of Human Rights on June 13 ruled in favor of Hungary’s right to uphold its laws prohibiting assisted suicide, thus affirming the laws of 46 countries of the Council of Europe that protect human life.
The Council of Europe is the broadest coalition in Europe and is larger than the 26-member European Union. The United Kingdom is a member of the European Council, for example, but is not a member of the European Union.
ADF International, a global alliance of law firms defending human life, intervened in the case Karsai v. Hungary, arguing that Hungary’s prohibition of assisted suicide should be upheld because Hungary is a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights, which upholds the right to life. ADF argued that while states have an obligation to protect the right to life, there is no right to die.
Jean-Paul Van De Walle, an attorney for ADF, said: “Instead of abandoning our most vulnerable citizens, society should do all it can to provide the best standards of care.”

19. U.S. bishops vote to take first steps to declare Adele Brise a saint, By Zelda Caldwell, Catholic News Agency, June 14, 2024, 5:35 PM
The U.S. Catholic bishops voted on Friday to begin the process of officially declaring Adele Brise a saint. Brise, an immigrant from Belgium living in northern Wisconsin, witnessed the first and only approved Marian apparition in the United States in 1859.
In a unanimous voice vote at their spring general assembly held in Louisville, Kentucky, the bishops gave their approval to advancing on the local level the cause of beatification and canonization of Brise.
In 2022, the Vatican gave its formal stamp of approval to the apparitions Brise witnessed, recognizing the newly named National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion in Champion, Wisconsin, as an approved apparition site.
Bishop David Ricken of the Diocese of Green Bay, who initiated the formal investigation into the apparitions, told CNA the number of pilgrims traveling to the shrine has increased from 10,000 a year to over 200,000 a year today since the apparitions were approved.

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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