1. Abortion-Rights Advocates Deploy a New Red State Playbook, After Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment, movement’s lawyers are citing it to challenge state restrictions, By Laura Kusisto, The Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2024, 9:56 AM
Abortion-rights advocates have a plan to undo dozens of longstanding restrictions in some of the country’s more conservative states. It starts with Ohio. 
Clinics are challenging a host of limits the state adopted over the past decade or so, including waiting periods for the procedure, requirements that doctors check for fetal cardiac activity before an abortion and rules that prevent patients from obtaining abortion pills legally through the mail.
For years, those restrictions were often on solid legal footing. That is because the Supreme Court, while protecting abortion rights, allowed states to regulate the procedure so long as they didn’t place an undue burden on a woman’s access to it. Oddly enough, when the high court overruled Roe v. Wade in 2022, a series of events made abortion restrictions more vulnerable in some parts of the country. 
More than a dozen states moved to ban most abortions, prompting voters in Ohio and several other states to respond by passing ballot measures that added abortion protections to their state constitutions. Those constitutional amendments arguably provide broader legal rights than what the Supreme Court previously endorsed, giving abortion-rights plaintiffs new weapons in litigation.

2. Twenty-five years of bipartisan support for international religious freedom, U.S. should designate 17 nations as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ for violations, By Rabbi Abraham Cooper and the Rev. Frederick A. Davie, The Washington Times, June 19, 2024
Twenty-five years ago, Congress created the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom as part of the landmark International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. As the years passed, one priority has remained constant — bipartisan support for U.S. efforts to promote freedom of religion or belief abroad. Marking a quarter century of elevating religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy, the commission, known as USCIRF, released its 25th congressionally mandated annual report.
Over the years, the commission has served as an independent U.S. government voice on freedom of religion or belief abroad, reporting unflinchingly on conditions in other countries and making policy recommendations to Congress and successive administrations.
At the core of its success lies the bipartisan nature of our work. As former appointees to the commission by Republican and Democratic Senate leaders, we differ on some issues, as expected. The commission, however, is mandated, and its commissioners are firmly united in their commitment to religious freedom abroad for people of all faiths and for those of none.

USCIRF has worked hard to urge the U.S. government to impose targeted sanctions on religious freedom violators, withhold foreign military aid to governments violating religious freedom, and appoint senior officials to advocate religious freedom at the highest levels. While at USCIRF, we found common ground, respected our differences, and focused on what is possible rather than what is ideal. USCIRF’s work is a testament to the power and efficacy of 25 years’ worth of bipartisanship.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the former chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom appointed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Rev. Frederick A. Davie is the former vice chair of the commission appointed by Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer.
3. The fight for abortion rights gets an unlikely messenger in swing state Pennsylvania: Sen. Bob Casey, Abortion rights have found an unlikely champion in swing state Pennsylvania, By Marc Levy, Associated Press, June 19, 2024, 8:09 AM
Abortion rights, suddenly a potent political force in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to leave such matters to the states, have found an unlikely champion in swing state Pennsylvania.
Sen. Bob Casey, who will appear on the November ballot beneath President Joe Biden as the Democrats both seek reelection, has begun doing something he’s never done before: attacking an opponent over abortion rights.
The senator, who once called himself a “pro-life Democrat,” accuses Republican challenger David McCormick in a new TV ad of wanting to “make abortion illegal even in cases of rape and incest” — a characterization McCormick says is wrong.

Speaking to an online gathering of the progressive women’s advocacy group Red Wine & Blue earlier this month, Casey warned that electing a Republican president and a new Republican Senate majority could result in bans on the abortion pill and contraception, even in Democratic-controlled states — or purple states like Pennsylvania — where abortion remains legal.
That’s quite a reframing for Casey, who like his father and Biden comes from an Irish Catholic family in Scranton. His father, who was a two-term governor of Pennsylvania, opposed abortion rights and signed legislation restricting abortion that spawned the landmark 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Sen. Casey, whose race is seen as crucial to Democrats’ effort to defend their razor-thin Senate majority, says the Supreme Court’s decision to strip women’s constitutional protections for abortion changed everything in the abortion debate and prompted a “pro-life Democrat” to support access to abortion.
Casey has suggested that “pro-life” never meant a complete ban on abortion without exception, at least to him. After the court’s forthcoming decision had been leaked, Casey supported Democrats’ legislation to keep abortion legal to the Roe v. Wade standard of barring abortion only after viability, around 24 weeks.

When the court overturned Roe v. Wade, Casey slammed it as ripping away a constitutional right and a dangerous decision that wouldn’t stop abortions but would put women’s lives at risk.

4. Pope offers prayers for ‘noble, courageous’ Chinese people, By Reuters, June 19, 2024, 2:22 AM
Pope Francis on Wednesday called for prayers for the Chinese people, in unscripted remarks coming amid the Vatican’s desire to upgrade its relations with Beijing.
Relations with communist China have historically been fraught, but Francis has made it a priority to normalise them, building on a landmark 2018 pact on appointing bishops.
“This also makes me think about the beloved Chinese people: let us always pray for this noble and very courageous people who have such a beautiful culture,” the pope said.

5. Religious and cultural mentions removed from names of China’s Xinjiang villages, rights groups say, A report released by Human Rights Watch says authorities in China’s western Xinjiang region have been systematically replacing the names of villages inhabited by Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities to reflect the ruling Communist Party’s ideology, By Simina Mistreanu, Associated Press, June 18, 2024, 7:05 PM
Authorities in China’s western Xinjiang region have been systematically replacing the names of villages inhabited by Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities to reflect the ruling Communist Party’s ideology, as part of an attack on their cultural identity, a report released by Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.
About 630 villages in Xinjiang have had their names changed to remove references to Islam or the Uyghurs’ culture and history, according to the group’s report, done in collaboration with the Norway-based organization Uyghur Hjelp.
The report compared the names of 25,000 Xinjiang villages as listed by the National Bureau of Statistics of China between 2009 and 2023.
Words like “dutar,” a traditional Uyghur string instrument, or “mazar,” a shrine, have been removed from the names of villages, and replaced with words such as “happiness,” “unity” and “harmony” — generic terms often found in the Communist Party’s policy documents.

6. Judge throws out Missouri lawsuit that challenged abortion ban on religious grounds, By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency, June 18, 2024, 4:15 PM
A pro-abortion lawsuit filed by a number of religious leaders in Missouri was thrown out after a judge ruled that the state’s pro-life laws do not infringe on Missourians’ freedom of religion.
In a June 14 order, the Missouri District Court for the 22nd Judicial Circuit ruled that the references to “Almighty God” in the statutes are similar to references found in the Missouri Constitution, which in turn are similar to sentiments expressed in the Declaration of Independence.
A coalition of more than a dozen Missouri religious leaders, including Jews, Christians, and Unitarian Universalists, filed the lawsuit in 2023, alleging that Missouri’s near-total abortion ban, which passed in 2019 and took effect after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, violates their religious freedom by invoking God as the creator of human life. 
Missouri law currently protects all unborn babies from abortion unless the mother’s life is at risk. 

7. Texas doctor indicted after exposing transgender child surgeries at children’s hospital, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, June 18, 2024, 5:08 PM
A Texas doctor has been indicted for allegedly breaking federal law after he accessed patient records as part of an exposé into child transgender surgeries. 
In 2022, Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston announced that it would cease performing transgender procedures on minors, citing concerns over “legal ramifications” after state Attorney General Ken Paxton said some of those medical procedures could be considered child abuse under state law. 
Roughly a year later, journalist Christopher Rufo reported at City Journal that the hospital had “secretly continued to perform transgender medical interventions … on minor children.” Rufo cited “whistleblower documents” he obtained from inside the institution. 
On Monday the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas said in a press release that Texas doctor Eithan Haim had been “indicted for obtaining protected individual health information for patients that were not under his care and without authorization.” Rufo previously identified Haim as the source of the documents. 

8. U.S. bishop applauds Biden’s move to allow undocumented spouses pathway to citizenship, By Gigi Duncan, Catholic News Agency, June 18, 2024, 5:30 PM
The head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday praised the Biden administration’s new plan to offer a pathway to citizenship for undocumented spouses and children of American citizens.
This new streamlined process will permit noncitizen spouses married to U.S. citizens to apply to legally live and work in the U.S. without fear of being deported. In addition to the spouses, noncitizen children of applicants would also be allowed to receive such protections.
To be eligible for this process, noncitizens must have resided in the U.S. for 10 years or more and be legally married to an American citizen while satisfying all other applicable immigration requirements. Those who qualify under these guidelines would be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after three years while also being allowed for work authorization in that period of time
“We welcome today’s announcement and the hope it brings to thousands of American families who have grappled with the fear of separation for a decade or more,” Seitz shared following Tuesday’s announcement from the White House.

9. US Bishops to Draft Document on Transgender People in Religious Life, Canonical affairs committee hopes to release a document this fall, according to Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois., By Matthew McDonald, National Catholic Register, June 18, 2024
A committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops plans to address whether people who identify as transgender can enter religious life in the Catholic Church.
At the request of several bishops, the Canonical Affairs and Church Governance Committee hopes to produce a document on that question by this fall, Bishop Thomas Paprocki, the committee chairman, told the Register.
“This is likely to present itself more often, and that’s why bishops are asking about it,” said Bishop Paprocki, who leads the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, in an interview Tuesday. “That’s why we’re trying to give guidance here.”
The question took center stage in May, when a hermit in the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, publicly identified as transgender, as the Register reported last month.

10. Ticket to Oblivion?,  ‘Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another..’, By George Weigel, National Catholic Register, June 19, 2024, Opinion
John Henry Newman was one of mid-19th century Catholicism’s most famous converts, and most controversial figures. His personal journey of faith had taken him from youthful skepticism to a robustly evangelical Anglicanism, and then from an Oriel College fellowship and the pastorate of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin to the leadership of the Anglican-reforming Oxford Movement.
Deep and intense study of the first-millennium Fathers of the Church had finally convinced him that the Church of England was — in historical fact, theological conviction, and relationship to state power — another Protestant denomination. So Newman entered into full communion with the Catholic Church, which cost him his Oxford positions and brought him no little trouble —– from Anglicans who regarded him as a traitor and Catholics suspicious of the subtleties of his theology.
Newman, a sensitive soul as well as a brilliant mind, suffered for decades from what Dorothy Day once described as the “long loneliness” of the convert. That suffering was considerably mitigated when Pope Leo XIII, in one of the first acts of his great reforming pontificate, announced his intention to create Newman a cardinal and permit the now-elderly man to continue living in the Birmingham Oratory rather than in Rome (which was then the rule for cardinals who were not diocesan bishops).
So Newman traveled to Rome and, on May 12, 1879, gave his biglietto speech, in which he described himself in these terms:
In a long course of years I have made many mistakes … but what I trust that I may claim all through what I have written is this — an honest intention, an absence of private ends, a temper of obedience, a willingness to be corrected, a dread of error, a desire to serve Holy Church, and, through divine mercy, a fair measure of success.
And, I rejoice to say, to one great mischief I have from the first opposed myself. For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. Never did Holy Church need champions against it more than now…
Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another. … It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy.
As the Church awaits the instrumentum laboris, the “working document,” for Synod-2024 in October, it must be hoped that those drafting that text will recognize that what Newman styled a “great mischief” is alive among us today. The reduction of religious faith to a matter of sentiment rather than of rationally defensible conviction (the beginnings of which can be traced to the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher in the early 19th century) is perhaps the single most important factor in the decay of liberal Protestant denominations into small caucuses of religious wokery with the thinnest tether to Great Tradition Christianity. And yet, seeing that, there are Catholics who propose to go down that same, well-trodden path into … what? Utter irrelevance? Ecclesiastical oblivion?
When cardinals in the top leadership of Synod-2024 speak of their longing for a “rainbow Church,” or declare settled moral questions open, there is reason to be concerned: indeed, very concerned, because the wisdom and prescience of Newman’s “Biglietto Speech” is being ignored. And those with eyes to see have seen where that leads.

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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!

“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.