1. Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’, By Chico Harlan and William Branigin, The Washington Post, June 20, 2018, 8:02 AM

Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that “populism” and “creating psychosis” are not the way to resolve migration problems, according to an interview published Wednesday.

Speaking to Reuters news agency, the pope said, “It’s not easy, but populism is not the solution.”

He strongly backed U.S. Catholic bishops, who have described as “immoral” the Trump administration’s policy of discouraging illegal immigration by separating children from their parents at the border.


2. For what’s believed to be the first time, the Vatican uses the term ‘LGBT’ in official document, By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, June 20, 2018, 6:00 AM

The Vatican this month is showing unprecedented, if symbolic, outreach on issues of human sexuality, using what’s believed to be for the first time the term “LGBT” in a planning document for a huge upcoming bishops meeting. Vatican officials also invited to speak at a second global meeting a prominent advocate for LGBT people, something some gay Catholic groups say has never been done.

The two moves, announced in the last 10 days, are being seen by church-watchers as largely an effort to speak in a more respectful way with a younger generation of Catholics who are confronting the church on topics from female priests and abortion to sexuality — but who are clearly not ready to totally walk away from the faith.


3. Physician-Assisted Suicide Normalizes Suicide, Undermines Protections for Depressed People, By Grazie Christie, Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie is a Senior Policy Advisor for The Catholic Association, CNS News, June 19, 2018, 2:17 PM

Coinciding with the shocking suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain is the news from the CDC that the American suicide rate has risen by nearly 30 percent since 1999. Suicide has become the 10th leading cause of death, prompting a thorough soul searching by the American public. There are many reasons for this rise, including the opioid epidemic, adverse economic conditions, and growing rates of depression among young people. Expanding suicide prevention hotlines and mental health initiatives are laudable and necessary responses.  But when contemplating the best policies and prescriptions to fight this scourge, it would be wrong to ignore the effect of changes to the legality of suicide.

Critics of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) laws have long noted that the law is a moral teacher, and that to legalize something is, in effect, to normalize it. PAS supporters have exalted suicide as simply another reasonable choice, undermining the longstanding cultural, religious, and philosophical restraints around the practice, which have functioned as protections for those with depression. But several studies have shown that having moral or religious objections to suicide reduces the probability that depressed people will act on their suicidal feelings. Rather than making a narrow argument for “hard cases,” PAS activists promote the idea of a broad, inviolable “right to death.” For a public still arguing over who has a right to life, such activism seems especially dark and dismal.

Evidently, the American people are listening. Apparently, they are changing their minds about suicide. The passage of PAS laws in one jurisdiction after another indicates a systemic, culture-wide erosion of religious and moral objections to suicide. It seems Americans are starting to see suicide as a normal, reasonable, and even compassionate choice in the face of suffering and hopelessness.

But the normalization of self-destruction has casualties beyond the terminally ill, and includes the depressed and anxious who internalize the idea that destroying themselves is a logical response to their pain. The young are especially vulnerable, as they have no life experience of recovering from what seem to be crushing blows, and have not learned that present miseries are almost sure to pass.

The constant argument from assisted suicide activists relates to “quality of life.” Anyone who has ever been clinically depressed will flatly tell you that their quality of life was as low as their hope of recovery. It is understandable that they might be swayed by arguments that self-destruction is perfectly permissible once a person’s quality of life is low enough. This attitude is especially troubling to activists for those with disabilities, who understandably view this as an attack: They are rightly afraid that the disabled may be most vulnerable to societal pressure and the idea that some lives are just not worth living and ought to be ended.

A widely cited 2015 study reported in the Southern Medical Journal showed a strong association between the legalization of PAS and overall suicide rates.  The study evaluated suicide rates in states before and after PAS was legalized, finding that “legalizing PAS was associated with a significant increase in total suicides” and that rates rose by an average of 6.7 percent after the practice was decriminalized in each state.

And this study was before the recent and massive public relations campaigns of the assisted suicide lobby. The PAS lobby is active in every state, and it is a rare legislative season that doesn’t include an attempt to pass PAS laws.  While the practice may only be legal in a handful of jurisdictions now, the attempt to normalize suicide is constant and ubiquitous.

It is good that the hearts and minds of the American public are turned to the suicide epidemic sweeping our country, as dark and difficult as such thoughts may be.  But it would also be good to reconsider our societal rush down the assisted-suicide road. For the further down this road we go, the more we create a culture comfortable with suicide, threatening broad swaths of society, and bringing more pain, not less.


4. The Handmaids of Capitalism, By Ross Douthat, The New York Times, June 20, 2018

There were wide differences of opinion among feminist intellectuals about surrogacy (as about every other issue) in the 1980s, but there was enough consensus to produce an amicus brief in the Baby M case, endorsed by Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem among others. The brief argued that surrogacy violates essential parent-child relations, runs afoul of laws against trafficking in human lives and threatens the dignity of the women being rented. “As technology develops,” its feminist authors warned, “the ‘surrogate’ becomes a kind of reproductive technology laboratory … In short, she has been dehumanized and has been reduced to a mere ‘commodity’ in the reproductive marketplace.”

That was a long time ago. There are still feminist thinkers who question commercial surrogacy, and still states that restrict it; in Europe, a feminist critique of commercialized reproduction still shapes law and policy. But in America the practice has been completely culturally normalized, liberal opinion generally accepts it as a positive good, and any residual opposition usually comes from social conservatives. …But for their successors today, the ubiquity of commercial reproduction doesn’t rate as a major cultural or political concern.

But perhaps the simplest way to describe what happened with the surrogacy debate is that American feminists gradually went along with the logic of capitalism rather than resisting it. This is a particularly useful description because it’s happened so consistently across the last few decades: Whenever there’s a dispute within feminism about a particular social change or technological possibility, you should bet on the side that takes a more consumerist view of human flourishing, a more market-oriented view of what it means to defend the rights and happiness of women.

The most serious form of cultural conservatism has always offered at most two cheers for capitalism, recognizing that its great material beneficence can coexist with dehumanizing cruelty, that its individualist logic can encourage a ruthless materialism unless curbed and checked and challenged by a moralistic vision.

At the very least it is a grave mistake for feminists to assume that because the moralism of the past was often patriarchal and sexist, they must always choose “consenting adults” individualism over a more holistic morality, a presumption for choice over a defense of human dignity, the logic of the market over more communitarian alternatives, a consumerist interchangeability of the sexes over a social architecture that respects their differences.

Something needs to pull our society back from its dehumanizing and commodifying drift. It might yet be a form of feminism — if feminists can stop going with a current that their foremothers wisely attempted to resist.


5. As assisted suicide law is reinstated, critics say Californians ‘deserve better’, By Maggie Maslak, Catholic News Agency, June 19, 2018, 4:04 PM

A California judge has reinstated the state’s assisted suicide law, making it legal for terminally ill patients to end their lives while a court case is resolved – a move some critics say targets the vulnerable.

On Friday, the Fourth District Court of Appeals in Riverside, CA issued a stay putting the End of Life Option back into effect. The decision gives opponents until July 2 to file objections.

The law allows patients who have a terminal diagnosis of six months or less to receive fatal drugs prescribed by a doctor.

Last month, the law had been declared unconstitutional by Superior Judge Daniel Ottolia of Riverside County, who said the legislation was “adopted illegally” since it was passed during a legislative session limited to issues other than assisted suicide.


6. Bishops ‘cannot, in good faith, endorse’ new GOP immigration bill, By Catholic News Service, June 20, 2018

The U.S. bishops “cannot, in good faith, endorse” an immigration bill submitted by the House’s Republican leadership, said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Migration.

Vasquez said the bill would bring about “large structural changes to the immigration system that detrimentally impact families and the vulnerable.” He said the new bill, still without a name or number, “contains several provisions that run contrary to our Catholic social teaching.”

He made the comments in a letter dated June 18 and sent to each member of the House. It was posted June 19 on the U.S. bishops’ website justiceforimmigrants.org.

Vasquez said this unnamed bill would “undermine asylum protections by significantly raising the hurdle applicants face during the ‘credible fear’ review, lead to increases in child and family detention … eliminate protection for unaccompanied minors through the proposed changes to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, includes part of the DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals)-eligible population but does not include same population eligible in the USA Act and the DREAM Act, make sweeping cuts to family-based immigration and unilaterally implement a safe third country agreement without a bilateral or multilateral treaty or agreement.”


7. Letter Regarding Cardinal McCarrick, By Joseph Zwilling, Director of Communications, Archdiocese of New York, June 20, 2018

At the request of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, I write to share some sad and sobering news.  Earlier this morning, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop-Emeritus of Washington, DC, and a former priest of this archdiocese, released a statement announcing that an allegation of abuse had been made against him, and that the allegation was found to be credible and substantiated by the Archdiocesan Review Board.

Because the alleged abuse occurred during the years that Cardinal McCarrick was a priest of this archdiocese, the Holy See delegated Cardinal Dolan to investigate the allegation.  The requirements of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, and the policy and procedures of the archdiocese were carefully followed throughout the entire process.

Attached to this email, please find statements from Cardinal Dolan, Cardinal McCarrick, and the Archdiocese of Washington.  These will all be posted on the archdiocese’s website at www.archny.org.

I am sorry to have to bring you this news, but we know that you would prefer to hear such news from us directly, rather than through secondhand sources.  Please pray for all victim-survivors, and for all those whose lives have been touched by the sin and crime of sexual abuse.


8. Statement of the Archdiocese of Washington Regarding Cardinal McCarrick, By the Archdiocese of Washington, June 20, 2018

Sometime ago, an allegation that falls under the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was made against Cardinal McCarrick when he served as a priest in the Archdiocese of New York.

The Holy See, which has exclusive authority in the oversight of a cardinal, delegated Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York to investigate the allegation, engaging the review board of the Archdiocese of New York.

In the end the review board found the allegations credible and substantiated.

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, at the direction of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has instructed Cardinal McCarrick that he is to refrain from any public ministry or activity until a definite decision is made.

Cardinal McCarrick, while maintaining his innocence, has accepted the decision.

While saddened and shocked, this archdiocese awaits the final outcome of the canonical process and in the meantime asks for prayers for all involved.

At the same time, we renew our commitment to care for the victims who have suffered abuse, to prevent abuse before it occurs, and to identify and report child abuse once it has happened


9. Psychologists Who Dissent from the Reigning Gender Ideology, By Wanda Skowronska, Wanda Skowronska is a Catholic psychologist and author living and working mainly in Sydney, Crisis Magazine, June 20, 2018, Opinion

Recently, some psychologists and psychiatrists publicly disagreed with the heavy lobbying by activists to normalize Gender Identity Disorder (GID) by removing it from the category of “disorder.” The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, volume 5—the DSM5, used the world over—says transgender individuals wanting to change gender are no longer disordered but have Gender Dysphoria; that is, they display “a marked incongruence between their experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender.” This is a huge change. It means that transgender persons just don’t feel well in their current identity as a man or woman, like you don’t feel well if you have a headache, but they are not disordered. But many psychologists know that this is just not true. GID does exist and deserves compassionate treatment as a mental health problem.

One prominent dissident is Paul McHugh, American, Catholic and very forceful in his critique. Formerly chief of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital, McHugh had worked on the original sex-change project set up there in the 1960s before he had second thoughts. Yes, here is a psychiatrist who admitted he was wrong. He came to see the dire consequences for those swept along by the transgender agenda, saying that the focus on fluid gender “has taken on cult-like features” and has “its own special lingo” and “Internet chat rooms providing slick answers to new recruits, and clubs for easy access to dresses and styles supporting the sex change.” McHugh even alarmed some members of the chattering classes for a while by quoting results from long-term research on the consequences of sex-change operations:

Most shockingly, their [i.e. the transgenders’] suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable non-transgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription.

Another American psychiatrist, Dr Richard Fitzgibbons reached similar conclusions, stating that reassignment surgery is a “category mistake,” offering a surgical solution for psychological problems, and more importantly, it can endanger people’s lives. He notes that the largest study to date of the long-term psychological state of post-SRS (Surgical Reassignment Surgery) persons was an analysis of over three hundred people who had undergone surgery in Sweden over the past thirty years. This 2011 study demonstrated that persons after sex reassignment have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behavior, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population. In his comprehensive study of the existing literature on the subject, Fitzgibbons also notes that within certain subgroups youth acquire more status by being transgender than being gay and a connection between autism and transsexual thinking has been found.

Another psychologist, William Kilpatrick, states that in his view, “delusional thinking has become a main feature of the modern mind” and that it is tragic that not only are youth entangled in it but it also has been taken up by professionals who should know better. In a recent article entitled “The Normalization of Delusional Thinking,” he states:

All of a sudden, a significant percentage of our social and intellectual elites have succumbed to the delusion that a girl can be a boy, and a boy can be a girl, or whatever he, she, ne, ze, zir currently desires to be. This is not merely a rebellion against social convention, it’s a rebellion against reality.

If this rebellion was personal or localized, it could be contained. But as Kilpatrick (along with Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson) notes, there is a more sinister motivation: it is evidence of a creeping totalitarianism ensnaring Western institutions and disciplines. There are authorities in Western societies who want to punish those who fail to honor the delusion—even authorities in the psychology profession. The punishment is taking the form of public denunciation, deregistration, and legal charges in some cases. Here psychiatry and psychology, as in Soviet times, are being coerced into accepting the new political orthodoxy and denunciations on mainstream media always help to undermine resistance. However, the dissidents mentioned above, and several others (Australian psychologists among them), have stood firm and refuse to accept the delusions.