1. Christians Chip In and Drive Protests Against the Mainland.

By Javier C. Hernández, The New York Times, June 20, 2019, Pg. A12

Christians have been a visible part of the protests this month — among the largest in Hong Kong’s history — providing food and shelter at demonstrations and condemning efforts by the police to break them up. Many protesters, even those who are not religious, have embraced the teachings and messages of Christianity to denounce a proposed law to allow extraditions to mainland China.

Among the first to speak out against the proposed extradition law was Cardinal Joseph Zen, the retired archbishop of Hong Kong.

Beyond worries that the law could be used by mainland officials to punish churches in Hong Kong, Cardinal Zen said Christians were united with other protesters by a fear that the law would leave Hong Kong residents vulnerable to the whims of mainland courts.

On Wednesday, Cardinal John Tong of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong and the Rev. Eric So, chairman of the Hong Kong Christian Council, called on Mrs. Lam to withdraw the extradition bill and begin an independent inquiry into the police response to the protests.


2. Two Abortion Clinics, 20 Minutes and a Legal Universe Apart, As a Missouri clinic fights to keep its doors open, its Illinois neighbor has hired more staff.

By Jennifer Calfas, Wall Street Journal Online, June 20, 2019, 5:30 AM

Two abortion clinics are just 20 minutes apart. But separated by the Mississippi River, they operate in political worlds that are very far from each other.

The Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, Ill., has hired more staff and doubled its number of doctors, and it is considering adding hours as an influx of patients from neighboring states with growing restrictions seek abortion procedures there, said Alison Dreith, the clinic’s deputy director.

Across the state line, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, the only clinic operating in Missouri, faces a deadline Friday, when the state’s health department will decide whether to renew its license.

Abortion-rights supporters say the decline is due in part to state restrictions. Opponents say regulations are aimed at maintaining health and safety standards. “There needs to be continued state oversight,” said Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel at Americans United for Life, a leading antiabortion group.

Accusations of unsafe practices are at the center of the Missouri legal fight. After the state Department of Health and Senior Services declined to renew the clinic’s license last month, citing concerns over patient safety, the St. Louis clinic sued to keep its doors open.

Abortion opponents say safety standards and practices should come first, regardless of whether that lessens the number of clinics in a state. “Abortion clinics should not receive special treatment just because their numbers are dwindling,” said Mallory Quigley, spokeswoman for Susan B. Anthony List, an antiabortion group.


3. Black pro-lifers to Gillibrand: Views don’t make us racists, Democratic hopeful makes broad comparison.

By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, June 20, 2019, Pg. A1

Nobody was more surprised or offended than black pro-life activists like Roland Warren when Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand compared their beliefs to racism.

Ms. Gillibrand, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, drew headlines last week when she compared pro-life views to racism. She declared that it was “not acceptable” to appoint judges who held certain beliefs, including opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

“Imagine saying that it’s OK to appoint a judge who’s racist or anti-Semitic or homophobic,” she told the Des Moines Register in Iowa. “Asking someone to appoint someone who takes away basic human rights of any group of people in America, I don’t think that those are political issues anymore.”


4. Iraqi envoy to Vatican urges international help for Christians to return home.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, June 20, 2019

Speaking outside the program at an event in Rome on migration, the newly arrived ambassador from Iraq to the Vatican said Wednesday that the country’s Christian community is at risk after violence perpetrated by ISIS, but people who fled now want to go back.

To do so, she said, they need help rebuilding the regions devastated by Islamic State’s reign of terror.

“Neither the government nor the Iraqi population at large want Christians to leave, because we know they are an essential part of our society,” said Amal Mussa Hussain Al-Rubaye, Ambassador to the Holy See. “Thank you for caring for our migrants, but from this place, I want to say to the world: if you want to help our migrants, do so by helping us rebuild Iraq.”

Visibly emotional, Al-Rubaye said hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who’ve been welcomed by Turkey, Kurdistan or Jordan are ready to go back, particularly to the Nineveh Plains, where an estimated 90 percent of the local Christian population lived before the rise of ISIS in 2014. The terrorists, she said, “[tried to] kill everyone who thought differently,” leaving people “no choice but to flee.”

According to the statistics provided by the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee, formed by the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Syriac Catholic Church and the Syriac Orthodox Church together with ACN, an estimated 30,000 homes of Christian families were rebuilt by this privately funded initiative as of June 2019.


5. At one-year mark, McCarrick saga remains a story of lights and shadows.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, June 20, 2019

One year ago today, Theodore McCarrick woke up as a cardinal of the Catholic Church, a busy informal diplomatic trouble-shooter on behalf of the Vatican and someone perceived as a friend of the reigning pope, Francis. By the time he went to bed he’d been removed from public ministry, starting a cascade of abuse allegations that led to his being expelled from the College of Cardinals and, eventually, from the priesthood.

McCarrick, who’ll turn 89 on July 7, now lives in disgrace in a small Capuchin friary on the plains of Western Kansas.

As we reach the one-year milestone of the McCarrick saga, it’s a good time to examine where things stand. In essence, it’s a tale typical of the Catholic Church, full of both lights and shadows, hope aroused and business left undone.

Until the average Catholic is convinced that accountability has arrived not just for the crime but for the cover-up, in other words, the McCarrick saga will not be over. That may well be his final, ironic gift to the Church – prompting, at long last, the sort of full accountability which, over his long career, he managed to evade until the very end.


6. ‘He hurt people’: West Virginia’s long-faithful Catholics grapple with news of their bishop’s misconduct.

By Julie Zauzmer, Washington Post Online, June 19, 2019, 1:59 PM

Rumors had circulated for years about Bransfield. But Ostrowski and many fellow parishioners first learned that he was suspected of misconduct when he retired suddenly last fall, and Pope Francis asked Baltimore’s Archbishop William Lori to conduct an investigation. Details were elusive, until a Washington Post investigation this month.

Catholics across the state felt betrayed. Within days, hundreds had signed a petition calling for major reforms from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and even from the Vatican.

Unbeknownst to parishioners: the Wheeling-Charleston diocese was bequeathed land in Texas in 1904, where oil found later now brings in nearly $15 million a year on average.

“My gosh, this should be enough money to help these people. And they’re sitting on it, and spending it in very selfish ways. That was my reaction, my very first reaction,” said Suzanne Kenney in Morgantown.

About a quarter of Catholics nationwide told Pew Research Center recently that they’ve reduced their church donations due to church scandal. About the same number said they go to Mass less often, too. So Pierpont worries about an even more important resource disappearing: the people.

Last Easter, for the first time he can remember, no one was immersed in this baptismal font. There were no new Catholics, here, to baptize.


7. Unlikely Ally: Feminist Gloria Steinem Joins Fight Against Surrogacy.

By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, June 19, 2019

Over the past few months, Jennifer Lahl has helped organize a coalition of New York groups that prevented the passage of a state bill that would legalize commercial surrogacy, entitled the Child-Parent Security Act. 

Lahl is the president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, which addresses issues that profoundly affect human dignity, including the rising practice of so-called “gestational surrogacy,” where individuals or couples contract with a woman to carry a child on their behalf. Lahl has worked with lawmakers and activists across the globe to help educate the public about the dangers of this practice, while producing films that feature personal stories of women harmed by paid surrogacy.

New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters June 19 that he didn’t believe the lower chamber was ready to support the bill. 

Paid surrogacy “still is a difficult issue in the Assembly,” he acknowledged in comments reported by Politico. “All members’ opinions count, but this was a decision that really relied on the feelings of the women in the conference, and I just think there’s a handful that are not ready.”

During an interview with Register Senior Editor Joan Frawley Desmond, Lahl explains why Steinem attacked the bill and discusses the steps opponents took to overcome powerful monied interests that advocated for paid surrogacy as a civil right.


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