1. Defendant in Vatican trial takes case to UN, accuses pope of violating his rights with surveillance, One of the defendants in the Vatican’s big financial trial has formally complained to the United Nations about the trial, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, June 20, 2024, 9:00 AM
One of the defendants in the Vatican’s big financial trial has filed a formal complaint with the United Nations, alleging that Pope Francis violated his human rights by authorizing wide-ranging surveillance during the investigation.
A lawyer for Raffaele Mincione, a London-based financier, submitted a complaint last week to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights via a special procedure that allows individuals or groups to provide the U.N. with information about alleged rights violations in countries or institutions.
The Vatican on Thursday rejected the claim, saying the investigation followed all relevant laws and international agreements and that no surveillance was ordered for Mincione.
The filing marks the latest and highest-profile complaint about the Vatican trial, highlighting the peculiarity of the Vatican’s criminal justice system and its seeming incompatibility with European and democratic norms. The Vatican is an absolute monarchy where the pope wields supreme legislative, executive and judicial power.

2. Democrats seek to repeal Comstock abortion rule, fearing Trump crackdown, The Comstock Act, an 1873 law that bans abortion-related materials from being sent through the mail, could be used by the GOP to restrict abortion nationwide., By Dan Diamond and Caroline Kitchener, The Washington Post, June 20, 2024, 5:00 AM
Democrats are seeking to overhaul an 1873 federal law that bans abortion-related materials from being sent through the mail, worried that a future Trump administration could invoke the Comstock Act to crack down on abortion access or effectively ban the procedure altogether.
“There is a very clear, well-organized plan afoot by the MAGA Republicans to use Comstock as a tool to ban medication abortion, and potentially all abortions,” said Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), who on Thursday plans to introduce legislation to repeal the Comstock Act’s abortion provisions. “My job is to take that tool away.”
Democrats’ push to defang the 151-year-old law comes less than five months before a presidential election in which reproductive rights appear destined to play a defining role. But the party’s mixed reaction to the plan underscores the balancing act between policy aspirations and political realities.

The Biden administration has maintained that the law applies only when the person who mails abortion pills and other restricted items intends for the recipient to “use them unlawfully,” a position echoed by Democratic leaders in Congress. But the Biden reelection campaign and its allies have repeatedly drawn attention to the Comstock Act and its potential to shape abortion access, seeking to focus voters on the implications of November’s election.
“According to Trump advisors’ radical legal theory, they can use Comstock to prosecute anyone who uses the internet or U.S. mail to facilitate an abortion — and they can even prosecute women and health care providers,” Morgan Mohr, the Biden campaign’s senior adviser for reproductive rights, wrote in a memo shared with reporters last week.
It is not clear whether Donald Trump would seek to invoke Comstock if elected.

3. Biden’s Lead With Women Is Smaller Than Trump’s With Men, a Warning for Democrats, A new poll of female voters finds that concerns about inflation are still paramount, even as abortion could motivate Democratic women in states where the issue is on the ballot., By Ruth Igielnik, The New York Times, June 20, 2024, 9:17 AM
Almost every path to victory for President Biden relies on strong support from women. But his current standing among women is the weakest lead a Democrat has had since 2004, a key factor in how tight the race is.

The surveys show that even as abortion and democracy are key issues for a small but meaningful segment of women, concerns about inflation continue to play a more central role in the race and to benefit Mr. Trump.
In states where abortion is on the ballot, however, the KFF polls offer some evidence for the Democratic theory that the issue will be a motivating factor that drives women to vote.

“Once the campaign kicks into high gear, abortion will rally the women,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who has been studying women’s voting behavior for decades. “And as much as Trump wants to right-size himself, he can’t stop himself from bragging about how he overturned Roe v. Wade.”
In states like Arizona, where abortion is restricted and may be on the ballot in the fall, Democratic women were more motivated to vote than in states where abortion access was not at risk, the KFF surveys found. Among Republican women, there was no difference in motivation.

This trend of Democratic success with women is relatively modern. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan and then George H.W. Bush won majorities of both men and women. But in the last 20 years, it has been rare for a Democrat to fall below a double-digit lead with women. The last Democrat to end a campaign with a single-digit lead among women was John Kerry in 2004.

4. On Abortion, Put Not Your Faith in Judges, Ultimately, our faith — when it comes to bringing an to end to legal abortion — shouldn’t rest in any branch of government., By National Catholic Register, June 20, 2024, Opinion
The outcome of last week’s U.S. Supreme Court case regarding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the abortion drug mifepristone was highly disappointing. Yet it was also extremely instructive for faithful Catholics, in terms of how we should view the fight against legal abortion in the post-Dobbs era.
First, though, some heartening news about the unfavorable outcome: The unanimous decision by the court’s nine justices, dismissing the pro-life challenge to the regulatory process, was made on narrow procedural grounds. It held that the plaintiffs in the case lacked legal standing to mount such a challenge.
This means that the FDA approval could be challenged in the future if another party with the required legal standing initiates a similar lawsuit against the flawed process by which the federal government has authorized use of the drug as a tool to kill unborn babies.
While that’s true, the justices’ unanimous rejection of the case remains a pointed reminder that the court’s dominant conservative wing — composed almost entirely of brilliant Catholic legal minds — does not regard itself as an agent of the pro-life cause.

In summary, our ultimate faith — when it comes to bringing an end to legal abortion — shouldn’t rest in any branch of government. This is a final victory that can only be delivered by living out our faith in God privately as well as publicly, converting hearts and minds through a constant witness of love and proclaiming as disciples of Christ that his gospel of life applies to every human being in every place — including babies who are still living in their mothers’ wombs.
5. Viganò charged with schism, calls Vat II and Pope Francis ‘cancer’, By The Pillar, June 20, 2024, 10:33 AM
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former papal nuncio to the United States, has been charged by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith with the canonical crime of schism.
The outspoken former Vatican diplomat published Thursday morning images of his citation in an extrajudicial process, authorized by the congresso of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith’s members on May 10.
According to the citation, dated June 11, the DDF’s senior membership voted to proceed with Viganò’s prosecution via an abbreviated extrajudical process, as opposed to a full canonical trial, and have ordered the former Vatican ambassador to appeal at the dicastery in Rome to answer the charges on June 20, either in person or via formal legal representation.

6. Vatican doubles down on courtship of China, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, June 20, 2024
This week the Vatican appears to be re-upping its efforts to secure further goodwill with Chinese authorities, as two top officials are poised to speak at a presentation on a key figure in the development of the Church in China.
On Thursday, June 20, Vatican Secretary of State Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin will present the book, “Cardinal Celso Costantini and China – A Builder of a Bridge between East and West,” by Monsignor Bruno Fabio Pighin, a historian in the postulation of Costantini’s cause of beatification and canonization.
Also slated to speak at the event are Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, Secretary for the Dicastery for Legislative Texts, and Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, secretary of the section for First Evangelization and New Particular Churches of the Dicastery for Evangelization.
Bishop Giuseppe Pellegrini of Concordia-Pordenone, Costantini’s native diocese, and Professor Vincenzo Buonomo, rector of the Pontifical Urban University, will give personal greetings at the event.

Pope Francis gave a shout-out to participants in this week’s book presentation during his Wednesday general audience, offering a special greeting to members of the Friends of Cardinal Celso Costantini association, who traveled to Rome from Concordia-Pordenone alongside Pellegrini for Thursday’s event and the commemoration of the Council of Shanghai.
“This makes me think of the dear Chinese people. Let us always pray for this noble and courageous people, with such a beautiful culture. Let us pray for the Chinese people,” the pope said.
The 2018 provisional agreement on episcopal appointments in China, which has been renewed twice, is set to expire in October, and it is expected that it will be renewed again for a third time.
7. Family sues over hospital’s religious exemption for euthanasia, By The B.C. Catholic, Catholic News Agency, June 20, 2024, 7:00 AM
The parents of a terminally ill woman who was transferred to another facility to be euthanized after St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, refused to allow the procedure on its premises are suing the provincial government and Providence Health Care, the Catholic health care provider that operates St. Paul’s Hospital.
The couple’s lawsuit says their daughter’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms were violated by the British Columbia government’s religious exemption to the provincial medical assistance in dying (MAID) policy.
The lawsuit filed in British Columbia’s Supreme Court on June 17 wants the province to remove the religious exemption.
Providence spokesperson Shaf Hussain said in a statement that the court filing is being reviewed. “Providence is committed to providing compassionate care to all patients and residents,” he said.

8. The Pope’s Spurious Prayer, By Peter Coy, The New York Times, June 20, 2024, Opinion
Pope Francis told entertainers at the Vatican last week that he has been saying the Prayer for Good Humor for the past 40 years. He highly recommended it, which he attributed to St. Thomas More, a martyr of the Roman Catholic Church.
The prayer is very nice, but it seems to have been written not by More but by a young Englishman — a Protestant, as far as I can tell — in the early 20th century.
This is not a big deal. No one is harmed if the pope misattributes a prayer. It is odd, though. Surely some of the scholars surrounding the pope must know about this. Did they not tell him? If not, what does that say about the culture of the Vatican?

Abbé Germain Marc’hadour, a French Catholic priest who was a leading authority on More and founded a journal about him, Moreana, included the Prayer for Good Humor in a 1972 piece titled “Most Famous of More’s Spurious Prayers.”
Marc’hadour investigated a legend that the prayer appeared on a tablet at Chester Cathedral, an Anglican church, in England. The dean of the cathedral wrote back to him that there was no such tablet. He enclosed a card with the prayer and this: “The above lines were written by Thomas Henry Basil Webb, only son of Lt. Col. Sir Henry Webb, Bt., born on Aug. 12, 1898, educated at Winchester College — he was killed on the Somme, Dec. 1, 1917, aged 19.” According to another source I found, Webb might have written the prayer when he was just 12 years old.
I’m hoping Francis keeps saying the prayer, even if word gets to him that it’s no More. We all should have the power to see a joke.
9. Education Reform With a Cajun Twist, Louisiana becomes the 12th state to embrace universal school choice., By The Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2024, 5:51 PM, Editorial
The roll of states that have embraced education freedom keeps expanding. On Wednesday Gov. Jeff Landry officially made Louisiana the 12th to pass universal school choice. At Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Lafayette, he signed education savings accounts into law.
Called LA GATOR—for Louisiana Giving All True Opportunity to Rise—all the state’s students will ultimately be eligible for the scholarships. They will be phased in starting in 2025. The exact dollar amounts of the payments will be determined later by the state board of education.
The need is undeniable. Louisiana moved up to 40th from 41st in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking released this year for pre-K to grade 12 education, but that’s still near the bottom. Only 27% of eighth-graders are proficient or above in reading and 19% in math, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. A little reform around the edges isn’t going to make much difference in the lives of those students.
In signing the bill, Gov. Landry cited the gains other states have made with choice. Louisiana spends more per student than Mississippi, Florida and Texas. But the money isn’t showing up in student learning, which defies the persistent claim by unions that public schools merely need more money to succeed.

10. New York court puts pro-abortion amendment back on November ballot, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, June 19, 2024, 5:45 PM
A New York court ruled in favor of putting a proposed amendment to enshrine a right to abortion in the state constitution back on the Nov. 5 ballot, but Republicans plan to take the fight to appeal.
The unanimous appellate court decision on June 18 reverses a lower court ruling that would have taken the proposal off of state ballots.
Although the lower court had ruled that the state did not follow the proper procedure when approving the ballot language, the appellate court found that the lawmakers who challenged the procedure had done so after the statute of limitations had passed. For this reason, the appellate court dismissed the complaint entirely.
Republican opponents of the ballot measure intend to appeal the appellate ruling to New York’s highest court, according to the Associated Press.

11. Holy See convenes UN panel urging global abolition of surrogacy, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, June 19, 2024, 12:30 PM
The Holy See this week hosted a panel at the United Nations at which advocates highlighted the “exploitation and commodification” inherent in the surrogacy industry and stressed the need to regulate and eventually abolish surrogacy around the world.
The participants “highlighted the need for a universal ban to protect against exploitation and commodification,” the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations said, with the panelists calling for “increased awareness and concrete steps at the U.N. level to abolish surrogacy and uphold human dignity.”
The event, titled “At What Price? Towards the Abolition of Surrogacy: Preventing the Exploitation and Commodification of Women and Children,” was held at the Palais des Nations at the U.N.’s Geneva headquarters.
The side event, held at the 56th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, was organized by the Holy See mission and co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Italy to the United Nations and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

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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