1. Groups sue Va. over abortion restrictions.

By Laura Vozzella, The Washington Post, June 21, 2018, Pg. B1

A coalition of abortion rights groups filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the state of Virginia, seeking to throw out a host of restrictions imposed over the years through laws and regulations.

The suit contends that some of those restrictions, such as a ­24-hour waiting period before an abortion and a state-mandated abdominal ultrasound, are medically unnecessary and therefore unconstitutional in the wake of a 2016 Supreme Court ruling in a Texas case.

In that case, the justices found that certain restrictions Texas had imposed in the name of protecting women’s health were medically unjustified and intended to make abortions harder to obtain.

Filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond, the new suit was brought on behalf of the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood and several abortion clinics around the state, including Whole Woman’s Health Alliance in Charlottesville.

Among the Virginia restrictions that the suit calls medically unnecessary are those requiring: that clinics meet hospital-style building standards; that physicians — not nurse practitioners or physician assistants — perform abortions; and that all second-trimester abortions take place in hospitals instead of medical offices.

It also takes aim at a 2012 law requiring women to undergo an abdominal ultrasound and then wait 24 hours before getting an abortion.


2. Cardinal accused of molesting teenager, Former archbishop of Washington removed from ministry by church. 

By Julie Zauzmer, Michelle Boorstein and Dana Hedgpeth, The Washington Post, June 21, 2018, Pg. A1

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, was removed from ministry Wednesday, when church officials announced that he has been credibly accused of sexually abusing a teenager — and that he had faced three earlier allegations of sexual misconduct with adults.

McCarrick, 87, is one of the highest-profile Catholic leaders to face the accusations of sexual assault that have dogged the church for more than 15 years, since McCarrick was the archbishop of Washington. His removal Wednesday was particularly shocking to many in the Washington Catholic community, since McCarrick helped shape many of the church’s policies for responding to the sexual abuse crisis.

The accusation that prompted the church to remove him from ministry involves a teenager he is alleged to have abused almost 50 years ago, while he was a priest in New York. Additionally, Newark’s archbishop, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, and the bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J., James Checchio, said on Wednesday that McCarrick had earlier been accused of sexual misconduct with adults, allegedly committed when he was the leader of those dioceses decades ago. Two of the three allegations led to settlements, they said.

In a statement, McCarrick said that he learned months ago about the now-adult’s allegation of abuse that was made public Wednesday and that he has “absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse.” While maintaining his innocence, he wrote, “In obedience I accept the decision of The Holy See, that I no longer exercise any public ministry.”


3. Sex-Abuse Allegation Credible, Church Says.

By Kris Maher, The Wall Street Journal, June 21, 2018, Pg. A5

The Catholic Church said Wednesday it found an allegation of sexual abuse against a former archbishop of Washington, D.C., to be credible, and the retired priest will stop practicing his ministry.

He is the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic cleric ever to receive this penalty for alleged sexual abuse.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was accused of sexually abusing a then-teenager roughly 45 years ago, when he was a priest in New York. The 87-year-old former archbishop said that he didn’t remember the incident, and that he believes he is innocent. But he said he is cooperating with the investigation and would refrain from any public ministry going forward.


4. Pope, in Geneva, says Christians can work together on peace. 

By Jamey Keaten and Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, June 21, 2018, 6:40 PM

Pope Francis on Thursday encouraged Christians to work together to further peace and justice in the world and resist the temptation to use religious differences as excuses to thwart unity as he made a visit to Geneva, one of the first cities to embrace the Protestant Reformation.

Francis pitched for greater togetherness at an ecumenical prayer service hosted by the World Council of Churches, which is marking its 70th anniversary this year.

The WCC is a fellowship of 350 churches that aims to show the unity of the Christian faith. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member

Francis said that “all you need to do is read history” to see how religious divisions have led to wars and destruction.

“How hard it is to leave behind centuries-old disagreements and mutual recriminations,” the pope said.

But he urged all Christians to concentrate on what unites, not separates, them.


5. Under Francis, Vatican’s pro-life think tank seeks 360-degree approach. 

By Claire Giangravè, Crux, June 21, 2018

Pope Francis is not the only one criticizing the separation of children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, with the head of the Vatican’s think tank on bioethics joining the U.S. bishops in condemning what he called “myopic politics.”

The plight of immigrants, said Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, “is often forgotten,” and “shortsightedness regarding these questions risks hurting everyone.”

The Vatican Academy’s concern for immigration is a new shift for the think tank, which in the past focused more on medical and health care issues concerning pre-natal and end-of-life bioethics. This change, Paglia explained, is part of a 360-degree approach to life that the academy wishes to incorporate under Francis.

The pope is expected to make a speech opening the assembly next week where he will offer guidelines for reflection


6. Looking Forward to Religious Freedom Week. 

By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is Legal Advisor for The Catholic Association Foundation, Catholic News Agency, June 20, 2018

The plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East is shocking to American sensibilities. Because we are only occasionally reminded by the press of the daily horrors Christians in Iraq and Syria face, our attentiveness in prayer and charitable-giving wanes. This coming week, American Catholics are called to renew our concern for those who suffer because of their commitment to their faith here at home and abroad. This is an invitation we shouldn’t ignore.

Starting June 22, the feast of saints Thomas More and John Fisher, the Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate Religious Freedom Week. The theme of the week – “Serving Others in God’s Love” – is a two-fold call to live faith “as a mission of service and mercy” here at home and “pray for our brothers and sisters who face intense persecution in other parts of the world.”

Experts like Tom Farr, president of the Religious Freedom Institute, have noted that with respect to the global state of international religious freedom “things have gotten worse, not better.” 

In October of last year, Vice President Pence announced that the United States would shift aid to help save Christian and Yazidi communities decimated by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria from ineffective U.N. relief efforts to the U.S. Agency for International Development. Earlier this month, Pence rebuked the agency for falling far short in their efforts – going so far as to demand the agency’s head travel to Iraq to assess issues that could be responsible for delay and report back. Hopefully USAID’s feet will continue to be held to the fire so that effective, on-the-ground, humanitarian efforts can successfully access these important funds.

In addition to America’s commitment to offer effective humanitarian aid to persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East, we must be vigilant in our prayer for the persecuted. 

Religious Freedom Week offers a renewed opportunity for prayer, sacrifice and financial contributions from U.S. Catholics on behalf of Christians persecuted in the Middle East.


7. Cake Boss, How Justice Anthony Kennedy’s jurisprudence of dignity came full circle. 

By Adam J. White, Adam J. White is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and the director of the Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, Commentary Magazine, June 18, 2018

When the Court took the final step of declaring a constitutional right to same-sex marriage a year later, in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), Kennedy’s opinion for the Court yet again struck these chords: “There is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices. … They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Scholars declared victory and looked ahead to how this anti-humiliation principle might further be used against oppressive state and federal governments. Harvard’s Laurence Tribe argued that the anti-humiliation principle “signals the beginning of the end for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in areas like employment and housing.” Yoshino, in the prestigious “Foreword” essay opening the Harvard Law Review’s 2015–16 volume, declared that Obergefell heralds a “New Birth of Freedom,” perhaps reaching as far as reproductive rights. “Of course,” he added, “what counts as a ‘subordinated group’ will be up for debate.”

Indeed, it would be. Yoshino expressly held open the possibility that people forced to serve same-sex weddings, “such as the florist or restaurateur who does not wish to cater a gay wedding,” might indeed be a “subordinated group” claiming protection against government humiliation.

Too few progressives took this point seriously. It was an ironic oversight. Many of those who declare traditional religious views to be decreasingly popular in America, and who presume that religious believers are destined to become an irrelevant minority in American public life, fail to see that the very same trajectory could render traditional religious Americans to be the sort of discrete and insular minority that is at risk of oppression and—yes—“humiliation” at the hands of an energized majority. They would thus be precisely the sort of group that would receive heightened protection from the Court. Perhaps more proponents of same-sex marriage should have taken this point seriously. Perhaps Justice Kennedy’s opinion in Masterpiece Cakeshop will compel them to do so.

But at the same time, those who celebrate Masterpiece Cakeshop should pause and consider the implications of this path. Justice Kennedy worried this year about a state’s “undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs.” More worrisome is what future judges might deem to be “due disrespect” for them.