1. Cradles, Pews, and Shifting Politics.

By Gerald F. Seib, The Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2019, Pg. A4, Capital Journal

Sometimes the most important trends—the ones with enormous social and political consequences—are unfolding in plain sight. New data show two of them are under way right now: Americans are going to church less often, and are having fewer babies. Those two trend lines receive relatively little notice, but their social and economic significance is so broad they are worthy of discussion at this week’s Democratic presidential debates, and beyond.

The steady, long-term decline in church attendance is confirmed in the most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Just 29% of Americans now say they attend religious services once a week or more often. That is down from 41% in 2000.

At the same time, the share of Americans saying they never attend religious services has risen to 26%, almost double the 14% who said so back in 2000. The rise in churchless-ness is most dramatic among young Americans. Among those aged 18 to 34, the rate saying they never attend religious services previously was no different from the national rate; now the share of these younger Americans who never attend religious services has more than doubled, to 36%.


2. Abortion Dispute Moves to State Panel.

By Jennifer Calfas, The Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2019, Pg. A6

A St. Louis circuit judge said Missouri’s last abortion clinic can operate through Friday, offering a temporary reprieve as the clinic plans its next steps following the state’s decision not to renew its license.

The ruling to extend an injunction for another week grants the Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region time to appeal the license decision to the state’s Administrative Hearing Commission, Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer said on Monday. The order also moves the continuing battle outside of the court.

The Administrative Hearing Commission holds hearings and decides cases involving state agencies on more than 100 issues, including professional licensing. Three of the panel’s commissioners were appointed by former Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. One was appointed this year by Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican.


3. Eco-rallies, cancelled soccer match illustrate ‘cafeteria secularism’.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, June 25, 2019

In that sense, the soccer players were defying not only the Vatican but its current chief executive. Despite his vaunted progressive credentials in other areas, Francis is a dogged traditionalist on the matter of abortion. Among other things, he’s defined abortion as a “horrific crime” and a “very grave sin,” and, earlier this year, he compared the act of abortion to hiring a hitman.

What does the juxtaposition of the two developments have to say? Well, first and foremost, that in addition to the well-worn problem of “cafeteria Catholicism,” there’s an equally real phenomenon of “cafeteria secularism” when it comes to perspectives on the Catholic Church.

In effect, secularists such as the Viennese soccer players often tend to laud the pope or the Vatican when they happen to have a pre-existing reason for liking what they say, but at best ignore religious authority, and more often deride it, when they don’t want to hear the message.

Such a range would have had the virtue of intellectual honesty, and it also would have suggested the possibility of common ground even among people with quite different values. Instead, what we got was a one-sided display of hostility from presumably well-intentioned Viennese women, ironically acting in the name of tolerance.

Without a doubt, if the Church wants positive engagement with secularism, it’s got some work to do. Equally, however, secularists may need to abandon the cafeteria line and start looking at what’s actually on today’s Catholic menu.


4. U.S. bishops draw flack for official statement after Trump’s deportation threat.

By Christopher White, Crux, Jun 25, 2019

Following President Donald Trump’s plans to deport “millions” of undocumented migrants, the United States Conference of Catholic bishops (USCCB) released a statement acknowledging that nations have a right to protect their borders, while urging attention toward the root causes of migration.

That response sparked an online fury that continued through last weekend criticizing the bishops’ reaction as tepid and lacking the moral outrage merited by the situation.


5. Due to backlash, Pell to live in ‘secure compound’ if appeal succeeds.

Catholic News Agency, June 25, 2019, 12:03 AM

While Cardinal George Pell of Australia is appealing his sexual abuse conviction in court, he and his supporters are making arrangements for a “safe hideaway” for the cleric, should his conviction be overturned.

According to The Australian, the risk of backlash and threats against the cardinal are so high that he is seeking a “secure compound” in which to live, should his appeal succeed in court. Some possibilities for this place would include an undisclosed location in New South Wales in southeastern Australia, or somewhere in Rome, where he previously lived and worked as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, the report noted. He would not reassume his Vatican position.


6. Indiana school firing gay teacher to keep archdiocese ties.

By Associated Press, June 24, 2019, 3:06 PM

The Indianapolis archbishop has forced a Catholic high school to fire a gay teacher, just days after another school in the city defied a similar order despite church officials saying they would no longer recognize it as Catholic.

Cathedral High School announced Sunday that it’s terminating the teacher’s contract to avoid a split with the archdiocese. Leaders of Cathedral High School, a private school affiliated with the Brothers of the Holy Cross religious order, said in a letter on the school’s website that disobeying Archbishop Charles Thompson would cost the school its nonprofit status and its ability to have Mass celebrated on campus.

“Archbishop Thompson made it clear that Cathedral’s continued employment of a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage would result in our forfeiting our Catholic identity due to our employment of an individual living in contradiction to Catholic teaching on marriage,” the school statement said.

This is the third Indianapolis Catholic high school that’s faced pressure from Thompson over employees in same-sex marriages since he became archbishop in July 2017.


7. Forced abortion decision overturned on appeal, according to reports.

Catholic News Agency, June 24, 2019, 11:03 AM

A controversial UK court decision to force a disabled woman to have an abortion has been overturned on appeal.

In a decision reportedly reached June 24, the English Court of Appeal, consisting of Lord Justice McCombe, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson, overturned the previous ruling of the Court of Protection.

According to Press Association reports, the judges said they would issue a full explanation of their decision at a later date, but that the circumstances of the case were “unique.”

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Clare McCarthy, welcomed the decision in a statement released Monday.

Lieven ruled that a forced abortion was “in the best interests” of the pregnant woman, over the objections of the woman herself, her mother, and her social worker. The woman, who has not been identified, is reportedly in her 20s and is of Nigerian descent. Both she and her mother are Catholic, and the court heard that they objected strongly to the abortion on religious grounds.

The decision on appeal comes after thousands of people signed a petition urging U.K. Health and Social Care Secretary Matthew Hancock to intervene in the case.

Two Catholic bishops in the U.K. had also spoken out against the decision.


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