1. Pope calls drug traffickers ‘murderers,’ blasts liberalization laws as ‘fantasy’ at UN event, Pope Francis has denounced drug traffickers as “murderers” and ridiculed drug liberalization laws as a “fantasy.”, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, June 26, 2024, 4:54 AM
Pope Francis on Wednesday denounced drug traffickers as “murderers” and labeled drug liberalization laws a “fantasy” as he marked the U.N.’s day against drug use and illicit trafficking
Francis devoted his entire weekly catechism lesson to a reflection on drug abuse. He called for increased prevention efforts and care for addicts, saying they are children of God who deserve to have their human dignity respected.
Francis spent years ministering to people in the slums of Buenos Aires where “paco,” a cheap drug made from cocaine residue, ravaged the community. The Argentine Jesuit has long made visiting recovering addicts a priority during his foreign visits.

“A reduction in drug addiction is not achieved by liberalizing drug use, as has been proposed, or already implemented, in some countries,” he said. “This is a fantasy. You liberalize, they just consume more.”
“I am convinced that it is a moral duty to end the production and trafficking of these dangerous substances,” he said.

2. Missouri’s discount abortion deal, Governor should veto well-intentioned bill that rewards Planned Parenthood, By The Washington Times, June 26, 2024, Editorial
The abortion industry is poised to receive an unwitting windfall from the Show Me State. Legislation sitting on the governor’s desk would expand the distribution of subsidized drugs in Missouri under a federal program known as 340B.
This taxpayer-funded benefit underwrites the cost of drugs for some patients, provides medical care for the uninsured, offers vaccines and provides mental health services.
With that sort of wide remit, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Democrats have discovered opportunities to leverage the arrangement to drive their agenda, especially with respect to their favorite issue, abortion.
Planned Parenthood’s abortion providers make the most of available subsidies, which is why the group has been fighting so vigorously to strengthen the 340B program as a member of the 340B Coalition.
A regional Planned Parenthood office made that clear when it openly praised its relationship with the 340B program, noting that “Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest has partnered with these 340B pharmacies to provide our patients with discounts for their prescriptions.”
This is why the Biden administration issued guidance in 2022 threatening lawsuits against anyone daring to stand in the way of the sale of abortion drugs. A memo from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights stated: “If a pharmacy refuses to fill the individual’s prescription … because these medications can also be used to terminate a pregnancy — the pharmacy may be discriminating on the basis of sex.”

Surely neither the Missouri General Assembly nor Mr. Parson intended this expansion of 340B program benefits to flow from taxpayers right into the pockets of abortion providers. Many Republican lawmakers who voted for the legislation likely had no idea there could be a direct connection between 340B and Planned Parenthood.
The legislature should go back to the drawing board and find a way to reduce the cost of necessary medications without making taxpayers — willing or otherwise — de facto discount providers of abortions.
Mr. Parson should veto the legislation.
3. Rupture By Stealth?, By George Weigel, First Things, June 26, 2024, Opinion
According to a source well-positioned to know, one of the behind-the-scenes dramas of the present pontificate involved Pope Francis’s determination to amend the Catechism of the Catholic Church and declare capital punishment an intrinsically evil act: something that can never be countenanced. After a lengthy and bruising argument over whether that was doctrinally possible, a compromise was reached and CCC 2267 now declares the death penalty “inadmissible”—a strong term, but one with no technical theological or doctrinal meaning.
Has the papal campaign against capital punishment now achieved its objective through the recent declaration of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dignitas Infinita (Infinite Dignity)?
There, the Dicastery wrote that the death penalty “violates the inalienable dignity of every person, regardless of the circumstances” (34). That subordinate clause (al di là di ogni circonstanza, in the Italian original) is striking. For the paragraph in Dignitas Infinita in which it appears cites paragraph 27 of Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), where the Council fathers identified as crimes against human dignity “all offenses against life itself, such as murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, and willful suicide; all violations of the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture, [and] undue psychological pressures.” That, in turn, was the paragraph cited by Pope John Paul II in the 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor to identify intrinsically evil acts: acts that are wicked by their very nature. And as John Paul wrote in Veritatis Splendor 81, “If acts are intrinsically evil, a good intention or particular circumstances can diminish their evil, but they cannot remove it. They remain ‘irremediably’ evil acts; per se and in themselves, they are not capable of being ordered to God and to the good of the person.”
So when Dignitas Infinita 34 teaches that “one should [also] mention the death penalty” when citing the list of grave evils identified in Gaudium et Spes 27, which are the evils John Paul II used in Veritatis Splendor 81 to illustrate the concept of acts that are inherently evil irrespective of circumstances, was Dignitas Infinita making a stealth move to achieve the goal Pope Francis was unable to achieve in his proposed revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the question of capital punishment? 
I am no fan of the death penalty. It is too often applied in the United States. It is certainly applied in grotesquely inhumane and promiscuous ways in China, Russia, and countries suffering under jihadist and radical Islamist regimes.
But to assert that capital punishment is intrinsically evil is to assert that the entire Catholic tradition from St. Augustine to St. John Paul II got something of grave moral significance wrong. It is also to assert that the Bible, the revealed Word of God, teaches falsely, e.g., in Romans 13:3–4: “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.”
And the assertion of either of those two things cannot underwrite a genuine development of doctrine. Rather, those assertions risk a collapse into what the great theorist of doctrinal development, St. John Henry Newman, called “doctrinal corruption”—an omnipresent danger in the Church, brilliantly explored by Matthew Levering in Newman on Doctrinal Corruption (Word on Fire Academic, 2022).      
Given that Dignitas Infinita was the result of a somewhat rocky editorial process (described rather blandly in the declaration’s prefatory note by the prefect of the doctrinal dicastery, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández), it is not clear whether what was afoot in Dignitas Infinita 34 was editorial sloppiness or an intentional, if stealthy, rupture with revelation and tradition. That it could be the latter is suggested by the fact that, over the past decade, stealth measures, in the form of ambiguities, have been employed to achieve certain ends the present pontificate could not achieve by other means, such as Holy Communion for Catholics in canonically irregular marriages or blessings for those in homosexual unions. 
All of which underscores the bottom-line issue in the Catholic Church today: Is divine revelation, embodied in Scripture and the Church’s tradition, real, and does it have binding authority over time? Or can the truths of revelation, mediated through two millennia of tradition, be modified by contemporary human experience and sensibility?
4. The Ten Commandments and the First Amendment, A new Louisiana law requiring that the Decalogue be posted in every classroom may run afoul of the Establishment Clause., By The Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2024, 5:55 PM, Editorial
‘I can’t wait to be sued.” That’s what Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry reportedly said this month before he signed a law requiring every public K-12 and college classroom to display a Protestant version of the Ten Commandments. Mr. Landry didn’t have to wait long, since the ACLU and other groups filed a lawsuit Monday, but if he believes the Supreme Court will back him up, he might be disappointed.
The Roberts Court has given religious believers a remarkable winning streak, including on the Establishment Clause, much to the dismay of secularists who want to scrub faith from public life.

Louisiana seems to be doing something different. “Given all the junk our children are exposed to in classrooms today, it’s imperative that we put the Ten Commandments back in a prominent position,” state Rep. Dodie Horton, the bill’s sponsor, argued during floor debate. Her legislation would post the Commandments “for our children to look up and see what God says is right, and what He says is wrong.”
This is not like recent precedents on religious symbols.

Many parents desire that kind of education, which is why many pay for private schools. In a society that’s becoming further polarized on fundamental values seemingly by the day, perhaps the best, pluralist policy is to strengthen school choice. To Gov. Landry’s credit, he also signed education savings accounts into law. That’s a sensible way to help families who want the Ten Commandments get them—and for real, not merely on some classroom poster.
5. Public funds for religious charter school would be unconstitutional, Oklahoma high court says, The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that the approval of what would be the nation’s first state-funded Catholic charter school is unconstitutional, By Sean Murphy, Associated Press, June 25, 2024, 2:34 PM
The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday stopped what would have been the first publicly funded religious charter school in the U.S., turning back conservatives and the state’s GOP governor who have welcomed religious groups into public education.
The high court determined the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board’s 3-2 vote last year to approve an application by the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma for the St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Charter School violates the Establishment Clause, which prohibits government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” The ruling also says both the Oklahoma and U.S. constitutions, as well as state law, were violated.
The case is being closely watched because supporters of the school believe recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have indicated the court is more open to public funds going to religious entities.

6. Judge blocks Michigan’s abortion waiting period, 2 years after voters approved abortion rights, A judge has blocked Michigan’s 24-hour waiting period for abortions and some other abortion-related provisions, By Ed White, Associated Press, June 25, 2024, 6:35 PM
A judge on Tuesday blocked Michigan’s 24-hour waiting period for abortions, saying it conflicts with a 2022 voter-approved amendment to the state constitution that guarantees abortion rights.
The waiting period “forces needless delay on patients after they are able to consent to a procedure, thus burdening and infringing upon a patient’s access to abortion care,” said Judge Sima Patel of the Court of Claims.
Patel issued a preliminary injunction against the waiting period, which has been in place for years, and also blocked portions of state law that require abortion providers give information about adoption and depictions of the fetus.
The judge also stopped Michigan’s requirement that only a physician can perform an abortion, noting that it excluded qualified nurses, physician assistants and nurse midwives.
“This exacerbates existing provider shortages, leading to large swathes of Michigan that currently lack physicians to provide abortion care,” Patel said.

7. Delaware Senate gives final approval to bill mandating insurance coverage for abortions, Democratic lawmakers in Delaware have given final approval to a bill requiring most private health insurance plans and the state’s Medicaid program to cover abortions, By Randall Chase, Associated Press, June 25, 2024, 7:14 PM
Democratic lawmakers in Delaware gave final approval Tuesday to a bill requiring most private health insurance plans and Delaware’s Medicaid program to cover abortions.
The bill cleared the Democrat-led Senate on a party-line vote and now goes to Democratic Gov. John Carney.
In addition to mandating coverage for abortions, the legislation prohibits most insurance plans, including the one covering state government employees, from charging copays, applying deductibles, or imposing any other cost-sharing requirements for abortion services
The bill includes an exemption allowing churches and other religious employers to seek waivers from the coverage requirement. Coverage would be capped at $750 per person per year, which supporters say would cover the cost of most abortions in Delaware.

8. Pope Francis Meets With Russian Ambassador to the Vatican, Soltanovsky, a 69-year-old career diplomat, was appointed to his current role in May 2023., By Jonah McKeown, National Catholic Register, June 25, 2024
Pope Francis on June 22 met with Ivan Soltanovsky, Russia’s ambassador to the Holy See, in their first meeting since Soltanovsky presented his diplomatic letters to the pontiff last September.
Soltanovsky, a 69-year-old career diplomat, was appointed to his current role in May 2023. No details of the pair’s most recent meeting have yet been released.
Soltanovsky told Russia’s official Tass News Agency earlier this month that the Holy See remains one of the few global players who favor diplomacy, peace, and dialogue based on mutual respect and consideration of interests.
“In a situation where traditional methods of building peace no longer work, the Vatican has tirelessly been looking for new ways and opportunities and is willing, as Pope Francis said, to ‘think out of the box,’” the Russian diplomat told Tass.

9. Trump pledges, if elected, to get jailed pro-life activists ‘back to their families’, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, June 25, 2024, 10:50 AM
Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee in the 2024 U.S. presidential election, has expressed his support for the pro-life activists who have been aggressively prosecuted and jailed under the Biden administration.
Trump raised the issue during a June 22 speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition, where he specifically mentioned the case of 75-year-old Paulette Harlow, a Catholic, who was convicted of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act this year. 
The U.S. Department of Justice has tried and convicted more than a dozen pro-life activists in 2024 based on the federal law, which increases penalties for anyone who obstructs access to an abortion clinic. Harlow, who is in poor health, was sentenced last month to 24 months in prison for participating in a blockade of an abortion clinic in Washington, D.C.
“Paulette is one of many peaceful pro-lifers who Joe Biden has rounded up, sometimes with SWAT teams, and thrown them in jail,” Trump said. “Many people are in jail over this. … We’re going to get that taken care of immediately — [on the] first day.”

10. Is there a secret plan to suppress the TLM — again?, By Ed. Condon, The Pillar, June 25, 2024, Opinion
Traditionalist Catholic websites and media began discussing last week what they describe as “persistent rumors” of a planned Vatican document, which is supposedly meant to suppress entirely the celebration of the extraordinary form of the liturgy, often called the “Traditional Latin Mass.”
The current round of speculation began in earnest when Rorate Caeli, a traditionalist website, carried a post last week citing “the most credible sources” to say that a “Vatican document with a stringent, radical, and final solution banning the Traditional Latin Mass” exists and was being pushed for papal approval.
The post did not include details about the alleged document’s provisions, who had drafted it, or on whose instructions, but did claim that “the same ideologues who imposed [the 2021 motu proprio] Traditionis Custodes and its implementation… are still frustrated with its apparently slow results” and were pressing for news restrictions by Pope Francis.
The Pillar has not been able to confirm the existence of such a document. But curial officials in Rome hear many of the same rumors, and pay attention to American Catholic media of all kinds, so many of them are now discussing whether the Vatican will really impose new restrictions on the more ancient forms of the liturgy — and if so, what any new policies might hope to achieve.
And some officials said that in their view, any new policies will have to be weighed carefully against the pushback they provoke, both from those committed to the TLM, and those concerned with the reach of papal authority.

According to curial sources in Rome, the rumor of the supposed document seems to have originated with informal claims made by a single official at the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the department led by Cardinal Arthur Roche, which is charged with the implementation of Traditionis Custodes.
While no official who spoke to The Pillar claimed first-hand knowledge of the document itself or its drafting, several sources speculated that if it did exist, it most likely would have been put in motion with the approval of Cardinal Roche following controversy over the DDW prefect’s attempts to tighten the implementation of Traditionis following its initial promulgation.

Several curial officials have suggested to The Pillar that Cardinal Roche remains frustrated at his department’s (now enhanced) powers to police the celebration of the traditional Mass in local dioceses, and that the document may have been put into motion last year as a “last resort” to force diocesan bishops into adopting a globally uniform approach to implementing Traditionis.
If that is the case, bringing a new document into force would require convincing Pope Francis of a compelling need for it — arguing, essentially, that Traditionis custodes is not working as planned and, despite several rounds of revisions by the DDW, essentially not fit for purpose.

11. Breakaway Spanish nuns excommunicated, By Luke Coppen, The Pillar, June 24, 2024, 1:09 PM
A Spanish archdiocese announced Saturday that 10 Poor Clare nuns had incurred excommunication after they declared they had “voluntarily separated” from the Catholic Church.
The Archdiocese of Burgos said June 22 that a decree of excommunication signed by its Archbishop Mario Iceta had been sent to the 10 members of the Poor Clare community in the northern Spanish village of Belorado.
The archdiocese said the decree was issued after Church officials received a registered fax June 21, signed by the 10 nuns, rejecting a summons to appear before a tribunal the same day to answer a charge of schism.

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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!

“Conversations with Consequences” is an audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.