1. Cardinal George Pell Appeals His Child Sex Abuse Conviction, His lawyer says the claims against his client were so implausible that the jury should have had reasonable doubt about his guilt.

By Robb M. Stewart, Wall Street Journal Online, June 5, 2019, 2:07 AM

An Australian court has begun hearing arguments seeking to quash the conviction of Cardinal George Pell for the sexual abuse of two young choir boys inside the cathedral that was the center of his diocese in the late 1990s.

A lawyer for Cardinal Pell on Wednesday said the claims against his client were so implausible that a jury should have had reasonable doubt about his guilt. The account of the accuser, who by law can’t be named, also changed repeatedly in critical ways, Bret Walker told the court.

On Wednesday, Mr. Walker, the lawyer, told the supreme court a “network of evidence” had been presented to the trial—about when and where people were in the cathedral when the assaults were said to have taken place—that meant it was impossible for Cardinal Pell to have committed the crimes as alleged.


2. Justice Thomas on Abortion and Eugenics.

By Jason L. Riley, The Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2019, Pg. A21, Opinion

It’s June, not February, but that hasn’t stopped Clarence Thomas from offering some lessons in black history to his colleagues on the Supreme Court. The occasion is an Indiana abortion case, Box v. Planned Parenthood. In 2016 the state passed a law banning so-called selective abortions—based on race, gender or disability—and requiring that a baby’s remains be cremated or buried after the procedure is finished. The law was challenged, and the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found both provisions unconstitutional.

 To Justice Thomas’s chagrin, last week’s Supreme Court ruling only partially settled the matter. It upheld the state requirement on the disposal of fetal remains but declined to consider the constitutionality of laws that prohibit what he termed “eugenic” abortions. Sooner or later, writes Justice Thomas, the court will have to take up the issue. “Having created a constitutional right to an abortion, this Court is dutybound to address its scope.”

Toward the end of his new biography, “Clarence Thomas and the Lost Constitution,” Myron Magnet describes the jurist as “one of a handful of honest and brave iconoclasts who love liberty, especially the freedom to think for oneself.” Those characteristics are on full display whenever Justice Thomas decides to push back against fashionable narratives on race, public policy and the law. Unfortunately, he has his work cut out for him.


3. An anguished Dutch teenager, who was raped as a child, is euthanized at her request.

By Isaac Stanley-Becker, Washington Post Online, June 5, 2019, 4:16 AM

A Dutch teenager who suffered from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia after being raped as a child was helped to die at her home, her sister confirmed on Sunday.

Assisted suicide is legal in parts of Europe and the United States, though rules differ about the degree to which a third party may actively carry out the patient’s death. Active euthanasia, as it is known, is lawful in only a handful of countries, including Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

The Netherlands became the first country to legalize the practice, in legislation passed in 2001, the year that Noa was born.

The procedure accounted for less than 4.4 percent of all deaths in the Netherlands in 2017, according to a report from a review committee. Of the 6,585 requests that were granted, most were in cases of untreatable cancer. Only a small number involved psychiatric distress. The process is carried out by an attending physician who administers a lethal dose of a “suitable drug,” according to Dutch guidelines.


4. Church says cardinal addressed abuse ‘swiftly’.

By The Associated Press, June 5, 2019

Representatives of a top leader of the U.S. Catholic Church say he acted “swiftly and justly” to the allegations made by a woman who claims his former deputy lured her into a sexual relationship.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston issued a statement Tuesday in response to an Associated Press investigation of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who is leading the U.S. church’s response to its sex abuse scandal.

Laura Pontikes accuses DiNardo of not fulfilling the archdiocese’s promises to prevent Monsignor Frank Rossi from being a pastor or counseling women after engaging in a sexual relationship with her. Instead, DiNardo allowed Rossi to go to a parish in rural east Texas under another diocese.

The statement from church officials says DiNardo agreed not to reassign Rossi in his archdiocese. It accuses the AP of publishing “unprofessional, biased and one-sided reporting,” and says some comments attributed to DiNardo by Pontikes and her husband, George, are “an absolute fabrication.”


5. Hearing to consider fate of lone Missouri abortion clinic.

By Jim Salter, The Associated Press, June 5, 2019, 3:48 AM

The fate of Missouri’s only abortion clinic is at stake in a hearing scheduled for Wednesday in St. Louis.

Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer will hear testimony in a hearing on Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction that would keep open its abortion clinic in St. Louis.

Missouri’s health department last week declined to renew the clinic’s license to perform abortion procedures, citing concerns about patient safety, including allegations of “failed abortions” and legal violations.

Stelzer ruled Tuesday that four former doctors in training who worked briefly at the clinic are not required to testify at the hearing.


6. Restoring, and strengthening, episcopal credibility.

By George Weigel, First Things, June 5, 2019

Pope Francis’s recent motu proprio on sexual abuse, Vos estis lux mundi (You Are the Light of the World), was a welcome addition to Church law, as world Catholicism seeks to heal the wounds of abuse victims, promote chaste living, foster mutual accountability within the Body of Christ, and restore the credibility of the Church’s leadership. 

As Cardinal DiNardo noted, Vos estis lux mundi not only universalizes strong legal and procedural norms for dealing with clerical sexual abuse; it also allows, and might even be seen to call for, creativity on the part of national bishops’ conferences to build on the foundation Francis has laid. That “latitude for national bishops’ conferences…to specify still more” should now be utilized by the U.S. bishops at their June meeting: to honor the pope’s invitation to devise particular solutions for particular situations, according to the Holy Father’s principle of “synodality”; to meet the expectations of the most dedicated, committed Catholics in the United States; and to offer the world Church further models to consider. Vos estis lux mundi, like the particular Church law in place in the United States since the abuse crisis of 2002, deals primarily with sexual abuse by priests. The next steps in this process of Catholic reform involve devising mechanisms for guaranteeing episcopal accountability, in terms of both a bishop’s personal conduct and his handling of abuse allegations in the diocese entrusted to his care.

There seems to be a consensus, in Rome and the U.S., that these mechanisms should operate at the level of Church “provinces,” with the metropolitan archbishop of each ecclesiastical province as the responsible party (or the senior suffragan bishop in a province, if the metropolitan archbishop is being charged with an offense).

Adopting these provisions in June will accelerate the healing of a wounded Church and enhance the bishops’ credibility, while heeding the pope’s call for local creativity.


7. French sex abuse commission gets to work.

By Christopher White, Crux, June 5, 2019

France’s first ever independent commission set up by the Catholic Church to examine claims of clergy sex abuse has now launched its appeal for witnesses to offer testimony.

The Catholic French bishops’ Independent Commission of Inquiry into Sexual Abuse within the Church (CAISE), which was formally established in November 2018, opened itself up for testimonials this week and will seek to chronicle clergy abuse dating back to the 1950s.

At the time of the announcement, Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseille, who serves as president of the Conference of Bishops of France said that their November meeting “between the victims and the bishops has confirmed for us all, victims and bishops, the need to work together better in this fight.”

“The bishops wish to work with the victims to see how to make sure that our history doesn’t forget those acts that have left too many people to die,” he added.


8. Democrats vs. Nuns, The Little Sisters of the Poor are again forced to defend their liberty in federal court.

By James Freeman,  Wall Street Journal Online, June 4, 2019, 7:05 PM, Best of the Web

More than two years after Barack Obama left the White House, there’s still no cease-fire in a legal war on women of faith. The non-profit law firm Becket said today that a group of nuns will once again have to defend their beliefs in a San Francisco federal courthouse this week:

The Little Sisters of the Poor will be in court Thursday to ask for protection from a lawsuit by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra threatening their religious ministry. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear arguments in California v. Little Sisters of the Poor and decide if California and… other states can force Catholic nuns to provide services such as the week-after pill in their health care plan in violation of their faith. In 2017, following an Executive Order, a five-year legal battle resulting in a Supreme Court victory, and a new HHS rule protecting religious non-profits, the Little Sisters finally received a religious exemption that applies to non-profits nationwide. Yet California immediately sued the federal government to take that exemption away. Joined now by 12 other states and the District of Columbia, Attorney General Becerra is forcing the Little Sisters back to court to defend their hard-earned religious protection.


9. Bill to legalize assisted suicide in Maine goes to governor.

By Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press, June 4, 2019

The Maine Legislature voted to legalize assisted suicide, with supporters declaring it in line with the state’s tradition of individualism and opponents insisting the practice tempts fate.

The bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, who has 10 days to act on the bill and hasn’t indicated whether she will let it become law. Her office said she hasn’t yet taken a position.


10. ‘Not worthy of protection’: 17-year-old rape victim legally euthanized in Netherlands after ‘insufferable’ pain.

By John Gage, Washington Examiner Online, June 4, 2019, 05:54 PM

A 17-year-old rape victim was euthanized in the Netherlands after she said the pain that her sexual assaults had caused her was “insufferable.”

“I will get straight to the point: within a maximum of 10 days I will die,” Noa Pothoven, from Arnhem, the Netherlands, wrote Saturday before she was legally euthanized. “After years of battling and fighting, I am drained. I have quit eating and drinking for a while now, and after many discussions and evaluations, it was decided to let me go because my suffering is unbearable.”

“I deliberated for quite a while whether or not I should share this, but decided to do it anyway,” Pothoven said on Instagram. “Maybe this comes as a surprise to some, given my posts about hospitalization, but my plan has been there for a long time and is not impulsive.”


11. Contrasting New Laws in Louisiana and Illinois Highlight States’ Abortion Divide.

By Lauretta Brown, National Catholic Register, June 4, 2019

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says signing a pro-life measure is ‘what my Catholic Christian faith requires,’ but Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker counters that his own state is ‘making history’ with its pro-abortion legislation.

Two Democratic governors, John Bel Edwards and J.B. Pritzker, exemplify the growing divide in the abortion debate as they recently backed measures, one to restrict and the other to expand abortion access.

Louisiana Gov. Edwards stands out as a striking exception to the pro-abortion advocacy of his party.

As the only pro-life Democratic governor in the South, he signed a heartbeat bill in his state despite immense pressure from his party nationally to do otherwise.

The Illinois governor’s push for late-term, unrestricted abortion is in line with the views of the Democratic Party, which has been increasingly critical of pro-life Democrats like Gov. Edwards.

Maureen Ferguson, a senior policy adviser for The Catholic Association, told the Register that there’s “definitely a growing intolerance of pro-life Democrats within the Democratic Party,” pointing to the party’s “dramatic shift” on taxpayer funding of abortion.

“With Obamacare you had about 25% of Democrats voting for an amendment to take abortion out of Obamacare so that no one would be forced to fund it,” she pointed out. “Now in the House you’re down to one, two or three pro-life Democrats who are willing to vote that way.”


12. Omar Errs in Her Views on Women — and Religious Belief.

By Ashley McGuire, RealClear Politics, May 4, 2019, Commentary

Rep. Ilhan Omar is developing quite a track record for demonizing entire swaths of America, and her latest target is religious pro-lifers.

In a several minutes-long rant better suited to “Mean Girls” than the floor of the House of Representatives, the freshman Democrat from Minnesota accused pro-lifers of being “religious fundamentalists” who are doing everything from trying to “impose their beliefs on an entire society” to “criminaliz[ing] women for simply existing.”

Where to even start? 

I suppose we can begin with the way she positions herself as speaking for all American women. It’s the classic sexist trope that if you are a woman you are of course pro-choice. Yet it was a woman, for example, who signed Alabama’s pro-life bill into law. Nearly half of women self-identity as pro-life, and women’s views on the abortion issue run the same gamut – in roughly the same proportions – as men’s. As Gallup recently put it, “Men, Women Generally Hold Similar Abortion Attitudes,” with the exact same percentage of both sexes agreeing that abortion should be totally illegal.

Interestingly, what her comments about Jews have in common with her tirade against Christians is her fear-mongering about their influence.

That is textbook bigotry. Ginning up fear about a group’s influence is a textbook way to marginalize them and increase social opposition to them. It is profoundly un-American and needs to be called out.

Memo to Rep. Ilhan Omar: You are not the judge of the sincerity of any American’s religious belief. You do not speak for women. The country that elected you regardless of your faith merits the same respect in return. 

Ashley McGuire is a senior fellow with The Catholic Association and the author of “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female.” Follow her on Twitter: @AshMcG


13. Thirty Years After Tiananmen Massacre, China Remains a ‘Surveillance State’, Religious freedom is among the areas that have deteriorated since then, according to experts who monitor human-rights violations there.

By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, June 4, 2019

The Tiananmen Square protests, which took place 30 years ago today and led to a brutal and deadly crackdown of scores of pro-democracy activists by the Chinese authorities, could not happen in today’s Beijing.

That’s because China no longer has “freedom of assembly,” said Reggie Littlejohn, the founder of the organization Women’s Rights Without Frontiers that protects women in China. Currently, any two or more people who do protest there are “detained immediately.”

Since the 1989 massacre, human rights in the vast Asian country “have not improved but deteriorated,” Littlejohn said in a statement, adding that the country has become “a surveillance state,” where technology is being used as an instrument of “repression.”   

Part of that repression includes government attempts to erase the Chinese people’s memory of the government crackdown, which killed hundreds, if not several thousands. References to it are censored on social media, news and history books, in what has become known as the “great forgetting.”

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, stressed on Twitter that the massacre is “not erasable” and that the Chinese people are “still waiting for the apology to compensate this massacre of the China government.”  


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