1. House praised for passing bill to help ISIS genocide victims

By Mark Zimmermann, Crux, June 9, 2017

The United States House of Representatives has passed a bipartisan bill, the “Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017.” The proposed law would provide help and hope to suffering members of religious minorities in Iraq and Syria who have been “left out and left behind.”

Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) sponsored House Resolution 390, which is titled the “Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017.”

The bill passed the House by a unanimous voice vote on June 6.

Smith and the other speakers urged the Senate to swiftly pass the measure so it can be signed into law by President Donald Trump, who has offered public support for assisting persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East.

“Time is of the essence. They need this help, and they need it now,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, the leader of the Knights of Columbus (Crux’s principal partner), who also spoke at the press conference.

Anderson praised the bill’s broad bipartisan support in a Congress known for its political divisions – the measure had 47 Republican and Democratic cosponsors. That support demonstrated that on this issue, “the country is united,” Anderson said, adding that the measure offers proof that “the terrorists will not win.”

In addition to the Knights, the bill was also supported by the United States Conference of Bishops and Aid to the Church in Need USA; and by other groups including the Family Research Council, In Defense of Christians, the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Heritage Foundation, the Religious Freedom Institute and Genocide Watch.


2. Listening, not lecturing: Pope Francis and young people

By Christopher White, Catholic News Service, June 8, 2017

Pope Francis has chosen the theme of “Young people, faith and vocational discernment” for the next Synod of Bishops to take place in October 2018. This, however, will not be a time of lecturing. Instead, it will be an occasion for collaboration, motivated by the pope’s conviction that “by listening to young people, the church will once again hear the Lord speaking in today’s world.”

[I]t should come as no surprise that Pope Francis is now concentrating on today’s youth — the constituency of the church that will be tomorrow’s future families, priests, religious men and women, and other members of the laity that will shape the church over the 21st century.

Here at home in the United States, an honest assessment serves as a sobering reminder that there’s much work to be done. A 2016 study from the Public Religion Research Institute revealed that young Catholics are leaving the church at a faster pace than any other religious group in this country, and according to the Pew Foundation, the vast majority of Catholics who leave the church do so before the age of 23.

While some may see this as cause for despair, Pope Francis is seizing this as an opportunity and inviting the worldwide church to do the same. A primary theme of this papacy has been creating a “culture of encounter” — one that is motivated by engagement and seeking understanding.

It may seem countercultural to invite the youth of the world to re-evaluate their lives in light of the Gospel and consider a new way of living, but fortunately there’s precedent for that.

Two thousand years ago when a ragtag gang of young fishermen were approached and asked to do the same, their consequential yes changed their lives and that of the world. For a world that’s looking for hope and a new way of living, Pope Francis is hoping that this invitation to young people might just have a similar outcome.


3. Venezuela’s bishops say Pope has their backs in tensions with Maduro

By Inés San Martín, Crux, June 8, 2017

Venezuela’s bishops said after a Thursday meeting with Pope Francis that the pontiff told them they have his “full trust,” seemingly a direct response to attempts by the government of Socialist President Nicolas Maduro to set the bishops, who have been sharply critical of the country’s economic and political crisis, in opposition to the pope.

“He told us that that he’s very close to us and very well informed about the situation of Venezuela, and very close to the suffering of the people,” said Archbishop Diego Padrón, president of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, talking to reporters hours after the group met Francis.

Attempts to suggest a split between the country’s bishops and the pope have been widespread. Even on Thursday, after the conference sent out a tweet about the meeting with Francis, many took to social media to accuse the Argentine pope of not doing anything or of actually supporting the socialist government of Maduro.

“I believe this is a propaganda move from the government itself, that has said the pope is on their side, and if he’s on their side, then he’s against the opposition, and far from the people,” Padrón said.


4. Anti-abortion leader facing lawsuit wants judge disqualified

By Associated Press, June 8, 2017, 4:21 PM

The leader of an anti-abortion group who is being sued wants to disqualify a U.S. judge who barred him from releasing videos recorded at meetings of an association of abortion providers.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick has a longstanding relationship with an organization that partners with Planned Parenthood, attorneys for David Daleiden, a leader of the Center for Medical Progress, said in a court filing late Wednesday. The attorneys also said the judge’s wife “liked” Facebook posts critical of Daleiden.

They asked Orrick to recuse himself from a lawsuit that the National Abortion Federation filed against Daleiden. The judge has blocked the Center for Medical Progress from releasing videos made at the federation’s meetings and airing the names of its members.

“The instant case is not only high profile but involves one of the most persistently debated moral and political issues of our times,” Daleiden’s attorneys said in their request. “The public is well aware that abortion is a topic on which many people, including judges, are apt to have very strong feelings they would find difficult to set aside in order to be impartial.”