1. China: 13,000 ‘terrorists’ held since 2014, report says.

By Associated Press, The Washington Post, March 19, 2019, Pg. A6

China has arrested nearly 13,000 people it describes as terrorists and has broken up hundreds of “terrorist gangs” in Xinjiang since 2014, the government said in a report Monday issued to counter criticism of internment camps and other oppressive security in the traditionally Islamic region. 

The report said the government’s efforts have curbed religious extremism, but it gave little evidence of what crimes had occurred. The far-northwestern region is closed to outsiders, but former residents and activists abroad say mere expressions of Muslim identity are punished. 

China has sought to defend itself against charges of cultural genocide, painting its critics as biased and accusing them of trying to smear its reputation and contain its rise as a global power. 

China is listed by the United States as among the worst violators of religious freedom. 


2. Bishop in Mississippi: ‘Deeply Sorry’ for Clergy Sex Abuse.

By The Associated Press, March 19, 2019

A Catholic diocese in Mississippi is releasing names of clergy members it says have been credibly accused of sexual abuse.

Bishop Joseph Kopacz said the Diocese of Jackson is publishing the list Tuesday on its website. It’s part of the international reckoning of clergy abuse allegations that have shaken the Catholic church.

The Jackson bishop said in a letter released Monday that he is “truly, deeply sorry” for pain that be caused by the list.


3. Pope Francis trip aims to thaw Catholic-Orthodox relations in Romania.

By Claire Giangravè, Crux, March 19, 2019

When Pope Francis lands in Romania in late May, the local church hopes that he will be able to encourage a “spiritual wind” from the East into Europe and rebuild the chilled relations between the Catholic and Orthodox communities in the country.

“This side of Europe is a little bit more tied to spirituality, it’s not yet as predominantly attached to the material world as the West,” said Romanian Father Francisc Dobos, spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Bucharest, in a March 18 interview with Crux.

“It can become a place to say: ‘Europe wake up! Take a breath from a spiritual point of view’,” he added.

The interview took place after a meeting with the press organized by Rome’s Opus Dei-run Santa Croce University, to discuss the May 31 to July 2 papal visit to the Eastern European country of Romania.

Over 80 percent of the Romanian population is Eastern Orthodox, with Catholic faithful representing a minority at only 4.7 percent, according to a 2011 census. While dialogue between the two denominations is “peaceful and open,” Dobos said during his presentation, it has become “more rigid” and “less fruitful than before.”


4. Justices reject B&B owner who denied room to gay couple.

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, The Associated Press, March 18, 2019, 4:30 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday left in place Hawaii court rulings that found a bed and breakfast owner violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to rent a room to a lesbian couple.

The justices rejected an appeal from Aloha Bed & Breakfast owner Phyllis Young, who argued that she should be allowed to turn away gay couples because of her religious beliefs.

“Mrs. Young will rent a bedroom in her home to anyone, including those who are LGBT, but will not rent to any romantic partners other than a husband and wife,” her attorney, James Hochberg, said in a statement. “This kind of governmental coercion should disturb every freedom-loving American no matter where you stand on marriage.”


5. Trump loses ground with white Catholics, doubles support from non-white Catholics.

By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America Magazine, March 18, 2019

According to a report published on Monday, 36 percent of U.S. Catholics “approve of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as President,” the same percentage that was reported in February 2017, shortly after Mr. Trump took office.

When broken down by white and non-white Catholics, the numbers tell a different story.

The latest survey, conducted in January, found that 44 percent of white Catholics approve of Mr. Trump’s job performance.

The January survey found that 26 percent on non-white Catholics approve of the president’s job performance, up from 13 percent in February 2017.

Catholics who attend Mass weekly, a group that tends to oppose abortionand same-sex marriage at higher rates than Catholics overall, are about split when it comes to support for the president.

Fifty-two percent of Catholics who attend Mass weekly approve of the president’s job performance, down eight points from a high of 60 percent in the first half of 2017.

Among Catholics who attend church “less often,” 45 percent approve of the president’s job performance, down from 48 percent two years ago.


6. Evangelical approval of Trump remains high, but other religious groups are less supportive.

By Philip Schwadel and  Gregory A. Smith, Pew Research, March 18, 2019

More than two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, white evangelical Protestants in the United States continue to overwhelmingly support him, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data. Other religious groups, however, are more divided in their views of the president.

White mainline Protestants and white Catholics are less approving of Trump’s performance than are white evangelicals, but more approving than religiously unaffiliated Americans – that is, those who identify as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular.

Among white Catholics, there have also been differences in presidential approval between those who attend Mass weekly and those who do not. In the early months of Trump’s presidency, weekly Mass-attending Catholics were 12 points more likely than less-regular attendees to approve of Trump’s performance. There was an 11-point gap between these groups in the first half of 2018. In the most recent period analyzed, 52% of white Catholics who attend Mass weekly approve of Trump, as do 45% of those who attend services less often.