1. Alabama abortion bill’s restrictions weigh on Republicans ahead of vote, Passage could secure an almost all-out ban, with eye toward high court.

By Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, The Washington Post, May 14, 2019, Pg. A4

Marsh asked the women to keep praying for him as he navigates a contentious fight that could put Alabama on the leading edge of the antiabortion push to get a state law in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. He, like many other Republicans here, has long been against abortion and wants the court to overturn Roe v. Wade — and he embraces the strategy of a bill that will force the issue. But he also long has been accepting of three exceptions to bans on abortion: cases that involve rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger.

Marsh and some others in the Republican majority here are struggling with Tuesday’s vote on an abortion ban, largely because it is so restrictive. Any unborn baby is innocent and deserves a chance at life, the bill’s backers argue, even those that are the result of violent or criminal origins. 

The bill would outlaw most abortions in the state — except those that would protect a woman whose life is in danger because of the pregnancy — and make performing abortion a felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison. That part of the law would be considered extreme in some states but was without controversy here. 


2. A nun cites “commandment of love” in accepting same-sex unions.

By Joe Heim, The Washington Post, May 14, 2019, Pg. B1

The letter landed in email inboxes early in May, and since then, students, parents and graduates of Washington’s prestigious Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School have talked of little else. It has been the subject of spirited discussions, emotional exchanges, fervent Facebook posts.

Sister Mary Berchmans, the school’s president emerita, wrote the letter that has provoked so many reactions. In her carefully worded missive that emphasized following “the Gospel commandment of love,” Berchmans said the 220-year-old Catholic girls academy will publish announcements of same-sex unions in its alumnae magazine.

The decision, which stands in contrast to official church teaching on same-sex marriage, was greeted with a mixture of responses by the school community. Some called it “beautiful” and “overdue.” Others labeled it a “great disappointment.” In some quarters, there was unhappiness it took so long for the school to reach this point, while a smaller number expressed anger that the school was veering from Catholic doctrine.


3. A Scary Sign That Roe Is at Risk.

By Leah Litman, The New York Times, May 14, 2019, Pg. A23, Opinion
Ms. Litman is an assistant professor of law at the University of California, Irvine.

The Supreme Court made clear on Monday that Roe v. Wade may soon no longer be the law of the land. The decision, Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt, actually has nothing to do with abortion; it concerns when one state may be sued in another state’s courts.

But Hyatt has everything to do with the Supreme Court’s respect for precedent. And respect for precedent is one of the few things, if not the only thing, that stands between the conservative Roberts court and overruling Roe v. Wade. Hyatt made clear that the five conservative justices are perfectly content to overrule a precedent merely because they disagree with it. 

In Hyatt, Justice Breyer concluded his dissent with this pointed warning: “Today’s decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the court will overrule next.” If that statement was not enough, Justice Breyer cited Planned Parenthood v. Casey in that same paragraph. Casey is the 1992 decision in which a bare majority of the court opted not to overrule Roe.

The guardrails of stare decisis have fallen. Roe v. Wade may very well be next.


4. Victims of clergy abuse to sue Vatican, seek abusers’ names.

By Amy Forliti and Michael Rezendes, The Associated Press, May 13, 2019, 7:27 PM

Five men who say they were sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests when they were minors are planning to sue the Vatican and are demanding the names of thousands of predator priests they claim have been kept secret by the Holy See.

In a Monday news release announcing the lawsuit, Minnesota attorney Jeff Anderson said he wants to show that the Vatican tried to cover up actions by top church officials including former St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt. The lawsuit being filed Tuesday seeks the release of 3,400 names of priests who were referred to the Vatican for “credible cases of abuse.” That number was released by the Vatican in 2014.


5. Governor signs bill easing limit on sex abuse lawsuits.

By Mike Catalini, The Associated Press, May 13, 2019

Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Monday to ease restrictions on when childhood sexual abuse victims can seek damages in court, an action that comes after a wave of details last year about the abuse of minors in the Roman Catholic Church.

 The state’s Catholic Conference opposed the bill during committee hearings. In a statement Monday, the Archdiocese of Newark said it was committed to “comprehensive healing of those harmed.”


6. Pope saddened by church attack in Burkina Faso, Vatican spokesman says.

By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, May 13, 2019

Pope Francis expressed his closeness to and prayers for the victims of a shooting at a Catholic church in Burkina Faso, which claimed the lives of six people.

“The Holy Father has learned with sorrow about the news of the attack on the church in Dablo, Burkina Faso. He prays for the victims, for their families and for the entire Christian community in the country,” Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office, tweeted May 13.

According to the Agence France-Presse, armed persons entered the church May 12 on motorcycles and shot at churchgoers attempting to escape. Father Simeon Yampa, who was celebrating Sunday Mass, was among those killed in the attack. The gunmen then set fire to the church and several other buildings nearby before raiding a local health center.

Government officials blamed the attack on Muslim extremist groups, saying that after failing “to pit communities against each other with targeted killings of traditional chiefs and community leaders, terrorist groups are now attacking religion in an evil plot to divide us,” AFP reported.

Burkina Faso has seen a rise in attacks against Christians in the country in recent months.


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