1. Justice Department says Nevada’s social distancing orders for churches are unconstitutional.

By Jeff Mordock, The Washington Times, May 27, 2020, Pg. A2

The Justice Department on Tuesday warned Nevada that its plan to allow businesses to reopen gradually discriminates against churches.

The department’s top civil-rights official told Gov. Steve Sisolak that the reopening plan violated First Amendment protections by keeping social distancing rules for religious services but not for secular businesses.

“The flat prohibition against 10 or more persons gathering for an in-person worship service — regardless of whether they maintain social distancing guidelines — impermissibly treats religious and nonreligious organizations unequally,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, who heads the department’s Civil Rights Division, wrote in a letter to the governor.


2. California lays out pandemic rules for church reopenings.

By Stefanie Dazio and Robert Jablon, Associated Press, May 27, 2020, 3:20 AM

On Monday, the state released a framework that will permit counties to allow in-person worship services. They include limiting worshipers to 100 or less, taking everyone’s temperature, limiting singing and group recitations and not sharing prayer books or other items.

Individual counties also will decide whether to allow the reopening of in-person services for churches, mosques, synagogues and other religious institutions. In-person religious services are relegated to phase three, which Newsom had said could be weeks away.


3. PBS Documentary ‘Created Equal’ Captures the Essence of Clarence Thomas.

By Carrie Severino, National Catholic Register, May 26, 2020, Opinion

One of the formative experiences of my life was the year I spent clerking for Justice Clarence Thomas, helping him prepare for cases, draft opinions and think through major legal questions. Along with three other young lawyers, I had the opportunity every day to learn from one of the nation’s most influential legal thinkers.

But the most important lessons Justice Thomas taught us were not about the law. We often would spend hours in his office absorbing his wisdom from his life and listening to his amazing storytelling. I used to regret that I couldn’t share that experience with others who admired and wanted to learn about the justice. That problem has been solved by the talented director Michael Pack, who has managed to produce what is essentially a film autobiography — the story of Justice Thomas’ life told through a series of interviews with the justice himself. His Catholic faith is a theme that resounds through the movie, as it does through his life.

Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words played in theaters in January and February and was available to stream on PBS through the end of May, bringing that personal perspective on the justice to a national audience for the first time. Thomas tells the story of his youth growing up poor in Pinpoint, Georgia, of his grandparents taking him and his brother in after their father abandoned them and their mother couldn’t afford to raise them. It was his grandfather, himself a Catholic convert, to whom the justice owes his own Catholic faith, as well as his commitment to hard work and never giving up.

One of the most telling pieces you’ll find in the Justice’s chambers is a framed prayer by Cardinal Rafael Merry de Val called the Litany of Humility.

Here are some characteristic lines from that challenging prayer:

“From the desire of being esteemed … deliver me, Jesus.

“From the desire of being honored … deliver me, Jesus.

“From the desire of being praised … deliver me, Jesus.

“From the desire of being consulted … deliver me, Jesus.

“From the fear of being forgotten … deliver me, Jesus.

“From the fear of being ridiculed … deliver me, Jesus.

“From the fear of being wronged … deliver me, Jesus.

“From the fear of being suspected … deliver me, Jesus.

“That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease … Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

“That others may be praised and I unnoticed … Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

“That others may be preferred to me in everything … Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.”

How many people in our government — how many judges, how many politicians — have compromised their principles to gain esteem, praise, standing or applause in the eyes of the world, or because they feared being sneered at by our nation’s elites? How many truths have been left unspoken? How many decisions have been made that were perhaps expedient, but not right?

How many people have, like the rich man in the Gospels, gone away sad when they realized they were not willing to pay the cost of acting on principle?

Justice Clarence Thomas, to his unending credit, has stood firm in the face of scorn — not out of pride, but out of humility and fidelity to the Constitution. Spreading the word about this great man may run counter to his own prayers to remain unknown and unapplauded, but his is a story with important lessons for us all about the fruits of humility and fortitude.

Carrie Severino, a former law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is the chief counsel and president of the Judicial Crisis Network


4. Stranded Babies, Hurting Moms: COVID-19 Crisis Highlights Problems With Surrogacy.

Lauretta Brown, National Catholic Register, May 26, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc in many industries — including the buying and selling of babies through commercial surrogacy. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, babies are stranded in different countries than their genetic parents while surrogates and agencies are scrambling to care for them.

And according to human-rights advocates and religious leaders who oppose surrogacy, these pandemic-related problems have brought to light just some of the flaws that necessarily occur in a deeply unethical industry.

In Ukraine, 46 babies from the U.S., Italy, Spain and elsewhere born through surrogacy are stranded in a Kyiv (formerly known as Kiev) hotel-turned-hospital, as the country has closed its borders because of the pandemic.

In the 1987 document Donum Vitae, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote that surrogate motherhood is “contrary to the unity of marriage and to the dignity of the procreation of the human person. Surrogate motherhood represents an objective failure to meet the obligations of maternal love, of conjugal fidelity and of responsible motherhood; it offends the dignity and the right of the child to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up by his own parents; it sets up, to the detriment of families, a division between the physical, psychological and moral elements which constitute those families.”

Indeed, the problems that arise when surrogacy eliminates a child’s right “to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up by his own parents” are not limited to the complications that occur in a global pandemic.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a physician and policy adviser for The Catholic Association, commented to the Register that the rise of the surrogacy industry has led to the belief that people have “a right to a child.”

“When assisted reproductive technologies become mainstream, then you start to think of babies as something that not only can be produced on demand, but should be produced on demand; and then you start to talk about who has a right to a child,” she said.

Christie added that there was a “colonialist” aspect to the surrogacy industry, as the practice is “extremely expensive, and it’s much cheaper when you go to the developing nations to rent a uterus. There is an international market for wombs, for women’s bodies, and poor women are more affected.” Surrogacy can cost anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000.

Celebrities often employ surrogates, such as CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who recently announced that he had become a father through surrogacy of baby Wyatt. Currently single, he plans to “co-parent” with his former partner, nightclub owner Benjamin Maisani, because he wants the baby to have “two parents.”

Christie said that Cooper’s unnamed surrogate “was paid to give rise to a child that she has no legal connection to and can never claim.” Speaking as an adoptive mother of her daughter from China, Christie said that children who are separated from their birth parents “suffer these wounds that don’t really heal; you can talk and talk and talk, but the wound is there, because it’s a real separation with real consequences.”

In Cooper’s case, she added that if the egg donor was different from the surrogate carrying the child, which often occurs, then “there are so many people involved” with parental connections to the child.

She said, “This is really turning children into commodities, turning children into produced objects and turning gestation, pregnancy, childbirth into things you can buy, things you can rent, instead of beautiful experiences that bond couples and create families and memories and joy.”


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.
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