1. Purging the Pro-Lifers, Democratic AGs bar anti-abortion candidates from any support.

The Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2019, Pg. A16, Editorial

Anti-abortion Democratic officeholders are about as rare as pandas, but many in their party’s leadership won’t be satisfied until they’re extinct.

On Monday the Democratic Attorneys General Association decreed that it will only give money and strategic help to AG candidates who “publicly commit” to supporting access to abortion. The message: If you’re a pro-life Democrat, or merely one with misgivings about the party’s opposition to any restriction on abortion, don’t run for attorney general. Or for any other office.

Mark this as one more step toward making America’s two main political parties into warring cultural camps with no room for individual conscience. American politics was healthier, and less polarized, when Democratic ranks included pro-lifers and some Republicans favored abortion rights. Compromise and tolerance were easier to come by.

This decree is especially disappointing because attorneys general are candidates in the 50 states with different political cultures. But these AGs seem intent on imposing their principles on candidates from Alabama to Alaska. Aspokesperson for the organization tells the Journal that in 2018 pro-choice candidates ran “incredibly close races” in red states such as Arizona, Georgia and Texas. That’s a nice way of saying they lost.

Today’s coastal Democrats seem not to appreciate that their refusal to show any tolerance for conservative social values is one reason the country elected Donald Trump.


2. China Calls Crackdown An Attack on Terrorism.

By Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times, November 19, 2019, Pg. A10

The Chinese government on Monday portrayed the country’s crackdown in the western region of Xinjiang as a great success against terrorism, trying to counter renewed international criticism prompted by a New York Times article detailing the internal deliberations that led to the mass detention of Muslims in re-education camps and prisons.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Geng Shuang, criticized the newspaper’s report, published on Sunday, saying the article smeared China’s efforts against extremism. But he did not dispute the authenticity of the leaked internal documents that confirmed the coercive nature of the measures used against Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in western China over the past three years.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, spoke on the floor of the Senate on Monday about the threat to Muslim ethnic minority groups in the Xinjiang region of northwest China, pointing to the Times report.


3. Judge rules in favor of Christian school in voucher case.

By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, November 19, 2019, Pg. A12

A federal judge has ruled in favor of a lawsuit brought by a Christian school that accuses Maryland officials of kicking it out of a voucher program because of the school’s belief in traditional marriage.

U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher ruled that Bethel Christian Academy’s lawsuit can move forward in court, saying state education officials could be liable for discriminating against a private school for its Christian beliefs.

“If, as it alleges, Bethel has not discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation in admissions, then it has plausibly alleged that Defendants infringed upon several of its constitutional rights,” Judge Gallagher, a Trump appointee, said Thursday in her ruling.


4. Preserving religious conscience protections, Federal law should protect religious conscience, not denigrate it.

By Moishe Bane and Nathan Diament, The Washington Times, November 19, 2019, Pg. B3, Opinion
Moishe Bane is president, and Nathan Diament is executive director of public policy, of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

Earlier this month, a federal judge in New York struck down a new federal regulation protecting the rights of doctors, nurses and other health care workers to decline to participate in medical procedures that violate their conscientious objections. The rule was intended to ensure that medical professionals would not be compelled to sacrifi ce their profession and livelihood in order to adhere to their religious beliefs and practices.

American law, both legislative and judicial, has a magnificent tradition of accommodating the rights and needs of individuals with conflicting interests. Surely, such mutual accommodations should be the aspiration of regulations regarding health and medical care. Sadly, in certain contexts — such as regarding women’s reproductive rights and euthanasia — achieving a balanced approach to competing rights is not the goal of some judges and legislators who instead seek to diminish and dismiss the rights of those Americans committed to abide by their religious tenets.

Our courts and our culture must be reminded that America was founded by those who were seeking religious freedom; that is why they enshrined its protection in the First Amendment. A devout Jewish doctor who declines to issue an assisted-suicide prescription shouldn’t be forced to choose between her career and conscience any more than a faithful Catholic attorney who doesn’t want to work on a death penalty case, or a committed feminist web designer who doesn’t want to build a pornographic website.

Mutual respect is the cornerstone of civil society. It is imperative that as Americans we recognize that a profound respect for religious conscience is essential to such civility.


5. 5 things to know about Pope Francis’ visit to Thailand.

The Associated Press, November 19, 2019

Pope Francis arrives in Thailand on Wednesday for the first visit here by the head of the Roman Catholic Church since St. John Paul II in 1984. Some things to know about the visit and the history of the church in Thailand:


Francis is certain to address some of the major social concerns he often highlights, but his visit is largely a morale-boosting exercise for the Catholic community. His video message ahead of his trip says he will meet Thai Catholics “to encourage them in their faith and in the contribution they make to the whole of society. They are Thais and must work for their homeland.” He also said he wants to highlight the importance of interreligious dialogue and cooperation, especially in the service of the poor and peace.


Francis often tailors his messages to the venues where he speaks. He will speak publicly at two Masses, one of them at a stadium before a projected crowd of 50,000 where he will talk about human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and children, both of which are longstanding issues in the region.


6. Rich in dramatic Catholic history, Nagasaki awaits the pope.

By Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press, November 19, 2019

It’s fitting that Pope Francis will start his first official visit to Japan in Nagasaki, the city where Christianity first took hold in the country and where nearly 500 years later it remains steeped in blood-soaked symbolism, both religious and political.

It was here that a small group of beleaguered Catholic converts went deep underground during centuries of violent persecution. It was here that their descendants dramatically emerged from hiding in the 19th century, their faith unbroken. And it was here that a U.S. atom bomb brought death and destruction to the cathedral that community was finally able to build.


7. Vatican finance guru’s exit suggests ‘Back to the Future’ dynamic on reform.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, November 19, 2019

The latest case in point comes with the departure Monday of René Brülhart, the Swiss lawyer who, since 2012, has led a new anti-money laundering watchdog unit created under Pope emeritus Benedict XVI.

In a statement on Monday, the Vatican said Brülhart is departing at the end of his term and that a successor has already been chosen and will take office as soon as the pope is back from his Nov. 19-26 trip to Thailand and Japan, in order to assure “continuity of institutional action.”

In other words, nothing to see here, all quiet on the Roman front.

Except, of course, that’s hogwash.

First of all, the president of the Financial Information Authority (AIF) has no fixed term of office. Thus, to assert that it’s the end of a non-existent “mandate” is prima facie dubious.

Further, Brülhart himself debunked that claim in a comment Monday to Reuters, in which he made it clear that he had resigned, not simply completed a term.

The background is clear to anyone who’s been following recent vicissitudes in terms of the Vatican’s financial operation.

Today it’s difficult to resist the sense that Rome is headed back to the future, meaning a situation in which financial management is lodged with a largely Italian nexus of clerics and lay financiers, and where power dynamics have at least as much impact on outcomes as financial norms and best practices.

Perhaps it’s unreasonable to expect the Vatican’s communications team to put all that in a statement, at least quite so bluntly. Just don’t try to tell us there’s nothing to see here, when the eye test reveals something else indeed.


8. Venerable Fulton Sheen to be beatified in December.

Catholic News Agency, November 18, 2019, 2:42 PM

The Diocese of Peoria announced Monday that Venerable Fulton Sheen will be beatified Dec. 21 at the city’s Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception.

Sheen had been ordained a priest of the diocese in that cathedral Sept. 20, 1919.

“It seems entirely fitting that the Beatification will take place at the end of this 100-year anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood,” the Peoria diocese stated Nov. 18.

Sheen was born in Illinois in 1895, and was 24 when he was ordained a priest.

He was appointed auxiliary bishop of New York in 1951, and he remained there until his appointment as Bishop of Rochester in 1966. He retired in 1969 and moved back to New York City until his death in 1979.

Sheen was a beloved television catechist during the 1950s and ’60s in the United States. His television show “Life is Worth Living” reached an audience of millions.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints promulgated a decree July 6 recognizing a miracle attributed to Sheen’s intercession, which allowed for his beatification.


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