1. Philadelphia’s Catholic adoption agency gave me a loving home, but the city wants them out, Forcing faith-based foster, adoption agencies to close in the name of equality ensures children will receive unequal love, unequal opportunity.

By Adrienne Cox, USA Today, Opinion Contributor, October 1, 2019, 4:00 AM

Like all foster parents welcoming a new child, when the Perrys first opened their front door and welcomed me into their home, they didn’t know what to expect. But they were certain of one thing, a lesson Winnie Perry — “mom,” to me — repeated to me time and time again: “Despite your past, you can do anything.” Though I maintained a close relationship with my birth mother throughout my childhood, the Perrys became my family; their home, mine; and my dreams, theirs. They were an invaluable gift in my life, a gift I am now paying forward as a foster-turned adoptive mother myself.

None of it would have been possible without the unceasing support of our agency, Catholic Social Services (CSS). Neither I nor the Perrys are Catholic, but that didn’t matter to them. What matters to them is one thing: placing children into loving nd safe homes where they will have the same chance to flourish as those children born into such privilege.

The men and women at CSS work on the front lines of America’s most broken relationships, picking up the shattered dreams of children and piecing them back together with tenderness and compassion.

But now, those values and the work of Catholic Social Services are under attack. The city of Philadelphia, my hometown, has cut ties with CSS because of the agency’s religious beliefs about the definition of marriage. In March 2018, the city placed a freeze on any new intakes to the agency, ending a decades-long relationship.

The agency, which has offered foster care services for even longer than the city itself, is appealing Philadelphia’s decision to end its contract to the Supreme Court. The city argues that the agency placing children in accordance with its religious view of marriage discriminates against gay couples, despite the fact that no gay couple had ever applied or been turned away. Had they done so, they would have been referred to one of the many other agencies in the area. Overnight, couples who were preparing to work with CSS to care for the neediest of children realized their homes would stay empty.

In Philadelphia’s case, even as the city cut ties with agencies devoted to placing children in loving homes, it put out an urgent call last year for 300 new foster families to help.

Having gone through the foster care system myself and having fostered two of my own children through CSS, I know how Catholic Social Services supports foster families and the children they nurture. To force the agency to shut down forever would be to rob countless children of the loving homes they deserve and to steal their dreams for a better future. To do it in the name of equality would be the ultimate tragedy.


2. Antiabortion law spreads in East Texas as ‘sanctuary city for the unborn’ movement expands.

By Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, Washington Post Online, October 1, 2019, 7:00 AM

City council meetings in East Texas address typical small-town issues, such as road contract approvals, tree removal and street closures for fall festivals and high school homecoming parades.

But a far more controversial agenda item has been appearing in this deeply conservative region of rural America: abortion.

Labeling it “murder with malice,” a growing number of town councils have been passing abortion bans and declaring themselves “sanctuary cities for the unborn.” Five towns have adopted the restrictive ordinance, which outlaws emergency contraception such as Plan B, criminalizes reproductive rights groups and fines doctors $2,000 for performing the procedure. A sixth East Texas town has adopted a more lenient version of the ordinance.

The activist behind the movement, Mark Lee Dickson, said he and antiabortion group Texas Right to Life plan to travel to more than 400 Texas municipalities to pitch the ban.


3. Pope meets with Jesuit targeted by right for gay outreach.

By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, September 30, 2019, 11:10 AM

Pope Francis met privately Monday with an American Jesuit who has been attacked by conservative U.S. Catholics for reaching out to gays, the latest evidence of Francis’ willingness to shrug off right-wing criticism for the sake of his pastoral priorities.

The Vatican listed the audience with the Rev. James Martin among the pope’s daily activities, in a sign that Francis wanted it publicized. Since only some of Francis’ private meetings are announced, the implicit message was a public vote of confidence in Martin’s ministry.


4. Investigator: Archdiocese meeting obligation in abuse crisis.

By Jim Mustian, The Associated Press, September 30, 2019, 1:34 PM

An independent investigator praised the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York for its response to the sexual abuse crisis, saying no priest or deacon remains in ministry in the Manhattan-based archdiocese who has been credibly abused of sexual abuse.

Barbara Jones, a former federal judge, said Monday she received “complete access” to archdiocese records during her yearlong review, in which she examined some 2,000 personnel files and conducted dozens of interviews. Church officials are adhering to strict protocols when they receive allegations of abuse involving members of the clergy, she said.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan said he commissioned the review a year ago in a bid to restore confidence in parishioners who questioned the credibility of the church in the wake of repeated revelations of abuse involving Catholic clergy.

A compensation program the archdiocese created in 2016 has paid more than $67 million to 338 victims, Jones said, noting the vast majority of complaints have been against deceased clergy.

The archdiocese has received only two “substantiated complaints” against priests involving sexual abuse that occurred after 2002, she said.

That was the year that hundreds of American bishops convened in Dallas and adopted a comprehensive set of procedures intended to protect children.


5. Judge issues mixed ruling in Virginia abortion law challenge.

By Denise Lavoie, The Associated Press, September 30, 2019, 10:31 PM

A federal judge on Monday upheld a Virginia law requiring women to undergo an ultrasound and wait at least 24 hours before having an abortion, as well as the state’s “physician-only law” barring nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants from performing abortions.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson came in a lawsuit that challenged four Virginia laws that opponents say restrict access to abortion in the state.

Hudson overturned two state laws, including one requiring all second-trimester abortions to be performed at a licensed outpatient hospital and regulations that would have required clinics that provide first-trimester abortions to meet the same facility requirements as general and surgical hospitals.


6. Shelter says it beat back rule it take transgender women.

By Rachel D’Oro, The Associated Press, September 30, 2019, 11:06 PM

A faith-based Anchorage women’s shelter claimed victory Monday in a lawsuit against the city over a requirement that it accept transgender women.

The city has agreed to make permanent a judge’s recent order affecting the downtown Hope Center shelter, conservative Christian law firm Alliance Defending Freedom and city attorneys said in documents filed Monday in federal court. In August, U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason issued an injunction preventing the city from applying its gender identity law to the shelter.

The injunction showed the city it was unlikely to succeed in further litigation, Anchorage Municipal Attorney Becky Windt Pearson said. The consent decree filed Monday treats the shelter as a private accommodation, which means the public protection law does not apply to it, she said.

The plaintiffs maintain the person identified only as “Jessie Doe” showed up inebriated after hours in January 2018 and was not turned away because of gender. The shelter officials even paid for a taxi to take her to a hospital for treatment of a forehead wound from fighting at another shelter, according to alliance attorneys.

The same individual showed up the following day and again was denied entry, according to the motion for a preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs say they want the federal court to make clear that the shelter is not violating the law.


7. Fr. James Martin: Pope was ‘attentive, welcoming and warm’ during meeting.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, September 30, 2019

On Monday, Pope Francis met with Jesuit Father James Martin, an American priest who has dedicated most of the past three years to ministering to LGBT Catholics, whom he describes as the “most marginalized group” in the Catholic Church.

Francis and Martin spoke for half an hour, in between two other meetings the pope had that day: The conference of bishops from the Pacific, currently in Rome for their regular ad limina pilgrimage to the Holy See, and a delegation of missionary institutes founded in Italy.

Speaking with Crux, Martin said that the pontiff was an “incredibly attentive listener” who, based on the questions he asked his fellow Jesuit, “clearly cares for” LGBT people.

Martin is the author of the 2017 book Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.

According to New Ways Ministry, an advocacy group for LGBT Catholics, the meeting “refutes the unjustified barrage of criticism [Martin] has received from a minority of church leaders and other anti-LGBTQ sectors of the church.”


8. Independent report released on New York archdiocese abuse response.

Catholic News Agency, September 30, 2019, 4:30 PM

An independent reviewer for the Archdiocese of New York has found overall compliance with proper protocols for reports of sexual abuse, while offering recommendations to further strengthen the archdiocese’s response to abuse cases.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan commissioned retired federal judge Barbara Jones in September 2018 to give her “honest, objective assessment” of the diosesan protocols for responding to allegations of sexual abuse.

Among other findings, Jones found that no archdiocesan priest or deacon with a substantiated complaint of abuse of a minor is currently in ministry. She said the archdiocese’s current processes for dealing with abuse complaints are “working very well.”

“Overall, I have found that the Archdiocese has complied with the Charter in all material respects. It has faithfully followed its policies and procedures and responded appropriately to abuse complaints, and is committed to supporting victims-survivors of abuse,” Jones wrote in her report, while also citing several recommendations for “enhancements” to current practices.

Nearly 300 lawsuits are pending against the eight dioceses in New York state, The Journal News reports, many of them filed in recent weeks, as the state of New York has created a one-year window extending the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse victims.


9. Supreme Court to Decide High-Stakes ‘LGBT’ Cases Amid Partisan Scrutiny, The three cases will ask the justices to decide whether federal law barring discrimination based on ‘sex’ applies to ‘gay’ and ‘transgender’ employees.

By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, September 30, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court will begin its 2019-2020 term with a thunderclap: a trio of cases that could result in the extension of federal employment protections that now bar discrimination based on “sex” to encompass workers who identify as “gay” or “transgender.”

“When Title VII passed in 1964, there is no question that Congress at that time did not intend to include gender identity or sexual orientation, and most appellate courts have recognized that,” said Eric Kniffin, a Colorado-based attorney who specializes in religious-freedom issues in the workplace.

“But some courts have opened up these cases” to a different statutory interpretation, Kniffin told the Register, and a Supreme Court ruling that sides with the employees’ argument could have far-reaching consequences for religious employers in particular.

On Oct. 8, the justices will first hear consolidated oral arguments for Altitude Express v. Zarda and Bostock v. Clayton County, two cases brought by employees who contend that their sexual orientation led to their dismissal.

They claim that this action violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, though the language of the statute does not specify legal protection for employees fired because of their sexual orientation.

The employers counter that when Congress passed Title VII more than a half-century ago, it never intended that the law prohibit discrimination based on other categories like sexual orientation.

The federal statute, they say, simply asks employers to treat members of one sex no differently than the opposite sex, and if it is time to revisit that law, Congress, not the courts, should do so.


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