1. Anti-Catholic Bigotry Returns to the Senate. 

By Ann Corkery, Ann Corkery is a lawyer in Washington, D.C., and a former delegate to U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, Real Clear Politics, September 14, 2017

I wonder how Daniel Patrick Moynihan would have responded to the Catholic baiting employed by two of his onetime Senate Democratic colleagues last week. Moynihan, who served in office until 2001 – and died in 2003 — noted that anti-Catholicism remains an “acceptable prejudice.” But even he would have been surprised by the sheer ugliness of the descent into anti-Catholicism exhibited by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin last week.

It came while Moynihan’s former Democratic colleagues were interrogating Notre Dame Law School professor and appeals court nominee Amy Coney Barrett about her faith during last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.While ostensibly exploring the nominee’s judicial temperament, Feinstein instead targeted Barrett’s fealty to Catholic teaching. “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said. “And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.”

Durbin was even more direct in his roasting of Barrett’s faith. He took issue with the phrase “orthodox Catholic,” which Barrett used in a two-decades-old law review article, on the grounds that it somehow marginalizes politically liberal Catholics: “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” Durbin asked her.

What he was getting at, of course, was his own support for abortion, the dogma that lives loudly within almost all elected Democrats these days, and it was hardly made better by Durbin’s declaration that he was the product of 19 years of Catholic education. Feinstein put this bluntly. “You are controversial—let’s start with that,” California’s senior senator told Barrett at the outset of her questioning. “You’re controversial because many of us who have lived our lives as women really recognize the value of finally being able to control our reproductive systems, and Roe entered into that, obviously. … You have a long history of believing that your religious beliefs should prevail.” Actually, Barrett has no history of any such thing. In response to Feinstein, she declined to discuss her personal view of Roe v. Wade, but said simply — and under oath: “I would commit, if confirmed, to follow unflinchingly all Supreme Court precedent.”

That didn’t mollify her Democratic interrogators. Sen. Mazie Hirono peppered Barrett with similar questions. “You wrote about the duty of Catholic judges in capital cases,” the Hawaii lawmaker said. “In spite of the fact that you had written in an earlier article that Catholic judges—and you would be a Catholic judge—you would not recuse yourself from death-penalty cases?”

The Democrats’ ambush wasn’t spontaneous. They were relying on a hit piece by the Alliance for Justice, a progressive group that amassed a dossier attacking Barrett. The AFJ report obsesses on a 1998 law review that Barrett, then a law student, co-authored with John H. Garvey, now the president of Catholic University.

Their article explores an intricate question of law and theology question: Should federal judges who are Catholic — and who adhere to church teaching in opposition to capital punishment — recuse themselves in federal death penalty cases? What followed was a nuanced exploration in which the authors eventually came to two conclusions: First, the dilemma they were writing about was actually pretty rare; second, when it came down to it, “judges cannot – nor should they try to – align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge.”

This conclusion should have satisfied even the most secular Democrat. Except that the Democrats assailing Ann Barrett’s integrity almost certainly didn’t read the original law review article. They read a progressive special interest group’s caricature of it, which explains their off-point and confused questioning.

The upshot is that Democrats have taken to insinuating that a Catholic judge – at least one who takes his or her faith seriously – cannot to be trusted to follow the law over the tenets of his or her religion. 

Moreover, a faithful judge need not be a faithless judge. Catholic tradition from Saint Augustine to Saint Thomas Aquinas  to Saint Thomas More makes clear that “Catholics can be true to their faith and true to the law in our pluralistic democracy.” Those are the words of one of the giants of the federal bench – from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which takes in Feinstein’s California, no less. That’s Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, who recently took senior status after serving on the court since 1986.

Powerful, but no less so than the impressive Professor Amy Barrett’s reply to Durbin on the day of her recent, well, inquisition: “If you’re asking whether I’m a faithful Catholic, I am, although I would stress that my own personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear on the discharge of my duties as a judge.”


2. Senate Democrats show off their anti-religious bigotry. 

By Michael Gerson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, September 14, 2017, 7:57 PM

Some political tastes linger in the mouth like spoiled milk or a bad oyster.

Consider the shockingly shabby treatment recently accorded by some Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to Amy Coney Barrett, a law professor at Notre Dame Law School who is being considered for a position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Her questioners displayed a confusion of the intellect so profound, a disregard for constitutional values so reckless, that it amounts to anti-religious bigotry.

It fell to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), however, to explicitly declare Barrett part of a suspect class.

Where to start? How about with the fact that Feinstein’s line of questioning was itself a violation of the Constitution?

How about Feinstein’s indifference to the sordid history of anti-Catholic bias?

How about Feinstein’s ignorance of religion itself? In defending her animus, she called particular attention to Barrett’s statement that Christians should be “building the kingdom of God.” That would be the kingdom that Jesus insisted is “not of this world,” much to the confusion of 1st-century politicians. It is a description of transformed hearts, not a prescription for theocracy.

But the deeper problem is a certain type of liberal thinking that seeks to declare secular ideas the only valid basis for public engagement.

This is a thin and sickly sort of pluralism. It is permissible, in this approach, to advocate human rights because John Locke says so, but not because of a theological belief that the image of God is found in every human being. If your views on a just society are informed by John Stuart Mill, they are allowed to triumph in politics. If your views on a just society are informed by your deepest beliefs about the cosmos, you can never prevail, because this represents the imposition of religion. This is hardly “neutrality.” It is a conception of pluralism that silences millions of people and reaches back into history to invalidate the abolition movement, the civil rights movement and many other causes informed by boisterous religious belief.

In effect, Feinstein would make her secularism the state religion, complete with its own doctrine and Holy Office. A judge is bound by the Constitution, not by any creed — as Barrett has affirmed again and again. But having a conscience and a character shaped by faith is not a problem; it is part of a rich and positive American tradition. Someone should inform the grand inquisitor.


3. Senate Panel Backs Judicial Picks Amid Stir Over Religion: Sen. Dianne Feinstein questioned Catholic nominee’s ability to be impartial, upsetting some conservatives. 

By Brent Kendall, The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2017, Pg. A4

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved four of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees on Thursday, amid a stir caused by a recent back-and-forth over the relationship between a nominee’s religious beliefs and her potential performance as a judge.

At a hearing last week, the committee heard from several nominees including Amy Barrett, a Notre Dame law professor whom Mr. Trump has nominated to the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Chicago.

A handful of Democrats, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), asked questions related to Ms. Barrett’s faith and whether she could separate her religious beliefs from her duty of impartiality as a judge.

“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” Ms. Feinstein said.

Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John Jenkins, sent the senator a letter saying, “It is chilling to hear from a United States Senator that this might now disqualify someone from service as a federal judge.”

Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber sent a letter to Sens. Grassley and Feinstein urging the committee to “refrain from interrogating nominees about the religious or spiritual foundations of their jurisprudential views.”

Ms. Feinstein has since said she has never imposed a religious test on nominees and was only attempting to scrutinize whether Ms. Barrett could be impartial.

The panel didn’t vote Thursday on Ms. Barrett’s nomination, which is likely to come up in October.


4. House votes to repeal D.C.’s Death With Dignity law; Senate has yet to act. 

By Jenna Portnoy, The Washington Post, September 15, 2017, Pg. B2

The U.S. House on Thursday passed a spending bill that would block five laws affecting the District of Columbia, including the city’s new assisted-suicide law.

The bill would also block the District from spending money to subsidize abortion for low-income residents; regulate the sale of marijuana; or carry out a law that says employers cannot discriminate against workers based on their reproductive decisions, such as whether to take birth control or seek an abortion.

Another measure would prevent the city from spending money without federal permission, what city advocates call budget autonomy.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the District’s nonvoting representative in Congress, must now rely on the Senate to not take up and approve identical measures. If the Senate does not act, it would effectively stall for another year congressional efforts to rein in the District through spending-related measures.


5. Catholic leaders trying to correct sins of Poland’s leaders.

By Monika Scislowska, Associated Press, September 15, 2017, 7:06 AM

Standing at an outdoor pulpit at Poland’s holiest Roman Catholic site, the nation’s top church leader delivered a message to the president and prime minister seated before him: Poland must show compassion to refugees and respect its own Constitution.

Archbishop Wojciech Polak’s words were understood by many Poles as criticism of the country’s conservative leaders.

The archbishop’s admonition, along with disapproving remarks from other religious leaders in the homeland of sainted Pope John Paul II, signal that the influential Catholic Church sees a need to correct the path of the country’s governing politicians.

Law and Justice party came to power in 2015 thanks in part to the support of the church. Parish priests in small towns and villages used their sermons to help the party in its campaign by praising the values it advocated.

A 2016 visit from Pope Francis did little to budge the Polish authorities from their unyielding refusal to accept refugees or migrants. Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, the mother of a priest, often stresses that Poland aids refugees financially and medically in centers outside of Europe, close to their homelands.

The church hierarchy stepped into politics again last week. With gentle language that nonetheless displayed displeasure, five bishops opposed the Polish government’s renewed demand for World War II reparations from Germany. Occupying German Nazis killed nearly a fifth of Poland’s population during the war and left the nation in ruins.

The bishops said that “ill-considered decisions and rash words” could easily destroy the hard-won reconciliation between Poland and Germany.

Some Poles don’t expect criticism from the church to cost the ruling party much support.

“People in small towns will keep listening to their local parish priests, the majority of whom praise the government,” Andrzej Kaminski, 77, a retired engineer said. “The church hierarchy is high and far away and the local priest is right there, with them.”


6. Judged for Being Catholic: The questioning of judicial nominee Amy Barrett exemplified the left’s double-standard toward women.

By Ashley McGuire and Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, Ashley McGuire is a senior fellow with The Catholic Association and the author of “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female” and Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is legal advisor for The Catholic Association Foundation, US News & World Report, September 14, 2017, 10:50 AM

So much for the sisterhood.

In a confirmation hearing for Prof. Amy Barrett’s nomination to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., ripped into Barrett for her Roman Catholic beliefs.

“When you read your speeches,” Feinstein said, “the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.”

By “big issues,” Feinstein means abortion.

Feinstein’s remark was widely mocked on social media, spawning multiples memes about loud-living dogmas. But more seriously, it was a chilling reminder that anti-Catholic bigotry is still alive and well, and that only the women who toe the liberal orthodoxy are spared its wrath.

Barrett is a widely regarded law professor who holds an endowed chair and has been given not once, but twice, the Distinguished Professor of the Year Award. She clerked on the D.C. Circuit Court and the Supreme Court and served until last year on the Advisory Committee for the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, an appointment made by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. She’s been published in leading law journals, and is considered an extraordinarily accomplished and qualified woman.

But thanks to Feinstein and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who jumped in on the Catholic bashing a bit later, we are all focused on Barrett’s religion and whether it disqualifies her. Never mind that the Constitution addresses this in Article Six, where it bars religious tests for office.

Apparently one is only subjected to such a test if one is an orthodox Catholic. In fact, Durbin at one point asked Barrett point blank if she was one.

And once again, we are all reminded of the double standard the left imposes on women: If they uphold abortion orthodoxy, they are barrier-breakers. If not, anything about them, including their deeply held beliefs, is fair game.


7. Despite wing-clipping, Sarah not going quiet in defense of tradition. 

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, September 15, 2017

From a certain point of view, Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea just had his wings clipped. Pope Francis on Saturday took away a considerable share of the control over translations of texts for use in Catholic worship from his Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the sacraments in the Vatican, and assigned it instead to local bishops’ conferences.

In part for that reason, Sarah’s first public appearance in Rome on Thursday, at a conference at the Dominican-sponsored Angelicum University on the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, a document of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI widening permission for celebration of the older Latin Mass, had the feel of a news event.

Sarah, now 72, spoke for almost an hour, and here’s what seems to be the bottom line on where he stands: If anyone expects Sarah now to go gentle into that good night, muting his strenuous defense of liturgical tradition, they can forget it.

Sarah on Thursday came out firing on all cylinders, insisting that Catholic worship is not the place for “creativity and adaptation” because “it has already been adapted,” making it the place where “past, present and future meet in an instant.” He plugged the ad orientem posture at Mass, and issued both a stirring defense of young adepts of the Latin Mass and a strong call to brother bishops to “make space” for them.

Yet equally, if anyone expected Sarah to go to war against his boss, subtly or not-so-subtly suggesting Francis is the problem – as some in the crowd gathered on Thursday have publicly argued he is – they can forget that too.

At several points during his address, Sarah explicitly described Summorum Pontificum as something Benedict initiated and that “Pope Francis has continued.” Never referring to the new motu proprio on translation, Sarah certainly didn’t come anywhere close to criticizing it.

In other words, the take-away seemed to be that Sarah plans to remain precisely what he’s been up to this point – a hero in some ways to the more traditionalist wing of the Church, which gave him loud and sustained applause on Thursday, but not the leader of the in-house opposition.