1. US Judicial group launches digital ads opposing ‘religious litmus test’. 

By Catholic News Service, September 19, 2017

The Washington-based Judicial Crisis Network launched a 10-day digital ad campaign on 15 September, objecting to a US Democratic senator grilling a Catholic judicial nominee on 6 September about what impact her faith would have on her interpretation of the law.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, spurred outrage about possible religious tests for judicial appointees with the questions she put to Amy Coney Barrett, nominee for a seat on the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Judicial Crisis Network, a group that describes itself as dedicated to strengthening liberty and justice in America, called Feinstein’s grilling of the nominee “disgusting and repulsive.” The ad, under the headline “Catholics Need Not Apply,” is appearing on YouTube and Twitter and also can be viewed at https://judicialnetwork.com/multimedia.

“This is going to be known as ‘Feinstein’s Folly.’ Her line of questioning reeked of ‘No Catholics Need Apply,’ while ignoring Professor Barrett’s stellar qualifications, experience and fierce commitment to defending the Constitution,” said Carrie Severino, the network’s chief counsel and policy director.

Richard Garnett, also a University of Notre Dame law professor, said Feinstein’s line of questioning seemed to say “because you’re a Catholic, you can’t be believed.”

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, said the hearing was “deeply disappointing” since a number of senators failed to “simply consider the professional achievements of a nominee for the federal judiciary” and instead “challenged her fitness to serve due to her Catholic faith.”

In a broadcast on SiriusXM’s “The Catholic Channel,” New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan decried that “this wonderful woman (Barrett) with impeccable legal credentials who has been nominated by the president of the United States for (a) federal judgeship, was submitted to insulting remarks about her faith.”


2. Oregon governor celebrates law making abortions free for all, including illegal immigrants. 

By Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, September 19, 2017, Pg. A6

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown held a signing ceremony Monday to commemorate a new law making abortion free for everyone in the state, including illegal immigrants.

Jonathan Lockwood, a spokesman for the Oregon Senate Republicans, said celebrating abortion may be macabre, but it’s not surprising given that Ms. Brown was an abortion rights lobbyist before entering public life.

The first-of-its-kind law went into effect immediately after it was signed and requires Oregon insurers to provide 100 percent of the cost of abortions without co-pays or deductibles.

Qualifying state residents covered by Providence Health Care, a nonprofit Catholic insurance company that does not provide abortions, will be reimbursed for the procedure by the state.


3. When Democrats try to impose a ‘religious test’: It’s unconstitutional, but that didn’t stop Democratic senators questioning a judicial nominee. 

By David Keene, David A. Keene is editor at large at The Washington Times, The Washington Times, September 19, 2017, Pg. B3, Opinion

The attempted Senate mugging of Notre Dame law professor Amy Coney Barrett by Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin was ugly and may have amounted to an attempt to impose an unconstitutional “religious test” on a judicial nominee seeking Senate confirmation, but said more about the muggers than their intended victim.

Professor Barrett is a highly respected academic and has been nominated to the 7th Circuit Court of appeals. She is also a practicing Catholic and once clerked for the late Antonin Scalia, two little facts that not only trouble her intrepid questioners, but in their minds, raise questions as to whether she is qualified to sit as a judge on any court. Indeed, it is the fact that the woman is a church-going “orthodox catholic” that the two find unacceptable. Mrs. Feinstein seems to equate any religious beliefs troubling in the secular society in which we live today and is particularly wary of, well, Catholics.

Mr. Durbin, the second ranking Democrat in the Senate, just plain doesn’t like Catholics who, unlike him, take their religion seriously. 

The two ganged up on Ms. Barrett, charging that her “dogmatic” beliefs would make it difficult if not impossible for her to act fairly as a judge because those beliefs would trump precedent, clear laws and the constitution and went so far as to suggest that she had said in an article she had written more than two decades ago that this is what she would do.

It turns out, of course, that she wrote nothing of the sort and believes no such thing.

What does this tell us about the good senators’ motives? They either consciously distorted what the professor had written, were incapable of understanding the words they read or, as is more likely, never read the article on which they based their attacks on a nominee they would do anything or almost anything to send packing.

In recent years Democratic senators have tended to outsource research on judicial nominees to “progressive” outside groups dedicated to finding ways to defeat nominees who aren’t left-wing enough to satisfy their ideological tests. It turns out that the Alliance for Justice provided the senators a research paper filled with “fake news” about the professor and her background and that her questioners swallowed it whole.

Getting caught peddling fake “evidence” against a judicial nominee should make senators like Ms. Feinstein and Mr. Durbin more cautious about what they say in the future, but one doubts that will happen.


4. Up and down Latin America, it’s been a busy week in Catholic news.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, September 19, 2017

Here’s a review of what’s been happening lately in the single largest Catholic zone on the global map, including Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela.

Chile, abortion, and an Evangelical “Te Deum”

In Chile, there’s an ongoing conflict over a Te Deum event, a traditional Catholic ceremony for which there’s now also an Evangelical version. This year in the Evangelical gathering, the country’s president was attacked both by preachers and the audience, mostly for partially legalizing abortion and presenting a bill to approve gay marriage.

On Sept. 10, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet left Chile’s Evangelical Cathedral angered, after the pastor (who’s also a candidate for Chile’s House of Representatives), Eduardo Durán Salinas, asserted that with the abortion and gay marriage moves, “minority groups” managed to advance “an agenda that doesn’t even have the support of the majority of the population.”

When Bachelet arrived at the church, people shouted at her, calling her a “national shame” and a “murderer.”

Argentina: The Church asks for forgiveness

In the city of Paraná, Argentina, located in the state of Entre Rios some 300 miles from Buenos Aires, a priest has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for sexually abusing four altar boys aged 10-17.

The archdiocese released a statement calling the sentence for a crime that “justly” shakes human consciences a “very painful thing.”

“We energetically reject this grave crime, and we’re full of shame and pain every time that one of our priests is accused of committing it,” the archdiocese said on Friday.

“We humbly ask for forgiveness for the hurt that situations which, like this one, cause pain to the People of God and society,” said the statement, published on the day of the sentence.

In Venezuela, the bishops had to deny a new saint

Rumors about the Vatican greenlighting a sainthood cause for doctor José Gregorio Hernández, a native Venezuelan, grew so quickly they had to be denied by the country’s bishops’ conference.

In Brazil, a rally calling for religious tolerance

On Sunday, thousands took to the streets of the sprawling Brazilian metropolis of Rio de Janeiro to denounce what they perceived to be a growing climate of religious intolerance in the country, particularly against followers of cults of African origin.

Followers of candomblé and umbanda, two traditions impregnated by the beliefs of former African slaves, have recently been victims of attacks in Brazil’s infamous favelas, or slums, mostly perpetrated by people recently converted to Pentecostal churches that have flourished in the country in the past decades.

Cardinal Orani Tempesta, the Catholic Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, called his faithful to participate in the march to show solidarity with adherents of the alternative faiths, as did Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist leaders in the country.


5. Bioethics expert says ‘de-valuing’ human beings is 21st century malady.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, September 18, 2017

According to one of the Church’s leading experts on bioethics… Human beings are being “de-personalized” – which is a phenomenon, he says, Catholicism is uniquely equipped to address.

Dr. John Haas, President of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, the largest educational and advocacy group on bioethics in the Catholic world, headquartered in Philadelphia, offered a specific example.

Haas recently spoke to Crux about challenges arising in the field of bioethics, including the recent Charlie Gard case in the UK, and the Catholic purchase on those issues. The following are excerpts from that conversation.

Crux: What is the National Catholic Bioethics Center?

Haas: We’re fundamentally a think tank. We were established back in 1972, a long time ago, by the Catholic Hospital Association, to be an educational resource to address ethical questions arising from medicine and the life sciences. Basically, that was it.

Over the years, we’ve grown and developed. We’re probably the largest bioethical institute in the Catholic world. We have seven doctoral level bioethicists working for us, and we’re the largest Catholic publisher in the area of bioethics. We provide a consultation service, with over 2,000 consultations in the course of a year … I don’t know anybody out there who comes close to that.

Talk about your educational efforts.

One of the most important things we do is a workshop we hold every other year, to which we invite all the bishops of Canada, the United States, Mexico and Central America and the Caribbean. We do it in Dallas, Texas, and they attend workshops and reflect on bioethical issues they have to face in their pastoral role as bishops.

One recent bioethics drama pivoted on the Charlie Gard case in the UK, an infant with a rare genetic disorder whose parents wanted to seek experimental treatment but who were overruled by a British court. What’s the main take-away from the case seen through Catholic eyes?

In the case of Charlie Gard, it would have been legitimate to stop the interventions, according to Catholic teaching. However, also according to Catholic teaching, the decision should have rested with the patient or his proxies, in this case the parents since the child was incapable of making his own decisions.


6. Cardinal Gracias: curial reform is nearing the ‘end of the tunnel’.

By Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency, September 18, 2017, 1:57 PM

Nearly four years after the Pope established his Council of Cardinal advisers to help him in the task of reforming the Roman Curia, one member of the group said their work is wrapping up, and that it could take only a few more meetings to finish what they set out to do.

The ongoing process of reform “is being done at various stages of development, and I hope we’ll come to an end in all of these matters soon,” Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay told CNA Sept. 14.

“It will take two or three more meetings more,” he said, adding that “by June perhaps we’ll be seeing the end of the tunnel.”

Cardinal Gracias is also President of the Asian Bishops Conference and in 2013 was chosen by the Pope along with eight other prelates from around the world to advise him in matters of Church governance and reform.

He said a key goal of the C9  is to implement the vision of the Second Vatican Council, specifically when it comes to the importance of the role of the laity and women, and incorporating greater synodality and collegiality into the Church’s structures.

From the beginning Pope Francis “had very clear what he wanted this group to do,” the cardinal said. “He had no hesitation, he’s a good leader. He had a clear vision.”