1. How the Chinese government stifles religious faith, The Communist Party comes first and all religions must fall in line.

By Chris Smith, The Washington Times, September 28, 2018, Pg. B1, Opinion

Whatever was behind that question, religious freedom conditions in China have not improved because of it. Quite the opposite, in fact, as Mr. Xi has personally launched efforts to “sinacize religion,” the central government has issued commands to each provincial party secretary, making them responsible for bringing religion in line with Communist Party ideology. On Thursday, I chaired a hearing of the House global human rights subcommittee on this very matter — China’s war on Christianity and other faiths.

On a trip to China in 1994, I had the awesome privilege of meeting with Bishop Su Zhimin, a leader of the underground Catholic Church. Bishop Su’s body bore witness to the brutality of China’s Communist Party. He was beaten, starved and tortured for his faith and spent some 40 years in prison. Yet, he prayed not just for the persecuted church, but for the conversion of those who hate, torture and kill.

Unfortunately, only couple years later Bishop Su was arrested again and disappeared. He has not been heard from since.

The deal is reportedly provisional and full details are yet unknown. The devil is always in the details — including the fate of 30 underground bishops and Holy See relations with Taiwan — but with all the efforts underway to forcibly “sinacize religion,” it certainly seems an odd time to strike a deal with Xi Jinping’s China. I hope and pray this agreement will bring true religious freedom for Catholics in China, who have suffered so much to maintain their faith.


2. Accuser denounces pope’s silence over abuse cover-up claims.

By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, September 28, 2018

The former Vatican ambassador who accused three popes and their advisers of covering up for a disgraced American ex-cardinal has challenged the Vatican to say what it knows about the scandal and accused Pope Francis of mounting a campaign of “subtle slander” against him.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano penned a new missive a month after his initial 11-page document sent shockwaves through the Catholic Church. It was uploaded to a document-sharing site late Thursday.

Vigano denounced the official Vatican silence about his claims and urged the current head of the Vatican bishops’ office to speak out, saying he has all the documentation needed to prove years of cover-up by the Vatican about alleged sexual misconduct by ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Vigano threw Francis’ papacy into turmoil last month when he accused Francis of rehabilitating McCarrick from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI. He accused more than two dozen current and former Vatican officials, as well as a host of U.S. bishops and papal advisers, of being part of the cover-up and called for Francis to resign over the scandal.

Francis removed McCarrick as a cardinal in July after a U.S. church investigation determined an allegation he fondled a teenage altar boy in the 1970s was credible. After news broke of the investigation, several former seminarians and priests came forward to report that they, too, had been abused or harassed by McCarrick as adults.


3. How the USCCB could pitch a Vatican-backed McCarrick probe.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, September 28, 2018

Two weeks after the fact, three points seem clear about a Sept. 13 audience between Pope Francis and the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, including Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the conference president, and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, the vice president.

Trying to make sense of the papal “no,” many observers wonder if the USCCB leadership may have misplayed its hand by announcing in advance what they wanted the pope to approve – in effect painting him into a corner, a position no pope ever wants to be in.

So, we seem to find ourselves in a position in which answers can’t be obtained without the pope’s backing, and to date that backing has not been granted. How can that gap be closed?


4. How Roe v. Wade Has Shaped Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Battle.

By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, September 27, 2018

On Sept. 4, the first day of Kavanaugh’s hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, placed Roe v. Wade front and center, as she recalled the deaths of women from illegal abortions during the 1950s and 1960s and expressed alarm that women could face such tragic choices again.

“[H]ow you make a judgment on these issues is really important to our vote as whether to support you or not,” Feinstein told Kavanaugh in an opening statement. “I don’t want to go back to those death tolls.”

The intense focus on the future of Roe v. Wade may surprise some voters. But Feinstein’s statement was entirely predictable: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas — all nominated by Republican presidents who sought to name originalist jurists (those who interpret the meaning of the Constitution as stable since the time of its establishment) — faced the same questions about whether Roe was “settled” law or vulnerable to a constitutional challenge.

“Sometimes the tactics that are used or controversies that arise may mask the fact that Roe’s future remains a primary feature of the confirmation process,” Thomas Jipping, deputy director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation, told the Register. 

But the “engine” that drives the conflict “is abortion and the possibility that the court may change its position on whether the Constitution protects the right to abortion.”

In the past half-century since the high court’s legalization of abortion, said Teresa Collett, a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas, “pro-choice women, including Justices Ruth Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, have characterized abortion as a necessary precondition to sexual equality.”