1. Sex-Abuse Suits Detail Traumas Children Endured.

By Corinne Ramey and Tom McGinty, The Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2019, Pg. A10A

These are among the alleged victims in more than 700 lawsuits filed since Aug. 14, when the state of New York opened a one-year windowduring which people who say they were sexually abused as children can sue their alleged abusers no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.

A Wall Street Journal analysis of court records found 734 lawsuits filed through Sept. 23, many filled with graphic descriptions of childhood trauma. Defendants include hospitals, churches, summer camps, as well as Catholic, Jewish, Quaker and public schools throughout the state. There are also baseball leagues and music schools, after-school clubs and a martial-arts association.

Many lawsuits involve institutions that have previously been accused of abuse. About 550 lawsuits name one of the state’s Catholic dioceses, 40 name the Boy Scouts and 11 name Rockefeller University, which has said a former doctor, who died in 2007, abused patients.

The Catholic church has taken measures to address abuse, including setting up funds to compensate victims


2. The NBA Ref Who Found Religion, Steve Javie planned to retire somewhere warm after a long career as a referee, Then he enrolled in a Catholic seminary.

By Ben Cohen, The Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2019, Pg. A14

Javie officiated his last NBA game in 2011. He soon began studying at his local seminary. He was recently ordained as a deacon by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. And this unexpected turn of events is how he found himself in church one Sunday morning wearing elaborate vestments to deliver a homily

 Javie is still the face of NBA refs even in retirement. As the rules analyst for ESPN, he remains a constant presence on television, a floating head with unmistakable slick hair who explains questionable calls.

There is something oddly religious about the whole thing. The NBA summons Steve Javie to interpret the rules for the masses.

He’s the closest thing there is to a basketball deacon.

There are nearly 20,000 deacons in the U.S., and they have many of the same responsibilities as priests. They even agree to a vow of celibacy if their wives predecease them. Javie is a typical deacon in most ways: 95% are older than 50 and 92% are married, according to U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops data. But in some ways, he’s an outlier: 11% have graduate degrees, and closer to 0% are professional referees.


3. High court cases to test religious liberties, LGBTQ rights, First Amendment at issue.

By Alex Swoyer, The Washington Times, September 28, 2019, Pg. A1

More than a dozen battles over religious liberty, including several clashes with LGBTQ rights, are teed up for the Supreme Court’s 2019 term that opens in October, giving the justices every opportunity to put their mark on the First Amendment.

Religious liberty advocates are eyeing two cases in particular that have already been scheduled and that they say will test the limits of the free exercise of religion.

They warn, though, the docket might become even more consequential after the justices return next month to decide whether to weigh in on battles by Catholic charities, religious private school advocates and Christian wedding vendors clashing with LGBTQ rights.

The series of appeals could reshape the docket and make for a blockbuster year.

“All of these cases give the court a chance to revisit some open lingering issues,” said Mark Rienzi, president of the Becket Fund, a religious liberty legal group.

Meanwhile, Catholic leaders have asked the justices to take a look at a number of legal battles.

One highly watched appeal comes from Catholic Social Services against Philadelphia after the city stopped allowing same-sex couples to serve as foster parents.


4. Catholic bioethics center: Proposed changes to UK surrogacy law would ‘demean pregnancy’.

By Charles Collins, Crux, September 30, 2019

Proposed changes to Britain’s surrogacy laws would lead to the “further demeaning of pregnancy,” according to the leading Catholic bioethics center in the country.

Under current UK law, commercial surrogacy – that is, the hiring of a woman to bear a child for another person or couple – is illegal, although “altruistic surrogacy” is not.

The law also mandates that the surrogate mother is the legal mother of the child at birth, and the intended parents – whether they are the genetic parents or not – have to obtain a court order to end the surrogate’s parental rights and transfer them to the intended parents, a process that cannot be done until at least six weeks after birth.

On June 6, the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission announced their intention to change surrogacy laws in the UK, claiming the current laws are outdated.


5. Pope decries world’s indifference to migrants and refugees.

The Associated Press, September 29, 2019

Pope Francis on Sunday decried “the culture of comfort” that leads to indifference in the face of a global migration and refugee crisis.

The pope who has made caring for migrants a hallmark of his papacy spoke during a Mass for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees.

“We cannot be indifferent to the tragedy of old and new forms of poverty, to the bleak isolation, contempt and discrimination experienced by those who do not belong to ‘our group,’” Francis said. “We cannot remain insensitive, our hearts deadened, before the misery of so many innocent people. We must not fail to weep. We must not fail to respond.”

During his homily Sunday, the pope also noted the weapons that fuel wars are often produced and sold in other regions “which are then unwilling to take in the refugees generated buy these conflicts.”


6. A week that captured the bedeviling complexity of Catholic life.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, September 29, 2019

Few things can be said about Catholicism with absolute certainty, but here’s one: Both people and situations in the Church are almost always more complicated than they may seem.

Two developments this week brought that point home anew, one related to the sexual abuse crisis and the other to the death of an American churchman.

On Wednesday, I moderated a panel on the crisis at the University of Notre Dame that included veteran Catholic journalist Peter Steinfels; Kathleen McChesney, a former FBI official and onetime director of the U.S. bishops’ Office of Child Protection; Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of Chile’s most notorious pedophile priest who’s become a confidante of Pope Francis on the abuse issue; and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore.

Cruz’s comments were probably the most electric of the night, among other things because they opened a window onto the hurt and the anger that abuse generates. His passion for fellow survivors and for reform was palpable.

As for Levada, who died in Rome on Thursday at 83, his story proves that people are rarely the cookie-cutter stereotypes we sometimes make them out to be.

In terms of popular opinion, Levada was often made out to be a strong conservative and culture warrior, a reputation set in cement when Levada was the prime mover behind the decision to launch a Vatican doctrinal investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the main umbrella group for the leadership of American nuns, in 2009.

For sure, Levada was a champion of orthodoxy in the mold of his mentor, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, under whom he briefly worked in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when the future pope took it over in 1981, and whom Levada would later serve as prefect of the congregation from 2005 to 2012.

However, Levada also proved remarkably flexible in several situations in which a truly unrelenting ideologue would have acted differently.


7. Putting women last, The administration joins human rights offenders by opposing reproductive health care.

The Washington Post, September 28, 2019, Pg. A20, Editorial

President Trump’s administration spearheaded a declaration at the United Nations this week calling for the elimination of allegedly “ambiguous” expressions in the body’s documents — primarily, “sexual and reproductive health.” These terms are often used to promote pro-abortion policies, the officials claimed, and “there is no international right to an abortion.”

The move is dispiriting but not surprising. The administration has been on a crusade to replace science-based approaches to women’s health with a focus to “defend life and family.”


8. Judge Rebukes MI Dem For Targeting Religious Foster Care, Judge criticizes attorney general for anti-religious statements.

By Graham Piro, The Free Beacon, September 28, 2019, 5:00 AM

A federal court ruled that Michigan’s Democratic attorney general demonstrated discriminatory “hostility” when she attempted to crack down on religious foster care agencies.

District Court judge Robert Jonker said Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel demonstrated “a hostility towards a religious viewpoint” throughout her campaign and in instituting a policy that would have shuttered religious adoption and foster care agencies if they refused to place children in the homes of same-sex couples. Her accusation that volunteers and staffers at foster care centers were “hate mongers” went to the “heart of the case,” he said in his ruling.

“This case is not about whether same-sex couples can be great parents. They can,” Jonker wrote in his decision. “What this case is about is whether St. Vincent may continue to do this work and still profess and promote the traditional Catholic belief that marriage as ordained by God is for one man and one woman.”

The Catholic Association Foundation, a religious liberty advocacy group, criticized Nessel for hatching “a backdoor agreement to force ideological conformity in the state’s foster care and adoption program” through legal pressure. Religious adoption agencies across the country have shut down in the face of pressure from government regulators over their beliefs on marriage. The St. Vincent decision comes as the Catholic Church wages a similar lawsuit in Philadelphia. Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, the association’s legal adviser, said the Michigan case should provide a blueprint for how the courts should approach the issue.

“A federal judge has stepped in to stop their backroom deal and affirm the rule of law,” she said in a statement. “Both state and federal law protect faith-based agencies like St. Vincent Catholic Charities to find loving homes for needy kids without having to abandon their religious teachings on the family.”


9. Justice Department backs Catholic Church in teacher firing.

The Associated Press, September 27, 2019 4:08 PM

The U.S. Justice Department is supporting Catholic Church leaders in Indianapolis who are being sued over the firing of a teacher in a same-sex marriage.

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband says the First Amendment protects the free exercise of religion and gives faith-based schools the right to associate with some people and not others.


10. Pope warns tech execs to use AI for the common good.

The Associated Press, September 27, 2019, 12:01 PM

Pope Francis on Friday warned tech company executives, diplomats and financiers that the race to create artificial intelligence and other forms of digital development pose the risk of increasing social inequality unless the work is accompanied by an ethical evaluation of the common good.

The three-day gathering is the latest evidence of the Vatican wanting a place in the debate over the prospects and perils of artificial intelligence.

Organizers of the conference said they hoped to tap into participants’ expertise identify possible future advisers for the Catholic Church on high tech issues.


11. A Win for Foster Children, a Loss for Michigan’s Anti-Catholic AG, Social services agencies will be permitted to follow the faith.

By Kathy Schiffer, National Catholic Register, September 27, 2019

Religious liberty scored a major victory Sept. 26 in Michigan, when a federal judge ruled that faith-based foster and adoption agencies may continue to operate, even while maintaining their beliefs about marriage and family.

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, legal adviser for The Catholic Association Foundation, issued a statement following news of the court victory:

Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel and the ACLU thought they could hatch a backdoor agreement to force ideological conformity in the state’s foster care and adoption program and nothing could stop them – not state law, existing contracts or long-established practices.  A federal judge has stepped in to stop their backroom deal and affirm the rule of law. Both state and federal law protect faith-based agencies like St. Vincent Catholic Charities to find loving homes for needy kids without having to abandon their religious teachings on the family.


12. Indiana Abortionist Klopfer’s Conduct Shines Light on Darkness of Abortion, Pro-life advocates stress that the late abortionist’s actions were not outliers, but instead align with previous disturbing revelations about other abortion practitioners.

By Lauretta Brown, National Catholic Register, September 27, 2019

Maureen Ferguson, a senior policy adviser with The Catholic Association, told the Register that the discoveries at Klopfer’s home are just one more example of the way abortionists disregard health-and-safety standards.

“This case totally gives lie to the abortion lobby’s claim that they’re interested in women’s health, because, time and again, we’ve shown that abortion clinics operate in very substandard ways, in terms of health and safety; and the abortion lobby fights health-and-safety regulations all the way up to the Supreme Court,” she argued. “They don’t want oversight in their clinics.”

Ferguson emphasized that Klopfer’s case reveals “the ugly truth of what abortion is and what remains: What remains after abortion is a tiny little human body, and it puts that tragic truth in front of our faces in a way we can’t deny.”


13. Once Again, Progressive Anti-Christian Bigotry Carries a Steep Legal Cost.

By David French, National Review Online, September 27, 2019, 2:20 PM

Last summer, in the days after the Supreme Court decided Masterpiece Cakeshop on the narrow grounds that Colorado had violated Jack Phillips’s religious-liberty rights by specifically disparaging his religious beliefs, a bit of a skirmish broke out among conservative lawyers. How important was the ruling? Did it have any lasting precedential effect?

For those who don’t recall, the Supreme Court ruled for Phillips in large part because a commissioner of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission called Phillips’s claim that he enjoyed a religious-freedom right not to be forced to design a custom cake for a gay wedding a “despicable piece of rhetoric.” The commissioner also denigrated religious-liberty arguments as being used to justify slavery and the Holocaust.

While all agreed that it would have been preferable had the court simply ruled that creative professionals could not be required to produce art that conflicted with their sincerely held beliefs, the question was whether Justice Anthony Kennedy’s strong condemnation of anti-religious bigotry would resonate beyond the specific facts of the case. For example, what would happen if, in a different case, state officials called faithful Christians who seek to protect the religious freedom of Catholic adoption agencies “hate-mongers”?

In the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, it turns out that such rhetoric has cost the state a crucial court ruling, granted a Catholic adoption agency a vital victory, and demonstrated — once again — that anti-religious bigotry can (and should) carry substantial legal costs.

The last point is key. As stated above, there was no evidence that St. Vincent prevented any qualified couple from adopting. In fact, if the state forced St. Vincent’s to choose between upholding the teachings of its faith or maintaining its contractual relationship with the state, then it risked shrinking the available foster or adoption options in the state of Michigan. The state demonstrated that it was more interested in taking punitive action against people of faith than it was in maintaining broader access to foster and adoption services for its most vulnerable citizens.

The judge rightly called the state’s actions a “targeted attack on a sincerely held religious belief.” Once again, Masterpiece Cakeshop pays religious-liberty dividends. Once again, a court declares — in no uncertain terms — that in the conflict between private faith and public bigotry, religious liberty will prevail.


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