1. Democrats and ‘Dogma’: Are you now or have you ever been an ‘orthodox Catholic’?

By The Wall Street Journal, September 8, 2017, Pg. A16, Editorial

Thus did California Sen. Dianne Feinstein pronounce on Wednesday that, by virtue of being a faithful Catholic, Amy Barrett, a respected law professor at Notre Dame, may have excluded herself from a federal judgeship. President Trump has nominated Ms. Barrett for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. But the Democratic obsession with Ms. Barrett’s religion transformed what should have been a routine Senate confirmation hearing into a tour of the mind of the modern secular left.

The ugly implication of Mrs. Feinstein’s words is underscored by the context. She deployed them to suggest Ms. Barrett’s faith would lead her to substitute her personal beliefs for the law, basing the accusation primarily on a law review article Ms. Barrett wrote in 1998 as a law clerk.

Ms. Barrett and her co-author explicitly reached the opposite conclusion: “Judges cannot—nor should they try to—align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge.”

Sen. Dick Durbin jumped in to demand of Ms. Barrett: “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” Does Mr. Durbin understand that he sounds like the Southern Baptist ministers in 1960 who thought Jack Kennedy shouldn’t be President because he’d take orders from the pope?

This questioning is part of a broader effort on the left to disqualify people with strong religious views from the public square.

Let’s hope the Senate rejects the bigotry that marred Wednesday’s hearing and approves the eminently qualified Ms. Barrett for the Seventh Circuit. The federal bench could use more judges who understand their civic duty as well as Ms. Barrett does.


2. Pope heads to former Colombia war zone to preach forgiveness.

By Alba Tobella and Joshua Goodman, Associated Press, September 8, 2017, 12:18 AM

Pope Francis heads Friday into an area once besieged by leftist rebels to pray with victims of Colombia’s long conflict and urge them to overcome their grief by forgiving their former assailants.

The highlight of his visit to the central city of Villavicencio is what the Vatican has termed a “great prayer meeting for national reconciliation.” It’s bound to be a deeply emotional gathering for Francis, who has made reconciliation the central theme of his five-day visit to Colombia after promising to visit the country upon the signing of last year’s peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Presiding over the event will be a mutilated Christ statue rescued from a bombed-out church 15 years ago — perhaps the most powerful reminder of the senseless political violence that left more than 250,000 people dead and millions displaced.

Earlier at a Mass in Villavicencio, Francis will beatify two priests intimately identified with Colombia’s conflict. The pope said they were killed out of hatred for their faith.

Villavicencio is also a choice location to reflect another of the pope’s concerns on his visit to Colombia: the environment.

Lying on the edge of the Amazon rainforest, the one-time backwater was transformed by an economic boom as the winding down of the conflict and a spike in commodity prices drew oil companies and multinational agricultural interests to areas that were previously off limits. With peace, the land grab is expected to intensify, straining even further Colombia’s delicate environment — one of the world’s most biodiverse, with more bird species than any other country.


3. Pope Urges Colombians To Accept Peace Accord.

By Nicholas Casey and Susan Abad, The New York Times, September 8, 2017, Pg. A6

Leading prayers before a huge crowd in Bogotá, the capital, Pope Francis on Thursday urged Colombians to avoid “the thirst for revenge” and finally accept peace, whose arrival last year ended a half-century of war but left the country bitterly divided.

The pope, offering his first public Mass during a six-day visit to Colombia, couched the country’s long, often halting road toward an end to its conflict in biblical terms, comparing it to the frustrations of Jesus’ followers as they fished the Sea of Galilee.

The pope’s visit comes at a crucial time for the peace accord, approved last December, between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by the acronym FARC. The peace deal was signed over the objections of voters who felt the agreement was too easy on the fighters, who were allowed to enter politics in exchange for laying down arms.

As about 7,000 fighters leave the jungle this year to begin new lives among their fellow Colombians, many of their new neighbors still oppose the deal.

The Argentine pope hopes to use the pulpit of the Vatican, along with his status as one of the region’s most popular sons, to nudge Colombians toward forgiveness.

Despite the good will the popular pope received personally, he appears to be well aware of the resentment toward the former rebels. He has announced no plans to meet with any representatives of the former rebels on this trip, and he has left them largely unmentioned, focusing his remarks instead on Colombians who were marginalized during the 52-year conflict — women and the poor.

Colombia’s long conflict left an estimated 220,000 dead as Marxist rebels battled the government and paramilitary groups throughout the country. At least six million people were displaced from their homes.


4. Court Says Assisted Suicide Not a Right.

By Jacob Gershman, The Wall Street Journal, September 8, 2017, Pg. A3

New York’s highest court on Thursday ruled that physician-assisted suicide isn’t a fundamental right, rejecting a legal effort by terminally ill patients to decriminalize doctor-assisted suicide through the courts.

The state Court of Appeals, though, said it wouldn’t stand in the way if New York’s legislature were to decide that assisted suicide could be “effectively regulated” and pass legislation allowing terminally ill and suffering patients to kill themselves.

In its unanimous opinion, the state Court of Appeals said its ruling affirms a “well-established distinction between refusing life-sustaining treatment and assisted suicide.”

In a concurring opinion, New York Court of Appeals Judge Eugene Fahey cited the Netherlands—where euthanasia and assisted suicide has been legal since 2002—as a cautionary example.

“The Netherlands has displayed another very disturbing trend: the countenancing of both voluntary euthanasia and non-voluntary euthanasia,” wrote the judge, citing studies on the number of patients in the Netherlands who were administered lethal drugs without their explicit request.

The New York State Catholic Conference, the Catholic Church’s statewide public-policy arm, said it was “pleased and grateful” for the court’s ruling.

“The decision is a significant victory for those who would be most at risk of abuse and most susceptible to pressure to take their own lives, including the isolated elderly, persons with disabilities,” said Kathleen M. Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the organization.


5. 20 GOP states want anti-abortion group’s videos released. 

By Bob Christie, Associated Press, September 7, 2017, 2:48 PM

Republican attorneys general in 20 states urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to allow the release of videos made by an anti-abortion group whose leaders are facing felony charges in California for recording people without permission.

The friend-of-the-court brief filed by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich on behalf of the states says the justices should lift an order from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals barring the release of the recordings.

They were made by the Center for Medical Progress at meetings of the National Abortion Federation, an association of abortion providers. The Supreme Court has not yet decided if it will accept the appeal from the anti-abortion group and one of its leaders, David Daleiden.

The Center for Medical Progress previously released several secretly recorded videos that it says show Planned Parenthood employees illegally selling fetal tissue for profit. 

The other states joining Brnovich’s brief are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.


6. Sen. Feinstein Grills Catholic Nominee: “The Dogma Lives Loudly Within You”: Democrat Senators launch an ideological attack on a Catholic judicial nominee.

By Matthew Bunson, National Catholic Register, September 7, 2017

For Catholics with a sense of history, yesterday’s confirmation hearing for 7th Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Amy Coney Barrett before the Senate Judiciary Committee brought to mind some of the darkest moments in the long traditions of anti-Catholicism in England and America. The Democrat senator from California, Dianne Feinstein, attacked Barrett, a Catholic law professor at Notre Dame, with the accusation that she is essentially unfit for service as a federal judge because of her deeply held religious beliefs.

Maureen Ferguson, the Senior Policy Advisor of the Catholic Association, declared:

Senators Feinstein and Durbin know full well that the Constitution prohibits any religious test for office, yet they proceeded with an offensive grilling of a highly qualified judicial nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, asking inappropriate questions about her Catholic faith. Senator Durbin asked directly, “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” Imagine the universal outrage had a nominee of a different faith been asked the same questions; there is clearly a double standard at work.


7. Concerns of ‘anti-Catholic bigotry’ as judicial nominee questioned about faith.

By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, September 7, 2017, 9:25 AM

A Catholic nominee to a federal circuit court faced hostile questions about her faith from U.S. senators on Wednesday, prompting outrage from Catholic leaders.

“This smacks of the worst sort of anti-Catholic bigotry,” Dr. Chad Pecknold, a theology professor at The Catholic University of America, told CNA of questions asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) of Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic lawyer nominated to be a federal circuit court judge.

“Senator Feinstein’s shockingly illegitimate line of questioning sends the message that Catholics need not apply as federal judges,” added Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association.

“Imagine the universal outrage had a nominee of a different faith been asked the same questions; there is clearly a double standard at work,” commented Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor with The Catholic Association.


8. ‘Catholics need not Apply?’: Senators Accused of Anti-Catholic Bias at Hearing for Judicial Nominee.

By Mark Martin, CBN News, September 7, 2017

Did Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., attack a federal appeals court nominee for her Roman Catholic faith? Critics claim she did during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing this week.

President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he has nominated 16 people to federal judgeships. One of them is Amy Coney Barrett, a nominee for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Barrett is a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and a mother of seven. She has written about religion’s place in public life and given lectures before Christian legal groups.

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

Feinstein isn’t the only senator under fire. Gary Marx, senior advisor of the Judicial Crisis Network, accused others on the committee of anti-Catholic bias.

“Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), some of their attacks on these nominees that in essence said ‘Catholics need not apply,'” Marx told CBN News. “Really persecuting these amazing judges like Amy Coney Barrett for their Catholic faithfulness.”

Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association, also spoke out about the hearing.

“Senator Feinstein’s shockingly illegitimate line of questioning sends the message that Catholics need not apply as federal judges,” she said in a statement.

“Rather than unconstitutionally discriminating against Amy Barrett on the basis of her faith, Senator Feinstein should focus on her exceptional qualifications for the job,” McGuire continued.

“Senators Feinstein and Durbin (D-Ill.) know full well that the Constitution prohibits any religious test for office, yet they proceeded with an offensive grilling of a highly qualified judicial nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, asking inappropriate questions about her Catholic faith,” Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor with The Catholic Association, said in a statement.  

“Senator Durbin asked directly, ‘Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?’ Imagine the universal outrage had a nominee of a different faith been asked the same questions; there is clearly a double standard at work,” Ferguson continued.