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Twenty-Five Things that Caught My Eye Today: Religious Liberty & More (July 8, 2020)

1. The Washington Post: Pope denounces unimaginable “hell” of Libyan migrant camps

Francis recalled that he heard stories of suffering from the migrants he met on Lampedusa in 2013, but only realized when he got back to the Vatican that his translator had only relayed a fraction of what the migrants had recounted.

“He gave me the distilled version,” Francis said of the translator, explaining that this is often the case when the world hears blandly of war and suffering in Libya.

2. Jeff Minick: Our Hidden Epidemic: Loneliness and the Elderly

3. Tweet by Amanda Guinzburg (@Guinz):

4. George Cardinal Pell: My Time In Prison

My Catholic faith sustained me, especially the understanding that my suffering need not be pointless but could be united with Christ Our Lord’s. I never felt abandoned, knowing that the Lord was with me—even as I didn’t understand what he was doing for most of the thirteen months. For many years, I had told the suffering and disturbed that the Son of God, too, had trials on this earth, and now I myself was consoled by this fact. So, I prayed for friends and foes, for my supporters and my family, for the victims of sexual abuse, and for my fellow prisoners and the warders.

5. Helen Alvare: Supreme Court Delivers 2 Important Victories for Religious Freedom

The concurrence of Thomas and Gorsuch would give religious institutions an even broader scope of freedom. Under the banner of non-establishment of religion, they would allow religious institutions themselves to determine which positions are “ministerial.” These justices would require such institutions to make a “good faith” showing, but they would also require courts to grant a degree of deference to religions not quite articulated in the majority opinion, which called religious institutions’ conclusions “important” but not definitive. The concurrence called the majority opinion a “step in the right direction” but still insufficient to satisfy the Establishment Clause.

6. Andrea Picciotti-Bayer: Supreme Court Confirms Catholic Schools Have Constitutional Right to Self-Governance

Just a few weeks ago, the court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County stunned the country when it redefined discrimination in employment “because of sex” to permit claims of discrimination based on an employee’s asserted sexual orientation or gender identity.

But Wednesday’s ruling in the consolidated cases of Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru  and St. James School v. Biel places power back in the hands of Catholic schools, by confirming that the First Amendment protects their right to decide who imparts the faith to the next generation without the government second-guessing those decisions.

7. Ed Mechmann: Two Important Supreme Court Victories

8. Life after ISIS: New challenges to Christianity in Iraq

According to an ACN survey carried out in November 2016, only 3.3% of Christians from the Nineveh Plains held any hope of returning due to the security concerns and lack of housing. The latter was a clear sign that the emergency aid alone was not enough. For that reason, in early 2017 ACN launched a modern-day Marshall Plan to tackle the mammoth task of rebuilding the devastated Christian homes in the Nineveh Plains. The plan aimed at restoring dignity, through housing repairs and restoration, and offering employment opportunities.

9. ‘Heart speaks to heart’: Benedict XVI sends message for his brother’s funeral mass

“When I said goodbye to him in the morning on Monday, June 22, we knew it would be his farewell to this world forever. But we also knew that the benevolent God, who gave us this togetherness in this world, will also rule in the other world and will give us a new togetherness there,” Benedict XVI wrote in the message read aloud at the funeral on July 8.

10. The Moment: Confronting The Prospect Of Death By COVID

11. Michael R. Strain: School-Closing Costs Are Crushing Children and Parents


13. The Femsplainers Podcast: Why Are So Many Girls Becoming Boys?

14. The Crime Report: Police Review Boards, Not Just Cops, Need Training in Youth Trauma

15. Foster parent speaks out after contracting COVID-19 following a DSS family visit

16. Katie Scofield: Far too many children are sent to foster care when their parents are arrested for petty crimes

To be sure, when parents are arrested for possession of a controlled substance or driving while intoxicated, there are likely larger safety issues in the home that need to be addressed. However, it is a highly disproportionate response to revoke parental rights for the possession of 4 ounces of marijuana — to say nothing of the trauma inflicted on the children of these parents.

17. Watchdog claims children being abused in psychiatric centers in Alabama

At the Owens Cross Roads facility, for females only, girls said they have been dragged out of bed, slammed to the ground, and violently treated by staff there, according to ADAP. Multiple incidents are recounted in ADAP’s report.

In one instance in the report, a girl said after making a comment to a staff member in a Sequel facility, she was forced against a wall, picked up, slammed to the ground and a male staff member “placed his weight on her by putting his knee into her back, causing significant pain and trouble breathing. Though the girl complained she could not breathe, the staff member did not relent until forced off her back by other staff.”

18. National Catholic Register: Catholic Bishops Join 1,000 Faith Leaders to Oppose Federal Executions

“As our country grapples with the COVID 19 pandemic, an economic crisis, and systemic racism in the criminal legal system, we should be focused on protecting and preserving life, not carrying out executions,” the faith leaders stated.

Bishop Pates issued his own statement in addition to the joint letter, saying that “[t]he Church believes that just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”

19. Nicholas Zill: How Do the Children of Immigrant Parents Perform in School?

What might account for the surprisingly good academic performance of immigrant students? How are they able to overcome the odds supposedly stacked against them? Part of the answer may lie in the fact that a substantial majority live in intact families with both married birth parents present in the home. And those parents are more likely than native parents to adhere to a “breadwinner-homemaker” division of labor.

Students of immigrant parents who lived with both married parents were doing better in school than those who lived with single parents, in stepfamilies, or in other family situations. As shown in Figure 2, those in intact families were more likely to get mostly A grades and less likely to have their parents contacted because of their learning problems or misbehavior. Students in intact families were only about half as likely to have been diagnosed with a psychological or physical disability.

20. Bradford Wilcox and Alysse Elhage: COVID-19 Is Killing the Soulmate Model of Marriage. Good.

Husbands and wives will come to see how little they can depend upon the government and the market and how much they have to lean on one another—to nurture (and school) their children, tend their garden or home, launch a home business, or help care for an older parent. They will rediscover matrimony as a space primarily dedicated to raising children, where lifelong commitment and community support—including that of a local church—are essential. In other words, they will re-learn all the ways that marriage is about much more than the fluctuating feelings between two people.

21. Ira Stoll: Randi Weingarten’s Finest Hour

22. Crux: What Catholicism didn’t do amid COVID shouldn’t obscure what it did

In virtually all Italian cities during July and August, [the Community of Sant’Egidio] will continue to offer regular meals for the homeless, keeping their soup kitchens and social assistance centers open for whoever may need them. They’re also planning trips for the poor to the lake, the sea and the mountains – one of the glories of Italy is that all three are never that far away – as well as visits to parks and museums.

“It’s a time of friendship and solidarity, because physical distancing should never become isolation and solitude,” a statement said. “It’s a vacation made possible by the free and unpaid commitment of numerous volunteers.”

23. The Thomistic Institute: Fortitude (Aquinas 101)

24. The Washington Post: Twins joined at head separated at Vatican pediatric hospital

The twins’ mother, Ermine Nzotto, wiped tears from her eyes as she watched a video prepared by the hospital of the twins’ before and after their separation. Nzotto said she never went to school but hopes her daughters would study to become doctors.

“It’s a joy, that I can see my girls run and play like other children. May they tomorrow study and learn to become doctors to save the other children of this world,” she said through an interpreter.