CATHOLIC VALUES COLUMNIST
All–male draft unconstitutional, says Texas court
A federal judge in Texas ruled on Friday that the all-male military draft is unconstitutional. In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller wrote that today’s women could conceivably be better suited to fill combat positions than men, depending on the position. “Combat roles no longer uniformly require sheer size or muscle,” Miller wrote. The ruling was made in response to a lawsuit brought by the National Coalition for Men, which sought to raise “awareness about the ways sex discrimination affects men and boys.” While the U.S. has not had a military draft since 1973, all adult men must register for the draft within 30 days of their birthday or risk losing their eligibility for financial aid and government jobs, among other things. The Pentagon announced in 2015 that all combat roles would be open to women.
Trump policy prohibits family planning clinics from issuing abortion referrals
In another effort to blocking taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, the Trump administration issued a rule prohibiting family planning clinics that receive federal funding from referring women for abortions. The rule is an update to the Title X program and was released by the Department of Health and Human Services. According to the department, the new rule will protect Title X healthcare providers from being forced to choose between participating in the program and violating their consciences. With the new rule, federally funded clinics are still able to provide counseling on abortion but do not need to offer abortion counseling and referral, as previously required.
Man received $21 million after being wrongfully jailed for 39 years
A California man who spent 39 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit will receive $21 million as part of a settlement. Craig Coley, 71, was jailed in 1980 for the murder of a woman and her 4-year-old son and was pardoned in 2017 by then-Gov. Jerry Brown after Simi Valley investigators concluded that biological samples used to convict Coley did not contain his DNA. A week after Brown pardoned Coley, the Ventura County Superior Court declared him innocent of the murders, which opened the possibility for him to receive state compensation. While lawsuits by wrongfully convicted people seeking compensation are often hard fought by the government, each level of government in this case was on board to help Coley receive his compensation.
Concluding Vatican summit, Pope Francis promises ‘all-out battle’ on child sex abuse
After months of high expectations, Pope Francis met with presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world to discuss the “evil” of priests sexually abusing minors. The Vatican announced specific steps the Catholic Church plans to take in the future to address sex abuse, including toughening up child-protection laws. However, several observers were disappointed that more action was not taken to address holding bishops accountable if they cover up abuse or even commit abuse themselves. Pope Francis has come under fire in recent months for how he handled the cases of defrocked former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Argentine Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, a former Francis official who was accused of “inappropriate behavior” with seminarians and of having pornography involving young people on his phone. However, the pope said in his closing address that he would “combat this evil that strikes at the very heart of our mission.”
U.S., North Korea to meet this week
U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam this week, the second face-to-face meeting between the two leaders. According to USA Today, the meeting will give them a chance to continue progress on a historical denuclearization agreement that was initiated during their first meeting in June 2018. During that session, the two signed an accord that promised denuclearization but was not clear on how or when that would happen. However, the president is resisting Kim’s request for the U.S. to lift sanctions on North Korea, which could prove to make their discussions on a firmer denuclearization deal unfruitful.
Nigerian elections turn deadly
At least 39 people in Nigeria are dead after violence erupted following Nigeria’s presidential and parliamentary election. In an election that saw more than 70 people challenge incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, chaos erupted after election officials halted the counting of votes for 18 hours beginning on Sunday. Buhari and other candidates accused the national electoral commission of using the delay to the advantage of the other candidates, furthering frustrations among voters. Media reports said violence often surrounded polling places; in Lagos, shots were fired in the air and ballot boxes were set on fire. However, the New York Times reported that some observers considered the events to be much tamer than previous elections and that alleged discrepancies with counting votes are also significantly down.