Sep 16

TCA media monitoring September 9, 2016

1. ‘Religious freedom’ blasted as intolerant code word, Liberals see faith ideals as bigoted, By Mark A. Kellner. The Washington Times, September 9, 2016, Pg. A1.

The chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said that “religious freedom” and “religious liberty” have become merely “code words” for intolerance, “Christian supremacy” and committing every form of identity-politics sin, and thus they must yield before anti-discrimination laws.

The remarks, released Thursday in a report on “Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties,” is the latest example of an increasingly hostile reception in liberal circles to one of the six specified rights at the core of the First Amendment — the “free exercise” of religion.

“The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance,” said Martin R. Castro, a Chicago Democrat named USCCR chairman by President Obama in 2011.


2. ‘I do not see myself as a failure’: Fresh peeks into Pope Benedict’s new memoir, By Michael Alison Chandler. The Washington Post Online, September 8, 2016, 4:16 PM.

Retired Pope Benedict XVI said that practical governance of the Catholic Church was not his “strong point” but said that many people found “a new life in the faith” during his eight years as pontiff, according to two English translations of excerpts of the book-length interview set to be released in Italian on Friday.

The book, titled “The Last Conversations,” is a never-seen-before glimpse into the reflections of a pope, because Benedict became the first pope in 600 years to retire. It is based on interviews with German journalist Peter Seewald and comes out in English on Nov. 3.


3. Appeals court rejects Michigan woman’s lawsuit over Catholic hospital care. Reuters, September 8, 2016, 5:52 PM.

A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected a woman’s appeal in a lawsuit that alleged a Roman Catholic hospital in Michigan denied her adequate treatment during a painful miscarriage because of a policy banning even the discussion of abortion as an option.

Tamesha Means said she went to a Mercy Health Partners facility in Muskegon, Michigan, the only hospital within 30 minutes of her home, when her water broke after only 18 weeks of pregnancy, according to the lawsuit filed against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2013.

Despite her being in excruciating pain and with virtually no chance her pregnancy could survive, Mercy Health Partners told Means there was nothing they could do and did not tell her that terminating her pregnancy was an option and the safest course for her condition, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit accused the conference of creating healthcare directives “that cause pregnant women who are suffering from a miscarriage to be denied appropriate medical care, including information about their condition and treatment options.”


4. Catholicism’s incredible growth story, By Philip Jenkins. The Catholic Herald (UK), September 8, 2016.

In many parts of the world, it’s difficult to feel optimistic about the future of the Catholic Church. Some years ago, the American Physical Society heard an alarming paper that predicted the countries in the world that would have no religion whatever by 2100, and high on the list were such former Catholic heartlands as Austria and Ireland – Ireland! For over a decade now, we have heard so many appalling stories of sexual abuse and scandal that we might even be tempted to ask if the Church can really survive.

It is strange then to realise that this Church – which is already, by far, the largest religious institution on the planet – is in fact enjoying global growth on an unprecedented scale. In 1950, the world’s Catholic population was 437 million, a figure that grew to 650 million by 1970, and to around 1.2 billion today. Put another way, Catholic numbers have doubled since 1970, and that change has occurred during all the recent controversies and crises within the Church, all the debates following Vatican II and all the claims about the rise of secularism.

Nor does the rate of growth show any sign of diminishing. By 2050, a conservative estimate suggests there should be at least 1.6 billion Catholics.


5. In new book, Pope Benedict XVI exudes a rare humility, By John L. Allen Jr. & Ines San Martin. Crux, September 8, 2016.

Pope Francis is celebrated for his humility, and rightly so. This is, after all the pontiff who began his reign by kneeling and asking the crowd in St. Peter’s Square to pray for him before he delivered a formal blessing, who returned to a Rome residence to pay his own bill and pack his own bag, and who declined to live in the sumptuous papal apartments.

However, there’s also a sense in which Pope Francis is a strong personality, comfortable in command, and possessing a virtually unwavering confidence in the correctness of his own judgments. That’s far from arrogance, of course, but for those who watch him in action, there’s never any doubt about who’s in charge.

If you want a pope filled with a sense of his own limitations and imperfections – not haunted by them, but also remarkably open in acknowledging why they may have made him unsuited to lead, at least for very long  – then the man you’re really looking for is Benedict XVI.

We got another reminder of the point on Thursday, with the release of excerpts from a new interview book with Benedict XVI by German journalist Peter Seewald, with whom he’s collaborated several times in the past. Titled Final Conversations, portions of the book were published Thursday in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera and German weekly Die Zeit and daily Bild.


6. After genocide, what’s next for Iraq’s Christians? By Matt Hadro. Catholic News Agency, September 8, 2016, 4:40 PM.

After the United States has declared that genocide is taking place against Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq, what is the next step for genocide victims displaced from their homes?

“Together, we will advocate for the Christian, Yazidi, and other communities in Northern Iraq that they may return to their homes on the Nineveh Plain to be secured there by coalition and successive international forces,” Andrew Doran, senior adviser to the group In Defense of Christians, stated at the Sept. 7 press conference beginning the group’s advocacy convention in Washington, D.C.

The Nineveh Plain is a 1,600 square mile area in northern Iraq that has been home to various ethnic and religious minorities, including Assyrian Christians who have lived there for centuries as one of the earliest Christian communities.

When militants of the Islamic State swept across northern Iraq in 2014, they displaced hundreds of thousands of these minorities from their homes. They killed innocents, raped and enslaved women and young girls, and destroyed churches and shrines.


7. The Loser Letters, Adapted for Stage, By Aurora C. Griffin. The Catholic World Report, September 7, 2016.

While Mary Eberstadt has been making headlines with her new and well-received book on religious liberty, It’s Dangerous to Believe, she already has a new project: the stage production of a work of fiction published in 2010 by Ignatius Press. The adaptation of the acclaimed “wickedly witty satire” The Loser Letters will have its world premier at the Catholic University of America’s Hartke Theater in Washington D.C. It is slated for ten performances between September 29th and October 9th. (Visit LoserLettersOnStage.com for more information about the production, dates, tickets, and more.)

…Mary Eberstadt: The Loser Letters began in 2008, when the letters appeared as weekly installments serialized at National Review Online thanks to the invitation of editor Kathryn Lopez. At that time, books about the new atheism were riding high on bestseller lists, and others were appearing that took issue with those same arguments. Watching the debate, it felt as if something were missing—some experiential, as opposed to intellectual, understanding of the roots of unbelief.  After all, humanity in general is theo-tropic: it leans toward God. Unbelief, not belief, is the real historical outlier. So I thought it could be interesting to analyze the appeal of atheism from the perspective of someone drawn to it for reasons having nothing to do with theological argument—and everything to do with the profound desire of one protagonist to be free of Christianity’s rules. 


The media monitoring clips provide a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged - such as religious liberty and other fundamental Church concerns. The clips are not intended to be an exhausted source of in-depth coverage on any particular issue. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.