1. For American Catholic schools, an encouraging trend in Florida, By Lauren May And Ron Matus, The Hill, April 17, 2024, Opinion
You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate how Catholic schools offer high quality at low cost; how they lifted generations of working-class families into the American mainstream; and how entire communities can be set adrift, when the Catholic schools that anchor them fade away. Margaret F. Brinig and Nicole Stelle Garnett documented this in their book, “Lost Classroom, Lost Community.”
For this reason, the closing of 7,000 Catholic schools over the last 60 years has been a national tragedy in slow motion. But there are good reasons to be hopeful those trend lines will change.
One is the accelerating expansion of school choice. Another is Florida.
Millions of families who stopped enrolling their children in Catholic schools did not do so because they no longer valued them. Rather, they stopped because they could no longer afford them.
Even the modest tuition typical of Catholic schools became too much for many middle-class and working-class households, as underscored by the findings of this 2018 national parents survey, commissioned by the National Catholic Education Association and Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities.
Most respondents did not think Catholic schools were affordable, the survey found. But about two-thirds said they would be more likely to consider them if tuition subsidies were available.
That’s where school choice comes in. Eleven states have created expansive, state-funded education choice programs in the past three years alone. Growing numbers of families will again be able to access Catholic schools for their children, if that’s what they think is best.
In Florida, that’s exactly what more and more families are doing.

2. Radiant In The Gulag And Elsewhere, By George Weigel, The Hill, April 17, 2024, Opinion
In Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, Pope Benedict XVI remarked on the striking parallel between the presence of the holy women at the cross of Christ and their role in the first appearances of the Risen Lord:
“Just as there were only women standing by the Cross—apart from the beloved disciple—so too the first encounter with the Risen Lord was destined to be for them. The Church’s juridical structure is founded on Peter and the Eleven, but in the day-to-day life of the Church, it is the women who are constantly opening the door to the Lord and accompanying him to the Cross, and so it is they who come to experience the Risen One.”
This truth over the centuries is ably demonstrated by Bronwen McShea in her fine new book, Women of the Church: What Every Catholic Should Know. And no woman of our Catholic moment embodied this Christocentric fidelity—opening doors to Christ, accompanying him to Calvary, living in the joy of the Resurrection—more than Sr. Nijolė Sadūnaitė, who died, appropriately, on Easter Sunday, March 31.  
A clandestine religious in Soviet-occupied Lithuania from the time she was eighteen, Sr. Nijolė helped create and distribute the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, a record of ongoing harassment, persecution, and martyrdom that had the honor of being the longest-running, uninterrupted dissident publication in the history of the U.S.S.R. Through surreptitious means, issue after issue of the Chronicle (which was produced in multiple copies on manual typewriters using ten sheets of carbon paper) was smuggled out of Lithuania to Europe and North America; it was then translated into various languages, to the intense aggravation of the masters of the multinational empire that was in truth a vast prison covering eleven time zones. So, one by one, the leading figures in the publication of the Chronicle were arrested by the KGB and sentenced to the Gulag camps. In 1975 Nijolė Sadūnaitė got three years of hard labor and three years of Siberian exile. 
In the Gulag, she was tortured, imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital, and spent stretches in solitary confinement. In exile, she worked as a charwoman, having previously done manual labor in a factory and cared for abandoned children. All the while, she kept her religious consecration a secret from everyone except her family and a few close friends. Released from exile, she resumed her underground resistance activities. When the KGB came looking for her in 1982, she went underground for five years, during which she wrote a memoir of her prison camp experience, which was published in 1987 as A Radiance in the Gulag—an apt title for the reflections of a woman of infectious joy, remarkable energy, and unbroken spirit. During the Gorbachev thaw in the late 1980s, Sr. Nijolė, by then a national heroine, became publicly visible at the mass demonstrations that eventually led to Lithuania’s auto-liberation in 1990–1991.     
From 1986 to 1987, I helped my friend Congressman John Miller (himself Jewish) form the bipartisan Lithuanian Catholic Religious Freedom Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. The caucus’s work, in collaboration with the Reagan administration, helped free two founders of the Chronicle from the Gulag, Fr. Alfonsas Svarinskas and Fr. Sigitas Tamkevičius, S.J. (later the archbishop of Kaunas and a cardinal). Those two white martyrs, as well as Sr. Nijolė, eventually made their way to Washington, where I had the honor of meeting each of them (as I did a second time during a moving reunion in Vilnius in 2013). On her visit to the nation’s capital, Sr. Nijolė wanted to visit Washington’s cathedral. Afterward, while standing in front of St. Matthew’s on Rhode Island Avenue, she suddenly took a pin with a stylized version of the Lithuanian national coat of arms from her handbag, affixed it to my suit jacket lapel, and gave me a great hug. I felt as if I, a civilian, had been decorated by a combat veteran. 
Sr. Nijolė’s funeral Mass was celebrated in Vilnius’s Calvary Church with most of the country’s bishops present. At the end, there were spontaneous cries of Santo subito! (or its Lithuanian equivalent)—just as there had been after the funeral Mass of John Paul II, whom the underground nun, resistance hero, and Gulag survivor revered. I hope it happens, someday, that the Church recognizes the heroic virtues of Nijolė Sadūnaitė and canonizes her. I have no doubt, however, that in defending her and having been privileged to meet her, my life was touched by a saint, whose witness mirrored that of the holy women of Calvary and Easter.
3. New York’s high court hears case on abortion insurance coverage, By Associated Press, April 16, 2024, 5:31 PM
New York’s highest court took up a case Tuesday that seeks to throw out a regulation requiring health insurance policies to cover medically necessary abortions — a lawsuit that could jeopardize a similar state law.
The challenge was filed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and other church groups that argue the rule violates their religious beliefs.
State financial regulators approved the abortion coverage requirement in 2017, and the Legislature codified it into law in 2022.
The religious groups are only challenging the state’s regulation, not the law, meaning the coverage will remain in place regardless of the outcome.
But if the Court of Appeals throws out the rule, attorneys in the case said the law could then be challenged using a similar argument, giving the case larger implications for abortion access in New York.

4. Appeals court rules against West Virginia ‘Save Women’s Sports Act’, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, April 16, 2024, 5:55 PM
A federal appeals court has blocked a West Virginia law titled the “Save Women’s Sports Act” that prohibits biological males from competing in female sports in the state.
The 2-1 decision was issued by a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday. The decision extends an already existing block on the law and sends the case back to a lower court for further consideration.
This is the latest development in B.P.J v. West Virginia State Board of Education, a case in which a 13-year-old child who identifies as a girl is alleging that the West Virginia law violates Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination.

5. Indiana limits abortion data for privacy under near-total ban, but some GOP candidates push back, By Isabella Volmert, Associated Press, April 16, 2024, 12:13 AM
Indiana allows so few abortions that health officials stopped releasing individual reports to protect patient privacy — a move some Republicans are now fighting to reverse.
The Republicans, including prominent candidates for office this year, want access to reports detailing each abortion still performed in the state. Advocates for abortion rights and some state officials warn that would jeopardize the privacy of physicians and patients who can only receive abortions under strict circumstances.
The state bans abortions except within limited time frames in cases of rape, incest, lethal fetal anomaly and serious health risks to the patient. Like many states, Indiana has long collected data on abortions, but the Department of Health last year decided to keep the individual reports from public record and only release its regular summary data four times a year to make it harder to potentially identify patients.

6. A London court rules against a Muslim girl who wanted to pray at a school known for strict rules, By Associated Press, April 16, 2024, 9:10 AM
A Muslim student who wanted to pray during lunchtime lost a court fight Tuesday against a strict London school that had banned prayer on campus.
A High Court judge said the female student had accepted when she enrolled in the school that she would be subject to religious restrictions.
“She knew that the school is secular and her own evidence is that her mother wished her to go there because it was known to be strict,” Justice Thomas Linden wrote in an 83-page ruling. “Long before the prayer ritual policy was introduced, she and her friends believed that prayer was not permitted at school and she therefore made up for missed prayers when she got home.”

7. Baltimore Catholics to lose 40 parishes under archdiocese’s consolidation plan, Church says move is not related to 2023 bankruptcy filing that preceded child abuse lawsuit statute, By Mark A. Kellner, The Washington Times, April 16, 2024
The Archdiocese of Baltimore will cut and merge 61 worship centers into 21 parishes as part of a consolidation plan announced Sunday.
Catholic officials said the Seek the City to Come plan, which they have been working on since 2022, addresses the loss of population and investment in and around Baltimore churches over several years.
However, officials said the consolidation is not related to the archdiocese’s bankruptcy filing last year, which was just before a Maryland law took effect to allow sexual abuse survivors to sue the church for abuse that took place decades ago.

8. America is less religious, but faith remains very powerful in politics, By Perry Bacon Jr., The Washington Post, April 16, 2024, 7:30 AM, Opinion
Former president Donald Trump’s struggle to find a position on abortion that appeases religious activists in his party without offending more moderate and secular voters is perhaps the clearest example of one of the most important tensions in American politics today: Religion is declining in America overall but in some ways becoming an even more important force within the Republican Party. We have less religion but still very religiously influenced politics.
You’ve no doubt read articles over the past two decades about the declining numbers of Christian Americans and the growing contingent who have no religious affiliation. And that’s not just a story of Democrats and liberals leaving faith. The number of Republicans who attend church weekly and consider religion a core part of their lives is also shrinking.
Yet many policies enacted by local, state and federal Republican elected officials and conservative judges are straight from the religious right’s agenda: vouchers and other initiatives to make it easier for parents to send their children to religious schools; limits on reproductive rights that ban abortion and could even threaten in vitro fertilization; restrictions on gay and particularly transgender Americans; provisions allowing religious Americans to cite their faith in declining to participate in various activities, such as getting vaccinated.

In contrast, the party’s religious bloc defends its priorities fiercely — and in moral terms. Groups such as the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom are constantly pushing bills in state legislatures and filing lawsuits. They are creative and relentless in exploring methods to execute their agenda, such as their effort to get a future Republican president to invoke a once-obscure law from 1873 (the Comstock Act) to limit abortion.

9. New rules for Pregnant Workers Fairness Act include divisive accommodations for abortion, By Claire Savage and Alexandra Olson, Associated Press, April 15, 2024, 9:11 PM
Workers are entitled to time off and other job accommodations for abortions — along with pregnancy-related medical conditions like miscarriage, stillbirth and lactation — under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, according to finalized federal regulations published Monday.
The regulations provide guidance for employers and workers on how to implement the law, which passed with robust bipartisan Congressional support in December 2022 but sparked controversy last year when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission included abortions in its draft rules. The language means that workers can ask for time off to obtain an abortion and recover from the procedure.
The EEOC says its decision to keep the abortion provisions in its final rules, despite criticism from some conservatives, is consistent with its own longstanding interpretation of Title VII, as well as court rulings. The federal agency added that the new law does not obligate employers or employer-sponsored health plans to cover abortion-related costs, and that the type of accommodation that most likely will be sought under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act regarding an abortion is time off to attend a medical appointment or for recovery, which does not have to be paid.

10. Supreme Court allows Idaho to enforce its ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth, By Associated Press, April 15, 2024, 4:22 PM
The Supreme Court is allowing Idaho to enforce its ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth while lawsuits over the law proceed, reversing lower courts.
The justices’ order Monday allows the state to put in place a 2023 law that subjects physicians to up to 10 years in prison if they provide hormones, puberty blockers or other gender-affirming care to people under age 18. Under the court’s order, the two transgender teens who sued to challenge the law still will be able to obtain care.
The court’s three liberal justices would have kept the law on hold. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote that it would have been better to let the case proceed “unfettered by our intervention.”
Justice Neil Gorsuch of the conservative majority wrote that it is “a welcome development” that the court is reining in an overly broad lower court order.

11. Suit Challenging Iowa’s Book Ban Is Backed by Every Major Publisher, HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster and others join legal action started by Penguin Random House last fall, By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, The Wall Street Journal, April 15, 2024, 1:09 PM
A group of major book publishers have joined a lawsuit seeking to block school book banning in Iowa, the latest effort to counter the removal of works from school classrooms and libraries.
The lawsuit was filed by Penguin Random House in November and targets parts of an Iowa law that bans books depicting or describing sex acts from school libraries or classrooms, with the exemption of religious texts. The law also focuses on books that address gender identity or sexual orientation for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
On Monday, the Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan Publishers, Simon & Schuster and Sourcebooks announced they had joined the legal action. The rise of book bans nationwide prompted the collective action, the publishers said. 

The lawsuit has so far prevented Iowa from enforcing book bans, said Dan Novack, associate general counsel for Penguin Random House, in an interview. The additional publishers will share the costs of the lawsuit going forward, Novack said.

12. Stabbing of Australian Bishop on a Livestream Declared Terrorist Attack, Authorities say attack on Christian leader was religiously motivated, By
Mike Cherney, The Wall Street Journal, April 15, 2024, 10:08 PM
A Christian leader who was stabbed during a livestream at a church in Sydney’s western suburbs was the victim of a religiously motivated terrorist attack, authorities said, putting a renewed focus on lone-wolf incidents that can be difficult to prevent.
The suspected teenage offender is in police custody and officials say there is no indication that anyone else was involved. Police didn’t identify the teenager or specify his religion.
A video circulating online shows Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel of Christ the Good Shepherd Church speaking at a lectern on Monday night as a person in a black hoodie walks up to him. The person appears to stab Emmanuel several times, including in the face. The bishop falls to the ground as congregants rush to his aid.


13. Kansas governor vetoes bills to ban sex changes for minors, coerced abortions, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, April 15, 2024, 4:15 PM
Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed legislation that would have prevented doctors from performing transgender surgeries and providing gender transition drugs to children. Kelly also vetoed a bill that would criminalize coerced abortions.
According to the governor, she vetoed the sex change restrictions because she believes they would restrict parental rights. She said she vetoed the ban on coerced abortion because the language was too vague.
Some Republican lawmakers have already indicated they will try to override the vetoes. The Republicans hold a supermajority in both chambers of the Kansas Legislature, which provides the party with enough votes to override a governor’s veto if most Republican members vote for the override.


TCA Media Monitoring provides 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. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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