1. Pope calls on Russia and Ukraine to seek reconciliation, By Associated Press, April 19, 2021
Pope Francis on Sunday voiced apprehension over a recent Russian troop buildup near the border with Ukraine and called for efforts to ease tensions in the 7-year conflict in eastern Ukraine pitting Ukrainian forces against Russia-backed rebels.

“I observe with great apprehension the increase of military activities,” Francis said in remarks to the public gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
“Please, I strongly hope that an increase of tensions is avoided, and, on the contrary, gestures are made capable of promoting reciprocal trust and favoring the reconciliation and the peace which are so necessary and so desired,″ Francis said.
2. Christian college sues HUD to protect single-sex dorms, showers, By James Varney, The Washington Times, April 19, 2021, Pg. A7
A small Christian college in Missouri has sued the Biden administration over a federal directive that threatens to force the school to put biological men and women in the same dorms, rooms and showers.
The lawsuit challenges an executive order President Biden signed in his first days in office that requires entities covered by the Fair Housing Act to not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity then issued a directive to enforce the new standard, which the lawsuit claims will force religious schools to “violate their beliefs by opening up female dorms to biological males and vice versa.”
A complaint to HUD and a finding of the school to be in violation would threaten “heavy fines, punitive damages and attorney fees,” according to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative nonprofit that is representing the school in federal court in Missouri.
The College of the Ozarks and its associated K-12 magnet school are located in Point Lookout, Missouri. The college has an enrollment of about 1,500 undergraduates.
3. Pharmaceutical companies urged to stop using abortion-derived cell lines, By Julie Asher, Catholic News Service, April 18, 2021
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities has launched a campaign urging Catholics to write letters to pharmaceutical companies urging them to stop the use of abortion-derived cell lines in the development and testing of vaccines.
Among the companies singled out are Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson for their COVID-19 vaccines, GlaxoSmithKline for its Shingrix shingle vaccine, and Merck for its MMR, Chickenpox, and Hepatitis-A vaccines.
The secretariat provides sample letters on the USCCB website. The letters include the names of top officials and the address for each company.
4. For these working stiffs, ambivalence rather than amore from the Pope, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, April 18, 2021, Opinion
One of Pope Francis’s signature innovations is the World Meeting of Popular Movements, a kind of Davos from the bottom up intended to give voice to grassroots organizations, including workers who are at risk or lack job security, all striving to correct what the pontiff has called an “economy of exclusion and inequality.”

Last week, protests were organized in several Italian cities by restaurant and bar owners objecting to the ongoing shutdown of in-person dining as part of the country’s attempt to stem the latest wave of Covid infections. Under current restrictions, bars and restaurants remain closed at night and are open only for takeout during the day. According to one recent estimate, the restaurant and bar sector of the Italian economy lost a staggering $38.5 billion in 2020-2021 due to the Covid crisis.

There are two reasons why these newly vulnerable and marginalized folks have not drawn the overt, vocal support that Pope Francis would typically bestow in other circumstances. In fact, in most corners of Italian discussion, it’s taken for granted that the Vatican and the pope aren’t on board.
First, from the beginning Francis has been a champion of the medical and scientific consensus on Covid, lending his support to the restrictive measures at critical moments.

That brings us to the second reason why the pope has kept his distance, because the Rome protests also drew militants from Italy’s neo-fascist “CasaPound” movement. (The group is named for the American poet Ezra Pound, who was a great admirer of Mussolini during a long period in Italy and who campaigned for the Axis powers during World War II.)

What remains to be seen is whether the pontiff can find a way to disentangle his “popularist” sympathy for working stiffs struggling amid the Coronavirus pandemic from the “populist” overlay in which their distress often comes wrapped. 
5. The Catholic Church’s New Normal Is Forward, Not Back, We need to emerge from the challenges of the last year with a new set of goals to live as stewards of the Great Commission., By National Catholic Register, April 17, 2021, Editorial
As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to come under control in the United States, many Church leaders are eager to restore the Sunday obligation to attend Mass and to go “back to normal” in our parishes. At this moment, every bishop, priest, deacon, religious and layperson needs to keep front and center St. Junípero Serra’s motto: “Always Forward, Never Back.” Now is the time to work together to create a new normal — mining the lessons to be drawn from a year of severely restricted worship and badly disrupted communal life. Our return to church can’t be a return to the status quo.
By every statistic, pre-COVID “normal” was failing our Church.

While transparency and accountability in decision-making and governance, as well as lay co-responsibility in energizing parish life and engaging the wider community, are indispensable, they are most effective when people have confidence in the mission.
We need to emerge from the challenges of the last year with a new set of goals to live as stewards of the Great Commission. To paraphrase St. Thomas Aquinas, the end is last in the order of execution, but always first in the order of intention.
The Catholic Church has to stop planning for a future of closing churches and schools, or more churches and schools will close. We need to plan ways for the Church to grow parishes and plant new churches and schools — even as it must generate many more priestly, diaconate and religious vocations to sustain growth.
The Register has chronicled solutions from parishes recently found to be real-time “laboratories of evangelization.” In these places, parishioners and their leaders are fueled by embracing the “costly grace” of discipleship that is the heart of Catholic faith.
6. Senator Marco Rubio Sponsors Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz, By Steven Ertelt, LifeSite News, April 16, 2021, 11:29 AM
Senator Marco Rubio is sponsoring legislation in the United States Senate that would defund the Planned Parenthood abortion business, which kills over 340,000 babies in abortions every year.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, policy advisor for The Catholic Association, told LifeNews that the newly proposed rule would undo important, life-saving progress in America.
“The newly proposed Title X rule fails to recognize that abortion has never been an accepted method of family planning” Christie said. “[It] would result in tens of millions of taxpayer dollars being once again funneled to abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, when polls consistently show that U.S. taxpayers do not want to underwrite this life-ending procedure.”
7. Federal officials reverse limits on fetal tissue research, By Marilynn Marchione, Associated Press, April 16, 2021, 6:36 PM
Federal officials on Friday reversed Trump administration restrictions on using human fetal tissue for medical research.
The changes clear the way for using government money on work that in the past has led to treatments for a variety of diseases, including COVID-19.
Government scientists now will be able to resume research that uses tissue from elective abortions. Scientists at universities also can now apply for federal grants without getting approval from a special ethics panel for any such work.
8. Vatican official: Pope to advance sainthood cause of EU ‘founding father’ Robert Schuman, By Catholic News Agency, April 16, 2021, 11:01 AM
Pope Francis could declare venerable the French statesman Robert Schuman, a key “founding father” of the European Union, a Vatican official has said.
Marcello Cardinal Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said the pope could recognize his “heroic virtues” as early as June, Agence France Presse reports. Cardinal Semeraro told the French newspaper La Croix the Pope is likely to declare Schuman venerable before summer begins.
9. USCCB: Permitting mail-order abortion pills places women’s health ‘in serious jeopardy’, By Catholic News Agency, April 16, 2021, 10:33 AM
The pro-life chair of the U.S. bishops’ conference on Friday warned that loosening federal regulations of the abortion pill places women’s health “in serious jeopardy.”
Earlier this week, the acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that during the COVID-19 pandemic the agency would allow for the abortion pill regimen to be prescribed and dispensed remotely, through the mail or by mail-order pharmacies.
The new policy is a change from the FDA’s standards that have been in place since 2000, requiring the abortion pill regimen to be prescribed and dispensed in-person at a health clinic setting.
In response, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s pro-life committee, said in a statement, “It is difficult to see the FDA’s decision to not enforce important safety protocols as anything other than callous capitulation to the requests of abortion activists without regard for the health and safety of the women involved.”
10. As Jimmy Lai Is Sentenced to 14 Months in Prison, Hong Kong Catholics’ Concern Grows, The Catholic pro-democracy activist, who is the founder of the Apple Daily media group, was sentenced today for his participation in two demonstrations in 2019., By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, April 16, 2021
Concerns continue to deepen over a crackdown on rights and freedoms in Hong Kong as Catholic media tycoon Jimmy Lai was sentenced to 14 months in prison today for taking part in unauthorized assemblies during mass pro-democracy protests in the former British colony.
The 73-year-old founder of Apple Daily media group, Lai was one of nine pro-democracy activists sentenced for participating in two demonstrations on Aug. 18 and Aug. 31 in 2019.

Martin Lee, 82, also a practicing Catholic and known as Hong Kong’s “father of democracy” movement, was given an 11-month suspended sentence. The other seven pro-democracy activists, including Margaret Ng, a well-known Hong Kong barrister and politician, received sentences ranging from one-year suspended sentences to 18 months in prison.

The Catholic human rights advocate Lord David Alton, who knows Lai, Lee and Ng personally, called them “remarkable and courageous people – lifelong advocates for human rights, democracy, an independent judiciary and the rule of law.

Now concerns are growing that religious freedom, particularly for Catholics, may be in Beijing’s crosshairs next as it seeks an increasingly authoritarian grip on the territory to match that already present in mainland China.
11. Study: Supreme Court Consistently Vindicates Religious Liberty From Government Overreach, The study’s authors collected data from every Supreme Court case that produced a judicial opinion relating to the Free Exercise or Establishment Clause from the 1953 to the 2019 term. In the last 15 years, 81% of the time religion won., By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, National Catholic Register, April 16, 2021, Opinion
In the good-news front, a recent study has confirmed that during the tenure of Chief Justice John Roberts the Supreme Court consistently has vindicated religious liberty from government overreach.

Religious freedom has increasingly found favor before the Supreme Court. But this trend could quickly be reversed. However steadfast are the convictions of today’s religion-friendly justices, politicizing the court through “court-packing” (or merely the threat to do so) will have dreadful consequences for religious liberty.

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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