1. Dangerous medical triage: In this time of pandemic, doctors must not play God with lives of others.

By Grazie Pozo Christie, The Washington Times, April 20, 2020, Pg. B1, Opinion

The Covid-19 pandemic is making armchair bioethicists of all of us. In a world of limited medical resources — too few ICU beds for too many gravely ill patients — it’s only natural to wonder if we can safely rely on physicians to make the right triage decisions. It’s worrisome that Western medicine has been trending away from its noble (patient-centered) Hippocratic beginnings toward a utilitarian (society-centered) ethos.

In the late 1990s, I did my medical training in a busy public hospital in Miami.

Sometimes every room was full, every medical team engaged, and the rescue units kept rolling in. Difficult choices had to be made about the allocation of resources and manpower. Standing on the foundation of person’s equal dignity, no matter that person’s race, ability, age, social position, value or danger to society, we learned to make decisions based solely on the patient’s clinical state. Those with the best chance of survival were given priority. The question was never “Is the patient worthy of treatment? The question was always “Is the treatment worthwhile?

Fast forward 20 years. About one in five Americans now live in states where assisted suicide is legal, and the normalization and acceptance of the practice grows apace.

A similar scenario plays out in abortion.

The growing normalization of these practices in health care predispose the medical mind to an all-too human temptation: That of elevating the worth of one human life over another. This is dangerous in medical triage. Why? Because, by utilitarian standards (in a culture which idolizes youth and health) the elderly and disabled are less worthy of treatment, because they lack future productive value and chances of future happiness.

This health care trend toward a utilitarian ethos that tramples on the doctor-patient bond is not irreversible. In many ways, it is the result of vocal minorities within the profession pushing political agendas that a majority of the public and profession instinctively rejects. The courage, dedication and selflessness of our front-line health care workers in this pandemic have shown us just how noble our doctors and nurses are. We must trust that they are also too noble to yield to the temptation to play God with the lives of others.

Grazie Pozo Christie, MD, is a policy adviser for The Catholic Association.


2. Faith at a safe distance: For now, public safety supersedes the need to gather in person for religious services.

By The Washington Post, April 20, 2020, Pg. A16, Editorial

THE CONSTITUTION’S First Amendment confers religious liberty; it is not a license to kill or even to put the faithful at exceptional risk of harm. The large majority of U.S. faith leaders concur and have acted accordingly, by canceling in-person worship during the pandemic. The handful who have defied state and local edicts prohibiting large gatherings imperil not only their followers but also everyone in their communities. That is an unacceptable affront to public health — and to morality.

At any given moment and place in this crisis, there is no clean line between the constitutional right to freely exercise faith and the moral mandate to protect lives. In a close call, however, and in any genuine crisis, the first obligation of government is to safeguard public health when it is endangered by a deadly threat.


3. Pope to politicians: To fight coronavirus, put country before party.

By Philip Pullella, Reuters, April 20, 2020, 3:24 AM

Pope Francis urged politicians on Monday to put aside partisan differences in order to deal with the coronavirus crisis in a united way.

“(We pray) for the political parties of various countries, so that in this time of pandemic, they together seek the good of the country and not the good of their own party,” he said.


4. Study finds youth strong in faith amid virus, but increasingly lonely.

By Christopher White, Crux, April 20, 2020

A new study finds that while young people are experiencing heightened levels of loneliness and isolation as a result of social distancing, they are not experiencing a decline in their faith.

Among those surveyed, 35 percent of respondents said that they are actually experiencing an increase of faith, and 46 percent attested to having developed new religious practices.

Yet while Church leaders may be relieved by that data, 50 percent of those who’ve attended an online service also reported they don’t have anyone to talk to about how they are feeling, and 44 percent report feeling isolated because no one has reached out to them.

Further, clergy or faith leaders account for less than one percent of those adults who’ve reached out to young people, who represent what the study labels one of the “most lonely and isolated generations that have ever existed.”

In addition, the survey found a severe lack of trust in institutions. On a scale from 1 to 10, over 60 percent of young people rank their trust level at 5 or lower for a range on institutions, including organized religion, with religious practice not offering a “protective effect” against the “epidemic of loneliness and isolation.”


5. Pope dreams of post-virus world where inequalities abolished.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, April 19, 2020, 9:17 AM

Pope Francis is urging the faithful to use the coronavirus pandemic’s “time of trial” to prepare for a future where inequalities are abolished and the poorest are no longer left behind.

“May we be profoundly shaken by what is happening all around us,” he said from the altar of the Santo Spirito church. “The time has come to eliminate inequalities, to heal the injustice that is undermining the health of the entire human family!”


6. Pope warns against ‘worse virus’ of indifference to the poor after pandemic.

By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, April 19, 2020

Celebrating Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis said the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity to practice mercy toward the poor and those who are suffering, particularly in the aftermath.

Noting that much of the world is preparing for a “slow and arduous recovery” from the crisis, Francis cautioned that as things move forward, “there is a danger that we will forget those who are left behind.”

“The risk is that we may then be struck by an even worse virus, that of selfish indifference,” he said, saying this attitude is spread “by the thought that life is better if it is better for me, and that everything will be fine if it is fine for me.”


7. For Pope Francis, quarantine puts two signature causes in conflict.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, April 19, 2020, Opinion

Tensions around the shutdown are being felt all over the world, from Germany, where Catholic bishops are protesting a decision by Chancellor Angela Merkel to keep a ban on religious services in place while reopening thousands of shops, to the US, where the Kansas governor is in a court battle over limits on church gatherings and where Bishop Peter Baldacchino of Las Cruces, New Mexico, has decided to lift the suspension of public Masses on his own.

One unsettled dimension of this debate is the attitude of Pope Francis. As time has gone on, he’s sent signals which, paradoxically, have emboldened both supporters of government-imposed restrictions and critics.

Perhaps one reason that both Catholics who accept the limits, and those who chafe against them, feel the pope understands them, is because the situation involves two core values for the pontiff that don’t always sit well together.

On the one hand, Francis believes that in confronting complex and shared problems, the Church needs be in dialogue with, and to learn from, the human sciences. In Laudato si, his 2015 encyclical on the environment, he cited a “very solid scientific consensus” pointing towards global warming as part of his case for “care for our common home.”

On the other hand, Francis is equally dedicated to a Church close to its people, one which gets out of the sacristy and into the street. He’s also a determined foe of clericalism, and he may see a risk of revived clerical elitism in the fact that Mass is being celebrated without faithful all over the world.

Of course, the pope hardly would be the only Catholic ambivalent about the present state of things, accepting the importance of defending life and health but also concerned about treating religious practice as inessential and dispensable.

Yet for Francis, given the way the situation pits two signature causes against one another, it may be especially agonizing – which might explain both his grudging tolerance, and also his evident impatience.


8. Judge doubts Kansas COVID-19 rule, blocks it for 2 churches.

By John Hanna, Associated Press, April 18, 2020, 9:12 PM

A federal judge signaled that he believes there’s a good chance that Kansas is violating religious freedom and free speech rights with a coronavirus-inspired 10-person limit on in-person attendance at religious services or activities and he blocked its enforcement against two churches that sued over it.

The ruling Saturday from U.S. District Judge John Broomes in Wichita prevents the enforcement of an order issued by Gov. Laura Kelly against a church in Dodge City in western Kansas and one in Junction City in northeast Kansas. The judge’s decision will remain in effect until May 2; he has a hearing scheduled Thursday in the lawsuit filed against Kelly by the two churches and their pastors, on whether he should issue a longer-term or broader injunction.


9. Trump consults faith leaders on phased-in reopening.

By Elana Schor, Associated Press, April 17, 2020, 7:57 PM

President Donald Trump held a call with faith leaders on Friday that included discussion about a phased-in return to broader in-person worship after weeks of religious services largely shifting online in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump’s call with faith leaders came one day after the White House included houses of worship among “large venues” that could be able to reopen while observing “strict physical distancing protocols” in the first stage of a three-part plan to reopen a U.S. economy that’s been frozen by the toll of the highly contagious virus.


10. Judge: Tennessee can’t prevent abortions during coronavirus.

By Travis Loller, Associated Press, April 17, 2020, 8:47 PM

A federal judge Friday night ruled that Tennessee has to continue allowing abortions amid a temporary ban on nonessential medical procedures that’s aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said the defendants didn’t show that any appreciable amount of personal protective equipment, or PPE, would be saved if the ban is applied to abortions.


11. German bishops criticize decision to maintain church service ban.

By Catholic News Service, April 17, 2020

Catholic and Protestant churches in Germany have responded differently to the federal government’s decision not to lift the ban on public church services.

The Catholic German bishops’ conference voiced disappointment at Chancellor Angela Merkel’s announcement April 15, while the Protestant Church in Germany – a federation of the Lutheran, Reformed and United churches – stressed its support for the government’s measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA.

After talks with regional government leaders, Merkel said the ban on public church services should remain until further notice, while thousands of shops were being allowed to reopen.


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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