1. Non-European Pope mounts defense of EU amid coronavirus ‘paralysis’

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, April 23, 2020, Opinion

The fact that the EU is almost two months into arguably the greatest crisis in its 63-year history and still cannot agree on a common strategy has generated wide frustration, especially among southern European states such as Italy and Spain which have been disproportionately harder hit with respect to northern nations such as Germany and the Netherlands.

The most immediate political result is that it’s no longer just Europe’s right-wing populists, such as Marine Le Pen of France or Matteo Salvini of Italy, who are questioning whether the EU has a future.

All of which brings us to Pope Francis, who, despite being the first non-European pontiff since the eighth century, is perhaps the most vocal leader on the Old Continent today making a principled defense of the EU.

Heretofore, when Francis has spoken in defense of Europe it’s been presumed he was speaking largely to populist Eurosceptics and voters who reward them. Now, however, it seems more likely he’s talking to the Giuseppe Contes of the world, mainstream leaders seemingly tempted to throw up their hands and give up.

It’s not at all clear whether the pope actually can save the EU from itself – but perhaps the most remarkable thing is that it seems to be a pontiff “from the end of the earth,” about as far away from Europe as it’s possible to be, who’s reminding his adopted continent of its ideals at a time when disenchantment with them seems to be on the verge of going mainstream.


2. Amid pandemic, charities and nonprofits face huge challenges.

By David Crary and Kathy McCormack, Associated Press, April 22, 2020, 12:48 PM

While celebrities and billionaires have announced huge gifts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, many charities and nonprofits are still struggling. Donations to some churches have plummeted, and many charities have had to cancel crucial fundraising events such as galas, bike races and walkathons.

Some religious groups are anxious as online worship replaces in-person services. The Catholic Archdiocese of New York has reported a 50% drop in cash donations and warned that some parishes will struggle to stay open.

Catholic Charities, which operates nationwide and employs 55,000 people, does its own fundraising separate from parish collections.

CEO Donna Markham says it’s a constant struggle to meet increasing demands for shelter and food programs, and some regular donors give less. In the diocese of Venice, Florida, demand for food assistance from the organization has doubled. Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington has laid off several dozen workers, mostly from a child-care program where enrollment fell sharply.


3. Court allows Arkansas ban on surgical abortions due to virus.

By Andrew Demillo, Associated Press, April 22, 2020, 9:45 PM

A federal appeals court on Wednesday allowed Arkansas to ban most surgical abortions during the coronavirus pandemic.

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved a judge’s temporary restraining order that allowed surgical abortions to continue after the Arkansas Department of Health told the state’s only surgical abortion clinic to stop performing the procedure unless it was needed to protect the life or health of the mother.


4. Dutch Supreme Court rules doctors can euthanize dementia patients.

By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency, April 22, 2020, 1:30 PM

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled on Tuesday, April 21, that it is lawful for doctors to euthanize patients with severe dementia, provided that the patient had expressed a desire to be euthanized while still legally capable of doing so.


5. Vatican City prepares to ease coronavirus restrictions in May.

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, April 22, 2020, 11:10 AM

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin met with members of the Roman curia on Wednesday to discuss the gradual reopening of Holy See offices as Italy prepares to end its national lockdown.

The heads of Vatican dicasteries decided to implement a “gradual reactivation of ordinary services” starting in May, while “safeguarding the health precautions to limit contagion,” according to a statement from the Holy See Press Office April 22.


6. Macron’s office hails ‘convergence’ with pope over pandemic response.

By Catholic News Agency, April 22, 2020, 9:30 AM

A 45-minute phone call between Pope Francis and French president Emmanuel Macron revealed “a lot of convergence” between the two leaders on the coronavirus crisis, the president’s office has said.

French officials told reporters April 21 that the pope and Macron had discussed the debts of developing countries, aid to Africa, the need for a global ceasefire and the importance of a united Europe.

“There is a lot of convergence in vision and in the answers,” the Elysée said.


7. Religious Freedom and the Little Sisters of the Poor.

By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, National Review, April 22, 2020, 3:06 PM

When the Supreme Court gets fully back to business again in May after a brief COVID-19 hiatus, one of cases the justices will hear oral arguments in — by phone — will be the continuing saga of the Little Sisters of the Poor’s stout defense of service to the poor and vulnerable consistent with their religious beliefs.

Haven’t the Little Sisters been there, done that — and won in the Supreme Court? Hasn’t this small religious order of women founded to tend to the elderly poor already beaten back the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that the health insurance they offer their employees include contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilizations?

Yes, the Supreme Court directed the Obama administration in 2016 to work with the Little Sisters to “arrive at an approach going forward” that would resolve the Little Sisters’ objections to the mandate. But Obama’s appointees failed to do so before leaving office. The Trump administration fashioned a broad and acceptable accommodation of religious objections to the mandate, but attorneys general from Pennsylvania and New Jersey refused to accept this regulatory accommodation. They ran to court and obtained something extraordinary — a nationwide injunction against the new rule. Their astonishing claim: The federal government is somehow powerless to guard against its own encroachment on religious freedom.

The Little Sisters have refused to back down, because, serving elderly poor is part of their calling as Catholics. Catholics faithful to the teaching of the Catholic Church. So, they’re back at the Supreme Court.

An amicus brief filed by The Catholic Association Foundation in the case highlights all the good works that would be lost if the Little Sisters and other Catholic organizations are forced to shut down. It chronicles the historic and current-day contributions to the social good by Catholic-run organizations.

It’s not too much to say that the story of Catholic charitable work and community uplift is the American story. From our nation’s Founding to the present, American Catholics have consistently served the poor and vulnerable at home and abroad. Along the way, American Catholics have ministered to the sick and the hungry, the deprived and the downtrodden, the lost and forgotten of all creeds and colors. Religious orders founded by American women Saints Elizabeth Ann Seton, Katharine Drexel, and Mother Frances Cabrini opened schools, orphanages, hospitals, and charitable missions that formed a vital part of our country’s social safety net.

The past, it turns out, is prologue. Today, Catholic-run organizations are the largest non-governmental providers of health care, education, and charitable services to the poor and vulnerable in America. Catholics partner with local and state governments to address the growing foster-care crisis and to find “forever homes” for children in need of adoption. They also minister to the needs of immigrants at our border, run food banks and soup kitchens, support pregnant women in need, stand against human trafficking, and respond to the humanitarian crises that follow natural disasters, armed conflict, and religious persecution.

In the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, the Knights of Columbus recently launched a “Leave No Neighbor Behind” initiative to encourage members to support local food banks and donate blood. The two-million-member Catholic fraternal organization is meeting the challenges of this pandemic the same way the Knights have responded to every great crisis of American life — the two World Wars, the Great Depression, the civil-rights struggle — since its founding in 1881.

The Knights of Columbus, like the Little Sisters of the Poor, serve the vulnerable and needy as an expression of Catholic faith, consistent with Catholic teaching on human sexuality and respect for life. Violating Church teaching in order to continue to be a vital part of our nation’s social safety net would make them Catholic in name only.

The two state attorneys general advance the extreme position that the federal government cannot act to secure and protect the religious freedom of nonprofits with religious objections to providing contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilizations in their health-insurance plans. This flawed argument sets up the federal government for a future of contentious battles with all kinds of religious groups. Worse, it forces religious organizations into controversies unrelated to the needs of those they aim to serve.

Enforcing the Affordable Care Act’s mandate without the Trump administration’s broad religious accommodation will push Catholics out of the nation’s public square. For the sake of religious freedom and the care of our most needy and vulnerable, the Supreme Court should put an end to these state officials’ latest expression of hostility to Catholicism. It’s high time to leave the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious organizations in freedom and peace.


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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