1. Pressure Mounts for Catholic Churches to Reopen for Public Worship.

By Francis X. Rocca and Natalia Ojewska, The Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2020, Pg. A11

Many Catholics in Italy and other European countries are calling on governments to permit public Masses again after weeks of lockdown to contain the coronavirus, in a debate that pits religious liberty against public-health concerns.

Italian bishops are unhappy that the government has set a reopening date for bars and hairdressers but not for Mass, which has been suspended across the country since early March.

The government has responded to the bishops by saying it will study a plan to permit public worship “as soon as possible…under conditions of maximum safety.” The bishops say they have developed a set of protocols for holding public Masses, including the use of masks and social distancing, although they haven’t released details.


2. Religious freedoms in India deteriorated last year, U.S. government watchdog says.

By Michelle Boorstein and Joanna Slater, The Washington Post, April 29, 2020, Pg. A12

Religious freedoms in India deteriorated sharply last year as the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi allowed “campaigns of harassment and violence” against Muslims and other religious minorities to continue, according to a U.S. watchdog group.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a government body that monitors conditions abroad and U.S. responses, moved India to its category of greatest concern in an annual report released Tuesday. USCIRF, as the group is called, has no power to enforce its recommendations, but the State Department is required to consider them.


3. Knights of Malta Grand Master who healed rift with Vatican dies.

By Philip Pullella, Reuters, April 29, 2020, 3:06 AM

Giacomo Dalla Torre, the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta who steered the global Catholic chivalric order and charity to reconciliation with the Vatican after a period of conflict, died on Wednesday.


4. Vatican Reels Under Coronavirus’ Economic Storm: Insiders say the effects have been made worse by delayed financial reforms.

By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, April 29, 2020, Opinion

As the economic fallout of coronavirus lockdowns continues to be felt across the world, the Vatican is also feeling the effects, made worse, insiders say, by delayed implementation of financial reforms that have weakened its ability to deal with the crisis.

Since March 10, when a lockdown was enforced across Italy, the Vatican Museums, which in 2015 generated 80 million euros ($87 million) a year and are the Vatican’s highest income earner, have been closed and won’t reopen until May 18 under an ease-of-restrictions program the Italian government announced April 27.

But even before the outbreak began, the Vatican was reportedly struggling to make ends meet. The Holy See recorded a budget deficit of 70 million euros ($77 million) for the year 2018, double the previous year. The shortfall, reportedly caused by rising wage costs, chronic inefficiencies and decreased investment income, prompted the heads of dicasteries and Holy See institutions to hold an emergency meeting last September to discuss the “gravity of the situation.”

The key question, therefore, is how will the Vatican fund these rising deficits, now intensified by the coronavirus.

“If they’re currently running into liquidity problems, they would need to sell some of the shares and debt obligations they hold,” said Juergen Siemer, a Catholic German economist currently working as a consultant in Rome. “They should do that now to reduce their risk exposure and buy some time. Then they need to sell some property (this always takes more time) and then they can, in parallel, develop concepts to increase revenues from the remaining properties.”

According to an informed Vatican source, a large proportion of Holy See property is rented to affluent tenants who would be ready to buy it at market value, especially if prices decreased, which is now probable.

In addition, Siemer said, the Vatican should also follow the same principles of every company or household in such a situation: “Cut some regular expenses” and “increase regular income and revenue.”

Under Cardinal Pell’s leadership, a “road map” was drawn up to centralize Vatican finances under one roof, placing them in one highly controlled operation. Loosely referred to at the time as Vatican Asset Management, a similar structure would have been built for the Vatican’s vast and inefficiently managed real estate holdings.

This was thwarted by the Vatican’s “old guard” — officials who generally preferred the established (and sometimes corrupt) ways of handling Vatican finances. Their obstructions led to the downsizing of the Secretariat for the Economy and the decapitating of the Office of the Auditor General.

Signs are emerging, however, that reforms are now gradually being implemented, beginning with some positive changes to personnel. This is giving some hope, but the sense among reformers behind the Vatican walls is that precious time has been lost.


5. Parental Consent Laws for Underage Girls Seeking Abortion Help Fight Against Human Trafficking.

By Grazie Pozo Christie, The Daily SIgnal, April 28, 2020, Opinion

It is welcome news that Florida is now set to become the sixth state to require both parental consent and notice before minor girls can get an abortion. A bill mandating this has passed both houses of the state Legislature, and Gov. Ron DeSantis has promised to sign it.

Ensuring that a child’s parents are involved before any medical or surgical procedure is performed on a minor patient makes sense in any state.

In Florida, though, it makes extra sense. Florida is home to a huge immigrant population, many of them undocumented and vulnerable, and special care should be taken to protect these vulnerable girls.

Sadly, after labor trafficking, “domestic minor sex trafficking,” constitutes “the … most prevalent and under-reported and under-prosecuted human trafficking offense in Florida,” according to a Florida State University study.

Given the prevalence of sexual abuse of girls here, it is simply unconscionable that Florida parents would not be informed if their minor daughter is pregnant and seeking an abortion.

Existing law requires abortion facilities and providers to alert the authorities if they suspect a young girl seeking an abortion is being abused by an older man or being trafficked as a prostitute, but abortion providers are in the business—the big business—of performing abortions and certainly cannot be counted on to report this.

One undercover sting video of a New Jersey Planned Parenthood showed a clinic manager telling a man posing as a pimp that when he brings his 14- or 15-year-old “girls” in for abortions they should lie or play stupid about their age. She is seen coaching the “pimp” on how to manage his underage prostitutes, some of whom, he says, do not speak English.

A girl’s natural protectors and defenders are her mother and father. A law that puts Florida parents back in that crucial role will be an important bulwark against the abuse of minor girls. It also will help ensure young women undergoing the tragedy of an abortion will receive the appropriate medical care should something go wrong.

The only losers when this commonsense, reality-based requirement becomes state law will be the sexual predators and greedy abortion providers who put profits over people. 

Tina Ramirez is the president and founder of Hardwired Global, and former founding staff director of the Congressional International Religious Freedom Caucus


6. Enabling a Choice.

By Pam Belluck, The New York Times, April 28, 2020, Pg. D1

Abortion through telemedicine is a quietly growing phenomenon, driven in part by restrictions from conservative states and the Trump administration that have limited access and increased the distance many women must travel to abortion clinics.

Now, the coronavirus pandemic is catapulting demand for telemedicine abortion to a new level, with much of the nation under strict stay-at-home advisories and as several states, including Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, have sought to suspend access to surgical abortions during the crisis.

The telemedicine program…allows women seeking abortions to have video consultations with certified doctors and then receive abortion pills by mail to take on their own.

Abortion through medication, first approved by the F.D.A. in 2000, is increasingly becoming women’s preferred method. Recent research estimated that about 60 percent of abortion patients early enough in pregnancy to be eligible — 10 weeks pregnant or less — chose medication abortion over suction or surgery.


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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