1. Cut the debt of poor countries, Pope tells IMF, World Bank, By Reuters, April 8, 2021, 6:46 AM
Pope Francis has told world financial chiefs that poor countries hit by the economic impact of the coronavirus need to have their debt burden reduced and be given a greater say in global decision making.
In a letter to the participants of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank’s annual spring meeting, the pope said the pandemic had forced the world to come to terms with interrelated socioeconomic, ecological, and political crises.
2. Cardinal Burke says pro-choice politicians are ‘apostates’, By Inés San Martín, Crux, April 8, 2021
According to American Cardinal Raymond Burke, politicians who “publicly and obstinately” support abortion are “apostates” who cannot receive Communion.
Although he mentions no one by name, most observers are looking at U.S. President Joe Biden, who is pro-choice and attends Mass weekly.
In a statement published on his personal website, the prelate wrote that many people have asked him about those who, while “publicly and obstinately promote programs, policies and legislation in direct violation of the moral law,” receive Communion.

Denying Communion to politicians who persevere in grave sin, Burke said, is not politics but upholding the “solemn responsibility” to preserve the holiness of the Eucharist. On the contrary, the cardinal argues, it’s the politician who promotes what is contrary to moral law and receives Communion “sacrilegiously” who uses the Eucharist for political purposes, presenting themselves as devout Catholics “while the truth is completely otherwise.”
3. Shabby exit of anti-abuse reformer captures Vatican’s HR pandemic, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, April 8, 2021, Opinion
I’ve got a small story to tell here, one of no great import or particular news value. Yet big pictures are woven from small details, and, in this case, it’s not a pretty picture to behold.
The small story concerns the recent departure of American Monsignor Robert Oliver as secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Minors, while the bigger picture is about a largely undiagnosed HR pandemic in the Vatican.
To begin with the small part, Oliver was recently removed from his position as secretary of the commission, which was created in 2014 to advise Pope Francis on the fight against clerical sexual abuse. The secretary is essentially the chief of staff, meaning the guy who makes the trains run on time.

What rankles a bit for anyone else watching the situation unfold, however, is the manner in which Oliver’s exit was handled.
Oliver himself told the story in a recent Good Friday homily at the Boston cathedral. He had returned to the U.S. for what he assumed would be a quick visit, and, on a late March day, found himself in a Washington, D.C. airport awaiting a flight to Boston. As the plane was about to board, his phone lit up with calls from reporters wondering why he hadn’t been on a list of people reappointed to the Commission for Minors released by the Vatican that day.

As I said, that’s a small point that can easily be chalked up to standard bureaucratic breakdowns. Yet it also illustrates a deeper, chronic problem, one which is arguably the primary obstacle to meaningful Vatican reform.
In a nutshell, Oliver deserved better.
We’re talking about a guy who ripped up his life to answer Rome’s call almost a decade ago, and took what was, and still is, arguably the most gut-wrenching assignment the Catholic Church has to offer.

It’s entirely accurate, but nonetheless unsatisfactory, to say, “That’s just the Vatican for you … nobody ever communicates and nobody ever says ‘thank you,’ so why should this guy be any different?”
That, however, is precisely the problem. If the Vatican can’t find a way to show such a person a little love on the way out, it says a lot more than was probably intended.
4. Alabama revises voter form with religious oath, lawsuit ends, By Jay Reeves, Associated Press, April 7, 2021, 2:28 PM
An atheist group asked a judge Wednesday to end its federal lawsuit against the state of Alabama since officials have revised its voter registration forms, which required an oath to God.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation and Secretary of State John Merrill ’s office jointly requested that a court dismiss the case, which was filed last year over a required oath for would-be voters that includes the words “so help me God,” court documents show.
The updated form still includes the wording, but it also has a box that allows registrants to opt out of the religious portion of the oath “because of a sincerely held belief.”
5. Bill on handling of fetal remains advances in Tennessee, By Kimberlee Kruesi, Associated Press, April 7, 2021, 6:01 PM
Tennessee Republicans are backing legislation that would require medical providers to cremate or bury fetal remains from surgical abortions over objections that doing so could stigmatize a legally available procedure.
The proposal is gaining traction inside the GOP-controlled General Assembly, where legislative panels in both the House and Senate advanced the measure on Wednesday. While Gov. Bill Lee hasn’t publicly weighed in on the bill, the Republican has repeatedly stressed his opposition to abortion. Lee signed off on one of the strictest abortion bans in the country last year. The law is currently blocked as it makes its way through court.
6. Is Francis doing what Benedict could not?, By Ed. Condon, The Pillar, April 7, 2021, Opinion
Some journalists, perhaps taking their cue from Becciu’s own brother, jumped to interpret the event as a pointed step towards rehabilitating the cardinal.

But another plausible reading of the pope’s striking decision is that Pope Francis has been able to do what his predecessors, Benedict XVI in particular, could not: separate his personal loyalties from the need to act as pope, to address the problematic curial activities of a friend.

During his papacy, Benedict XVI handled a similar situation rather differently.
After his 2005 election, Benedict appointed as Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, his long-time secretary at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and his close friend.
Bertone did not have a background in Vatican diplomacy, and his appointment was met with hesitation by many in Rome.
During Bertone’s time in charge of the curia’s largest department, and the governance of the Vatican City state, his name became synonymous with allegations of financial malpractice, corruption, and the development of a private power base to stymie Benedict’s own attempts at curial reform.

By all accounts, Benedict could not bring himself to act against his friend, even when his curia presented evidence against him.

If Becciu does go to court, and if Pope Francis is willing to see such a trial through to the end in public, the pope may be due credit for modeling a new kind of governance, and a different kind of friendship, for a pope.
Those are big “ifs,” but so far Francis appears to be on course.
7. White House: Pope Francis has said there’s a ‘moral obligation’ to get vaccinated, By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, April 7, 2021, 10:00 AM
President Joe Biden on Tuesday called on Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, saying that Pope Francis has called vaccination a “moral obligation.”

In response to CNA’s inquiry as to the source of Pope Francis’ comments, the White House pointed to the pope’s January television interview where he said that “I believe that, ethically, everyone has to get the vaccine.”
In that interview, Pope Francis called vaccination “an ethical option because it concerns your life but also that of others.”
However, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) stated in December that vaccination against COVID-19 is not a moral obligation – a statement that was approved by Pope Francis.

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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