1. Pope says ‘backward’ U.S. conservatives have replaced faith with ideology, By Associated Press, August 28, 2023, 8:15 AM Pope Francis has blasted the “backwardness” of some conservatives in the U.S. Catholic Church, saying they have replaced faith with ideology and that a correct understanding of Catholic doctrine allows for change over time. Francis’ comments were an acknowledgment of the divisions in the U.S. Catholic Church, which has been split between progressives and conservatives who long found support in the doctrinaire papacies of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, particularly on issues of abortion and same-sex marriage. Many conservatives have blasted Francis’ emphasis instead on social justice issues such as the environment and the poor, while also branding as heretical his opening to letting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receive the sacraments.  During the meeting, a Portuguese Jesuit told Francis that he had suffered during a recent sabbatical year in the United States because he came across many Catholics, including some U.S. bishops, who criticized Francis’ 10-year papacy as well as today’s Jesuits. The 86-year-old Argentine acknowledged his point, saying there was “a very strong, organized, reactionary attitude” in the U.S. church, which he called “backward.” He warned that such an attitude leads to a climate of closure, which was erroneous.  Francis has previously acknowledged the criticism directed at him from some U.S. conservatives, once quipping that it was an “honor” to be attacked by Americans. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/08/28/pope-francis-vatican-conservatives-abortion-us/a348c8f6-459c-11ee-b76b-0b6e5e92090d_story.html__________________________________________________________ 2. BRIC by BRIC, the foundation for Pope’s geopolitical endgame is being laid, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, August 27, 2023, Opinion  The United Nations recognizes only 195 countries in the world, including 193 member states and two non-member observers (the Vatican and Palestine). That means there are only eleven states left with which the Vatican does not have full diplomatic relations.  Of those eleven holdouts, the big targets for the Vatican clearly are China and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are key to the Middle East and to relations with the entire Islamic world, while China is a global economic and political superpower increasingly central to pretty much everything. All of which, by way of background, brings us to the major diplomatic story of the past week – the expansion of the “BRICS” bloc of nations, referring to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, to include six new entries: Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.  Officially, the Vatican has taken no position on the expansion of the BRICS coalition, although it was given fairly extensive attention in official Vatican media outlets. Unofficially, however, there’s every reason to believe that not only is Pope Francis likely to smile on it, but to see it as an important part of the geopolitical endgame of his papacy. In the future, August 2023 may come to be see as a turning point in paving the way for Vatican relations with both China and Saudi Arabia, and, more broadly, in the Vatican’s transition away from being perceived as a pillar of Western civilization to being a genuinely global and non-aligned institution, as equidistant from Washington and Brussels as from Moscow and Beijing. By all accounts, China under Xi Jinping was the driving force behind the BRICS expansion, as a key expression of its overall strategic aim of countering Western control of the global economy and major world institutions. China’s aspiration is to build a more multilateral world order, one not exclusively denominated in dollars and not dominated by the United States. As it happens, that vision dovetails fairly neatly with Pope Francis’s agenda for global affairs. In a recent interview, the pope described himself as a “stone in the shoe” to many for his criticism of empires – and, since he was speaking in the context of Latin America, it was fairly clear which “empire” in particular he had in mind. Increasingly, China may come to see the Vatican under Francis as an ally in the effort to build an alternative to the Western world order. Naturally, the pope’s willingness to sign and stand by a controversial agreement with China over the appointment of bishops in the country, despite difficulties in its application, augments the impression of common cause, as does the rough alignment between Rome and Beijing on the conflict in Ukraine. Moreover, a BRICS coalition containing not just Brazil but also Argentina may be in a stronger position to make the case to Xi that the Catholic Church, and specifically the Vatican, can be an asset at least as much as an irritant. Lula, a close friend and political ally of Francis, may be in a particularly strong position to help press that argument.  Certainly the project of a unified BRICS currency as an alternative to the American dollar doesn’t seem to be getting off the ground anytime soon. Ironically, Argentina enters the alliance at a moment when its leading presidential contender, Javier Milei, actually is is proposing to move in the other direction, scrapping the Argentine peso and replacing it with the dollar. Nevertheless, from the Vatican’s point of view in the Pope Francis era, the BRICS growth is hopeful not only as a harbinger of a more multilateral world, but also one in which the final holdouts on diplomatic relations with the Holy See may finally be induced to come on board — because, under Francis, a gain for the Vatican is no longer necessarily seen as a gain for the West, and certainly not for the U.S. https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2023/08/bric-by-bric-the-foundation-for-popes-geopolitical-endgame-is-being-laid__________________________________________________________ 3. Pope Francis says he’ll meet with Mongolia’s ‘noble, wise’ people in first visit there by a pontiff, By Associated Press, August 27, 2023, 7:22 AM Pope Francis on Sunday described his visit later this week to Mongolia, the first-ever pilgrimage by a pontiff to the east Asian country, as a much-desired occasion to encounter a “noble, wise” people. Speaking to the public in St. Peter’s Square, Francis said the trip would also be an opportunity to embrace the Catholic community there, describing the church in Mongolia as “small in numbers but lively in faith and great in charity.” The pilgrimage is also an opportunity “to meet up close with a noble, wise people,’’ he said.  Francis departs on Thursday, returning to Rome four days later. There are fewer than 1,500 Catholics in Mongolia, where some 3.2 million people live in one of the world’s least densely populated countries.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/08/27/vatican-pope-francis-mongolia/00c68256-44cc-11ee-b76b-0b6e5e92090d_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. Pope warns of social media perils: relationships reduced to algorithms, partisan propaganda, hatred, By Associated Press, August 26, 2023, 8:07 AM Pope Francis on Saturday warned against the danger of reducing human relationships to “mere algorithms” and urged lawmakers to be vigilant against “partisan” propaganda and divisiveness on social media. In a speech to participants of the International Catholic Legislators Network, who were holding their annual conference in the Rome area, Francis noted that social media networks can be a way to help people realize they are part of something larger than themselves. “Indeed, that is the stated aim of many social media platforms, and certainly much good takes place through these means of communication,” Francis said. Still, the pontiff said, vigilance was needed, “for sadly many dehumanizing trends resulting from technocracy are found on these media.” He cited the deliberate spread of false information about people, fake news and the promotion of hatred and division. Francis further decried what he called “partisan propaganda and the reduction of human relationships to mere algorithms.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/08/26/pope-vatican-social-media-propaganda-technocracy/1c5fa894-4409-11ee-9677-53cc50eb3f77_story.html__________________________________________________________ 5. Backers blast approved ballot language for Ohio’s fall abortion amendment as misleading, By Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press, August 25, 2023, 3:50 PM The Ohio Ballot Board approved language Thursday for a fall measure seeking to establish abortion access as a fundamental right, but one Democratic member blasted it as “rife with misleading and defective language.” Key among opponents’ objections were several aspects of language developed by Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, an abortion opponent, which they warned could prompt a legal challenge. Among the revisions, the word “fetus” in the amendment was changed to “unborn child” in the ballot description. The original language seeks to assure access to abortion through what is called viability, when the fetus is able to survive outside the womb. It states, “abortion may be prohibited after fetal viability,” but not in cases where a treating physician deems the procedure necessary to protect the life or health of the pregnant person. LaRose’s summary turned that section on its head. It now says the amendment would “always allow an unborn child to be aborted at any stage of pregnancy, regardless of viability if, in the treating physician’s determination” the life and health exception applies.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/08/24/ohio-abortion-access-ballot-issue-election-2023/1db7c1ce-42d1-11ee-9677-53cc50eb3f77_story.html__________________________________________________________

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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