1. Court says churches don’t need to pay for abortions, By Sean Salai, The Washington Times, August 29, 2022, Pg. A6A federal court has overturned a California state mandate that required churches to pay for employees’ elective abortions in their health insurance plans, ending a yearslong legal battle. U.S. District Chief Judge Kimberly Mueller wrote in an opinion filed Thursday that the 2014 directive from the California Department of Managed Health Care is unconstitutional because it imposes a “substantial burden” on the churches’ freedom of religion. The Eastern District of California’s chief judge said that Mary Watanabe, the department’s director, failed to demonstrate a “compelling interest” for the state not to accommodate the religious beliefs of three churches that filed the lawsuit in 2015. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2022/aug/26/court-says-california-churches-dont-need-cover-abo/__________________________________________________________ 2. Criticism of Vatican’s life czar on abortion ‘specious’ and ‘offensive,’ spokesman says, By Crux, August 29, 2022 Responding to criticism about a recent TV interview in which he called legalized abortion a “pillar” of the Italian system, a top Vatican official for human life insisted Monday that he was referring to political realities, not moral doctrine, and reiterated his strong opposition to abortion. A spokesman for Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, insisted that in the interview with an Italian television outlet, the veteran prelate did not offer “a judgment on the [moral] value of the law, but rather an observation that it’s practically impossible to abolish it since by now it’s a structural element of [Italian] legislation.”  Paglia has come under fire repeatedly since taking the helm at the Academy for Life in 2016, most recently for the publication of a set of essays from a conference last year in which some theologians appeared to suggest that the ban on birth control could be set aside in particular cases. https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2022/08/criticism-of-vaticans-life-czar-on-abortion-specious-and-offensive-spokesman-says__________________________________________________________ 3. Catholic schools draw clear lines on gender, Dioceses want no identity crises, By Mark A. Kellner, The Washington Times, August 29, 2022, Pg. A1 An official statement saying its parochial school students will have to conform to the gender with which they were born or leave school has put the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha squarely in the middle of a raging national debate over gender, identity and faith. At least two other U.S. Catholic dioceses also have issued statements affirming what they say is church teaching on gender dysphoria. The Omaha, Nebraska, document has drawn local attention for its assertion that students who won’t conform to their biological gender may not be “a proper fit” for Catholic school education.  The diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, also released guidelines this month. The diocese advises that “those who cannot accept” the church’s norms on gender can go elsewhere for education.  The Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, put forth its statement on gender last year.  Not everyone in the Roman Catholic community endorses the statements. The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest whose Outreach faith website seeks to “build bridges” with the LGBTQ community and has been lauded by Pope Francis, said in an email that the church “should be listening more to transgender people themselves.” “This phenomenon is still being understood by physicians, biologists and psychologists. So before the church issues documents, with restrictive rules and regulations that end up excluding transgender people, we need to listen and learn.” https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2022/aug/26/catholic-dioceses-pronoun-gender-rules-cheer-conse/__________________________________________________________ 4. A Catholic Podcasting Star Says Theocracy Is Not the Way, By David Marchese, The New York Times, August 28, 2022, Interview Since it was introduced by the Catholic priest Mike Schmitz, who goes by Father Mike, in January 2021, the little-heralded “The Bible in a Year (With Fr. Mike Schmitz)” has been the most popular Apple religion podcast for a majority of 2021 and 2022 and has even, on two occasions, reached the No. 1 spot among all podcasts on Apple’s platform. The show has been downloaded 350 million times and an average of 750,000 times a day. … Each 20-to-25-minute installment, designed according to a study plan developed by the Catholic biblical scholar Jeff Cavins, features two or three short scriptural readings and a pithy reflection by Father Mike, an affable 47-year-old Midwesterner whose upbeat and self-deprecating manner — not to mention regular-guy good looks — exude strong Ted Lasso vibes.  [Interviewer:] Earlier you mentioned the intrinsic worth of all human life. Do you think the church does enough advocating for activity and legislation that supports the life of the mother and child after the birth? [Mike Schmitz:] I would say that one of the reasons why the pro-life position seems to the culture at large like an anti-abortion position is — here’s an example: If an overweight person comes into the E.R. with a gunshot wound, you’re not going to say, “OK, we need to get you on a regimen of diet and exercise.” It’s like: “No, you’re bleeding out. After this gets taken care of, we’ll address the underlying health issues.” In our minds abortion is the gunshot wound. In our diocese there are multiple women’s care centers that, yes, they’re pro-life, meaning anti-abortion, but they’re all about providing options for women afterward who are in crisis pregnancies. People say things like you mentioned: “You only care about having the baby born. You don’t care about what happens after the birth.” Actually, no. There are all these services that the church and members of the church are providing to help take care of moms and children. Now with legislation, that’s a whole issue that I’m not very familiar with. I won’t be able to speak to legislation. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/08/29/magazine/father-mike-schmitz-interview.html__________________________________________________________ 5. Justice Alito’s Crusade Against a Secular America Isn’t Over, He’s had win after win—including overturning Roe v. Wade—yet seems more and more aggrieved. What drives his anger?, By Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, August 28, 2022, Opinion Last term, Alito landed the reputation-defining assignment of writing the majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which eliminated the constitutional right to abortion enshrined by Roe nearly fifty years ago. In May, a draft of his opinion was leaked, and from start to finish it sounded cantankerous and dismissive. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito declared. “Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences.” He likened Roe to Plessy v. Ferguson, the notorious decision upholding segregation; approvingly cited centuries-old common law categorizing a woman who received an abortion after “quickening” as a “murderess”; and used the inflammatory word “personhood” when describing “fetal life.”  In overturning Roe, the Court bolstered not only the anti-abortion movement but also the conservative legal movement—an effort associated with the Federalist Society, which, since its founding, in 1982, has promoted an “originalist” jurisprudence based on narrow readings of the Constitution.  As a Justice, Alito has become an incisive and aggressive questioner. At the American Enterprise Institute conference on his jurisprudence, Stephanos Bibas, a Trump-appointed appellate judge, said of him, “There are some Justices who hop in right away. . . . He sits back. He listens. He sees where his colleagues are going. . . . And he’s just very carefully prepared this one stinger or bazooka, and it just goes straight to the heart of the case and explodes it.” https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/09/05/justice-alitos-crusade-against-a-secular-america-isnt-over__________________________________________________________ 6. New Chinese Catholic leaders say they’ll follow Communist Party principles, By Catholic News Service, August 28, 2022 Two state-sponsored church bodies in China have elected new leaders, who promised to invigorate the Catholic faithful pastorally in line with the socialist principles of the Chinese Communist Party. The three-day 10th National Congress of Catholicism in China ended in Wuhan, the capital of Hebei province in central China, Aug. 20. The national conference is held every five years, and senior Communist Party officials also attended the gathering and delivered speeches, reported ucanews.com. The delegates unanimously accepted the work report of the Ninth Standing Committee on church efforts and activities in the promotion of patriotism, socialism, and sinicization in the Catholic Church as outlined by President Xi Jinping. Sinicization is a political ideology that aims to impose strict rules on societies and institutions based on the core values of socialism, autonomy, and supporting the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, reported ucanews.com. https://cruxnow.com/cns/2022/08/new-chinese-catholic-leaders-say-theyll-follow-communist-party-principles__________________________________________________________ 7. Pope expands ranks of cardinals who’ll likely pick successor, By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, August 27, 2022, 12:42 PM Pope Francis elevated 20 more churchmen to the rank of cardinal on Saturday, formally expanding those now eligible to vote for his successor in case he dies or resigns — the latter a step he has said he’d consider if the need arises. Of the churchmen being named new cardinals in the consistory ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica, 16 are younger than 80 and thus eligible to participate in a conclave — the ritual-shrouded, locked-door assembly of cardinals who cast paper ballots to elect a new pontiff. The 85-year-old Francis has now named 83 of the 132 cardinals currently young enough to join a conclave. The others were appointed by the previous two popes, St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whose unexpected retirement in 2013 paved the way for Francis to be elected. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pope-expands-ranks-of-cardinals-wholl-likely-pick-successor/2022/08/27/0580df3a-260a-11ed-a72f-1e7149072fbc_story.html__________________________________________________________ 8. Biden to present plans to state, local leaders to protect abortion access, By Rachel Roubein, The Washington Post, August 26, 2022, 7:00 AM The White House is sending a letter to the nation’s governors and convening a meeting with state and local leaders about protecting access to abortion, as the Biden administration seeks to highlight its work on protecting reproductive rights on Women’s Equality Day. But Friday’s efforts don’t amount to any major new policy announcements, which could frustrate some abortion rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers who have urged the administration to push the boundaries of what’s allowed. The efforts come as roughly 20.9 million women have lost access to nearly all elective abortions in their home states, representing a massive shift in abortion access in the two months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The meeting at the White House will include Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D), of Baltimore; Mayor Elaine M. O’Neal of Durham, N.C.; and Alexander S. Mackler, Delaware’s chief deputy attorney general and more. Biden administration officials planare planning to discuss how states can protect access to abortion and how the federal government can offer its assistance, according to senior administration officials who spoke to reporters Thursday on the condition of anonymity because of guidelines set by the administration. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/08/26/biden-present-plans-state-local-leaders-improve-abortion-access/__________________________________________________________ 9. Republicans Must Act on a Late-Term Abortion Ban, By Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review, August 25, 2022, 4:29 PM, Opinion High on any congressional Republican agenda in 2023 should be a ban on abortions late in pregnancy. That’s not what most Republicans in Congress want to hear. They want to deflect any questions about the issue by saying it’s a matter for states to resolve. They’ve seen discouraging polling. They don’t want to be part of a hot and sometimes ugly debate. But passivity should not be confused for wisdom. The abortion debate will go better for pro-lifers if congressional Republicans join it. It will go better for them, too. At the moment, the policy debate is stuck on the aspects of the issue where there’s either a majority against restrictions (abortions in cases of rape, incest, and medical complications) or no solid majority opinion. (Polls give conflicting findings depending on whether they ask about abortions early in pregnancy generally or let respondents opt for allowing them only in the hardest cases.) The debate dwells on every dumb or impolitic remark any pro-life legislator or activist makes anywhere in the country. Meanwhile, abortions late in pregnancy remain legal in much of the U.S. Most polls show that majorities, including many voters who consider themselves pro-choice, think those abortions should be prohibited. Pro-lifers need to direct attention to this point. A push for federal legislation is the only way to do it.  Republican politicians (and consultants) who are skittish about abortion like to imagine that they can defuse the issue by keeping quiet about it. But abortion is a key issue in this year’s elections, and will be in future years’ elections, whether or not they want it to be. The question they face is whether they should try to influence the terms of the argument to their advantage: whether we should be talking only about those aspects of abortion policy that separate Republicans from the median voter or also about the ones that unite them. Republicans can change the abortion conversation by doing something as simple as taking up once again a proposal that almost all of them have already voted to put into federal law: the 20-week ban. It is the least they can do, and the least they should be asked. https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2022/09/12/republicans-must-act-on-a-late-term-abortion-ban/?__________________________________________________________

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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