1. Vatican seeks to tamp down outrage over pope’s words of praise for Russian imperial past, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, August 29, 2023, 6:15 AM The Vatican on Tuesday sought to tamp down an uproar that erupted after Pope Francis praised Russia’s imperialist past during a video conference with Russian Catholic youths, insisting that he never intended to encourage modern-day Russian aggression in Ukraine. The Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, said Francis merely wanted to praise the positive aspects of Russia’s spiritual and cultural history when he praised Russia’s imperial rulers Peter and Catherine the Great, encouraged young people to remember that past and praised their way of “being Russian.” Francis “certainly didn’t want to exalt imperialistic logic or government personalities, who were cited to indicate certain historic periods of reference,” Bruni said in a statement. The Vatican, and before it the Holy See’s embassy in Ukraine, spoke out after Ukraine’s Greek Catholic leader, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, bitterly complained about Francis’ remarks. The Vatican never published the comments, but they were shared on social media following Francis’ video conference with a Catholic youth encounter Friday in St. Petersburg.  “Never forget your inheritance. You are the heirs of the great Russia. The great Russia of the saints, of the kings, of the great Russia of Peter the Great, of Catherine II, that great imperial Russia, cultivated, with so much culture and humanity,” Francis said, according to the video clip. “Never forget this inheritance. You are the heirs of the great Mother Russia, go forward. And thank you. Thank you for your way of being, for your way of being Russian.” Shevchuk, who has frequently spoken out to complain about Francis’ interventions about Russia, issued a blistering reply. He said the reference to Russia’s imperial leaders “refer to the worst example of Russian imperialism and extreme nationalism.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/08/29/pope-russia-ukraine-war-vatican-imperial/690bee5a-4652-11ee-b76b-0b6e5e92090d_story.html__________________________________________________________ 2. ‘Agreeing to Disagree’ Review: Congress Shall Erect No Wall, The mid-20th-century Supreme Court used the Establishment Clause to impose a rigid and divisive secularism. Is there a better way?, By Adam J. White, The Wall Street Journal, August 28, 2023, 6:02 PM, Book Review For all that divided the North and South in 1865, there remained a common bond to which President Lincoln could appeal in his second inaugural address. Both sides “pray to the same God,” but “the prayers of both could not be answered—that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.” From this shared faith—and a shared acceptance of the gulf between God’s power and man’s designs—Lincoln could call on all Americans to proceed “with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right,” to “finish the work we are in.” Could he say it today? In “Agreeing to Disagree,” Nathan Chapman and Michael McConnell temper hopeful arguments for religion in American life with a candid recognition of religious divisions. “In recent years, Americans have become increasingly politically polarized, each side distrusting, even fearing, the other, and this polarization has in many cases been fueled by religious disagreement,” they write. “The fear is driven, we think,” by “apprehension that the ‘other side’ will seize control of state power and use it to stamp out dissent.” This is a failure of the people and of their institutions—especially the Supreme Court, which in the 20th century produced a body of precedents that Messrs. Chapman and McConnell rightly criticize as erratic and incoherent. Their book offers a compelling and compact account of the Constitution’s “Establishment Clause”—of its original meaning and purpose, its later misapplication and now its renewed potential for reconstituting America as a pluralistic republic.  Jefferson’s famous 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists envisioned “a wall of separation between Church & State.” But such a stark divorce between religion and public life was not just unnecessary—it was anathema to the Founders, including George Washington, who saw deep connections between religious morality and republican government’s necessary virtues. The disestablishment era ultimately reflected a much more Madisonian and Washingtonian vision. But 150 years later, the Supreme Court embraced Jefferson’s rhetoric for the sake of greater separatism and secularism. In cases ranging from school policy to social services to civic symbols, the court thwarted community traditions, sowed legal uncertainty and invited anti-religious litigation.  Religious differences will always be felt. When Madison listed the “latent causes of faction” that are “sown in the nature of man” (in Federalist 10), he put our “zeal for different opinions concerning religion [and] government” first and foremost. But he knew that republican institutions and a pluralistic temperament could make these differences a source of national unity. Hence his Constitution—and Messrs. Chapman and McConnell’s urgent call for us to return to it. Mr. White is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and co-director of the Scalia Law School’s C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State. https://www.wsj.com/arts-culture/books/agreeing-to-disagree-review-congress-shall-erect-no-wall-852e510a__________________________________________________________ 3. What Berlin’s archbishop said about same-sex blessings, By Luke Coppen, The Pillar, August 28, 2023, 2:29 PM A letter from the Catholic Archbishop of Berlin addressing same-sex blessings is causing a stir far beyond the borders of his archdiocese. In the Aug. 21 letter, Archbishop Heiner Koch assures the Berlin archdiocese’s priests, deacons, and lay pastoral workers that he will not take disciplinary action against them if they bless couples “who cannot or do not want to marry sacramentally.” In the almost 2,000-word letter, he offers a detailed explanation for his decision, which he says he has taken in view of strong disagreements within the archdiocese, which serves around 373,000 Catholics.  Looked at from a wider angle, the letter suggests that the Vatican is sending mixed (or perhaps not easily intelligible) signals about same-sex blessings. Through phrases such as “as long as the status quo exists” and references to Vatican talks, Koch appears to imply that the topic is in flux. The Vatican made no public comment when the Belgian bishops issued a text allowing for a ritual blessing of same-sex couples in September 2022. Following the synodal way, the German Church is expected to publish a manual including blessings for same-sex couples. The pastoral care of Catholics who identify as LGBT is likely to feature prominently in discussions at October’s synod on synodality in Rome. These factors may have been on Koch’s mind as he drew up his guidance, which doesn’t seek to resolve any of the current controversies but rather pleads for a “live and let live” attitude within his archdiocese.  The question is whether his appeal will be heeded — or, perhaps more likely, dismissed as insufficient by all sides. Regardless, the reaction will surely be watched closely in Rome as it grapples with “preserving unity in diversity” on a global scale. https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/what-berlins-archbishop-said-about__________________________________________________________ 4. States and pro-life groups urge Supreme Court to end abortion ‘bubble’ zones, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, August 28, 2023, 3:45 PM Fourteen states and several pro-life groups joined a lawsuit, Vitagliano v. County of Westchester, on Friday urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule laws restricting pro-lifers’ free speech near abortion clinics across the country. Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia all signed onto an amicus brief in support of pro-lifers’ free speech. According to the states’ brief, the laws have “dire consequences” by allowing the government to “cut off speech on a hotly contested moral and political issue” outside an abortion clinic “where a pregnant woman makes a life-altering decision for both herself and her child.” Several legal experts as well as pro-life organizations, including pregnancy resource centers, also filed amicus briefs. In all, 18 different amicus briefs were filed in support of pro-life free speech.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/255215/states-and-pro-life-groups-urge-supreme-court-to-end-abortion-bubble-zones__________________________________________________________

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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