1. Vatican official apologizes for taking down LGBTQ resource, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 13, 2021, 7:18 AM A Vatican official has apologized to a leading Catholic LGBTQ advocacy group for having yanked a reference to it from the Vatican website, saying he realized the move caused pain and that the Catholic Church does indeed want to include gays and hear from them. The Vatican’s General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, which is organizing a two-year consultation of rank-and-file Catholics ahead of a 2023 meeting of bishops at the Vatican, restored the reference to New Ways Ministries on the website over the weekend. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/vatican-official-apologizes-for-taking-down-lgbtq-resource/2021/12/13/bd896aa0-5c0e-11ec-b1ef-cb78be717f0e_story.html___________________________________________________________ 2. Supreme Court should give parents more education and religious freedom, The Supreme Court now has an opportunity to strengthen school options for parents, By Ashley McGuire, Fox News, December 12, 2021, Opinion Parents across America are losing faith in the public school system. If you do a cursory web search for “public school declining enrollment” you’ll see what I mean.  Children at private schools, including private religious schools, have continued to live a relatively normal life throughout the course of this pandemic. I know this is true because my family has lived it.  The Supreme Court now has an opportunity to strengthen school options for parents. In rural areas of Maine, public high schools are few and far between. The state provides tuition assistance for students who attend private schools. But there’s a catch: anyone who decides to attend a religious private school is immediately disqualified from accessing that aid. What does this mean? It means that a child in Maine can receive state funds to help pay for their tuition at elite Connecticut schools like Miss Porter’s or the Taft School, but not for a local Catholic school. Families in Maine have brought their case to the Supreme Court. If the situation in Maine sounds unfair and discriminatory, that’s because it is. In the 19th century, at the height of anti-Catholic sentiment, many states passed anti-religion laws intended to keep children at Catholic schools from accessing state funds while the public schools remained Protestant. Today, these types of laws affect families of many faiths (and no faith) who are simply looking for a decent alternative to their failing local public schools.  Catholic schools exist in part to serve the very students for which state programs like Maine’s were designed. If the goal is the education of future generations, the government should be eager to partner with religious schools, especially considering how they have fared during the pandemic compared to public schools. It is time for state governments to recognize what families want for their children and do something about it. I know where the state of Maine could start. Ashley McGuire is a Senior Fellow with The Catholic Association and the author of Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/parents-education-school-choice-religious-liberty-supreme-court-ashley-mcguire___________________________________________________________ 3. What the Supreme Court Would Gain If It Reverses Roe v. Wade, It would lose its pretension to political and moral leadership that it has built up over the years. But its historical legitimacy would be restored., By Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg, December 12, 2021, 8:00 AM, Opinion The high court’s legitimacy is also a main subject of debate in the highest-profile case before it this term: the case about Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks. In 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court based much of its argument for reaffirming Roe v. Wade on the theory that reversing itself “under fire” would compromise the public’s perception of its legitimacy and thereby endanger the rule of law. Justice Stephen Breyer echoed this point during the oral arguments over the Mississippi ban. The main counter-arguments are that the justices should reach a legal judgment without trying to head off or even predict a public response, and that Roe itself has undermined the court’s legitimacy by dragging it into a partisan mire. As a longtime critic of Roe, these are the arguments I find persuasive. In the long run, both the court and U.S. politics will be better off if the grave error of 1973 is erased.  Some of the court’s most grandiose descriptions of its role came in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, one of the cases at issue now. Americans’ “belief in themselves” depended on their respect for the court, it claimed. It summoned “the contending sides of a national controversy to end their national division” over abortion.  Overruling Roe would be a blow to this grand version of the court’s identity. It would strip away the pretension to political and moral leadership that it has built up over the years. It would amount to an admission that its attempt to impose its will on the public had failed. Worse, it would be an admission that the attempt had deserved to fail, because Roe substituted the court’s will for the Constitution. Today’s court would be saying, in effect, that Casey was an act of desperate obstinacy. The Supreme Court would still have the power to set aside laws. It would be taken less seriously as an oracle. Those who say that the institution would lose some of its clout are not wrong about that. What they don’t see is that it would be a good thing. https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-12-12/supreme-court-would-gain-legitimacy-in-reversing-roe-v-wade___________________________________________________________ 4. Pope seeks diplomatic end to Russian tensions over Ukraine, By Associated Press, December 12, 2021, 9:27 AM Pope Francis on Sunday offered prayers for Ukraine, and urged dialogue and not weapons as Russia masses tens of thousands of troops on its border with Ukraine. Francis didn’t mention Russia by name in comments to the faithful during the traditional Sunday blessing in St. Peter’s Square, but the implications seemed clear as he called for international dialogue to defuse the crisis. The pontiff prayed for “dear Ukraine, for all its churches and religious communities and all of its people,” and expressed hope that “tensions would be resolved through serious international dialogue and not through arms.” The Vatican has been loathe to criticize Russia over its Ukraine policies for fear of alienating the Russian Orthodox Church. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pope-seeks-diplomatic-end-to-russian-tensions-over-ukraine/2021/12/12/9c61e0a8-5b57-11ec-b1ef-cb78be717f0e_story.html___________________________________________________________ 5. In Vatican’s clumsy stab at censorship, the massage becomes the message, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, December 12, 2021, Opinion Of all the silly and self-defeating habits the Vatican has fallen into over the years – and, let’s face it, it’s not a short list – censoring the words the pope speaks during his airborne press conferences is perhaps the most absurd.  Aupetit offered his resignation, which was swiftly accepted by Francis, after a media expose in France suggested he’d been involved in a relationship with an adult woman. Aupetit has denied there was anything sexual, but conceded the relationship was “ambiguous.” Here’s what Francis actually said about the case, as recorded and published by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, considered the country’s paper of record: “It was a lack against the sixth commandment, but not a total one … small caresses, massages on the secretary, that’s how things stand. And this is a sin, but not a grave sin. The sins of the flesh aren’t the gravest sins.” Journalists found the answer puzzling because, prior to that point, there had been no suggestion of Aupetit inappropriately massaging one of his secretaries. The key point in the original article was that the relationship with the woman, named “Colette,” came to light because Aupetit had sent a private letter meant for her to his secretary instead.   Only two conclusions seem possible. First, the pope simply got it wrong. There never were any untoward massages, but somehow Francis got that into his head and then said it out loud. If that’s the case, obviously the simpler thing for the Vatican to do would be to admit it … append an asterisk to the transcript saying the pope made a mistake and the error has been corrected, the way responsible media organizations handle similar errors in reporting. A related possibility is that Francis was speaking colloquially, the way one might say of an employee who inflated her résumé that she “gilded the lily.”  Again, if that’s the case, why not just say so? The other possibility is that Francis knows something we don’t, and perhaps that helps explain why he acted so swiftly in accepting Aupetit’s resignation in comparison to other cases of embattled prelates who volunteer to step down. Ironically, Francis was attempting to argue that Aupetit’s right to a good name has been injured by malicious gossip in the press. Yet by injecting this reference to “massages” that seemed to come out of nowhere, Francis actually appears to have stoked speculation about what else Aupetit might have been up to, not quelled it. In any event, what the Vatican’s clumsy effort at rewriting history seems to have accomplished is to ensure that the question of what else the pope knows is likely to fester much longer than it would have otherwise. https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2021/12/in-vaticans-clumsy-stab-at-censorship-the-massage-becomes-the-message___________________________________________________________ 6. Catholic bishops decry California’s plan to become ‘sanctuary’ for abortion, By Catholic News Service, December 12, 2021 California’s Catholic bishops slammed a new plan endorsed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to make the state a “sanctuary” for legal abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. “When families are struggling to put food on the table and pay rent, it is absurd for the state to focus on expanding abortion when the real needs of families for basic necessities remain unmet,” said Kathleen Buckley Domingo, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops.  “In a state as diverse as California, with a budget surplus of $31 billion, why aren’t we exploring options that genuinely empower women instead of encouraging the ‘quick fix’ of abortion, which does nothing to solve underlying concerns,” said Domingo. https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2021/12/catholic-bishops-decry-californias-plan-to-become-sanctuary-for-abortion___________________________________________________________ 7. Catholic women urge Vatican to sign Europe rights convention, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 12, 2021 A consortium of Catholic women’s groups is calling on the Holy See to join the Council of Europe and to sign the European Convention on Human Rights, arguing that the Vatican should show consistency by expressing its firm commitment to protecting human rights. In a petition marking the Human Rights Day declared by the United Nations, the groups said the Holy See is recognized internationally as a sovereign state and presents itself as a firm promotor of human rights and dignity. Yet they noted the Vatican hasn’t followed up by adhering to the European Convention, regarded as the gold standard for rights protections around the world.  The Vatican is an absolute monarchy in which the pope wields supreme legislative, executive, and judicial power. It would be loath to allow European commissions to evaluate its policies forbidding the ordination of women, for example, or to subject decisions of the Vatican’s criminal or ecclesial tribunals to appeals at the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights. Yet the pope frequently lectures European leaders on protecting human rights and human dignity, most recently during a visit this month to Cyprus and Greece where he chided Europe for its failure to welcome migrants. https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2021/12/catholic-women-urge-vatican-to-sign-europe-rights-convention___________________________________________________________ 8. Texas Abortion Law Is Opened To Suits, Supreme Court gives clinics a narrow legal path, but restrictions remain in place for now, By Brent Kendall and Jess Bravin, The Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2021, Pg. A1 The Supreme Court on Friday gave abortion providers a narrow legal path to challenge Texas’ ban on ending pregnancies after six weeks, but the splintered ruling left the law in effect for now and made any rapid resumption of such abortions in the state unlikely. While most justices found common ground on allowing the providers to challenge the law in a limited way, they split sharply on whether a broad set of Texas officials could be sued—an important procedural question that could affect the future of the state’s abortion restrictions. A slim conservative majority said they couldn’t be, prompting spirited exchanges among the justices about whether the court was retreating from its role as the protector of constitutional rights. Eight justices agreed the head of the state medical board and other licensing authorities could be sued before the law was enforced to test its constitutionality, despite Texas’ efforts to insulate the law from federal court review by assigning enforcement power to private litigants who can win monetary awards for successful suits. But the conservative majority said other state officials, including the attorney general and Texas court clerks, gatekeepers for the private litigation that enforces the ban, cannot be sued. https://www.wsj.com/articles/supreme-court-rules-abortion-clinics-can-challenge-texas-abortion-law-11639149404?___________________________________________________________ 9. The nation needed a strong defense of constitutional rights. The Supreme Court did this instead, By The Washington Post, December 11, 2021, 8:00 AM, Editorial Texas’s six-week abortion ban is an insult to the Supreme Court, designed to eliminate abortion rights that the court has upheld for decades and to curtail the judiciary’s ability to stop the state from committing this brazen legal maneuver. It threatens not only Americans who might ever need an abortion, but all manner of constitutional rights. The nation needed the court to condemn definitively Texas’s ploy. A narrow majority has instead responded with a weak shrug. The court ruled Friday that Texas health-care providers could continue their legal challenge to the state’s abortion ban in federal district court — but narrowed their case in ways that raised questions about whether federal courts would be able to halt the law.  It is not just Texas citizens’ abortion rights at stake. If Texas’s bounty system enables states to violate people’s constitutional rights without direct and efficient recourse to the courts, any number of constitutional guarantees would be in danger. California could ban all guns and empower private parties to enforce the law. Vermont could ban religious services as long as legal vigilantes were the ones punishing those who disobeyed. The court needed to send a definitive message that the constitutional order cannot be played in this way. Its timid ruling instead left the legal situation dangerously unclear. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/11/supreme-court-texas-abortion-ban-weak-shrug/___________________________________________________________ 10. To Canonize a New Catholic Saint, It Takes a Miracle, A drive to name the first Black American saints will need to meet a stringent Vatican standard for verifying divine intercession, By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2021, Pg. C17 Last month at a church in Baltimore, a group of Catholics launched a campaign calling on Pope Francis to name six men and women the first Black Catholic saints from the U.S. The six candidates include Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange (ca. 1789-1882), who founded a school for Black girls in Baltimore in 1828, and the Rev. Augustus Tolton (1854-1897), who was born in slavery and studied for the priesthood in Rome after being rejected from every American seminary to which he had applied. “It is embarrassing to many of us in America that in the church where we worship, there are no United States African American saints recognized by the highest church authorities,” reads a petition addressed to Pope Francis. “We know there is a process, but it is not working for Black American Catholics and supporters. The process is reaping unfair, uneven results…Please canonize them immediately.” The Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, responded that investigations are under way of all six proposed saints and in some cases their “heroic virtues” have been officially acknowledged. But the Vatican’s rules for canonization—the formal declaration by the pope that someone is a saint—ordinarily require at least one verified miracle attributed to the proposed saint’s intercession, something that has not yet occurred for any of the six Black Americans. There are a number of canonized Black saints, most of them from Africa, but including the Peruvian St. Martin de Porres (1579-1639), who cared for orphans, the poor and the sick. Pope Francis, in remarks to Vatican officials two years ago, reaffirmed “the necessity of the miracle” in deciding that someone is a saint. “It takes a miracle because it is precisely the hand of God there. Without a clear intervention of the Lord, we cannot go ahead,” the pope said. https://www.wsj.com/articles/to-canonize-a-new-catholic-saint-it-takes-a-miracle-11639198861___________________________________________________________ 11. Pope cites new book on nun abuse in warning to superiors, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 11, 2021, 12:11 PM Pope Francis on Saturday drew attention to a problem that the Vatican has long sought to downplay: the abuses of power by mother superiors against nuns who, because of their vows of obedience, have little recourse but to obey. During an audience with members of the Vatican’s congregation for religious orders, Francis cited a new investigative expose of the problem written by a reporter for the Holy See’s media, Salvatore Cernuzio. Francis noted that the book, “Veil of Silence: Abuse, Violence, Frustrations in Female Religious Life,” doesn’t detail “striking” cases of violence and abuse “but rather the everyday abuses that harm the strength of the vocation.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pope-cites-new-book-on-nun-abuse-in-warning-to-superiors/2021/12/11/61b6851a-5aa5-11ec-8396-5552bef55c3c_story.html___________________________________________________________ 12. Cardinal warns EU officials risk populist backlash if they marginalize Christianity, By Inés San Martín, Crux, December 11, 2021 A top European cardinal says efforts by some in the European Union to remove language referring to “Christmas” could push some Christians into supporting populist politicians. Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg argued that the answer to the European Union having many religions and cultures is not to lock religions out, but to give them all access to the public space. https://cruxnow.com/church-in-europe/2021/12/cardinal-warns-eu-officials-risk-populist-backlash-if-they-marginalize-christianity___________________________________________________________ 13. The Supreme Court’s Abortion Standing, The merits of the Texas law weren’t at issue, and the majority is right to block most pre-enforcement federal lawsuits., By The Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2021, 6:03 PM, Editorial The Supreme Court ruled Friday in a case involving S.B.8, the Texas law that bans abortions at around six weeks. But despite all the alarms, this opinion had nothing to do with the merits of the law or the right to abortion. The issue was legal standing. Credit the majority opinion by Justice Neil Gorsuch for refusing to rip up old doctrines to create some for-abortion-only exception.  Justice Sonia Sotomayor, dissenting in part for the three liberals, is at her usual pitch. “By foreclosing suit against state-court officials and the state attorney general, the Court effectively invites other States to refine S.B.8’s model for nullifying federal rights. The Court thus betrays not only the citizens of Texas, but also our constitutional system of government.” Yet as Justice Gorsuch explains, abortion providers can also ask for relief in state court, where he says 14 cases “already seek to vindicate both federal and state constitutional claims.” Or Congress can give the federal judiciary “more tools” to “combat this type of law.” The mistake would have been if the Supreme Court had given into the political pressure and carved up its standing doctrines, with who knows what long-term consequences. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-supreme-courts-abortion-standing-texas-law-neil-gorsuch-11639175695?___________________________________________________________ 14. Pope to Catholic jurists: Respect basic human rights, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 10, 2021, 9:04 AM Pope Francis told Catholic jurists on Friday that they must strongly defend basic human rights in their work, even as his own prosecutors stand accused of violating the basic rights of the defense in a big Vatican fraud trial. In a meeting with Italian Catholic jurists, Francis said recognizing and protecting the rights of the weakest in a court setting doesn’t stem from a governing concession, but rather from recognition of the dignity that every human being enjoys. “The respect of the person and human rights, especially on the continent that doesn’t hesitate to promote them to the world, must always be safeguarded, and the dignity of everyone placed before everything,” Francis said, citing his own speech a few days ago to migrants in Greece. Francis’ comments, and before him those of the Vatican secretary of state, focused on protecting the rights of the poor, the sick and the weak in legal settings. But they came as the Vatican trial of 10 people, including a cardinal, is poised to resume next week amid fresh defense arguments that Vatican City’s prosecutors violated basic rights of the defendants. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pope-to-catholic-jurists-respect-basic-human-rights/2021/12/10/151a9e50-59c2-11ec-8396-5552bef55c3c_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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!
“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.