1. Religious Freedom and the FBI, Three Muslim men win at the Supreme Court under RFRA, By The Wall Street Journal, December 14, 2020, Pg. A18, Editorial
Progressives often caricature the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a special legal protection for intolerant Christians. But the Supreme Court delivered another refutation of that distortion last week, ruling unanimously that three Muslim men can sue federal agents under RFRA for alleged unfair treatment by the FBI.
The men say they were put on the no-fly list as retaliation after they refused to act as informants inside Muslim communities. Under RFRA, a federal law passed in 1993 and signed by President Clinton, if the government unlawfully burdens religious exercise, Americans may sue to “obtain appropriate relief.”

The attacks on RFRA by progressives lately bear little resemblance to reality. Muslims cite the law when saying they were mistreated by the FBI. Native Americans cite it when they want to use legally protected eagle feathers in their ceremonies. And, yes, Catholic nuns cite it, too. This is the spirit of the First Amendment.
2. DOJ probe of Catholic church abuse goes quiet 2 years later, By Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press, December 13, 2020, 8:25 AM
Two years ago, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia joined the long line of ambitious prosecutors investigating the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of priest-abuse complaints.
The Justice Department had never brought a conspiracy case against the church, despite exhaustive reports that showed its long history of burying abuse complaints in secret archives, transferring problem priests to new parishes, silencing accusers and fighting laws to benefit child sex assault victims.
U.S. Attorney William McSwain sent subpoenas to bishops across Pennsylvania asking them to turn over their files and submit to grand jury testimony if asked. The FBI interviewed at least six accused priests, court files show.
But as McSwain’s tenure likely nears its end with President-elect Joe Biden set to take office next month, there’s no sign that any sweeping church indictment is afoot. So far, the case has yielded a single arrest: an 82-year-old defrocked priest, Robert Brennan, charged with lying to FBI agents who showed up at his door.
The filings in that case, though, are revealing. They show the FBI had reached a dead end in the broader church probe five months after McSwain set his sights on it.

Victim advocates who have long sought a full reckoning over the alleged cover-up by church officials are disappointed, but perhaps not surprised.
McSwain is far from the first prosecutor to wonder if the Catholic Church’s handling of sex assault complaints, especially before it adopted its “Dallas Charter” for the protection of children in 2002, was the work of a criminal enterprise.
“Everyone wants a RICO investigation,” said victim advocate Zach Hiner, referring to the criminal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act statute.
3. More US churches are committing to racism-linked reparations, By David Crary, Associated Press, December 13, 2020, 9:12 AM
These efforts reflect a widespread surge of interest among many U.S. religious groups in the area of reparations, particularly among long-established Protestant churches that were active in the era of slavery. Many are initiating or considering how to make amends through financial investments and long-term programs benefiting African Americans.
Some major denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention, have not embraced reparations as official policy. The Episcopal Church has been the most active major denomination thus far, and others, including the United Methodist Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, are urging congregations to consider similar steps.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has not embraced the term “reparations” in its official policies. The word never appears in a 2018 pastoral letter condemning “the ugly cancer” of racism, though the document encourages support for programs “that help repair the damages caused by racial discrimination.”
Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the Black archbishop of Washington, D.C., told The Associated Press in October that initiatives involving financial reparations should be made by individual institutions, not by the U.S. church as a whole. He cited the example of Catholic-affiliated Georgetown University, which last year committed funds to benefit descendants of enslaved people sold in 1838 to pay off debt.
However, there have been calls by some Black Catholics for substantive reparations by the church nationwide, due to its past involvement in slavery and segregation.
4. DC archdiocese sues over Christmas Mass restrictions, By Catholic News Agency, December 12, 2020, 10:00 AM
The Archdiocese of Washington is suing the District of Columbia over restrictions on public worship during the coronavirus pandemic. The lawsuit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia.
“From the start of the pandemic,” the lawsuit argues, “the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington has worked with the District of Columbia to protect public health, including by voluntarily suspending public Masses in March.”
“Since Mass resumed in June, the Archdiocese has demonstrated that people can worship God in a safe, responsible, and cooperative way. This has led to an exemplary safety record,” said the archdiocese. “Yet as Christmas fast approaches, the District has imposed arbitrary 50- person caps on Mass attendance—even for masked, socially-distant services, and even when those services are held in churches that can in normal times host over a thousand people.”
5. Vatican committed to net zero emissions by 2050, Pope Francis says, By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, December 12, 2020, 9:00 AM
Pope Francis urged Saturday the adoption of a “climate of care,” and said the Vatican City State is committed to reducing its net emissions to zero by 2050.
Speaking in a video message during the virtual Climate Ambition Summit Dec. 12, the pope said “the time has come for a change of course. Let us not rob the new generations of hope in a better future.”

In addition to the goal of net zero emissions, Francis said the Vatican is also committed to “intensifying environmental management efforts, already underway for some years, that enable the rational use of natural resources such as water and energy, energy efficiency, sustainable mobility, reforestation, and the circular economy also in waste management.”
6. Argentina lawmakers pass abortion bill amid pressure from activists, By Catholic News Agency, December 12, 2020, 4:28 AM
The lower house of Argentina’s legislature has passed a bill that would legalize abortion-on-demand up to 14 weeks in pregnancy, drawing dismay from pro-life groups and Catholics in the country.
The bill, passed Dec. 11, would permit abortions up to 14 weeks of gestation for any reason. The bill now proceeds to the upper house, the Senate, where it is expected to face greater opposition.

 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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