1. Biden signs gay marriage law, calls it ‘a blow against hate’, By Chris Megerian, Associated Press, December 14, 2022 A celebratory crowd of thousands bundled up on a chilly Tuesday afternoon to watch President Joe Biden sign gay marriage legislation into law, a joyful ceremony that was tempered by the backdrop of an ongoing conservative backlash over gender issues. “This law and the love it defends strike a blow against hate in all its forms,” Biden said on the South Lawn of the White House. “And that’s why this law matters to every single American.”  https://apnews.com/article/biden-politics-marriage-united-states-government-virginia-state-4968ff59107e511609fc3e301890942e__________________________________________________________ 2. Does American Society Need Abortion?, By Ross Douthat, The New York Times, December 14, 2022, 5:00 AM, Opinion The first two columns were focused on physical and psychological issues, arguments about the personal burdens borne by women asked to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. This one will focus more on economic and sociological issues, and particularly the belief that crucial elements in our current American way of life — economic prosperity, female opportunity, social stability — depend on the ready availability of abortion. This belief has several points in its favor. First is the general reality that, while many other developed countries have somewhat more restrictive abortion laws than the most liberal U.S. states, almost none ‌‌have the sweeping bans pursued by the pro-life movement, the kind that ‌‌attempt to limit abortion to the most exceptional or dangerous situations. In general, prosperity, modernity and pro-choice policies appear as a package deal.  But at the same time it concedes too much to the Yellen worldview, the abortion-as-economic-benefit analysis. And one reason to believe this comes from the work of Janet Yellen herself. In 1996, Yellen and her husband, George Akerlof, joined their fellow economist Michael Katz in a paper titled “An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States.” They were attempting to explain what seemed like a riddle: In a world where strategies to control births had improved significantly, with contraception available and abortion legal, why were so many more women having children outside of marriage? Raising kids alone is difficult, and single parenthood imposes substantial economic burdens, so you would think that in giving women more choice in when they carry a pregnancy to term, more women would choose to do so with the child’s father wedded and present. Instead, the opposite was happening, with post-1960s, post-Roe America seeing an unprecedented rise in the share of children born outside of wedlock — a rise that continued for more than a decade after 1996, before finally leveling off around 40 percent of all births, compared with 5 percent in 1960 and about 10 percent in 1970. Part of the explanation that the paper proposed was that there had been a fundamental change in the reciprocal obligations of men and women. A system in which sex could be separated from fertility decisively, with abortion a guaranteed backstop for anyone who wanted it, made it much harder for women who wanted commitment and children to make long-term demands of the men who wanted to have sex with them. As Yellen and Akerlof wrote, in a Brookings policy brief adapted from the original paper, the old “shotgun marriage” scenario, where society expected men to “promise marriage in the event of a pregnancy,” depended on a sense of inherent obligation. But if any unintended pregnancy could be ended by the free choice of the woman, then the male could reasonably deny the existence of any definite obligation on his part. “By making the birth of the child the physical choice of the mother,” Akerlof and Yellen concluded, “the sexual revolution has made marriage and child support a social choice of the father.” This shift, they suggested, could not be undone; any social conservatism appears in their analysis as a probably futile effort to “turn the technological clock backwards.” But the new female freedom came at a cost to women who wanted fidelity and children and didn’t want to have abortions; for them, the post-sexual revolution world was less supportive, its norms now reset to work against expectations of monogamy, commitment and support. Men could lose out in this new culture as well. Just as the woman who wants commitment sees her position weakened when abortion is a normal and expected alternative, so does the man who wants involvement, obligation, an expectation he can rise to meet — and who is told instead, in every case where the woman’s choice is for abortion, to simply forget any paternal pang or instinct, to detach entirely from the life he cocreated. The man confronted by what in a different culture would be the most important obligation of his life is told in ours that it’s at most an economic burden, a matter of child-support payments — and if he’s lucky and she chooses to get an abortion, it won’t be even that. Extend this imaginative analysis still further, and you can see that the right to abortion creates not just new social incentives that disfavor commitment and paternal obligation but also a kind of moral and spiritual alienation between the sexes. The most transformative thing that men and women do together becomes instead a ground of separation. The man’s right to avoid marital obligation separates the pregnant woman from either him, her unborn child or both. The woman’s right to end the pregnancy separates the man who doesn’t want to see it ended from what would otherwise be the most important relationship imaginable. And downstream from this alienation lies the culture we experience today, in which not just marriage rates but also relationships and sex itself are in decline, in which people have fewer children overall and fewer than they say they want, and also have more of them outside of wedlock than in the past. All of this carries a set of socioeconomic costs to set against the benefits invoked by the Yellen of 2022.  If it yields more children growing up without a father, and especially more sons growing up with absent dads — as Richard Reeves’s recent book, “Of Boys and Men,” points out, boys seem to fare particularly poorly in those circumstances — then it will impose multigenerational costs on those kids’ economic prospects. And if it yields fewer children in the long run, not just because of abortion itself but because the sexes are failing to pair off, then that will be a permanent drag on prosperity and growth.  But you also can’t just assume that our society’s post-1960s path is inevitable and impossible to redirect, that we’re on the only road an economically advanced society can ever take. You can’t insist that the immediate economic benefits of ending a pregnancy should be counted in Roe v. Wade’s favor, but any of the larger negative shifts in mating and marriage and child rearing associated with abortion can’t be considered as part of the debate. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/14/opinion/abortion-america.html__________________________________________________________ 3. Pope urges ‘humble’ Christmas, with savings sent to Ukraine, By Associated Press, December 14, 2022, 4:34 AM Pope Francis called Wednesday for a “humble” Christmas this year, with savings from reduced spending on gifts donated to help the “suffering people of Ukraine.” Francis called for “concrete gestures” of charity for Ukrainians this holiday season during his weekly general audience. “It’s nice to celebrate Christmas and have parties, but let’s lower the level of Christmas spending a bit,” he said. “Let’s make a more humble Christmas, with more humble gifts, and let’s send what we save to the people of Ukraine who need it.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pope-urges-humble-christmas-with-savings-sent-to-ukraine/2022/12/14/8311f122-7b92-11ed-bb97-f47d47466b9a_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. A Medieval Landmark Made New, An absorbing ‘NOVA’ special follows the efforts and frequent revelations involved in restoring Notre-Dame, By John Anderson, The Wall Street Journal, December 14, 2022, Pg. A13, Television Review No one in “Rebuilding Notre Dame” goes so far as to declare that a silver lining lay behind the April 2019 fire that nearly destroyed the place—never mind that the relevant elements are lead, iron, limestone and oak. But what’s being discovered, as the fabled Notre-Dame de Paris is readied for a 2024 reopening (to coincide with the Summer Olympics), is not just absorbing and revelatory but instructive: Perhaps a medieval cathedral should be steam-cleaned every 850 years.  Producer-directors Joby Lubman and Alessandra Bonomolo employ marvelous computer animation sequences that show in harrowing detail what might happen to Notre-Dame at various stages if its surgery doesn’t go well. But the patient seems to be recovering. Will it be ready for 2024? The efforts being made are Olympian, so one tends to have faith. https://www.wsj.com/articles/rebuilding-notre-dame-review-pbs-nova-paris-cathedral-fire-11670970863__________________________________________________________ 5. Antiabortion movement sets sights on putting people in jail, Six months after their Supreme Court victory, conservatives complain that strict new laws are not being sufficiently enforced, By Caroline Kitchener, The Washington Post, December 14, 2022, 7:30 AM  Nearly six months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, triggering abortion bans in more than a dozen states, many antiabortion advocates fear that the growing availability of illegal abortion pills has undercut their landmark victory. Now they are grasping for new ways to crack down on those breaking the law. Antiabortion advocates had hoped the June decision would significantly decrease the number of abortions in the United States. But abortion rights activists have ramped up efforts to funnel abortion pills — a two-step regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol that is widely regarded as safe — into states with strict new bans, working with rapidly expanding international suppliers as well as U.S.-based distributors to meet demand. Now many conservatives are complaining that the abortion bans are not being sufficiently enforced, even though much of the illegal activity is happening in plain sight, as abortion rights advocates seek to reach women in need. Leaders interviewed on both sides of the debate had not heard of any examples of people charged for violating abortion bans since Roe fell, a crime punishable by at least several years in prison across much of the South and Midwest. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/12/14/abortion-pills-bans-dobbs-roe/__________________________________________________________ 6. Omaha archdiocese walks back controversial gender policy for schools, By John Lavenburg, Crux, December 14, 2022 Walking back a controversial six-page gender policy it planned to add to the archdiocesan school’s handbook on January 1, 2023, the Archdiocese of Omaha has replaced it with a narrower single-page policy that will be implemented for the 2023-2024 school year. The move comes after the former policy, which the archdiocese said was “prematurely shared” in August, generated pushback. Unlike the former, the revised policy doesn’t mention possible dismissal or disciplinary action for transgender students, and drops the portion that applied to school employees and volunteers.  https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2022/12/omaha-archdiocese-walks-back-controversial-gender-policy-for-schools__________________________________________________________ 7. Vatican cardinal sues for defamation in Quebec assault claim, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 13, 2022, 2:00 PM A Vatican cardinal sued a Canadian woman for defamation in a Canadian court on Tuesday after she accused him of sexual assault while he was archbishop of Quebec. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Vatican’s bishops’ office, is seeking 100,000 Canadian dollars (US$74,000) in compensatory damages for “injury to his reputation, honor and dignity,” according to a copy of the complaint provided by Ouellet’s office.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/vatican-cardinal-sues-for-defamation-in-quebec-assault-claim/2022/12/13/6560d408-7b11-11ed-bb97-f47d47466b9a_story.html__________________________________________________________ 8. Nicaragua orders bishop to remain under house arrest, By Associated Press, December 13, 2022, 10:54 PM A Nicaraguan court has ordered that a Roman Catholic bishop remain under house arrest on charges of “conspiracy” and “spreading false news,” a government media site said Tuesday. The government website El 19 Digital said Matagalpa Bishop Rolando Álvarez has been formally charged with those crimes and “damaging the Nicaraguan government and society.”  Bishop Alvarez has been under house arrest since August. He had been a key religious voice in discussions of Nicaragua’s future since 2018, when a wave of protests against Ortega’s government led to a sweeping crackdown on opponents.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/nicaragua-orders-bishop-to-remain-under-house-arrest/2022/12/13/0c4e4b5a-7b63-11ed-bb97-f47d47466b9a_story.html__________________________________________________________ 9. Indiana appealing 2nd court decision blocking abortion ban, By Tom Davies, Associated Press, December 13, 2022, 1:41 PM A second legal challenge that has blocked Indiana’s abortion ban from being enforced could also be headed to the state Supreme Court. The Indiana attorney general’s office asked the state’s highest court to review a county judge’s Dec. 2 ruling that the abortion ban adopted in August by the Republican-dominated Legislature violates the state’s 2015 religious freedom law signed by GOP then-Gov. Mike Pence. The office argued in a court filing Friday that the Supreme Court should take over the case, bypassing the typical intermediate step of the state appeals court. The court has already done that with another judge’s ruling issued in September that the ban violates the Indiana Constitution’s protections of individual rights. The court is scheduled to hear arguments in that case on Jan. 19.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/indiana-appealing-2nd-court-decision-blocking-abortion-ban/2022/12/13/c3564bac-7b15-11ed-bb97-f47d47466b9a_story.html__________________________________________________________ 10. The Truth About Life: A Response to Notre Dame Professors Kay and Ostermann, The evidence that life begins at conception is so preponderant that to deny this fact is to deny science., By Daniel Philpott, National Catholic Register, December 13, 2022, Opinion On Dec. 5, two of my colleagues at the University of Notre Dame, Tamara Kay and Susan Ostermann, both on the faculty of the Keough School of Global Affairs, published on op-ed in the Chicago Tribune purporting to refute “lies,” “intentional misinformation,” and “utter falsities,” that have served to “erode access to abortion” in the United States. The day after, Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame, published a letter to the editor to the Tribune stating: [“]… Tamara Kay and Susan Ostermann are, of course, free to express their opinions on our campus or in any public forum. Because they chose to identify themselves as Notre Dame faculty members, I write to state unequivocally that their essay does not reflect the view and values of the University of Notre Dame in its tone, arguments or assertions.[“] As a professor at Notre Dame who teaches about justice about politics, including global affairs, I wish to exercise the same freedom. I consider one of the four “lies” my colleagues allege: “abortion kills babies,” as they put it. They write that “almost 90% of abortions occur during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy when there are no babies or fetuses.” The truth is that babies begin at conception and has great consequences for justice. What is magic about the moment of conception? skeptics ask. In fact, something special happens at this moment: A new human being is formed. Three important qualities characterize it. First, it is complete. A unified being with an entire set of chromosomes, containing the full incipient capacities of a human person, now exists. Had not the mother’s egg been fertilized, no such being would exist. Second, it is distinct. Although this being is dependent upon the mother’s nourishment, it differs from the mother’s kidney or stomach in that it is a separate human being that exists within a larger human being. Third, it possesses an internally directed trajectory of growth. Once formed, the zygote immediately begins to multiply, a process of expansion that, unless halted by natural threats or human decision, will develop into a person who will laugh, throw a baseball and acquire gray hair.  “A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members, and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying,” Pope St. John Paul II said. So, too, will a Catholic university in its witness to justice. Notre Dame states its institutional support for the choice for life. Centers, institutes, clubs, faculty, staff and students advocate for unborn life and support pregnant women in their choice for life. President Jenkins has led Notre Dame’s contingent at the March For Life in Washington, D.C. on several occasions. This is education for building peace and protecting human rights. The Keough School of Global Affairs proclaims its mission as integral human development, a concept in Catholic social teaching that centers on human dignity. The teaching and study of politics and global affairs at Notre Dame, then, has no choice but to take up what is far and away the largest defilement of human dignity on the planet. Daniel Philpott is Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. https://www.ncregister.com/commentaries/response-to-kay-and-ostermann__________________________________________________________ 11. Synod on Synodality official: Women priests ‘not an open question’ for the Church, By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, December 13, 2022, 9:20 AM The highest-ranking woman in the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops has said that the ordination of women as Catholic priests is “not an open question” at this time. Sister Nathalie Becquart, who serves as an undersecretary for the Church’s ongoing Synod on Synodality, was recently named on the BBC’s list of 100 inspiring and influential women around the world. In an article published Dec. 13, the French religious sister said that there are many ways for women to serve the Church, but ordination is not an option. “For the Catholic Church at this moment, from an official point of view, it’s not an open question,” Becquart told the BBC.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253063/synod-on-synodality-official-women-priests-not-an-open-question-for-the-church__________________________________________________________

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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