1. Remember the Persecuted at Christmas, Covid restrictions are mild compared with what many of the faithful endure, By Timothy Dolan and Toufic Baaklini, The Wall Street Journal, December 17, 2020, Pg. A15, Opinion
For the first time in their lives, millions of Americans have been ordered by their government not to attend church. For millions of persecuted Christians across the globe, this is the only reality they know.
The theme of persecution lies at the heart of the Christmas story. The Holy Family were forced to flee their native land due to state-sponsored oppression. As citizens of a global superpower whose lawmakers are responsive to their citizens, we are called to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians. The U.S. government has shown during this difficult year that it is responsive to such advocacy.

At the same time, 2020 has presented unprecedented challenges for persecuted Christians world-wide.

We hope President-elect Biden will build on the accomplishments of the Trump administration, namely its assistance to genocide survivors and priority on international religious freedom as a centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy. At the same time, Mr. Biden should correct the Trump administration’s shortcomings, particularly its failure to confront Turkey meaningfully.
As for America’s Christian citizens, we must never become complacent in the face of adversity. We must roll up our sleeves, organize, and advocate for persecuted members of the body of Christ.
Cardinal Dolan is the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York. Mr. Baaklini is the president and chairman of In Defense of Christians.
2. Facing lawsuit over restrictions on Christmas services, D.C. mayor eases coronavirus rules, By Julie Zauzmer, The Washington Post, December 17, 2020, 12:08 AM
Facing a lawsuit from the Archdiocese of Washington over rules prohibiting large gatherings — including Christmas services — during the coronavirus pandemic, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser issued a late-night order Wednesday modifying the city’s rules on worship services and other activities.
Bowser (D) revoked the cap of 50 people that she had previously imposed on worship services and instead ordered that religious facilities fill no more than 25 percent of their pews, up to a maximum of 250 people at one event, no matter how large the venue.
3. Top Vatican officials call for world free of nuclear weapons, By Inés San Martín, Crux, December 17, 2020
Opening a Vatican-sponsored webinar, Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, said that the Holy See aims to shine a light on the “catastrophic impact” of nuclear deterrence, mutually assured destruction and the arms race have in society, while renewing the pope’s call for a world free of nuclear weapons.
4. Cardinal Pell on Trump, Benedict XVI and a plot against him, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 16, 2020, 4:49 PM
Pope Francis’ former treasurer, Cardinal George Pell, praised President Donald Trump’s “splendid” Supreme Court appointments and defense of Christian values but questioned his effort to sow doubt in the integrity of the U.S. presidential election.
“It’s no small thing to weaken trust in great public institutions,” Pell told reporters Wednesday in launching his book, “Prison Journal,” about the 404 days he spent in solitary confinement before his sexual abuse conviction was overturned by Australia’s High Court.
In the book, Pell muses on his court case and current events in the Catholic Church and around the world, and at one point says Trump is unfortunately “a bit of a barbarian, but in some important ways, he is ‘our’ (Christian) barbarian.”
During the virtual press conference, Pell said Christians have an obligation to bring their values to the public sphere and said Trump had made a “positive contribution” particularly with his three Supreme Court picks, two of whom are Catholic.

Pell again suggested there was evidence — but not proof — that his prosecution was related to his work trying to reform the Vatican’s murky finances.
5. Paris court convicts former Vatican envoy of sexual assault, By Masha Macpherson, Associated Press, December 16, 2020, 8:54 AM
A Paris court on Wednesday convicted a former Vatican ambassador to France of sexually assaulting five men in 2018 and 2019, and handed him a suspended 8-month prison sentence.
Retired Archbishop Luigi Ventura, 76 — who was not present in court — was “shattered” by the verdict, according to his lawyer, Solange Doumic. She said she was uncertain whether he would lodge an appeal because the procedure “has been extremely painful for him.”
Ventura has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
6. Justice Department sues Vermont medical center over abortion, By Wilson Ring, Associated Press, December 16, 2020, 6:08 PM
The U.S. Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday against the University of Vermont Medical Center alleging it forces staff members who object to abortion on religious grounds to participate in abortion procedures.
The Vermont lawsuit alleges the Burlington hospital violated the Church Amendment, which prevents hospitals from discriminating against health care workers who refuse to perform or assist with abortions.
7. Biden’s OMB nominee heads think tank with history of anti-religious freedom advocacy, By Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency, December 16, 2020, 4:35 PM
President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to direct the Office of Management and Budget is Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress and a major advocate of a federal mandate that has tied up the Little Sisters of the Poor in court over their opposition to contraception.
Her think tank has a history of anti-religious freedom advocacy and has sponsored fellowships for Christian figures who have split global Christianity over LGBT activism.

The Center for American Progress has continued to be a longtime critic of religious freedom protections when they conflict with its vision of reproductive rights and LGBT anti-discrimination demands. Its commentators have criticized houses sof worship that seek equal treatment as businesses under coronavirus public health restrictions. They have been “distorting religious freedom into a license to spread the coronavirus,” the center’s commentators have charged.
8. With Xavier Becerra at HHS, the Biden Administration Will Be Pro-Abortion, By Alexandra Desanctis, National Review, December 16, 2020, 6:30 AM, Opinion
This summer, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration had the authority to exempt religious groups from the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. The mandate, first instituted by President Barack Obama’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Department, required nearly all employers to cover birth control and abortion-inducing drugs in their health-insurance plans, regardless of religious or conscience objections.

In response to the Court’s ruling, Joe Biden promised that his administration would undo those exemptions.

Despite this radical promise, Biden continued to campaign for president as a moderate, and since having been elected has implied that his administration will take a middle road palatable to most Americans. But with the recent announcement that Biden will nominate California attorney general Xavier Becerra to head HHS, it is clear that the incoming president has no intention of moderating, at least when it comes to an issue as important and controversial as abortion.
If confirmed to the position, Becerra will take the lead not only on reinstating the most aggressive form of the contraceptive mandate — almost certainly requiring the Little Sisters to head to court to defend their religious-conscience rights yet again — but he will have the power to enact a vast array of radical domestic policies pushed by the executive branch with little congressional oversight.

As my colleagues and our editors here at NRO have noted, Becerra is about as radical of a progressive as you can find in today’s Democratic Party, especially on abortion. As a congressman from California, he received a 100 percent rating from leading abortion-rights groups Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Time and again, Becerra has revealed himself to be a politician with a serious soft spot for pro-abortion zealotry. President-elect Joe Biden stubbornly persists in calling himself pro-life despite no longer articulating support for any meaningful limitations on elective abortion. He has given the impression that his administration will “marshal the forces of decency and the forces of fairness.” But his selection of Becerra signals that Biden is fully prepared to use the executive branch to enforce the Left’s insistence on unlimited abortion.
9. The Persecution of a Finnish Parliamentarian, MP Päivi Räsänen faces four criminal investigations for traditional biblical beliefs, By K.V. Turley, National Catholic Register, December 15, 2020
On Aug. 25, Finnish Member of Parliament Päivi Räsänen was summoned to a police station in Pasila, Helsinki, at 10am. Thereafter, she was interrogated by police officers on suspicion of “agitation against a minority group,” a crime for which, if found guilty, she could receive up to two years’ imprisonment.
This fall, Räsänen told the Register, “This is the third time I am being interrogated on suspicion of agitation against a minority group. Although the interrogations and the statements related to them take up my time, I will not back down from my views.”
And what are these views that have warranted four ongoing criminal investigations? “They have to do with whether it is legal to publicly confess and teach Bible-based views on man’s relationship with God,” said Räsänen. “I will defend my right to confess my faith, so that no one else would be deprived of their right to freedom of religion and speech. I hold to the view that my expressions are legal, and they should not be censored. I will not back down from my views. I will not be intimidated into hiding my faith.”

Räsänen’s defense is being supported by ADF International, a faith-based legal advocacy organization that protects fundamental freedoms and promotes the inherent dignity of all people.

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.