1. Abortion will remain a national issue no matter what the Supreme Court does, By David Karol, The Washington Post, December 20, 2021, 6:00 AM, Opinion The Supreme Court may overturn the Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions, which underpin the constitutional right to an abortion under certain circumstances, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Some commentators have suggested that doing so will remove the abortion issue from national politics by “sending it back to the states.” They speculate on how the Democratic and Republican parties’ fortunes will change once abortion is no longer part of the national discussion. Yet while we don’t know how the court will rule in Dobbs, there is no reason to believe that overturning Roe and Casey would reduce the salience of abortion in national politics. In fact, history suggests that the opposite is true. The great moral debates of the past were not settled simply by “returning issues to the states.” Federalism is seldom a satisfying answer for advocates of moral causes, both because such issues invariably spill over state lines and because compromise is morally unsatisfying. The history of the abortion rights fight and earlier moral controversies suggests this issue will not fade away any time soon. David Karol is an Associate Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from UCLA. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/12/20/abortion-will-remain-national-issue-no-matter-what-supreme-court-does/___________________________________________________________ 2. A Plan Forms in Mexico: Help Americans Get Abortions, Mexican activists plan to provide women in Texas and other U.S. states with information, support — and abortion-inducing pills., By Natalie Kitroeff, The New York Times, December 20, 2021, 5:00 AM Abortion restrictions have been multiplying across the United States for years, including just over Mexico’s border in Texas. Now the Supreme Court is considering a case that could diminish or completely overrule Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion. That would likely set off new restrictions in at least 20 states. But in much of Latin America, where access to abortion has long been severely limited, highly organized feminist groups have distributed abortion-inducing drugs for years, making it harder for governments to enforce bans on the procedure. Ms. Cruz and other activists are planning to help shuttle Texans and other Americans seeking abortions into Mexico, and to build networks to ferry the abortion pills north of the border or send them by mail — something they’ve already started doing and now plan to expand. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/20/world/americas/mexico-abortion-pill-activists.html?___________________________________________________________ 3. Across US, houses of worship struggle to rebuild attendance, By David Crary, Associated Press, December 20, 2021 Polls by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows how dramatically church attendance fell during the worst of the pandemic last year, even as many say they are now returning to regular service attendance.  Among Catholics, 26 percent attend in person at least weekly now, compared with 30 percent in 2019. In the 2020 poll, conducted as many bishops temporarily waived the obligation for weekly Mass attendance, just 5 percent were worshipping in person at least weekly. https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2021/12/across-us-houses-of-worship-struggle-to-rebuild-attendance___________________________________________________________ 4. Pope doubles down on quashing old Latin Mass with new limits, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 19, 2021 Pope Francis doubled down Saturday on his efforts to quash the old Latin Mass, forbidding the celebration of some sacraments according to the ancient rite in his latest salvo against conservatives and traditionalists. The Vatican’s liturgy office issued a document that clarified some questions that arose after Francis in July reimposed restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass that Pope Benedict XVI had relaxed in 2007. Francis said then that he was reversing his predecessor because Benedict’s reform had become a source of division in the church and been exploited by Catholics opposed to the Second Vatican Council, the 1960s meetings that modernized the church and its liturgy. The Vatican repeated that rationale on Saturday, saying the clarifications and new restrictions were necessary to preserve the unity of the church and its sacraments. https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2021/12/pope-doubles-down-on-quashing-old-latin-mass-with-new-limits___________________________________________________________ 5. Mask requirement for Boston Catholic churches in effect, By Associated Press, December 19, 2021 A mask mandate for Catholic churches in the Boston-area is taking effect this weekend as Christmas approaches. The Archdiocese of Boston said masks will be required for all holiday Masses and other church services, including weddings and funerals. The mandate takes effect Saturday and expires on Jan. 17. https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2021/12/mask-requirement-for-boston-catholic-churches-in-effect___________________________________________________________ 6. Troops find religious exemption for vaccines unattainable, By Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press, December 19, 2021, 12:37 PM More than 12,000 military service members refusing the COVID-19 vaccine are seeking religious exemptions, and so far they are having zero success. That total lack of approvals is creating new tensions within the military, even as the vast majority of the armed forces have gotten vaccinated. The services, urgently trying to keep the coronavirus pandemic in check by getting troops vaccinated, are now besieged with exemption requests they are unlikely to approve. Meanwhile, troops claiming religious reasons for avoiding the shots are perplexed because exemptions are theoretically available, yet seem impossible to obtain. Caught in the middle are chaplains, who must balance the desire to offer compassionate care and guidance to personnel with the need to explain a complicated process that may well be futile. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/troops-find-religious-exemption-for-vaccines-unattainable/2021/12/19/25533f78-60e5-11ec-9b51-7131fa190c5e_story.html___________________________________________________________ 7. Medical leaps pose thorny issues for Roe, By Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post, December 18, 2021, Pg. A1 Babies like Zeke are surviving earlier than once thought possible, intensifying the debate about how early in a baby’s development to use aggressive lifesaving treatments and remaking the debate over abortion. Abortion opponents cite cases like Zeke’s to challenge the concept of fetal viability, a central issue in a case argued earlier this month before the Supreme Court about Mississippi’s abortion restrictions that has the potential to overturn nearly 50 years of abortion precedents. The antiabortion movement is harnessing advances in neonatology to suggest that the notion of viability, laid out the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling on Roe v. Wade that established a constitutional right to abortion, will soon be obsolete as a matter of science and of law. That is playing out one way in the survival of tiny “preemies,” and another way in legislative chambers and courtrooms, where abortion opponents use such developments to chip away at the framework of viability that has undergirded abortion rights for nearly five decades.  What is indisputable is that decades of advances in medical treatment have made Roe’s viability threshold a moving target, compressing the timeline by about one week every 10 years from the original 28 weeks. Led by the University of Iowa health system, which has pioneered some of these advances, more hospitals are delivering babies 22 and 23 weeks into pregnancy.  With new scientific advances on the horizon — including artificial wombs in which fetuses could be grown outside the body — some wonder if we are headed to a point where Roe’s viability framework is on a collision course with modern medicine. At that point, it might no longer be far-fetched to imagine even a very premature fetus surviving. https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/12/17/premature-birth-viability-abortion/___________________________________________________________ 8. In wide swaths of U.S., death sentences, executions are no longer imposed, By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, December 19, 2021 Courts in wide swaths of the United States no longer impose death sentences or carry out executions, according to a report issued Dec. 16 by the Death Penalty Information Center. “The death penalty is eroding everywhere in the United States, even in places that are still seeking to carry out executions,” said Robert Dunham, the center’s executive director, about “The Death Penalty in 2021: Year-End Report.” https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2021/12/in-wide-swaths-of-u-s-death-sentences-executions-are-no-longer-imposed___________________________________________________________ 9. O’Malley says EWTN, social media give distorted image of US support for Pope, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, December 18, 2021 In a new interview, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston spoke out against American critics of Pope Francis with ties to the EWTN television network, insisting that despite this opposition, the pope enjoys broad support in the United States. A key papal advisor, O’Malley spoke to veteran journalist Elisabetta Piqué in an interview published in Argentine paper La Nacion Friday. Referring to the strong criticism and even opposition of Francis coming from some camps in the United States, O’Malley said that among the laity, “There is a lot of support for the Holy Father, even among non-Catholic Americans, who view this pontificate with enthusiasm.” Asked whether the problem was with the bishops, O’Malley said, “Not all bishops…some.” https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-americas/2021/12/omalley-says-ewtn-social-media-give-distorted-image-of-us-support-for-pope___________________________________________________________ 10. New Jersey allows non-doctors to perform abortion, By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency, December 18, 2021, 5:46 PM New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who describes himself as someone who has spent a “lifetime in the Catholic Church,” earlier this month applauded state policy expanding access to abortion and allowing for non-doctors to perform abortions. “At a time when our country is on the verge of severely limiting access to reproductive health care, New Jersey is prioritizing the expansion of these critical services,” said Murphy in a statement released Dec. 6. “Removing outdated barriers to care ensures that all New Jerseyans have equitable access to reproductive health care.” In October 2021, the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners unanimously decided “to eliminate medically unnecessary regulations on abortion and open new avenues for reproductive healthcare services across the state.” Those changes went into effect Dec. 6. Now, New Jersey will allow for advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, certified nurse midwives, and certified midwives to provide first-trimester aspiration abortions. Additionally, the state will now permit abortions past the 14th week of pregnancy to take place in an office setting. Abortionists will no longer be required to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, nor will they be mandated to report any sort of abortion-related complication. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/249929/new-jersey-allows-non-doctors-to-perform-abortion___________________________________________________________ 11. Virginia Democrats split over last-minute plan to shore up abortion rights, By Laura Vozzella, The Washington Post, December 18, 2021, 4:34 PM Virginia Democrats are divided over whether to make an 11th-hour push to strengthen abortion rights in the state as they prepare to hand over control of the Executive Mansion and state House to Republicans. Abortion rights activists and some House Democrats are calling for the General Assembly to gather in special session before Republicans assume the majority in the House of Delegates on Jan. 12 and Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) takes office three days later. Their goal is to codify Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion, in state law. https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/12/18/virginia-abortion-youngkin/___________________________________________________________ 12. Bishop Paprocki: Illinois repeal of parental notice abortion law ‘a dark and disgraceful moment’, By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency, December 17, 2021, 5:01 PM Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker on Friday signed a repeal of the state’s Parental Notice of Abortion Act, a move which drew consternation from Catholic and pro-life people in the state. Under the repeal, which the Democratic governor signed Dec. 17, minors will no longer be required to notify an adult before seeking an abortion. The repeal, which Illinois’ legislature passed in October, takes effect June 1, 2022. Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois called the bill’s signing “a dark and disgraceful moment in the history of the State of Illinois…It is striking how much this legislation does to provide cover, secrecy, and darkness over evil deeds.” https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/249926/bishop-paprocki-illinois-repeal-of-parental-notice-abortion-law-a-dark-and-disgraceful-moment___________________________________________________________ 13. Vatican insiders: Reports of Cardinal Peter Turkson’s resignation ‘credible’, By Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency, December 17, 2021, 3:44 PM Cardinal Peter Turkson’s tenure as prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development may be coming to an end. Various Vatican sources told CNA that a recent report by a traditionalist blog claiming that Turkson was set to resign is “credible.” https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/249923/vatican-insiders-reports-of-cardinal-peter-turksons-resignation-credible___________________________________________________________ 14. Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished, ByThe Pillar, December 17, 2021 While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to address the issue at the local level.  A document issued in July by Bishop John Doerfler of Marquette, Michigan, garnered international media attention this month, after it was tweeted Dec. 7 by noted LGBT-rights activist Fr. James Martin, SJ.  While Doerfler faces criticism, neither the USCCB nor the Vatican has commented on the Marquette policy. But both institutions have confidentially drafted policies and guidelines on pastoral ministry and gender identity. Those documents, for reasons not entirely clear, have not been published. The Pillar has obtained an unpublished 2018 draft document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which addresses sacramental and pastoral ministry to people who identify as transgender. And senior Church officials close to the U.S. bishops’ conference have told The Pillar that the USCCB has had a document prepared for several years on the subject, but that it has not been released, or even put to a vote for the U.S. bishops, because of a request from the Vatican. https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/vatican-and-usccb-leave-transgender___________________________________________________________

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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