1. Pope tells Vatican bureaucrats to stop gossipy conflicts, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 21, 2020, 6:41 AM
Pope Francis urged Vatican bureaucrats on Monday to stop their gossipy, self-absorbed conflicts, issuing another tough-love Christmas message at the end of a year marked by the coronavirus pandemic and a financial scandal at the Holy See.
Francis gathered his cardinals, bishops and Vatican prelates for his annual Christmas greeting in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace. In past years, Francis has used the occasion to deliver a brutal dressing-down of the clerical court that surrounds the papacy, once denouncing the “spiritual Alzheimer’s” of some Holy See clerics.
This year, Francis said conflicts in the church between left and right, progressives and traditionalists, only hurt the church and distort its true nature. “For this reason, it would be good for us to stop living in conflict and feel once more that we are journeying together,” Francis said.
2. Vatican green-lights COVID vaccines, finds no ‘cooperation’ in abortion for users, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, December 21, 2020
After receiving what they said were “several requests for guidance” on the morality of the use of COVID-19 vaccines developed with cells derived from aborted fetuses, the Vatican’s doctrine office issued an explanatory note Monday giving the green light.
The vaccines in question are the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which both used cell lines derived from fetuses aborted in the last century during confirmatory testing, but not in design, development, or production.

While clarifying that it is not competent to judge the safety and efficiency of the vaccines, the CDF said that in cases in which “ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines” are not available, “it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”
The reason for this, they said, is that the abortion from which the cell lines were harvested “is, on the part of those making use of the resulting vaccines, remote.”
3. Faith behind bars: Cardinal’s book shares spiritual insights from prison, By Robert Duncan, Catholic News Service, December 20, 2020
The first evening Australian Cardinal George Pell was incarcerated, he began writing a record of his thoughts and experiences in the form of a diary.
“I am now at the quiet heart of the storm, while family, friends, and wider church have to cope with the tornado,” wrote the cardinal, who had been convicted — against his adamant denials and refutations of the allegations — on five counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the 1990s.
Released Dec. 15 by Ignatius Press, the cardinal’s Prison Journal is the first of three volumes of these entries and details the run up to the cardinal’s first — and failed — attempt to appeal his conviction. In the end, 404 days of solitary confinement passed before the former chief of Vatican finance was acquitted in April 2020 by the High Court of Australia in a unanimous 7-0 decision.
Throughout the over 300-page book, Pell composes prayers, details scenes of daily life in prison and comments on events in the church and the world. At times, he also critiques the direction of the church under Pope Francis.
4. Pope: Someone has ‘stolen’ Christmas, and it’s not the Grinch, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, December 20, 2020
With Christmas just days away, Pope Francis on Sunday urged Catholics not to get carried away with buying presents and last-minute errands, but instead to focus on welcoming Jesus into their hearts.
“Let us go pray, instead of being carried forward by consumerism,” the pope said in his Dec. 20 Angelus address, urging faithful not to get wrapped up in thoughts such as, “I have to buy presents; I have to this and that.”
This is “the frenzy of doing so many things, but the important thing is Jesus,” he said, adding, “Consumerism, brothers and sisters, has stolen Christmas from us. Consumerism is not in the manger of Bethlehem. There we find reality, poverty, and love.”
5. Pope’s deep-pocket friends may explain sangfroid about money woes, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, December 20, 2020, Opinion
On Tuesday, the Vatican’s Council for the Economy held an online meeting to discuss not only the 2020 deficit, which is expected to be more than $60 million, in part due to coronavirus-related shortfalls but also the looming crisis in unfunded pension obligations. That conversation came just a few days after a new partnership was announced called the “Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican,” featuring business leaders joining forces with Pope Francis for reform of the global economic order.
In effect, the latter story helps explain why the former doesn’t keep Vatican potentates awake at night.

Consider the Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican, a partnership between some of the world’s largest investment and business leaders and the Vatican announced Dec. 8. The organization’s aim is to harness the resources of the private sector to support aims such as ending poverty, protecting the environment and promoting equal opportunity. The group has placed itself under the moral guidance of Pope Francis and Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
Its membership is a virtual Who’s Who of the corporate world: CEOs from Bank of America, British Petroleum, Estée Lauder, Mastercard and Visa, Johnson and Johnson, Allianz, Dupont, TIAA, Merck and Co., Ernst and Young, Saudi Aramco, and on and on. Honestly, it’s almost easier to list Fortune 500 companies that aren’t somehow represented.

Such staggering resources, perhaps, help explain why mounting deficits and underfunded pensions don’t keep Vatican officials awake at night.

Does anyone seriously believe that the pope’s new corporate BFFs, with $10.5 trillion in assets at their disposal, couldn’t help cover a $60 million deficit in a pinch? In all likelihood, all it would take is a couple phone calls and a photo op.
6. Catholic Relief Services is expanding its support outreach to young and Hispanic Catholics, Catholic Relief Services looks to grow its base by creating dozens of local chapters, targeting the young and Hispanic faithful, By Bob Smietana, The Washington Post, December 19, 2020, Pg. B1
Like many nonprofits, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the 77-year-old global humanitarian aid organization founded by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, saw donations tumble in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the downturn didn’t last.

But despite their resilience in the short term, faith-based charities like CRS face a challenge that is affecting nearly all religious organizations: They increasingly rely on older members to both fund and support their work as volunteers.

Aware of its aging donor base and the changing demographics of Catholics, where the declining number of White Catholics is being offset by a growing number of Hispanic Catholics, CRS has sought to expand its base of support.
The nonprofit has expanded its outreach to Hispanic Catholics, many of whom, O’Keefe said, are more sympathetic to the concerns of the poor around the world, having experienced poverty and other challenges of their own. His organization has also reached out to younger Catholics who may be interested in its mission and Catholic social teaching even if they are skeptical of organized religion.
7. Last Hong Kong governor: Pope ‘badly advised’ on China bishops’ pact, By Sarah MacDonald, Catholic News Service, December 19, 2020
The last governor of Hong Kong criticized the Vatican’s agreement with China on the appointment of bishops and said Pope Francis has been “exceptionally badly advised” in concluding the pact.
In his online discussion, “China and the Liberal Democracies — Do We Face a new Cold War?” for the international Catholic weekly, The Tablet, Chris Patten appealed to the Vatican to “tell us what is in the deal.”
The details of the bilateral agreement remain secret. It was renewed in October despite criticism by the United States and human rights organizations.
8. Biden’s Health-Secretary Pick Becerra Plans Focus on Covid-19—if He Gets Job, Some Republicans say he is too focused on abortion rights and too inexperienced in health care, By Stephanie Armour and Sabrina Siddiqui, The Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2020
GOP Sens. Mike Braun of Indiana, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Tom Cotton of Arkansas are among Republican lawmakers who have criticized Mr. Becerra as a nominee. The Susan B. Anthony List, which opposes abortion, called on Republicans to reject Mr. Becerra, whom they called “an extremist on abortion.”
He has been an outspoken advocate for abortion rights as attorney general. Mr. Becerra in 2017 sued the Trump administration in the Northern District Court of California for its expansion of an exemption to the ACA mandate requiring employers to provide contraception coverage. He obtained a preliminary injunction that year to the expanded exemption.
The Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Roman Catholic nuns who operate nursing homes for the poor, appealed to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the court affirmed the injunction. The Little Sisters of the Poor asked the Supreme Court to hear the case. The Supreme Court, in a related case, in July upheld the Trump administration’s broader exemption.
9. Nigerian Christians facing ‘calculated genocide,’ Catholic bishop tells Congress, By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, December 18, 2020, 10:00 AM
The world must not ignore the “genocide” of Christians in Nigeria, the Catholic Bishop of Gboko told members of Congress on Thursday.
“The mass slaughter of Christians in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, by every standard, meets the criteria for a calculated genocide from the definition of the Genocide Convention,” Bishop William Avenya of Gboko, in center of Nigeria, told a congressional commission on Thursday.
The bishop said that “it is depressing that our Middle Belt region has truly become a vale of tears, a region where mass burials are very common!”
Bishop Avenya was testifying at a Dec. 17 hearing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bipartisan congressional commission, on “Conflict and Killings in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.”
The Middle Belt is a fertile region stretching across the central part of Nigeria, the site of an increasing amount of violence in recent years where many farming villages in a predominantly Christian have been attacked.

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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