1. Inquest sought in bid to finally solve mystery of missing “Vatican girl” Emanuela Orlandi, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 21, 2022, 7:06 AM Opposition lawmakers in Italy are seeking a parliamentary commission of inquiry into three cold cases that have consumed the Italian public’s imagination for decades, including the 1983 disappearance of a 15-year-old that was highlighted in the Netflix documentary, “Vatican Girl.” The aim of the inquest, said Sen. Carlo Calenda, would be to pressure the Vatican to finally turn over everything it knows about Emanuela Orlandi’s disappearance to Italian law enforcement authorities, saying its longstanding official claim of ignorance was “hardly credible.” “We are a great secular nation that treats the Vatican with respect, but this case certainly cannot be considered closed in this way,” Calenda said Tuesday at a news conference announcing the proposed commission. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/emanuela-orlandi-mystery-inquest-sought-1983-disappearance-vatican-girl/__________________________________________________________ 2. German churches save on heat, still help the needy warm up, By Associated Press, December 20, 2022, 10:01 AM Churches have joined in Germany’s efforts to save on heating costs this winter, forcing their congregations into ever more layers of clothing. But at the same time, they are providing warm spaces for the homeless and for people who are struggling to pay their bills. German lawmakers last week approved a plan to provide up to 200 billion euros ($212 billion) in subsidies to households and businesses to ease the strain of high gas, electricity and heating prices. But prices are still higher than they used to be, and worries about increased costs are widespread. Germany also is trying to reduce energy use to head off a potential energy crunch after Russia stopped gas supplies. Many German churches have decided to switch the heating off completely or limit temperatures. At the Martha Church in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, worshippers are being offered extra blankets and heated cushions to keep them warm during services. The capital endured a prolonged spell of below-freezing temperatures during Advent. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/german-churches-save-on-heat-still-help-the-needy-warm-up/2022/12/20/2174ae48-8077-11ed-8738-ed7217de2775_story.html__________________________________________________________ 3. Scottish bishops warn of ‘gender reform’ bill, By Madeleine Teahan, Catholic News Agency, December 20, 2022, 7:15 AM Scottish bishops have released a strongly worded statement in opposition to the government’s plans to make it significantly easier for individuals to change how they identify their gender. Members of the Scottish Parliament are expected to vote tomorrow on the controversial Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which would scrap the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria in order to qualify for a gender recognition certificate (GRC). A GRC is a document that “legally recognizes that a person’s gender is not the gender that they were assigned at birth, but is their ‘acquired gender,’“ according to the Scottish Parliament. In a statement issued Dec. 19, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said the changes were gravely worrying.  They said: “We are gravely concerned about the changes proposed by the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.“ “The bill introduces a system of self-identification, allowing a person to change their legal sex without the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria or having to consult a doctor. Removing this requirement and denying the important medical oversight that goes with it will inevitably reduce the opportunity for crucial health care, support, and protection for vulnerable individuals, including children.” https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253119/scottish-bishops-warn-of-gender-reform-bill__________________________________________________________ 4. Planned Parenthood starts telemedicine abortions in Kansas, By John Hanna, Associated Press, December 20, 2022 A Planned Parenthood affiliate announced Tuesday that it has started teleconferences with off-site doctors for patients seeking medication abortions at one of its Kansas clinics, a small step toward potentially much broader access in a state that has become a destination for the procedure after an August vote affirming abortion rights. Planned Parenthood Great Plains said it began offering telemedicine consultations Monday to patients visiting its Wichita clinic. President and CEO Emily Wales said the immediate goal is to have more days that patients can go there to get medication abortions. She said her affiliate hopes to offer the service to patients visiting its other two clinics on the Kansas side of the Kansas City area “in short order” and eventually to allow patients in doctors’ offices and clinics across the state to teleconference with its physicians. The move comes as Kansas abortion providers say they are seeing a flood of requests for appointments from women in states with more strenuous restrictions on abortion than Kansas — particularly Oklahoma and Texas. Kansas voters in August decisively voted to retain state constitutional protections for abortion rights. https://apnews.com/article/abortion-health-kansas-city-planned-parenthood-7bbd62399537dac61093864166f0e81e__________________________________________________________ 5. Secularization Revisited: There’s Hope for Faith, By Mary Eberstadt, National Review, December 15, 2022, 7:47 AM, Opinion Even as Christians everywhere rejoice in the impending holiday, the faith itself faces sober times. This is especially true across nations of the West. Consider a subject that sounds parochial but amounts to a civilizational bellwether: the statistics on religious belief and unbelief in the 2021 censuses. Together, these construct a window through which to view nothing less than one of the greatest social experiments in recorded history. That enterprise has been ongoing under different guises for centuries. To some, it is known as Matthew Arnold’s “low, receding roar” of religious faith. To others, it is the process of what is called “secularization,” or the ceding to nonreligious authorities of territories once considered to be God’s, and God’s alone. At its most sweeping, this experiment amounts to doing what most human beings before us have not done, which is to live as purely material entities, without reference to a transcendent realm. This fact of Western religious decline is far from new. Even so, to judge by the 2021 Australian census, for example, secularization is now galloping at a pace that even the most prescient observers might not have foreseen. In 2021, just under 44 percent of Australians in the census called themselves Christian. Only 20 years earlier, in 2001, 68 percent did so. Twenty years before that, in 1981, 74 percent of those surveyed described themselves this way. And 50 years ago, in 1971, fully 86 percent still called themselves Christians. From 86 percent in 1971 to just under 44 percent today: In effect, the percentage of the Australian population calling itself Christian has been cut in half in 50 years. Every other Western society exhibits similar growing indifference.  How have societies that once feared God now come to jeer God? A decade ago, my book How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization proposed an answer that ran counter to the usual sociological suspects. The ten-year mark seems an opportune time to revisit its thesis, adding evidence from the intervening years.  As the costs of the West’s grand, perilous, ongoing experiment continue to mount, so too might wider understanding of its origins. Meanwhile, the job for the rest of the West is to understand what really ails the lost who are now everywhere — and to open doors, wherever possible, that they no longer even know exist. This essay is adapted from the inaugural Greg Craven Lecture in Ethics and Politics, which she delivered in Melbourne, Australia, under the auspices of the PM Glynn Institute, Australian Catholic University. https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2022/12/30/secularization-revisited-theres-hope-for-faith/__________________________________________________________

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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