1. Pope warns Vatican staff an ‘elegant demon’ lurks among them, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 22, 2022, 6:28 AM Pope Francis warned Vatican bureaucrats on Thursday to beware the devil that lurks among them, saying it is an “elegant demon” that works in people who have a rigid, holier-than-thou way of living the Catholic faith.  Beyond that, Francis appeared to also want to take broader aim at arch-conservatives and traditionalists who have become the pope’s biggest critics. Francis blasted their way of living the faith, insisting that being Catholic doesn’t mean following a never-changing set of dicta but is rather a “process of understanding Christ’s message that never ends, but constantly challenges us.” “True heresy consists not only in preaching another gospel, as Saint Paul told us, but also in ceasing to translate its message into today’s languages and ways of thinking,” Francis said. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pope-warns-vatican-staff-an-elegant-demon-lurks-among-them/2022/12/22/3aafa8be-81de-11ed-8738-ed7217de2775_story.html__________________________________________________________ 2. New Immigrants, the Same Church, By Carine Hajjar, The Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2022, Pg. A17, Opinion The drizzly trudge through Tompkins Square Park was worth it for the destination: Saint Brigid-Saint Emeric’s Parish. The church is warmly colored with bright murals around the altar. Its community is warm, too. The pews are full of congregants, the aisles full of ushers and volunteers. This particular Sunday, the church was ablaze. A mariachi band replaced the usual lone cantor. Bright strings of lights and dozens of red and yellow roses adorned a statue on the altar. It was the Virgin of Guadalupe.  Father Connolly speaks Spanish formally—the way you learn in school. “I still have much to learn,” he said in an interview a few days after the service. But what he lacks in fluidity he compensates for in sincerity. His congregants listen intently, faithfully. He concluded the homily by explaining that the Virgin’s apparition completed the Catholic Church. It was no longer a faith of the Old World, but a new one for a new civilization. This universality would become its greatest strength. “All nations and races are united by their baptism,” he told me. “These different cultures have developed unique and beautiful ways to express our common faith.”  Father Connolly, with a bashful smile, took to the lectern with his medal to finish the Mass. He started to thank the congregation in Spanish, but moved with humble gratitude, stumbled searching for the right words. A few older women in the pews piously nodded, signaling that they completely understood. He told a story in English. His great-grandfather Thomas Connolly, like many of the present congregants, was an immigrant to New York. Arriving in 1849, he likely would have worshiped at St. Brigid’s, which was built by Irish immigrants in 1848. It later combined with St. Emeric’s, which was founded by Hungarian immigrants. When he finished, the church erupted in applause. The mariachis played and Father Connolly again called out: “Que Vive la Virgen de Guadalupe!” “Que Vive!” his flock responded. I walked outside and waited to see the congregation process through the drizzle as one church. https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-immigrants-the-same-church-new-yrok-parish-irish-spanish-services-mass-catholic-migrant-founded-11671657645__________________________________________________________ 3. Maine bishop asks Catholics to reevaluate voting choices after midterms, By John Lavenburg, Crux, December 22, 2022 With contentious 2022 midterm elections in the rearview mirror, the lone bishop of Maine is encouraging the faithful to assess their voting process in the new year, reminding themselves where the church stands on a number of key issues. “In the aftermath of yet another contentious campaign period, it would be easy and perhaps preferable to move on with our daily lives and  put the acrimony and issues behind us,” Bishop Robert Deeley of Portland wrote in a new pastoral letter. “But I believe it is important, particularly in this time of division, to reflect on the election that was – not the results per se, but on how the lessons gleaned from the experience and what we learned about ourselves in the process can better prepare us as Maine Catholics as we move forward in facing future decisions,” he said. “How did our values, the values of the Catholic Church, interface with how we voted on November 8?” Deeley asked. https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2022/12/maine-bishop-asks-catholics-to-reevaluate-voting-choices-after-midterms__________________________________________________________ 4. The Americanization of Religion, By Ross Douthat, The New York Times, December 21, 2022 In September the Pew Research Center modeled four potential futures for American religion, depending on different rates of conversion to and disaffiliation from the nation’s faiths. In three of the four projections, the Christian percentage of the U.S. population, which hovered around 90 percent in the 1970s and 1980s, drops below 50 percent within the next half-century. In two scenarios, the Christian share drops below 50 percent much sooner, sometime around 2040, and then keeps on falling. This is a potentially epochal transition, but a transition of what kind? Toward a truly secular America, with John Lennon’s “Imagine” as its national anthem? Or toward a society awash in new or remixed forms of spirituality, all competing for the souls of lapsed Catholics, erstwhile United Methodists, the unhappily-unchurched? Ten years ago I published a book called “Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics,” which offered an interpretation of the country’s shifting religious landscape, the sharp post-1960s decline of institutional faith. Before the book’s anniversary slips away, I thought I would revisit the argument, to see how it holds up as a guide to our now-more-de-Christianized society. What the book proposed was that “secularization” wasn’t a useful label for the American religious transformation. Instead, I wrote, American culture seems “as God-besotted today as ever” — still fascinated with the figure of Jesus of Nazareth, still in search of divine favor and transcendence. But these interests and obsessions are much less likely to be channeled through churches, Protestant and Catholic, that maintain some connection to historical Christian orthodoxies. Instead, our longtime national impulse toward heresy — toward personalized revisions of Christian doctrine, Americanized updates of the gospel — has finally completed its victory over older Christian institutions and traditions.  The Pew report, notably, treats a hypothetical “status quo” scenario — nobody changing their religion — as its best case for Christianity’s future in America. It doesn’t have a scenario where Christian growth returns, where a larger share of America is Christian in 2050 than today. I wouldn’t expect a social scientist to anticipate that kind of reversal. But Advent and Christmas aren’t about trends extending as before; they’re about rupture, renewal, rebirth. That’s what American Christianity needs now — now as ever, now as in those first days when its whole future was contained in the mystery and vulnerability of a mother and a child. Merry Christmas. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/21/opinion/america-religion-christianity.html__________________________________________________________ 5. 20-year church abuse probe ends with monsignor’s quiet plea, By Associated Press, December 21, 2022, 7:06 PM Twenty years after city prosecutors convened a grand jury to investigate the handling of priest-abuse complaints within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the tortuous legal case came to an end with a cleric’s misdemeanor no contest plea in a near-empty City Hall courtroom. Monsignor William Lynn, 71, had served nearly three years in state prison as appeals courts reviewed the fiery three-month trial that led to his felony child endangerment conviction in 2012. The verdict was twice overturned, leaving prosecutors pursuing the thinning case in recent years with a single alleged victim whose appearance in court was in doubt. In the end, they said Lynn could end the two-decade ordeal by pleading no contest to a charge of failing to turn over records to the 2002 grand jury. A judge took the plea during a short break from her civil caseload last month, and imposed no further punishment. 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__________________________________________________________ 6. Woman arrested by English police for silent prayer near abortion facility, By Charlotte Evans, Catholic News Agency, December 21, 2022, 7:20 AM A pro-life volunteer has been arrested and charged after silently praying outside an abortion facility in Birmingham, U.K.  Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, the director of March for Life UK, was arrested on Dec. 6 and charged on Dec. 15 with four counts of breaking a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO). A PSPO is intended to stop antisocial behavior. Police were responding to a complaint from a member of the public who believed that Vaughan-Spruce was praying silently.  As part of her bail conditions, restrictions have been placed on her participating in public prayer. Another requirement of her bail, later dropped, banned her from contacting a local priest involved in pro-life work.  Clause 9 of the bill currently under debate in the U.K. Parliament would prevent people from “influencing,” “advising,” “persuading,” “informing,” “occupying space,” or even “expressing opinion” near an abortion clinic. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253131/woman-arrested-by-english-police-for-silent-prayer-in-buffer-zone-near-abortion-facility__________________________________________________________ 7. Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega: ‘I never had respect for the bishops’, By Catholic News Agency, December 21, 2022, 11:27 AM The president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, once again attacked the Catholic Church in the Central American country, accusing it of “calling for bloodshed,” and said, “I never had respect for the bishops.” The Sandinista dictator made the statement Dec. 19 during the 25th commencement for graduates in police sciences from the Walter Mendoza Martínez Police Academy. “I never had respect for the bishops, I couldn’t believe in the bishops, in some priests, and in that approach there were exceptions of priests who practiced Christianity like Gaspar García Laviana, who without being Nicaraguan had more commitment to the people,” Ortega said. Influenced by liberation theology, Gaspar García Laviana was a Spanish priest and guerrilla fighter who took up arms and participated in the communist Sandinista revolution in its fight against the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza in the 1970s. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253132/nicaraguan-dictator-daniel-ortega-i-never-had-respect-for-the-bishops__________________________________________________________ 8. Alaska archbishop condemns attacks on Catholic church, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, December 21, 2022, 4:00 PM Recent incidents of vandalism committed against a church in Alaska represent an “attack on the dignity of each person and their religious practice,” wrote Archbishop Andrew Bellisario of the Diocese of the Anchorage-Juneau in a letter to parishioners.   In his Dec. 9 letter, Bellisario called attention to two recent acts of vandalism that took place at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Eagle River.  “We do not know what has motivated people to do these serious and disturbing actions,” Bellisario wrote. “These are especially significant in the context of the many expressions of anger that have become so commonplace in our society, our political system, and even our Church. This must be called out for its attack on the dignity of each person and their religious practice.”  CatholicVote reports that there have been over 250 attacks against Catholic churches in the U.S. since 2020. A large percentage of those attacks occurred this year, with at least 100 attacks being committed after the Supreme Court leak in May, according to CatholicVote.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253136/alaska-archbishop-condemns-attacks-on-catholic-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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