1. Archdiocese, city settle suit on attendance cap, By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, December 23, 2020, Pg. B3
The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington and the District settled a lawsuit over the city’s coronavirus attendance restrictions on houses of worship, Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced Tuesday, with the city expanding the limits but Racine urging residents to still stay home and “avoid spending time indoors with people outside your household.”
The archdiocese filed a federal lawsuit Dec. 11, charging that the city’s 50-person cap on houses of worship be struck down as an unconstitutional limit on freedom of religion and an unfair rule because it did not take into account the size of the house of worship.

Messages for the archdiocese and its attorneys were not immediately returned and it was not clear exactly what the settlement consisted of.
2. US judge again blocks new Arkansas abortion restrictions, By Associated Press, December 23, 2020, 7:44 AM
A federal judge in Little Rock has temporarily blocked four new abortion restrictions hours after they took effect in Arkansas, including one that bans a procedure commonly used in the second trimester.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker late Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order blocking the four laws, which took effect earlier in the day. The order is set to expire on Jan. 5, unless it is extended.
Baker had issued a similar ruling in 2017 blocking the four laws, but the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated that order in August, saying the case needed to be reconsidered in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision involving a Louisiana case.
3. Lawsuit challenges Indiana laws on disposal of fetal remains, By Associated Press, December 22, 2020, 5:14 PM
An Indianapolis abortion clinic is suing the state of Indiana, challenging provisions of a state law upheld last year by the U.S. Supreme Court requiring fetal remains to be buried or cremated after an abortion.
The federal lawsuit, filed Monday, contends that requirement and other Indiana statues requiring the same disposition method for fetal remains following a miscarriage violate the Constitution because they force the state’s definition of a person onto women who might not share the same beliefs.
4. Analysis: Vatican decision on Indianapolis could impact pending lawsuit, and Catholic identity in Catholic schools, By JD Flynn and Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency, December 21, 2020, 9:35 AM
The outcome of a Vatican appeal involving same-sex civil marriage and the Catholic identity of an Indiana school could have effect on a pending religious liberty lawsuit, and on the way other Catholic schools approach the issue of Catholic identity among their faculty.
Layton Payne-Elliot is a math teacher at Brebeuf Jesuit High School in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. In 2017, the school became aware that Payne-Elliot had contracted a same-sex marriage with Joshua Payne-Elliot, a teacher at Cathedral High School, which is also in the archdiocese.
The archdiocese asked that both schools not renew the teachers’ contracts, because, they said, teachers in Catholic schools are supposed to be witnesses of Catholic doctrine, and contracting a same-sex marriage constitutes a public act of counterwitness to that doctrine.
Brebeuf refused the archdiocesan instruction. In turn, the archdiocese revoked the school’s recognition as Catholic. The school appealed that decision to the Congregation for Catholic Education.
Curial officials close to the case have warned for months that Indianapolis’ Archbishop Charles Thompson is unlikely to find support for his deployment of the “nuclear option” in response to the school’s decision on Layton.
Several Vatican officials have told CNA that after some gestures of consideration, Brebeuf’s Catholic identity will likely remain intact, and the practical autonomy of institutes administered by religious orders will be bolstered by the Congregation’s decision.
A decision against Thompson could impact an ongoing civil lawsuit over the same case.
Joshua Payne-Elliot, who taught at Cathedral High School, filed suit against the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in 2019, after he was fired from his position. His case is currently before the state Supreme Court; this month the court rejected a request from the archdiocese to dismiss the case.

Of course, a decision against the archdiocese could also have a chilling effect on other Catholic institutions which require that teachers or employees live according to Catholic doctrine. It is unlikely bishops will be willing to press institutions in their diocese on such requirements, especially institutions administered by religious institutes, if they expect Rome won’t support their decisions on the matter.

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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