1. Ousted cardinal gave to clerics: McCarrick Tapped Church Fund, Powerful figures received $600,000, records show.

By Shawn Boburg, Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Chico Harlan, The Washington Post, December 27, 2019, Pg. A1

Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in church money to powerful Catholic clerics over nearly two decades, according to financial records obtained by The Washington Post, while the Vatican failed to act on claims he had sexually harassed young men.

Starting in 2001, McCarrick sent checks totaling more than $600,000 to clerics in Rome and elsewhere, including Vatican bureaucrats, papal advisers and two popes, according to church ledgers and former church officials.

The checks were drawn from a little-known account at the Archdiocese of Washington, where McCarrick began serving as archbishop in 2001. The “Archbishop’s Special Fund” enabled him to raise money from wealthy Catholic donors and to spend it as he chose, with little oversight, according to the former officials.

The Vatican plans to release a report about its handling of the allegations against McCarrick in the coming months, church officials have said.


2. Supreme Court to hear Louisiana abortion case: Gorsuch, Kavanaugh to leave mark on issue.

BY Alex Swoyer, The Washington Times, December 27, 2019, Pg. A3

A case testing abortion access in Louisiana will come before the Supreme Court early next year, giving President Trump’s two appointees their first chance to leave a mark on the topic.

Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh were not on the court in 2016 when its justices last grappled with hospital admitting privileges and requirements for medical professionals administering abortions in Texas.

This time, the pair of Trump appointees help create a conservative majority on the high court for its second go at those types of restrictions imposed by a Louisiana law.


3. Evangelicals should thank Trump for protecting their religious liberty.

By Hugh Hewitt, The Washington Post, December 26, 2019, 5:11 PM

Evangelicals who minimize the importance of President Trump’s judicial appointments betray a naivete about the perils to religious liberty in the United States, perils that have been growing over the past decade.

Many people, outside of the relatively small group of constitutional law professors and Supreme Court and appeals courts practitioners, may not grasp the sheer number of cases on the religious clauses of the First Amendment that have reached the high court in recent years.

Critics of the president who play down the importance of Trump’s judicial appointments make an enormous mistake. For those whose faith is crucial to their lives, “Trump judges” make all the difference in the world.


4. Why Are Catholic Homilies So Short?

Fr. Roger Landry, The Anchor, December 27, 2019

On December 16, as Catholic clergy were in the heart of their Advent preparations for Christmas and getting ready to mount the pulpit for one of their most important preaching opportunities of the year, the Pew Research Center released an intriguing, first-of-its-kind study entitled, “The Digital Pulpit: A Nationwide Analysis of Online Sermons.”

Using advanced computer technology, the study examined the websites of 38,630 Christian Churches in the U.S., found 6,431 that publish audio or video recordings of the Sunday sermons and homilies in English, and analyzed them, among other things, for length and vocabulary. The results were rather striking.

First, the survey revealed that Catholic clergy preach much more briefly than clergy in mainline Protestant Churches, evangelical Churches and historic black Protestant Churches.

I would like to focus… on what the survey reveals about how short Catholic homilies are compared to Protestant sermons

The typical reason given, however, for why Catholic homilies are shorter — a rationale often heard in seminaries and clergy workshops — is that people today do not have the attention span to follow longer homilies. Catholic priests and deacons, therefore, are explicitly trained, on account of that “fact,” to keep their homilies brief.

While it is true that some adults, and not just children, are affected by diagnosed and undiagnosed attention deficit disorders, something that preachers, teachers, television and movie producers, politicians and public speakers all need to consider, I’ve always found this truism unsatisfying and unintentionally self-deprecatory.

But there are two ways of looking at attention span. One refers to ability; the other, to interest. While jocks should have the same attention span for NFL games as for the ballet, they’ll snooze at the Nutcracker. Budding actresses have the same natural attentiveness for movies and Shakespeare as for cricket and golf, but they’ll be bored only at the latter. Teen guitar players and rappers should be enraptured by good music, but after ten minutes of listening to Debussy, you’ll need to take out the debrillitators. Why? Because they lack interest.

I think the calls in various Catholic circles for brief homilies, including by Pope Francis, who urges 8-10 minutes (even though his own homilies are normally considerably longer than that), are based on a prejudice that average Catholic homilies are not very good, probably won’t get better, and therefore are more prone to drive people away than light them on fire, especially the longer they go.

Poor and spiritless preaching, as surveys have repeatedly shown, is a major factor in why many have said they stopped coming to Mass or migrated to evangelical or Pentecostal Churches. It’s a serious problem.

The solution, however, is not shorter poor and spiritless preaching. It’s much better preaching.


5. Sudan’s Christians enjoy holiday amid hope for new freedoms.

By Mariam Fam, Associated Press, December 26, 2019, 7:15 PM

The Sudanese Christian marchers weaved through bustling markets and traffic-clogged streets wearing “I Love Jesus” T-shirts or colorful traditional robes known as thobes.

The marching group from the Bahri Evangelical Church was small, but the symbolism of the moment loomed much larger. The March for Jesus holiday tradition had been suspended in recent years under authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir, whose government was accused of harassing and marginalizing Christians and other religious minorities.

This holiday season, a year after the eruption of the uprising against al-Bashir, Sudan is transitioning away from his three-decade repressive rule. The military overthrew him in April after months of pro-democracy protests. A transitional military-civilian administration now rules the country.

Though some caution against being overly optimistic about expanded religious freedom, Monday’s march was one small sign of new openings.

The efforts have been noted. In a Dec. 20 statement from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the State Department announced that Sudan had been dropped from a list of countries that have engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom” and upgraded to a special watch list. It attributed the change to “significant steps” taken by the transitional government.


6. Pennsylvania dioceses offer $84M to 564 clergy abuse victims.

By Michael Rubinkam, Associated Press, December 26, 2019, 9:44 AM

Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses have paid nearly $84 million to 564 victims of sexual abuse, a tally that’s sure to grow substantially in the new year as compensation fund administrators work through a backlog of claims, according to an Associated Press review.

Seven of the state’s eight dioceses launched victim compensation funds in the wake of a landmark grand jury report on sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. The funds were open to claims for a limited time this year. They are independently administered, though each diocese set its own rules on eligibility.


7. How the Church in Chile is helping women victims of domestic violence.

By Catholic News Agency, December 26, 2019, 11:04 AM

The Vicariate for Social Pastoral Care of Caritas in the Archdiocese of Santiago takes in every year hundreds of women and their children, victims of domestic violence who find in their shelters comprehensive care to be able to get on with their lives. 

According to figures from the Center for the Study and Analysis of Crime of the Undersecretariat for Crime Prevention, in 2018 there were 64,361 complaints in Chile related to domestic violence, and of these, 76% were against women.

That same year, Caritas’ Social Pastoral Care took into its two shelters in Santiago 86 women and 115 children. Today, 30% of its residents are immigrants.

“The women come in as referrals from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Family Courts, and Sernameg (National Service for Women and Gender Equality), the Carbineros [national police] and the unified risk assessment guidelines,” said Loreto Rebolledo, head of Caritas’ Solidarity Outreach, told the Archdiocese of Santiago’s communications office.


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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