1. Drive to legalize abortion in Argentina reaches key vote, By Ruby Mellen and Ana Vanessa Herrero, The Washington Post, December 29, 2020, 7:00 AM
After years of debate, the Argentine Senate is set to vote on legislation that would make the predominantly Roman Catholic country the largest in Latin America to legalize elective abortion.
Argentina’s House of Deputies approved the bill championed by President Alberto Fernández this month by a comfortable margin. The vote is expected to be closer in the Senate, which is scheduled to take it up Tuesday.
Argentine media project that 33 senators will vote for the bill, 32 will vote against it and five remain undecided. If the result is a tie, Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a former president who supported similar legislation in 2018, will cast the deciding vote.

The bill has drawn opposition from another prominent Argentine.
Pope Francis described abortion as a question of “human ethics.”
“Is it fair to eliminate a human life to solve a problem?” he asked in a letter to supporters made public last month.
2. Trump orders expanded school choice for in-person classes due to pandemic, By Dave Boyer, The Washington Times, December 29, 2020, Pg. A2
President Trump signed an executive order Monday aimed at expanding school choice options during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing “emergency learning scholarships” for any child without access to in-person learning.
The money will be offered through block grants under the Health and Human Services Department to cover tuition and fees for private or parochial schools; home schooling and “microschools;” learning-pod costs; special education and related services, including therapies; or tutoring or remedial education.
“Unfortunately, more than 50 percent of all public-school students in the United States began school remotely this fall,” Mr. Trump said in his order. “These children, including those with special needs, are being underserved due to the public education system’s failure to provide in-person learning options.”
3. Planned Parenthood president: Saying abortion is a small part of what group does is stigmatizing, By KK Ottesen, The Washington Post, December 29, 2020, 7:00 AM, Interview with Alexis McGill Johnson
[Ottensen:] But [abortion] is a very small part of all the things Planned Parenthood does, right?
[Johnson:] Overall, certainly. But it is still a critically important part of what we do. So I think when we say, “It’s a small part of what we do,” what we’re doing is actually stigmatizing it. Like: It’s really not a big deal that Planned Parenthood does this. We are a proud abortion provider. We believe that abortion is health care, and we believe, fundamentally, that self-determination begins with being able to control your own body and freedom begins with being able to control your own body. So I don’t like to marginalize it in that way.
Alexis McGill Johnson, 48, is a political scientist, social justice advocate, and president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood. She is co-founder and former co-director of the Perception Institute, an anti-bias research group.
4. With latest shakeup, has the music stopped on Vatican financial reform?, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, December 29, 2020, Opinion
Popes, like leaders of any sort, generally come into office with a few clear ideas about what they’d like to accomplish. How to get it done, however, often is something they have to figure out on the fly, and the difference between success and failure sometimes is how well they adapt to experience.
Pope Francis did some major adaptation Monday, marking a third major pivot point in the financial reform of the Vatican he launched in 2013, shortly after his election, and which has seen a series of stops and starts ever since.
In effect, Francis took away the power of the purse from the Secretariat of State, traditionally the Vatican’s 800-pound gorilla, and transferred it to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), the Vatican’s central bank. At the same time, he beefed up the oversight role of the Secretariat for the Economy, the financial administration department he created originally in 2014 and then progressively trimmed down.

Almost certainly, this is more about whom Francis trusts than about the relative merits of the various departments involved. He clearly believes in Galantino, whom he plucked from obscurity as the bishop of a minor Italian diocese in 2013 to make him secretary of the ultra-powerful Italian bishops’ conference, and then moved him to APSA in 2018. In the same way, he culled Guerrero from a quiet administrative role within the Jesuit order to put him in charge of the Secretariat for the Economy in 2019.
In other words, this is Francis grasping one of the indisputable truths about the Vatican: In such a small world, structures are serfs while personalities are monarchs.
Whether this latest shuffle is where the music stops on financial reform remains to be seen, but it’s worth recalling that this isn’t just an amusing parlor game of who’s up and down.

The bottom line is that Galantino and Guerrero how hold the Vatican’s financial cards. How they choose to play them will determine whether the Francis reform is real.
5. The ICC’s failure to investigate China on genocide is a vast moral failure, By Ivana Stradner and Bill Drexel, The Washington Post, December 28, 2020, 10:53 AM, Opinion
Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, is a stickler when it comes to legal jurisdiction. When asked to rule on whether the People’s Republic of China should face the court over the brutal treatment of its Uighur minority, Bensouda’s ICC office noted that China is not party to the court’s founding treaty, and correspondingly concluded that its affairs can’t be scrutinized without further evidence connecting the situation to members of the ICC.
Sounds reasonable on the face of it. Yet Bensouda has been notably reluctant to grant the same understanding to the United States, which her court has happily assailed for its actions in Afghanistan and in CIA black sites in Europe — even though it, too, is not an ICC member state. The Trump administration responded by placing Bensouda and others involved on the U.S. sanctions list of “specially designated nationals.”

The Trump sanctions offer an opportunity to both the Biden administration and the ICC. Biden must make clear to the ICC and our allies that the first step toward any improvement in U.S. relations with the court must be the institution’s thorough investigation of the world’s largest ongoing atrocity.
Biden has a chance to help restore the ICC’s credibility and deliver some small hope for justice to China’s Uighurs. He would be foolish not to take the opportunity.
6. U.S. bishops praise bipartisan, ‘urgently needed’ COVID relief package, By John Lavenburg, Crux, December 28, 2020
The U.S. bishops’ conference has commended the bipartisan work that went into the “urgently needed” coronavirus relief package signed into law by President Donald Trump on Sunday to avoid a government shutdown.
“There are significant bipartisan achievements within this relief bill, and politicians who have worked around the clock to bring this to completion should be commended,” Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City said in statement.
7. Death of legendary Latinist leaves the Church a grayer place, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, December 28, 2020, Opinion
When I first arrived in Rome to cover the Vatican in the 1990s, every time I’d meet an English-speaker around town, sooner or later they’d all ask the same question, inevitably with an amused twinkle in their eye: “Have you met Reggie Foster yet?”
They’d tell me he was the pope’s Latinist, which didn’t exactly seem to make meeting him the most riveting prospect. At first I thought maybe it was some kind of nerdy ex-pat form of hazing, to gaslight the new guy into meeting the biggest bore around just for kicks.
In fact, getting to know Foster was an initiation ritual, but hardly because Foster was dull. On the contrary, he was, quite simply, the most fascinating, most unbelievable, most “what in God’s name is this guy doing in the Vatican?” personality to stalk the corridors of the Apostolic Palace in, probably, the last 100 years.
When Foster died on Christmas Day at the age of 81, the Vatican lost one of its most technicolor characters of all time, and the Catholic scene generally became a bit grayer.
8. Federal appeals court blocks Governor Cuomo’s restrictions on size of religious gatherings, By Catholic News Agency, December 28, 2020, 3:55 PM
Handing an important religious freedom victory to houses of worship in New York, the state’s Second Circuit ordered that the 10 and 25-person caps to worship had to be suspended while the case is pending.
According to the Becket Fund, who represented a group of synagogues and rabbis as well as the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, the court’s decision “effectively means that New York cannot enforce its caps against any house of worship.”
“And since Connecticut is also in the Second Circuit, it means that Connecticut’s similar caps on worship are unconstitutional,” Becket Fund explained in a tweet.

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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!

“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.