1. Is the West Becoming Pagan Again?, By Christopher Caldwell, The New York Times, December 29, 2021, 5:00 AM, Opinion This year, at the height of what used to be called the Christmas season, a Pew Research Center poll on religion revealed that only slightly more Americans described themselves as Roman Catholics (21 percent) than as believers in “nothing in particular” (20 percent). The millennial generation, which includes most adult Americans under 40, is the first one in which Christians are a minority. Many Americans have a sense that their country is less religious than it used to be. But is it really? The interplay among institutions, behaviors and beliefs is notoriously hard to chart. Even if we could determine that religious sentiment was in flux, it would be hard to say whether we were talking about this year’s fad or this century’s trend.  Ms. Delsol’s ingenious approach is to examine the civilizational change underway in light of that last one 1,600 years ago. Christians brought what she calls a “normative inversion” to pagan Rome. That is, they prized much that the Romans held in contempt and condemned much that the Romans prized, particularly in matters related to sex and family. Today the Christian overlay on Western cultural life is being removed, revealing a lot of pagan urges that it covered up.  So if another civilization comes to replace Christianity, it will not be a mere negation, such as atheism or nihilism. It will be a rival civilization with its own logic — or at least its own style of moralizing. It may resemble the present-day iconoclasm that French commentators refer to as le woke. (The term means basically what it does in English, except that French people see wokeness as a system imported wholesale from American universities and thus itself almost a religious doctrine.) Christianity the religion has teachings about loving one’s neighbor and turning the other cheek that are impressively clear. For Christianity the culture, though, these can be sources of ambivalence. Christianity has produced some hardened moralizers, to put it mildly. But there has always been a tension between its teachings and its quest for political power. Ms. Delsol worries that le woke has no such hesitation. Speech codes, elementary school consciousness-raising, corporate public service advertising — in some ways our public order is coming to resemble that of pagan Rome, where religion and morality were separated. Religion was a matter for the household. Morality was determined and imposed by society’s elites, with grim results for freedom of thought. Mr. Caldwell is a contributing Opinion writer and the author of “The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties” and “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West.” https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/29/opinion/christianity-paganism-woke.html___________________________________________________________ 2. Women of Valor and the Pro-Life Cause, By their lives, work and courage, these women falsify the claim that the pro-life cause is anti-woman., By George Weigel, National Catholic Register, December 29, 2021, Opinion I first met Erika Bachiochi — then Erika Schubert — in July 1998, when she was my student in the Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society in Krakow.  In addition to her affiliation with the Abigail Adams Institute, Erika is also my colleague at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. On Dec. 7, a date that will live in infamy in the fever swamps of pro-abortion America, Erika Bachiochi had the temerity to publish an op-ed article in The New York Times. In it, she criticized the “individualistic libertarianism that characterizes our politics, left and right” and expressed the hope that, with Roe v. Wade out of the way, the “pro-life movement can begin where it left off in 1973, working to convince fellow citizens … that we owe dependent and vulnerable unborn children what every human being is due: hospitality, respect, and care.”  It was a well-reasoned, well-written, compassionate and temperate piece. And it caused thousands of readers of what still imagines itself the country’s newspaper of record to come unhinged. An f-bomb in the subject line of an email Erika received set the tone for much of the rest.  By their lives, work and courage, these women falsify the claim that the pro-life cause is anti-woman. And their critics can’t stand it. https://www.ncregister.com/commentaries/women-of-valor-and-the-pro-life-cause___________________________________________________________ 3. Pope spends 2021 looking after his health; advocating for environment, By Inés San Martín, Crux, December 29, 2021 Taking advantage of being relatively cooped up in the Vatican due to the ongoing pandemic, Pope Francis focused much of his energy on his own health, and in the ongoing efforts to reform the Church’s central government, with uneven results.  Caring for creation and human fraternity Two of the pillars of Francis pontificate, interreligious dialogue and combating climate change, came together in perfect harmony in early October, when he hosted leaders of the world’s faith traditions in the Vatican. Together, they signed an appeal addressed to the political leaders who negotiated the future of the environment in the United Nations summit in Glasgow.  Latin Mass If one of Pope Benedict XVI’s signature decisions was his 2007 document Summorum Pontificum (“Of the Supreme Pontiffs”) that was meant as an olive branch for traditionalist Catholics who wanted to celebrate the older, pre-Vatican II Latin Mass, then Francis’s Traditionis Custodes (“Custodians of Tradition”), issued in July, rolling back those permissions and adding some new restrictions of his own, was equally significant.  The “trial of the century” Though presented as the biggest sign of a successful reform of the Vatican’s justice system and as an honest attempt at clean up, the sprawling indictment of 10 individuals, including Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, issued by the Vatican’s promoter of justice – in effect, its chief prosecutor – might become the biggest bust in the tribunal’s history.  Stalled reform Due to the COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions, the council of cardinals that advices Pope  Francis on the reform of the Roman Curia had to hold most of its meetings virtually, only traveling to Rome in December, to cap the year with an in person meeting. https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2021/12/pope-spends-2021-looking-after-his-health-advocating-for-environment___________________________________________________________ 4. Top Vatican diplomat visits South Sudan, says pope could visit in 2022, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, December 29, 2021 British Archbishop Paul Gallagher, a top papal aide, traveled to South Sudan right before Christmas, meeting with top civil and ecclesial leaders in a visit that could be setting the stage for the long-awaited visit of Pope Francis. Speaking to Vatican News, the Vatican’s official information platform, Gallagher said, “There is no perfect time for any such visit,” and the possibility of a papal visit next year is being considered. https://cruxnow.com/church-in-africa/2021/12/top-vatican-diplomat-visit-south-sudan-says-pope-could-visit-in-2022___________________________________________________________ 5. State legislatures in US poised to act on abortion rights, By Wilson Ring, Associated Press, December 28, 2021 State legislatures across the country will be responding to the possibility of seismic change to the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion across the U.S. Republican-led legislatures are ready to further restrict or ban abortions outright while Democratic-led ones are seeking to ensure access to abortion in their state law.  At least 20 states, mostly across the South and Midwest, already have laws that would severely restrict or ban abortion if the high court overturns Roe and leaves the issue up to the states, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights think tank. Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers in at least half a dozen states said they planned to introduce legislation modeled after a new Texas law that effectively bans abortion about six weeks after conception. The law is written in a way that is intended to circumvent the federal courts by leaving enforcement up to individuals rather than the state. They hope it provides a pathway to enacting the kind of abortion crackdown they have sought for years. https://apnews.com/article/us-supreme-court-health-business-state-legislature-legislature-9d25a4a301dffe8ce788c748081176c6___________________________________________________________

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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