1. Houses of worship lose youths to ‘cultural agnosticism’: Two generations break ties to denominations. By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, December 31, 2019, Pg. A1

The prophet Daniel had the lion’s den. Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has social media.

Bishop Barron is viewed as the Catholic hierarchy’s most forward thinker in testing new paths of evangelization amid troubling times for the church in the U.S. According to the numbers, youths in particular are increasingly rejecting association with any faith.

It was perhaps inevitable that Bishop Barron ended up fielding questions on Reddit, the massive online message board where millennials and Generation Z types make up most of the community.

“What’s unique to our time is a widespread cultural agnosticism,” Bishop Barron told The Washington Times. “And that is something kind of unique in recorded history. It’s an unusual mark of our time.”

In his podcasts and videos, Bishop Barron has discoursed with social philosopher Jordan Peterson about Yoda, did an interview with conservative figure Ben Shapiro and analyzed the third season of the Netflix series “The Crown.”

He took flak for the appearance with Mr. Peterson, an atheist who has made critical remarks of LGBTQ behavior, but he stands by the conversation and his reach into social media.

“Look, he’s one of the biggest cultural influences of the moment,” Bishop Barron said. “He’s reaching, especially, young men, and the church has had a tough time with this group. … I’m not advocating we all become like Jordan Peterson, but shouldn’t we at least be in dialogue?”


2. China persecutes a genuine people’s leader on utterly baseless charges.

By The Washington Post, December 31, 2019, Pg. A14, Editorial

CHINA’S POLITBURO has conferred on President Xi Jinping the flattering honorific “people’s leader,” similar to an accolade once given to Mao Zedong. This cult-of-personality deference only highlights the fear he seems to feel of his own people. At about the same time party bosses were further glorifying Mr. Xi, they were intensifying their persecution of a genuine people’s leader. Wang Yi, pastor of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, was sentenced to nine years in prison on utterly baseless charges of subversion and illegal business activity that are intended to silence him and destroy his Protestant church.

Mr. Wang founded Early Rain, along with a seminary, an elementary school and a group to aid families of political prisoners, all unofficial and beyond government control. The church and others like it have been popular among middle-class Chinese, and they have expanded from hidden, underground meetings — often in houses with the blinds drawn — to fully public and thriving institutions. In a healthy democracy, these churches would be considered an essential part of civil society and encouraged. But China’s party-state does not tolerate what it cannot manipulate and bully. Mr. Xi has led a crackdown on all freethinking institutions: churches, news and social media organizations, universities and more.

China has been particularly harsh in its treatment of Christians and Muslims who refuse to accede to state control. It has established concentration camps to wipe out the culture of the ethnic Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

Mr. Wang is a paragon of the noble aspiration that people be allowed to think, speak, worship and assemble freely. China ought to have more faith in people’s faith.


3. Lawsuit: Famed Jesuit abused boy 1,000 times around world.

By Michael Rezendes, Associated Press, December 30, 2019, 9:33 PM

One day in May of 1970, an 11-year-old boy and his disabled sister were sitting on the curb outside a Chicago tavern, waiting for their mother to come out. When a priest with crinkly eyes and a ready smile happened by and offered the family a ride home, they could not have been happier.

The boy, Robert J. Goldberg, now 61, would pay dearly for the favor, enduring what he describes as years of psychological control and sexual abuse he suffered while working as a child valet for the late Rev. Donald J. McGuire. He remained in the Jesuit’s thrall for nearly 40 years, even volunteering to testify on McGuire’s behalf during criminal trials that ultimately resulted in a 25-year prison sentence for the priest.

But today, Goldberg says he has finally broken the hold McGuire once had on him. And he has begun to tell his story, in interviews with The Associated Press and in a lawsuit he filed Monday in California state court in San Francisco.


4. N Carolina diocese publishes list of credibly accused clergy.

By Martha Waggoner, Associated Press, December 30, 2019, 7:53 PM

A Catholic diocese in North Carolina on Monday published a list of 14 clergy who it says have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse in the nearly 50 years since the diocese was established.

The Diocese of Charlotte also listed six clergy members who served the area before the diocese was formed in 1972, and 23 clergy members from the diocese who were accused of misconduct while working for the church in other places.

No active clergy in the diocese have a credible allegation of child abuse against them, Jugis said.


5. For US Church, a year of abuse fallout, new leaders, and unsung heroes.

By Christopher White, Crux, December 30, 2019

Aftershocks of 2018’s reemergence of the abuse scandals continued to plague the U.S. Catholic Church throughout the past year, as leaders tried to turn a corner on one of the bleakest periods in modern American Church history while also acknowledging the pain and suffering caused by the Church’s failings.

While calls for greater responsibility, accountability, and transparency were echoed across the global Church, in the United States they were felt in a particular way with the downfall of several high-profile church leaders.

At the same time, 2019 brought new leadership reflecting the rapidly shifting face of U.S. Catholicism, and also reminders that while, at an institutional level the Church may continue to reel, in the trenches the Church’s everyday work continues – often by those who rarely see, or seek, the spotlight.

Sex Abuse Fallout Continues

Just days after 2019 commenced, U.S. bishops spent 8 days in retreat at the urging of Pope Francis, who wrote a letter saying they shouldn’t rely on a technical solution to fighting abuse – “simply creating new committees or improving flow charts”-but challenging them to “pastoral conversion” to change a culture which, he posited, allowed abuse to fester.

The pope’s words, meant to be encouraging, would serve the bishops well as they navigated a turbulent year.

Leadership Reflecting People in the Pews

Latino Catholics will soon represent the majority of Catholics in the U.S., and now, for the first-time, the leadership of the U.S. Church will more closely reflect that reality with the election of Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

U.S. Catholics in the nation’s capital were also given a new leader who reflects diversity in the pews when, in April, Francis appointed Archbishop Wilton Gregory to succeed Cardinal Donald Wuerl as the new Archbishop of Washington.

Gregory is the first African American to lead an archdiocese seen as one of the centers of African American culture in the United States, and the announcement was timed to coincide with the 51st anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Overlooked Work and Workers

Despite what some may view as a cascade of depressing news, Catholics were also on the frontlines on a number of issues that Francis continues to put front and center in his papacy, most notably migration and fighting climate change.


6. Pope appoints new archbishop for booming African diocese.

By Catholic News Agency, December 30, 2019, 8:00 AM

Pope Francis has promoted an African bishop known for his emphasis on family, community, and traditional values. In an announcement released on Monday, the Holy See Press Office confirmed that the pope has named Bishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya as the new Archbishop of Bamenda in Cameroon.

Bishop Fuanya, 54, has served as the Bishop of Mamfe, also in Cameroon, since 2014. He came to international attention during the 2018 meeting of the Synod of Bishops on young people, faith, and vocational discernment.

In contrast to the situation in many European countries, Fuanya said during the synod, the Church in Cameroon and in many parts of Africa is growing – including among young peoples.


7. Cardinal Grech, renowned theologian, dies at age 94.

By Catholic News Agency, December 30, 2019, 12:22 PM

Cardinal Prosper Grech, an internationally renowned theologian, died on Monday at the age of 94.

Grech founded the Augustinian Patristic Institute at the Lateran University, serving as its first president from 1971-1979.

Grech also taught hermeneutics at the Pontifical Biblical Institute for over thirty years.

In 1984 he was appointed as an expert consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In 2003 he was named a member of the Pontifical Theological Academy, and in 2004 he joined the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

He was created a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, but, being over 80 at the time of Benedict’s resignation, was too old to vote in the conclave of March 2013. He did lead a meditation for the cardinal-electors gathered in the Sistine Chapel before the start of voting.


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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