1. Is a Model Catholic Cardinal Being Sidelined by His Church?, By Ashley McGuire, National Review, December 1, 2023, 11:51 AM, Opinion There are the reports that one hopes are not true but that one knows probably are. Such is the rumor out of Rome that Cardinal Raymond Burke is to be stripped of his apartment and salary. The news, based on anonymous sourcing, is already being reported by the Associated Press. If it bears out, Catholics will be surprised and saddened.  It will be especially disappointing for Catholics who have been looking to Rome these past weeks as the Vatican held the first of its two-part Synod on Synodality, whose professed aim is to bring about greater unity within a church plagued by division and rancor. No matter where Catholics fall on the fault lines, we are all weary of the controversy and division that seem to characterize every piece of news we read about the church. This news of Cardinal Burke will be just more of the same. To be sure, controversy has stalked Cardinal Burke his entire career. Not because he went looking for it but because, in our clickbait culture, it goes looking for the types that don’t toe the popular line. His unwavering commitment to church truths and to preserving the transcendent beauty of her liturgy is the stuff of good bogeyman pieces.It’s also the stuff of revitalizing the church with young converts, of whom I am one. “Everywhere I go, I find a significant number of young couples with children, of young single people, young priests who treasure their tradition,” Burke said in an interview  with New York Times columnist Ross Douthat in 2019. “They’re on fire. And I don’t find young people who buy this agenda of accommodation to the world. The younger people, they’ve experienced the bankruptcy of the culture. . . . And they want a church that teaches them clearly the way to eternal salvation, the way to lead a good and decent life on earth.” Those who know the cardinal, or who take the time to understand the priest that he is, discover a kind and holy man who has suffered for his steadfast service to the church and for his commitment to professing her truths in plain terms.  But his mark on the church has been one of example — of simple, humble courage in defense of the truth. It’s a mark that has attracted scorn, both inside the church and out, a cross he has borne with grace. Rather than stand on a bully pulpit of earned media and tangle with his critics, he has spent his time quietly working to build up the church. Most recently those efforts have brought him back to his roots, as he helped to establish the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a “place of ceaseless prayer for the corporal and spiritual welfare of God’s children, especially those in most need.” You’ll be forgiven if that’s not the story about Cardinal Burke that you’ve read. More likely you’ve read something from the clickbait category that involves some kind of controversy. That’s undoubtedly because when Burke is not busy building shrines to Mary, he is busy speaking the truth to a world — and, at times, to a church — that doesn’t want to hear it. He does so unbeholden to the political calculations that keep one out of the press. Politics is not part of his calculus when it comes to speaking the truth. “I haven’t changed,” he said to Douthat. “I’m still teaching the same things I always taught. And they’re not my ideas. For my own part, I simply wanted to be able to say, with St. Paul, that I fought the good fight, I stayed the course, I kept the faith.” And for that, he will keep paying the price. https://www.nationalreview.com/2023/12/is-a-model-catholic-cardinal-being-sidelined-by-his-church/__________________________________________________________ 2. To Win on Abortion, Republicans Must Reckon With What ‘Pro-Life’ Means Today, By Liz Mair, The New York Times, December 4, 2023, 5:01 AM, Opinion Electoral results since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision should tell a lot of people in the Republican Party something they absolutely do not want to hear: Even rank-and-file G.O.P. voters are not as pro-life as we might have thought when Roe v. Wade was the law of the land.  It’s also unlikely that the party is going to take the issue of abortion off the table entirely, as European conservatives (broadly) have. There is still too big a part of the Republican base that cares deeply about the issue. But the party can triage. Focus first on a broadly winning position, which is banning later abortions. And at least for a few years, drop the legislating, especially where it gets into Ohio-like terrain. That is what the pro-life movement will be left with having to do anyway. If the Trump-Vance scenario comes to pass, the pro-life movement will be left with having to change hearts and minds to affect individual behavior based on (shifted) individual opinion rather than focusing mostly on changing laws. Curiously, though it has been overlooked by many people in the party, it is what George W. Bush, the last Republican president before Mr. Trump, advocated when Roe was still the law of the land. In 2005, Mr. Bush, much more in line with Mr. Vance on abortion than Mr. Trump, said: “We will work with decency and respect to change hearts and minds, one person at a time. In doing so, we will build a lasting culture of life.” That will need to be the focus for firmly pro-life Americans again. Liz Mair (@LizMair) has served as a campaign strategist for Scott Walker, Roy Blunt, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina and Rick Perry. She is the founder and president of Mair Strategies. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/04/opinion/republicans-abortion-pro-life.html__________________________________________________________ 3. Islamic State claims deadly blast at Catholic mass in the Philippines, By Regine Cabato and Sammy Westfall, The Washington Post, December 3, 2023, 3:12 PM The Islamic State claimed responsibility Sunday for an explosion in the southern Philippines that killed at least four people, an attack President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had blamed on “foreign terrorists.” The blast targeted a Catholic mass inside a gymnasium at Mindanao State University in the majority-Muslim city of Marawi, some 500 miles south of the capital, Manila. More than forty others were wounded in the explosion, the Philippine Star newspaper reported. The Islamic State announced on Telegram that its members detonated the device that caused the explosion, news agencies reported.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/12/03/philippines-explosion-marawi-terrorism/__________________________________________________________ 4. In COP-28 message, Pope insists climate change is a ‘religious problem’, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, December 3, 2023 Though absent from the COP-28 summit in Dubai due to ongoing concerns for his health, Pope Francis sent a message for the inauguration of the first-ever Faith Pavilion at a United Nations climate event, stressing the responsibility of religious leaders in caring for the planet. In prepared remarks read aloud by Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin on Sunday, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Pope Francis thanked the various representatives present for the Dec. 3 inauguration of the COP-28 Faith Pavilion, including the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, and the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for their presence. The Faith Pavilion, the pope said, “is the first of its kind at the heart of a COP, and it shows that all authentic religious beliefs are a source of encounter and action.” “It is important to see ourselves, beyond our differences, as brothers and sisters in the one human family, and, as believers, to remind ourselves and the world that, as sojourners on this earth, we have a duty to protect our common home,” he said. Religions are a reminder that humanity is finite and has limits, Francis said, insisting that life must be protected and that this is done by “opposing the rapacious illusion of omnipotence that is devastating our planet.” “That insatiable desire for power wells up whenever we consider ourselves lords of the world, whenever we live as though God did not exist and, as a result, end up prey to passing things,” he said. When this happens, human beings become “mere commodities, desensitized, incapable of sorrow and compassion, self-absorbed and, turning our backs on morality and prudence, we destroy the very sources of life,” the pope said. This, he said, “is why the problem of climate change is also a religious problem: its roots lie in the creature’s presumption of self-sufficiency.”  https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2023/12/in-cop-28-message-pope-insists-climate-change-is-a-religious-problem__________________________________________________________ 5. NGO scandal a reminder that a Pope’s friends can be as dangerous as his enemies, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, December 3, 2023, Opinion Perhaps under the heading that no good deed ever goes unpunished, Pope Francis today finds himself dragged into a new controversy which, among other things, illustrates that even the very best of intentions have the potential to generate heartache. The case centers on an Italian non-governmental organization called “Mediterranea,” the head of which is a former leader in the “no-global” movement and a longtime leftist activist named Luca Casarini, who recently took part in the Synod of Bishops on Synodality as a special nominee of Pope Francis. Founded in 2018, Mediterranea operates the lone private rescue ship involved in saving migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean Sea flying the Italian flag, a vessel called the Mare Jonio.  Mediterranea and Casarini enjoy the strong support of Pope Francis, for whom the fate of migrants and refugees attempting to make their way across the Mediterranean is a signature cause. He’s referred to the sea as the “largest cemetery in Europe” due to the large number of people who die every year trying to make the crossing; according to the UN refugee agency, more than 2,500 have perished this year alone.  While saving lives unquestionably is a worthy cause, there have been accusations that the group’s motives aren’t entirely altruistic. Currently, Casarini and five other individuals associated with Mediterranea are under investigation in Sicily for an incident in 2020 in which the Mare Jonio, without permission from local authorities, disembarked 27 migrants in a Sicilian port whom it had taken on board from a Danish supply ship which had rescued them at sea 37 days before. The Danish company that owned the ship, Maersk, later paid Mediterranea roughly $135,000, in what the company described as a donation but which prosecutors suspect was a payoff for violating Italian immigration laws. A judge is expected to rule Dec. 6 as to whether the case should go to trial. Recently, two Italian news outlets published what they described as excerpts from messages exchanged among Casarini and other key figures in Mediterranea, intercepted as part of the Sicilian investigation, which appear to show a coordinated effort to exploit Casarini’s perceived closeness to Pope Francis in order to solicit financial support from various Catholic entities, including the Italian bishops’ conference, the Catholic charity Caritas, and various individual dioceses in Italy. According to the report, from 2021 to 2023, Mediterranea received more than $2 million in financial support from those church sources, in large part because of the perceived favor from Pope Francis and his closest allies. (As a footnote, the use of wiretaps and electronic surveillance in Italy by police and prosecutors is widespread, with the contents of those intercepts frequently leaked to the press. Critics say the practice often amounts to an abuse of the legal system to score political points, and the current government has vowed a reform.) According to the alleged revelations in the media reports, at one point Casarini supposedly says that the $6,500 he gets every month from donations given to Mediterranea, especially from church sources, allows him to “pay the rent without having to go to work in a bar.” At another, a colleague of Casarini allegedly says “the church is becoming our Soros.” After Pope Francis sent a note to Casarini in April 2019 that described him as “dear brother,” Casarini supposedly said the next step was to get the pope to call him “my beloved son.” In the messages, Casarini’s colleagues at various points describe him as “the pope’s ghostwriter” and “like Scalfari” (a reference to a veteran leftist Italian journalist, now deceased, with whom Francis carried on a highly public exchange early in his papacy.) In another message, a priest who serves as the on-board chaplain for the Mare Jonio writes after a meeting with Pope Francis, “Guys, I still have to recover from the past few days, above all from the physical effort I put in to have the nerve to tell the pope to put in the money.” (The priest, Father Mattia Ferrari, allegedly used a more off-color expression than that, but this is a family news site.)  The messages purport to show Casarini and his colleagues discussing how to ensure that Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna would become the president of the Italian bishops’ conference, which he eventually did, and also discussing how to exploit the support of other key papal intimates, such as Cardinals Michael Czerny, Corrado Lorefice, and Jean-Claude Hollerich. “If the financial situation becomes dramatic, we should go to [Zuppi] and Lorefice and bang the drum for cash,” Ferrari reportedly said at one stage.  In any event, in a moment when Pope Francis has been dealing with perceived enemies within the church, including American prelates such as Bishop Joseph Strickland and Cardinal Raymond Burke, the Casarini affair may be a reminder that sometimes, he can have almost as much to fear from his friends. https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2023/12/ngo-scandal-a-reminder-that-a-popes-friends-can-be-as-dangerous-as-his-enemies__________________________________________________________ 6. Don’t ignore us: Backed by pope, poorer nations use COP28 summit to press rich world on climate, By Jamey Keaten and Seth Borenstein, Associated Press, December 2, 2023, 10:57 AM Countries once colonized by empires are striking back on global warming — and they have the pope’s blessing. Leaders of developing nations jumped into Saturday’s high-level speeches at the U.N. climate summit to press rich industrial countries to share their knowhow to fight global warming and ease the financial burdens they face — while trumpeting their own natural resources that swallow heat-trapping carbon in the air.  Injecting moral authority into the talks, Pope Francis said “the destruction of the environment is an offense against God” in a letter read on his behalf because he had to cancel plans to attend because of a lung inflammation. In the letter read by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Francis noted that almost all of the world that’s “needy” is “responsible for scarcely 10% of toxic emissions, while the gap between the opulent few and the masses of the poor has never been so abysmal.” “The poor are the real victims of what is happening: we need think only of the plight of Indigenous peoples, deforestation, the tragedies of hunger, water and food insecurity, and forced migration,” the pope’s letter said.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/12/01/cop28-climate-summit-dubai-oil-fossil-fuel-global-warming/1f8fadce-900e-11ee-95e1-edd75d825df0_story.html__________________________________________________________ 7. Court pauses federal policy allowing abortion clinic operators to get grants — but only in Ohio, By Geoff Mulvihill, Associated Press, December 1, 2023, 7:27 PM A federal appeals court has paused enforcement of a federal government regulation that allows abortion providers to receive federal family planning money — but only in Ohio, where state health officials said the policy took money away from them. Since 1981, federal policy has changed several times regarding whether programs receiving family planning funds can provide abortions or refer patients to such services. Soon after President Joe Biden took office in 2021, the administration made rules to allow groups with abortion services to receive the funding again. A dozen states with Republican attorneys general challenged the rule. A U.S. District Court judge ruled last year that the Biden administration’s version of the rules could remain in effect while the challenge moves through the court system. A majority of the three-judge panel from the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled that in a decision Thursday — but only as it applies to how the federal government distributes the grants in Ohio. In addition to allowing funding for entities that also provide abortions everywhere but Ohio, the court also left in place nationally another element that GOP attorneys general challenged: A requirement that grantees provide referrals to abortion providers if requested.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/2023/12/01/biden-family-planning-ohio-planned-parenthood-funding/7319928e-9095-11ee-95e1-edd75d825df0_story.html__________________________________________________________ 8. West Virginia places anti-abortion pregnancy center coalition at the helm of $1M grant program, By Leah Willingham, Associated Press, December 1, 2023, 12:42 PM A West Virginia coalition that helps support a network of anti-abortion pregnancy centers in the state is receiving $1 million in taxpayer dollars to distribute to organizations committed to encouraging people not to end their pregnancies. The West Virginia Pregnancy Center Coalition has been selected to manage the new West Virginia Mothers and Babies Support Program, the state department of health and human resources announced this week. Authorized by the GOP-dominated state Legislature and Republican Gov. Jim Justice earlier this year, officials said the program is intended to help support pregnant women and families following the passage of the state’s near-total abortion ban in September 2022.  Under the charge, Roychowdhury faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but prosecutors agreed to recommend that Judge Conley reduce the sentence because he has accepted responsibility for the crime. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for Feb. 14.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/2023/12/01/wisconsin-abortion-firebomber-pleads-guilty/5413b6a2-9082-11ee-95e1-edd75d825df0_story.html__________________________________________________________ 9. Pope Francis asks theologians to ‘demasculinize’ the Catholic Church, ‘Women have a way of reflecting on theology that is different from us men,’ Francis told the International Theological Commission, By Claire Giangrave, Religion News Service, December 1, 2023, 10:20 AM Speaking to members of the International Theological Commission at the Vatican on Thursday, Pope Francis asked theologians, in an unscripted remark, to “demasculinize” the church. “There is something I don’t like about you, if you excuse my honesty,” said Pope Francis, pointing out that only five women were among the more than 30 theologians. “We need to move forward on this. Women have a way of reflecting on theology that is different from us men,” he added. The International Theological Commission is part of the Roman Curia and advises the Vatican’s doctrinal department on theological issues. The pope appoints its members, and women have been named as members since 2004.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2023/12/01/pope-francis-asks-theologians-demasculinize-catholic-church/__________________________________________________________ 10. Bavaria’s bishops criticize AfD after election success, By Luke Coppen, The Pillar, December 1, 2023, 2:34 PM The bishops in the southern German state of Bavaria sharply criticized the Alternative for Germany (AfD) political party Thursday after it made gains in state elections. Members of the Freising Bishops’ Conference said Nov. 30 that they were “shocked by the rise of political forces that advocate inhumane positions,” after the AfD came in third place in October’s state elections. The AfD, commonly described as far-right or hard-right, reportedly won the support of 14% of Catholic voters, just below the 14.6% that the party gained among all voters. In a statement at the end of a Nov. 29-30 meeting, the regional bishops’ conference said: “A clear line must be drawn against right-wing extremists. The bishops also made it clear that it is unacceptable for Christians to vote for parties that spread nationalist, racist, or anti-Semitic opinions, or tolerate them in their ranks. The bishops cannot see how anyone with such views could take on responsibility in the Church.”  “They are concerned about democracy, as there are parties that use the free constitutional order to ultimately abolish it. The Alternative for Germany must be counted among these parties.”   Speaking at the end of the bishops’ conference meeting in Munich, Cardinal Reinhard Marx said he believed that membership of the AfD was incompatible with holding Church offices.  The comments by Marx — the coordinator of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy and a former president of the German bishops’ conference — follow an appeal in August by Irme Stetter-Karp, president of the lay Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), for AfD members to be excluded from Church offices. Stetter-Karp said that by “offices” she meant all positions within Germany’s extensive world of Catholic associations, from parish councils to daycare centers.  Among the policies in its current program is a commitment to preserving “the sovereign, democratic nation-state,” introducing Swiss-style referendums, the immediate closure of borders to end “unregulated mass immigration,” and measures to make Germany “more family- and child-friendly.”  It also says: “We reject all efforts to declare the killing of the unborn a human right.”  https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/bavarias-bishops-criticize-afd-after__________________________________________________________ 11. U.S. bishops urge public to petition Biden administration over rule denying funds to pregnancy centers, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, December 1, 2023, 1:45 PM The U.S. bishops are urging the public to petition the Biden administration to revise a proposal that the bishops say would “unfairly cut off” federal assistance money from going to pregnancy resource centers.  In a statement published Thursday, the bishops called on Catholics to join them in urging the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to refrain from restricting Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding available to pregnancy centers. In a rule change posted to the federal register in October, the Biden administration argued that some states have been using TANF funds “to pay for activities with, at best, tenuous connections to any TANF purpose.” One of TANF’s purposes, the government said, is to “prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies.” Organizations such as “crisis pregnancy centers” or “pregnancy resource centers” sometimes receive funding for that purpose, the government said. But if those initiatives only offer pregnancy counseling to women “after they become pregnant,” then TANF funds for that outreach “likely do not meet” the federal government’s standards.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256158/us-bishops-urge-public-to-petition-biden-administration-over-pregnancy-center-fund-rule__________________________________________________________ 12. Pope Francis sends condolences to family of Indi Gregory at British baby’s funeral, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, December 1, 2023, 11:35 AM Pope Francis sent his condolences on Friday to the family of Indi Gregory, the British baby who died last month after U.K. courts ordered her life support removed.  The 8-month-old baby died in her mother’s arms in a hospice on Nov. 13, having suffered from a rare degenerative mitochondrial disease over the course of her short life. England’s high court had ruled that it was in the child’s “best interests” to be taken off life support against her parents’ wishes. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said in a telegram addressed to Bishop Patrick McKinney of Nottingham on Friday that the Holy Father “was saddened to learn of the death of little Indi Gregory.” The pope “sends condolences and the assurance of his spiritual closeness to her parents, Dean and Claire, and to all who mourn the loss of this precious child of God,” the telegram said.   https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256157/pope-francis-sends-condolences-to-family-of-indi-gregory-at-british-baby-s-funeral__________________________________________________________

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.