1. A Christian Artist and a Gay Wedding, By The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2022, Pg. A16, Editorial Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who declined to make custom cakes for gay weddings, won at the Supreme Court in 2018, but that was a limited decision based on the animus of the state Civil Rights Commission. A factor that made a broader ruling complicated was whether Mr. Phillips’s cake design qualified as speech. If yes, Justice Elena Kagan asked at oral argument, what about the work of a stylist whose free expression is in “creating a wonderful hairdo?” On Monday the Justices will take up 303 Creative v. Elenis, another religious objection to Colorado’s antidiscrimination law, but this time there’s no hand-wringing over whether the First Amendment covers baked goods. Lorie Smith designs websites. She wants to offer custom wedding websites, while saying upfront that she will decline to work on same-sex weddings, because doing so “would compromise my Christian witness.”  Ms. Smith only wants to sell websites. Unlike physical public accommodations, such as hotels and restaurants, there is no captive market on the internet. Coloradans can choose from countless different website designers, most of whom will happily serve gay weddings. So why can’t the law leave Lorie Smith alone?  https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-christian-artist-and-a-gay-wedding-at-the-supreme-court-11670025799__________________________________________________________ 2. While Nicaragua Burns, Rome Fiddles, By Mary Anastasia O’Grady, The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2022, Pg. A15, Opinion Three Catholic priests, two seminarians, a deacon and a photojournalist who are being held at Managua’s El Chipote prison were scheduled to go before a Nicaraguan judge Thursday. But the day came and went with no hearing. Welcome to the world of arbitrary justice under the military dictatorship of Daniel Ortega. The defendants, arrested more than three months ago, face the possibility of long jail sentences for the crime of exercising freedom of conscience against the atrocities of the regime—their moral responsibility. It’s no surprise that Mr. Ortega is desperate to silence the church. The Castro acolyte recognizes the threat it presents to his rule, not unlike the church in Poland during Soviet times. Harder to fathom is the failure of Pope Francis to demand protection for his Nicaraguan flock and their local shepherds. In 2019 as attacks on Bishop Báez escalated, Rome pulled him out of the country. It was a move that smacked of abandonment in a time of crisis. In August Francis tweeted his “concern” about the persecution and desire for “peaceful coexistence.” Mush. Similar to their brethren in China, Venezuela and Cuba, who also have been left to fend for themselves, Nicaraguan Catholics are bewildered by Vatican timidity.  https://www.wsj.com/articles/while-nicaragua-burns-rome-fiddles-pope-francis-ortega-religious-political-persecution-radio-opponent-prison-11670187773__________________________________________________________ 3. Vatican vendettas: Alleged witness manipulation jolts trial, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 5, 2022, 2:45 AM The text message to the Vatican monsignor offered forgiveness along with a threat: “I know everything about you … and I keep it all in my archives,” it read. “I pardon you, Perlasca, but remember, you owe me a favor.” The message was one of more than 100 newly revealed WhatsApp texts and other correspondence entered into evidence at the Vatican courthouse last week that have jolted a financial crimes trial involving the Holy See’s money-losing investment in a London property. The texts have cast doubt on the credibility of a key suspect-turned-prosecution witness and raised questions about the integrity of the investigation into the London deal and other transactions. Together with evidence that a cardinal secretly recorded Pope Francis, they confirmed that a trial originally aimed at highlighting Francis’ financial reforms has become a Pandora’s Box of unintended revelations about Vatican vendettas and scheming. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/vatican-vendettas-alleged-witness-manipulation-jolts-trial/2022/12/05/c9a6c7ee-7470-11ed-a199-927b334b939f_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. The First Amendment Is Not a License to Discriminate, By David Cole, The New York Times, December 5, 2022, 5:00 AM, Opinion Can an artist be compelled to create a website for an event she does not condone? That’s the question the Supreme Court has said it will take up on Monday, when it hears oral arguments in 303 Creative v. Elenis. The answer would seem to be obviously “no.” But that’s the wrong question. The right question is whether someone who chooses to open a business to the public should have the right to turn away gay customers simply because the service she would provide them is “expressive” or “artistic.” Should an architecture firm that believes Black families don’t deserve fancy homes be permitted to turn away Black clients because its work is “expressive”? Can a florist shop whose owner objects to Christianity refuse to serve Christians? The answer to these questions would seem to be, just as obviously, “no.”  303 Creative has plenty of freedom to speak or not speak as it wishes. It need not serve the public and it need not design wedding websites featuring content it would not sell to anyone. But the First Amendment does not give it an exemption from laws requiring equal treatment of customers simply because its service is “expressive.” Otherwise, interior decorators, landscape architects, tattoo parlors, sign painters and beauty salons, among countless other businesses whose services contains some expressive element, would all be free to hang out signs refusing to serve Muslims, women, the disabled, African Americans or any other group. The First Amendment protects the right to have and express bigoted views, but it doesn’t give businesses a license to discriminate. David Cole is the national legal director of the A.C.L.U. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/05/opinion/303creative-first-amendment-supreme-court.html__________________________________________________________ 5. When Gay and Religious Freedoms Clash, By Tish Harrison Warren, The New York Times, December 5, 2022, Pg. A19, Opinion This week, the Supreme Court will hear a case that will reignite a continuing conversation about what to do when long-established religious convictions clash with gay people’s civil rights. In 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, a Colorado web designer, Lorie Smith, wants to create websites for clients’ weddings. She is a Christian, and because of her religious beliefs, she does not want to offer these services for same-sex weddings. However, she serves L.G.B.T.Q. customers for other design projects. This week’s legal arguments will most likely focus primarily on questions around free speech: Can the government compel artists or designers to express messages that contradict their beliefs? In the public discourse more broadly though, this case, like the Masterpiece Cakeshop case in 2018, poses a question to us as a culture: How committed are we to true pluralism? Pluralism is not the same as relativism — we don’t have to pretend that there is no right or wrong or that beliefs don’t matter. It is instead a commitment to form a society where individuals and groups who hold profoundly different and mutually opposed beliefs are welcome at the table of public life. It is rooted in love of neighbor and asks us to extend the same freedoms to others that we ourselves want to enjoy. Without a commitment to pluralism, we are left with a society that either forces conformity or splinters and falls apart. Millions of Americans have irreconcilable views of sex and marriage, and this is unlikely to change any time soon. The historic teaching of the Christian faith is that holy matrimony is between a man and a woman. The Roman Catholic Church still holds to this definition, as does Eastern Orthodoxy, the majority of Anglican churches worldwide and most Protestant denominations in the United States and elsewhere. A majority of Muslim and Jewish communities around the world hold a similar definition as well.  We need the law to act as a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. Gay people must be protected from discrimination in secular employment, housing and health care. We need to ensure that gay people can continue to be legally married and live according to their deepest values. We also need to ensure that religious people are not compelled to participate in an event or voice approval of a marriage they object to and that they can form churches, schools and other ministries in line with their beliefs. Churches ought not look to the government to enforce their views of morality. At the same time, those who celebrate same-sex marriages must leave room for people who have a different vision of sexuality to work and live according to their beliefs.  https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/04/opinion/303-creative-supreme-court.html__________________________________________________________  6. Euthanasia In Canada, By Ross Douthat, The New York Times, December 4, 2022, Pg. SR3, Opinion In recent years, Canada has established some of the world’s most permissive euthanasia laws, allowing adults to seek either physician-assisted suicide or direct euthanasia for many different forms of serious suffering, not just terminal disease. In 2021, over 10,000 people ended their lives this way, just over 3 percent of all deaths in Canada. A further expansion, allowing euthanasia for mental-health conditions, will go into effect in March 2023; permitting euthanasia for “mature” minors is also being considered. In the era of populism there is a lively debate about when a democracy ceases to be liberal. But the advance of euthanasia presents a different question: What if a society remains liberal but ceases to be civilized? The rules of civilization necessarily include gray areas. It is not barbaric for the law to acknowledge hard choices in end-of-life care, about when to withdraw life support or how aggressively to manage agonizing pain. It is barbaric, however, to establish a bureaucratic system that offers death as a reliable treatment for suffering and enlists the healing profession in delivering this “cure.” And while there may be worse evils ahead, this isn’t a slippery slope argument: When 10,000 people are availing themselves of your euthanasia system every year, you have already entered the dystopia.  In these issues you can see the dark ways euthanasia interacts with other late-modern problems — the isolation imposed by family breakdown, the spread of chronic illness and depression, the pressure on aging, low-birthrate societies to cut their health care costs. But the evil isn’t just in these interactions; it’s there in the foundation. The idea that human rights encompass a right to self-destruction, the conceit that people in a state of terrible suffering and vulnerability are really “free” to make a choice that ends all choices, the idea that a healing profession should include death in its battery of treatments — these are inherently destructive ideas. Left unchecked, they will forge a cruel brave new world, a dehumanizing final chapter for the liberal story.  It’s often treated as a defense of euthanasia that the most intense objections come from biblical religion. But spiritual arguments never really disappear, and the liberal order in a dystopian twilight will still be infused by some kind of religious faith. So I remain a conservative, unhappily but determinedly, because only conservatism seems to offer a stubborn obstacle to that dystopia — and I would rather not discover the full nature of its faith. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/03/opinion/canada-euthanasia.html__________________________________________________________ 7. Both sides see high stakes in gay rights Supreme Court case, By Jessica Gresko, Associated Press, December 3, 2022, 10:53 AM The Supreme Court is being warned about the potentially dire consequences of a case next week involving a Christian graphic artist who objects to designing wedding websites for same-sex couples. Rule for the designer and the justices will expose not only same-sex couples but also Black people, immigrants, Jews, Muslims and others to discrimination, liberal groups say. Rule against her and the justices will force artists — from painters and photographers to writers and musicians — to do work that is against their faith, conservative groups argue.  The case marks the second time in five years that the Supreme Court has confronted the issue of a business owner who says their religion prevents them from creating works for a gay wedding. This time, most experts expect that the court now dominated 6-3 by conservatives and particularly sympathetic to religious plaintiffs will side with Lorie Smith, the Denver-area designer in the case.  Smith’s supporters, however, among them 20 mostly Republican-leaning states, say ruling against her has negative consequences, too. A lawyer for the CatholicVote.org education fund told the court that if the lower court ruling stands and Smith loses, “a Jewish choreographer will have to stage a dramatic Easter performance, a Catholic singer will be required to perform at a marriage of two divorcees, and a Muslim who operates an advertising agency will be unable to refuse to create a campaign for a liquor company.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/both-sides-see-high-stakes-in-gay-rights-supreme-court-case/2022/12/03/71c15c0a-72c8-11ed-867c-8ec695e4afcd_story.html__________________________________________________________ 8. Non-religious voters wield clout, tilt heavily Democratic, By Peter Smith, Associated Press, December 3, 2022, 10:43 AM  Voters with no religious affiliation supported Democratic candidates and abortion rights by staggering percentages in the 2022 midterm elections. And they’re voting in large numbers. In 2022, some 22% of voters claimed no religious affiliation, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of more than 94,000 voters nationwide. They contributed to voting coalitions that gave Democrats victories in battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Arizona. The unaffiliated — often nicknamed the “nones” — voted for Democratic House candidates nationwide over Republicans by more than a 2-1 margin (65% to 31%), according to VoteCast. That echoes the 2020 president election, when Democrat Joe Biden took 72% of voters with no religious affiliation, while Republican Donald Trump took 25%, according to VoteCast.  Among all U.S. adults, 29% are nones — those who identify as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” — according a 2021 report by the Pew Research Center. That’s up 10 percentage points from a decade earlier, according to Pew. And the younger the adults, the more likely they are to be unaffiliated, according to a 2019 Pew analysis, further signaling the growing clout of the nones.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/non-religious-voters-wield-clout-tilt-heavily-democratic/2022/12/03/47284326-7315-11ed-867c-8ec695e4afcd_story.html__________________________________________________________ 9. California diocese to join growing list of US Catholic bankruptcies, By John Lavenburg, Crux, December 3, 2022 Soon into the new year, the Diocese of Santa Rosa, California, will join a growing list of U.S. Catholic dioceses to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it faces a wave of sexual abuse lawsuits. Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa announced in a Dec. 2 statement that the diocese’s attorneys will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy sometime between Dec. 31 and March 1, 2023, saying the decision was “the inevitable result of an insurmountable number of claims.”  The claims were filed under the 2019 California Child Victims Act, which allowed for a three-year period where victims of child sex abuse could come forward with claims that would have expired under the previous statute of limitations. The three year window created by the bill began Jan. 1, 2020, and expires in less than a month after the start of the new year.  New York, New Jersey, Arizona, Vermont, North Carolina, Montana, and Hawaii are among the other states that have passed similar legislation opening windows for claims to be filed. Others, including Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Texas and Tennessee have changed statute of limitations in recent years to allow victims to file civil cases alleging abuse later in life.  https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2022/12/california-diocese-to-join-growing-list-of-us-catholic-bankruptcies__________________________________________________________ 10. Preaching truth on sex and gender in a hostile culture, By Charlie Camosy, The Pillar, December 2, 2022, 4:18 AM, Interview Sex and gender are among the most contentious topics of discussion within the Catholic Church today. For Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, a human connection is key to having the difficult conversations that often come with presenting Church teaching on the subject. Cordileone sees Pope Francis as a model of how to encounter people with love, while not shying away from the truth about hard subjects. Charles Camosy spoke with Cordileone this week about the challenges and opportunities found in presenting Church teaching on sex and gender to a skeptical world.  https://www.pillarcatholic.com/preaching-truth-on-sex-and-gender-in-a-hostile-culture/__________________________________________________________ 11. German Synodal Way designed to create ‘pressure’ on the Church, founding president says, By AC Wimmer, Catholic News Agency, December 2, 2022, 7:10 AM The German Synodal Way was designed from the outset to avoid legal sanctions while simultaneously creating “pressure” on the Church to change Catholic teaching, one of the founders of the process told German media Friday. Thomas Sternberg, former president of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), said the controversial process wanted to achieve changes to the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, the ordination of women, and other topics, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner. Speaking to German diocesan broadcaster Domradio on Dec. 2, Sternberg said the Synodal Way was proceeding “much more successfully than I had thought.”  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/252971/german-synodal-way-designed-to-create-pressure-on-the-church-founding-president-says__________________________________________________________

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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