1. States Are Set for Abortion Fights, After midterms, efforts to impose new restrictions hit legal and political obstacles, By Laura Kusisto, The Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2022, Pg. A6 State legislatures across the country are preparing to convene for the first time since the U.S. Supreme Court ended federal constitutional protections for abortion, with Republicans facing questions about whether to adopt new restrictions after the party’s tepid performance in the midterm elections. More than 20 states were expected to ban many or most abortions following the Supreme Court’s decision this summer in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. But in roughly half of those places, efforts to impose new restrictions have hit legal and political obstacles. Now, lawmakers are grappling with how to respond to an electoral season that saw voters signal resistance to sweeping prohibitions on abortion, including in some conservative-leaning states. Nationally, Republicans didn’t perform as well as expected in the midterms, and political analysts believe voter concern about abortion access was one reason why. Some GOP candidates lost to Democrats who made abortion a central issue in their campaigns. Abortion opponents also were on the losing end of five state ballot initiatives in the midterms, as well as a proposed ballot measure in August to eliminate protections for abortion from the Kansas constitution. Yet Republicans also strengthened their position in some states, including in North Carolina, Ohio and Florida, where abortion policy is being closely watched, buoyed in some circumstances by a socially conservative base that supports stronger abortion restrictions.  https://www.wsj.com/articles/state-battles-on-abortion-access-are-ahead-in-the-new-year-11670444095__________________________________________________________ 2. Bill protecting same-sex, interracial unions set for passage, By Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press, December 8, 2022, 12:21 AM The House is set to give final approval Thursday to legislation protecting same-sex marriages in federal law, a monumental step in a decades long battle for nationwide recognition of such unions that reflects a stunning turnaround in societal attitudes. A law requiring all states to recognize same-sex marriages would come as a relief for hundreds of thousands of couples who have married since the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that legalized those marriages nationwide. The bipartisan legislation would also protect interracial unions by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.” President Joe Biden backs the bill and said he will “promptly and proudly” sign it into law.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bill-protecting-same-sex-interracial-unions-set-for-passage/2022/12/08/336488ee-76b8-11ed-a199-927b334b939f_story.html__________________________________________________________ 3. Abortions rise after 37 years of decline, Chemical methods lead turn, By Sean Salai, The Washington Times, December 8, 2022, Pg. A1 The number of U.S. abortions rose annually from 2017 to 2020, led by a spike in chemical abortions and reversing a 37-year decline, a study found. The report by the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute did not examine the reasons for the increase in abortions, but experts attributed it to the ease of using the abortion pill, less-restrictive state and federal laws, and government cuts in contraception funding. The number of abortions rose 8%, from 863,320 in 2017 to 930,160 in 2020, the study found. The abortion rate increased by 7% from 13.5 to 14.4 abortions for every 1,000 women ages 15-44 over that period, the group’s study found. The number and rate of abortions had declined every year since 1980, from 1.5 million procedures and a rate of 29.3 for every 1,000 women.  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2022/dec/6/study-finds-chemical-abortions-leading-2017-2020-i/__________________________________________________________ 4. Pakistan slams US for religious freedom violator listing, By Zarar Khan, Associated Press, December 8, 2022, 7:28 AM Pakistan on Thursday slammed the U.S. State Department’s listing last week of the South Asian country as one of “particular concern” regarding religious freedoms. Washington grouped Pakistan along with 11 other countries — including China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and North Korea — as being states that have “engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” The announcement was made by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday described the qualification as “detached from realties on the ground.” A ministry spokesperson also expressed concern that India, which Islamabad maintains is “notorious for violation of religious freedoms of minorities” was not on the list.  In recent years, Islamic extremists have repeatedly attacked religious minorities in Pakistan, including Shiite Muslims and Christians. Members of the Ahmadi sect face heavy discrimination and are subject to restrictions stemming from a 1984 law that forbids them from “posing as Muslims.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pakistan-slams-us-for-religious-freedom-violator-listing/2022/12/08/cb02b820-76f3-11ed-a199-927b334b939f_story.html__________________________________________________________ 5. Jesuit priests demand transparency in Vatican’s artist case, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 7, 2022, 1:41 PM, Editorial One of the Vatican’s leading Jesuit advisers on preventing clergy sexual abuse called Wednesday for church authorities to shed more light on the case of a famous Jesuit artist who wasn’t sanctioned by the Holy See after he was accused of spiritually abusing women during confession.  Usually the Dicastery waives the statute of limitations for prosecuting abuse and confession-related church crimes since victims often take longer than the 20-year limit to process their trauma and report the abuse. There was no explanation why that didn’t occur this time, or whether Pope Francis, a fellow Jesuit who met with Rupnik in January, had any role in the decision not to sanction him.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/jesuit-priests-demand-transparency-in-vaticans-artist-case/2022/12/07/c83915e8-765e-11ed-a199-927b334b939f_story.html__________________________________________________________ 6. UK Supreme Court rules in favor of banning prayer, protests at abortion clinics, By Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency, December 7, 2022, 5:00 PM A Northern Ireland law to ban pro-life advocacy near abortion providers, including advocacy of abortion alternatives, is “justifiable” and compatible with the rights of people who want to express their opposition to abortion, the U.K. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Wednesday. The law prohibits “direct” and “indirect” pro-life “influence,” broadly defined, within 100 meters (about 328 feet) of an abortion provider. The designated areas have been called “censorship zones” by critics of the law, who include the legal group ADF UK. “We are of course disappointed to see today’s ruling from the Supreme Court, which fails to protect the basic freedoms to pray or to offer help to women who may want to know about practical support available to avoid abortion,” Jeremiah Igunnubole, legal counsel for ADF UK, said Dec. 7.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253016/uk-supreme-court-rules-in-favor-of-banning-prayer-protests-at-abortion-clinics__________________________________________________________ 7. U.S. bishops back bill to protect pregnant workers as some warn it’s paid abortion leave, By Katie Yoder, Catholic News Agency, December 7, 2022, 4:00 PM The U.S. Catholic bishops are confirming their support for the Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) amid concerns that the proposed legislation could require employees to pay for abortion expenses. The U.S. Senate is currently considering a bipartisan bill that promises protections for pregnant employees. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in May.  The legislation states that it aims to “eliminate discrimination and promote women’s health and economic security by ensuring reasonable workplace accommodations for workers whose ability to perform the functions of a job are limited by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.” The bill would require employers with 15 or more employees to make “reasonable accommodations to the known limitations” related to “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions” — unless the employer can demonstrate that it would impose an undue hardship. In a comment to CNA, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) confirmed its support.   Some groups, such as CatholicVote, have warned that the bill — as it stands — could be used to force employers to pay for abortion-related expenses. They add that the bill does not provide adequate protections for religious organizations.   https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253014/pregnant-workers-bill-tk__________________________________________________________ 8. Pope’s cardinal advisers discuss Church’s efforts to prevent abuse, By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, December 7, 2022, 7:25 AM At Pope Francis’ meeting with his cardinal advisers this week, Cardinal Sean O’Malley reported on the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, now within the Roman Curia. The Holy See press office said on Dec. 7 that the pope met with his council of advisers for a two-day meeting at the current papal residence, the Casa Santa Marta. The members of the Council of Cardinals discussed the continental phase of the Synod on Synodality and the work of the most recent United Nations Climate Change Conference before listening to O’Malley’s briefing on the protection of minors.  Earlier this year, Pope Francis made changes to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in his attempt to reform the Roman Curia with the new apostolic constitution Praedicate evangelium.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253006/pope-s-cardinal-advisers-discuss-church-s-efforts-to-prevent-abuse__________________________________________________________ 9. What is the Council of Cardinals for, anymore?, The pope’s Council of Cardinal’s isn’t what it used to be. But with an ageing membership and anemic agenda, what is it for?, By Ed. Condon, The Pillar, December 7, 2022, Opinion When the pope created the Council of Cardinal Advisors nearly a decade ago, its primary purpose was to advise Francis on the reform of the global governance of the Church, and to produce a new constitution for the Roman curia. That document, Praedicate evangelium, was issued earlier this year. With the council’s defining work accomplished, it has been depicted as something for a kitchen cabinet for the pope. But the group’s ongoing agenda seems not to include most of the actually important issues facing the Church at a global level. And with several of the cardinal members approaching the age of 80 — and several dealing with scandals of one kind or another — the question now would seem to be: what, if anything, is the council for, anymore? The answer may come when, and if, Francis chooses to refresh its lineup. In fact, a reset would probably reveal as much about how the pope sees his own future as it does about the future of his cardinal advisory body.  https://www.pillarcatholic.com/what-is-the-council-of-cardinals-for-anymore/__________________________________________________________ 10. German bishops assess global support for synodal way’s aims, A study co-funded by the bishops’ conference has found wide differences of opinion about the synodal way’s goals among Catholics worldwide, By Luke Coppen, The Pillar, December 7, 2022, 11:14 AM, Opinion The German bishops’ conference unveiled the initial results Wednesday of a study measuring global support for the goals of the country’s controversial “synodal way.” The study, co-funded by the bishops’ conference, is gauging the attitude of Catholics around the world toward the four main themes of the German initiative: power, the priesthood, women in the Church, and sexuality. The 599 participants from 67 countries, surveyed online in April, were either current or former beneficiaries of scholarships in Germany, but researchers concluded that this did “not mean that they automatically adopted the German perspective, as shown by the significant differences …  in responses, especially by region.” Almost two-thirds of respondents — more than 90% of whom were Catholic — strongly agreed with the statement that “shared participation of lay and clergy in the mission of the Church helps in proclaiming the message.” But only 44% strongly supported the abolition of mandatory priestly celibacy and 42% firmly backed the admission of women to the diaconate and priesthood. Less than 38% strongly agreed that “the Catholic Church should reassess its stance on homosexuality.”  https://www.pillarcatholic.com/german-bishops-assess-global-support-for-synodal-ways-aims/__________________________________________________________

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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