1. No More Bishop Nice Guy, Religious leaders have been too deferential to unreasonable Covid restrictions., By Matthew Hennessey, The Wall Street Journal, December 9, 2020, Pg. A15, Opinion
The Supreme Court smacked down Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s arbitrary limits on church attendance in certain Covid hot spots late last month. The decision was a welcome reprieve for religious leaders, who have for the most part bent over backward to accommodate pandemic restrictions imposed by civil authorities. But enough is enough. America’s churches should reopen fully, and they should do it now.

There is no evidence that the virus is spreading in the churches, so my message to these bishops is this: Show some backbone. Open the churches. Get rid of the sign-up sheets. No more roped-off pews. No more 25% capacity. Call the faithful, young and old, to communion. Let the civil authorities try to shut it down. Chain yourselves to the altars if necessary. Be the heroes we need you to be.
The alternative is subservience. The alternative is empty pews forever. The pandemic generation may never come back.
2. Watch groups: Christians in Turkey face suppression, exploitation, By Catholic News Agency, December 9, 2020, 9:04 AM
Christians in Turkey are being systematically suppressed or exploited for political gains, warns a new report from two human rights watch groups, International Christian Concern and Middle East Concern.
The report examined challenges facing Christians between 2016 and 2020, finding that Christians in Turkey frequently experience suppression of their legal status as citizens, as well as the legal status of their religious sites and institutions. Furthermore, rather than being granted full rights because they are Turkish citizens, their religious and civil rights are exploited as international political “bargaining chips.”
3. Biden’s Pick for HHS secretary sued Little Sisters of the Poor, By Catholic Herald, December 9, 2020, 7:21 AM
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Joe Biden’s reported selection for secretary of Health and Human Services, sued the Little Sisters of the Poor for refusing to accept the Obamacare contraception mandate.
“Becerra spent years tormenting the Little Sisters of the Poor in court, trying to force them to pay for things like abortion pills against their consciences. He also led efforts to force pro-life pregnancy resource centers to advertise for abortion,” said Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow at the Catholic Association.
The Little Sisters’ refusal of the mandate arose from their understanding of Church teaching, making their refusal a first amendment issue both in virtue of conscience and free exercise.
4. Belgium seeks to ease virus rules on religious services, By Raf Casert, Associated Press, December 9, 2020, 6:29 AM
Belgium’s government is under pressure to change its restrictive rules on religious services during the coronavirus crisis after the country’s highest court said the measures impede constitutional conditions on freedom of religion.
The Council of State ruled that, at least temporarily, the government needs to change its measures so that a possible restriction on the collective nature of religious services “is not disproportionate.”
Currently, collective religious services are limited to five people for marriages and 15 for funerals, with no collective Masses allowed.
5. Appeals court to rehear Texas abortion case in January, By Kevin McGill, Associated Press, December 8, 2020, 3:22 PM
A federal appeals court in New Orleans has set a January hearing to reconsider its ruling that struck down a Texas law banning a common second-trimester abortion procedure.
The Texas law used the non-medical term “dismemberment abortion” to describe the procedure. Abortion rights groups say the procedure, known as dilation and evacuation, is the safest and most common second-trimester abortion procedure.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to strike down the law in October. But the full court voted to hear the case again. The court on Monday scheduled the hearing for Jan. 21.
6. Officials: French church attack suspect faces terror charges, By Associated Press, December 8, 2020
French authorities said Monday that the main suspect behind October’s deadly Nice church attack has been handed terror murder charges.
Brahim Issaoui’s health had impeded authorities’ ability to question him. Issaoui was seriously wounded by police following the attack, and remained hospitalized in life-threatening condition for some time.
But on Monday a communique said the Tunisian migrant was charged with “assassinations in connection with a terrorist enterprise” and “participation in a criminal terrorist association.” It is unclear if this means the suspect was finally questioned as part of the investigation.
7. Religious schools sue to stop Michigan coronavirus order, By David Eggert, Associated Press, December 8, 2020
Nonpublic schools sued Monday after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration extended a coronavirus order that prevents in-person instruction at Michigan high schools, saying it violates the First Amendment right to practice religion.
The federal lawsuit, filed in Michigan’s Western District, was brought by a group representing more than 400 nonpublic schools across the state, as well as three Catholic high schools and 11 parents. The state health department lengthened the restriction by 12 days, through Dec. 20. It took effect Nov. 18 and also applies to public high schools and all colleges and universities.
8. Pope declares year of St. Joseph, offering special indulgences, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, December 8, 2020
Pope Francis on Tuesday issued a decree launching a special year dedicated to St. Joseph coinciding the anniversary of his declaration as Patron of the Catholic Church, hailing him as a model of fatherhood and a key intercessor in modern times.
Published Dec. 8, on the 150th anniversary of Quemadmodum Deus by Pope Pius IX which declared St. Joseph patron of the Catholic Church, the decree formally instituted a year for St. Joseph, which will run until Dec. 8, 2021.
9. Fund solutions, not abortions House committee hears, By Catholic News Agency, December 8, 2020, 1:30 PM
Government must support mothers and children instead of paying for abortions, members of Congress heard at a Tuesday hearing on taxpayer-funded abortion.
“Free abortion is not in the best interest of our communities. We need health care, better housing, paid leave, affordable day care,” said Christina Bennett, communications director at the Family Institute of Connecticut, at a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee held on Dec. 8.
The hearing, titled, The Impact on Women Seeking an Abortion but are Denied Because of an Inability to Pay, included discussion of the Hyde Amendment, which bars taxpayer funding of abortions through Medicaid reimbursements, has been law for 44 years. It was first enacted in 1976 and has been passed by Congress each year as a rider to appropriations bills.
10. Labor Department strengthens religious freedom rule, By Catholic News Agency, December 8, 2020, 10:00 AM
The Labor Department (DOL) finalized a rule on Monday that allows faith-based government contractors to make employment decisions based on their religious beliefs.
The rule clarifies existing protections for faith-based contractors that date back to the Johnson era. It allows them to hire only people of a certain faith without regard to an anti-discrimination requirement of the government.
Exempt contractors can also make employment decisions based on an employee’s “acceptance of or adherence to religious tenets.”
The final rule retains most of the proposed rule, with some alterations regarding the scope of the religious exemption, DOL said.
11. Charleston Bishop Cleared by Vatican Over Abuse Claim, In his statement Sunday, Bishop Guglielmone thanked the priests and faithful of the diocese for their “encouragement and prayers during this difficult time.”, By Catholic News Agency, December 8, 2020
The Bishop of Charleston, SC, has been cleared of accusations of sexual abuse by the Vatican, the diocese announced Sunday.
In a release from the Diocese of Charleston Monday, Bishop Robert Guglielmone said that a Vatican investigation had dismissed an allegation made against him dating back to the 1970s.
“As we approach the end of what has been an extremely challenging year, I am very pleased to be able to share some good news. I recently received a letter from the Papal Nuncio stating that the Vatican has determined that the sexual abuse allegation against me has no semblance of truth and is thus unfounded,” Bishop Guglielmone said in a letter dated Dec. 6.

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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