1. Pope sets date to honor ‘forgotten’ grandparents and elders, By Associated Press, February 1, 2021
Pope Francis has established an annual date to honor grandparents and other elders, lamenting that they are often forgotten despite the wisdom they have to offer society.
Francis on Sunday announced that every year, on the fourth Sunday of July, the Roman Catholic Church will pay tribute to older adults who have “thoughts and words of wisdom” to offer.
2. Australian media companies admit breaching Pell gag order, By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press, February 1, 2021, 3:05 AM
Australian media companies admitted in court Monday they breached a gag order in publishing references to Cardinal George Pell’s since-overturned convictions in 2018 for child sexual abuse. The plea agreement avoids any journalist being sent to prison.
Dozens of companies, reporters and editors were charged with contempt and breaching a suppression order over their coverage of the convictions, which were banned from publication in Australia until February 2019.
3. Religious Liberty Isn’t Enough, Cultural conservatives also need to defend our views, which are scientifically sound and popular, By Ryan T. Anderson, The Wall Street Journal, February 1, 2021, Pg. A17, Opinion
President Biden’s pledge to heal and unify seems to mean giving the far left everything it demands in the culture wars. Conservatives therefore must resist. Yet in doing so we must avoid the trap of framing every debate as if it were about religious liberty.
Religious liberty is important, but it’s only part of the story. As the Biden administration advances a divisive and extreme social agenda, our response can’t simply be a polite request to be left alone. We need to oppose the left’s agenda on the merits. It’s the principled thing to do, and it will be good politics given where the American people actually are on the issues.

Conservatives have no choice but to push back. And here, too, the terrain to defend is not primarily about religious liberty, or religion at all. Children feeling discomfort with their bodies shouldn’t be told the lie that they’re “trapped in the wrong body,” nor should adults pump them full of puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones. Doing so is unethical medicine, a violation of the bodily integrity of children—whether or not those kids or their parents or doctors are religious.
Likewise for preserving female athletics. Secular and religious high-school girls are equally interested in the fair competition that is undermined when boys who “identify” as girls compete against girls. And it isn’t only churchgoing girls who prefer not to share showers and locker rooms with boys. The main reason for separation is not religious qualms, but biology.
The left would love to frame these issues as if they pitted reason and science against superstition. But on all of these issues social conservatives are on the side of the biological facts. The Democratic Party and the left are the science deniers.

The reality is that there is a culture war in the U.S., and conservatives aren’t the aggressors. While the moniker “culture warrior” seems to be applied only to those on the right, we aren’t the ones who imposed abortion on demand up to and even during birth, forced Catholic nuns to pay for abortifacients, redefined marriage, harassed evangelical bakers, or declared it “unlawful discrimination” to refuse to put a confused child on puberty-blocking drugs. These salvos came from the left. Conservatives have been playing defense.
But a strategy based only on religious liberty won’t work in the long run. Americans need to figure out how to coexist peacefully on these issues. But the answer isn’t for our side to forfeit the fight about the truth by pleading only to be left alone.
Mr. Anderson is president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
4. Discerning the Difference Between Christian Nationalism and Christian Patriotism, How comfortable are your cultural slippers?, By David French, The Dispatch, January 31, 2021, Opinion
As America moves out of the Trump era, I’ve got to confess that I did not expect the years of debates over Trump’s nationalism—and the difference between nationalism and patriotism—to coalesce so quickly and completely around a conversation about Christian nationalism. But that’s what happens when a wooden cross is erected not far from a wooden gallows and when praying “patriots” storm the nation’s capitol to try to stop an election and allegedly “save a nation.”

But in my experience, the pervasiveness of Christian nationalism as an academic or theological concept is greatly exaggerated. Even pastors of churches that surround their property with American flags during the month of July or lead “faith and freedom” services close to Independence Day would almost certainly agree to the theological proposition that American Christians owe their allegiance to Christ over country. Explicit “patriot churches” are still thin on the ground.
Thus, I agree with Kidd. “Actual Christian nationalism,” he says, “is more a visceral reaction than a rationally chosen stance.” He provides an interesting example:
[“]I recently saw a yard sign that read “Make Faith Great Again: Trump 2020.” I wondered, How can re-electing Donald Trump make “faith” great again? What faith? When did it stop being great? No coherent answers would be forthcoming to such questions, but that’s the point. The sign speaks to a person’s ethnic, religious, and cultural identity in ways easier to notice than to explain.[”]

Now let’s ask a challenging question—why do we see this nationalism more in white conservative Protestant Christianity than in any other strain of American Christianity, including the Black Protestant church or the Catholic church?
I’d argue it’s because that for more than two centuries, the United States of America was quite likely the best place in the world to live if you were a white theologically conservative Protestant. No, it wasn’t a perfect place. But it was the best place. Our freedom, our prosperity and (ultimately) our power were unmatched anywhere else.
As a practical matter, our culture slippers fit so darn well that it grew all too easy to see ourselves as “in” and “of” the United States of America.
Black Christians could not feel such comfort.

What is Christian nationalism? It’s a deep emotional attachment to a particular and exclusive culture, a skewed version of history, and a false sense of “marked superiority” that must and will fade away.
What is Christian patriotism? To echo C.S. Lewis and George Washington, it’s a love of home and place and neighbor that does its best to fulfill the vision of peace and justice articulated by the prophet Micah so many long years ago—“Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid.”
5. By meeting Cupich, Pope Francis masters speaking without words, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, January 31, 2021, Opinion
Over the centuries, popes have always found plenty of ways to speak without using words, especially when words might be inconvenient or hard to take back. Popes speak by gestures, by whom they name to key jobs, by where they put their money and where they chose to travel.
Even a pope’s appointment calendar can be a way of getting a message across, which was certainly the case for St. Francis’s namesake, Pope Francis, yesterday.

Every day the Vatican Press Office sends journalists a list of who’s on the pope’s schedule that day, and rarely does the list make headlines. Mostly it’s people we already knew were coming, or Vatican officials with an obvious reason for seeing the boss.
Yesterday, however, was the list that launched a thousand tweets, because it contained the unexpected name of Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago.
In the abstract, there’s nothing terribly unusual about a pope meeting a cardinal, and Cupich is a member of both the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education and its all-important Congregation for Bishops, so in theory there could have been housekeeping involving one or both of those departments that required some face time with Francis.
However, this meeting came just ten days after Cupich publicly unbraided Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the US bishops’ conference, for a statement on the inauguration of President Joe Biden warning that the new administration “would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity.” Cupich called that statement “ill-considered” and insisted it did not go through the usual collegial vetting process, implying it was overly confrontation vis-à-vis the new administration.
In that context, it’s been difficult for most observers not to interpret the meeting with the pope as a show of support by Francis for Cupich in the dispute with Gomez, and thus, more broadly, for a more positive approach to the new Biden administration.
That interpretation is all the more seductive given that neither the Vatican nor Cupich have offered any explanation of the nature of the meeting, at least so far – leaving the clear impression that they’re content with the gloss pretty much everyone has given it, i.e., as a thumbs-up for the Cupich line.
6. Senate Pro-Life Chair: Down Syndrome Abortions are ‘Eugenics’, Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana called the abortion of babies with Down syndrome “the most lethal kind of discrimination imaginable.”, By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, January 31, 2021
Down syndrome abortions are “eugenics,” the Senate pro-life caucus chair told CNA in an interview this week.
“This is eugenics, and we cannot allow this to continue in our country,” Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., chair of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, told CNA in an interview on Thursday. Daines was referring to abortions conducted because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
7. March for Life pivots, Antiabortion advocates question whether Trump has hurt or harmed their cause, By Michelle Boorstein and Samantha Schmidt, The Washington Post, January 30, 2021, Pg. A1
Abortion opponents began facing the post-Trump world Friday at the annual March for Life, divided over whether the past president helped or harmed their cause and shifting towards less partisan language than in the recent past.

While official events for the march are often packed with GOP officials and speakers criticizing Democrats, the 2021 theme was unity and many speakers said the response to newly inaugurated President Biden — a Catholic abortion rights supporter — was to focus more on prayer and changing the culture.
“You may feel this is a bleak time, but the world needs the pro-life movement,” Matt Britton, general counsel of 40 Days For Life, told a few hundred people gathered Friday morning outside a Planned Parenthood in Northeast D.C. “Only prayer can change this. We will only win on our knees. We will fight in court and legislatures but this battle won’t be won in courts. Don’t pin your hopes to the back of man.”
8. Survey: Americans most likely to say pandemic strengthened their faith, By Yonat Shimron, The Washington Post, January 30, 2021, Pg. B2
Faith is one way some people cope with crisis. But according to a new Pew Research survey of 14 countries, the coronavirus pandemic has not significantly boosted people’s faith.
Of the countries surveyed — all advanced economies with significant secular populations — Americans were most likely to say the pandemic made their faith stronger. But even in the United States, only 28 percent reported a stronger personal faith as a result of covid-19.

The survey, which was fielded this past summer, showed majorities or pluralities in all the countries surveyed did not feel their faith has been strengthened by the pandemic, including 68 percent of U.S. adults who say their own faith has not changed much.
Perhaps not surprisingly, nearly half of White evangelicals in the United States (49 percent) said their faith grew stronger due to the coronavirus outbreak — more than any other group. U.S. Catholics came in second, with 35 percent saying their faith increased. Among mainline Protestants, 21 percent said their faith was bolstered by the pandemic, while 5 percent of people who do not affiliate with any religion said their faith grew.
By contrast, in Denmark only 2 percent said their faith had grown; in the United Kingdom, 10 percent said it had grown.
9. Cardinal Parolin on Vatican finances: ‘Talking about a crisis is a bit excessive’, By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, January 30, 2021, 6:00 AM
Cardinal Pietro Parolin has said that he does not consider the Vatican’s financial scandals to be “a crisis,” but pointed to the recent headlines as a sign of the Vatican’s transparency.
In a television interview aired by French Catholic network KTO on Jan. 29, the Vatican Secretary of State downplayed the reports of financial mismanagement that led to the conviction of the former president of the Vatican bank, the forced resignation of Cardinal Angelo Becciu, and the dismissal of several employees from the Secretariat of State.
“Perhaps talking about a crisis is a bit excessive in my opinion,” Parolin said.
10. Iowa lawmakers advance constitutional amendment to exclude ‘right to abortion’, By Catholic News Agency, January 30, 2021, 6:14 PM
Lawmakers in Iowa this week passed a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the state constitution which would exclude a “right to abortion” or to public funding for abortion.
House Joint Resolution 5 would amend the Iowa state constitution to clarify that it “does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion.”
The amendment is particularly prescient for Iowa, as the state’s Supreme Court found a “right to abortion” in the state’s constitution in 2018.
11. Law allowing euthanasia in Portugal moves a step closer, By Associated Press, January 29, 2021, 10:19 AM
Portugal’s parliament approved Friday the final wording of legislation allowing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill and gravely injured people.
The law now goes to the country’s president, who could try to block it.
Lawmakers voted 136-78, with four abstentions, in favor of the law that combined five right-to-die bills passed last February.
12. Conservatives praise South Carolina win on abortion ban, By Jeffrey Collins, Associated Press, January 29, 2021, 12:36 PM
As some conservatives in South Carolina celebrated getting a bill that would ban almost all abortions in the state past a legislative barrier and likely becoming law, they said they are not finished trying to end all abortions.
The ultimate goal of a number of groups that oppose abortion is what is called a “personhood law,” which would dictate that life begins at conception. That would give a fetus the rights of any citizen and require “ due process of law” to end its life under the U.S. Constitution. While other states have passed similar or even more restrictive abortion laws, none have gone that far.

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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