1. Before a crowd of 1 million, Pope urges Congolese to forgive, By Nicole Winfield, Christina Malkia and Jean-Yves Kamale, Associated Press, February 1, 2023, 5:35 AM, Opinion  Pope Francis urged Congo’s people on Wednesday to forgive those who have harmed them as he presided over a Mass before an estimated 1 million people in a country wracked by decades of violence. Many of the faithful spent the night on the vast airfields of the capital’s Ndolo airport and passed the hours before Francis’ arrival singing, dancing and getting jazzed up for the pontiff’s first main event of his trip to Africa. His is the first papal visit to the country since St. John Paul II’s in 1985.  Referring to the decades of violence especially in Congo’s east that has forced millions to flee their homes, Francis stressed that forgiving doesn’t mean pretending that nothing bad has happened. But he said the act of forgiveness creates an “amnesty of the heart.” “What great good it does us to cleanse our hearts of anger and remorse, of every trace of resentment and hostility!” he said. https://apnews.com/article/pope-francis-democratic-republic-of-the-congo-government-john-paul-ii-kinshasa-57983262499caadbc2cace048fdec28e__________________________________________________________ 2. Safeguarding religious freedom, Our private beliefs must remain private, By The Washington Times, February 1, 2023, Pg. B2, Editorial Pondering the meaning of life is practically universal, but conclusions preserved in the human heart are uniquely personal. Moreover, whether the search leads to organized religion, an individual creed, or a fruitless journey to nowhere is a private matter — or should be. Through the ages, though, the authoritarian class has habitually attempted to institute their own faith choices for one and all. Even the modern era, for all its enlightenment, is nonetheless rife with intolerance. Vigilant defense of religious freedom is required. The International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit 2023, concluding Wednesday in Washington, casts light on the need for such protection at a time when, as its statement of purpose declares, “almost 80 percent of the world’s inhabitants live in countries where there are high levels of governmental or societal restrictions on religion, and restrictions have been steadily increasing for several years.” Sessions with broad subject matter such as “Why IRF is vital to U.S. foreign policy” join targeted topics that include “Persecution in Nigeria: Business, Security, and Human Rights.” The three-day summit serves as a clarion call against officialdom’s creeping infiltration and defacement of the private world of belief.  In the United States, 420 attacks on churches took place between 2018 and 2022, according to the Family Research Council. Catholic churches in particular have seen looting, arson and vandalism since 2020, according to Catholicvote.org, with 126 attacks occurring since the May 2022 leak of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade’s federal abortion protections. So much for the vaunted values of “progressivism.” Rather, pop-culturists prefer to trash the Christian foundations upon which they erect their trendy institutions. In stark contrast to the aforementioned IRF Summit, the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, devoted an outsized portion of its attention to propagating the pseudo-faith of radical environmentalism. The gathering featured a liturgy devoted to “addressing the current energy and food crises in the context of a new system for energy, climate and nature.” Surely, if beauty resides in the eye of the beholder, then belief must be allowed to remain unmolested in the heart. Accordingly, authoritarians must be discouraged from attempting to invade the inner world of others for the purpose of supplanting their beliefs. The only certain remedy for religious bigotry is religious freedom. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/jan/31/editorial-to-safeguard-religious-freedom-our-belie/__________________________________________________________ 3. Jane’s Revenge increasingly linked to Antifa in attacks on pro-life centers, By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, February 1, 2023, Pg. A1 Dozens of pro-life pregnancy centers have been terrorized for months by a radical pro-choice outfit calling itself Jane’s Revenge, but now it looks as if the previously unknown group is entwined with a more significant threat: Antifa. Antifa trackers and conservative media outlets linked two Miami residents charged with conspiracy in attacks on crisis pregnancy centers in Florida to the shadowy anarchist movement after the Justice Department unsealed the federal indictment last week. One of the suspects, 23-year-old Amber Smith-Stewart, has made no secret of her Antifa sympathies. She has identified herself as “Antifa, anti-capitalist” on her Facebook page, which includes images of pro-Antifa posters and flags from a screenshot posted on the AntifaWatch website. The second suspect, 27-year-old Caleb Freestone, is listed on AntifaWatch and has been active with Whatever It Takes, a left-wing pro-choice group with no love for “fascists” that advocates for “sustained civil resistance” and “direct action.”  That doesn’t mean Antifa and Jane’s Revenge are the same, but they likely share much of the same personnel, said Kyle Shideler, senior analyst for homeland security and counterterrorism for the Center for Security Policy.  Since the Supreme Court leak, at least 79 pro-life facilities and 126 Catholic churches have been attacked, according to the CatholicVote tracker.  CompassCare CEO James Harden, whose pregnancy resource center in New York was firebombed by Jane’s Revenge in June, said he wasn’t surprised by the Antifa link because of the ideological similarities. “Jane’s Revenge is an anarchist group, and Antifa does have links to anarchist activity,” said Mr. Harden. “There’s definitely crossover. To the extent that they see a connection between pro-life activity and the traditional Judeo-Christian norms that they’re looking to undermine, that’s where they’re going to focus their efforts.” He cited a July 1 protest outside the Illinois home of Thomas More Society chief counsel Thomas Brejcha that bore the hallmarks of Antifa. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/jan/31/antifa-link-casts-janes-revenge-attacks-pro-life-c/__________________________________________________________ 4. Pell mourned at Sydney cathedral day before funeral, protest, By ROD McGuirk, Associated Press, February 1, 2023 Mourners paid their respects to Cardinal George Pell in a Sydney cathedral Wednesday a day before the funeral and interment of a polarizing church leader who was once the most senior Catholic convicted of sex abuse. Pell, who died last month at age 81, spent more than a year in prison before his convictions were overturned in 2020. Once the third-highest-ranking cleric in the Vatican, he returned to Australia in 2017 to fight abuse allegations made by multiple complainants over decades in his home state of Victoria. Only charges that he abused two choirboys in his early months as archbishop of Melbourne in the late 1990s led to convictions. He spent 404 days in mostly solitary confinement before he was cleared. But his Vatican career by then had ended. The staunchly conservative church leader will lie in St. Mary’s Cathedral until he is interred at the cathedral crypt after a funeral Mass on Thursday.  Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Martin Fileman described the street between the cathedral and the park as a “buffer zone” that reduced the risk of clashes between protesters and the thousands of mourners. https://apnews.com/article/george-pell-funeral-protests-mourning-c9c857e8ef06bf638f1a3143b7e0b00a__________________________________________________________ 5. Hindu vigilantes carry out wave of anti-Christian violence in India, Christian evangelicals have been stepping up conversions, creating a backlash — and a political opportunity for Hindu nationalists, By Gerry Shih and  Shams Irfan, The Washington Post, February 1, 2023, 2:00 AM Over two decades of practicing and proselytizing Christianity, Badinath Salam had been kicked out of his home several times and often harassed. But in December, he recalled, the vitriol turned virulent. Leaders in his Indigenous Indian village beat drums to summon all 100 households to a clearing, he said. There, gathered villagers pummeled their Christian neighbors, who made up one-fifth of their village, and left Salam hospitalized for three days. When the drumbeats began again a week later, on Jan. 9, Salam ran for his life. In this part of central India, he wasn’t the only Christian forced to flee. Since December, Hindu vigilantes in Chhattisgarh state in eastern India, enraged by the spread of Christianity and rallied by local political leaders, have assaulted and displaced hundreds of Christian converts in dozens of villages and left a trail of damaged churches, according to interviews with local Christians and activists and as seen during a recent trip to the area.  Across India, reports of violence against Muslims often increase in the run-up to elections, a phenomenon that some political scientists have attributed to attempts by Hindu parties to energize their base. In the region of southern Chhattisgarh known as Bastar, the boogeyman has been the Christian.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/01/31/india-chhattisgarh-christians-violence-attacks/__________________________________________________________ 6. With Mark Houck, as with Jack Phillips, the persecution is the whole point, By By Kaylee McGhee White, The Washington Examiner, January 31, 2023, 2:24 PM, Opinion On Monday, a jury acquitted a Catholic father and pro-life activist after the federal government had brought trumped-up charges against him for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances or FACE Act. The decision was the right one because the case should never have been brought in the first place. It was a clear example of this administration’s anti-religious bigotry and its willingness to stretch the law to meet its ideological ends. The Biden administration claimed in its charges against Mark Houck that Houck had intimidated or used force to interfere with an abortion provider when he shoved a Planned Parenthood activist near a clinic in 2021. Video footage of the altercation shows that Houck did push the volunteer clinic escort, Bruce Love, but not anywhere near the clinic entrance. In fact, Houck was more than 100 feet away from the clinic entrance.  I doubt the Biden DOJ thought they’d actually win this case. But that wasn’t the goal anyway. The goal of the charges against Houck and the raid on his family was intimidation. The DOJ wanted to send Houck — and the rest of the pro-life movement, for that matter — a message: interfere with our abortion agenda in any way, and we will come for you. It’s a tactic the Left has been using with increasing fervor over the past several years. Take, for example, Colorado baker Jack Phillips , who has been hounded in court relentlessly for more than a decade. Just last week, the Colorado Court of Appeals once again ruled against Phillips — this time because he declined on religious grounds to make a cake celebrating a gender transition and another one depicting Satan.  That this tactic has now been adopted at the highest level of government, by Biden’s DOJ, is maddening. No person should have to live in fear of retaliation from the government, and yet too many are discovering that Biden’s administration applies the law in a purposefully heavy-handed and one-sided manner. It is a relief to know that justice was served anyway in Houck’s case, but at what cost? https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/restoring-america/fairness-justice/with-mark-houck-as-with-jack-phillips-the-persecution-is-the-whole-point__________________________________________________________7. ‘Hands off Africa!’: Pope blasts foreign plundering of Congo, By Nicole Winfield, Jean-Yves Kamale and Christina Malkia, Associated Press, January 31, 2023 Pope Francis demanded Tuesday that foreign powers stop plundering Africa’s natural resources for the “poison of their own greed” as he arrived in Congo to a raucous welcome by Congolese grateful he was focusing the world’s attention on their forgotten plight. Tens of thousands of people lined the main road into the capital, Kinshasa, to welcome Francis after he landed at the airport, some standing three or four deep, with children in school uniforms taking the front row. “The pope is 86 years old but he came anyway. It is a sacrifice and the Congolese people will not forget it,” said Sultan Ntambwe, a bank agent in his 30s, as he waited for Francis’ arrival in a scene reminiscent of some of Francis’ earlier trips to similarly heavily Catholic countries. Francis plunged headfirst into his agenda upon arrival, denouncing the centuries-long exploitation of Africa by colonial powers, today’s multinational extraction industries and the neighboring countries interfering in Congo’s affairs that has led to a surge in fighting in the east. https://apnews.com/article/pope-francis-africa-visit-church-future-88da9b59c681e8f04c756ff046b5a9c1__________________________________________________________8. Minnesota governor signs broad abortion rights bill into law, By Steve Karnowski, Associated Press, January 31, 2023 Gov. Tim Walz enshrined the right to abortion and other reproductive health care into Minnesota statutes Tuesday, signing a bill meant to ensure that the state’s existing protections remain in place no matter who sits on future courts. Democratic leaders took advantage of their new control of both houses of the Legislature to rush the bill through in the first month of the 2023 legislative session. They credit the backlash against the U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer to reverse Roe v. Wade for their takeover of the state Senate and for keeping their House majority in a year when Republicans expected to make gains. “After last year’s landmark election across this country, we’re the first state to take legislative action to put these protections in place,” Walz said at a signing ceremony flanked by over 100 lawmakers, providers and other advocates who worked to pass the bill. https://apnews.com/article/abortion-politics-minnesota-state-government-timothy-walz-11c3b1d5269c929e442b979ff1bac73b__________________________________________________________ 9. Pope Francis meets Order of Malta as it turns ‘a very important page of history’, By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, January 31, 2023, 9:15 AM Pope Francis met with the Order of Malta on Monday as the sovereign state and religious order turned a new page in its history. On Jan. 25-29, 111 members of the Order of Malta assembled to elect new leadership in an extraordinary chapter general convened by Pope Francis last year. “You have written a very important page of history for the Order of Malta; thank you, you can be proud of it,” the pope told the capitulars in a Jan. 30 audience at the Vatican. The Order of Malta held elections to choose nine councilors of the Sovereign Council as well as the four High Offices: grand commander, grand chancellor, grand hospitaller, and receiver of the common treasure. The leader of the Order of Malta remains Lt. Grand Master Fra’ John Dunlap, who was appointed by Pope Francis after the sudden death of his predecessor, Fra’ Marco Luzzago. This month’s chapter general was overseen by Fra’ Dunlap, the pope’s special delegate Cardinal Silvano Tomasi, and the interim Sovereign Council appointed by Pope Francis last year. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253504/pope-francis-meets-order-of-malta-as-it-turns-a-very-important-page-of-history__________________________________________________________ 10. Rubio bill would block Biden from declaring public health emergency to expand abortion, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, January 31, 2023, 4:00 PM Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio introduced a bill that would prohibit the executive branch from expanding abortion access through a public health emergency, just one day after a Biden administration official floated the idea. The legislation, which Rubio introduced on Tuesday, would prevent any emergency declaration that was intended to promote, support, or expand access to abortion or punish states that have restricted abortion. It would expressly prohibit the president from declaring a national emergency or an emergency declaration under the Stafford Act and prohibit the secretary of Health and Human Services from declaring a public health emergency for this purpose.  More than 80 Democratic lawmakers have encouraged President Joe Biden and his administration to issue an emergency declaration to expand abortion access. Although the administration has not committed to this approach, Axios reported on Tuesday morning that the Department of Health and Human Services is examining the possibility of declaring a public health emergency for this purpose.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253513/rubio-bill-would-block-biden-from-declaring-public-health-emergency-to-expand-abortion__________________________________________________________

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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