1. In the child tax credit, pro-life and pro-choice groups find common ground, By Alyssa Rosenberg, The Washington Post, February 1, 2024, 7:00 AM, Opinion In today’s fractious political world, it’s important to extend credit where it’s due. And so, as a pro-choice liberal, I want to thank a group of pro-life organizations that spoke up this week in support of a congressional deal to improve the child tax credit. Antiabortion Americans United for Life hailed the bill, which will primarily help lower-income families and families with a larger number of children, as “a core part of an American pro-life and pro-family future.”   With any luck, this will be the first major bipartisan collaboration to help American families this year, but not the last. There’s real cross-party support for policies to make it easier, safer and cheaper to have and raise children.   Last January, the leaders of Americans United for Life — one of the organizations that threw their support to the child tax credit expansion — and Democrats for Life of America teamed up to propose that birth be made free for all American women, no matter their income or source of their insurance. A wide range of pro-life activists and intellectuals signed on to a call to get more parents and children excellent, affordable health care, paid parental leave for mothers and fathers, and better child care options for parents who work. And there is broader support for other family-friendly policies, too. In five relatively conservative Sun Belt states, two pollsters found widespread parental support for policy innovations ranging from property tax credits for parents to investments in after-school and summer care for school-aged children.  Even if the expanded child tax credit becomes law, there will still be vast realms of policy for pro-choice and pro-life people to argue about. But for now, Americans United for Life and other pro-life advocates are welcome allies in this fight for families. For the sake of American kids and parents, and American politics, let’s hope it’s not a one-off but a beginning. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2024/02/01/child-tax-credit-abortion-rights-bipartisan-family-policy/__________________________________________________________ 2. Religious converge on Vatican amid falling numbers, growing scandals, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, February 1, 2024 Men and women religious are converging on the Vatican this week to prepare for the upcoming 2025 Jubilee of Hope, striving to resist the temptation to despair instead over falling numbers in religious orders and a slew of high-profile scandals. From Feb. 1-4, more than 300 representatives of various consecrated communities from over 60 countries will be in Rome to participate in a special meeting in preparation for the 2025 jubilee celebrations, which are expected to draw around 35 million pilgrims over the course of the year.  Of the 508 consecrated communities that responded to a survey on the number of men and women who made professional vows in 2023, 438 reported having not a single member who did so, meaning 87 percent of American religious communities had no new perpetually professed members last year. At the same time, the image of religious life has been tarnished by scandal.  https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2024/02/religious-converge-on-vatican-amid-falling-numbers-growing-scandals__________________________________________________________ 3. Religious persecution impacts millions of women worldwide, advocates say at D.C. summit, Victims who speak out are persecuted more, religious freedom expert says, By Mark A. Kellner, The Washington Times, February 1, 2024 Tens of millions of women worldwide are persecuted for their religious beliefs or nonbeliefs, advocates at the International Religious Freedom Summit 2024 say, but their stories often go untold because of their gender. “The research points to the fact that because they’re women, sometimes they’re sold into sex slavery; sometimes there are forced conversions; sometimes women are more vulnerable to blasphemy charges because they’re weaker,” said Lou Ann Sabatier, a cofounder of the FoRB (Freedom of Religion or Belief) Women’s Alliance, which helps women advocate in their own countries. “It’s a cultural, ethnic issue.” Now in its fourth year, the summit draws hundreds of religious liberty, advocates, scholars, and more than a few victims of religious persecution to Washington for days of advocacy and education. The two-day event at the Washington Hilton ended Wednesday.  Exact numbers on the scale of the global problem are difficult to come by in part because of underreporting by the victims themselves, said Ms. Sabatier, a veteran media consultant who’s worked on religious liberty issues.  But the stories persist: Christian girls kidnapped by Islamist terrorists such as Boko Haram in Nigeria; accusations of blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad by Christian women in Pakistan resulting in beatings, jailings or killings; violence against and the kidnapping of Jewish women in southern Israel during the Hamas attack on Oct. 7; and sterilizations and forced abortions of Uyghur Muslim women in China, targeted for their faith.  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2024/jan/31/religious-persecution-impacts-millions-women-world/__________________________________________________________ 4. ‘Key test’: Japan’s clash with church seen as a pivotal moment for religious liberty, Washington faith conference told that controversy could bring global fallout, By Ben Wolfgang, The Washington Times, February 31, 2024 The bedrock principle of religious liberty faces a historic test right now in Japan, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told an audience at a major summit in Washington this week, warning that a dangerous, communist-backed effort to punish the Unification Church could carry severe consequences for people of all faiths around the globe. Mr. Gingrich and other speakers at the International Religious Freedom Summit 2024 cast a bright spotlight on the Japanese government’s push to strip the tax-exempt religious status of the Unification Church, which has operated in the country since the late 1950s. Mr. Gingrich and others say the roots of the campaign against the Unification Church can be traced back decades, but the most recent spark started after the 2022 assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The killing of Abe and its aftermath seem to have emboldened fringe Japanese communists. Critics say they have since tried to smear and discredit Abe’s long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party over its links to the Unification Church. The gunman who shot Abe allegedly was motivated by the former prime minister’s links to the church, which he blamed for bankrupting his family two decades ago.The effort reached new heights in October when the Japanese Education Ministry asked a Tokyo court to revoke the church’s legal tax-exempt status. If that effort succeeds, Mr. Gingrich said, the fallout will be swift and severe. “The core value of being able to approach God without interference really underlies all freedom. A government which can block you from approaching God can block you from anything,” the Georgia Republican said in a video address that aired at the conference Wednesday during a luncheon sponsored by The Washington Times Foundation and the Universal Peace Federation.  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2024/jan/31/key-test-japans-clash-with-church-seen-as-pivotal-/__________________________________________________________ 5. House Speaker Mike Johnson calls on Biden to enforce China sanctions over Uyghur persecution, ‘I devoted most of my life to defending religious freedom,’ Louisiana Republican says, By Mark A. Kellner, The Washington Times, February 1, 2024 House Speaker Mike Johnson called on the Biden administration Wednesday to enforce provisions protecting Uyghur Muslims in China, saying the religious minority faces a genocidal campaign and “this should not be a partisan issue.” Speaking at the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, Mr. Johnson drew applause for condemning China’s oppression of the Uyghurs, who are subjected to forced labor, re-education and torture. Uyghur women “are subjected to heinous violence I won’t bear to repeat this morning,” he said. He also noted the repression of religious believers in North Korea, Nigeria, Nicaragua and Cuba. In addition to persecuting Uyghurs, China targets Tibetan Buddhists and members of the Falun Gong movement for imprisonment in forced labor camps and for organ harvesting, he added.  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2024/jan/31/mike-johnson-house-speaker-calls-on-joe-biden-to-e/__________________________________________________________ 6. 6 activists convicted of illegally blocking abortion clinic in Tennessee, By Kimberlee Kruesi, Associated Press, January 31, 2024, 2:46 PM A Tennessee jury has convicted six anti-abortion protesters of violating federal laws after they blocked the entrance of a reproductive clinic outside Nashville nearly three years ago. The jury’s decision, handed down late Tuesday after a weeklong trial, marks the latest development in a case that has been closely watched by conservative groups, who have accused the federal government of unfairly targeting abortion opponents by using 1994 federal law designed to protect abortion clinics from obstruction and threats. Reproductive rights supporters counter the law, known as Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or the FACE Act, is more critical than ever in shielding abortion providers from violence now that the constitutional right to abortion has been revoked. At issue is a 2021 “blockade” held outside a reproductive health clinic in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, a town 17 miles (27.36 kilometers) east of Nashville, nearly a year before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The event was organized by anti-abortion supporters who used social media to promote and live-stream actions that they hoped would prevent the clinic from performing abortions, according to court documents. At the time, abortion was still legal in Tennessee. It is now currently banned at all stages of pregnancy under a law that has very narrow exemptions.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/2024/01/31/abortion-tennessee-clinic/6a651562-c071-11ee-a4c6-8f5c350e9316_story.html__________________________________________________________ 7. Major pro-life group lays out aggressive plans for 2024 elections: ‘Largest ground game yet’, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America looks to raise and spend $92 million during 2024 election cycle, By Kyle Morris, Fox News, January 31, 2024, 3:48 PM Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a group with a self-described mission to “end abortion by electing national leaders and advocating for laws that save lives,” is looking to fiercely fundraise and spend big money throughout the 2024 election cycle. In an outline of the plan obtained by Fox News Digital, the group said its goal for the 2024 election cycle is to raise and spend $92 million. In an effort to protect the Supreme Court majority, the group said it will prioritize the presidential election and the various Senate elections taking place in different corners of the United States. Highlighting eight states where SBA Pro-Life America is looking to spread its message — Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Montana and Georgia — the group said it already has individuals on the ground in six of those states. After the winter months conclude, the group said it will have representation on the ground in Montana.  https://www.foxnews.com/politics/major-pro-life-group-lays-aggressive-plans-2024-elections-largest-ground-game-yet__________________________________________________________ 8. Holy See appoints third Chinese bishop in less than a week, signaling shift toward Beijing, By Matthew Santucci, Catholic News Agency, January 31, 2024, 4:53 PM The Vatican announced on Wednesday the appointment of Father Peter Wu Yishun as the bishop of the Apostolic Prefecture of Shaowu (Minbei), the third appointment of a bishop in China in just a week. According to the announcement, Wu was nominated as bishop of Shaowu, which is situated in the southeastern coastal province of Fujian, on Dec. 16, 2023, “within the framework of the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China.” The Mass of episcopal consecration was celebrated in the Church of Chengguan in the district of Jianyang in the city of Nanping and celebrated by Joseph Li Shan, the archbishop of Beijing, president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), and vice chairman of the Chinese Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The Mass was also attended by three other bishops, 80 priests, and approximately 360 religious and laypeople, according to an official statement from the state-run Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC).  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256700/holy-see-appoints-third-chinese-bishop-in-less-than-a-week-signaling-shift-toward-beijing__________________________________________________________

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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