1. Envoy’s case confirms culture, not law, is real roadblock to reform, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, February 10, 2021, Opinion
In virtually any reform effort, there are usually two targets, one of which is obvious and relatively easy to tackle if there’s the will to do it, the other far more elusive and resistant to change.
The first of those targets is outright, blatant corruption, and the other is formed by cultural assumptions and patterns of behavior that aren’t generally perceived as criminal or even immoral.
It would seem that Pope Francis’s financial reform of the Vatican has reached that second stage, and it’s an open question whether it will succeed and how many other contretemps may erupt along the way.

In legendarily close-knit Italian families, one simply doesn’t ask too many questions about where money comes from or how it was obtained. There’s a benefit of the doubt, especially regarding one’s parents and siblings, as well as a strong sense of family solidarity.
Almost no one here experiences that cultural bias in favor of loyalty to one’s family as a vice; on the contrary, it’s generally considered a defining national virtue.

In sum, Pope Francis isn’t just trying to enact new laws and clamp down on crime. He’s trying to rewire an entire culture, at least here in Italy (where so many of the Vatican’s movers and shakers come from), to see transparency and accountability as virtues that apply even where family and friends are involved. However obvious that point may seem, the pontiff is swimming against centuries of cultural formation to try to make it stick.
The next time you feel frustrated about the slow pace of reform, that may be something to consider. Culture is king, and like monarchies everywhere, it’s genetically reluctant to embrace change.
2. Democratic lawmakers push FDA to lift restrictions on abortion pill, The group notes that the FDA suspended in-person requirements for many other drugs during the pandemic, including opioids., By Alice Miranda Ollstein, Politico, February 9, 2021, 10:47 AM
Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are asking the Food and Drug Administration to lift rules requiring people seeking medication abortion to obtain pills in-person, citing pandemic-related health risks.
Democratic women on the watchdog panel, in a letter to acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock that was first shared with POLITICO, said the agency must “immediately eliminate the medically unnecessary in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone,” referring to one of two drugs used in medication abortions.
The group notes that the FDA suspended in-person requirements for many other drugs during the pandemic, including opioids, but kept them in place for mifepristone, which was approved in 2000.
“Imposing this requirement in the midst of a deadly pandemic—one that has disproportionately impacted communities of color across the United States—needlessly places patients and providers in harm’s way, and further entrenches longstanding health inequities,” the group wrote.
They also echoed calls from some abortion rights groups to permanently erase restrictions on abortion medication, which is the most common method of abortion in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
3. Biden’s OMB nominee apologizes for calling contraceptive mandate opponents ‘extreme’, By Catholic News Agency, February 9, 2021, 3:00 PM
The nominee to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) apologized on Tuesday for referring to opponents to the HHS contraceptive mandate as “extreme.”
“I think the last several years have been very polarizing, and I apologize for my language that has contributed to that,” said Neera Tanden, President Biden’s nominee to head the key White House office, on Tuesday at her confirmation hearing.

In his questions to Tanden on Tuesday, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) brought up a 2012 essay of hers in The New Republic where she explained the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate. As a former member of the administration and head of the Center for American Progress, Tanden has been an outspoken proponent of the mandate.
Tanden had written that the mandate—which was challenged in court by hundreds of non-profits and businesses—would isolate religious opponents of contraception as “extreme.” She said it was ultimately “successful as a political cudgel, helping isolate extreme anti-choice advocates from the mainstream.”
Among the opponents of the mandate were Catholic dioceses and the Little Sisters of the Poor, who said that they were being forced against their beliefs to provide contraceptive coverage in employee health plans.
Lankford told her that her remark “seems to cross a different line for me,” and asked her explain it.
Tanden initially did not apologize for her statements, but said that “for anyone offended by my language, you know, I feel badly about that.”
4. Raft of assisted suicide laws introduced in states, By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency, February 9, 2021, 4:00 PM
Seven states are currently considering bills that would legalize assisted suicide, and two other states are looking to expand legal assisted suicide.
Legislators in Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico, New York, and North Dakota have all introduced bills in 2021 to doctor-prescribed suicide for terminally-ill patients.

Both the states of Hawaii and Washington–where assisted suicide has been legal since 2019 and 2009, respectively–are now trying to expand the scope of health care workers eligible to prescribe lethal doses of medication.
5. Meet elected officials as ‘missionary disciples,’ Archbishop Gomez says, By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, February 9, 2021
“When we speak to our elected officials, we speak as missionary disciples, as followers of Jesus Christ,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles in a Feb. 9 closing message to the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering.
“We speak as citizens of faith,” Gomez said in his message, delivered online — as was the entirety of the annual meeting for social ministers in the church.
“And as faithful citizens, we are here to call our nation to true justice, to respect the sanctity and dignity of every human life, to never close our hearts or turn our back on people in need,” added the prelate, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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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