1. The FBI’s Slander of ‘Radical’ Traditionalist Catholics, By National Review, February 10, 2023, 6:30 AM, Editorial We are glad to hear that the FBI has retracted its now-notorious leaked memo on the threat of Catholics who worship at the traditional Latin Mass. The memo should never have been written. It is an embarrassment to law enforcement and reflective of serious problems in the intelligence community. The Richmond office of the FBI prepared a memo on what it called “Radical Traditionalist Catholics” and the threat they posed, as a potential recruiting ground for ethnically motivated right-wing extremism. These “RTCs” were described in the memo as an extremist subset among those Catholics who reject the Second Vatican Council’s authority and who attend the traditional Latin Mass….The memo accuses such Catholics of “adherence to anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist ideology.” It contains several references to Catholic hostility to “abortion rights.” And it recommended with some optimism that containing the threat posed by such Catholics can be accomplished by cultivating sources and assets within the Catholic Church itself.  The memo is analytically sloppy. … By identifying traditionalist Catholic opposition to abortion or certain priorities of the LGBT community as evidence of a potential threat, it was doing the opposite of intelligence work. … By choosing beliefs that are obliged in a religious communion of 1 billion people worldwide, and shared by billions of other humans worldwide, the report becomes a slander. And this sloppiness is another demonstration of a persistent alienation that our intel community has from many normal features of American life. … The memo itself and its leak will amplify conservative distrust of the intel community. Now is a good time for the FBI and other agencies to reverse course altogether. https://www.nationalreview.com/2023/02/the-fbis-slander-of-traditionalist-catholics/__________________________________________________________ 2. March for Lifers sue National Archives for allegedly ordering them to remove pro-life swag, By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, February 10, 2023, Pg. A10 The Smithsonian may not have been the only federal institution to ban pro-life apparel during last month’s March for Life in Washington. Four march participants from Illinois, Michigan and Virginia have sued the National Archives and Records Administration, alleging that they were told by security guards during separate Jan. 20 visits to remove or cover up their pro-life buttons, beanies, T-shirts and sweatshirts. The federal lawsuit was filed Wednesday, two days after a dozen Catholic students and chaperones from Greenville, South Carolina, sued the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum for ordering them to take off their pro-life beanies or leave. Both lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the American Center for Law and Justice, which accused the federal institutions of violating the First and Fifth Amendments and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said he believes the incidents are connected, saying that “multiple instances of targeted discrimination in at least two federal buildings on the same day against pro-life advocates is no coincidence.”  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/feb/9/march-lifers-sue-national-archives-allegedly-order/__________________________________________________________ 3. Becciu audience captures, again, the case for separation of powers, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, February 10, 2023, Opinion  In an independent system of justice, the chief judicial authority has to maintain scrupulous neutrality, observing rigorous hands-off protocols intended to protect the integrity of the process. Otherwise, people will assume that legal decisions are simply an extension of politics by other means. The point comes to mind in light of news that yesterday, Pope Francis granted a private audience to Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu in the papal library on the second floor of the Apostolic Palace, the same space where he receives heads of state and other VIP visitors. Becciu is currently on trial before a Vatican tribunal, charged with criminal misappropriation of Vatican funds to support charitable foundations with ties to his own family in Sardinia, as well as complicity in a failed $400 million London property deal while he was still the sostituto, or “substitute,” in the Secretariat of State, meaning the pope’s Chief of Staff. Under the legal code of the Vatican City State, the pope is both the supreme executive and judicial authority. In any other setting, yesterday’s tête-à-tête would have triggered an immediate appeal from the lawyers involved and might well have produced a mistrial.  The solution, as I’ve suggested before, is a genuine separation of powers, in which the Vatican would have its own independent judiciary with power over civil and criminal matters (not, of course, questions of faith and morals.) The pope has to be the pope, which means he needs to be able to meet anybody he wants. He also, however, needs to inspire confidence that when the Vatican hands down legal verdicts, it’s doing so with integrity – and that means he may need to voluntarily renounce a small piece of his own power, in exchange for a much larger payout in terms of moral authority. https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2023/02/becciu-audience-captures-again-the-case-for-separation-of-powers__________________________________________________________ 4. Vatican touts new memoir by Benedict XVI’s 2nd secretary, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, February 9, 2023, 8:57 AM Retired Pope Benedict XVI’s second secretary came out with a new memoir Thursday, a light, photo-filled daily journal that sharply contrasts with the bombshell tell-all book published last month by the late German pope’s main assistant. “My Days With Benedict XVI” by Archbishop Alfred Xuereb is the latest book to hit Italian bookshelves following Benedict’s Dec. 31 death. It was launched Thursday at a semi-official Vatican event alongside another book by a longtime Vatican reporter “The Resignation: I Didn’t Flee.” The two new publications served to blunt, in some ways, the negative criticism of Francis that erupted in the weeks after the death of the first “emeritus pope” by refocusing attention on Benedict himself. Pope Francis recently acknowledged that Benedict’s death had been “instrumentalized” by conservatives to accentuate the idea of competing papal camps, a reference to the books, interviews and memos published by Benedict’s longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, and some conservative cardinals that were highly critical of the reigning pontiff. Xuereb was the “second secretary” to Benedict during his 2005-2013 pontificate, and remained on as secretary to Francis for the first months of his papcy. Francis then placed Xuereb in his new Economy Ministry before making him ambassador to Korea and Mongolia, where Francis is expected to visit later this year in the first-ever papal visit. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/vatican-touts-new-memoir-by-benedict-xvis-2nd-secretary/2023/02/09/b938e960-a881-11ed-b2a3-edb05ee0e313_story.html__________________________________________________________ 5. Donations to Catholic parishes steady, post-pandemic, but by far fewer donors, By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, February 9, 2023, 1:06 PM New research out Thursday shows congregational giving among Catholics — the country’s biggest faith community — is back to pre-pandemic levels but is being shouldered by a much smaller number of donors. The rare study, by the Center for Church Management at Villanova University’s business school, reflects the way the pandemic accelerated pre-covid-19 trends, including a decline in religious affiliation and congregational membership and fewer Americans giving to charity in general. Those who study such issues say the impact of the covid-19 crisis on giving also has not ended. The pandemic transformed many aspects of religious life. Thousands of congregations accustomed to the in-person, pass-the-plate kind of giving shifted to digital options, experimenting with new places and spiritual practices or bailing on religion altogether. It is not yet possible to tell what those shifts will mean for congregational giving, which both sustains houses of worship and has been a key source of American charity.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2023/02/09/catholic-pandemic-covid-charity-giving/__________________________________________________________ 6. South Carolina Senate passes new abortion ban after ruling, By James Pollard, Associated Press, February 9, 2023, 7:00 AM The South Carolina Senate passed an abortion ban on Thursday in the Republican-led chamber’s latest quest to craft a law that passes constitutional muster, but differences with a stricter proposal from the House could derail the effort once again. Republicans have faced several setbacks in their efforts to further restrict abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned federal protections this summer, allowing the conservative state’s previous ban to take effect. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/south-carolina-senate-passes-new-abortion-ban-after-ruling/2023/02/09/f93ac836-a8d5-11ed-b2a3-edb05ee0e313_story.html__________________________________________________________ 7. West Virginia House OKs bill to fund anti-abortion centers, By Leah Willingham, Associated Press, February 9, 2023, 6:27 PM The GOP-dominated West Virginia House overwhelmingly passed a bill Thursday that would allow for taxpayer money to be funneled into anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, months after lawmakers passed a near-total ban on the procedure in one of the nation’s poorest states. West Virginia’s is just the latest of a growing number of proposals from states across the U.S. to provide taxpayer support for the centers, which are typically religiously affiliated, free and counsel clients against having an abortion. They are generally are not licensed as medical facilities. An Associated Press tally based on state budget figures last year revealed that nearly $89 million had been allocated to such centers across about a dozen states. A decade ago, the annual funding for the programs hovered around $17 million in about eight states. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/west-virginia-house-oks-bill-to-fund-anti-abortion-centers/2023/02/09/c2edf79a-a8cf-11ed-b2a3-edb05ee0e313_story.html__________________________________________________________ 8. Maryland governor, officials supporting abortion protections, By Brian Witte, Associated Press, February 9, 2023 Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and top state lawmakers announced support Thursday for a package of measures protecting abortion rights, including a state constitutional amendment. House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson, who are both Democrats, joined the governor at a news conference to back a measure that would protect patients and providers in Maryland from criminal, civil and administrative penalties relating to abortion bans or restrictions in other states. Dozens of senators and delegates stood by them at a crowded announcement. “We’re going to make sure that Maryland is a safe haven for abortion rights long after I’m governor of this state,” Moore said. https://apnews.com/article/abortion-maryland-state-government-wes-moore-health-7af4181aeac271e05038951272f8dcae__________________________________________________________ 9. Church of England votes to bless same-sex couples, By Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency, February 9, 2023. 12:27 PM The Church of England’s governing body has voted to bless same-sex couples while leaving unchanged the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman in a move that could nonetheless have global consequences for Christian unity. “For the first time, the Church of England will publicly, unreservedly, and joyfully welcome same-sex couples in church,” Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell said in a joint statement. “The church continues to have deep differences on these questions which go to the heart of our human identity,” the archbishops continued. They said they are “committed to respecting the conscience of those for whom this goes too far and to ensure that they have all the reassurances they need in order to maintain the unity of the church as this conversation continues.” Some Anglican leaders objected that the church cannot bless sinful sexual relationships and warned that the vote impairs full unity in the Anglican Communion, while backers of redefining marriage said they would revisit the question in future synods. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253597/church-of-england-votes-to-bless-same-sex-couples__________________________________________________________ 10. FBI retracts leaked document orchestrating investigation of Catholics, By Tyler Arnold, Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, February 9, 2023, 3:15 PM The FBI says it is retracting a leaked document published on the internet Feb. 8 that appears to reveal that the bureau’s Richmond division launched an investigation into “radical traditionalist” Catholics and their possible ties to “the far-right white nationalist movement.”  In response to an inquiry from CNA, the FBI said it will remove the document because “it does not meet our exacting standards.” The document, which was published on the website UncoverDC and is titled “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities,” the document singles out Catholics who are interested in the Traditional Latin Mass as potentially linked to violent extremist groups. Kyle Seraphin, who is listed by UncoverDC as the author of the document, told CNA that he received the leaked document from an FBI agent. Seraphin himself is a former FBI special agent who was reportedly suspended last year. According to an NBC News report he went on to join Truth Social, the social media platform started by former President Donald Trump. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253600/fbi-retracts-leaked-document-orchestrating-investigation-of-catholics__________________________________________________________

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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