1. Pope Francis modifies Vatican criminal code, citing ‘changing sensibilities’, By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, February 16, 2021, 6:10 AM
Pope Francis on Tuesday made several modifications to the Vatican’s criminal code, citing “changing sensibilities” requiring updates to an “outdated” law.
“Needs that have emerged, even recently, in the criminal justice sector, with the consequent repercussions on the activity of those who, for various reasons, are interested in it, require constant attention to reformulate the current substantive and procedural legislation,” the pope wrote in the introduction to his Feb. 16 motu proprio.
The law is affected, he said, by “inspiring criteria and functional solutions [which are] now outdated.”
Thus, Francis said, he continued the process of updating the law as dictated “by the changing sensibilities of the times.”
Several of the changes introduced by Pope Francis involve the treatment of the defendant in a criminal trial, including the possibility of a reduced sentence for good behavior and of not being handcuffed in court.
2. Pope Francis ends deadlock over new bishop for Swiss diocese, By Catholic News Agency, February 16, 2021, 4:00 AM
Pope Francis on Monday ended the deadlock over the appointment of a new bishop in a historic Swiss diocese that traditionally holds episcopal elections.
The Holy See press office said on Feb. 15 that the pope had named Msgr. Joseph Marie Bonnemain as bishop of Chur in eastern Switzerland.
Bonnemain, a 72-year-old member of Opus Dei, previously served as judicial vicar and canon of the cathedral chapter of Chur diocese. He succeeds Bishop Vitus Huonder, who retired on May 20, 2019, at the age of 77.
CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported that the diocese has seen fierce internal battles and the new bishop’s priority will be to heal divisions in the diocese.
3. Report: Vatican not mentioned in China’s new rules on bishop appointments, By Catholic News Agency, February 15, 2021
According to new rules which will reportedly take effect on May 1, China’s state-run Catholic Church and bishops’ conference will select, approve, and ordain episcopal candidates—with no mention of the Vatican’s involvement in the process.
China’s new “Administrative Measures for Religious Clergy” will go into effect on May 1. The rules were translated by the magazine Bitter Winter, which reports on religious freedom conditions in China.
Under the new rules, the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) will be responsible for selecting episcopal candidates. The candidates will then be “approved and consecrated by the Chinese Catholic Bishops’ Conference.”
The rules do not mention any role of the Vatican in approving bishops, despite the 2018 Vatican-China agreement reportedly involving both Chinese authorities and the Holy See in the process of appointing bishops.
4. Report: Cardinal Gregory thought USCCB statement on Biden inauguration ‘ill-timed’, By Catholic News Agency, February 15, 2021
The Archbishop of Washington thought the U.S. bishops’ statement for President Biden’s inauguration “ill-timed,” according to NBC’s “Today” co-host Al Roker on Monday.
At the end of an interview segment with Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. that aired Monday morning on NBC’s “Today,” Roker noted “areas of disagreement” between the Catholic Church and the new Biden administration, including on the issue of abortion.
Roker cited the Jan. 20 statement of the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB) on Biden’s inauguration, which had warned that some of Biden’s proposed policies would “advance moral evils.” Roker then reported Gregory’s take on the USCCB statement.
“Cardinal Gregory told me he felt the statement was quote ‘ill-timed,’ and reiterated that the Church and the President agree on many other things,” Roker said, emphasizing Gregory’s message of “dialogue” with the new administration.
5. Bishops’ working group on Biden disbanded; doctrine committee to address Communion, By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter, February 15, 2021
Less than three months after the formation of a controversial working group to deal with President Joe Biden, the nation’s Catholic bishops have disbanded the group, which produced a public rupture among the U.S. hierarchy in its approach toward the nation’s second Catholic president.
According to two bishops familiar with the process, the work of the group is now complete and the group’s proposal to produce a document on the question of Communion will be addressed by the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine.
6. Pope hails Colombia for giving needy Venezuelans protection, By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, February 14, 2021, 8:25 AM
Pope Francis on Sunday praised Colombia for its recent decision to grant protection to Venezuelans who fled their homeland’s economic hardships, as he encouraged people to express gratitude to all those who help migrants.
In remarks to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square, Francis said he wanted to recognize Colombia’s decision, which he said would allow Venezuelans to enjoy “welcome, protection and integration.”
The 10-year protection statute announced by Colombia’s president last week will give 1.8 million Venezuelans now living in Colombia permission to stay and the possibility to apply for permanent residency. Venezuelan migrants hope the measure will make it easier to obtain work and access social services.
7. No longer an outlier: New York ends commercial surrogacy ban, By David Crary, Associated Press, February 14, 2021, 8:29 AM
To become a father of two daughters, New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman and his husband made cross-country trips to California, where the girls were born through surrogacy arrangements.
At the time, New York was one of a handful of states outlawing commercial surrogacy. Now, it’s about to become legal after years of activism by Hoylman and a host of allies who finally overcame tenacious political opposition.
Instead of being a national outlier, New York will become a leader, according to experts on surrogacy .

The first bill seeking to repeal the New York ban was introduced by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin in 2012, the year Hoylman was elected to the Senate. It floundered for years in the face of staunch opposition by the Roman Catholic Church and some feminists, who argued that paid surrogacy led to the exploitation of women.
“Under this bill, women in economic need become commercialized vessels for rent, and the fetuses they carry become the property of others,” renowned feminist Gloria Steinem wrote to lawmakers in 2019.
8. Biden order reestablishes faith-focused White House office, By Alexandra Jaffe, Associated Press, February 14, 2021, 11:17 AM
President Joe Biden signed an executive order Sunday relaunching a White House office aimed at fostering cooperation between the federal government and faith-based and secular community organizations.
The order reestablishes the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, a 20-year-old initiative first put in place by President George W. Bush. The White House said the office’s early goals under Biden will include working to “address the COVID-19 pandemic and boost economic recovery; combat systemic racism; increase opportunity and mobility for historically disadvantaged communities; and strengthen pluralism.”
In a statement, Biden suggested that such partnerships are particularly important at a time when the pandemic has created considerable uncertainty and suffering.
9. Biden reestablishes White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter, February 14, 2021
President Joe Biden will reestablish the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, an office he pledges will serve a critical role in addressing COVID-19 recovery and systemic racism.
Melissa Rogers, who previously led the office from 2013 to 2017 during President Barack Obama’s second term, will serve as its executive director, while Josh Dickson, who led faith outreach for Biden during the 2020 campaign, will serve as deputy director. Trey Baker, who led African American engagement during the campaign and is currently a White House senior advisor for public engagement, will serve as the office’s liaison to Black communities.

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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