1. Long after pope’s abuse summit, victims still traumatized by the system meant to address their cases, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, February 20, 2024, 12:12 AM One afternoon in mid-December, Pope Francis had a meeting that wasn’t on his official agenda or otherwise recorded, that underscored the utter dysfunction of the Catholic Church’s response to the global clergy sex abuse scandal. In the main reception room of the Vatican hotel where he lives, Francis met for more than an hour with a Spaniard who as a young seminarian was molested by his spiritual director. The former seminarian was desperate. He had lodged a complaint with the Toledo, Spain Archdiocese in 2009, and visited Vatican offices multiple times to deposit damning documents and demand action be taken against his abuser and the bishops who allegedly covered for him. But for 15 years, he had received no justice from the church. While Francis’ decision to hear his story was laudable and pastorally sensitive, it was also evidence that the church’s in-house system to deal with abuse isn’t working — from the laws available to punish abusers to its policies for helping survivors. For every victim who has enough well-connected friends at the Vatican who can arrange a papal audience, countless others will never feel that the church cares for them or will provide them justice. Five years ago this week, Francis convened an unprecedented summit of bishops from around the world to impress on them that clergy abuse was a global problem and they needed to address it. Over four days, these bishops heard harrowing tales of trauma from victims, learned how to investigate and sanction pedophile priests, and were warned that they too would face punishment if they continued to cover for abusers. Yet five years later, despite new church laws to hold bishops accountable and promises to do better, the Catholic Church’s in-house legal system and pastoral response to victims has proven still incapable of dealing with the problem.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/02/20/vatican-pope-abuse-victim-survivor-trauma/b26d452c-cfae-11ee-ac8b-765284b5203e_story.html__________________________________________________________ 2. Top papal aide backs global appeal for ceasefire in Gaza, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, February 20, 2024 A top Italian prelate and close papal aide has condemned the rise of antisemitism since the outbreak of the current war in Gaza, but has called for a ceasefire, saying Israel’s military offensive does not justify the rising civilian death count. Speaking Feb. 18 on Italian television program In Mezz’ora shown on state broadcaster RAI, Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi lamented the many violent conflicts raging throughout the world, saying, “We must always try to see peace, war is always a terrible defeat.”  However, he also backed recent remarks from the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who acknowledged Israel’s right to self-defense, but said their military response to the Hamas attack has been disproportionate. Israel’s embassy to the Holy See hit back against that statement, calling Parolin’s remarks “deplorable,” saying Hamas uses civilian infrastructure for terrorism and that since they started the fight, they are responsible for the casualties. The embassy also noted that previous regional conflicts have yielded a much higher civilian death toll, which they said is indicative of their efforts to avoid unnecessary casualties.  https://cruxnow.com/church-in-europe/2024/02/top-papal-aide-backs-global-appeal-for-ceasefire-in-gaza__________________________________________________________ 3. Frozen embryos are children, Ala. high court says in unprecedented ruling, By Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, The Washington Post, February 19, 2024, 5:06 PM The Alabama Supreme Court ruled Friday that frozen embryos are people and someone can be held liable for destroying them, a decision that reproductive rights advocates say could imperil in vitro fertilization (IVF) and affect the hundreds of thousands of patients who depend on treatments like it each year. The first-of-its-kind ruling comes as at least 11 states have broadly defined personhood as beginning at fertilization in their state laws, according to reproductive rights group Pregnancy Justice, and states nationwide mull additional abortion and reproductive restrictions, elevating the issue ahead of the 2024 elections. Federally, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide this term whether to limit access to an abortion drug, the first time the high court will rule on the subject since it overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. The Alabama case focused on whether a patient who mistakenly dropped and destroyed other couples’ frozen embryos could be held liable in a wrongful-death lawsuit. The court ruled the patient could, writing that it had long held that “unborn children are ‘children’” and that that was also true for frozen embryos, affording the fertilized eggs the same protection as babies under the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/02/19/alabama-supreme-court-embryos-children-ivf/__________________________________________________________ 4. Soldiers with religious dietary needs paying twice for meals at Fort Cavazos, group says, By Mark A. Kellner, The Washington Times, February 19, 2024 Dozens of soldiers at Fort Cavazos in Texas, whose religion requires dietary accommodations, are being forced to pay for meals their faith won’t allow them to eat, according to an advocacy group. Soldiers who live in the Army barracks and require kosher, halal or vegetarian meals are being charged for dining facility meals under the Defense Department’s Basic Allowance for Subsistence program. The program gives them an allowance — currently $460.25 a month — to cover the cost of meals on base, for which they are charged. While troops can be reimbursed if they can’t eat the meals because of their religious requirements — which the Army calls “reclaiming” the payments — Michael L. Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said a chaplain on the base reported that 30 requests were denied. He said the soldiers essentially pay twice for meals — the food they can eat consistent with their faith and the on-base meals they can’t consume.  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2024/feb/16/soldiers-with-religious-dietary-needs-paying-twice/__________________________________________________________ 5. The extremes should not control the abortion conversation, By Larry Hogan, The Washington Post, February 19, 2024, 10:03 AM, Letter to the Editor The moment I entered the race to serve Maryland in the U.S. Senate, partisan politicians began launching a familiar playbook of scare tactics and false attacks about abortion. Our opponents are attempting to seize on legitimate fears of voters regarding extreme abortion policies for their own political gain. This was predictable and entirely unsurprising. I’ve faced these attacks for a decade. It’s just how national politics operates these days. Scare tactics are easier than solutions. We can do better. There are few issues that cry out more for understanding, compassion and a willingness to listen to the other side. If we continue to allow Washington politicians to put us all in their prescribed boxes on abortion, the vast majority will simply refrain from engaging, and the debate will continue to be controlled by the extremes.  The writer, a Republican, is a former governor of Maryland and candidate for the U.S. Senate. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2024/02/19/extremes-should-not-control-abortion-conversation/__________________________________________________________ 6. The keeper of the Vatican’s secrets is retiring. Here’s what he wants you to know, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, February 19, 2024, 4:04 AM The Vatican has been trying for years to debunk the idea that its vaunted secret archives are all that secret: It has opened up the files of controversial World War II-era Pope Pius XII to scholars and changed the official name to remove the word “Secret” from its title.But a certain aura of myth and mystery has persisted — until now. The longtime prefect of what is now named the Vatican Apostolic Archive, Archbishop Sergio Pagano, is spilling the beans for the first time, revealing some of the secrets he has uncovered in the 45 years he has worked in one of the world’s most important, and unusual, repositories of documents. In a new book-length interview titled “Secretum” to be published Tuesday, Pagano divulges some of the unknown, lesser-known and behind-the-scenes details of well-known sagas of the Holy See and its relations with the outside world over the past 12 centuries.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/02/19/vatican-archive-secrets-pius-xii-pope/e7f034b0-cf05-11ee-ac8b-765284b5203e_story.html__________________________________________________________ 7. Vatican orders German bishops to halt vote on disputed ‘Synodal Committee’, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, February 19, 2024 As the German bishops meet this week to advance their national reform process, the Vatican has threatened canonical action if they refuse to comply with an order to halt a vote on the statutes of a controversial new committee that had previously been disapproved. As part of their current Feb. 19-22 general assembly in Augsburg, the roughly 60 members of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) attending were scheduled to address the results of their recently concluded “Synodal Path” reform process and vote on the statutes of a “Synodal Committee” that has the task of establishing a new national “Synodal Council.” However, after receiving a new letter from the Vatican threatening punitive measures, the German bishops’ have apparently put that vote on hold. German-language edition of the letter – dated Feb. 16 and signed by Vatican Secretary of State Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith Argentine Cardinal Victor Fernández, and Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Bishops American Cardinal Robert Prevost – has been published on the DBK website.  https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2024/02/vatican-orders-german-bishops-to-halt-vote-on-disputed-synodal-committee__________________________________________________________ 8. About that funeral … What happened at a controversial NYC liturgy last week?, By The Pillar, February 19, 2024, 1:25 PM The Archdiocese of New York made headlines Friday, after a funeral was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for transgender activist Cecilia Gentili, who identified as a transgender woman and an activist. The funeral, first reported on by the New York Times, packed the cathedral with more than 1,000 mourners, many of them LGBT activists or presenting themselves as transgender.  The funeral service, which was not a Mass, drew criticism after a eulogy described the deceased as a “great whore, St. Cecilia, the mother of all whores,” and after a rendition of “Ave Maria” sung during the liturgy was interrupted by a mourner who shouted “Ave Cecilia,” and danced down the aisle. The priest celebrant, Fr. Edward Dougherty, was also criticized for using female pronouns to describe Gentili, a biological man who identified as a woman. And, along with issues in the liturgy itself, some critics also charged that it was inappropriate to permit a funeral for a transgender activist, paving the way for a rite charged with symbolism, in what the NY Times called “an exuberant piece of political theater.”  Gentili was an outspoken advocate for the decriminalization of prostitution, a fundraiser for transgender causes, and advocated for New York’s 2019 Gender Expression and Discrimination Act, which added gender identity to protected employment classes in state law.  Ceyenne Doroshow, a friend who organized the funeral told the NY Times that Gentili — reportedly a self-professed atheist — had wanted to have a funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral because the church is “an icon.” Doroshow did not tell employees at St. Patrick’s that Gentili was a biological male who identified as transgender, or that the funeral liturgy would include elements of political activism, or that the deceased would be celebrated as the “mother of all whores” during the liturgy.  The Code of Canon Law explains that there are people who “must be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals” — among them, “notorious apostates, heretics, and schismatics,” and “other manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful.” The fact that a deceased person identified as a transgendered person does not by itself constitute a prohibition in the Church’s practice regarding “manifest sinners” or “public scandal” — but a person who is an activist for causes contrary to Church doctrine could be judged by a pastor or diocesan bishop to fit that description.  While the criticisms of Gentili’s funeral liturgy were varied, the majority of them seemed to focus on the propriety of the liturgy itself: 

  • That the priest celebrant consistently used feminine pronouns for Gentili, describing the deceased as “our sister,”
  • That the steps to the sanctuary were decorated by attendees with LGBT-themed flags and similar items, 
  • That participants celebrated Cecilia as a “whore,” a “puta,” and as the “mother of whores,” in a manner that seemed to glamorize prostitution, 
  • That the intercessory prayers included a call for “gender-affirming” healthcare, 
  • That prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary were interrupted, with a participant shouting “Ave Cecilia” over the “Ave Maria,” and dancing around the deceased’s casket,
  • That “words of remembrance” were offered by the deceased’s male partner, which focused on their union, and by a transgender person who referred to “girls like me” from the cathedral’s pulpit,
  • That some “words of remembrance” focused on political advocacy regarding transgender issues,
  • That a transgender person could be seen kissing another man in the Church’s sanctuary while “words of remembrance” were offered,
  • That the liturgy included raucous chanting and interruptions at various times,
  • The deceased was frequently celebrated as a “saint” during the liturgy.

 https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/about-that-funeral-what-happened__________________________________________________________ 9. N.Y. archdiocese condemns a trans activist’s funeral after hosting it, By Maham Javaid, The Washington Post, February 18, 2024, 7:34 PM  As Dougherty chuckled into the mic, Gentili’s family, friends and a few celebrities applauded, with some chanting “Cecilia.” They were celebrating a woman who advocated for sex workers, immigrants and people living with HIV. The funeral was punctuated with cheers for a trans woman who exemplified their struggle for safety and acceptance and speakers prayed for transgender rights and access to gender affirming care. But two days later, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York said it was outraged “over the scandalous behavior” at the funeral and said it had been deceived about the identity of Gentili, 52. “The Cathedral only knew that family and friends were requesting a funeral Mass for a Catholic and had no idea our welcome and prayer would be degraded in such a sacrilegious and deceptive way,” Enrique Salvo, the leader of St. Patrick’s, said in a statement. New York Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling told The Washington Post that Salvo’s statement was about “the behavior of some of those in attendance at the funeral — including comments like ‘the mother of all whores’ or changing the words of the ‘Ave Maria,’ a sacred hymn, to ‘Ave Cecilia’ to cite just two examples.”  But Zwilling said one speaker crossed the line by referring to Gentili as “the mother of all whores,” a characterization the crowd applauded.  Doroshow said Gentili was “magic for our community, and that’s why I picked a place as iconic as St Patrick’s.”   Born in Argentina, Gentili was a self-professed atheist who had been “reexamining my relationship with religion” as part of a Narcotics Anonymous program.  Conservative group CatholicVote described the funeral as “unbelievable and sick,” and said it was “a mockery of the Christian faith.” Nicholas Gregoris, a co-founder of the Priestly Society of Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman, called it “revolting,” a “blasphemous & sacrilegious fiasco” and “a deplorable desecration of America’s most famous Catholic Church.” The archdiocese conducted a ceremonial blessing for the cathedral after Gentili’s funeral, Salvo’s Saturday statement said. A church in Brooklyn led a similar ceremony to restore the sanctity of the church and repair harm after a pop singer recorded a “sexually provocative” video last year, according to the Catholic Review.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2024/02/18/st-patricks-cathedral-cecilia-gentili-funeral/__________________________________________________________ 10. Key Pope ally says US blowback on Fiducia is fueled by anti-gay ‘animus’, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, February 18, 2024 One of Pope Francis’s most vocal allies in the American hierarchy has said that while it’s fine for a priest concerned about marriage to refuse to offer blessings of persons in same-sex relationships, much of the U.S. opposition to a recent Vatican document authorizing such blessings is rooted not in doctrinal principle but what he called an “enduring animus” against gays and lesbians. “It is wholly legitimate for a priest to personally decline to perform the blessings outlined in Fiducia because he believes that to do so would undermine the strength of marriage,” Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego said Friday. The reference was to Fiducia Supplicans, the Dec. 18 document of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith permitting priests to offer non-liturgical blessings of couples in irregular situations, including same-sex couples.  With regard to Catholic doctrine, McElroy said the synod also lend momentum to rethinking some matters, though without offering specific examples. “It is becoming clear that on some issues, the understanding of human nature and moral reality upon which previous declarations of doctrine were made were in fact limited or defective,” he said.  https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2024/02/key-pope-ally-says-us-blowback-on-fiducia-is-fueled-by-anti-gay-animus__________________________________________________________ 11. The judgment of São Miguel, A Catholic priest, an evangelical pastor and the battle for souls in the deepest Amazon, By Terrence McCoy, The Washington Post, February 17, 2024, 6:05 AM When the rains finally receded, Father Moisés Oliveira pulled his motorboat out into the swollen Purus River and pointed it downstream. Chugging down muddy waters toward the next community on his schedule, the Catholic priest felt uncertain. He’d heard all about the problems in São Miguel. Like so many other isolated settlements scattered throughout the Amazon rainforest, São Miguel was historically Catholic. Not that long ago, when Father Moisés would make his annual journey there, his presence was a community event — the only time when the people of São Miguel could attend Mass, have their babies baptized and make confession. The squat church could never fit all the faithful. But that was before the arrival of an evangelical Protestant pastor in early 2020, before the opening of the community’s first evangelical church, before a fever of conversions split the community and turned it against itself. Longtime friends stopped talking. Families fractured. Suspicion and rumor spread about the Devil and death. When a 12-year-old girl was found dead in 2020, hanging from her porch rafters, Catholics saw a terrible accident. But evangelicals whispered of suicide and a demon that the pastor said was stalking the community. The priest looked across the waters and saw São Miguel up ahead, a line of shacks rising upon an escarpment. At the far end, where forest nipped at the village, was one of its newest buildings. Painted white and blue, the pastor’s evangelical church gleamed like a beacon in the day’s falling light. Father Moisés hadn’t met the pastor, nor heard him preach, but his charisma was no secret. Evangelicals said they’d never heard anyone speak of God as he did. Thin and tanned, hands calloused from years of wielding a chain saw, the pastor looked no different from thousands of others struggling to survive along the Purus. But followers said he’d been touched by divine providence. He was rumored to have banished malevolent spirits and cured illnesses. He claimed to be illiterate but somehow read the Bible with fluency. Wherever he went, Catholics renounced their church and followed him. The next day, Father Moisés would step up to the altar of the Catholic church and be forced to reckon with the pastor’s impact. He didn’t know how many faithful he’d find in the pews at the annual Mass or whether the community could still even be considered Catholic. He could only be sure that whatever was happening in São Miguel was not unique to it. In his 36 years, Father Moisés had witnessed a marked retreat of Catholicism across Latin America, where evangelical Protestants were increasingly challenging its historic dominance. The collapse had been particularly swift in the priest’s own Brazil — the church’s strongest redoubt by measure of Catholic adherents. His vast, deeply Christian country, whose Catholic roots reached back to Portuguese colonization, was now being reborn evangelical. In the roughly two decades since he entered seminary, the number of evangelical churches had tripled, according to the Institute of Applied Economic Research, and now accounted for 7 out of 10 religious establishments. Nearly 180 million of his fellow Brazilians — 84 percent of the population — were baptized Catholic, Vatican statistics show. But so many had turned away from his church that soon, demographers say, if not already, Brazil would for the first time no longer be majority-Catholic.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/interactive/2024/brazil-amazon-catholic-evangelical-protestant/__________________________________________________________ 12. Some states are trying to protect health care data so it isn’t used against people seeking abortions, By Geoff Mulvihill, Associated Press, February 16, 2024, 10:19 PM Some state governments and federal regulators were already moving to keep individuals’ reproductive health information private when a U.S. senator’s report last week offered a new jolt, describing how cellphone location data was used to send millions of anti-abortion ads to people who visited Planned Parenthood offices. Federal law bars medical providers from sharing health data without a patient’s consent but doesn’t prevent digital tech companies from tracking menstrual cycles or an individual’s location and selling it to data brokers. Legislation for federal bans have never gained momentum, largely because of opposition from the tech industry. Whether that should change has become another political fault line in a nation where most Republican-controlled states have restricted abortion — including 14 with bans in place at every stage of pregnancy — and most Democratic ones have sought to protect access since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022 overturned Roe v. Wade. Abortion rights advocates fear that that if such data is not kept private, it could be used not only in targeted ads but also in law enforcement investigations or by abortion opponents looking to harm those who seek to end pregnancies.  https://apnews.com/article/abortion-states-surveillance-apps-ads-wyden-87b5d36620c85ca9f6da4409755358f0__________________________________________________________ 13. Abortion rights opponents and supporters seize on report that Trump privately pushes 16-week ban, By Michelle L. Price and Christine Fernando, Associated Press, February 16, 2024, 4:16 PM A major anti-abortion group is praising a published report that Donald Trump has privately told people he supports a national ban on abortion after 16 weeks of pregnancy, though his campaign denied the report and said the former president plans to “negotiate a deal” on abortion if elected to the White House again. Trump, the frontrunner to be the 2024 Republican nominee, has repeatedly refused to back any specific limits on abortion as he campaigns, though he has called himself “the most pro-life president in American history.” He also frequently takes credit for appointing three U.S. Supreme Court justices who helped overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, which backs a national ban on abortions at 15 weeks of pregnancy and has said anything less restrictive “makes no sense,” praised Trump after a New York Times report on Friday that he has privately been telling people he likes the idea of a federal ban on abortion after 16-weeks, with some exceptions.  Trump’s campaign called the report “Fake News” but did not offer details on his plans. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/02/16/abortion-federal-ban-trump-2024-election/b00f4e9c-cd10-11ee-aa8e-1e5794a4b2d6_story.html__________________________________________________________ 14. Parents, Here’s How We Can Protect Kids From the Dangers of Smartphones, By Maureen Ferguson, Newsweek, February 16, 2024, 9:42 AM, Opinion What is the appropriate age to give my kid a smartphone and access to social media? Once I let the genie out of the bottle, as my teenagers turn into screenagers, how do I protect them from online harms? These are questions that vex every parent in America. America’s 15-year experiment with social media and smartphones has been, on balance, a catastrophe for our kids. The scientific evidence is so overwhelming that U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has issued a formal warning, saying we “must urgently address” the youth mental health crisis brought on by social media. Every parent, every teacher, every teenager knows it. Everyone knows, except—apparently—the CEOs of the tech corporations making billions by hooking America’s children on their toxic, addictive apps. At a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, the CEOs of Meta, SnapChat, X, TikTok, and Discord lined up side by side, raised their right hands, and swore that they were working to make their products safe for kids—just like Big Tobacco executives did a generation ago. Behind them, hundreds of mothers and fathers held up pictures of their children, all victims of fentanyl-laced pills, cyberbullicide (suicide brought on by cyber-bullying), social media-fueled eating disorders, or online sextortion (being tricked into sending compromising photos of themselves to predators).  The hearing clarified—for lawmakers and the American people alike—a chilling fact: Big Tech CEOs know social media is poisoning our kids, and they don’t care. Parents cannot count on politicians to solve the problem either. Legal technicalities—and billions in Big Tech lobbying—make any legislative solution unrealistic.  The key is helping kids form real—not virtual—social lives. Invest in a ping-pong table or backyard fire pit. Make your house the party house. Explore hiking trails where your kids and their friends can foster a love of nature. Or maybe a nearby park with a volleyball court. Shoot straight with your kids about how Silicon Valley algorithms manipulate users and gnaw at their mental health. Watch documentaries on the subject with them (such as The Social Dilemma on Netflix). Help them understand the business model of these apps is to hook them, steal their time and take them away from in-person interaction with real friends. Give your kid the confidence to be cooler than their screen-dependent peers. Of course, eventually older teens need to learn how to use a smartphone, with proper guardrails. Some experts recommend waiting until age 16 or even older. When you discern your child has the self-mastery to handle a pocket-sized supercomputer, pre-empt the entitled assumption that the phone is their “personal device.” Rather, make it a “family phone” you allow them to use. To support this policy, set the same family password on all devices. This approach greatly reduces the temptation to explore dangerous internet rabbit holes.  The surgeon general is saying the mop won’t work. The faucet has to be turned off. And only parents have the power to do it. Your kids might resist for a while. But they will thank you later for protecting them from drowning online. Maureen Ferguson is a Senior Fellow for The Catholic Association and co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show Conversations with Consequences. https://www.newsweek.com/parents-heres-how-we-can-protect-kids-dangers-smartphones-opinion-1869650__________________________________________________________ 15. One year after papal visit, South Sudan still plagued by violence, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, February 16, 2024, 8:00 AM More than a year after Pope Francis visited South Sudan and urged people to put a stop to the bloodshed and violence, the country is still plagued with high levels of violent crime and armed conflict between ethnic groups. During the first week of February 2023, the Holy Father made a historic visit to South Sudan. While visiting the Christian-majority country, he called for unity among the nation’s Christians in efforts to promote peace at an ecumenical gathering with the Church of England’s Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and General Assembly of the Church of Scotland Moderator Iain Greenshields. “Those who choose Christ choose peace, always; those who unleash war and violence betray the Lord and deny his Gospel,” the pope said at the time. “What Jesus teaches us is clear: We are to love everyone, since everyone is loved as a child of our common Father in heaven. The love of Christians is not only for those close to us but for everyone, for in Jesus each person is our neighbor, our brother or sister — even our enemies.” The pope’s call for peace has not quelled the violence in South Sudan, which has been unstable since the country gained independence from Sudan in 2011. South Sudan, which is the world’s youngest country, is home to more than 60 ethnic groups. The two largest are Dinka, which accounts for more than one-third of the country’s population, and Nuer, which is about half that size. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256854/one-year-after-papal-visit-south-sudan-still-plagued-by-violence__________________________________________________________ 16. Indiana Catholic couple asks Supreme Court to hear transgender child custody case, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, February 16, 2024, 9:30 AM An Indiana Catholic husband and wife are petitioning the Supreme Court to hear their case after the state government removed their child from their home after he began identifying as “transgender.” Mary and Jeremy Cox refused to accept their son’s self-declared female identity in 2019, instead seeking therapy to address what they saw as underlying mental health concerns. The Indiana government in 2021 began investigating the Cox family after learning that they refused to address their son by his chosen identity. The government subsequently removed their son from their home, placing him in another home that “affirmed” his transgender beliefs. The state government subsequently dropped abuse allegations against the couple, though it still argued that the “disagreement over gender identity” was distressing to the child and was contributing to an ongoing eating disorder. Subsequent court decisions upheld the decision to keep the child out of the Coxes’ custody. On Thursday the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty announced that Mary and Jeremy Cox had filed a petition with the Supreme Court, asking the high court to “hold the state accountable for keeping their child out of their home.” https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256855/indiana-catholic-couple-asks-supreme-court-to-hear-transgender-child-custody-case__________________________________________________________ 17. Cardinal Zen publishes new critique of Synod on Synodality, By Matthew Santucci, Catholic News Agency, February 16, 2024, 4:30 PM Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, has released another critique of the Synod on Synodality, arguing that the ongoing discussion and discernment process offers “two opposing visions” of the nature, organization, and role of the Church.  “On the one hand, the Church is presented as founded by Jesus on the apostles and their successors, with a hierarchy of ordained ministers who guide the faithful on the journey toward the heavenly Jerusalem,” the 92-year-old cardinal observes in a nearly 3,600-word commentary posted on Feb. 15 titled “How will the Synod continue and end?” “On the other hand, there is talk of an undefined synodality, a ‘democracy of the baptized,’” he continues, interjecting “Which baptized people? Do they at least go to church regularly? Do they draw faith from the Bible and strength from the sacraments?” “This other vision, if legitimized,” he warns, “can change everything, the doctrine of faith and the discipline of moral life.”  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256868/cardinal-zen-publishes-new-critique-of-synod-on-synodality__________________________________________________________ 18. Virginia lawmakers advancing bills that aim to protect access to contraception, By Sarah Rankin, Associated Press, February 15, 2024, 9:28 AM Virginia Democrats who control the state Legislature are advancing legislation that aims to protect access to a wide range of contraception, something they say should not be taken for granted after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Similar bills that would establish a right to obtain and use a detailed list of contraception approved by the federal government — including oral medications, intrauterine devices, condoms and the Plan-B morning-after pill — have cleared both the House of Delegates and the Senate. The legislation also creates a right to sue over violations of its provisions.  While Price’s version of the legislation picked up a handful of Republican votes on the House floor, the bills have been advancing largely along party lines. And they have drawn opposition from religious and socially conservative groups, who have raised a range of objections, particularly over the lack of an exemption for health care workers who may have a religious or moral objection to offering contraception. The bill is “designed to restrict the conscience rights of medical providers,” said Jeff Caruso, executive director of the Virginia Catholic Conference.  https://apnews.com/article/virginia-general-assembly-contraception-glenn-youngkin-roe-0731ffcb24a3a1904ce81742e83c9e03__________________________________________________________

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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