1. Alito Renews Criticism of Decision on Same-Sex Marriage, By Abbie VanSickle, The New York Times, February 21, 2024, Pg. A15 Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. on Tuesday renewed his criticisms of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision recognizing the right to same-sex marriage, saying that people who oppose homosexuality risk being unfairly “labeled as bigots and treated as such.” The justice included his warning in a five-page statement explaining why the court had rejected a request to hear a Missouri case about people removed from a jury after voicing religious objections to gay relationships. The case, Justice Alito wrote, “exemplifies the danger” from the court’s 2015 decision, Obergefell v. Hodges. The ruling, he added, shows how “Americans who do not hide their adherence to traditional religious beliefs about homosexual conduct will be ‘labeled as bigots and treated as such’ by the government.” The statement appeared to offer a glimpse into Justice Alito’s continued discontent with Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the court, by a 5-to-4 vote, guaranteed a right to same-sex marriage, a long-sought victory in the gay rights movement. In the years since, Justice Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas, who both dissented from the 2015 decision, have appeared to urge the court to reconsider the ruling. The court, they have contended, invented a right not based in the text of the Constitution and said it had cast “people of good will as bigots.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/20/us/alito-supreme-court-same-sex-marriage.html__________________________________________________________ 2. New book touts financial and emotional benefits of marriage, By Sean Salai, The Washington Times, February 21, 2024 A book on sociological matters has garnered widespread attention for its startling conclusion: Marriage is the best path to financial success and personal happiness. “Get Married: Why Americans Must Defy the Elites, Forge Strong Families, and Save Civilization” was released on Feb. 13 and has already been featured in The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, The Free Press and Catholic News Agency. The American Enterprise Institute and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have cited the book, published by Broadside Books. Its author, sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox, is the National Marriage Project director at the University of Virginia. He says cultural influencers on the left and the right have mistakenly devalued the benefits of marriage.  In its 320 pages, his book cites a raft of original and external studies along with federal statistics showing that marriage provides more financial stability than its alternatives, helps prevent suicide by ensuring human connection and alleviates loneliness.  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2024/feb/20/new-book-get-married-by-w-bradford-wilcox-touts-fi/__________________________________________________________ 3. Attacks on U.S. churches more than doubled in 2023, Family Research Council says, Incidents parallel governmental disfavoring of religion, FRC president says, By Mark A. Kellner, The Washington Times, February 21, 2024 Incidents of arson, vandalism and other hostile acts against U.S. churches rose to at least 436 last year, more than double the number recorded in 2022, the Family Research Council says. In releasing its sixth “Hostility Against Churches” report during the 2024 National Religious Broadcasters International Christian Media Convention here, the family values advocacy group said the figure is more than eight times the number of incidents recorded in 2018, when it began tracking such incidents. Besides vandalism and arson, acts against congregations included gun-related incidents and bomb threats, among others. The Family Research Council has identified a total of 915 such acts since 2018. Last year, churches in 48 states and the District of Columbia found themselves under attack, the FRC report says. Hawaii and Wyoming were the only states that reported no incidents, while California had the largest number, 33. Texas, with 28 incidents, was second.  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2024/feb/20/attacks-on-us-churches-more-than-doubled-in-2023-f/__________________________________________________________ 4. Protecting abortion providers in Virginia means putting women and children at risk, By Olivia Gans Turner, The Washington Times, February 21, 2024, Opinion One month ago, on Jan. 10, the Virginia General Assembly building opened its new doors for the 2024 session. It has been as fast and furious a month as most regulars in Richmond can remember. The new, slim Democratic majority is busy pushing forward a radical agenda that they promised their donors they would pursue if elected. While it appears that decisions have been made to put their promised unlimited abortion-to-birth amendment on hold until 2025, the pro-abortion Democratic majority has introduced no shortage of other dangerous bills on the subject. Virtually all of the pro-abortion bills introduced and making their way through committee are what may be called “shield” laws. These laws do nothing to ensure the safety of pregnant women and girls or their children. The purpose of such bills is to protect abortion providers from any legal recompense for their reckless behavior. One such bill has already passed the Senate. These laws prevent warrants that allow investigations of abortion providers’ unsafe environments or practices. So-called shield laws prohibit the state of Virginia from cooperating with other states where these unchecked abortion providers may be guilty of breaking laws or harming women. In other words, if passed and signed into law here, these laws would turn Virginia into a home for any bad actor who needs a haven to practice unscrupulously, free of any legal interference. They will also allow abortion providers to send abortion drugs through the mail to other states with protective pro-life laws in place, thereby breaking those state’s laws and putting more pregnant women at risk of dangerous complications. Does Virginia really want to become a safe harbor for the likes of Philadelphia’s Kermit Gosnell, the now-jailed murderer who ran a notorious abortion business for years until he killed a newborn baby and his mother? Meanwhile, the same pro-abortion majority has defeated a bill to provide medical care to a baby who might survive an abortion. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Care Act failed in a House of Delegates subcommittee. This means that those who are determined to protect the abortion industry in Virginia are so callous they can’t even acknowledge that an infant who has managed to survive an attempt on their life by abortion deserves reasonable treatment like any other premature newborn.  Olivia Gans Turner is president of the Virginia Society for Human Life. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2024/feb/20/protecting-abortion-providers-in-virginia-means-pu/__________________________________________________________ 5. Texas AG Paxton sues NGO aiding migrants, accuses it of encouraging illegal immigration, Paxton seeks to have group’s registration revoked, By Adam Shaw, Fox News, February 20, 2024, 6:25 PM Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing a Catholic non-governmental organization operating in the state and wants to have its registration revoked, alleging that it is encouraging illegal immigration and operating a stash house for those entering illegally. Paxton has sued Annunciation House — a Catholic nonprofit set up in the 1980s — and is seeking to revoke its registration to operate in Texas. Annunciation House describes itself as a volunteer organization that “offers hospitality to migrants, immigrants, and refugees in El Paso, Texas.”  But Paxton’s lawsuit accuses the group of “openly and flagrantly violating many provisions of law in a systemic fashion.” Specifically, it accuses it of providing shelter to illegal immigrants who have evaded law enforcement, of encouraging illegal immigration, of engaging in human smuggling and of operating a “stash house.” “Annunciation House appears to be engaged in the operation of an illegal stash house by potentially allowing others to use its real estate to engage in human smuggling,” the lawsuit says.  https://www.foxnews.com/politics/texas-paxton-sues-migrants-illegal-immigration__________________________________________________________ 6. Republican DA asks Wisconsin Supreme Court to decide abortion lawsuit without lower court ruling, By Todd Richmond, Associated Press, February 20, 2024, 6:29 PM A Republican prosecutor asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tuesday to decide whether a 174-year-old state law bans abortion in the state without waiting for a ruling from a lower appellate court. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion, reactivated an 1849 law that conservatives have interpreted as banning abortion. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit arguing that the law is too old to enforce and conflicts with a 1985 law permitting abortions before fetuses can survive outside the womb. Dane County Circuit Judge Diane Schlipper ruled in July that since the law doesn’t use the term “abortion,” it only prohibits attacking a woman in an attempt to kill her unborn child. The ruling emboldened Planned Parenthood to resume offering abortions in the state. Sheboygan County District Attorney Joel Urmanski, a Republican who is defending the statutes as a ban, said in December that he would appeal the Dane County ruling. He filed a petition with the state Supreme Court on Tuesday asking the justices to take the case without waiting for a decision from a lower state appeals court.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/02/20/wisconsin-abortion-lawsuit/84267f98-d045-11ee-ac8b-765284b5203e_story.html__________________________________________________________ 7. For Black ‘nones’ who leave religion, what’s next?, By Kathryn Post, Religion News Service, February 20, 2024, 3:47 PM When Black Americans leave religion, it’s rarely a clean break.  Of the roughly 20% of Black Americans who are religiously unaffiliated — or nones — about one-third believe in the God of the Bible, and over half believe in some other higher power, according to a January Pew study. Eighty-eight percent believe humans have a soul or spirit, 71% think of themselves as spiritual, and by nearly every other religious or spiritual metric — belief in heaven and hell, daily prayer — Black nones come across as more religiously enmeshed than other nonaffiliated groups. “They are not affiliated with a religion, but that does not mean they don’t have various devotional practices, various spiritual beliefs,” said Kiana Cox, senior researcher on the Race and Ethnicity team at Pew Research Center, who also pointed out that Black Americans generally are more likely to engage in religious practices than other racial groups.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2024/02/20/black-americans-nonreligious-nones-atheists-secular/5099a632-d031-11ee-ac8b-765284b5203e_story.html__________________________________________________________ 8. Pro-life scholars challenge study that claims abortion pills are ‘safe’ and ‘effective’, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, February 20, 2024, 1:00 PM Several pro-life scholars are pushing back on a recently published study that claims abortion pills are “safe” and “effective” when prescribed without an in-person meeting and distributed through the mail. The referenced study, which was published by pro-abortion academics in the peer-reviewed medical journal Nature Medicine, claimed that telehealth chemical abortion “is effective, safe, and comparable to published rates of in-person medication abortion care.” The study evaluated risks and potential complications related to the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol. According to the study, nearly 98% of chemical abortions procured via telehealth effectively aborted the preborn child. The study also claimed there was a very low likelihood of “serious abortion-related adverse events.”  About 1.3% of women required visits to the emergency department after their chemical abortion, 0.16% needed treatment for ectopic pregnancies, and 0.25% required more serious treatment for adverse events, such as blood transfusions or abdominal surgery. “Once again, the abortion industry is relying on patchwork, piecemeal survey data to conclude that abortion drugs are ‘safe and effective,’ but there are key gaps in the study that should call into question this conclusion,” Tessa Longbons Cox, a senior research associate at the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, told CNA. “With a 74% follow-up rate, we don’t know what happened to a quarter of the women in the study,” Cox added. “We know that the women who feel the most negative reactions following their abortions are least likely to participate in follow-ups, and FDA data shows that women who have been harmed by abortion frequently end up seeking care from another doctor. Those missing voices are a crucial piece to the clinical puzzle as we can’t assume that those women had a positive outcome.” In a statement to CNA, Dr. Ingrid Skop, the director of medical affairs at the Charlotte Lozier Institute and a board-certified OB/GYN, also questioned the researchers’ definition of a “serious adverse event.”  Michael New, a professor of social research at the Catholic University of America, told CNA: “We really have no idea what happened to [about] 25% of the people” and that women who have health complications are “less likely to respond to a follow-up.”  He pointed to studies that have shown that chemical abortions have “complication rates [that are] four times higher than surgical abortions.” The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has also pointed to these studies when voicing its opposition to chemical abortion pills.   https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256892/pro-life-scholars-challenge-study-that-claims-abortion-pills-are-safe-and-effective__________________________________________________________ 9. Report: Cardinal Calls for ‘Permanent’ Dialogue with Freemasons, Following a closed-door meeting in Milan, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmiero reportedly said he believed ‘an evolution in mutual understanding’ had taken place between masonry and the Church over the past 50 years., By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, February 20, 2024 A cardinal taking part in a “historic” closed-door meeting on Friday between the heads of Italy’s Freemasonic lodges and senior Catholic Church leaders has called for a “permanent” dialogue to be opened with the secretive organization, despite masonry being long condemned by the Church.  A 1983 document from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith stated Masonic principles “have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church.” And last November, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirmed that stance, quoting the 1983 document that “active membership in Freemasonry by a member of the faithful is prohibited, because of the irreconcilability between Catholic doctrine and Freemasonry.” Addressing the Milan meeting on the theme The Catholic Church and Freemasonry, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmiero, 85, reportedly said he believed “an evolution in mutual understanding” had taken place between masonry and the Church over the past 50 years.  “Things have moved on, and I hope these meetings don’t stop there,” said the retired Italian prelate, according to Il Messaggero, quoting sources present at the meeting that was closed to the press.   https://www.ncregister.com/blog/pentin-cardinal-calls-for-permanent-dialogue-with-freemasons__________________________________________________________

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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