1. Pope Accepts Resignation of Conservative African Cardinal, By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2021, Pg. A9
Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Robert Sarah as head of the Vatican’s office for liturgy, removing an outspoken conservative and possible future pope from the ranks of Vatican leadership.
The Holy See Press Office announced Saturday that Cardinal Sarah had stepped down. No successor has been named.
The cardinal submitted his resignation as required by church law when he turned 75 on June 15 of last year. But the pope frequently lets cardinals serve two or three years past that age, though not past 80. Last June, the cardinal wrote on Twitter: “For my part, I am happy to continue my work” at the Vatican.
In accepting Cardinal Sarah’s resignation, the pope has removed a subordinate out of step with his approach to liturgy, homosexuality and relations with the Muslim world. The cardinal is a hero to many conservative Catholics, some of whom see him as a future pontiff. He will still be able to vote in a conclave to elect a pope until he turns 80.
2. Will we abandon Martin Lee?, By Fred Hiatt, The Washington Post, February 22, 2021, Pg. A21, Opinion
Even measured against China’s other atrocities — a million Uighurs in concentration camps, for starters — what is one man?
And yet: Martin Lee is not merely one man. He is not merely one of the most decent, principled, gracious men I have ever known.
Martin Lee is the personification of the rule of law. He knows the law, he practices law, he reveres the law.
That Chinese leader Xi Jinping now wants to put this distinguished 82-year-old barrister in prison perfectly illustrates the dictator’s contempt for the law. It shows, as it is meant to show, that no one in Hong Kong is safe any longer from the arbitrary repression of the Chinese Communist Party.
And if the United States and Britain and other democracies cannot find a way to stand up for Lee, they will confirm, again as Xi intends, that no atrocity will interfere with business as usual. Not the concentration camps, the suffocation of Tibet, the seizing of Swedish, Canadian and Australian hostages, the stifling of Catholics and Falun Gong practitioners and academics and entrepreneurs. Not the obfuscations about the origins of covid-19.
And not the ferocious, sudden strangulation of freedom in Hong Kong.

Lee is in the dock with Jimmy Lai, a fearless newspaper publisher who will not bend; Margaret Ng, 73, another barrister and longtime advocate for “one country, two systems”; and several other well-known profiles in courage. If Xi’s thuggishness can claim them, it can come for anyone.
Will the world’s democracies really take part in the Winter Olympics in Beijing next year, as though none of this is happening? Will we decide that nations can break their word, ignore their treaty commitments, commit crimes against humanity — with no consequences?
Martin Lee sits in court because he would not abandon principle. Will we abandon him?
3. Cardinal Sarah’s retirement not adversarial, but perhaps political, By JD Flynn, The Pillar, February 20, 2021, Opinion
For most Vatican observers, it was nearly a foregone conclusion that Cardinal Robert Sarah would not remain in the Vatican much beyond reaching retirement age. Therefore it was hardly a surprise that Pope Francis accepted the cardinal’s resignation from Vatican service on Saturday.
Nor was it especially surprising that the cardinal’s retirement has become an occasion for journalists to trot out well-used narratives about Sarah and Francis: That they are ideological foes, that Francis wanted to stall a bid for Sarah to be elected pope, that Sarah has used his post to undermine the ministry of the pontiff.
Those narrative are the typical media framing for the relationship between Sarah and Pope Francis. But the reality is less sensational, and worth understanding.  
It is probably most helpful to see Francis and Sarah as men with some points of serious disagreement, set against different personal styles, different theological starting points, different emphases, and different areas of interest. Cumulatively, those things add up to two men who come from fundamentally different cultures within the Church’s hierarchy; not adversaries, but not wholly aligned on method and direction either.
That framework helps make sense of Sarah’s abrupt departure from the Vatican’s liturgy office on Saturday. The pope’s acceptance of Sarah’s resignation was probably not adversarial, but it likely was political, in an ecclesiastical sense.

Incidentally, there are two other points about Sarah’s role in the Vatican that are either underappreciated by most analysts, or misunderstood.
The first pertains to the pandemic.
When the pandemic began, Sarah was tasked with providing guidance on how to adapt the liturgy to the unique circumstances of the coronavirus. By disposition Sarah tends to emphasize fidelity to liturgical rubrics and custom, but for the most part, he has emphasized the freedom of diocesan bishops to make the temporary changes they think are most necessary, even while holding the line on matters pertaining to the validity of sacramental ministry.
While his theological opinions draw the fire of the theological left, his pandemic decisions have prompted critiques from the right.

Because of the pandemic, Sarah probably had more critics, coming from more directions, at the moment the pope accepted his resignation than at any other time in his Vatican ministry.

The second point pertains to the frequently floated idea that Sarah might succeed Francis as pope.
That idea has never been an especially plausible notion. Sarah is discussed as a papal candidate because the idea is provocative. It represents for one end of the Church a kind of redemption fantasy, and for the other a doomsday scenario. But the cardinal is at best a stalking horse for a conservative-leaning consensus candidate. He is in fact far too outspoken, and a few years too old, to be an especially viable candidate.
4. Masterpiece Cakeshop attorney: No, religious freedom for wedding vendors isn’t harmful, By Catholic News Agency, February 20, 2021, 2:39 AM
Ahead of a significant Supreme Court case that could determine whether Catholic adoption agencies can stay open in the U.S., a religious freedom attorney has criticized an article arguing against religious freedom protections.
“To the extent that this article proves anything, it’s that all creative professionals feel freer to exercise their constitutional rights, which is a good thing for every American,” Jake Warner, legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said Feb. 17.
Warner was responding to a Feb. 6 article in The Atlantic by law professor Netta Barak-Corren. The article argued that religious freedom protections for wedding vendors cause harm to self-identified LGBT couples and that perhaps no religious freedom exemptions should be granted.

Barak-Corren’s essay referenced a similar case regarding an adoption agency that “refuses to consider same-sex couples as prospective parents.”
She did not mention that the case concerns Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which was told by the City of Philadelphia that the city would no longer refer children to it.
The decision was due to the faith-based stance of the social services agency on marriage, even though there had been no claims of discrimination against same-sex couples brought against it. The city required the social services agency to agree to match children with same-sex couples.
5. Peru’s government forcibly sterilized Indigenous women from 1996 to 2001, the women say. Why?, Indigenous women have been demanding justice ever since, By Ñusta Carranza Ko, The Washington Post, February 19, 2021, 11:26 AM
Under the authoritarian government of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), thousands of Indigenous Peruvian women say they were forcibly sterilized under a family planning program launched to “promote, prevent, cure, and rehabilitate reproductive health to the highest quality.” Nearly three decades later, on Jan. 11, the first hearing on Indigenous Peruvian women who say they were coercively sterilized took place.

In its original form, the Reproductive Health and Family Planning Program implemented during Fujimori’s administration via the Health Ministry was regarded by feminist activists as a progressive step toward respecting women’s rights. It aimed to increase access to maternal health services. It also sought to provide women with more information about family planning and access to contraception. This approach — and the very idea that women have reproductive rights — put the government at odds with the Catholic Church, a powerful force in Peru. Seventy-six percent of Peruvians are Catholic; many abide by the Church’s teaching against contraception.
Despite church opposition, the program proceeded.
6. New Mexico Legislature moves to preserve abortion rights, By Morgan Lee, Associated Press, February 19, 2021, 5:23 PM
A Democrat-led Legislature in New Mexico pushed forward Friday to ensure future access to abortions by voting to repeal a dormant ban on most abortion procedures, marking a defiant counterpoint to efforts in some conservative states.N
House legislators voted to approved the repeal of the 1969 statute that has gone unenforced since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right to an abortion. Left in place, the statute could go back into effect if the high court eventually overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham previously said she would sign the proposal if approved by the Legislature.
7. South Carolina abortion law suspended 1 day after passage, By Jeffrey Collins, Associated Press, February 19, 2021, 11:22 AM
South Carolina’s new law banning most abortions was suspended by a federal judge Friday on its second day in effect.
Judge Mary Geiger Lewis put a 14-day temporary restraining order on the law and will renew it until she can hold a more substantial hearing on March 9 on Planned Parenthood’s request that it not be enforced until the group’s lawsuit against South Carolina is resolved.
8. Request to allow abortion waiting period in Tennessee denied, By Travis Loller, Associated Press, February 19, 2021, 6:50 PM
A federal court on Friday denied a request to keep Tennessee’s 48-hour waiting period for abortions in effect while it hears an appeal of a lower court’s ruling that found it unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled in October that Tennessee’s waiting period law serves no legitimate purpose while placing a substantial burden on women who seek abortions in Tennessee. The 2015 law required women to make two trips to an abortion clinic, first for mandatory counseling and then for the abortion at least 48 hours later.
9. Despite pandemic, Planned Parenthood’s abortions increased in FY 2020, By Catholic News Agency, February 19, 2021, 5:00 PM
Planned Parenthood’s annual report once again showed an increase from the previous year in both abortions performed and government funding.
According to its latest annual report, Planned Parenthood performed 354,871 abortions in the 2019-20 fiscal year—a 2.7% increase from the 2018-19 year, which was a 3% increase from the year before that.
10. USCCB: Equality Act would ‘punish’ religious groups opposed to gender ideology, By Catholic News Agency, February 19, 2021, 4:00 PM
The U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB) has come out in opposition to the Equality Act, which was introduced in the U.S. House on Thursday.
The bill, introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), would recognize sexual orientation and gender identity as protected legal classes in a variety of areas including housing, education, and public spaces. Critics have warned that it would erode religious freedom and enshrine the redefinition of marriage and gender ideology in law, requiring people and groups to confirm to LGBT “equality” and transgender ideology regardless of their religious beliefs.
“Instead of respecting differences in beliefs about marriage and sexuality, the Equality Act would discriminate against people of faith,” the USCCB has warned in a voter guide.
The bill, the conference and other critics warn, would uphold transgender ideology by requiring “girls and women to compete against boys and men for limited opportunities in sports, and to share locker rooms and shower spaces with biological males who identify as women.”
The bill could also force doctors to perform gender-transition surgeries, the conference says. Pro-life groups have also said that the act could expand abortions by considering refusal to perform abortions unlawful “pregnancy discrimination.”
Groups opposed to the redefinition of marriage would be “punished” under the law, the USCCB said.
11. Pro-life leaders sound alarm about Health Secretary nominee, By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, February 19, 2021, 8:30 AM
Pro-life leaders and scholars are warning against the nomination of California’s attorney general to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
In December, then-President-elect Joe Biden tapped Xavier Becerra—former congressman and current attorney general of California—to be the next HHS Secretary.

Scholar Ryan Anderson, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), said that Becerra is an “ideological culture warrior” who would only serve to heighten current political polarization.
Roger Severino, former head of the HHS Office for Civil Rights and senior fellow at EPPC, said that Becerra’s confirmation to lead the agency would be an “astounding conflict of interest”—given that Severino’s office twice found Becerra’s in violation of federal conscience laws.

A coalition of conservative groups—including CatholicVote and the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List—are launching a media and grassroots campaign against Becerra’s confirmation as well as Vanita Gupta’s confirmation as associate attorney general.

“His positions on life and religious liberty make him an outlier,” Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, stated of Becerra.

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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