1. Report: 33 churches in Canada destroyed by fire since May 2021, By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, January 17, 2024, 6:00 AM Arson attacks against churches in Canada are on the rise, according to a Canadian news outlet, which reported that since May 2021, 33 churches in Canada have been burned down to the ground.  The outlet, CBC News, reported that 24 of those devastating fires were intentionally set, while two were determined to be accidental. The rest were ruled to be suspicious or are currently under investigation.  That number represents a marked increase in the number of churches destroyed by fire. Between Jan. 1, 2019, and May 2021, 14 churches in Canada burned down, according to the outlet’s review of police and court records along with media reports.  The new data comes on the heels of dozens of attacks on Catholic churches in Canada over the past few years following several unsubstantiated reports in early 2021 of “mass graves” found at former Catholic and Christian residential schools for Indigenous children.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256551/report-33-churches-in-canada-destroyed-by-fire-since-may-2021__________________________________________________________ 2. Conservative ousted by pope elected to lead regional bishops conference in Italy, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, January 17, 2024 A former high-level Vatican official, seen as a theological conservative sometimes at odds with Pope Francis over issues such as the Latin Mass, was elected Monday as the new leader of the Bishops’ Conference of Emilia-Romagna, a key northern region of Italy that centers on the city of Bologna. Immediately the selection sets up an intriguing contrast between Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, the new leader of the regional conference, and Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, president of the national bishops’ conference (CEI) and a leading papal ally.  https://cruxnow.com/church-in-europe/2024/01/conservative-ousted-by-pope-elected-to-lead-regional-bishops-conference-in-italy__________________________________________________________ 3. Why ‘viability’ is dividing the abortion rights movement, By Christine Fernando and Summer Ballentine, Associated Press, January 16, 2024, 5:54 AM Reproductive rights activists in Missouri agree they want to get a ballot measure before voters this fall to roll back one of the strictest abortion bans in the country and ensure access. The sticking point is how far they should go. The groups have been at odds over whether to include a provision that would allow the state to regulate abortions after the fetus is viable, a concession supporters of the language say will be needed to persuade voters in the conservative state. It’s a divide that’s not limited to Missouri. Advocates say the disagreements there and in other states where activists are planning abortion-rights measures this year have resurfaced long-brewing ruptures among reproductive rights advocates. The divisions are most acute in Republican-leaning or closely divided states, where some worry that failing to include limits related to viability will sink the measures.  Viability is used by health care providers to describe whether a pregnancy is expected to continue developing normally or whether a fetus might survive outside the uterus. It’s generally considered to be around 23 or 24 weeks into pregnancy but has shifted downward with medical advances. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes viability language in legislation or regulations.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/01/16/abortion-viability-ballot-initiatives-2024-roe/86c5af4a-b492-11ee-b285-0853d4d1b92f_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. Religious Americans’ lives possibly at risk in 2024, new report by U.S. bishops says, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, January 16, 2024, 10:00 AM After a year of renewed attacks on churches and religious centers, the U.S. bishops said in a new report released today that attacks on houses of worship constitute the “largest threat to religious liberty in 2024” and could threaten “the very lives of people of faith.” Titled the “State of Religious Liberty in the United States,” the report is released annually by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty. The report said that while the committee “was founded in response to increasing legal threats to the free exercise of religion,” the bishops felt “compelled to decry foreseeable threats to the very lives of people of faith here in the United States.” “There is no greater threat to religious liberty than for one’s house of worship to become a place of danger, and the country sadly finds itself in a place where that danger is real,” the bishops said in the report.  The bishops’ report is based on data gathered by the Committee for Religious Liberty, led by Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana. Rhoades wrote that the report has “sought to raise awareness about our religious liberty concerns” and represents “one more resource to help all Catholics as they seek to live out their faith in this great country.” “This report outlines the major issues that have occupied the Committee for Religious Liberty over the past year,” he said. “It reveals a wide range of concerns, such as federal agencies misusing laws meant to aid pregnant women in order to promote abortion, threats to the safety of our Jewish and Muslim neighbors, and the FBI’s suspicion of Catholics who worship in the Traditional Latin Mass.”  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256532/religious-americans-lives-possibly-at-risk-in-2024-new-report-by-us-bishops-says__________________________________________________________ 5. How a Supreme Court case involving herring fishermen affects the Little Sisters of the Poor, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, January 16, 2024, 3:30 PM A Supreme Court case being argued this week could have significant implications for a decade-long religious liberty battle fought by the Little Sisters of the Poor. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this week in Loper Bright Enterprises, Inc. v. Gina Raimondo, a case challenging the authority of the federal administrative state to dictate certain rules and regulations related to federal laws.  At issue in the case is what is known in U.S. administrative law as “Chevron deference,” stemming from the 1984 case Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. The Legal Information Institute says that the case established “judicial deference given to administrative actions.”   Though the involvement of a group of Catholic religious would seem unlikely in a case such as this, the Little Sisters of the Poor are participants in the Loper case, with the nuns having filed a friend of the court brief last year in support of the fishermen. The nuns noted that they have spent “a decade” fending off attempts to force them to comply with contraception mandates promulgated by the government. The sisters have recorded several wins in their fight against those mandates, though they noted that some litigation “remains pending in district courts in California and Pennsylvania, with no prospect of resolution in sight.” The doctrine of Chevron deference “permits regulators to disregard known substantial burdens on religious exercise,” the nuns argued in their filing. Both the nuns and fishermen are asking the Supreme Court for a major check on the Chevron doctrine.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256547/how-a-supreme-court-case-involving-herring-fishermen-affects-the-little-sisters-of-the-poor__________________________________________________________ 6. Exonerated Finnish politician and bishop to return to court over biblical ‘hate speech’, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, January 16, 2024, 5:00 PM Finnish prosecutors are asking the country’s Supreme Court to hear a “hate speech” case against a member of Parliament and Lutheran bishop for comments made about Christian teachings related to marriage and homosexuality. The charges brought against member of Finnish Parliament Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola for their speech were already dismissed twice — once by a lower district court and again by an appellate court. Yet, prosecutors are advancing their case to Finland’s highest court in an effort to fine both Christians hundreds of thousands of euros and censor their speech. “After my full exoneration in two courts, I’m not afraid of a hearing before the Supreme Court,” Räsänen said in a statement through her attorneys at the Christian nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). “Even though I am fully aware that every trial carries risks, an acquittal from the Supreme Court would set an even stronger positive precedent for everyone’s right to free speech and religion,” Räsänen added. “And if the court decided to overturn the lower courts’ acquittals, I am ready to defend freedom of speech and religion as far as the European Court of Human Rights, if necessary.”  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256548/exonerated-finnish-politician-and-bishop-to-return-to-court-over-biblical-hate-speech__________________________________________________________

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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