1. Pro-lifer’s trial to test U.S. scales of justice, Federal case seen as overkill, By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, January 24, 2023, Pg. A1 Attorney General Merrick Garland’s crackdown on pro-life activists will encounter its first federal courtroom test starting Tuesday in Philadelphia with the trial of Mark Houck. The father of seven was arrested in a dawn raid by armed FBI agents at his home in Pennsylvania in September. Federal authorities charged him with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act even though local prosecutors declined to pursue the case and a judge threw out a civil lawsuit. Mr. Houck, 49, now faces up to 11 years in prison as the Justice Department steps up federal protections of abortion clinics. Last year, the department filed charges against nearly 30 pro-life activists and fueled accusations of selective prosecution and viewpoint discrimination in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.  The FACE Act also prohibits attacks on crisis pregnancy centers. The Justice Department has announced no arrests in the 78 attacks on pro-life facilities and offices since May 2, the date of the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The Dobbs ruling overturned the 1973 decision for nationwide abortion rights. Those attacks include at least three firebombings causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage in Colorado, New York and Oregon. Left behind was pro-Roe graffiti and references to Jane’s Revenge, a radical pro-choice group.  Last week, the FBI announced a $25,000 reward for information leading to arrests and convictions after an assailant threw a Molotov cocktail into a Planned Parenthood facility in Peoria, Illinois. CatholicVote President Brian Burch said he doubted it was a coincidence. “After over 300 combined attacks on Catholic churches and pregnancy resource centers, it only took a single attack on an abortion facility for the DOJ to issue a press release,” Mr. Burch said. “It certainly won’t compensate for the millions of dollars in damage and widespread fear caused by the criminal activity that has been overtly ignored.” Presiding over the Houck trial is U.S. District Court Judge Gerald J. Pappert, an Obama appointee. Jury selection is scheduled for Tuesday. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/jan/23/justice-dept-brings-pro-life-activist-mark-houck-t/__________________________________________________________ 2. Going Dutch? Bishops, university split over Catholic identity, Bishops and a Dutch Catholic university are split over what to do as their country secularizes, fast., By Edgar Beltrán, The Pillar, January 24, 2023, 5:06 AM The Vatican informed the Dutch bishops last year that the Church will continue to consider Radboud University in Nijmegen to be a Catholic university, despite the bishops’ decision in 2020 to strip the university of the title “Catholic.” The Dutch bishops were informed of the Vatican’s decision during their November ad limina visit. The news is the latest chapter in a controversy over the university which has put bishops and university leaders at odds for more than 15 years, over questions of Catholic identity, bioethics, and members of the board of directors. But the controversy is not over. And while the situation in the Netherlands has some unique elements, it might also portend the way the Vatican will in the future handle Catholic universities in increasingly secularized Western countries.  [T]he university became the forefront of the growing divide between a generation of more liberal-minded priests and theologians, and a Dutch hierarchy that was increasingly conservative because of episcopal appointments made by Paul VI and John Paul II. As that split grew, tensions between bishops and the university seemed to grow sharper. Eventually, the strain led to the first formal sanction against the university, in 2005.  The stalemate reached new heights when the SKU announced in 2019 its intention to open a Transgender Care Center at Radboud University Medical Center (RadboudUMC), which created an even wider rift with the bishops. “For the Church, the unborn life and the declining life both belong to God. I have always understood that the administrators of the Radboudumc felt the same way, yet they felt unable to guarantee that they would never, ever carry out an abortion or administer euthanasia. That has caused tensions for a long time,” Bishop de Korte said in an interview with Vox, the university’s magazine. “The more recent transgender treatments have complicated the matter even further. The hospital connects the transgender care with the Catholic emancipation history of the university,” the bishop told The Pillar.  In 2019, the board nominated four candidates. All four were turned down by the bishops’ conference. Because of the stalemate, the SKU had by 2020 only six board members, one too few to meet the minimum requirements of its statutes. Eventually, the SKU took the case to the Enterprise Chamber, the highest court for corporate disputes in the Netherlands. On July 21, 2020, the court ruled that the SKU could temporarily appoint its own members without the bishops’ approval. A week after the ruling, the bishops’ conference informed the SKU that they were rescinding the university’s “Catholic” designation, which meant that Radboud University could no longer be considered Catholic.  Despite the bishops’ decision, Radboud University still appears as a Catholic university in the Vatican’s 2022 directory. And in September 2022, an article in Italian media referenced rumors that the Vatican’s Dicastery for Culture and Education had told the Dutch bishops that it disagreed with the decision, prompting speculation that the bishops’ decision would be reversed. The rumors were confirmed in November 2022, when the bishops were told during their ad limina visit that although they could remove the “Catholic” designation from the SKU, the Vatican still considered Radboud University to be Catholic. https://www.pillarcatholic.com/going-dutch-bishops-university-split-over-catholic-identity/__________________________________________________________ 3. Oregon launches abortion hotline offering free legal advice, By Claire Rush, Associated Press, January 23, 2023, 9:27 PM Oregon is launching a new abortion hotline offering free legal advice to callers, moving to further defend abortion access after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer and eliminated federal protections for the procedure. The state’s Department of Justice announced the initiative Monday. It is modeled on similar hotlines launched by the attorneys general of New York and Delaware, as states where abortion remains legal have seen an increase in the number of patients traveling from areas where the procedure has been banned or restricted. “The Hotline will fill an important need in our state for callers to understand the status of our reproductive health laws, including issues related to abortion access,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a news release. “This is especially important because we share a border with Idaho, which has a near-total abortion ban.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/oregon-launches-abortion-hotline-offering-free-legal-advice/2023/01/23/548a8c9e-9b66-11ed-93e0-38551e88239c_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. New Mexico AG seeks to codify abortion rights, nullify bans, By Susan Montoya Bryan and Morgan Lee, Associated Press, January 23, 2023, 8:39 PM New Mexico’s top prosecutor on Monday asked the state Supreme Court to nullify abortion ordinances that local elected officials have passed in conservative reaches of the Democratic-led state. Attorney General Raúl Torrez urged the court to intervene against recent ordinances he said overstep local government authority to regulate health care access, and violate state constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. At a news conference, Torrez said the ordinances are significant even in regions with no abortion clinics because they threaten to restrict access to reproductive health care in people’s homes. More than half of U.S. abortions are now done with pills rather than surgery. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/new-mexico-ag-seeks-to-codify-abortion-rights-nullify-bans/2023/01/23/8c73bc02-9b52-11ed-93e0-38551e88239c_story.html__________________________________________________________ 5. Controversial Dominican priest to lead October retreat for bishops at start of synod, By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, January 23, 2023, 9:21 AM Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich announced Monday that the October 2023 session of the Synod of Bishops on synodality will begin with a three-day retreat led by a Dominican preacher whose statements on homosexuality have previously sparked controversy. Dominican Father Timothy Radcliffe will lead the Catholic bishops and participants in the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in a retreat near Rome from Oct. 1–3 at the invitation of Pope Francis, according to the cardinal. Radcliffe, 77, served as head of the Dominican Order from 1992 to 2001. His heterodox statements, particularly those on homosexuality, have previously caused controversy in the Church. In the Anglican Pilling Report in 2013, Radcliffe wrote that when considering same-sex relationships, “we cannot begin with the question of whether it is permitted or forbidden! We must ask what it means and how far it is eucharistic. Certainly it can be generous, vulnerable, tender, mutual, and nonviolent. So in many ways, I think it can be expressive of Christ’s self-gift.” https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253429/controversial-dominican-priest-to-lead-october-retreat-for-bishops-at-start-of-synod__________________________________________________________ 6. Biden vows to increase abortion pill access on the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, January 23, 2023, 12:30 PM President Joe Biden issued a memorandum on Sunday, the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, directing federal agencies to support wider access to abortion pills. In his memo, Biden called upon the secretary of Health and Humans Services, the attorney general, and the secretary of Homeland Security to issue guidance to help women and providers legally obtain abortion drugs. Biden’s memo comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changed its policy on Jan. 3 to allow any patient with a prescription to obtain mifepristone from her local retail pharmacy, such as CVS or Walgreens. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253431/biden-vows-to-increase-abortion-pill-access-on-the-50th-anniversary-of-roe-v-wade__________________________________________________________ 7. Montse Alvarado Named President and COO of EWTN News, By Lauretta Brown, Catholic News Agency, January 23, 2023, 1:43 PM EWTN Global Catholic Network announced today that Montse Alvarado has been named the new president and chief operating officer of EWTN News, Inc. Alvarado comes to the role from her position as executive director and chief operating officer at the Becket Fund — a renowned nonprofit public interest group that defends religious freedom legally as a human right at the U.S. Supreme Court and elsewhere. She also serves as the founding host of the TV news program “EWTN News In Depth.” “As a seasoned executive, Montse will bring new energy and perspective to our global news services,” said EWTN Chairman and CEO Michael P. Warsaw. “Her background in organizational management, understanding of the Church, and experience in the public square are key elements that make her ideal for this role. This combination of skills will allow EWTN News to become even stronger in delivering critical reporting and analysis.” https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253435/montse-alvarado-named-president-and-coo-of-ewtn-news__________________________________________________________ 8. German bishop dismisses Vatican concerns over a permanent synodal council, By AC Wimmer, Catholic News Agency, January 23, 2023, 3:45 PM On Monday, the president of the German Bishops’ Conference said he welcomed a new letter from the Vatican detailing concerns about the push for a permanent synodal council — a new controlling body of the Church in Germany. In a statement published on Jan. 23, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg said the German diocesan bishops had discussed the letter and would seek to discuss the matter further “in the near future.” At the same time, Bätzing dismissed concerns that a German synodal council would have authority over the bishops’ conference and undermine the authority of individual bishops as “unfounded.”  As CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported, these concerns were addressed in the latest letter from the Vatican because five German bishops asked Rome to do so.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253438/german-bishop-dismisses-vatican-concerns-over-a-permanent-synodal-council__________________________________________________________

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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!
“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.