1. Vatican defends Benedict after report faults abuse record, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, January 26, 2022, 7:22 AMThe Vatican on Wednesday strongly defended Pope Benedict XVI’s record in fighting clergy sexual abuse and cautioned against looking for “easy scapegoats and summary judgments,” after an independent report faulted his handling of four cases of abuse when he was archbishop of Munich, Germany. The Holy See’s editorial director, Andrea Tornielli, provided the Vatican’s first substantial response to the report in an editorial that appeared in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and its media portal, Vatican News. In it, Tornielli recalled that Benedict was the first pope to meet with victims of abuse, that he had issued strong norms to punish priests who raped children and had directed the church to pursue a path of humility in seeking forgiveness for the crimes of its clerics. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/vatican-defends-benedict-after-report-faults-abuse-record/2022/01/26/143a1b4a-7e9e-11ec-8cc8-b696564ba796_story.html___________________________________________________________ 2. Faith Can’t Abrogate a Contract, A California state court goes too far in a ruling against Scientology’s arbitration agreement., By Michael J. Broyde, The Wall Street Journal, January 26, 2022, Pg. A17, Opinion The California Court of Appeal has opened a new front in the legal war over religious exemptions. In Bixler v. Church of Scientology, the court ruled in favor of former members of the church who allege that they were raped by a church agent before leaving the faith. It held that they aren’t bound by an arbitration contract, a condition of church membership, in which they agreed that any claims against the church have to be submitted to Scientology arbitration tribunals.  The petitioners are sympathetic, and there may be reasons not to enforce the agreement, such as unfairness in the Scientology tribunals or bias of the arbitrators. But the court made no mention of such factual questions, holding simply that the petitioners’ religious freedom allowed them to abrogate the contract. That’s inconsistent with both the Constitution and federal law, and it has troubling implications. The Federal Arbitration Act of 1925 requires states to enforce arbitration contracts as long as they are proper under the law of the state. It makes no exception for religious courts or religious law—and if it did, it would be unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has held repeatedly that religious and secular institutions must be treated the same under the law. Legal rights that apply generally to all can’t be denied to religious individuals or organizations.  The time to examine one’s conscience or faith is before signing a contract. The freedom to change one’s religion (or to have no religion) is fundamental, but so is the freedom of contract, which means nothing unless it entails an obligation to fulfill one’s contractual duties. Mr. Broyde is a law professor at Emory University and author of “Sharia Tribunals, Rabbinical Courts, and Christian Panels: Religious Arbitration in America and the West.” https://www.wsj.com/articles/faith-cant-abrogate-a-contract-religious-exemptions-legal-rights-court-freedom-bixler-scientology-11643145135___________________________________________________________ 3. Republicans call on Biden to end database for religious exemptions, By Kerry Picket, The Washington Times, January 26, 2022, Pg. A5 More than 40 House Republicans are calling on President Biden to direct his administration to stop tracking federal employees who applied for religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine. “Your administration cannot use the power of the federal government to track the applications of federal employees who have applied for a religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine. From day one, your administration has displayed a consistent attitude of contempt towards Americans who prioritize faith in their lives,” the lawmakers said in a letter Monday to Mr. Biden. “Your administration’s attempt to use the power of the federal government to single out Americans who object to the COVID-19 vaccine on religious grounds is inexcusable and must be withdrawn,” the Republicans wrote. They warned Mr. Biden that targeting federal employees who have applied for a religious exemption to the vaccine mandate “will have an immediate chilling effect on an employee’s exercise of his constitutionally protected right to freedom of religion.” https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2022/jan/25/gop-lawmakers-call-biden-end-database-religious-ex/___________________________________________________________ 4. Draft USCCB LGBT doc calls for clarity, ‘pastoral accompaniment’, By The Pillar, January 26, 2022 Draft guidelines from the U.S. bishops’ conference urge meaningful relationships with people who identify as LGBT, and call for discerning complex pastoral and sacramental situations carefully, while upholding the doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church. But the guidelines, drafted in 2018, have not been released by the bishops’ conference, or even put to a vote, because of direction from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. With individual U.S. bishops releasing their own guidelines on the subject, and the CDF at the start of a personnel shakeup, it is possible the USCCB could soon move forward on the publication of its pastoral guidelines. https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/draft-usccb-lgbt-doc-calls-for-clarity___________________________________________________________ 5. Generation Z less likely to seek solace of organized religion, Survey finds people ages 13-25 more socially disconnected, By Mark A. Kellner, The Washington Times, January 26, 2022, Pg. A6 Members of Generation Z — people between 13 and 25 years old — are more socially disconnected but less likely to find solace in faith, a new survey finds. The Springtide Research Institute, which focuses its sociological studies on teenagers and young adults, found that 63% of respondents report being “unsettled, uncomfortable, or stressed” over uncertainties about their lives, while 19% say involvement with a faith community “helped them cope.” Gen Z members are more likely to report overall happiness if they’re either “flourishing a lot” (73%) or “somewhat flourishing” (65%) in their religious lives. Only 44% of those who say they’re “not flourishing” report such happiness. The Springtide data dovetails with that of other reports on increasing secularization. The Pew Research Center in December said 29% of Americans identified themselves as “religiously unaffiliated,” up 13 percentage points from 2007, while the number who said they were Christian fell from 78% in 2007 to 63%. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2022/jan/24/gen-z-more-socially-disconnected-less-likely-seek-/___________________________________________________________ 6. At events nationwide, hope rises that abortion ruling will be overturned, By Catholic News Service, January 25, 2022 Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis told more than 2,000 people at the annual “Prayer Service for Life” on Jan. 22 in the Cathedral of St. Paul that the nation could be on the brink of a “post-Roe world.” The moment requires prayerful discernment of God’s will to build a culture of life, and for a deep respect for all life, born and unborn, the archbishop said in his homily. While awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling, people can continue to work through charity and justice to help women and families struggling with crisis pregnancies, he said. Quoting from a Jan. 22 opinion piece in USA Today by Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow with The Catholic Association, the archbishop urged pro-life advocates to continue to act with “calm and steadfast seriousness” while they await the Supreme Court’s decision. He also encouraged that they listen for “marching orders from the Lord, for promoting a culture of life on what could be a changed landscape as the battle shifts from Washington to each of our states,” including Minnesota https://osvnews.com/2022/01/25/at-events-nationwide-hope-rises-that-abortion-ruling-will-be-overturned/___________________________________________________________ 7. Michigan settlement lets faith agencies deny LGBT adoptions, By David Eggert, Associated Press, January 25, 2022, 7:07 AM Faith-based adoption agencies that contract with the state of Michigan can refuse to place children with same-sex couples under a proposed settlement filed in federal court Tuesday, months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for a Catholic charity in a similar case. The state Department of Health and Human Services said the high court’s ruling against Philadelphia is binding on the state and limits its ability to enforce a non-discrimination policy.  Under the preliminary settlement, Michigan cannot terminate or block renewal of St. Vincent’s contracts because the agency does not approve a same-sex or unmarried couple as foster or adoptive parents, place a foster child with them or conduct a home evaluation. The state must pay St. Vincent $550,000 for attorney fees and costs. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/michigan-settlement-lets-faith-agencies-deny-lgbt-adoptions/2022/01/25/d50af140-7e31-11ec-8cc8-b696564ba796_story.html___________________________________________________________ 8. ‘A direct attack’: Knights of Malta delegate locked out of order’s constitutional committee, By The Pillar, January 25, 2022 Pope Francis’ cardinal delegate has refused to recognize the Order of Malta’s appointed representative to a committee reviewing the order’s draft constitution, even after members of the order made a personal appeal to the pope. The move represents a dramatic escalation in the ongoing tension between the Vatican and the Order of Malta, which is both a Catholic religious order and a sovereign entity in international law. But when a Vatican cardinal this week unilaterally replaced the chairman of a constitutional revision committee with a candidate of his own choosing, one of the order’s most senior knights said the order’s status is under “direct attack.” https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/a-direct-attack-knights-of-malta___________________________________________________________ 9. Vatican finance trial: Prosecutors again charge Cardinal Becciu with subornation of perjury, By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, January 25, 2022, 12:45 PM Prosecutors in the Vatican’s ongoing financial fraud trial have requested subpoenas for four defendants who were excluded from the trial late last year, and will reintroduce a charge of subornation of perjury against Cardinal Angelo Becciu. The Jan. 25 hearing was the latest in the Vatican’s historic trial to prosecute Vatican collaborators and officials in connection to the Secretariat of State’s investment in a London property for 350 million euros ($396 million). The trial, which began in July 2021 with 10 defendants, had encountered procedural problems. In October, the court ruled that the office of the prosecutor — called the Promoter of Justice — needed to re-do part of the investigation into several of the defendants. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/250211/vatican-finance-trial-prosecutors-again-charge-cardinal-becciu-with-subornation-of-perjury___________________________________________________________ 10. Lawmakers: FDA should regulate prenatal tests in wake of bombshell report, By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency, January 25, 2022, 3:30 PM Over 90 members of Congress are requesting that the Food and Drug Administration oversee non-invasive prenatal testing after a bombshell New York Times investigation showing that these tests are wrong far more often than they are correct.   “We write to you today because it is our understanding that many of these tests have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and we seek further clarification from the agency on this important matter,” said the Jan. 21 letter to FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock.  The letter was led by Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX), Michelle Fischbach (R-MN), and Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT).   A spokesman from Roy’s office emphasized the need to ensure that these kinds of tests are accurate. “The results of these tests have literal life or death consequences for unborn fellow Americans, yet it turns out some of them are wrong about 85% of the time,” the spokesman told CNA. “Some parents might use this information to help prepare for the arrival of a child, but we know that others are pressured by the medical system and our pro-abortion culture to abort a human life based on dubious information.” “Eugenic abortion is evil enough to begin with; basing it on unreliable test results is even worse. The American people deserve answers about these tests,” the spokesman said. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/250216/fda-prenatal-tests-regulation___________________________________________________________

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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