1. Wisconsin Catholic Charity Sues to Win Recognition as a Religious Organization, Despite the Gospel command for Christians to serve the needy, an appellate court ruled last month that the Catholic Charities Bureau of the Diocese of Superior is not operated primarily for a religious purpose., By Tyler Arnold, National Catholic Register, January 26, 2023 A Wisconsin-based Catholic charity, which a local diocese created and continues to operate, is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn an appellate court ruling that claimed it was not eligible for legal benefits reserved for organizations that are operated primarily for religious purposes.  Catholic Charities Bureau functions as the social ministry arm of the Diocese of Superior, which covers 16 counties in the northwestern portion of Wisconsin. It provides charitable services for the disabled, the elderly and those living in poverty. Even though charity is an integral part of the Catholic faith, an appellate court ruled last month that the nonprofit is not operated primarily for religious purposes because proselytization is not a primary focus.  Because of this ruling, the charity is forced to contribute money to the state’s unemployment system and cannot instead opt for the Church-run unemployment system, which the diocese is able to do. And, the charity’s lawyers warn, this precedent places the Catholic Charities Bureau — and potentially other Catholic entities similarly judged not to have a primarily religious purpose — at risk of being forced to cooperate with actions that violate Church teachings. https://www.ncregister.com/news/wisconsin-catholic-charity-sues-to-win-recognition-as-a-religious-organization__________________________________________________________ 2. Germany vs the Amazon: Is the Vatican being consistent?, The Vatican gave the German ‘synodal council’ a firm no this week? But what about the Amazon ‘ecclesial conference’?, By Luke Coppen, The Pillar, January 26, 2023, 12:01 PM The Vatican has issued a firm “no” to German Catholic plans to establish a permanent governing “synodal council” composed of lay people and bishops that oversee certain policy issues for local churches. Yet the Holy See gave a solid “yes” to the creation of a permanent “ecclesial conference” for the Amazon region consisting of lay people, religious, priests, and bishops. The “nein” in Germany, juxtaposed with the “sí/sim” in the Amazon, has prompted the question of whether the Holy See has a consistent approach to Church structures aiming  bring together bishops and lay people. Are the German “synodal council” and the Amazon “ecclesial conference” similar? What are the possible reasons why the Vatican rejects one but backs the other? And is its approach contradictory? The Pillar takes a look.  On the surface, Rome’s approaches to the Amazonian body and the German one might seem inconsistent. That could be because the Vatican is approaching these decisions on a case-by-case basis, evaluating the mandate and scope of each kind of proposed structure, and responding accordingly. Of course Vatican has not explained the differences in its handling of the Amazon conference and the German council. But the Vatican’s handling of the ecclesial conference and the synodal council suggests that Rome is willing to support innovative institutions bringing together lay people and bishops, but only under specific conditions. These seem to include that the proposed body has a strong pastoral focus, that its leaders have a cooperative relationship with Vatican officials, that the structure is firmly grounded in Vatican II, and that it seeks to cooperate with existing episcopal bodies, rather than function as its own legislative, policy-setting body. https://www.pillarcatholic.com/germany-vs-the-amazon-is-the-vatican-being-consistent/__________________________________________________________ 3. Washington lawmakers hear testimony on 7 abortion bills, By Associated Press, January 25, 2023, 9:14 PM Abortion rights proposals have been front and center in Olympia, Washington, this week as state lawmakers heard hours of public testimony on seven proposals that would reinforce abortion access. The emphasis on four legislative committees hearing testimony on abortion bills Tuesday was intended to demonstrate majority Democrats’ support for abortion rights following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, The Seattle Times reported. The June decision upended nearly 50 years of national abortion protections and sparked action in states throughout the country. Lawmakers in Washington have introduced bills that would protect abortion providers in Washington from facing retaliation from other states and lower costs for patients, among others. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/washington-lawmakers-hear-testimony-on-7-abortion-bills/2023/01/25/8d942ce4-9d13-11ed-93e0-38551e88239c_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. Pope opens up on sex abuse cases, says church must do more, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, January 25, 2023, 7:56 AM Pope Francis has shed light on the Catholic Church’s handling of sex abuse allegations against East Timor’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning independence hero, suggesting that he indeed was allowed to retire early rather than face prosecution or punishment. Francis made the revelation in a wide-ranging interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, in which he also denied he had a role in deciding the case of a famous Jesuit artist whose seemingly preferential treatment cast doubt on the Vatican’s commitment to cracking down on abuse. Francis acknowledged the Catholic Church still had a long way to go to deal with the problem, saying more transparency was needed and that church leaders must speak out more about abuse of “vulnerable adults.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pope-opens-up-on-sex-abuse-cases-says-church-must-do-more/2023/01/25/a1681b5e-9caf-11ed-93e0-38551e88239c_story.html__________________________________________________________ 5. New lawsuits target state restrictions on abortion pills, By Matthew Perrone, Associated Press, January 25, 2023, 4:41 AM Supporters of abortion rights filed separate lawsuits Wednesday challenging two states’ abortion pill restrictions, the opening salvo in what’s expected to be a protracted legal battle over access to the medications. The lawsuits argue that limits on the drugs in North Carolina and West Virginia run afoul of the federal authority of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has approved the abortion pill as a safe and effective method for ending pregnancy.The cases were brought by a North Carolina physician who prescribes the pill, mifepristone, and GenBioPro, which makes a generic version of the drug and sued in West Virginia. While the federal court lawsuits target specific state laws, they represent key legal tests that could eventually determine access to abortion for millions of women. Medication recently overtook in-clinic procedures as the most common form of abortion in the U.S. https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/new-lawsuits-target-state-restrictions-on-abortion-pills/2023/01/25/ba52b4ca-9cd3-11ed-93e0-38551e88239c_story.html__________________________________________________________ 6. SC governor renews push for abortion ban in State of State, By James Pollard, Associated Press, January 25, 2023, 8:25 PM South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster vowed Wednesday to press forward with efforts to further restrict abortion in the state. The Republican governor announced he would file a petition next week for a rehearing in his State of the State speech delivered less than three weeks after the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the state’s ban as a violation of privacy. “I remain optimistic that we will prevail in our historic fight to protect and defend the right to, and the sanctity of, life,” McMaster said. McMaster also used the address to endorse an overhaul to the state’s system of selecting judges that would give him more control over the process. South Carolina is one of two states where the Legislature selects members of the judiciary — all the way up to Supreme Court justices. McMaster called for gubernatorial appointments “with the advice and consent of the state Senate” in a method that would resemble the federal government’s model. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/sc-governor-renews-push-for-abortion-ban-in-state-of-state/2023/01/25/63678ede-9d18-11ed-93e0-38551e88239c_story.html__________________________________________________________ 7. Pope Francis: ‘I had nothing to do’ with Father Marko Rupnik case, By Catholic News Agency, January 25, 2023, 11:16 AM For the first time, Pope Francis has commented publicly about the scandal surrounding Father Marko Rupnik, denying he intervened to help his fellow Jesuit avoid punishment for the alleged sexual abuse of women in a religious community in Slovenia. Speaking to the Associated Press Jan. 24 in a headline-grabbing interview published Wednesday that covered a wide range of topics, the pope said his involvement in the case was strictly procedural: assigning the case to the same tribunal that had earlier reviewed the automatic excommunication Rupnik incurred by absolving in confession a woman with whom he had sex. After Rupnik repented the excommunication was lifted later the same month. The tribunal wound up dropping the second case because the statute of limitations had expired. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253454/pope-francis-i-had-nothing-to-do-with-father-marko-rupnik-case__________________________________________________________ 8. Alabama governor adds another layer of protection to religious freedom, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, January 25, 2023, 1:30 PM Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed an executive order Friday to protect religious freedom in the state. The executive order ensures the enforcement of the Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment. Passed by the state Legislature in 1998, the amendment to the state constitution guarantees the freedom from government coercion in violation of one’s religion to all individuals and businesses holding state licenses as well as all state contractors, employees, and grant and benefits recipients. “As I have promised, under my watch, our state government will always reflect the values of our people,” Ivey, who has served as governor since 2017, said. “Religious freedom is the cornerstone of the American way of life, and as governor, I will always protect the rights of Alabamians and ensure they are free to exercise their beliefs as provided in the Constitution.” https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253459/alabama-governor-signs-executive-order-to-protect-religious-freedom__________________________________________________________ 9. Two Florida residents indicted for vandalizing pro-life pregnancy centers, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, January 25, 2023, 4:30 PM The Department of Justice on Tuesday indicted two suspects accused of vandalizing three pro-life pregnancy centers in Florida in June 2022 in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.  The indictment against the two Floridians, 27-year-old Caleb Freestone and 23-year-old Amber Smith-Stewart, accuses them of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which is also known as the FACE Act. The indictment alleges that their actions amount to a conspiracy to prevent the employees from providing services. They could face up to 12 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and up to $350,000 in fines. Pro-life pregnancy centers, also known as crisis pregnancy centers, provide free services and resources to pregnant women, including alternatives to abortion.  CNA has independently tracked and confirmed nearly 60 attacks nationwide on pro-life pregnancy centers since May 2022. This includes a significant number of threatening messages through vandalism and several fires. One pro-life center in Wisconsin was firebombed. The organization also claimed that the attacks are underreported because the pro-life centers are trying to protect their clients. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253464/two-florida-residents-indicted-for-vandalizing-pro-life-pregnancy-centers__________________________________________________________

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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