1. Pope Benedict XVI, 1927-2022, By The Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2022, Pg. A16, Editorial Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died Saturday at age 95 at the monastery inside the Vatican where he’d been living since he resigned in 2013—the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years. His reason for stepping down was straightforward: Then age 85, he was no longer up to the demands of the job. But the writings of the man born Joseph Ratzinger are the most significant legacy of his life and papacy. They reflect his theological focus on the interplay between reason and faith, or between Athens and Jerusalem in the Western philosophical tradition. Rather than foes, he saw each as a necessary check on the other. This was the message of his 2006 address at the University of Regensburg, which was widely misinterpreted as an attack on Islam. The irony is that Pope Benedict’s most pointed criticisms were reserved for a West that was abandoning the transcendent moral truths its civilization was founded on. In his last sermon before becoming pope, he warned about “a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.” Sound relevant today?  His papacy was marred by scandals involving subordinates at the Vatican, and a more adept administrator would have managed them better than a philosopher. His resignation is also criticized in some quarters. But it strikes us as a brave and useful precedent given lengthening lifespans and the risk of papal infirmity when the world’s more than one billion Catholics need active leadership. Pope Benedict had a tough act to follow when, much against his will, he was chosen in 2005 to succeed his friend and collaborator Pope John Paul II. But Pope Benedict left his own mark in profound writings, which will be instructive and influential for people of faith or reason for centuries to come. https://www.wsj.com/articles/pope-benedict-xvi-1927-2022-joseph-ratzinger-catholic-church-faith-reason-legacy-francis-11672499222__________________________________________________________ 2. Benedict’s Death Silences Conservative Church Voice, By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2022, Pg. A9 The death of Pope Benedict XVI has left conservative Catholics without their figurehead, amid deep divisions over how much the church should adapt to the times or reaffirm its traditional teachings against the challenge of secularism. The retired pope was for more than three decades a leader in the culture wars that have shaken the Catholic Church and wider society since the late 1960s. He was a living symbol, depending on one’s point of view, of an intolerant and punitive religiosity or of stalwart fidelity amid disorienting change. Even during his last decade, after pledging his “unconditional reverence and obedience” to his more liberal successor, Pope Francis, Benedict remained a symbol of continuity for the church’s conservative currents. The end of the historically unique cohabitation of a present and former pope in the Vatican could exacerbate the tensions within the church. https://www.wsj.com/articles/pope-benedicts-passing-means-conservative-catholics-lose-their-leading-light-11672660196__________________________________________________________ 3. Catholic Conservatives Who Revered Benedict See Ideological Vacuum, By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, January 3, 2022, Pg. A6 As thousands of Roman Catholics flowed into St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday morning to see Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI lie in state and pay their last respects, bereft conservatives mourned the loss of a leader who championed the traditions, doctrines and church law and order they cherished. “He was the sun that illuminated all of us,” said Cardinal Angelo Amato, a former secretary of the church office on doctrine, which Benedict ran before becoming pope, and leader of the Vatican office that makes saints. He referred to Benedict as “the Holy Father,” and called him a “saint,” adding, “When there is no sun, there is only fog.” Benedict, who died on Saturday at age 95, stood as the church’s pre-eminent conservative thinker and leader in the decades preceding, during and following his pontificate, which ended in 2013 when he stunningly broke with church tradition by becoming the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign. Pope Francis, his successor, has a  less orthodox vision, infuriating conservatives who accuse him of causing confusion as he undid a great deal of Benedict’s legacy by firing and stripping of authority some of Benedict’s top cardinals. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/02/world/europe/benedict-death-catholic-conservatives.html__________________________________________________________ 4. Benedict’s admirers keep streaming to Vatican to honor him, By Giada Zampano and Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, January 3, 2022, 8:06 AM For a second day, lines of people wanting to honor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s service to the Catholic church snaked around St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday to view the late retired pontiff’s body. Increasingly frail, Benedict died on Saturday at age 95, 10 years after retiring from the papacy — the first to do so in 600 years. His body lies in state in St. Peter’s Basilica. On Monday, the first day the general public could view the body, around 65,000 people paid their respects — about double what Italian security had predicted. Half-way through the viewing hours on Tuesday, some 25,000 people had filed through the basilica, Italian state TV said. A third day of viewing is set for Wednesday. On Thursday, Pope Francis will lead the funeral Mass at St. Peter’s Square for his predecessor, whose retirement lasted two years longer than his papacy, which began in 2005. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/benedicts-admirers-keep-streaming-to-vatican-to-honor-him/2023/01/03/9044786c-8b49-11ed-b86a-2e3a77336b8e_story.html__________________________________________________________ 5. Jimmy Lai Won’t Get His Lawyer, By The Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2022, Pg. A16, Editorial Communist regimes and their factotums abuse the legal system to get what they want, and the latest example is Hong Kong. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in Beijing has approved Hong Kong chief executive John Lee’s request to let him bar foreign lawyers from participating in national security trials. Mr. Lee beseeched his bosses in Beijing for help after the Hong Kong courts rejected his bid to stop Jimmy Lai—the imprisoned Apple Daily publisher—from hiring King’s Counsel Timothy Owen to represent him at his looming trial on national security charges. Mr. Owen is based in the U.K. and has represented Hong Kong clients in the past. The government insists the decision upholds Hong Kong’s autonomy because Beijing leaves the final decision on which lawyers can practice to Mr. Lee and Hong Kong’s Committee for Safeguarding National Security—which Mr. Lee chairs. Technically the decision doesn’t overrule the Hong Kong courts because it says that this is simply not the courts’ decision to make. News reports say the Hong Kong government will now pass legislation to clarify its criteria. The truth is that this new interpretation of the national security law only happened because Mr. Lee is determined to keep Mr. Owen from representing Mr. Lai. Beijing also ruled that any executive decision on a foreign lawyer isn’t open to appeal. Again the world sees how the national-security law is a license for the government to do whatever it wants.  This ruling from Beijing is another illustration of how the law in Hong Kong now operates. Mr. Lee decides the outcome he wants and then does whatever it takes to get there. https://www.wsj.com/articles/jimmy-lai-is-denied-his-lawyer-timothy-owen-john-lee-hong-kong-beijing-11672676995__________________________________________________________ 6. Cardinal Zen: Benedict XVI will be a ‘powerful intercessor in heaven’ for China, By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, January 3, 2022, 4:38 AM Cardinal Joseph Zen has said that he believes that the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be a “powerful intercessor in heaven” for the Catholic Church in China. In a reflection posted on his blog on Jan. 3, Zen remembered Benedict XVI as a “great defender of the truth” who took “extraordinary” actions to support the Church in China, despite many setbacks. “As a member of the Chinese Church, I am immensely grateful to Pope Benedict for things he has done that he did not do for other Churches,” Zen wrote. The Hong Kong cardinal recalled in particular Benedict XVI’s 2007 Letter to China, which Zen called “a masterpiece of balance between the lucidity of Catholic ecclesiological doctrine and humble understanding with respect to civil authority.” https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253227/cardinal-zen-benedict-xvi-catholic-church-in-china__________________________________________________________ 7. Debunking three bits of papal poppycock amid Benedict XVI commentary, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, January 3, 2022, Opinion An inexorable media dynamic occurs whenever a major public figure dies: During the gap between the death and the funeral, journalists scramble to fill column inches and airwaves with something – anything, really – to sustain interest in the story until there’s actual news to report. In keeping with that rule, the last 48 hours have brought an avalanche of commentary, analysis and dissection of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. As time goes on, the focus appears to be shifting away from obituaries and legacy pieces to more speculative “what now?” sorts of analysis. Much of that output has been thoughtful and constructive – Benedict XVI was an intellectual, after all, and I always thought he tended to inspire smarter-than-average journalism. Yet a few instances of what we’ve seen have been downright silly, at times almost self-parodying. Herewith three such claims one can find currently making the rounds: With the death of Benedict XVI, Catholic conservatives have lost their hero and now will be adrift. Benedict’s death removes a brake on conservative criticism of Pope Francis, so the church’s internal conflicts will now become more bitter and intractable. American Catholics may now go into schism, because they’re no longer inhibited by Benedict still being alive. (Believe it or not, this suggestion actually was floated Tuesday on the front page of Corriere della Sera, supposedly Italy’s most authoritative newspaper.)  First, conservatives are adrift? Please. To begin with, while most conservative Catholics certainly admire and cherish Benedict XVI, he was never the primary point of reference for the most aggressive opposition to Pope Francis.  Second, conservatives have been holding their fire because of Benedict, and now will truly cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war? Again, please. I see no evidence whatsoever that Benedict being around for the past decade inhibited conservative and traditionalist criticism of Pope Francis. We’ve seen Francis labeled the “dictator pope,” we’ve seen posters around Rome mocking his commitment to mercy, we’ve seen books arguing his election was illegitimate, we’ve seen accusations he’s an avowed Communist, pantheist, and idolator, and we’ve even seen prelates and theologians openly accusing him of heresy, all of which while Benedict was still very much with us.  Third, the US church now will go into schism? This time, puh-leeze! To begin with, I would remind my non-American colleagues that the most acerbic critics of Pope Francis in the global episcopacy are not, and never have been, Americans.  If there’s to be a schism, in other words, it’s highly unlikely to be Made in the USA. It would be great if the current cycle of meditations on the life and legacy of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI could continue, free of these pernicious bits of papal poppycock. I’m under no illusions, however – in the media universe as in the physical world, alas, time and the tides wait for no one. https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2023/01/debunking-three-bits-of-papal-poppycock-amid-benedict-xvi-commentary__________________________________________________________ 8. The First Afterlife of Pope Benedict XVI, By Ross Douthat, The New York Times, January 2, 2022, Opinion  The strange afterlife of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate, which ended with his death on Saturday at 95, was not quite so wild or dramatic. But like Celestine’s experience, it was not exactly an advertisement for papal resignations. For almost a decade, the former Joseph Ratzinger played a peculiar and poorly defined role as pope emeritus, neither fully secluded nor formally active, even as his successor, Francis, sought to dismantle important parts of Benedict’s work. The former pope promised to live out his days “hidden from the world” and presumably expected to see his legacy secure. Instead, he conducted a postpapacy of ambiguous gestures in response to a Vatican that had been delivered, by the mysteries of God’s providence, to his longtime foes.  It seems very hard for any admirer of Benedict to look at the events that followed his resignation and see a vindication of his decision to retire, a simple working out of the Holy Spirit’s will.  At the same time, his full legacy will be felt across decades or even centuries. All we can say from his strange years as pope emeritus is that the way that Pope Benedict XVI sought to govern the church, to hold it together institutionally and theologically, has been challenged and partly reversed. But Joseph Ratzinger the scholar and theologian and writer, Joseph Ratzinger the champion of a certain idea of Catholic Christianity — well, he has only just begun to fight. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/01/opinion/pope-benedict-xvi-catholic-church.html__________________________________________________________ 9. Benedict aide’s tell-all book will expose ‘dark maneuvers’, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, January 2, 2022, 2:11 PM Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s longtime personal secretary has written a tell-all book that his publisher on Monday promised would tell the truth about the “blatant calumnies,” “dark maneuvers,” mysteries and scandals that sullied the reputation of a pontiff best known for his historic resignation. Archbishop Georg Gaenswein’s “Nothing but the Truth: My Life Beside Pope Benedict XVI” is being published this month by the Piemme imprint of Italian publishing giant Mondadori, according to a press release. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/benedict-aides-tell-all-book-will-expose-dark-maneuvers/2023/01/02/b5d6c0d6-8ac1-11ed-b86a-2e3a77336b8e_story.html__________________________________________________________ 10. Church’s ex-prosecutor on sex abuse defends Benedict XVI’s record, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, January 2, 2022, Opinion As the world marks the death of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, his record on the clerical abuse scandals that have rocked Catholicism for the past three decades inevitably forms part of any evaluation of his legacy. For many abuse survivors and their advocates, it’s axiomatic that Benedict was the public face of denial and cover-up. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, for instance, declared in a Dec. 31 statement that “any celebration that marks the life of abuse enablers like Benedict must end.” “Honoring Pope Benedict XVI now is not only wrong. It is shameful,” the group said. “Pope Benedict XVI is taking decades of the church’s darkest secrets to his grave with him.” Arguably the one person on the planet best positioned to assess the late pontiff’s performance, however, has a very different take. According to Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, it was Benedict XVI who first began to reckon with “the dark face” of clerical abuse, pioneering a series of measures which are today at the heart of the church’s “zero tolerance” policy. Prior to his election to the papacy, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger “was instrumental in the lengthy process that updated the law and procedures” for dealing with grave crimes such as the sexual abuse of a minor, Scicluna said. Both as a Vatican prefect and as pope, Scicluna told Crux, Benedict XVI led the charge for reform “in constant dialogue with the canonical experts” and promoted “formation on all levels.” During his eight years as pope, Scicluna said, Benedict devoted time every week to reviewing cases of abuser priests that needed decisions.  Behind the scenes, some Vatican personnel actually began to grumble that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Ratzinger had “drunk the Kool-aid,” in the sense of uncritically swallowing a media- and lawyer-driven press for sweeping changes in the way priests are supervised and disciplined. Yet Ratzinger held firm, and ultimately prevailed. https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2023/01/churchs-ex-prosecutor-on-sex-abuse-defends-benedict-xvis-record__________________________________________________________ 11. While blamed, Benedict fought sex abuse more than past popes, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, January 1, 2022, 8:29 AM Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is rightly credited with having been one of the 20th century’s most prolific Catholic theologians, a teacher-pope who preached the faith via volumes of books, sermons and speeches. But he rarely got credit for another important aspect of his legacy: having done more than anyone before him to turn the Vatican around on clergy sexual abuse. As cardinal and pope, Benedict pushed through revolutionary changes to church law to make it easier to defrock predator priests, and he sacked hundreds of them. He was the first pontiff to meet with abuse survivors. And he reversed his revered predecessor on the most egregious case of the 20th century Catholic Church, finally taking action against a serial pedophile who was adored by St. John Paul II’s inner circle.  And after initially dismissing the problem, Pope Francis followed in Benedict’s footsteps and approved even tougher protocols designed to hold the hierarchy accountable.  Under Ratzinger’s watch as cardinal and pope, the Vatican authorized fast-track administrative procedures to defrock egregious abusers. Changes to church law allowed the statute of limitations on sex abuse to be waived on a case-by-case basis; raised the age of consent to 18; and expanded the norms protecting minors to also cover “vulnerable adults.” The changes had immediate impact: Between 2004 and 2014 — Benedict’s eight-year papacy plus a year on either end — the Vatican received about 3,400 cases, defrocked 848 priests and sanctioned another 2,572 to lesser penalties, according to the only Vatican statistics ever publicly released. Nearly half of the defrockings occurred during the final two years of Benedict’s papacy. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/though-faulted-benedict-turned-vatican-around-on-sex-abuse/2023/01/01/52eadc0a-89ae-11ed-b5ac-411280b122ef_story.html__________________________________________________________ 12. U.S. lay Catholic organizations mourn the loss of Pope Emeritus Benedict, By Kevin J. Jones and Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency, January 1, 2022, 3:03 PM Following the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Saturday at age 95, major U.S.-based lay Catholic groups expressed their gratitude for the late pope’s life and legacy, and for his support for their organizations’ missions.   The Catholic Association, which aims to defend Catholic teaching through mass media, similarly praised Benedict for his written teachings, particularly his encyclical Deus Caritas Est “Primary among his many towering intellectual contributions is his articulation of the unity between faith and reason. May he rest in peace, and intercede for the needs of the Church and the world,” said Maureen Ferguson, a senior fellow with The Catholic Association.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253217/us-lay-catholic-organizations-pay-tribute-to-pope-emeritus-benedict-after-his-death-at-95__________________________________________________________ 13. ‘Lord, I love you’: Aide recounts Benedict’s last words, By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, January 1, 2022, 1:07 PM Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s last words were “Lord, I love you,” his longtime secretary said Sunday, quoting a nurse who helped care for the 95-year-old former pontiff in his final hours. Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, a German prelate who lived in the Vatican monastery where Benedict took up residence after his 2013 retirement, said the nurse recounted hearing Benedict utter those words at about 3 a.m. Saturday. The retired pope died later that morning. “Benedict XVI, with a faint voice but in a very distinct way, said in Italian, ‘Lord, I love you,’’’ Gaenswein told the Vatican’s official media, adding that it happened when the aides tending to Benedict were changing shifts. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pope-marks-new-year-as-vatican-prepares-to-mourn-benedict/2023/01/01/1f62e2b2-89bb-11ed-b86a-2e3a77336b8e_story.html__________________________________________________________ 14. Benedict death paves way for protocols to guide future popes, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, January 1, 2022, 9:32 AM There was no tolling of the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica, no solemn announcement by a Vatican monsignor to the faithful in the square. A fisherman’s ring did not get smashed and the diplomatic corps were not mobilized to send official delegations to Rome. The death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passed in an entirely un-papal-like manner Saturday, with a two-sentence announcement from the Vatican press office, making clear once and for all that Benedict stopped being pope a decade ago. The rituals of his passing were less like the ones of a pontiff, monarch or Vicar of Christ on Earth and more akin to those of a retired bishop, even if he will be buried in the red vestments of a pope. In a way it was fitting, and drove home that the new chapter in the history of the Catholic Church that Benedict began writing in 2013 when he became the first pope in 600 years to resign had ended, and that it’s now up to Pope Francis to follow up with how future popes might retire. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/benedict-death-paves-way-for-protocols-to-guide-future-popes/2023/01/01/1db18344-89e1-11ed-b86a-2e3a77336b8e_story.html__________________________________________________________ 15. MAID in Canada: What’s Behind the Euthanasia Scandal?, By Chris Selley, The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2022, Pg. A13, Opinion Canada’s Supreme Court held in 2015 that people with “a grievous and irremediable medical condition” had a right to assisted suicide, and Parliament responded the following year by enacting a law legalizing “medical assistance in dying,” or MAID. In October 2019, during Justin Trudeau’s first re-election campaign, the prime minister stressed the importance of “ensuring that everyone gets the supports, the treatment they need to live in dignity, and to make the choice of medical assistance in dying one that is made in a way that isn’t because you’re not getting the supports and care that you actually need.” In hindsight, that should have been a gigantic red flag. Mr. Trudeau essentially promised to strengthen Canada’s social safety net so that no one would want to die rather than live under difficult circumstances. Three years later, that safety net is no less flimsy, and the result he warned about is happening. On Dec. 15, Justice Minister David Lametti announced the government would delay—but not abandon—the planned expansion of MAID to cover those with mental illness. But that point may already be moot. In April, CTV News reported on two unnamed women who had petitioned to be euthanized for want of housing suitable to their diagnosis of multiple chemical sensitivity, or MCS—a reported intolerance to smoke, air fresheners, commercial cleansers and other irritants that is almost certainly an anxiety disorder. (Studies have found MCS sufferers react negatively to purported irritants that haven’t been introduced into the test environment.)  Gut-wrenching as these cases are, they at least involve people who independently opted for assisted suicide. The biggest MAID-in-Canada controversy may be the revelation that at least one caseworker working for Veterans Affairs Canada had been actively pitching euthanasia to veterans who had no interest in it. One reported being offered MAID instead of treatment for post-traumatic stress, another in lieu of a wheelchair ramp.   Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms prohibits discrimination on the basis of mental or physical disability. Some advocates of euthanasia follow this logic to a chilling conclusion: How, they ask, can we deny euthanasia to people suffering mental illnesses if it is available to patients with objectively terminal conditions? It isn’t a great leap to asking how we can deny it to people who are suffering from poverty. Is it really more humane to deny a miserable person a clean assisted suicide than to grant it? Authorities should say yes: We won’t help you die because of your depression, poverty or unfit living conditions for the same reason we won’t take out your appendix if you have a broken leg, or prescribe lithium for a nasty case of psoriasis. Only in Canada, it seems, has the right to die with state assistance, no matter the cause, become a leading civil-rights issue. There is no telling where it might end. Mr. Selley is a columnist for the National Post. https://www.wsj.com/articles/maid-in-canada-whats-behind-the-euthanasia-scandal-suicide-rent-trudeau-mental-illness-equal-rights-11672397399__________________________________________________________ 16. The tragedy of Pope Benedict XVI, By Marc A. Thiessen, The Washington Post, December 31, 2022, 5:42 AM, Opinion Five days before his death in 2005, Pope John Paul II came to his window overlooking St. Peter’s Square to deliver what would have been his final Easter Sunday message. But when he opened his mouth, nothing came out. Many in the square, and millions more watching on television, were moved to tears as he repeatedly attempted, in palpable pain, to deliver his Easter blessing before finally sinking back into his chair, banging his fist in frustration. In that instant, carrying on through his agony, John Paul stood as a rebuke to a utilitarian world that increasingly embraces a culture of death that discards the weakest among us — from the unborn to the elderly — treating them as a burden and inconvenience. With his silent witness, John Paul affirmed the intrinsic value of every human life, including those who are infirm, isolated and abandoned by society. As his suffering intensified in his last years, he had been asked: Why do you not simply resign? Because, he reportedly said, “Christ did not come down from the cross.” His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, chose to come down from the cross.  Throughout his papacy, he preached the Gospel of love in truth — teaching that “to defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction” is an indispensable form of charity because “only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived.” He embraced tradition and restored access to the pre-Vatican II liturgy, while continuing John Paul’s ecumenical outreach and leading the church in the modern world. And his message of doctrinal clarity delivered in charity inspired a new generation of young men to discern their vocations to the priesthood. But Benedict’s extraordinary papacy is blemished by his fateful decision to resign. His abandonment resulted in the election of a new pope, Francis, who has sown confusion instead of clarity.  Just as Benedict did not follow the example of his predecessor, who showed in his continued service the salvific power of suffering, Francis has not followed to the example of his predecessor, who warned us of the dangers of separating truth from love. The church and the world have been impoverished as a result. Benedict will be remembered with deep affection and gratitude by millions across the world. We give thanks for his far-too-brief pontificate and pray for the repose of his soul. But the tragedy of his papacy is that he has passed, at age 95, as pope emeritus, rather than the supreme pontiff. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/12/31/pope-benedict-death-francis-confusion/__________________________________________________________ 17. Benedict was America’s pope, By David Von Drehle, The Washington Post, December 31, 2022, 5:09 AM, Opinion For more than a century, from the time when Ireland’s potato crop failed and starvation sped a great migration of Irish to the United States, nativists feared the influence of Roman Catholicism over American life. Anti-Catholic sentiment helped fuel the Know Nothing movement of the 1840s and 1850s. The prejudice poisoned the 1884 presidential campaign with charges of “rum, Romanism, and rebellion” against the Democratic Party. It marched alongside racism in Ku Klux Klan parades of the 1920s and doomed Democrat Alfred E. Smith’s presidential bid in 1928. John F. Kennedy’s narrow victory in 1960 was thought to be a stake through the heart of hatred. Ironically, the influence ran in the opposite direction. Popes had relatively little impact on the formation of American morals and culture compared with the enormous changes wrought on the Vatican by U.S. modernizing power. Pope John XXIII’s historic decision to call the Second Vatican Council to begin gathering in 1962 was, in many senses, a recognition that the Catholic Church must engage with the free and individualistic world that the postwar United States was making.  The defining engagement in American politics has been over the issue of abortion. As John Paul’s hammer, Ratzinger taught that “not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion.” Under his influence, opposition to abortion became a defining aspect of Catholic identity here: Catholic schools bus students to protest rallies. Catholic hospitals refuse to offer certain medical procedures. Catholic churches raise money to fund antiabortion campaigns. On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court contradicted nearly 50 years of its own jurisprudence by holding that the Constitution does not protect a woman’s right to choose an abortion. Five of the six justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade are conservative Roman Catholics. (The sixth was a graduate student under a leading expert in Catholic legal philosophy.) Catholic leaders hailed the decision — which might never have happened without the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/12/31/pope-benedict-ratzinger-changed-american-society/__________________________________________________________ 18. Is the Catholic Church Rethinking Contraception?, In the climate of openness under Pope Francis, theologians are revisiting the morality of birth control for the first time in decades, By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2022, Pg. C4 Some two dozen Catholic theologians, philosophers and other scholars gathered in Rome this month for a three-day conference dedicated to defending and explaining the implications of the Catholic Church’s prohibition of contraception, as set out in St. Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae.” The conference, whose speakers included the legal philosophers John Finnis of Notre Dame Law School and Robert George of Princeton University, was organized in response to what just a few years ago would have been an unlikely source of questioning on the topic: the Vatican. Under Pope Francis, who has encouraged debate on a number of questions previously considered closed—including divorce and homosexuality—the church at its highest levels is now debating the morality of contraception, more than half a century after another pope was supposed to have handed down a definitive statement on the matter. https://www.wsj.com/articles/is-the-catholic-church-rethinking-contraception-11672429834__________________________________________________________ 19. Pope Benedict XVI Was a Bestselling Author, Late pontiff’s output ranged from scholarship to interventions on controversies in Roman Catholic Church, By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2022, 5:20 PM In his seven-decade career as a scholar and church leader, the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote more than 60 books and numerous papal documents, including three encyclicals. An official adviser at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the pivotal event in the Roman Catholic Church during his lifetime, Joseph Ratzinger was a major figure in the theological debates that followed Vatican II. He also had a large nonacademic following, mostly of conservative Catholics who looked to him for guidance and reassurance in the turbulent postconciliar period. Even after his election as pope, he continued his scholarship, writing a three-volume study, “Jesus of Nazareth,” which became a bestseller.  https://www.wsj.com/articles/pope-benedict-xvi-was-a-bestselling-author-11672482042__________________________________________________________ 20. The Quiet Genius of Pope Benedict XVI, The ‘pope between the times’ had an unshakable faith that complemented his luminescent intellect., By Francis X. Maier, The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2022, 10:03 AM, Opinion In the 1980s I had two long conversations with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would be elected pope in 2005 and was known as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI when he died Saturday at age 95. Our meetings were private affairs and off the record. This allowed us to have unhurried and unfiltered discussions about issues and personalities in the church. The press already had branded him Panzerkardinal, the humorless German commandant of the Vatican’s doctrine police. I had read his bracing work, and the label seemed implausible. I still wasn’t prepared for his personal simplicity and humility. He gave no hint of impatience in his manner, no divided attention, no self-important ego. That can be said of few public figures, including churchmen. Decades have passed, along with many of the people and issues we discussed. But I still remember the unexpected feeling our conversations produced: hope. Like the early Christian saint and scholar Augustine, who helped shape his thinking, Ratzinger wasn’t an optimist. But also like Augustine, he was a man alive with unshakable trust in Jesus Christ and the God of Israel. Pope Benedict XVI was one of the great religious minds of the past century.  Pope Benedict XVI nevertheless used his astonishing intellect in luminescent ways. His 2006 University of Regensburg lecture was widely and ignorantly trashed at the time as anti-Muslim. What he actually delivered was a superb defense of the mutually supportive roles of faith and reason and the nature of a free conscience. His 2008 comments to the United Nations—which he praised as “an instrument of service to the entire human family”—were a triumph. His extensive collected writings on human responsibility for the environment preceded the current pontificate. His 2011 Freiburg address offered a brutally sober assessment of the challenges facing Christianity. It was also a compelling call to conversion and hope. The first and best encyclical issued by Pope Francis—“Light of Faith”—was written in significant part by Benedict XVI. Toward the end of his life, he described himself as a “pope between the times.” He added, “You only see in retrospect how the forces of history are proceeding.” Whatever the future holds, the Catholic world has lost one of its most brilliant minds and articulate voices. His memory will endure. Mr. Maier is a senior fellow in Catholic studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-quiet-genius-of-pope-benedict-xvi-faith-reason-death-95-ratzinger-catholic-church-legacy-11672498033__________________________________________________________ 21. Pope Francis grateful for ‘noble’ Benedict and his prayers, By Frances D’Emilio and Giada Zampano, Associated Press, December 31, 2022, 2:59 PM Hours after the death Saturday of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis praised his “noble” predecessor and expressed gratitude for his life of faith and prayers, especially those offered in the nearly 10 years since the shy churchman dramatically became the first pontiff in centuries to retire from the papacy.  “With deep feeling, we recall his person, so noble, so gentle,’’ Francis said. “And we feel in the heart so much gratitude: gratitude to God for having given him to the Church and to the world,” the pope said. “Gratitude to him, for all the good he did, and above all for his witness of faith and of prayer, especially in these last years of withdrawn life. “Only God knows the value and the strength of his intercession, of his sacrifices offered for the good of the Church,’’ Francis said softly. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/wealth-of-tribute-comes-for-benedict-who-desired-simplicity/2022/12/31/bfda9388-8912-11ed-b5ac-411280b122ef_story.html__________________________________________________________ 22. Nun Prodded CEOs On a Green Agenda, By James R. Hagerty, The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2022, Pg. A9, Obituary At shareholder meetings, she was the stinging nun. For more than four decades, Sister Patricia Daly pursued her chosen vocation: shareholder activist and scourge of corporate CEOs. A member of the Roman Catholic Sisters of St. Dominic congregation of Caldwell, N.J., she worked with religious shareholder groups to prod companies to take action on issues including environmental protection and human trafficking. She matched wits with General Electric Co. then-Chief Executive Jack Welch at a shareholder meeting in 1998, when she urged GE to issue warnings about the risks of eating fish contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, from its plants.  Sister Daly died Dec. 9. She was 66 years old and had cancer. https://www.wsj.com/articles/sister-patricia-daly-stood-up-to-ceos-at-shareholder-meetings-11672412786__________________________________________________________ 23. With ‘sorrow and gratitude,’ USCCB president reflects on the death and legacy of Benedict XVI, By Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency, December 31, 2022, 10:45 AM Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI helped lead the Church to “a more profound love of truth and the mystery of God,” Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Saturday in reaction to the former pontiff’s death. “While we grieve that he is no longer with us here, I join Catholics everywhere in offering my profound gratitude to the Lord for the gift of Pope Benedict XVI and his ministry,” said Broglio, who heads the Archdiocese for the Military Services. “Together we beg Our Lord to grant him eternal rest.” Benedict XVI served as pope from 2005 to 2013. He was the first pontiff to resign from the papacy in nearly six centuries. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253200/with-sorrow-and-gratitude-usccb-president-reflects-on-the-death-and-legacy-of-benedict-xvi__________________________________________________________ 24. Benedict’s XVI’s spiritual testament underlines ‘the reasonableness of faith’, By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, December 31, 2022, 1:54 PM The Vatican published Benedict XVI’s spiritual testament on Saturday night in which the late pope underlined “the reasonableness of faith.” “What I said before to my countrymen, I say now to all those in the Church who have been entrusted to my service: Stand firm in the faith! Do not let yourselves be confused,” the late Benedict XVI wrote, expressing the final thoughts he wished to share with the Church. In the text released by the Vatican on Dec. 31 hours after his death, the late pope remarked that with each passing generation he saw how “out of the tangle of assumptions, the reasonableness of the faith emerged” again and again. He cited Marxism, existentialism, and other intellectual movements at odds with the Church and its teachings. “Jesus Christ is truly the way, the truth, and the life — and the Church, with all its insufficiencies, is truly his body,” Benedict XVI said. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253201/pope-benedict-papal-spiritual-testament__________________________________________________________ 25. Biden remembers Benedict XVI as ‘an inspiration to us all’, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, December 31, 2022, 2:25 PM President Joe Biden paid tribute to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday, calling him “a renowned theologian” and “an inspiration to us all.” “Jill and I join Catholics around the world, and so many others, in mourning the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,” Biden said following the Vatican’s announcement that the pope emeritus had died at the age of 95.  “He will be remembered as a renowned theologian, with a lifetime of devotion to the Church, guided by his principles and faith,” Biden said. “As he remarked during his 2008 visit to the White House, ‘the need for global solidarity is as urgent as ever, if all people are to live in a way worthy of their dignity,’” Biden said. “May his focus on the ministry of charity continue to be an inspiration to us all.” Other prominent Catholic politicians also offered tributes to Benedict XVI. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi praised Benedict XVI, saying: “I join our fellow Catholics in mourning the passing of Pope Benedict XVI: a leader whose devotion, scholarship, and message stirred the hearts of people of all faiths.” Joe Donnelly, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, issued a statement reflecting on Benedict XVI’s first address from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, saying: “He set the tone for a papacy by labeling himself as a ‘simple, humble laborer in the vineyard of the Lord.’” https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253204/biden-remembers-benedict-xvi-as-an-inspiration-to-us-all__________________________________________________________ 26. Benedict XVI is mourned in the United Kingdom, By Madeleine Teahan, Catholic News Agency, December 31, 2022, 2:55 PM The leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales led tributes to the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, hailing him as one of the great theologians of the 20th century. In a statement released Dec. 31, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Pope Benedict. He will be remembered as one of the great theologians of the 20th century.  The U.K. prime minister and King Charles III also added their voices to the tributes paid to the late pope emeritus. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253205/benedict-xvi-is-mourned-in-the-united-kingdom__________________________________________________________ 27. After Michigan Supreme Court redefines ‘sex,’ Catholic school lawsuit warns of broad impact, By Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency, December 30, 2022, 2:55 PM The Michigan Supreme Court’s new interpretation of anti-discrimination law requires schools to impose strict policies and practices enforcing non-Catholic views of sexual orientation and gender identity and would ban catechesis about marriage and the sexes, a Catholic school’s legal challenge claims. In July, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that sexual orientation and gender identity were protected categories under a 1976 Michigan anti-discrimination law, the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. In response, Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish and Sacred Heart Academy, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, along with several school parents, filed a lawsuit Dec. 22 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Southern Division. The K-12 school has almost 400 students. The plaintiffs say the new interpretation violates their religious freedoms under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Making sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes, the lawsuit says, requires schools to allow staff and students to use restrooms or locker rooms that are inconsistent with their sex, and obligates Sacred Heart School to affirm self-adopted gender identities or pronoun use for students and staff. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253192/after-michigan-supreme-court-redefines-sex-catholic-school-lawsuit-warns-of-broad-impact__________________________________________________________ 28. Texas Abortion Law Still Faces Questions After Roe v. Wade’s Demise, Allowing private parties to sue abortion providers for monetary damages upended judicial review, By Laura Kusisto, The Wall Street Journal, December 30, 2022, 8:00 AM A novel Texas law caused a national stir in late 2021 by allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers and others for monetary damages, essentially ending state abortion access months before the Supreme Court removed legal protections for the procedure. The law’s practical significance faded this year when the high court overruled Roe v. Wade in June, but it continues to complicate the legal landscape and inspire imitation laws, leaving questions for the courts heading into 2023. The state law, known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, or SB 8, put ordinary citizens—not any government official—in charge of enforcing it, which made it difficult to challenge in court even though it conflicted with legal protections for abortion that were in place at the time.   SB 8 recently suffered a legal defeat when a Texas judge this month dismissed a lawsuit brought against an abortion provider, on the grounds that the Chicago man who sued had no harm or injury to claim and thus lacked standing under the Texas Constitution.  Still, the law remains on the books. Now that the Supreme Court has eliminated federal constitutional protections for abortion, states are free to criminalize the procedure, lessening the motivation for antiabortion officials to adopt Texas-style workarounds involving private citizens. But some antiabortion leaders and lawyers say private citizens could still play a role where liberal prosecutors won’t enforce criminal abortion bans, or if such bans get blocked in state court. Some have also expressed interest in using private-enforcement laws to discourage groups from assisting women in obtaining out-of-state abortions.  https://www.wsj.com/articles/texas-abortion-law-still-faces-questions-after-roe-v-wades-demise-11672405218__________________________________________________________ 29. Court: Abortion doctors can’t be charged under Arizona law, By Jacques Billeaud, Associated Press, December 30, 2022 An Arizona court has ruled that abortion doctors cannot be prosecuted under a pre-statehood law that criminalizes nearly all abortions yet was barred from being enforced for decades. But the Arizona Court of Appeals on Friday declined to repeal the 1864 law, which carries a sentence of two to five years in prison for anyone who assists in an abortion and provides no exceptions for rape or incest. Still, the court said doctors can’t be prosecuted for performing abortions in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy because other Arizona laws passed over the years allow them to perform the procedure, though non-doctors are still subject to be charged under the old law. “The statutes, read together, make clear that physicians are permitted to perform abortions as regulated” by other abortion laws, the appeals court wrote. https://apnews.com/article/abortion-us-supreme-court-politics-health-arizona-196bc22e414051e780018f88564788f3__________________________________________________________ 30. Woman arrested while praying silently outside abortion clinic charged with ‘intimidation’, By Charlotte Evans, Catholic News Agency, December 30, 2022, 8:04 AM A woman arrested by British police faces charges of “protesting and engaging in an act that is intimidating to service users” for standing still and praying silently outside an abortion facility. Isabel Vaughan-Spruce was arrested in Birmingham, UK, on Dec. 6. Video footage of her arrest was published on social media. The video shows an officer asking Vaughan-Spruce if she was praying, to which she answers: “I might be praying in my head.” Following a further exchange with police, the 45-year-old was arrested and interrogated. Vaughan-Spruce is the director of March for Life UK.  ADF UK is supporting Vaughan-Spruce ahead of her appearance at Birmingham Magistrates Court on Feb. 2. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253187/woman-arrested-while-praying-silently-outside-abortion-clinic-charged-with-intimidation__________________________________________________________

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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