1. March for Life marks 51st anniversary in January: Here’s what to expect this year, By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, January 3, 2023, 6:00 AM The 51st annual March for Life will kick off in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 19 under the theme “With Every Woman, For Every Child.” The March for Life, which calls itself the world’s “largest annual human rights demonstration,” takes place every year in January to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide.   Several speakers for the March for Life have already been announced, including Jean Marie Davis, a woman who runs a pregnancy resource center in Vermont and who is a former sex-trafficking victim.  Other speakers at the March for Life include former NFL tight end Benjamin Watson; Pastor Greg Laurie and Cathe Laurie; Antiochian Orthodox Bishop John Abdalah of the Diocese of Worcester and New England; Aisha Taylor, a pro-life author who speaks about her experience choosing life despite being pressured to abort her twins; Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family; Mancini; Christian musician Danny Gokey; and Antonio Carlos Tavares de Mello, who runs an organization that cares for abandoned children, many disabled from botched abortion attempts. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256421/march-for-life-marks-51st-anniversary-in-january-here-s-what-to-expect-this-year__________________________________________________________ 2. In Texas case, federal appeals panel says emergency care abortions not required by 1986 law, By Kevin McGill, Associated Press, January 2, 2024, 11:33 PM The Biden administration cannot use a 1986 emergency care law to require hospitals in Texas hospitals to provide abortions for women whose lives are at risk due to pregnancy, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. It’s one of numerous cases involving abortion restrictions that have played out in state and federal courts after the U.S. Supreme Court ended abortion rights in 2022. The administration issued guidance that year saying hospitals “must” provide abortion services if there’s a risk to the mother’s life, citing the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act of 1986, which requires emergency rooms to provide stabilizing treatment for anyone who arrives at the emergency room.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/2024/01/02/abortion-life-of-mother-texas-appeal/cb37ed88-a9ba-11ee-bc8c-7319480da4f9_story.html__________________________________________________________ 3. US women are stocking up on abortion pills, especially when there is news about restrictions, By Laura Ungar, Associated Press, January 2, 2024, 11:01 AM Thousands of women stocked up on abortion pills just in case they needed them, new research shows, with demand peaking in the past couple years at times when it looked like the medications might become harder to get. Medication abortion accounts for more than half of all abortions in the U.S., and typically involves two drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol. A research letter published Tuesday in JAMA Internal Medicine looked at requests for these pills from people who weren’t pregnant and sought them through Aid Access, a European online telemedicine service that prescribes them for future and immediate use. Aid Access received about 48,400 requests from across the U.S. for so-called “advance provision” from September 2021 through April 2023. Requests were highest right after news leaked in May 2022 that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade — but before the formal announcement that June, researchers found.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2024/01/02/abortion-pill-mifepristone-roe/41f2518a-a988-11ee-bc8c-7319480da4f9_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. Vatican: 20 Catholic missionaries killed in 2023, By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, January 2, 2023, 6:36 PM Twenty Catholic missionaries were murdered in 2023, according to a new Dec. 30 report issued by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency. Fides, the news agency of the Pontifical Mission Societies, arrived at that number by calculating “all baptized engaged in the life of the Church who died in a violent way, not only ‘in hatred of the faith.’” The agency said that most of the missionaries shared the traits of living a “normal life” and did “not carry out any sensational actions or out-of-the ordinary deeds that could have attracted attention and put them in someone’s crosshairs.” “They found themselves, through no fault of their own, victims of kidnappings, acts of terrorism, involved in shootings or violence of various kinds,” the report said.   https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256424/vatican-20-catholic-missionaries-killed-in-2023__________________________________________________________ 5. Dictatorship in Nicaragua closes out 2023 with 2 bishops and 15 priests in custody, By David Ramos, Catholic News Agency, January 2, 2023, 3:50 PM The dictatorship of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, in Nicaragua ended 2023 with two bishops, 15 priests, and two seminarians in custody. The most recent arrests took place Dec. 31. Nicaraguan lawyer and researcher Martha Patricia Molina, author of the investigative report titled “Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church?”, has been tracking the attacks of the Ortega and Murillo regime on the Catholic Church since 2018. In a Dec. 31 update, Molina reported that Father Gustavo Sandino Ochoa, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Santa María located in the Pantasma region in the Diocese of Jinotega, “was abducted by police and paramilitaries” that same day. Molina, a lawyer who lives in exile in the United States, noted that the priest “suffers from multiple illnesses.” Sandino’s arrest was the most recent in the wave of abductions carried out by the Nicaraguan dictatorship in December, including the arrest of Bishop Isidoro del Carmen Mora of the Diocese of Siuna.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256422/dictatorship-in-nicaragua-closes-out-2023-with-2-bishops-and-15-priests-in-custody__________________________________________________________ 6. Catholic publisher Jimmy Lai pleads ‘not guilty’ to Hong Kong sedition charges, By The Pillar, January 2, 2024, 3:19 PM Jimmy Lai, the jailed Catholic publisher, pled not guilty in Hong Kong Tuesday to charges of conspiracy to produce seditious publications and conspiracy to collude with foreign powers. Lai, who has been incarcerated since December 2020 on a range of “national security” charges, entered the pleas on January 2 in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Court under heavy police guard. Prosecutors used their opening arguments Tuesday to brand Lai a political “radical,” and accuse him of conspiring with Western powers in the wake of the widespread 2019 civil rights demonstrations in Hong Kong and using his now closed newspaper Apple Daily to call for “foreign countries, in particular the [United States], to impose sanctions, blockades or [undertake] other hostile activities” against both Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland government.  https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/catholic-publisher-jimmy-lai-pleads__________________________________________________________ 7. Should Patients Be Allowed to Die From Anorexia?, Treatment wasn’t helping her anorexia, so doctors allowed her to stop — no matter the consequences. But is a “palliative” approach to mental illness really ethical?, By Katie Engelhart, The New York Times, January 7, 2023, Pg. 30 The doctors told Naomi that she could not leave the hospital. She was lying in a narrow bed at Denver Health Medical Center. Someone said something about a judge and a court order. Someone used the phrase “gravely disabled.” Naomi did not think she was gravely disabled. Still, she decided not to fight it. She could deny that she was mentally incompetent — but this would probably just be taken as proof of her mental incompetence. Of her lack of insight. She would, instead, “succumb to it.”  The field of palliative care was developed in the 1960s and ’70s, as a way to minister to dying cancer patients. Palliative care offered “comfort measures,” like symptom management and spiritual guidance, as opposed to curative treatment, for people who were in pain and would never get better. Later, the field expanded beyond oncology and end-of-life care — to reach patients with serious medical illnesses like heart disease, H.I.V. and AIDS, kidney failure, A.L.S. and dementia. Some people who receive palliative care are still fighting their diseases; in these cases, the treatment works to mitigate their suffering. Other patients are actively dying or in hospice care. These patients are made “comfortable,” or as comfortable as possible, until the end. Naomi’s therapist had printed out an article for her to read. It was called “Medical Futility and Psychiatry: Palliative Care and Hospice Care as a Last Resort in the Treatment of Refractory Anorexia Nervosa,” published in 2010 in The International Journal of Eating Disorders. The paper’s authors argued that psychiatry needed its own subfield of palliative care: specifically for the 15 to 20 percent of patients whose anorexia developed a “chronic course” and did not respond to standard treatment — and for the fraction of those patients who did not want to keep trying to get better. These patients, the paper proposed, should not be coerced into treatment but offered an approach that aimed to palliate their psychological pain — until, maybe, they died of their eating disorders. The authors acknowledged that the idea of letting a mentally ill person withdraw from treatment was uncomfortable, even radical — even though the rest of medicine already recognized a patient’s right to stop fighting her disease and risk dying. A patient with advanced kidney failure, for instance, might become exhausted and decide to quit dialysis treatments. “It has been argued that patients with anorexia nervosa should have similar rights to discontinue treatment, despite the fact that in their case food refusal might seem irrational,” they wrote. “Although patients with anorexia nervosa may irrationally choose not to eat, they are often competent to make decisions in all other areas of their lives.”  Some physicians in the field had heard the emerging calls for palliative psychiatry with alarm. The idea that certain patients would be better off if they gave up on cure-focused treatment was, as Dr. Agnes Ayton of Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatry told me, “dangerous nonsense.” For many of these doctors, Yager’s writings about palliative psychiatry were not just ill defined but threatening to the profession, particularly because they were so underdeveloped and so contentious and because, nevertheless, Yager and others were already deploying them.  In February 2022, Yager co-published a new paper titled Terminal Anorexia Nervosa.” The article, whose lead author was Jennifer Gaudiani, an internal-medicine physician who founded an outpatient eating-disorders clinic in Denver, proposed that psychiatry recognize a new clinical disorder, terminal anorexia, which would apply to the small fraction of patients for whom “recovery remains elusive” and palliative measures were not enough.  The label was important, the authors reasoned, because it would grant sick patients a formal diagnostic acknowledgment that they were dying, making it easier for them to access hospice care — and even, should they want it, and should they live in a state where it is legal for terminally ill patients, and should their physicians be willing, a physician-assisted death. (A year earlier, Canada revised its national medical-assistance-in-dying law, expanding the eligibility criteria to include people whose only condition is mental illness. The law will take effect in March.)  Some of Yager’s colleagues moved quickly to denounce the paper. Several journals published counterarticles: “Terminal Anorexia Is a Dangerous Justification for Aid in Dying,” “Terminal Anorexia Nervosa Is a Dangerous Term.” Everything that made Yager’s model of palliative care alarming was in that paper — but made worse because the sick patients were bestowed with a medical label that validated their most deranged belief: that they were literally impossible to heal. Patricia Westmoreland, a Denver-based forensic psychiatrist who focuses on the ethical dilemmas around eating-disorder care, told me that the ideas in the paper were “absolutely unconscionable.” Most of the criticism focused on the case-study patients who were approved for assisted death. Everyone wanted to know how this could have possibly happened because, as of yet, there were no professional standards governing when, if ever, an anorexic person should qualify for assisted dying. And American psychiatrists had barely even broached the subject in theoretical terms — because, among other things, was it even legal? In states with legal “medical aid in dying,” a person had to be terminally ill and within six months of a natural death to qualify. But these patients’ doctors had gone ahead — gone rogue — and proceeded anyway, after first inventing a medical term, “terminal anorexia,” to cover their backs. Critics wondered what the follow-on effects would be: Would schizophrenic and depressed people eventually receive a doctor’s help to die? Some noted that the case-study patients did not receive very thorough treatment before being declared “terminal.” One had never completed a residential program.  https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/03/magazine/palliative-psychiatry.html__________________________________________________________ 8. The Mad Magazine Caricature Of U.S. Catholicism, By George Weigel, First Things, January 3, 2023, Opinion One hesitates to begin the civil new year on a critical note, when hopes of a brighter future run high. But when reality is being falsified, duty calls. So, let’s begin the Year of Our Lord 2024 with a critique of the MAD magazine-like caricature of U.S. Catholicism currently being propagated. During his years with the London-based Tablet, Christopher Lamb never evinced a serious understanding of the Church in the U.S. or its relationship to American public life. My personal experience of this involved his suggesting in early 2017 that I might be Donald Trump’s ambassador to the Holy See; Lamb was evidently unaware that I had publicly opposed Trump’s nomination and had begun my post–2016 election column with the lede, “The good news is she lost; the bad news is he won.” Such foolishness mattered little in the real world, though, given the Tablet’s relatively limited reach.   Now, however, Lamb is a Rome correspondent for CNN, with a global audience of far greater bandwidth. And he continues to display a cluelessness about U.S. Catholicism that is, in its way, breathtaking.  2024 will see an intensifying debate over the complex legacy of Francis’s pontificate. That discussion will be stillborn if the cartoon of the merciful, open-minded pope versus close-minded, anti-Vatican II U.S. Catholics becomes the dominant storyline. So, let’s get a few things straight about the Catholic Church in the United States.  First, the U.S. bishops are among the most loyal hierarchies in the world—an order of magnitude more loyal to Pope Francis and the Apostolic See than the German episcopate, which is currently defying the pope’s orders to cease-and-desist with implementing a new and heterodox form of ecclesiastical governance.  Second, for all its difficulties and challenges, the American Church is the liveliest, most vital local Church in the developed world. Period. It is the local Church that has taken most seriously the Second Vatican Council, as authoritatively interpreted by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Its seminaries are the best in the Western world. U.S. Catholicism’s intellectual life is robust, dynamically orthodox, and culture-enriching—unlike Catholic intellectual life in those large swathes of Western Europe where “Follow the Zeitgeist to Mordor” is the order of the day. Third, U.S. Catholicism is evangelically vibrant, living what Lamb describes as the pope’s call “to bring the Christian message into the world” far more energetically than the Church in Italy—or Argentina. Catholic campus ministry in the U.S. is experiencing a golden age, and FOCUS missionaries (a fruit of World Youth Day 1993 in Denver) now bring Christocentric evangelical dynamism to 193 campuses in six countries. Catholic schools in our inner-urban areas are effective instruments for empowering the poor (another priority of the pope’s). Catholic crisis pregnancy centers extend divine mercy in a very tangible way. And anyone who has experienced the doldrums of parish life in other parts of the world must be impressed by the vitality of U.S. Catholic parishes, even as they struggle to claw back the ground lost during the Plague. American Catholicism is striving to live the missionary discipleship for which Pope Francis called in the 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. It’s doing so through dynamic orthodoxy, not Catholic Lite. If it’s too much to ask for that to be understood in Rome, perhaps it could be understood at CNN? George Weigel’s column “The Catholic Difference” is syndicated by the Denver Catholic, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Denver. https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2024/01/the-mad-magazine-caricature-of-us-catholicism__________________________________________________________

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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