1. Vatican to administer COVID vaccine to employees this month, By Associated Press, January 3, 2020
The Vatican says it expects to start administering COVID-19 vaccinations in mid-January.
A statement on Saturday says vaccines, “enough to cover the needs of the Holy See and of Vatican City State.”
The brief statement didn’t say if 84-year-old Pope Francis would be getting the vaccine. But it specified priority would go to Vatican health and security workers, to the elderly and to “the personnel most frequently in contact with the public.” Some 450 people, including the Swiss Guards, reside in Vatican City, while many others work in its offices, museums and other facilities.
2. Pope warns against ‘trying only to satisfy one’s own pleasure’ during pandemic, By Associated Press, January 3, 2020
Pope Francis said he was very saddened that some people during COVID-19 pandemic holiday lockdowns managed to slip away on vacations while so many are suffering economic problems or are ill.
During noon prayer remarks Sunday at the Vatican, Francis said that “we don’t know what 2021 has in store for us.”
But, he added, “what each of us and all of us together can do is to commit ourselves a little more to taking care of others” and of the environment, “our common home.”
He acknowledged that there is the temptation to look after one’s interests and to “live hedonistically, trying only to satisfy one’s own pleasure.”
Throughout the pandemic, the pontiff has stressed caring for those most in need and obeying anti-contagion measures.
3. Does the Vatican have a double standard on papal privacy?, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, January 3, 2020, Opinion
A statement from Andrea Arcangeli, director of the Vatican’s office for health and hygiene, said the Vatican has acquired an ultra-low temperature refrigerator to store the vaccine, and that injections will be delivered in the Paul VI Audience Hall, beginning with health personnel and those with greatest contact with the public, as well as the elderly.
The one question the statement did not address, however, is whether Pope Francis will receive the vaccine. That question has been put to Vatican spokespersons on multiple occasions since the advent of the vaccines, who have maintained a steadfast silence on the grounds that it’s a matter of the pope’s “private life.”

It’s not that there’s anything inappropriate about the Vatican lifting the veil on the pope’s privacy like this. On the contrary, watching the pope practice the corporal works of mercy in such a moving way is inspirational, and may move countless people to do likewise – especially when, as expected, the documentary is translated into other languages and makes its way around the world.
The fact Francis consented to being followed around by TV cameras doesn’t makes these gestures insincere. Instead, it means he’s accepted the hard truth that pretty much anything he ever does for the rest of his life will become public sooner or later, so he might as well try to squeeze some evangelical good out of his exposure.
However, it’s difficult to resist the conclusion that the Vatican is awfully selective about when to invoke the pope’s “private life” as a reason for refusing to provide information, given that they’re obviously willing to set aside that privacy when it suits their purposes.
Moreover, one could also argue that the same potential for evangelical good applies to the vaccine question. The reason so many other leaders have taken their shots in public, including President-elect Joe Biden in the US, is precisely to inspire others to do the same, and many Catholics might be swayed by knowing that the pope too is getting the shot.
We’ll see how the Vatican chooses to handle the information flow when the injections begin later this month. In the meantime, tomorrow night’s broadcast on RaiTre, among other things, offers a reminder of the double standards that sometimes come into play navigating the boundaries between public and private when popes are involved.
4. Prelate blocked for months by Belarus resigns Minsk post, By Associated Press, January 3, 2020, 8:47 AM
Pope Francis on Sunday accepted the resignation of Minsk’ archbishop who had been blocked for months by Belarusian authorities from returning to his homeland after criticizing a crackdown on anti-government protesters there.
Monsignor Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, in charge of the Minsk-Mohilev diocese, had only returned to Belarus on Dec. 24, just in time to celebrate Christmas Mass.
5. ‘Unbelievable’: House Democrat’s opening prayer ends with ‘amen and a-woman’, Republicans note ‘amen’ means ‘so be it,’ doesn’t refer to male gender, By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, January 3, 2020
The 117th Congress kicked off with a fresh controversy Sunday when the Democrat delivering the opening prayer concluded by saying “amen,” and then added “a-woman.”
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, Missouri Democrat, ended his prayer “in the name of the monotheistic god,” then added what sounded like “Brahma,” before finishing with “and god known by many names by many different faiths. Amen and a-woman.”
Critics, led by Republican lawmakers, were quick to point out that “amen” means “so be it,” and does not refer to the male gender, while “a-woman” doesn’t mean anything.

Indeed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rules Committee chairman James P. McGovern released Friday a proposed rules package that would “honor all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral.”
6. Mr. Trump’s execution spree, The death penalty lost more ground in 2020 — except in the Trump administration., By The Washington Post, January 1, 2020, Pg. A18, Editorial
Before 2020, the United States had steadily backed away from the death penalty. Public support for the ultimate punishment had declined. States had cut drastically the number of people they sentenced to die and the number they executed. The federal government had not executed anyone in nearly two decades. These shifts were still visible in 2020, in most of the country.

In state courthouses and prisons, where, in general, most death sentences are imposed and carried out in the United States, the covid-19 pandemic slowed the penalty’s already diminished rate of use, which reached historic lows in 2020. But the Death Penalty Information Center’s year-end report reckons, based on trends visible before the outbreak, that death sentences and executions would have approached record lows in 2020 regardless of the pandemic.

Federal authorities have executed 10 people since getting started in July, making 2020 the first year ever in which the federal government executed more civilian inmates than the states did. In just five months, Mr. Trump oversaw more civilian executions than any other president in the 20th or 21st century. Three more inmates are scheduled to die in January, in the final weeks of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

It is neither tough nor smart to take life in the guise of justice; the practice is as callous as it is ineffective and inefficient. A renewed mania for executing criminals must be another Trump legacy that the nation quickly dismisses.
7. Pope pushes through nerve pain to give New Year’s blessing, By Associated Press, January 1, 2020, 7:07 AM
Pope Francis ushered in the New Year on Friday with a traditional Angelus blessing from the papal library, pushing through nerve pain that forced him to skip New Year’s ceremonies in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The pope appeared relaxed as he stood at a lectern in the Apostolic Palace wishing the faithful watching via video “a year of peace, a year of hope.” He smiled into the camera as he repeated his customary sign-off, “don’t forget to pray for me,” and wishing everyone “a good lunch.”
8. Planned Parenthood’s international arm boasts financing efforts to legalize abortion in Argentina, By Catholic News Agency, December 31, 2020, Opinion, 12:56 PM
In a post published on Wednesday, December 30, just hours after abortion was legalized by the Argentinian Senate, one of the international branches of Planned Parenthood, the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPFWHR), boasted about having financed a large operation in the South American country to push to legalize abortion.
The celebratory post on the IPPFWHR website contradicts the claims of Argentinian President Alberto Fernández, who presented the abortion law and who repeatedly rebuffed pro-life concerns that the law was in fact being pushed by international organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the Ford Foundation rather than the will of the Argentinian people.

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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