1. Vatican says no heresy in allowing blessings for same-sex couples after pushback by some bishops, By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, January 4, 2024, 8:57 AM After pushback by some bishops in Africa, Poland and elsewhere, the Vatican on Thursday defended the recent move by Pope Francis to allow blessings for same-sex couples, insisting there is nothing “heretical” involved. In a five-page statement, the Holy See’s office to safeguard doctrinal orthodoxy expressed understanding that some bishops’ conferences need more time for “pastoral reflection” on the pontiff’s formal approval for such blessings. But “there is no room to distance ourselves doctrinally” from the Declaration about the blessings “or to consider it heretical, contrary to the Tradition of the Church or blasphemous,’’ said the statement by the office, formally called the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/01/04/vatican-pope-samesex-blessings/3e195950-ab09-11ee-bc8c-7319480da4f9_story.html__________________________________________________________ 2. Federal appeals court foils another Biden abortion scheme, By Thomas Jipping, The Washington Times, January 4, 2023, Opinion The Biden administration will stop at nothing to push abortion on the country, but a federal court put a stop Tuesday to another of its illegal schemes. The Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization returned regulation of abortion to where it belonged all along, to “the people and their elected representatives.” But that is too risky for the abortion warriors in the Biden administration. Those warriors are constantly looking for some statutory ambiguity to exploit, some legal hair to split, some regulatory spaghetti to throw at the wall to keep abortions happening.  The 5th Circuit’s unanimous opinion Tuesday in Texas v. Becerra was written by Judge Kurt Engelhardt, a Trump appointee. The appeals court made three important observations about the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. First, the law “does not mandate any specific type of medical treatment, let alone abortion.” Second, the law does not clearly supersede the states’ historic power to regulate both the medical profession and abortion. In fact, a provision specifies that it preempts state or local law only when those measures “directly” conflict. Third, under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, emergency medical conditions include those that place “the health of the woman or her unborn child … in serious jeopardy.” The 5th Circuit said that this approach “imposes equal stabilization obligations.” EMALA’s text, the court concluded, “speaks for itself” and “requires hospitals to stabilize both the pregnant woman and her unborn child.” It does not establish an “unqualified right for the pregnant mother to abort her child.”  The 5th Circuit decision in this case, like the District Court’s, is limited to the state of Texas. But this scheme of using the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act to promote abortion is being implemented elsewhere, so we can expect more challenges and rulings on this important issue.  Thomas Jipping is a senior legal fellow at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2024/jan/3/federal-appeals-court-foils-another-biden-abortion/__________________________________________________________ 3. Resistance to same-sex blessings grows in Africa, but bishops are divided globally, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, January 3, 2023, 5:40 PM Bishops in several African countries will not allow blessings for same-sex couples as opposition to a Vatican declaration continues to grow on the continent, but bishops globally remain heavily divided on implementation.  Several national bishops’ conferences and individual bishops within Africa will not allow blessings for same-sex couples within their dioceses. Three of the first national bishops’ conferences in Africa to reject same-sex blessings within their countries were Malawi, Zambia, and Cameroon. Over the past two weeks, bishops’ conferences representing at least six other African countries joined them in their opposition: Ivory Coast, Togo, Rwanda, Angola, and Sao Tome.  The Hungarian Catholic Bishops Conference joined the bishops of several other Eastern and Central European countries in rejecting any blessings for same-sex couples: “[W]e can bless all individuals regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, but we must always avoid giving a common blessing to couples who live together in a mere relationship, or who are not in a valid marriage or same-sex relationship.”  Bishop Adair José Guimarães of the Diocese of Formosa, Brazil, announced that he would not implement the declaration in his diocese after consulting lay Catholics and priests. He said the priests who responded “were practically unanimous that these applications would bring misunderstanding and scandal” and concluded that “our diocese is not in a position to apply these suggestions.” Bishop Rafael Escudero López-Brea of the Territorial Prelature of Moyobamba in Peru ordered priests “not to carry out any form of blessing for couples in an irregular situation or for same-sex couples.” The Polish Episcopal Conference similarly rejected any same-sex blessings within Poland, and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church stated that the declaration does not apply to Eastern Catholic churches. Bishop Marc Aillet of the Diocese of Bayonne, France, raised concerns about blessing the “couple,” as permitted in the declaration, rather than simply blessing “two individual people,” warning that it seems to “endorse the homosexual activity which links them.” For this reason, the bishop will permit his priests to bless persons individually, rather than bless the couple: “I invite them, if people ask, to give them a blessing, provided that it is to each person individually, calling them to conversion and inviting them to ask for the help of the grace that the Lord grants to all those who ask him to conform their lives to the will of God.”  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256435/resistance-to-same-sex-blessings-grows-in-africa-but-bishops-are-divided-globally__________________________________________________________ 4. Cardinal Fernández: Vatican’s same-sex blessings guidance is ‘clear answer’ to German bishops, By Jonathan Liedl, Catholic News Agency, January 3, 2024, 6:20 PM Amid significant confusion about the Vatican’s recent guidance on same-sex blessings, the document’s architect has lashed out at those advancing the most liberal interpretation: Catholic leadership in Germany. Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) and longtime theological adviser to Pope Francis, described Fiducia Supplicans as a “clear answer” to German plans to formalize liturgical blessings for same-sex couples, a move that is explicitly forbidden by the Dec. 18 guidance.  Fernández suggested that some German Catholics may fail to appreciate the perspectives of Catholics in other parts of the world on questions related to sexuality. “Listening to some reflections made in the context of the German Synodal Path, it sometimes seems that a part of the world feels particularly ‘enlightened’ to understand what the other poor wretches are unable to grasp because they are closed or medieval, and then this ‘enlightened’ part naively believes that thanks to it, the whole universal Church is reformed and freed from the old schemes,” Fernández told Die Tagespost. Similarly, the DDF head suggested that some German Catholic leaders don’t appreciate Pope Francis’ effort to maintain Church unity. “Some German bishops do not seem to understand that a liberal or enlightened pope could not guarantee this communion among Germans, Africans, Asians, Latin Americans, Russians, and so on,” Fernández said. “A ‘pastoral’ pope, on the other hand, is able to do this,” because he preserves Church teaching while allowing it “to enter into dialogue with the concrete, often so wounded lives of the faithful.”  Fernández also directly challenged the Synodal Way’s basis for trying to radically change Church teaching and practice related to sexuality and governance, namely, the need to address the systemic causes of the sexual abuse crisis. “To believe that in one part of the world the crisis caused by sexual abuse can be solved by decisions that are contrary to the teaching of the universal Church is, in my opinion, not even reasonably justified,” Fernández said, noting that “some non-Catholic Christian communities” with differing understandings of sexuality and authority are also plagued by problems related to sex abuse.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256437/cardinal-fernandez-vaticans-same-sex-blessings-guidance-is-a-clear-answer-to-german-bishops__________________________________________________________ 5. Dictatorship in Nicaragua posts photos of Bishop Álvarez after U.S. calls for his release, By Diego Lopez Marina, Catholic News Agency, January 3, 2023, 6:00 PM The dictatorship in Nicaragua headed by President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, on Jan. 2 released recent images of the bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, shortly after the United States government demanded his immediate release. In an official statement, the Nicaraguan government published various photographs documenting a medical checkup performed Jan. 2 on Álvarez, who has been held in custody for more than 500 days. The prelate was placed under house arrest in August 2022 and in February 2023 sentenced by the dictatorship to 26 years and four months in prison on allegations of treason.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256434/dictatorship-in-nicaragua-posts-photos-of-bishop-alvarez-after-us-calls-for-his-release__________________________________________________________ 6. Shia LaBeouf enters Catholic Church, considers vocation to the diaconate, By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, January 3, 2023, 2:10 PM Hollywood star Shia LaBeouf was received into the Catholic Church with the sacrament of confirmation by Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, Bishop Robert Barron on Sunday evening.  The Capuchin Franciscans-Western American Province announced LaBeouf’s confirmation on their Facebook account Tuesday.  “We are thrilled to share that our dear friend Shia LaBeouf has fully entered the Church this past weekend through the sacrament of confirmation,” the statement said. “The Capuchin Franciscan friars are overjoyed to welcome him into the fold and witness his deep commitment to his faith journey.”  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256429/shia-labeouf-enters-catholic-church-considers-vocation-to-the-diaconate__________________________________________________________

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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