1. Pope Francis lists the world crises from the obscure to the existential, saying 2020 is off to a rough start.

By Chico Harlan, The Washington Post, January 9, 2020, 7:44 AM

Pope Francis on Thursday greeted the Vatican’s diplomatic corps, spoke generally about the hope that comes with any new year, and then got straight to the daunting point.

“The new year,” Francis said, “does not seem to be marked by encouraging signs.”

While saying that maintaining hope was essential, the pope spent the next 45 minutes talking about wars and could-be wars, exploitation, sexual abuse, Internet hate speech, international indifference to humanitarian crises, and the depressing state of the world’s fight against climate change.

He called heightened tensions between the United States and Iran “particularly troubling,” but it amounted to one quick reference on a laundry list of flash points, both major and obscure, from Burkina Faso to Venezuela to Australia.


2. Pope Francis Calls for Dialogue and Self-Restraint Between the U.S. and Iran: Pontiff’s annual speech to the diplomatic corps traditionally reviews his travels over the past year and surveys trouble spots around the world.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2020, 6:08 AM

Pope Francis urged the U.S. and Iran to practice “dialogue and self-restraint” to defuse recent tensions between them.

Those tensions, following the killing by the U.S. of a top Iranian military commander in Baghdad last week, “risk above all compromising the gradual process of rebuilding in Iraq, as well as setting the groundwork for a vaster conflict that all of us would want to avert,” the pope said Thursday in a speech to foreign ambassadors to the Holy See.


The pope, who has made advocacy for refugees and other migrants a signature cause of his reign, thanked Jordan and Lebanon for welcoming thousands of Syrian refugees.

Pope Francis reaffirmed his hopes to visit South Sudan in the course of 2020 to help bring a permanent end to a civil war that has lasted since 2013. Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, leader of the Anglican Communion, has said that he and the pope will travel together to South Sudan in March if leaders there agree to an interim government.

Turning to another of his priorities, environmental protection, the pope lamented the outcome of last month’s United Nations’ conference on climate change, which ended without coming to an agreement on rules for the global carbon market.

The international community’s “response to the problems raised by global issues such as climate change remains very weak and a source of grave concern,” he said.

Pope Francis also expressed support for European integration as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.


3. Pope warns of risks from US-Iran tensions in policy speech.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, January 9, 2020, 5:41 AM

Pope Francis warned Thursday that increasing tensions between the U.S. and Iran are setting the stage for a broader conflict in the Mideast while jeopardizing efforts to rebuild Iraq.

Vatican officials and Christian leaders in Iraq have voiced alarm about Friday’s airstrike in Iraq that killed Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s powerful Quds Force commander, Qassem Soleimani, and what it means for Iraq’s already beleaguered Christian minorities.


4. U.S. report calls for sanctions on China for human rights abuses, influence operations.

By Gerry Shih, The Washington Post, January 9, 2020, Pg. A14

A U.S. government commission led by bipartisan lawmakers urged the Trump administration to enact sanctions against Chinese officials and companies for human rights abuses and to develop stronger policies to counteract what it called China’s intensified political influence operations abroad.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China argued for tougher and more cohesive U.S. action against Beijing in a new annual report that detailed the Chinese government’s crackdown against religious minorities and labor activists, its expansion of digital surveillance and censorship, and its political influence activities around the world.


5. Michelle Williams and the over-normalization of abortion: Abortion isn’t a topic to be wished upon, blown off or joked about.

By Tim Young, The Washington Times, January 9, 2020, Pg. B4

Miss Williams won for best actress in a mini-series or motion picture and upon receiving her award went into an obviously planned, overwrought diatribe about abortion and “women’s rights.” When you look at news coverage of her speech, many focus on her last few sentences where she instructs all women to vote (as if what she said on stage will somehow encourage more women to vote than before), but what needed closer attention was what she said when speaking on abortion.

The 39-year-old actress began by saying, “When you put (the Golden Globe Award) in someone’s hands you’re acknowledging the choices they make as an actor. Moment by moment, scene by scene, day by day. But you’re also acknowledging the choices they make as a person. The education they pursued, the training they sought, the hours they put in. I’m grateful for the acknowledgement of the choices I’ve made …” She followed with lines about her education and training and her work, pretty standard stuff for an acceptance speech, but then ended with “… And I wouldn’t have been able to do this without employing a woman’s right to choose.”

I want to clarify that I’m not writing this opinion piece to debate abortion — we know all the points on both sides about it at this point in history — I’m writing this because whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, there’s something incredibly unsettling about Miss Williams’ and some other members of Hollywood’s disregard for the seriousness and solemnness of the act of having an abortion.

Miss Williams speech struck a nerve with many people, but not for the reasons she wanted to. She celebrated, instead of took seriously, a choice that many have had deep struggles with — and for bonus points in that same closing line, she diminished the lives of every mom who chose to have their child in addition to working hard to achieve their dreams.

Tim Young is a political comedian and author of “I Hate Democrats/I Hate Republicans” (Post Hill Press). He is co-host of The Washington Times podcast “The Right Opinion.”


6. Judge says parents can sue diocese over abuse reporting.

By Claudia Lauer, Associated Press, January 8, 2020, 7:51 PM

A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that parents of children in the Roman Catholic Church and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy members can move forward with a lawsuit against the Diocese of Pittsburgh alleging that it has not fulfilled its obligations under state law to report child sexual abusers.

The parents and survivors claim that the Pittsburgh diocese along with the other seven Pennsylvania dioceses have created a public nuisance by failing to report every allegation of child abuse and are asking that they be compelled to release information about all known allegations. Lawyers for the parents and survivors said the order issued late Tuesday is the first time private citizens have been allowed to challenge the church to prove it is complying with a reporting law.

The order, issued by Allegheny County Judge Christine A. Ward, also sustained the objections from the state’s other seven dioceses to being parties in the lawsuit because there were no specific allegations against them. Ward gave the attorneys for the parents and survivors 30 days to amend the lawsuit before she will consider whether to dismiss the other dioceses as defendants.


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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