1. Pope meets with Benedict’s aide amid funeral, book fallout, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, January 9, 2023, 8:10 AM Pope Francis met on Monday with Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, the longtime secretary of Pope Benedict XVI who was a key figure in his recent funeral but who has raised eyebrows with an extraordinary memoir in which he settles old scores with the reigning pontiff and reveals palace intrigue. The Vatican provided no details about the content of the private audience, other than to say that it happened. Speculation about Gaenswein’s future has swirled now that his main job tending to Benedict has come to an end following Benedict’s Dec. 31 death. But questions have also been raised about what Francis will do with Gaenswein following this week’s publication of his tell-all book, “Nothing But the Truth: My Life Beside Pope Benedict XVI.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pope-meets-with-benedicts-aide-amid-funeral-book-fallout/2023/01/09/8d3e084c-901a-11ed-90f8-53661ac5d9b9_story.html__________________________________________________________ 2. Pope denounces Iran death penalty following protests, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, January 9, 2023, 5:34 AM Pope Francis on Monday broke his silence on the nationwide protests convulsing Iran, denouncing the recourse to the death penalty there and seemingly legitimizing the rallies as demonstrations “demanding greater respect for the dignity of women.” Francis made the comments in an annual speech to ambassadors accredited to the Vatican, a foreign policy speech the pope delivers at the start of each year outlining the areas of greatest concern for the Holy See. In his remarks, Francis linked the Vatican’s opposition to abortion to its opposition to the death penalty, saying both are a violation of the fundamental right to life. Francis has changed church teaching on the death penalty, ruling it is “inadmissible” in all circumstances. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pope-denounces-iran-death-penalty-following-protests/2023/01/09/873f3f54-9003-11ed-90f8-53661ac5d9b9_story.html__________________________________________________________ 3. COVID-19 ravaged worship attendance, but affiliation steady, By Mark A. Kellner, The Washington Times, January 9, 2023, Pg. A6 The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled a decline in attendance at religious services, particularly among those with a “weak” commitment to regular worship attendance, a unit of the American Enterprise Institute reported Thursday. Americans maintained a “mostly stable” level of religious identity, the Survey Center on American Life determined, but more stopped going to worship services, with young adults reporting the sharpest decline. Levels of affiliation remained fairly constant before and after the pandemic, researchers found, although slight drops came from those saying they were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or who identified as Hispanic Catholics.  From a July 2020 low of 13% of Americans saying they attended services in person, the percentage more than doubled to 27% in March 2022, but this was still lower than before the pandemic, and 33% of Americans said they never attend worship, up from 25% pre-pandemic. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/jan/6/covid-19-ravaged-worship-attendance-affiliation-st/__________________________________________________________ 4. Liechtenstein prelate cancels parliamentary Mass over gay marriage bill, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, January 9, 2023 The New Year is off to a rocky start for parliamentarians in the tiny European nation of Liechtenstein, who are currently in a standoff with the country’s lone Archbishop, Wolfgang Haas, over the recent passage of a bill legalizing same sex marriage. In December, Haas announced via the official bulletin for the Archdiocese of Vaduz that he was cancelling a high-profile Mass, called the “Holy Spirit” service, which is traditionally held at the opening session of parliament, called the Landtag, at the beginning of a new year. The reason for the cancellation was parliamentary support for the country’s “marriage for all” motion. The Mass is usually attended by legislators and members of the government. In a statement published in archdiocesan bulletin Vobiscum, Haas lamented that parliament, “all of whose members belong to the Catholic Church,” voted to pass the bill. https://cruxnow.com/church-in-europe/2023/01/liechtenstein-prelate-cancels-parliamentary-mass-over-gay-marriage-bill__________________________________________________________ 5. Public now can see Benedict’s tomb at St. Peter’s Basilica, By Frances D’emilio, Associated Press, January 8, 2023 The public can now visit the tomb of Pope Benedict XVI in the grottoes under St. Peter’s Basilica. The pontiff was buried on Jan. 5 immediately following a funeral in St. Peter’s Square. Benedict’s tomb lies in the grottoes under the basilica’s main floor. The Vatican announced on Saturday that the public could visit the tomb starting Sunday morning. Benedict had lived since 2013 as pope emeritus, following his retirement from the papacy, the first pontiff to do so in 600 years. He died on Dec. 31 at the age of 95, in the Vatican monastery where he spent his last years.https://apnews.com/article/pope-francis-religion-vatican-city-9e77ccb8c66b4566666e6f0172cff249__________________________________________________________ 6. Filipino Catholics hold big procession after pandemic eases, By Jim Gomez and Aaron Favila, Associated Press, January 8, 2023, 1:29 AM Thousands of Catholic devotees, many donning protective masks and bearing candles, joined a night procession through downtown Manila early Sunday to venerate a centuries-old black statue of Jesus Christ, which was not paraded to discourage an even larger crowd amid lingering fears of COVID-19. The more than 80,000 devotees who church officials said joined the nearly 6-kilometer (3.7-mile) “Walk of Faith” procession were a fraction of the more than a million worshippers who typically converged in pre-pandemic years to pay homage to the life-size Black Nazarene statue in one of Asia’s biggest religious festivals. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/filipino-catholics-hold-big-procession-after-pandemic-eases/2023/01/07/0b633382-8f08-11ed-b86a-2e3a77336b8e_story.html__________________________________________________________ 7. U.S. bishops urge Biden administration to ‘reverse its present course’ on immigration, By Zelda Caldwell, Catholic News Agency, January 8, 2023, 9:48 AM On the eve of President Joe Biden’s scheduled Sunday visit to the U.S.-Mexico border to meet with local officials and border enforcement agents, the U.S. Catholic bishops announced their opposition to the administration’s recent crackdown on illegal immigration to the United States. Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’s (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued a statement on behalf of the bishops Friday, a day after President Joe Biden unveiled new stricter immigration rules. “We urge the administration to reverse its present course in favor of humane solutions that recognize the God-given dignity of migrants and provide equitable access to immigration and humanitarian pathways,” the statement said. Biden announced Thursday that the U.S. will step up enforcement at the border and begin to turn away Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians who try to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253290/us-bishops-urge-biden-administration-to-reverse-its-present-course-on-immigration__________________________________________________________ 8. Bishops’ pro-life leader says women ‘deserve better’ than abortion pills in pharmacies, By John Lavenburg, Crux, January 7, 2023 After the federal government greenlighted the sale of abortion pills at retail pharmacies nationwide, the U.S. Bishops Conference pro-life committee chair has said that mothers in need “deserve better.” “We decry the continuing push for the destruction of innocent human lives and the loosening of vital safety standards for vulnerable women,” said Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, the USCCB pro-life chair, in a statement. “This week’s action by the FDA not only advances the obvious tragedy of taking the lives of the preborn, but is also harmful to women in need,” Burbidge said. The decision was made by the Food and Drug Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services earlier this week. There was no news release or formal announcement of the change. However, the FDA updated its website on January 3 to reflect it. https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2023/01/bishops-pro-life-leader-says-women-deserve-better-than-abortion-pills-in-pharmacies__________________________________________________________ 9. Pope Francis reorganizes Diocese of Rome in face of ‘epochal change’, By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, January 7, 2023, 7:35 AM Pope Francis on Friday issued a document reorganizing the Vicariate of Rome in what he called a time of “epochal change.” The apostolic constitution, In Ecclesiarum Communione, replaces a 1998 constitution promulgated by Pope John Paul II. It goes into effect on Jan. 31. “In arranging this new Constitution for the Vicariate,” Francis wrote in the preface, “in the face of an ‘epochal change’ that involves everything and everyone, I hope that it will be primarily an exemplary place of communion, dialogue and proximity, welcoming and transparent, at the service of the renewal and pastoral growth of the Diocese of Rome, an evangelizing community, a synodal Church, a people which credibly witness to God’s mercy.” The bishop of the Diocese of Rome is the pope. Under him, the diocese, run by the vicariate, is led by a cardinal vicar, vicegerent (deputy), and auxiliary bishops. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253284/pope-francis-reorganizes-diocese-of-rome-in-face-of-epochal-change__________________________________________________________ 10. Border bishop takes lead role in Catholic migrant ministry, By Giovanna Dell’Orto, Associated Press, January 6, 2023, 9:18 AM With a cheerful “soy Marcos” – “I’m Mark,” in Spanish – Bishop Mark Seitz introduced himself to migrants eating soup in the shelter on the grounds of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso, less than two miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. The migration crisis roiling the borderlands is literally in the backyard of the new chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ migration committee, a ministry started a century ago. Seitz will be the first border bishop to serve in this role in at least two decades; he says it will allow him to bring “a new energy to this work from someone who sees it pretty much every day.” “Immigrants have had the experience of leaving everything that helped them to feel at home and secure in this life behind, and to depend utterly on God as they journey,” Seitz told The Associated Press a few days before Christmas. “They have so much to teach us about how God will accompany us on our journey.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/border-bishop-takes-lead-role-in-catholic-migrant-ministry/2023/01/06/89f6daf8-8dca-11ed-b86a-2e3a77336b8e_story.html__________________________________________________________ 11. Similar state abortion challenges meet different outcomes, By Jeffrey Collins and Geoff Mulvihill, Associated Press, January 6, 2023, 3:26 PM The top courts in two conservative states ruled the same day on similar challenges to abortion bans — and went in opposite directions. The 3-2 decisions Thursday in Idaho, which keeps a ban on abortion at all stages of pregnancy, and South Carolina, which blocks enforcement of a ban after cardiac activity can be detected, are the latest examples of the patchwork of policies imposed since the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed the right to abortion nationwide for nearly five decades. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/similar-state-abortion-challenges-meet-different-outcomes/2023/01/06/5f1dc996-8e00-11ed-b86a-2e3a77336b8e_story.html__________________________________________________________ 12. Abortion at the forefront in special election for Virginia Senate seat, By Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider, The Washington Post, January 6, 2023, 11:03 AM What could have been a sleepy special election for a single legislative seat in Virginia Beach has instead drawn heaps of money and national attention — in large part because of abortion. Leaders on both sides of the abortion debate claim that whoever wins the state Senate seat in Tuesday’s election — in which a Democrat who supports abortion rights will face off against a Republican who favors a 15-week ban — will play an outsize role in shaping Virginia’s laws on the subject. The election, to fill the swing-district seat vacated by Republican Jen A. Kiggans after she was elected to Congress in November, occurs against the backdrop of a proposal by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) to ban the procedure in Virginia after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest and to preserve the mother’s life. https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2023/01/06/virginia-senate-kiggans-abortion-rouse-adams/__________________________________________________________ 13. New Pa. speaker puts sexual abuse lawsuit window atop agenda, By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, January 6, 2023 Pennsylvania’s new state House speaker declared Friday that no other legislation will be taken up by his chamber until it approves a constitutional amendment granting child sexual abuse victims the power to file what would otherwise be outdated claims. House Speaker Mark Rozzi, who has spoken of being abused as a boy by a Roman Catholic priest, issued his ultimatum ahead of Monday’s scheduled start of a special session on the issue, ordered by outgoing Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. Rozzi, a Reading area Democrat, was the surprise pick for speaker on Tuesday. He has promised to act as an independent and not caucus with the Democrats. https://apnews.com/article/politics-pennsylvania-tom-wolf-child-abuse-religion-fc5811c9ff2b164ad31d85a5c5423a04__________________________________________________________ 14. Diocese challenges Maine law allowing older sex abuse claims, By David Sharp, Associated Press, January 5, 2023 The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland is challenging a Maine law that eliminated the statue of limitations for child sexual abuse, allowing a wave of new lawsuits. A motion in the first of the new civil lawsuits suggests the 2021 law is unconstitutional through retroactive changes that violate due process and vested rights. But Michael Bigos, attorney for plaintiffs, disagreed with claims that the law is unconstitutional, and said the courts should defer to the Legislature on the matter. The arguments focusing on vested rights, retroactive laws and the emotionally charged subject of child sexual abuse sets up a challenge that ultimately will have to be decided by Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court, said Jim Burke, professor emeritus at University of Maine School of Law. https://apnews.com/article/maine-state-government-crime-religion-lawsuits-834c4eea438e3e7e8323331831680e38__________________________________________________________ 15. Actually, We Do Know When Human Life Begins, By Maureen L. Condic, National Review, January 8, 2023, 6:30 AM, Opinion In a recent New York Times piece asking “When Does Life Begin?,” religion correspondent Elizabeth Dias presents multiple lines of evidence to conclude that the question is simply too complex to be answered. She relays the poignant story of a woman who is pro-choice but who experienced a 16-week miscarriage as the loss of her child, Maya. She enumerates how different states (Arizona, South Carolina), different cultures (China, ancient Egypt), and different religious traditions (Judaism, medieval Christianity) have offered different answers to the question of when life begins. She notes that defenders of the view that life begins at sperm–egg fusion often cite “Christian principles,” suggesting that this conclusion is nothing more than a religious conviction. Dias acknowledges that “more than half of American adults say the statement ‘human life begins at conception, so a fetus is a person with rights’ describes their views at least somewhat well”; yet she goes on to present contrasting views offered by biologists, physicians, philosophers, anthropologists, and clerics. Let me be clear: Outside of a few quibbles with the biology (the embryo clearly does not arise from a “fraction” of the cells present at the time of implantation; the placenta is manifestly not “a new organ that a woman’s body makes”; and it is absurd to characterize a pregnancy as a woman’s “making a new organism with her body”), I agree with all of the evidence Dias presents and with the obvious fact that opinions on this question are both complex and diverse. What I do not agree with is the conclusion that, simply because people hold diverse opinions on the subject, the question of when life begins cannot be definitively answered. The question of when human life begins is a matter of biology, not opinion. And the scientific facts are unambiguous: The life of a new human being initiates at the instant of sperm–egg fusion. While some individuals may deny this conclusion, it is supported by hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific papers (discussed here) and is entirely uncontested in the scientific literature. Dias accurately reports that a “scientific consensus” on this question has existed for over 150 years, ever since sperm–egg fusion was first viewed using a microscope. Amander Clark, the president-elect of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (hardly a bastion of pro-life sentiment), clearly endorses this consensus, telling Dias, “From the biologist point of view, I’d need to say life of a mammalian organism begins at fertilization.” In considering the specific question of when human life begins, the mammalian organism in question would be a human organism.  And another term for “human organism” is “human being.”  The belief that equality, freedom, and justice apply universally to all human beings is so deeply rooted in the American mindset, it is difficult to imagine circumstances that could justify depriving any human of these basic rights. Why should any human being be treated unequally under the law? When should the freedom of a human being to live their own life be arbitrarily revoked by another human? Should anyone be refused what is due to them in justice, including the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Because it is difficult to imagine circumstances where a human being should not be granted the basic rights of equality, freedom, and justice, we hide behind an imagined uncertainty regarding whether a human being actually exists prior to birth. But science is certain beyond any reasonable doubt that a human being does in fact exist from the moment of sperm–egg fusion: that the “life of a mammalian organism begins at fertilization.” An inconvenient truth with challenging ethical implications, but a truth nonetheless. https://www.nationalreview.com/2023/01/actually-we-do-know-when-human-life-begins/__________________________________________________________ 16. Vicar of Rome latest papal confidante to fall out of favor, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, January 8, 2023, Opinion After almost a decade in power, there’s an increasingly long list of figures who were once part of the pontiff’s inner circle, but who, for one reason or another, have lost that standing. One day after Francis laid his predecessor Benedict XVI to rest on Thursday, he effectively buried De Donatis’ ecclesiastical career by issuing a sweeping overhaul of the Vicariate of Rome, taking away most of the vicar’s power and transferring it to auxiliary bishops in the Eternal City. Pointedly, Francis decreed that the vicar must not “undertake important initiatives or ones exceeding ordinary administration without first having reported to me.” It was a striking denouement for De Donatis, 69, whom Francis made an auxiliary bishop of Rome in 2015. Two years later De Donatis became the vicar, and in 2018 he became a cardinal. Also in 2018, De Donatis was the star speaker at a Vatican press conference to present Francis’s apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, suggesting the Italian prelate was being groomed for a star role. Yet the wheels began to come off the relationship during Covid, when Francis compelled De Donatis to reverse course on closing Roman churches, and further deteriorated when Francis imposed a Vatican financial audit on the vicariate in 2021. Perhaps the last straw was De Donatis’s recent defense of Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik, accused of various forms of sexual and spiritual abuse; De Donatis responded by saying, “We ministers of Christ can’t be less committed to the due process of law, and less charitable, than a secular state, automatically transforming an accusation into a crime.”  What are we to make of this turnover? Critics may see it as evidence of disloyalty, cutting people loose when it’s convenient, or even instability. Admirers likely will style it was a sign of a strong, hands-on manager, who sets expectations for performance and holds people accountable. Management theorists might regard it as a strategy for ensuring that control remains directly in the pontiff’s hands, by preventing anyone else from building their own empires or putting down roots too deep to dig up. However one explains it, rotation in key posts does seem a persistent feature of the Francis era – which, among other things, may suggest a dose of caution for others in the pope’s orbit today not to get too comfortable. https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2023/01/vicar-of-rome-latest-papal-confidante-to-fall-out-of-favor__________________________________________________________

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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