1. Newly Ordained, and Leaning Right in Theology and Politics., By Ruth Graham, The New York Times, July 11, 2024, Pg. A10

In an era of deep divisions in the American Catholic Church, and ongoing pain over the continuing revelations of sexual abuse by priests over decades, there is increasing unity among the men joining the priesthood: They are overwhelmingly conservative in their theology, their liturgical tastes and their politics.

More than 80 percent of priests ordained since 2020 describe themselves as theologically “conservative/orthodox” or “very conservative/orthodox,” according to a nationally representative survey of 3,500 priests published by the Catholic Project at the Catholic University of America. Foreign-born priests in the United States, a significant presence as ordination rates remain below replacement levels, are less conservative theologically than their American-born peers. But still, not a single surveyed priest who was ordained after 2020 described himself as “very progressive.”
Politically, the trend is similar, with almost all priests ordained in 2020 or later describing themselves as moderate or conservative.
That represents a sharp contrast with priests ordained in the 1960s, about half of whom describe themselves as politically liberal, and an even greater share as theologically progressive.
In the near future, in other words, the liberal Catholic priest could essentially be extinct in the United States. The shift toward more uniform conservatism puts the rising generations of priests increasingly at odds with secular culture, which has broadly moved to the left on questions of gender, sexuality, reproductive issues and roles for women.
The Catholic population itself in the United States has historically been politically diverse, and people in the pews do not always endorse church teachings on issues like abortion, birth control and the meaning of the eucharist.
Changing attitudes will reshape parish life, where priests choose topics for homilies and have discretion over matters like whether girls can volunteer as altar servers and lay people can assist in the distribution of Communion. It will also influence the leadership ranks of the American church, which already has a global reputation for conservatism, and antagonism to Pope Francis’s more pastoral tone in leadership. That gap is poised to harden as current bishops retire and die.

2. Arkansas official rejects bid to put abortion rights measure on ballot, Secretary of State John Thurston (R) said the petitioners failed to submit proper paperwork. The amendment effort sought to restore abortion access up to 18 weeks., By Frances Vinall, The Washington Post, July 11, 2024, 3:17 AM
Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston (R) has rejected petitions to put an abortion access measure on the ballot this fall, blaming a procedural error by the organizing group.
Arkansans for Limited Government gathered more than 100,000 signatures in support of a ballot proposal to legalize abortion up to 18 weeks after fertilization, and exceptions afterward in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal anomaly or threat of physical harm to the pregnant patient. The group has faced a significant challenge in promoting its constitutional amendment initiative in what is sometimes ranked the “most pro-life state in America.”
Thurston said the group failed to submit a document naming paid canvassers and a signed statement confirming that paid canvassers had been provided with required information about their role. He added that when signatures gathered by paid canvassers were removed, it reduced the number to 87,382, below the threshold for ballot inclusion of 90,704.

3. Senate Republicans block bill supporting restoral of Roe’s federal right to abortion, By Lindsey McPherson, The Washington Times, July 11, 2024
Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked Democrats from advancing a bill to express support for codifying the federal right to abortion previously afforded under Roe v. Wade.
The test vote failed 49-44, with all but two Republicans voting in opposition. It needed 60 votes to survive.
Democrats are seeking to restore the federal right to abortion after the Supreme Court two years ago overturned Roe with a new decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that said the Constitution does not provide a right to abortion and left it up to the states to decide what abortion rights or restrictions to enact.
However, the bill they brought to the floor on Wednesday was a nonbinding measure that simply expressed the “sense of Congress” that the protections previously enshrined in Roe “should be restored and built upon, moving towards a future where there is reproductive freedom for all.”

4. Pence warns against pro-life ‘surrender’ in revised RNC platform, By Seth McLaughlin, The Washington Times, July 10, 2024
Former Vice President Mike Pence is calling on delegates to the Republican National Convention to restore pro-life language to the GOP platform to erase any doubt about the party’s commitment to the sanctity of life.
The demand came after the RNC’s platform committee approved a Trump-inspired proposal this week that dropped the party’s previous embrace of a human life amendment to the Constitution and a 20-week federal ban on most abortions.
“Now is not the time to surrender any ground in the fight for the right to life,” Mr. Pence said in a statement Tuesday. “The 2024 platform removed historic pro-life principles that have long been the foundation of the platform. I urge delegates attending next week’s Republican Convention to restore language to our party’s platform recognizing the sanctity of human life and affirming that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.”

5. Bishops’ Committee Faces Backlash Over Call for Cuba to be Removed From Terrorism Sponsor List, Cuba is currently on the U.S. government’s list of State Sponsors of Terror along with North Korea, Iran, and Syria, By Ken Oliver-Méndez, Catholic News Agency, July 10, 2024
A U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) committee chairman’s call for the U.S. government to remove Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism has sparked a swift backlash from various quarters.
On Tuesday, the USCCB released a letter by Bishop A. Elias Zaidan, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, in which he urged U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to “remove Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.”
In his letter, Bishop Zaidan cited the position of his predecessor, Bishop David Malloy, who in the same capacity opposed the designation made by the Trump administration in January 2021.
Cuba is currently on the U.S. government’s list of State Sponsors of Terror along with North Korea, Iran, and Syria. Countries are added to the list if they have “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”

6. Vatican will prepare a document on the role of women in leadership in the Catholic Church, The Vatican says its doctrine office will be preparing a document on women in leadership roles in the Catholic Church, as part of a new initiative to respond to longstanding demands by women to have a greater say in the church’s life, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, July 9, 2024, 8:42 PM
The Vatican said Tuesday that its doctrine office will prepare a document on women in leadership roles in the Catholic Church, a new initiative to respond to longstanding demands by women to have a greater say in the church’s life.
The document will be written by the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith as its contribution to Pope Francis’ big church reform process, now entering its second main phase with a meeting of bishops in October, known as a synod.
The Vatican announced the details of the doctrinal document shortly after its news conference — led by four men — on the preparatory work for the October meeting, leaving journalists no chance to ask for more details about it.

The forthcoming document was announced in a list of the members of 10 “study groups” that are looking into some of the thorniest and legally complicated issues that have arisen in the reform process to date, including the role of women and LGBTQ+ Catholics in the life of the church.

7. NYT Keeps Botching Religious-Freedom Case, By Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review, July 9, 2024, 9:43 AM
Pamela Paul’s recent op-ed in the New York Times was notable for two things. The first is an incendiary title (“Your Religious Values Are Not American Values”) that fortunately does not convey a tone sustained throughout the piece. Paul ends with a conclusion so tepid that nearly all the religious conservatives she means to denounce could agree with it: “This Fourth of July, let’s bear in mind that what many Americans value in this country is its inclusion and protection of all, regardless of their beliefs.”
The second is this passing smear, the most specific criticism she offers: “Unfortunately, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court has demonstrated that, like many Republican politicians, when it comes to freedom of religion — and yes, that must include freedom from religion — those justices are willing to put their own faith above all else.”
The link, where she supposedly demonstrates the accuracy of this accusation, goes to her own op-ed from two years ago furiously attacking the 6–3 decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District:
This court’s right-wing majority is following the dictum of our Trumpian age: Objective truth doesn’t matter. Subjective belief — specifically the beliefs of the court’s religious-right majority — does. The Kennedy decision wasn’t based on the facts but on belief in the face of facts. Moreover, those six justices are determined to foist their beliefs on the rest of the country.
Paul believes that the assistant football coach who brought the case, Joseph Kennedy, had coerced players to submit to his proselytizing: “Students who walked off the field rather than take part in Kennedy’s prayers may have risked losing playing time and perhaps a path to a football scholarship. No athlete on a public-school team should have to pray to play.”
Sorry, but none of this is what the case was about — although Justice Sotomayor’s dissent artfully misdirects its readers into thinking as Paul does.
The truth can be found in Justice Gorsuch’s opinion (and also in Ed Whelan’s coverage of the case for NRO). Here’s Gorsuch:
The contested exercise before us does not involve leading prayers with the team or before any other captive audience. . . . At the District’s request, he voluntarily discontinued the school tradition of locker-room prayers and his postgame religious talks to students. The District disciplined him only for his decision to persist in praying quietly without his players after three games in October 2015. [Emphasis in original.]
Maybe Paul would have had a point if Kennedy had continued his previous practice, been disciplined by the district for it, and then gotten the Supreme Court to rule that he had a First Amendment right to flout its directive. But that’s not what happened. The real scandal in the case is that three justices were willing to okay the district’s indefensible behavior — and that for two years running, many in the press, including Pamela Paul, keep distorting the facts of the case. “Objective truth doesn’t matter,” indeed.
8. The Camino, a Catholic pilgrimage, increasingly draws the spiritual but not religious, In 2023, nearly half a million people walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain, By Ellie Davis, Religion News Service, July 9, 2024, 1:04 PM
In her early 30s, Rachael Sanborn found herself in a bad relationship and dreaming of an escape to the Camino de Santiago in Spain, a pilgrimage her father had undertaken that had profoundly changed his life.
Sanborn, a rebel and adventurer by nature (she dropped out of college to meditate in India for a year), quit her job, gave up health insurance and pooled her savings to take two months to walk the Camino. By the third day of her walk, she promised herself she’d return every year. Nine months later, she was back, guiding her first group of eight pilgrims.
A decade later, now 45 and residing in the Bay Area, she leads grief walks and walking meditations on the Camino with the travel company she founded, Red Monkey Walking Travel. The red monkey is a nod to Hanuman, the Hindu god of joyful service. Raised Tibetan Buddhist, Christian and Jewish, Sanborn considers herself all three. She believes everyone can find a way for the Camino to work for their religion.

Sanborn represents a growing trend of non-Catholic — even non-Christian — pilgrims venturing on the Camino. In 2023, nearly half a million people walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. About 40 percent of those walked for purely religious reasons, according to statistics released by the pilgrims’ office. While it’s traditionally a Catholic pilgrimage, ending at the shrine of the apostle James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, secular pilgrims today embark on the Camino for all kinds of motivations beyond religion: health, grief, transition, cultural exploration, history and adventure.

As this growing spiritual but not religious group borrows religious rituals and beliefs, there is a question of how to do so without appropriating them. Many of the reasons nonreligious people go on the Camino are similar to why religious people go. In a 2019 study in the “Sociology of Religion” journal, researchers examined atheists’ versus religious pilgrims’ motivations to walk the Santiago way and found overwhelming overlap across motivations; most were looking to connect to nature and one’s deeper self. The only two measures that differed were community and religious motivations, which were both higher for religious pilgrims.

9. Spain’s church to compensate victims whose abusers have died. Victims say the plan lacks guarantees, Spain’s Catholic bishops have approved a plan to compensate the victims of sexual abuse inside the Church whose alleged aggressors have died or whose possible crimes have been proscribed, an initiative the government and victims’ associations called lacking in real guarantees, By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press, July 9, 2024, 11:24 AM
Spain’s Catholic bishops approved Tuesday a plan to compensate the victims of sexual abuse inside the Church whose alleged aggressors have died or whose possible crimes have been proscribed, an initiative the government and victims’ associations called lacking in real guarantees.
The Spanish Episcopal Conference did not provide an estimate on how many victims it could help. But last year the conference said it had found evidence of 728 sexual abusers within the church since 1945 as part of its first public report after years of rejecting a comprehensive approach to investigating sexual abuse.
Seventy-five percent of the cases had occurred before 1990 and more than 60% of the offenders were dead, the conference said.

10. Oklahoma Catholic charter school to appeal to Supreme Court in public funding dispute, By Kate Quiñones, Catholic News Agency, July 9, 2024, 1:02 PM
A nascent Catholic charter school managed by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that it could not be funded using public taxpayer dollars.
St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School, a joint project between the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa, was set to launch in August as an online, tuition-free, Catholic K–12 charter school based out of Oklahoma City.
In the U.S., charter schools are free, publicly funded schools that have greater flexibility in their operations and management than traditional public schools. In a lawsuit last year, state Attorney General Gentner Drummond had asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to declare the state’s contract with the school unconstitutional on the grounds that it constituted public funding of a religious institution.
The court last month agreed, ordering the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board to rescind its contract with the virtual Catholic charter school. 

11. Why we still think ‘growthist ideology’ is right, Readers challenged The Post’s Editorial Board on whether growth is good. Here’s our response, By The Washington Post, July 8, 2024, 7:15 AM, Editorial
America’s fertility rate is plummeting, with profound consequences for the country’s economic and political future. But is a declining birth rate something to lament or to celebrate?
Our recent editorial on the “birthrate bomb” elicited understandably strong reactions. Many readers took issue with our focus on how declining fertility rates might weaken the U.S. economy. “Endless growth — whether that’s of the population or the economy — is an unachievable fantasy,” one wrote. Another wrote: “Now is the time to reject growthist ideology for good.”
These reactions reflect a growing intellectual fad: “degrowth.” Degrowthers offer a substantial critique of the tendency to prioritize economic growth above all else. They argue it would be better to re-center increasingly unhappy societies away from materialism and toward ecological sustainability.
We share some of their concerns. But, with respect, we still disagree that degrowth is the way to address them. As we noted in another editorial, the numbers show that curtailing economic growth cannot produce a safer, sustainable world.

For more than 200 years, pessimists have warned that a rapidly increasing population would bring civilizational doom. Yet unprecedented population growth has coincided with unprecedented economic development, which in turn has freed billions of people from extreme poverty. Human ingenuity — a feature of growing societies — has made ills such as famine and infant mortality rarer.

Pronatalist policies should not be directed toward those who prefer to remain childless. No amount of government support will fully offset the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to raise a child. Rather, pronatalist programs are properly aimed at the still large number of women who say they want children but cannot bear the cost. Even if birth rates do not boom in response, enabling women to make that choice is still worthwhile.
American values of individual autonomy and choice mean that a child-free life is one that must be respected. But freedom cuts the other way, too: One shouldn’t assume that women who desire more children suffer from false consciousness.

Societies should make it easier to have children — but also prepare for a time, already here for many, when they can no longer rely on a rising population to thrive. Humans have to do more with the same or a declining number of people. Or else the world will get the future that degrowthers desire — and our bet is people will not like it.
12. Devout athletes find strength in their faith. But practicing it and elite sports can pose hurdles, By  Giovanna Dell’orto And Deepa Bharath, Associated Press, July 2, 2024, 6:56 AM
It’s been 100 years since a Scottish runner famously refused to race on a Sunday at the Paris Olympics because of his Christian beliefs. Devout top athletes say elite sports performance still poses some hurdles for the faith practices that are central to their lives on and off the field.
At this summer’s Paris Olympics, much of the controversy has centered around Islam, because France’s unique secularism principles forbid its athletes from wearing headscarves as well as other visibly religious symbols — though the ban doesn’t affect Olympians from other countries.
But athletes of different faiths argue sports organizations and major events should better respect the breadth of religious practices, especially as they strive to be more inclusive. To many, faith and spirituality are also essential to mental well-being, which has come under the spotlight especially since U.S. gymnastics star Simone Biles ’ open struggles at the last Olympics.

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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