1. Recovering pope will go to Mongolia, Vatican confirms, By Philip Pullella, Reuters, July 6, 2023, 8:08 AM Pope Francis will travel to Mongolia at the end of August, the Vatican confirmed on Thursday, indicating that his health is improving well enough after surgery to be able to go to the remotest area he has ever visited. The Vatican issued a detailed schedule for the Aug. 31-Sept. 4 trip, a sign that the visit could now be called off only for extreme reasons.  https://news.yahoo.com/recovering-pope-mongolia-vatican-confirms-120811435.html__________________________________________________________ 2. Pope Francis asks Church to identify 21st-century martyrs slain ‘only because they are Christians’, By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, July 5, 2023, 8:13 AM Pope Francis has set up a special commission tasked with identifying those he calls the “new martyrs” of the 21st century — Christians who have been slain in some cases simply for attending Mass or for helping the poor.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/07/05/vatican-pope-francis-martyrs-saints/4d41bc86-1b2d-11ee-be41-a036f4b098ec_story.html__________________________________________________________ 3. Women Need A Pro-Life Safety Net—Not More Pressure To Abort, By Ashley McGuire, Newsweek, July 5, 2023, 9:40 AM, Opinion When I think of forced abortions, I think of totalitarian regimes like China or North Korea. Not the American Midwest. And yet a deceptive ballot initiative in the Buckeye State threatens to create a regime where women will feel increased pressure to abort, with existing safeguards stripped away. The year since the Dobbs Supreme Court decision has given the American people a voice and a choice in their state’s abortion laws for the first time in half a century. The result has been, unsurprisingly, a wide variety of policies that range from protecting babies once a heartbeat can be detected to allowing abortion on demand for any reason on the taxpayer’s dime until the moment of birth. But the pro-abortion movement has been pivoting to a political strategy that circumvents voter choice altogether, ironically under the guise of voter choice. The strategy is to gather enough signatures to put a broadly worded ballot initiative directly in front of voters to permanently enshrine an extreme right to abortion. Buried in the fine print is the kicker: once passed, the proposed amendment prevents voters, either directly or through their legislators, from passing any kind of law that in any way protects girls and women or the unborn in the future. Existing health and safety standards for women will be null and void, as would parental consent or even notification provisions. Voters are essentially tricked into removing themselves from the democratic, legislative process on abortion. Far-left special interest groups and the abortion industry have done it successfully already in Michigan, California, and Vermont, and now they’ve set their sights on Ohio. Not only do the ballot initiatives permanently cut voters out of the process of self-governing on an issue of great moral consequence, but they threaten to exacerbate a climate where women feel pressured into abortion.  There is no limit to the creative options legislators and communities have in building pro-life safety nets in their states that can help to end the hidden scourge of forced abortions. Initiatives like the one on the ballot in Ohio will permanently limit pregnant women in crisis to a choice they don’t want to make. Ashley McGuire is a Senior Fellow with The Catholic Association, author of Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female, and co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show, “Conversations with Consequences.” https://www.newsweek.com/women-need-pro-life-safety-netnot-more-pressure-abort-opinion-1810254__________________________________________________________ 4. Not for Sale: God’s Children, By Grazie Pozo Christie, Townhall, July 4, 2023, Opinion In 1852, a novel by abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe depicting the hard lives of Southern American slaves sparked a firestorm of anti-slavery sentiment across the country. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was a landmark work of protest. It enabled readers to see the human cost of slavery—the misery of its victims; to stand at the cabin door, as it were, and look at the dark reality inside. William Wilberforce, the British politician who devoted his life to ending his country’s participation in the Transatlantic Slave Trade also engaged the emotions of the public. He publicly posted illustrations of the ships with their narrow rows of coffin-like stalls in which Africans were packed like bales of hay and died by the hundreds of thousands. One look at the diagrams was enough to bring their anguish home to the viewer’s heart.   It’s 2023, long after the end of legal slavery, but the evil practice continues. In fact, there are millions more men, women and children enslaved today than in the 19th century. The public is apathetic and unengaged in a problem that seems to most distant and irrelevant.    The movie “Sound of Freedom,” starring Jim Caviezel and produced by Eduardo Verástegui opens fittingly on July 4th and is a film designed, in the Wilberforce and Stowe tradition, to bring the distracted public face to face with one prevalent and particularly vile aspect of modern-day slavery: child sex trafficking.   Without giving too much away, the movie portrays the web of nefarious kidnappers, traffickers and clients chased down and ultimately brought to justice and provides the satisfaction of seeing the agony of separation and slavery end. Watch “Sound of Freedom” for the excitement and the fine acting. But in truth, the movie is a story of personal possibilities—that we might stop averting our gaze from the horror; that we come to understand its pervasiveness; and that we ultimately reject our own indifference to it. Because, though we may be innocent of any direct involvement, we are guilty of allowing ourselves to pretend it isn’t happening.  Or, if we know it’s happening, of shrugging off the anguish of other people’s children.  Grazie Pozo Christie, M.D., is a Senior Fellow for The Catholic Association and host of the nationally syndicated radio show Conversations with Consequences. https://townhall.com/columnists/graziepozochristie/2023/07/04/sound-of-freedom-n2625267__________________________________________________________ 5. Arizona governor asked to rescind executive order limiting prosecution of abortion-related cases, By Associated Press, July 4, 2023, 12:28 PM Twelve of Arizona’s 15 county attorneys are calling for Gov. Katie Hobbs to rescind her recent executive order that limits them from prosecuting abortion-related cases. “The governor’s office should not interfere with the discretion of prosecutors in fulfilling their duties as elected officials,” said the attorneys’ letter sent to Hobbs late Monday. “Whether this was the intended purpose, the result is an unnecessary and unjustified impingement on the duties and obligations of elected county attorneys in Arizona.” Gubernatorial spokesman Christian Slater said the governor will not be rescinding the order.  https://apnews.com/article/arizona-abortionrelated-cases-limited-prosecution-55aa54e0a15be2cdb3add7815544675f__________________________________________________________ 6. Argentine bishop named to Vatican office rejects criticism of his handling of abuse allegations, By Almudena Calatrava, Associated Press, July 3, 2023, 10:32 PM An Argentine bishop named by Pope Francis to lead a powerful Vatican office that ensures doctrinal orthodoxy on Monday rejected accusations that he refused to believe victims of sexual abuse by a priest, saying he took actions when the allegations resurfaced in 2019.  BishopAccountability.org, a Massachusetts organization that maintains an online archive of abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, said over the weekend in a statement that Fernández refused to believe victims who accused Eduardo Lorenzo, a priest in the La Plata archdiocese, of sexually abusing boys.  In a statement sent by La Plata Archbishop’s office to the Associated Press on Monday, Fernández stated that he “never” said he didn’t believe the victims, and that he took actions to ban the priest from all activities with minors and confine him to church facilities. “When someone files an accusation of this type, in principle they are always believed,” he said. “But an investigation is also needed and to follow the due process established in the law.” Fernández also said that in late 2019, Argentina’s justice system ordered preventive detention for Lorenzo. The priest took his own life, and Fernández said that if he hadn’t “he would probably have faced a criminal trial later.” But BishopAccountablity.org said that after a 2008 child abuse complaint against Lorenzo resurfaced in 2019, the archbishop published a letter from the priest on the archdiocese’s website. In it, the priest denied the abuse allegation and said he was slandered. The archbishop later went to the accused priest’s parish and celebrated a Mass with him, according to BishopAccountability.org.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/07/03/vatican-pope-argentina-fernandez-abuse/06ddd1dc-1a13-11ee-be41-a036f4b098ec_story.html __________________________________________________________ 7. After the fall of Roe, emboldened religious conservatives lobby to restrict abortion in Africa, By Cara Anna, Associated Press, July 3, 2023, 4:10 AM  Efforts to legalize and make abortions safer in Africa were shaken when the U.S. Supreme Court ended the national right to an abortion a year ago. Within days, Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio declared that his government would decriminalize abortion “at a time when sexual and reproductive health rights for women are being either overturned or threatened.” But some U.S.-based organizations active in Africa were emboldened, especially in largely Christian countries. One is Family Watch International, a nonprofit Christian conservative organization whose anti-LGBTQ+ stance, anti-abortion activities and “intense focus on Africa” led to its designation as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  After lobbying lawmakers in the southern African nation not to consider a bill that would have allowed abortion under certain circumstances, the U.S.-based Catholic group Human Life International told its supporters in March that “thanks to you, Malawi is safe from legal abortion.”  African experts say events in the U.S. could reverse gains in the availability of safe abortion procedures, especially since the U.S. government is the largest global donor of international reproductive health assistance.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/07/02/africa-abortion-supreme-court-limits/861344e0-188e-11ee-9de3-ba1fa29e9bec_story.html__________________________________________________________ 8. Pope Francis has just given the Vatican his Ratzinger, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, July 2, 2023, Opinion Eighteen years ago, a College of Cardinals largely appointed by the pope whose reign had just ended wanted continuity, and so they elected the man who’d been the intellectual architect of the previous administration. Thus it was that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, as the natural heir to the doctrinal and spiritual legacy of Pope John Paul II. After yesterday, one has to ask: Is Pope Francis trying to align the stars for history to repeat itself by naming his own theological right hand, Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández, to the same post once held by Ratzinger as the Vatican’s doctrinal czar?  Yet while every analogy is inexact, there are nevertheless three striking parallels. First, the Argentine prelate overnight becomes arguably the single most powerful figure in Francis’s Vatican, perhaps even more so than Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, just as Ratzinger once held even more sway than Cardinal Angelo Sodano. Second, Ratzinger was a lightning rod for the most controversial elements of the John Paul papacy, from its battles against liberation theology to its teaching on sexual ethics. He was a hero to conservatives, but a love-to-hate figure among progressives – at times, one could almost hear the Imperial Death March from “Star Wars” playing in the background as liberal Catholic commentators talked about Ratzinger. Fernández already has a similar profile in equal-and-opposite fashion among Catholic conservatives, and it will only grow as they get to know him better. Third, assuming Fernández does become a cardinal, he will inevitably be considered a candidate to become pope himself, especially for all those who don’t want the Francis Revolution to end with the pope who launched it. Of course, his candidacy will seem unthinkable to papal critics who won’t be able to believe that a majority of cardinals would vote for such a controversial figure – but I remind you, exactly the same thing was said of the candidacy of Joseph Ratzinger 18 years ago.  https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2023/07/pope-francis-has-just-given-the-vatican-his-ratzinger__________________________________________________________ 9. Same-Sex Marriage Doesn’t Trump the Right to Dissent, By Nicole Ault, The Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2023, Pg. A13, Opinion When the Supreme Court held that the Constitution gives same-sex couples the right to marry, Justice Samuel Alito warned that the decision “will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.” Dissenting in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), he wrote: “I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.” Justice Alito’s fears were well-founded, despite assurances to the contrary in the majority opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy. But in 303 Creative v. Elenis, which was decided as the court’s term ended Friday, the court forcefully affirmed the freedom to dissent.  It’s significant that the justices decided 303 Creative on free-speech rather than free-exercise grounds. In Obergefell, Justice Kennedy emphasized that “religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines,” were free to disagree. He relegated “those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons” to an afterthought. But compelling an atheist or agnostic to affirm a secular orthodoxy is also a violation of conscience. Friday’s ruling affirms something unique about the U.S. “There’s nothing special about what our First Amendment says,” as Ms. Waggoner puts it. Other countries’ constitutions affirm free speech and religion too. “But judicial precedent and frankly apathy by the citizens have allowed those written guarantees to mean absolutely nothing.” https://www.wsj.com/articles/same-sex-marriage-doesnt-trump-the-right-to-dissent-lorie-smith-303-creative-40476891__________________________________________________________ 10. Pope appoints bishop from his native Argentina to lead Vatican office that enforces church doctrine, By Frances D’Emilio and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, July 1, 2023, 3:14 PM Pope Francis on Saturday chose a bishop who is a trusted theological advisor from his native Argentina for one of the Vatican’s most powerful positions — head of the watchdog office that ensures doctrinal orthodoxy. Francis named Monsignor Victor Manuel Fernández, the archbishop of La Plata, Argentina, as the prefect, or chief, of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. Fernández has been nicknamed the “pope’s theologian″ since he is widely believed to have helped author some of Francis’ most important documents. The Dicastery, or department, enforces orthodoxy of church teaching and disciplines theologians deemed to have strayed from Catholic doctrine in their lectures or publications. But it has taken on considerably more importance to rank-and-file faithful as the stain of pedophile priests spread across the globe in recent decades. Among the department’s duties are evaluating and processing sex abuse allegations against clergy. Fernández is widely believed to have been a key author behind some of Francis’ most consequential documents, notably “God is Love,” a 2016 exhortation that opened the door to letting divorced Catholics who remarry in civil ceremonies to receive Communion.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/07/01/vatican-pope-doctrine-faith/6a48d97e-1806-11ee-9de3-ba1fa29e9bec_story.html__________________________________________________________ 11. 303 Creative v. Elenis Is a Victory for Free Speech and PluralismThe Supreme Court supports the right of a business to dissent from dominant cultural views., By The Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2023, 8:00 AM, Editorial Most Americans support same-sex marriage, but an open question since the Supreme Court handed down Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 is whether Americans running a business can dissent from progressive orthodoxies without punishment. The High Court resolved that tension on Friday with a 6-3 ruling in favor of the First Amendment, a decisive victory for American pluralism. In 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, the Court ruled in favor of Lorie Smith and her custom website business. The core question: Can a Colorado anti-discrimination law compel Ms. Smith to lend her creative expression to causes she doesn’t condone? Ms. Smith says her Christian faith precludes her from designing tailored websites for same-sex weddings. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state could coerce that speech. Justice Neil Gorsuch corrects that mistake. “Colorado seeks to force an individual to speak in ways that align with its views but defy her conscience about a matter of major significance,” he writes for the majority. “As this Court has long held, the opportunity to think for ourselves and to express those thoughts freely is among our most cherished liberties and part of what keeps our Republic strong.”  303 Creative is a cultural tonic the country urgently needs. The tolerance the left once sought for gays and gay weddings has become the coercion that forces dissenters from the dominant culture to bend the knee. “Abiding the Constitution’s commitment to the freedom of speech means all of us will encounter ideas” that are unattractive or even hurtful, as Justice Gorsuch says. “But tolerance, not coercion, is our Nation’s answer.” https://www.wsj.com/articles/303-creative-llc-v-elenis-supreme-court-neil-gorsuch-lorie-smith-free-speech-first-amendment-5a443236__________________________________________________________ 12. Pope meets with wife and family of Julian Assange, who says pontiff ‘concerned’ by his suffering, By Rebecca Preciutti, Associated Press, June 30, 2023, 11:16 AM Pope Francis met Friday with imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s wife Stella, who said the pope’s gesture in receiving her was evidence of his “ongoing show of support for our family’s plight” and concern over her husband’s suffering. In an interview with The Associated Press after the audience, Stella Assange recalled that Francis had sent a letter to her husband in March 2021, during a particularly difficult period. “He has provided great solace and comfort and we are extremely appreciative for his reaching out to our family in this way,” she told AP. “He understands that Julian is suffering and is concerned.” Assange has spent four years in Britain’s Belmarsh Prison fighting extradition to the U.S., where he faces up to a 175-year sentence on espionage charges for publishing classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/30/julian-assange-wiki-pope-vatican/0990a808-1759-11ee-9de3-ba1fa29e9bec_story.html__________________________________________________________ 13. Vatican reports income boost in charitable fund, even as donations dip following financial scandals, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, June 30, 2023, 9:14 AM The Vatican on Friday reported that a key charitable fund, Peter’s Pence, doubled its income in 2022 to 107 million euros, or more than $166 million, even as donations from the faithful dipped slightly following years of scandal over financial mismanagement at the Holy See. Overall, the Peter’s Pence fund, which finances the Vatican bureaucracy and the pope’s charitable projects around the world, ended 2022 with 11.5 million euros in surplus compared to an 18.4 million-euro deficit in 2021. That year, it only brought in 46.9 million euros in income, according to the financial statement. It’s the second year that the Holy See has published a dedicated financial statement for the Peter’s Pence fund, part of Pope Francis’ push for greater financial transparency in a bid to assure the faithful that their contributions are being put to good use.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/2023/06/30/vatican-finances-donor-pope/fcfeb708-1747-11ee-9de3-ba1fa29e9bec_story.html__________________________________________________________ 14. The Supreme Court rules for a designer who doesn’t want to make wedding websites for gay couples, By Jessica Gresko, Associated Press, June 30, 2023, 8:20 PM In a defeat for gay rights, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled on Friday that a Christian graphic artist who wants to design wedding websites can refuse to work with same-sex couples. One of the court’s liberal justices wrote in a dissent that the decision’s effect is to “mark gays and lesbians for second-class status” and that the decision opens the door to other discrimination. The court ruled 6-3 for designer Lorie Smith, saying she can refuse to design websites for same-sex weddings despite a Colorado law that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation, race, gender and other characteristics. The court said forcing her to create the websites would violate her free speech rights under the Constitution’s First Amendment.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2023/06/30/supreme-court-gay-rights-website-designer/2ac371f4-174f-11ee-9de3-ba1fa29e9bec_story.html__________________________________________________________ 15. Judge allows nearly all of North Carolina’s revised 12-week abortion law to take effect, By Gary D. Robertson, Associated Press, June 30, 2023 A federal judge ruled on Friday that nearly all of North Carolina’s revised 12-week abortion law scheduled to begin this weekend can take effect, while temporarily blocking one rule that doctors feared could expose them to criminal penalties. The decision by U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles sets aside that rule but allows the law’s remaining provisions to begin on Saturday while litigation continues. Abortion providers had last week requested a blanket order halting all of the July 1 restrictions pending their court challenge. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and a physician said several sections in the newly revised law were so vague and seemingly contradictory that doctors could unintentionally break the law, leaving them unable to care for women seeking legal abortions. https://apnews.com/article/north-carolina-abortion-law-court-order-2b7b20308041753a5f63fed494557982__________________________________________________________ 16. U.S. bishops praise Supreme Court’s unanimous Groff v. DeJoy religious freedom decision, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, June 30, 2023, 3:50 PM The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in favor of a Christian postal worker’s religious freedom rights in Thursday’s Groff v. DeJoy decision. In a statement released Thursday, the USCCB said that the ruling “breathed life back into a major civil rights law meant to prevent discrimination by employers against people of faith in the workplace.” In its ruling, written by Justice Samuel Alito, the court said federal law requires an employer that denies an employee a religious accommodation must show that the burden of the accommodation would result in substantial increased costs. The court rejected the “de minimis” standard that interpreted Article VII of the Civil Rights Act to allow employers to deny workers’ religious accommodation requests if they presented more than a “trivial cost.” https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/254707/us-bishops-praise-supreme-court-unanimous-groff-v-dejoy-religious-freedom-decision__________________________________________________________

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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!
“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.