1. Vatican law criminalizes abuse of adults by priests, laity, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, June 1, 2021, 6:21 AM
Pope Francis has changed church law to explicitly criminalize the sexual abuse of adults by priests who abuse their authority and to say that laypeople who hold church office can be sanctioned for similar sex crimes.
The new provisions, released Tuesday after 14 years of study, were contained in the revised criminal law section of the Vatican’s Code of Canon Law, the in-house legal system that covers the 1.3 billion-strong Catholic Church.
The most significant changes are contained in two articles, 1395 and 1398, which aim to address major shortcomings in the church’s handling of sexual abuse. The law recognizes that adults, too, can be victimized by priests who abuse their authority, and said that laypeople in church offices can be punished for abusing minors as well as adults.

The law also removes much of the discretion that had long allowed bishops and religious superiors to ignore or cover up abuse, making clear they can be held responsible for omissions and negligence in failing to properly investigate and sanction errant priests.
2. Beijing To Allow Third Child, By Keith Zhai, The Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2021, Pg. A9
China said Monday that it would allow all married couples to have as many as three children and provide government support for education and child rearing, a move that comes as Beijing struggles to reverse a worsening demographic situation that presents a host of social and economic challenges.
The shift comes more than five years after Beijing ended its decadeslong “one-child policy” to let all couples have two children, and follows the May 11 release of census figures showing China’s population on the cusp of a historic turning point after years of rapid growth.
3. Limiting Access to Abortions Won’t End Them, By Jane Brody, The New York Times, June 1, 2021, Pg. D7, Opinion
It is a different world today, with many more and better contraceptives and a 1973 Supreme Court ruling, Roe v. Wade, that protects a woman’s right to choose abortion, now becoming increasingly curtailed by state-imposed restrictions and subject to the possibility of being overturned by the court. At the same time, according to a recent report, more women with unwanted pregnancies are finding a safe way to end them on their own using medications licensed by the Food and Drug Administration.
Jane Brody is the Personal Health columnist, a position she has held since 1976. She has written more than a dozen books including the best sellers “Jane Brody’s Nutrition Book” and “Jane Brody’s Good Food Book.”
4. Secretariat of State has not turned over financial control despite papal mandate, Vatican officials charge, By The Pillar, May 31, 2021
Five months after Pope Francis issued new norms governing Vatican finances, the Secretariat of State has not yet given to the Secretariat of the Economy oversight and control over funds — a handover ordered by the pope — several Vatican officials have charged.
Neither the Secretariat of State nor the Vatican press office have responded to those charges.
5. New attention on abortion pill dispensing amid challenge to Roe v. Wade, The FDA decision to allow patients to receive the pills via telemedicine or through the mail during the pandemic has galvanized both sides of the abortion wars., By Alice Miranda Ollstein, Politico, May 31, 2021, 4:31 AM
The Supreme Court’s decision to take a Mississippi case that poses a direct challenge to Roe. v. Wade has raised the stakes for the Biden administration’s newly launched review of restrictions on abortion pills, which could dramatically expand access to the procedure.

new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that such state restrictions are helping to drive demand for abortion pills, which the Food and Drug Administration recently said can be dispensed by mail during the pandemic to protect people against the coronavirus. Earlier this month, the agency temporarily waived requirements that the pills be given to patients in person by a doctor for the duration of the pandemic and could make the policy permanent, pending an ongoing review.

The FDA decision to allow patients to receive the pills via telemedicine or through the mail during the pandemic has galvanized both sides of the abortion wars. Anti-abortion activists — having lost influence in Washington following the 2020 election — have intensified lobbying right-leaning state legislatures to curb, if not outlaw, access to the pills, concerned that widespread access to the drug will render other abortion restrictions obsolete.

Lacking the votes to hold against the avalanche of legislation, abortion rights supporters are transporting their fight to the courts and to federal agencies — both suing to block state bans and petitioning federal judges and the FDA to permanently lift the restrictions on the pills.
6. Catholic school students outperform public school peers, despite slight decreases in overall academic scores, By Autumn Jones, Catholic News Agency, May 30, 2021, 3:01 PM
Catholic school students in grades 4 and 8 are outperforming their public school peers in math, reading, and science, according to two recently released reports from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Math and reading are included in the most recent Digest of Education Statistics, published in February 2021 by the National Center for Education Statistics. The NAEP science scores were released Tuesday in conjunction with a press conference.
“Every year for the last 20 years, Catholic schools have outperformed public schools on NAEP tests—reading, math, science, computer literacy, geography, history,” said Sister Dale McDonald, PBVM, director of Public Policy and Educational Research for the National Catholic Education Association. “We’re happy to have our achievement validated by an outside, public, federal agency.”
7. Three hard choices illustrate why the papacy can be no fun at all, By
John L. Allen Jr., Crux, May 30, 2021, Opinion
Hard Choice #1: Vatican Labor

Pope Francis faces a few options, all unappetizing:

  1. Fire or lay off about a third of his payroll, in the middle of a global pandemic and while he preaches to the world about the need to take care of the little guy.
  2. Jettison those high-paid lay managers and external consultants, potentially at the cost of depriving the Vatican of badly needed professional expertise.
  3. Renege on the Vatican’s pension obligations, informing people who’ve provided decades of loyal service that the funds they were promised in retirement just aren’t there.
  4. Go hat in hand to the very corporate capitalist fat-cats he often excoriates to ask for money to keep the Vatican afloat.

Hard Choice #2: Germany
Last Friday, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has ordered an investigation of the Archdiocese of Cologne for alleged mishandling of sexual abuse cases.

The probe comes at the same time that the German church is continuing its “synodal path,” including the issuance of a “fundamental text” earlier this year that recently drew a stinging rebuke from Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver in the US, who accused the Germans of deviating from Catholic orthodoxy on the ordination of women, the hierarchical structure of the church, and other fundamental matters.
On the one hand, Francis clearly is an advocate of synodality and wouldn’t want to be seen trying to squelch an experiment in precisely that virtue. On the other hand, he’s shown no sign he’s willing to deliver on at least some of the recommendations that seem to be bubbling up through the German process, and allowing it to go forward may thus set the stage for disappointment.

Hard Choice #3: Summorum Pontificum
Reports in the Italian media and on traditionalist Catholic sites in recent days suggest that when Pope Francis recently met with the Italian bishops, he said that a third draft has been crafted of a decree restricting celebration of the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass liberalized by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in his 2007 edict Summorum Pontificum.
According to those reports, Pope Francis complained that Benedict wanted to reach out to traditionalists still attached to the old Mass, but that today it’s mostly younger seminarians who don’t even know Latin who insist on it.

Granted, Francis is very much a pope of Vatican II, and it may seem an easy decision to roll back a move seen in more progressive quarters as an undue concession to opponents of the council’s liturgical reforms.
Except …
Except for two considerations: One, any such move would trigger ferocious backlash in more traditionalist quarters of the church, creating a new firestorm.
Second, Summorum Pontificum in many ways was Benedict XVI’s signature decision, the one most expressive of his view of a “hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us.’
8. Early Motherhood: ‘No Regrets’, By Ashley McGuire, The New York Times, May 29, 2021, Pg. A18, Letter to the Editor
Re “Having Kids Early Is Hard. It’s Also Great,” by Elizabeth Bruenig (Sunday Review, May 9):
I became a mom at 26. I might as well have been teen mom in my upper-crust neighborhood of Washington, where I am frequently mistaken for the babysitter.
Now, a decade later, I just had my fourth, still a full year younger than the average age of a first-time mom at the hospital where I delivered.
I have no regrets. My career and sense of self have evolved positively with motherhood.
It’s time for elite society to evolve with young moms. Ms. Bruenig’s article was a needed reminder that women are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves the right age to become a mom and that young moms can flourish, too.
Ashley McGuire is a Senior Fellow with The Catholic Association
9. US bishops blast Biden’s move to drop Hyde Amendment, By John Lavenburg, Crux, May 29, 2021
Just after the US bishops launched a petition urging the government to prevent federal taxpayer funding of abortion, President Joe Biden, only the country’s second Roman Catholic commander-in-chief, took steps to make such funding a reality.
Friday afternoon, Biden unveiled his administration’s $6 trillion federal budget proposal that didn’t include the Hyde Amendment, a bipartisan measure preventing federal funding of abortion that’s been in place for the last 45 years.
Such a move was long expected, as it was a promise on Biden’s campaign trail. In a statement, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities chairman immediately called on Congress to “reject the administration’s proposal to subsidize the deaths of unborn children.”
10. ‘Utter disregard’ for life: Members of Congress slam new guidance on embryo research, By Catholic News Agency, May 28, 2021, 5:03 PM
Two members of Congress this week criticized new guidance by a leading scientific organization removing prohibitions on research of human embryos more than 14 days old.
The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) released new guidance on Wednesday, May 16, now calling for conversations among leading scientists, donors, and public officials on the possibility of conducting research on human embryos past 14 days.
Such discussions should include “the scientific significance” of such research, as well as “the societal and ethical issues raised,” the society said.
At the moment, it is currently standard policy to destroy embryos used in research before they reach the 14th day of development. After 14 days, the nervous system of the unborn child begins to develop.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) both expressed their dismay at the updated guidance on Thursday, May 27.
“The ISSCR has shown an utter disregard for the value and dignity of human life,” said Smith.

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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