1. Record abortion figures in England and Wales ‘a national tragedy’, By Catholic News Agency, June 12, 2020, 4:10 AM

A record number of abortions took place in England and Wales in 2019, according to official figures published Thursday.

The government reported June 11 that a total of 209,519 abortions took place last year, more than in any other year since the practice was legalized by the Abortion Act 1967.

A pro-life group described the record figure — an increase of 4,224 from 2018 — as “a national tragedy.”


2. Amid pandemic, scores of US Catholic schools face closure, By David Crary, Associated Press, June 11, 2020, 10:05 AM

Catholic schools have faced tough times for years, but the pace of closures is accelerating dramatically amid economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, sparking heartbreak and anger in scores of affected communities.

This year’s closures will reduce the number of Catholic K-12 schools in the United States to about 6,000, down from more than 11,000 in 1970, according to the Catholic education association. Overall enrollment has plummeted from more than 5 million in the 1960s to about 1.7 million now.


3. India denies visa to US religious freedom investigators, By Catholic News Agency, June 11, 2020, 4:50 PM

India has barred U.S. representatives from investigating the county’s reported violations of religious freedom, continuing what critics call a trend of Hindu nationalism that threatens religious minorities in India.

The investigation, called for by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), followed reports of the abuse of Chistians, Muslims, and other religious minorities in India. The reports prompted USCIRF to delegate India a “country of particular concern” (CPC) in its 2020 annual report. India joined a list of 13 other CPCs in the report, including North Korea and China.


4. Exiting the coronavirus, does the Vatican need a “Dicastery for Disasters”?, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, June 11, 2020, Opinion

Applied to the Catholic Church, the same question can profitably be asked: What would readiness for the next great global pandemic look like?

Here’s one bold suggestion: The Vatican might want to consider creating a “Dicastery for Disasters.”

It needs to be in the Vatican, because by definition, pandemics have no respect for national or ecclesiastical boundaries. In a 21st century world, in which air travel means people and good can move from one corner of the planet to another in a matter of hours, pandemics are inevitably a global phenomenon requiring a universal response.

For such an office to be effective, it couldn’t follow the script of most Vatican departments. It would have to be international, not largely Italian, with its work conducted mostly in English since that’s the language of the international medical community as well as most international humanitarian and charitable organizations. Its leadership would have to be an ecclesiastical heavy-hitter, not someone with an impeccable pedigree but no ability to move the ball in the real world of Vatican politics.

Among its responsibilities would be the following.

First, it would coordinate pandemic preparedness plans among dioceses around the world. Contrary to popular mythology, the Catholic Church is not a rigidly top-down organization in which the Vatican controls everything. In reality, diocesan bishops are more like feudal lords, pretty much supreme in their own territory. That model, however, leaves the Church terribly vulnerable to unevenness and contradictions when it comes to global threats, and somebody needs to be empowered to ensure some reasonable uniformity.

Second, it would work with Catholic charitable organizations around the world to develop a stockpile of resources certain to be needed when the next great pandemic hits. They would include basic supplies of food and water, first aid kits, protective gear, and so on. The Church obviously can’t remedy failures of governments to deliver such basics, but it can do what it can, especially for the most vulnerable.

Third, it would identify the greatest spiritual needs during a pandemic and develop a set of “best practices” to help dioceses and other Catholic entities. Among other things, it would sift through the experience of the coronavirus to find the most compelling forms of virtual spirituality and also in-person pastoral care that respects the limits of a lockdown, and then commission experts to plan for “ramping up” those initiatives when the next time comes.

Fourth, it would study the experience of the Church in all those places where restrictions on pastoral life were imposed by governments, and develop a set of guidelines for how to respond to those measures when the next public health emergency presents itself – in part, so bishops and other responsible Church leaders don’t feel like they have to make it up as they go along, which tended to be the case during the coronavirus.

Granted, the creation of such a new structure, and the expenses it would incur to accomplish the aims sketched above, would further strain what is already a bleak Vatican financial situation. However, the Vatican always somehow seems to find the money to do the things it believes are truly important, and it’s hard to imagine there’s much more important than being ready for the real “Big One.”


5. Pope Francis, Vatican Finances and the Papal Court: In the last few weeks, Pope Francis’ financial reforms have moved into high gear again., By Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Catholic Register, June 11, 2020, Opinion

The last few months have shut down much ecclesial life, but at the Vatican the financial reforms are going from strength to strength, with major new developments coming every few weeks.

The financial reforms of Pope Francis, which began with a bang in 2014, were largely dead by 2017. Now they live again. What happened? The ups-and-downs reveal something of how popes govern; the Roman Curia really is the last “royal” court for a “monarch” how holds virtually unlimited authority. Every pope governs that way to a certain extent; power is determined not by office alone but by those to whom he grants access. Pope Francis, in choosing to bypass much of the usual structures of the Roman Curia, has accentuated this.

The Holy Father turned to Bishop Nunzio Galantino to replace Cardinal Calcagno. Bishop Galantino had been bishop of a small Italian diocese when Pope Francis had previously appointed him general secretary of the Italian bishops’ conference, demonstrating the confidence that he had in him.

Then in late 2019 there was a series of stories in The Financial Times about a suspicious real estate deal in London. A Vatican investigation has led to firings and arrests. The entire affair, which was run out of the Secretariat of State, has damaged the credibility of Cardinal Becciu. Meanwhile, in April 2020 Cardinal Pell was completely vindicated in Australia. Though now retired, the credibility of Cardinal Pell’s original reforms has been restored.

Thus, in the last weeks the financial reforms have moved into high gear again. A key office for financial data and accountability was moved (again) from APSA to the Secretariat for the Economy, which is now headed by Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero. It had been moved in Cardinal Pell’s original reforms, but then Cardinal Calcagno had managed to reverse it. No longer.

Then Pope Francis instituted an entirely new process for transparency in procurement aimed at financial efficiencies and rooting our favouritism and corruption. Another Pell reform that had been blocked is now implemented.

Early on, in October 2013, Pope Francis told La Repubblica “the papal court is the leprosy of the papacy.” Like leprosy, the courtier culture is hard — if not impossible — to eliminate. The history of the Church has many examples — from Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More to St. Charles Lwanga and his companions — that positions at court are never completely secure. Cardinal Becciu, now at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, would know that well.



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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