1. Vatican: pandemic makes environment’s care ever more urgent, By Associated Press, June 18, 2020, 6:46 AM

Pope Francis’ impassioned appeal to protect nature is increasingly urgent as the global pandemic alters lifestyles and makes painfully plain the fragility of life, the Vatican said Thursday.

The worldwide COVID-19 outbreak struck as various Vatican departments were well into drafting a document calling on the faithful to carry out concrete local actions to mark the fifth anniversary of Francis’ encyclical that denounced the environment’s exploitation and strongly recommended caring for the Earth.


2. At five-year mark for ‘Laudato Si,’ Vatican offers a ‘users guide’, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, June 18, 2020

To mark the five-year anniversary of Pope Francis’s eco-encyclical, Laudato Si, the Vatican Thursday published a “users guide” for both parishes and public officials on how to implement the document, including such concrete measures as a balanced diet, carpooling to reduce energy consumption, recycling, and “drip-by-drip” irrigation to curb water waste.

The document also calls on legislators and governments to adopt eco-friendly policies, such as enshrining water as a “universal human right” and promoting international efforts to protect vulnerable ecosystems such as the Amazon and the Congo River Basin.

In keeping with Pope Francis’s view of “integral ecology,” the document also advocates for poverty relief, family-friendly policies to combat a “demographic winter,” prison and healthcare reform, and the protection of human life from conception to natural death.


3. In both baseball and the Church, angry fans could accent the positive, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, June 18, 2020, Opinion

Both baseball and Catholicism are victims of their own success, in that dysfunctional management is facilitated by a wildly passionate fan base that just won’t walk away, no matter how staggeringly obtuse those in charge sometimes can be.

At the moment, Major League Baseball and its Players Association are negotiating a return to action. As of late Wednesday, after weeks of acrimony and stalemate, the two sides at least were talking again, though nothing is guaranteed.

Recently I heard an interview with Karl Ravech, a baseball play-by-play announcer on ESPN. I can’t quote him exactly, but the gist was that fans should be the “third voice in the room” in these negotiations, but they don’t seem to have any voice.

The reason is because the only real leverage fans might have is to boycott baseball entirely until the system is fixed. Yet the truth is, most fans won’t do that. If their team is in town, they’ll try to get to the stadium; if the game is on TV, they’ll watch, no matter how disgusted they may be with the people running the show. I guarantee, if a shortened season started tomorrow, for most fans the labor squabbles that delayed it instantly would become a distant memory.

Pari passu, the same point applies to Catholicism.

Over the years, I’ve watched activists try to persuade laity to punish the Church over some perceived outrage, especially the clerical sexual abuse scandals, by withholding donations, boycotting Mass, deregistering from parishes, and so on. Inevitably, a few people follow their lead but most don’t, and the Church lumbers ahead.

Granted, Mass attendance has been in decline in some parts of the world for a long time, but that’s mostly a long-term trend towards secularism rather than a protest movement, and even in the most secularized zones you can still find vibrant and growing parishes. Today’s financial shortfalls in some parts of the Catholic world, including the Vatican, are more about the economic fallout of the coronavirus than any drastic decline in giving.

Like baseball fans, Catholics tend to be deeply attached to the church, imperfections and all. They distinguish between the faith and the institution, tending to focus on their parish and their own spiritual lives while trying to block out the rest – just like baseball fans appalled by both owners and the union, but who still want to watch the game.

Where does that leave us? Well, here’s a thought.

If fans can’t give up baseball, they could get behind the likes of the Kansas City Royals, who, despite being a small-market team with limited resources, recently announced they’ll pay minor leaguers their full 2020 salaries and not release a single player.

In other words, we’re talking about a choice for embracing the positive. In Catholic terms, the same option is available.

If you’re outraged about the abuse scandals, for example, try supporting change agents such as the Centre for Child Protection at Rome’s Gregorian University. If you’re dismayed by Vatican financial scandals, try telling bishops and pastors who issue thorough and independently audited annual financial reports, and who practice real accountability, how much you appreciate it.

The examples are almost endless, because for every scandal one can cite in the Church, there are an equal-and-opposite number of stories of courage, good judgment and grace.

Of course, some Catholics, just like some baseball fans, will reach their breaking points and peel off, and in both cases the ruling class undoubtedly deserves the rebuke. Given that most won’t do that, however, perhaps another way to gain a voice is by finding things to which we can say “yes” rather than “no.”


4. Catholic educators work to ease blow of pandemic-induced school closings, By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service, June 17, 2020

Officials at the National Catholic Educational Association and the Secretariat of Catholic Education at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops project that 100 to 150 schools won’t reopen this fall. At the higher end, the number would represent the largest number of closings in recent years, said Margaret Kaplow, public relations manager at NCEA.

While NCEA has collected data from various sources on 97 closings as of June 15, education officials expect the number to grow.

In comparison, 98 schools closed before the start of the 2019-2020 school year; 93 in 2019, 110 in 2018, 86 in 2016 and 88 in 2015.

“We don’t lack people who want to attend our schools,” Thomas Carroll, superintendent of schools in the Archdiocese of Boston, told CNS. “We lack people who can afford to attend our schools.”

Another factor plays into the equation as well, the school leaders said. They are hearing from parents who are unsure of paying full school tuition if their children again are going to be learning from home as they did during the latter part of the recently ended academic year.

Without enrollment commitments, school leaders are working to balance their commitment to providing a quality, values-based education with the adequate revenues needed to run their schools.

They also are having to add new costs for school cleaning and sanitization, social-distancing requirements and providing face masks to kids when necessary. They faced added pressure from cuts in parish and diocesan subsidies as Sunday collections dwindled without regular weekly Mass attendance and the loss of significant income from traditional spring season fundraisers that were either reduced in scale or even canceled.

All those factors contribute to making the financial margins under which schools operate all the more precarious, Carroll said.

Realizing the large budget gaps cannot be closed, struggling schools are closing throughout the country in a retrenchment of Catholic education rarely ever seen.

Carroll said the struggle that Catholic schools are enduring can be eased through federal government action. He called for financial support for parents so they can continue to afford paying tuition while the economy continues to falter.

“The government is doing aid to all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons. And one that needs help is Catholic schools,” he told CNS.

“The government (enforced shutdowns) caused this problem. It didn’t happen on its own. The government must step up to help with a solution,” he added.

Along those lines, the NCEA and USCCB have been advocating within the Department of Education to ensure that provisions for school aid in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act are carried out.

In addition, Catholic education advocates are urging the U.S. Senate to include a provision in any future emergency aid legislation that would provide direct assistance to families for tuition expenses or tax incentives that can be used for nonpublic school tuition.

Such aid was left out of the $3 trillion tax cut and spending Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or HEROES Act, passed by the House of Representatives in May. The bill also rescinds funding of equitable services to nonpublic schools, including Catholic schools, that had been established in the CARES Act.


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.