1. U.S. Church Attendance Still Lower Than Pre-Pandemic, By Jeffrey M. Jones, Gallup, June 26, 2023 U.S. church attendance has shown a small but noticeable decline compared with what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. In the four years before the pandemic, 2016 through 2019, an average of 34% of U.S. adults said they had attended church, synagogue, mosque or temple in the past seven days. From 2020 to the present, the average has been 30%, including a 31% reading in a May 1-24 survey. The recent church attendance levels are about 10 percentage points lower than what Gallup measured in 2012 and most prior years.  https://news.gallup.com/poll/507692/church-attendance-lower-pre-pandemic.aspx__________________________________________________________ 2. Democracy Vindicates Alito on Abortion, The issue is helping Democrats for now, as the people decide., By The New York Times, June 24, 2023, Pg. A12, Editorial  The general rule that courts follow precedent is, as Justice Samuel Alito restated in his Dobbs opinion, “at its weakest” in matters of constitutional law. He continued that, in the face of an “erroneous constitutional decision,” there are two options: amend the Constitution or “reconsider and, if necessary, overrule” the case in question. The anti-abortion movement took these two options seriously when it faced what it believed to be a disastrous decision in Roe. In the years following Roe, the movement engaged in litigation to chip away at abortion rights, focused on appointing anti-abortion judges and worked to undermine some principles upon which Roe depended, like the viability standard. It was undeterred even when the Supreme Court repeatedly reaffirmed Roe’s central holding. Almost half a century later, the movement’s work finally paid off. To state the obvious, overturning Dobbs is not going to be simple. The work will be daunting, requiring a multipronged and complex attack. It will also require patience, as overturning Dobbs will require the courts to become more hospitable to abortion. We have no idea when a different future will come: It may come unexpectedly soon, or it may be several decades from now. But that did not deter the anti-abortion movement in 1974, and it should not deter the abortion rights movement in 2023.  Reproductive justice advocates have long envisioned a better abortion decision from the Supreme Court that addresses Roe’s weaknesses. Developing a strategy now to overrule Dobbs is necessary to move closer to that desired reality. It won’t be easy, and it likely won’t be quick. But if ever there were a time for hope — and for a strategy directly targeting Dobbs — this is it. David S. Cohen is a professor of law at Drexel University’s Kline School of Law and a co-author of “Obstacle Course: The Everyday Struggle to Get an Abortion in America.” Greer Donley is an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School, where her scholarship focuses on abortion and the law. Rachel Rebouché is a professor of law and the dean of Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, where her scholarship focuses on reproductive health, family law and contracts. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/24/opinion/dobbs-overturn-strategy-abortion.html__________________________________________________________ 3. The Competition for Believers In Africa’s Religion Market, By Francis X. Rocca, Nicholas Bariyo, and Gbenga Akingbule, The Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2023, Pg. C1 On a recent Sunday morning in Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city, members of the faithful clutched their hymn books and chanted God’s praises as they danced to the beat of tambourines. A preacher led the congregation in praying for the health of their children and success at work. The service resembled Pentecostal Christianity, a movement that originated in the U.S. and has swept Africa in the last few decades. But the participants weren’t Christians. They were Muslims, practicing an ecstatic style of worship that has developed in response to the challenge posed by Pentecostalism. Across sub-Saharan Africa, religion today is in ferment as different versions of Christianity and Islam vie for believers—a contest that is transforming both faiths and disrupting long-established terms of coexistence.  https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-competition-for-believers-in-africas-religion-market-66e5255d__________________________________________________________ 4. The Conservative Position on Birth Control Is About Individual Responsibility, By Hadley Heath Manning, The New York Times, June 24, 2023, Opinion Most Republican voters — 84 percent of them, according to a 2022 poll on behalf of the organization where I work — support safe and accessible birth control. But after Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, Republicans in Congress blocked legislation that would have enshrined a federal right to contraception. And it was Republicans who opposed requiring health insurance policies to cover birth control in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.The conservative position on birth control may be difficult for some political opponents to understand, but it’s not necessarily contradictory. At the heart of the issue is whether contraception is a positive right or a personal choice. Conservatives generally see birth control as a matter of individual responsibility, and therefore a personal choice. That’s how I see it, certainly, and it’s why I want conservative leaders to promote policies making oral hormonal birth control widely available, including over the counter, and giving women a variety of birth control options. Combined with women and men making good choices when it comes to sex, this will, regardless of the legality of abortion, reduce demand for it — something everyone should want.  Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Women’s Voice, the two organizations for which I work, take no position on abortion. We surveyed likely Republican voters last summer and found strong support for birth control, with two-thirds of respondents describing themselves as pro-life believing that restricting contraception would increase abortions, and over 80 percent of them saying it is a pro-life position to support legal and accessible contraception in order to prevent abortions from even being considered.  Just as there’s no such thing as sex without consequences, there’s no such thing as freedom without responsibility. Choices about sex — and birth control — are personal choices, and we are free to make choices, good and bad. But let’s strive for what’s good. Hadley Heath Manning is vice president for policy at Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Women’s Voice. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/24/opinion/pro-life-birth-control-abortion.html __________________________________________________________ 5. A year after Roe’s fall, Women’s March returns to press for abortion access, Demonstrators gathered in D.C., some marching with signs that read ‘Bans off our Bodies’, By Corinne Dorsey, Heidi Pérez-Moreno and Justin Wm. Moyer, The Washington Post, June 24, 2023, 7:53 PM Janisann Hay, 65, beamed with pride as she and her granddaughter, 16-year-old Sophia Paxton, made their way Saturday to the gathering spot for the 2023 Women’s March outside Union Station. “I’m so proud of you,” Hay said to her granddaughter.  The grandmother and granddaughter, who came from Maryland, were among hundreds who turned out in Washington on Saturday to advocate for expanded abortion rights on the first anniversary of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.   https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2023/06/24/womens-march-dc-abortion-rights/ __________________________________________________________ 6. Dobbs changed abortion politics. One year later, it’s still potent, Democrats have benefited politically from the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, and Republicans are debating how far to go without triggering an even greater backlash, By Dan Balz, The Washington Post, June 24, 2023, Analysis One year after the Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to abortion, the issue reverberates almost as strongly as it did in the days immediately following the decision. Personal repercussions continue to affect millions of people. Politically, the landscape has been altered significantly, with little reversal in sight.  A year after Dobbs, has the issue lost its potency? Not according to the most recent polling by the Gallup organization. Gallup finds that only 14 percent of registered voters say abortion is not a major issue, a record low, 2 percentage points lower than a year ago and 9 percentage points lower than the previous record low of 23 percent in 2007. Not only does the issue remain potent, it also has more strength among those who favor abortion rights than among those who oppose them. Gallup’s new polling shows that 33 percent of registered voters who favor abortion rights, as compared with 23 percent of voters who oppose those rights, say they will only vote for candidates in major races who share their views on the issue. This marks a change in the balance between the two sides of the debate. For the two decades before the Dobbs decision, those who were abortion-centric in their voting behavior were more on the side of opposition to abortion rights.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/06/24/abortion-politics-dobbs-anniversary/ __________________________________________________________ 7. Apostolic visitation completed in Tyler diocese, By The Pillar, June 24, 2023, 10:41 PM The Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops has undertaken an apostolic visitation to the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, whose Bishop Joseph Strickland has been in recent weeks the subject of controversy in the Church. An apostolic visitation is an official review of diocesan leadership and governance, usually convened at the behest of a Vatican congregation. One priest interviewed said the visitation’s questions focused on Strickland’s administrative leadership in the diocese, rather than on his outsized social media personality.  https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/apostolic-visitation-completed-in__________________________________________________________ 8. Amid a rocky year, Pope’s anti-abuse commission issues new framework and survey, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, June 24, 2023 Amid what has so far been a rocky year, the pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons has drafted an updated version of global anti-abuse safeguarding guidelines along with a survey for feedback on the new norms. In a statement Friday, the commission said the new Universal Guidelines Framework (UGF) was approved during its most recent plenary assembly, held in Rome in May, and serves “as a model to define the safeguarding standards to be implemented in every local church across the world.”  https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2023/06/amid-a-rocky-year-popes-anti-abuse-commission-issues-new-framework-and-survey__________________________________________________________ 9. Why I’m Not a Liberal Catholic, By Ross Douthat, The New York Times, June 23, 2023, Opinion During Lent, in a spirit of self-criticism, I wrote an installment of this newsletter outlining the things that I think the liberal tendency within Roman Catholicism gets right, relative to the more conservative tendency to which I myself belong. Specifically, I argued that liberal Catholics have a strong case that the ways the church has changed already, both since the Second Vatican Council and previously, create a more unsettled landscape for believers than conservatives sometimes like to admit, with vexed questions that simple appeals to papal authority aren’t likely to resolve and room for good-faith debate about what the changes we’ve already seen imply about the nature of the church’s authority. In that piece I promised some future thoughts on why, despite my openness to these kinds of debates, I am not a liberal Catholic, and why the Vatican’s release of a working document for Pope Francis’s “synod on synodality,” set to be the latest battleground in his pontificate, seems as good a hook to hang that argument on as any.  To my mind, what serious Catholics should be looking for in this era of unsettlement is a synthesis, a viewpoint that makes sense of change in the church but also maintains the deep continuity with the Catholic past that’s essential if the church is what it claims to be — an institution founded by God, entrusted with history’s most important revelation. This is what Benedict XVI, especially as Joseph Ratzinger, was always searching for: As Matthew Walther argued in The Times earlier this year, the German pope was never a traditionalist but rather someone who wanted 20th-century reforms and the deep tradition to be compatible, to belong to the same story and the same institution. On current evidence we can say his work was incomplete, but his goal — for liberalization and tradition to make sense in light of each other — is one that any serious Catholic school of thought should share.  There are certainly times and places when Christian cultures fall into the trap of being so puritanical and repressed and “rigid” (to cite a word favored by Pope Francis) that a dose of tolerance, flexibility and realism about human appetites and personal arrangements is essential. And there are still Catholic subcultures today where this point might apply. But I just don’t see how you can look at the modern world, writ large, and its most developed precincts especially — the world of sex education via ubiquitous pornography, faltering marriage rates, collapsing birthrates, the alienation of the sexes from one another, the rising existential angst attending all these trends and the creep of euthanasia as a “merciful” solution — and say that clearly what the church needs to do at this historical moment is water down or just talk less about its teachings on sex and marriage and family, rather than find a way to reassert them or offer them anew. If you want to tell me that this reassertion requires some specific adaptations, I’ll listen. If you want to tell me that it must be united to other arguments (about consumerist values, say) that are more associated with the left, I’m open to the case. But don’t tell me that the church should de-emphasize its unfashionable ideas about sexuality just for the sake of reconciliation with our decadent culture, our depressing post-Dionysian world. Maybe it was easy to believe in such a reconciliation in the 1960s, in the flower of boomer youthfulness and energy. But that was long ago and far away, and now the world that too much of liberal Catholicism wants to marry suffers from a sickness unto death. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/23/opinion/liberal-catholic.html__________________________________________________________ 10. Pope Francis invites artists to the Sistine Chapel as the Vatican seeks a new cultural dialogue, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, June 23, 2023, 9:59 AM Pope Francis praised artists on Friday as true visionaries who can see, dream and invent as he welcomed 200 artists, filmmakers and writers into the Sistine Chapel to mark the 50th anniversary of the Vatican Museums’ contemporary art collection. Francis acknowledged that some in the crowd — there was Andres Serrano, of “Piss Christ” fame — sometimes use confrontation to make people think. But he said their aim was to find harmony and beauty.  Serrano, for his part, said he was surprised to have even been invited and thrilled when he went up to greet Francis at the end of the audience. He said he introduced himself in Spanish, asked Francis for a blessing, and the Argentine pope playfully slapped his wrist and gave him a thumbs up. Serrano’s 1987 photograph “Piss Christ” has caused controversy ever since it was first exhibited, given the image depicts a crucifix submerged in urine.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/23/vatican-pope-artists-culture-andres-serrano/1a3ef910-11ce-11ee-8d22-5f65b2e2f6ad_story.html __________________________________________________________ 11. Arizona governor signs order to prevent criminalization of abortion, By Maegan Vazquez, The Washington Post, June 23, 2023, 7:12 PM On the eve of the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) on Friday signed an executive order aimed at preventing the criminalization of abortion in her state. The order takes several steps to stop the state from prosecuting individuals seeking or assisting with abortions. It bans the extradition of individuals involved in abortion-related cases in other states; bars Arizona’s state agencies from being involved in abortion-related investigations; and establishes an advisory council to make recommendations for expanding access to sexual and reproductive health care. Hobbs’s order effectively bars Arizona’s county attorneys from prosecuting abortion-related crimes by redirecting criminal prosecution duties for all pending and future abortion-related cases to the state’s attorney general — an elected position held by Kris Mayes, a Democrat.  Arizona has a 15-week abortion ban in place that has exceptions for endangerment of the life of the mother or for medical emergencies. In October, a judge temporarily blocked enforcement of the state’s near-total abortion ban, but it could be reinstated by future court decisions.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/06/23/arizona-governor-abortion-order/ __________________________________________________________ 12. Black nun who founded first African American religious congregation advances closer to sainthood, By Luis Andres Henao, Associated Press, June 23, 2023 Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange — a Black Catholic nun who founded the United States’ first African American religious congregation in Baltimore in 1829 — has advanced another step toward sainthood. Under a decree signed by Pope Francis on Thursday, Lange was recognized for her heroic virtue, and advanced in the cause of her beatification from being considered a servant of God to a “venerable servant.” The Catholic Church must now approve a miracle that is attributed to her, so she can be beatified. Lange grew up in a wealthy family of African origin, but she left Cuba in the early 1800s for the U.S. due to racial discrimination, according to the Vatican’s saint-making office. After encountering more discrimination in the southern U.S., she moved with her family to Baltimore. Recognizing a need to provide education for Black children in the city, she started a school in 1828, decades before the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. In 1829, she founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence — the country’s first African American religious congregation. They were trailblazers for generations of Black Catholic nuns who persevered despite being overlooked or suppressed by those who resented or disrespected them.  https://apnews.com/article/catholic-african-american-nuns-sainthood-baltimore-a70e641734cd6bbfff56e7074397d6d3__________________________________________________________ 13. NY pro-life sidewalk counselor to ask Supreme Court to consider clinic buffer zone case, By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, June 23, 2023, 8:15 AM A sidewalk counselor from New York will soon ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case against Westchester County, which passed a law following the fall of Roe v. Wade in June 2022 that bars pro-life advocates from offering women alternatives to abortion within 100 feet from a clinic. Similar laws are being pushed across the nation and in different countries in an attempt to stop women considering abortion from encountering sidewalk counselors from explaining the harms of abortion and the multitude of resources available for pregnancy and post-pregnancy.  Represented by Becket, a nonprofit public-interest legal and educational institute dedicated to protecting the free expression of all faiths, Debra Vitagliano, a 64-year-old mother of three, brought the suit against Westchester County, where she lived when she was training to be a sidewalk counselor in 2022. When she finished her training, the county had already passed the law and she was barred from counseling women considering abortion outside the clinics.   https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/254644/ny-pro-life-sidewalk-counselor-to-ask-supreme-court-to-take-case-on-abortion-clinic-buffer-zones__________________________________________________________ 14. Biden signs contraception, abortion executive order before Dobbs anniversary, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, June 23, 2023, 1:35 PM President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Friday to expand access to all contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration, including contraceptives that induce abortions. The executive order, which is intended to increase access to contraceptives over the counter, reduce the cost of contraceptives, and increase access for veterans and students, was signed the day before the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. That decision overturned Roe v. Wade and returned abortion laws back to the states. “Contraception is an essential component of reproductive health care that has only become more important in the wake of Dobbs and the ensuing crisis in women’s access to health care,” a White House press release read.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/254651/biden-signs-contraception-abortion-executive-order-before-dobbs-anniversary__________________________________________________________

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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