TCA Media Monitoring June 4, 2020

TCA Media Monitoring June 4, 2020

TCA Media Monitoring June 4, 2020

  1. Pope calls USCCB president to express solidarity, support amid turmoil in U.S.,By Greg Erlandson, Crux, June 4, 2020Pope Francis used his June 3 audience and a phone call with the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to express his solidarity and support following days of demonstrations protesting the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.In a June 3 letter to his fellow bishops, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles told them Pope Francis had called him “to express his prayers and closeness to the church and people of the United States in this moment of unrest in our country.”Gomez wrote that the pope “thanked the bishops for the pastoral tone of the church’s response to the demonstrations across the country in our statements and actions since the death” of Floyd. The pope also said he was praying for Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda and the church of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Gomez wrote.

    2. Sharonell Fulton, et al. v. City of Philadelphia Is Going to the Supreme Court, By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, National Review, June 3, 2020, 3:51 PM, Opinion

    Does the Constitution safeguard religious organizations with a traditional view of marriage that participate in our nation’s social safety-net programs? Can state, local, and federal officials weaponize seemingly neutral anti-discrimination laws and policies to banish faith-based social-service programs that don’t toe some ideological line from the public square? The Supreme Court will take up the issue next term in a case brought by two Philadelphia foster moms and Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Sharonell Fulton, et al. v. City of Philadelphia is one of the most important religious freedom cases to come before the Supreme Court in a decade.

    There are three important considerations in the Fulton case: clarity, tolerance, and kids.

    Clarity. Becket Law, the religious freedom lawyers representing the foster moms and their agency, urge the Court to craft a new rule for evaluating these kinds of disputes that better protects religious freedom. Specifically, they ask the court to revisit a case from 1990 — Employment Division v. Smith. Smith held that religious objectors are not constitutionally entitled to exemptions from neutral, generally applicable laws. In practice, however, Smith has proven unworkable. The Fulton case is a perfect example. There is plenty of evidence that the city targeted the Catholic agency and that the city’s anti-discrimination policy was honeycombed with exceptions. The lower court in Fulton, however, ignored this evidence. It held that the Catholic agency would have to show that the city treated it worse than it would have treated another organization that did not work with same-sex couples as foster parents.

    Tolerance. Philadelphia officials acted with unabashed intolerance here. All in the name of tolerance, of course. They disparaged the Catholic agency’s support of traditional marriage. Follow “the teaching of Pope Francis,” the head of Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services lectured the Catholic agency’s head — as if the pope had changed Church teaching defining marriage. … The Catholic agency, in response, proposed referring any same-sex married couple interested in fostering (none had ever approached the agency) to one of the 29 other agencies working with the city. Referrals among agencies happen all the time for many different reasons, the agency noted. But the city’s intolerance leaves no room to accommodate dissenting beliefs.

    Kids. A staggering number of kids in America lack safe and loving homes. … The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has cared for orphaned, abused, and neglected children for more than two centuries. Over 50 years it has partnered with the city as a foster care agency. The Catholic agency accepts children for foster care placement regardless of race, sex, creed, disability, or sexual orientation. In their amicus brief, the former foster children and foster/adoptive parents who worked with Catholic agencies in Philadelphia and beyond highlight how these agencies succeed in putting the focus on the needs of the child, not just the desires of the prospective parents. Kids in need of foster and adoptive families deserve caring, competent, and experienced agencies, not ideological conformists.

    Severing ties with Catholic-run foster care and adoption programs under the guise of enforcing “neutral” anti-discrimination laws is tantamount to hanging a “Catholics Need Not Apply” sign outside every state and local health and human services department. This is odious to the Constitution’s guarantees of free speech and the free exercise of religion. Such practice cannot continue, especially when the futures of at-risk kids are at stake.

    The Supreme Court has the chance to set things right again in Philadelphia this coming fall. For the sake of religious freedom and kids in need, pray that the justices do the right thing in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia.

    Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is the Legal Advisor for The Catholic Association Foundation and co-host of the syndicated radio show Conversations with Consequences.

    3. Universities, archdiocese named in lawsuit over Katrina aid, By Kevin McGill, Associated Press, June 3, 2020, 7:21 PM

    Two New Orleans universities, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans and a government contractor are defendants in a whistleblower lawsuit alleging fraud involving more than $100 million in Hurricane Katrina aid.

    The archdiocese, which has filed for bankruptcy reorganization amid numerous lawsuits involving sexual abuse by priests, also denied wrongdoing and noted that the suit was filed more than a decade after the storm.

    “Every dollar of FEMA funds received has gone back into the restoration of parish, school, and other properties to serve the people of the Greater New Orleans community,” a statement from the archdiocese said. “We deny the allegation that the Archdiocese of New Orleans knowingly conspired to submit false information. We have cooperated with the Federal Government’s investigation and will continue to work with them as we resolve this claim.”

    4. Editor’s Note: Saying “Arrivederci” to one of Crux’s own, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, June 2, 2020, Opinion

    I write with sad news for Crux, in a sense, but terrific news for all those interested in Catholic journalism and Church affairs, and especially good news for one of our own: Chris White, heretofore our national correspondent, has accepted a new position as the national correspondent of the National Catholic Reporter effective June 15.

    White decided he wanted a new challenge and decided that NCR is a good fit, and the position is a recognition of his compelling work for us over the last three years. Since NCR is the same paper with which I started my career, and where I worked happily for almost seventeen years, I certainly can’t contest his judgment.

    When I first got to know White, he was the director of Catholic Voices USA, which is the American branch of the Catholic communications enterprise founded by Austen Ivereigh, now better known as Pope Francis’s premier English-language biographer, and Jack Valero, the spokesman in the UK for Opus Dei.

    One of the things I’d always admired about Catholic Voices was its commitment to balance and transcending the left/right divides in Catholicism, and I found that richly echoed in White. More than that, I sensed real curiosity, tremendous gifts as a conversationalist, and a genuine desire to understand complicated situations rather than simply imposing a prefabricated personal framework.

    In other words, I sensed he had all the makings of a talented journalist, and I felt tremendously lucky when we were able to bring him on board in cooperation with our partners at the DeSales Media Group in the Diocese of Brooklyn, where he also served as a correspondent for the Tablet and a commentator for “Currents,” their flagship nightly news program.

    What I’ve seen from White since he joined us exceeded even my dream-case scenario.

    So, to Chris, from Rome: Arrivederci, meaning “until we see each other again,” and in bocca al lupo, which is way too hard to explain but basically means “good luck.”


    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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