1. USCCB, other Catholic groups urge court to protect faith-based foster care, By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service, June 9, 2020

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and a few Catholic Charities agencies have joined more than 30 other religious groups, states and a group of Congress members urging the Supreme Court to protect Philadelphia’s faith-based foster care.

The groups filed friend-of-the court briefs in early June in Fulton v. Philadelphia, which the court will hear next term to determine if Philadelphia can exclude a Catholic social services agency from the city’s foster care program because the agency does not accept same-sex couples as foster parents.

A brief by the Catholic Association Foundation, a group which defends the church and religious liberty, said severing ties with Catholic-run foster care and adoption programs, “under the guise of enforcing ‘neutral’ anti-discrimination laws, is the equivalent of hanging a ‘Catholics Need Not Apply’ sign outside of every state and local health and human services department.”

“Such a precedent is odious to the Constitution’s guarantees of free speech and the free exercise of religion. Such a precedent should not stand,” it said.


2. The Demise of the Wall Between Church and State, By Nelson Tebbe, Micah Schwartzman and Richard Schragger, The New York Times, June 9, 2020, Pg. A23

The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This has long been thought to prohibit direct government support for religion. The contours of that idea have been contested, and they have contracted over time. But the commitment to some form of separation of church and state has endured.

Yet in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Congress has approved a huge payout to small businesses and nonprofits that allows funding for clergy salaries — a direct payment of tax dollars for a core religious use that would have been unthinkable in previous eras.

Nelson Tebbe is a professor at Cornell Law School. Micah Schwartzman and Richard Schragger are professors at the University of Virginia School of Law.


3. Charging shady Italian moneyman not the end of latest Vatican scandal, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, June 9, 2020, Opinion

Last Friday, the latest twist in the Vatican’s version of the “Great Fire of London,” in their case referring to a $225 million land deal in London that went spectacularly wrong and ended in scandal, came with the arrest of a shadowy lay Italian financier named Gianluigi Torzi.

For those who haven’t followed the affair, the Vatican’s Secretariat of State originally laid out roughly $225 million to buy part of a former Harrod’s warehouse in the posh London neighborhood of Chelsea, which, at the time, was slated for conversion into luxury apartments. What especially outraged some observers is that the Secretariat of State financed the deal in part using funds from the annual Peter’s Pence collection, which is marketed to ordinary Catholics around the world as a way to support papal charities.

No doubt, Torzi’s role in the London affair, and what he stood to gain had the final stage of the proposed transaction gone through, will be important elements to ascertain at trial. However, there’s also a risk of missing the forest for the trees in focusing too intensely on these oddball characters – who, perhaps conveniently, never seem to be in short supply whenever the Vatican finds itself in trouble.

In this case, what we know with certainty is that whoever else may have been involved, the London deal was approved by senior officials in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State – first then-Archbishop, now Cardinal, Angelo Becciu, and later Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, both in their successive capacities as the sostituto, or “substitute,” of the Secretariat of State, more or less the pope’s Chief of Staff. Ultimately the deal also had to be okayed by Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State.

Yet, to date, Becciu, Peña Parra and Parolin have not been charged or, so far as we know, named as a witness in the unfolding legal process.

Perhaps, as some have suggested, these top Vatican officials were duped by unscrupulous Italian operators, and they’re actually the victims here. Assuming that’s the case, there could still be questions about negligence in vetting figures such as Mincione and Torzi adequately.

In any event, the truth can only be established by a transparent investigation, and right now it’s not clear that’s what’s in store. The precedents aren’t promising, since when another financial scandal pivoting on Rome’s papally owned pediatric hospital Bambino Gesu was put to a Vatican trial in 2017, a central figure, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Secretariat of State under Pope Benedict XVI, not only wasn’t charged, he was never called as a witness.

In other words, if the Vatican really wants to get to the bottom of things, they could put senior figures such as Becciu and Peña Parra in a witness chair and ask questions on the public record. Otherwise, simply serving up lay Italian villains with no standing in the ecclesiastical power structure such as Torzi may be good theater, but it’s hard to argue it’s the end of the story.


4. Archbishop Gregory invited to JPII Shrine Trump event days before public statement, By JD Flynn, Catholic News Agency, June 8, 2020, 1:50 PM

The White House said Sunday that Washington’s archbishop was invited to attend an event with President Donald Trump several days before it took place, amid media reports that the archbishop did not learn of the event until the night before it took place.

White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere told CNA June 7 that “Archbishop Gregory received an invitation to the President’s event at the St. John Paul II Shrine the week prior to the President’s visit. He declined due to other commitments.”

Correspondence between Archbishop Wilton Gregory’s office and the White House indicates the same.


5. Vatican bank reports €38 million profit in 2019, By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, June 8, 2020, 11:30 AM

The Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), commonly called the Vatican Bank, said it had made a net profit of 38 million euros in 2019 as it released its annual report Monday.

According to the report, the IOR recorded a net profit more than double that of the 17.5 million euros it reported in 2018. This could be due to the boom in global markets in 2019, a year in which the S&P 500 grew by more than 28%.


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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