1. Vatican’s financial crimes prosecution hurt by inexperience, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, June 9, 2021, 6:43 AM
European evaluators warned Wednesday that the Vatican’s efforts to investigate and prosecute financial crimes were suffering from understaffing and inexperience, as well as the mistaken belief that its own cardinals and bishops were immune to criminal conduct.
The Council of Europe’s Moneyval commission issued a lengthy report into the Holy See’s compliance with international norms to fight money laundering and terrorist financing. Overall, the evaluators gave the Holy See good grades, finding that it was complying with most standards, had taken steps to improve its laws and had achieved effective levels of international cooperation.
But the evaluators complained that Vatican prosecutors had only managed to bring a handful of money laundering cases to trial in the past decade. They said the lengthy time needed to reach both an indictment and conviction showed only a “modest” functioning of the judicial system, and warned that the sentences handed down to date were so “minimal” that they provided no deterrent value.
2. Americans Still Oppose Overturning Roe v. Wade, By Lydia Saad, Gallup, June 9, 2021
Gallup’s latest update on U.S. abortion attitudes finds 58% of Americans opposed to overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, while 32% are in favor. Since 1989, between 52% and 66% of U.S. adults have wanted to maintain the landmark abortion decision. Today’s support roughly matches the average over that three-decade period.

Fifty-six percent are opposed to banning abortions after the 18th week of pregnancy, a threshold used in laws passed in two states (Arkansas and Utah), although both laws are currently blocked by court orders.
Fifty-eight percent oppose banning abortions once the heartbeat of a fetus can be detected — an abortion restriction passed in several Republican-led states, all of which face court challenges. A fetal heartbeat can typically be detected between six and eight weeks into a pregnancy. While that time frame wasn’t specified in the latest Gallup measure, it was in a 2019 question, with similar results.
Additionally, the poll finds a majority of Americans — 57% — opposed to generally banning abortion if performed because the fetus is found to have a genetic disease or disorder. Arizona’s governor recently signed such a bill into law, outlawing abortions conducted exclusively because of nonlethal genetic conditions such as Down syndrome and cystic fibrosis.

Public support for the specific abortion restrictions tested in the latest poll falls well short of majority level among most demographic subgroups across society, including by gender, age and race.
3. Record-High 47% in U.S. Think Abortion Is Morally Acceptable, By Megan Brenan, Gallup, June 9, 2021
Americans are sharply divided in their abortion views, including on its morality, with an equal split between those who believe it is morally acceptable and those who say it is morally wrong. The 47% who say it is acceptable is, by two percentage points, the highest Gallup has recorded in two decades of measurement. Just one point separates them from the 46% who think abortion is wrong from a moral perspective.

Just as the public is evenly divided in their beliefs about the morality of abortion, so too are they about equally likely to personally identify as “pro-choice” (49%) versus “pro-life” (47%).
Americans have been closely split in how they identify their abortion stances in recent years. Since 1998, an average 47% of U.S. adults have considered themselves pro-choice and 46% pro-life. Between 1995 and 1997, the public tilted more pro-choice (52%) than pro-life (38%), on average.

Americans remain much more likely to believe abortion should be legal “only under certain circumstances” (48%) than to favor it being legal “under any circumstances” (32%) or “illegal in all circumstances” (19%). The nearly one-third of U.S. adults who support fully legal abortions is the highest such percentage since the early to mid-1990s, when it was consistently at that level.
4. Justice Department says it can ‘vigorously’ defend religious schools’ exemption from anti-LGBTQ discrimination laws, By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, June 9, 2021, 12:49 AM
At issue in Hunter v. the U.S. Department of Education are 40 LGBTQ students at conservative religious colleges and universities who are suing the government for its role in providing funding to schools with discriminatory policies. The schools say they have a First Amendment right to promote traditional religious beliefs about sexuality and gender.

But the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, whose members include many of the schools named, said in a May motion that the Biden administration couldn’t be trusted to adequately defend the schools’ beliefs, and “may be openly hostile to them.” Its motion asked to intervene and be part of the case.
However, the Justice Department filed an opposition on Tuesday to CCCU’s request and that of several other Christian schools to join the case. It said the Department of Education and the Christian schools “share the same ‘ultimate objective’ … namely, to uphold the Religious Exemption as it is currently applied.” The parties’ shared interests, the filing said, are “identical.”

It wasn’t immediately clear the Biden administration’s thinking on the issue that is at the center of several major recent Supreme Court cases: tensions between religious liberty and anti-discrimination laws. President Biden is also in the midst of pressing for passage of the Equality Act, a sweeping measure that would add gender identity and sexuality to the groups protected under the Civil Rights Act, while significantly weakening exemptions for religious groups and people.
5. A reforming pope’s dilemma: Using the center to deliver decentralization, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, June 9, 2021, Opinion
The thought comes to mind in light of news that the Vatican under Pope Francis, for the very first time in history, is carrying out a financial audit of the Diocese of Rome. A pope, of course, is the Bishop of Rome, and theoretically always has the right to inspect the books of his own diocese, but heretofore it’s been considered good manners for a pope to defer such matters to his chosen Vicar of Rome and the local leadership under him.

Such a hands-off approach has been seen as consistent with the values of collegiality and decentralization associated with the Second Vatican Council, values which Pope Francis has extolled repeatedly, including calling for a “healthy decentralization” in the Church during a 2015 ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops.
Yet in most respects, this has been anything but a decentralizing papacy. Instead, we’ve seen sweeping assertions of papal authority and central control on multiple fronts, especially when it comes to clerical sexual abuse and finances.
All of which illustrates a keen irony about the papacy: The more a given pope sees himself as a reformer, the more inclined he is to act like an old-school absolute monarch to advance that agenda.

Indeed, for a pope who decries “legalism” and derides “doctors of the law” as the essence of an excessively rule-bound Christianity, no pope in recent memory has been more aggressive about issuing new law. He’s already issued more motu proprio amending church law in under nine years than St. John Paul II did in almost 27, and the Vatican recently released a sweeping overhaul of the penal section of the Code of Canon Law, among other things stripping away the discretion bishops enjoy after Vatican II as to how, and whether, to apply the penalties it envisions for various crimes.
6. ‘Signers’ distance themselves from USCCB agenda letter, By The Pillar, June 8, 2021
Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati did not give permission for his name to be added to a letter that urged a discussion of “Eucharistic coherence” be dropped from the USCCB’s June agenda, a spokesman for the archbishop has told The Pillar.
Schnurr, listed among the letter’s signers anyway, is one of four bishops to distance himself from the May 13 letter since it became public.
The letter was sent to USCCB president Archbishop Jose Gomez by email, and listed 68 diocesan and auxiliary bishops as signatories.
The May 13 letter urged that “all Conference wide discussion and committee work on the topic of Eucharistic worthiness and other issues raised by the Holy See be postponed” until the next in-person meeting of the USCCB, currently scheduled for November.

The letter to Gomez was sent on the letterhead of Cardinal Wilton Gregory, who was reportedly one of its principal organizers. The Pillar contacted Wilton’s Archdiocese of Washington for comment on Archbishop Schnurr’s statement, but did not receive a response by time of print.

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.