1. Pope Oversees 10 Years of Change, Francis has guided shifts in style and substance in his decade as the pontiff, By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, March 14, 2023, Pg. A20 Pope Francis’ reign promised from its first moments a decade ago to be distinctive. When Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the new pope on March 13, 2013, he appeared on a loggia on the front of St. Peter’s Basilica without the red cape that was traditional for the occasion, then broke with custom further by bowing his head to the crowd in the square below, asking them to bless him.  They were signs of a new informality and approachability that the Argentine pope has maintained ever since, often speaking off the cuff and departing from tradition in ways big and small. Ten years later, Pope Francis’ changes have gone far beyond a new style: He has thrown into question church teaching on controversial topics from divorce to homosexuality, distressing conservatives with his progressive bent, although not always satisfying liberal hopes.  The pope urged a group of young Catholics early in his reign to “make a mess,” and has often deplored rigidity on moral questions as deadly to faith. But critics say he has also encouraged a polarization that some warn could threaten the church’s unity. After 35 years of conservative retrenchment under St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, including on contentious matters of sexual and medical ethics, church leaders are now openly discussing rethinking teaching against contraception and gay relationships The bishops of Germany voted on Friday to adopt a formal liturgy for the blessing of same-sex relationships, a move that would have been unthinkable a decade ago.  Pope Francis is unafraid to rule directly, issuing decrees or official teaching documents, as when he instructed priests to be lenient on divorce or placed restrictions on the traditional Latin Mass—undoing a liberalization by his predecessor Pope Benedict. But on some of the most important topics, Pope Francis has fostered change indirectly. He has given an unprecedented number of papal interviews and news conferences, making informal comments that have become much more widely known than his official pronouncements. The most famous example is his 2013 response to a question about gay priests: “Who am I to judge?”  The pope has institutionalized this indirect approach through his embrace of “synodality,” an idea of church governance that emphasizes the participation of all the church’s membership including laypeople. Pope Francis has called a global synod that will culminate in two meetings in Rome, this fall and next year, where topics will include the roles of women and LGBT people in the church.  For his supporters, this initiative is a sign that Pope Francis seeks a church that listens to its members. To his critics, synodality is a recipe for cacophony and disintegration.  Pope Francis is likely to leave some of the most contentious topics to be resolved by his successor, who will also have to address the growing divisions in the church, said Sandro Magister, who writes about the Vatican for Italy’s L’Espresso magazine. “To undo the unity of the church is a relatively easy and quick task, but to restore order is a gigantic task, that could take decades,” Mr. Magister said. https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-10-years-pope-francis-has-disrupted-the-catholic-church-acd228f1__________________________________________________________ 2. 10 Years On, Pope Francis Faces Challenges From the Right and the Left, In an ideologically divided Roman Catholic Church, the right has accused him of going too far and the left of not going far enough, By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, March 14, 2023 Pope Francis once envisioned serving only a few years as pontiff. On Monday, he commemorated his 10th anniversary as leader of the world’s Roman Catholics, saying it seemed ”like yesterday” that he took control of an ideologically divided church that has opposed him from the right for going too far and criticized him from the left for not going far enough.  ”Today, it seems clear that Pope Francis has a ‘Gorbachev problem’ — enormous acclaim outside the Catholic Church but increasingly brazen opposition from within,” John L. Allen Jr., the editor of Crux, a news site specializing in coverage of the Vatican and the Catholic Church, wrote on Sunday, comparing Francis to Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet president. ”Also like Gorbachev, Francis’ foes come both from a traditionalist right unhappy with his progressive agenda and an impatient left increasingly hungry for actual revolution rather than mere reform.” Francis has shifted from entertaining talk of resigning to speaking more about the papacy being a lifetime ministry. But after health ailments that have him leaning on a cane or using a wheelchair some wonder how much time for change is left.  https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/13/world/europe/pope-francis-catholic-church.html__________________________________________________________ 3. California’s abortion-pill grandstanding is self-defeating, By The Washington Post, March 14, 2023, 7:00 AM, Editorial  For Mr. Newsom, Walgreens’s offense isn’t breaking the law but following it — specifically, declining to expand the distribution of an abortion pill, mifepristone, in states where it might not be legal to do so. (Even in some states where medication abortion is legal, state laws limit the way the drugs can be delivered.)  For Mr. Newsom, the pharmacies’ legal difficulties represent a political opportunity. The governor’s announcement said the review of the state’s Walgreens contracts is “ongoing” — meaning that the company can bend the knee to Sacramento or risk further economic hits. That’s an abuse of government economic power. Yes, states have different cultural values and the leeway to structure their own public contracts. But that discretion should not extend to effectively ordering the companies with which they do business to disregard other states’ laws. Reaching beyond their own borders that way undermines America’s federal system. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/03/14/newsom-walgreens-abortion-pill-policy/__________________________________________________________ 4. Pope opens door on end to celibacy for priests, Roman doctrine only ‘temporary’, By Mark A. Kellner, The Washington Times, March 14, 2023, Pg. A1 Pope Francis has called celibacy for priests a “temporary prescription,” signaling a potential end to a centuries-old requirement of the Roman Catholic Church that the clergy should not marry. The Argentine-born pontiff made the comments in an interview Friday just before he marked the 10th anniversary of his elevation to the papacy, a tenure marked by laical and clerical disputes over homosexuality, the ongoing clergy sex abuse scandal, Communion for pro-choice politicians and the traditional Latin Mass, among other contentious issues. Priests in the Roman Catholic Church, also known as Latin rite churches, have been required to remain unmarried throughout their ministry for 1,000 years.  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/mar/13/pope-francis-priests-could-be-allowed-marry/__________________________________________________________ 5. Biden calls bans on transgender treatments for children ‘close to sinful’, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, March 13, 2023, 5:05 PM President Joe Biden criticized Florida’s regulation of transgender medical care for children and ban on gender ideology in the classroom, calling the measures “close to sinful.” Biden said in an interview with Daily Show guest host Kal Penn: “What’s going on in Florida is, as my mother would say, close to sinful. I mean it’s just terrible what they’re doing.” Although the president did not specify which laws he was referring to, Republican lawmakers in Florida and other states have introduced bills and regulations to protect children from transgender medical interventions and restrict classroom instruction in gender ideology. During his interview, Biden added that federal legislation might be necessary to prevent states from adopting certain bills that affect transgender policies related to children.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253859/biden-criticizes-bans-on-transgender-treatments-for-children-as-close-to-sinful__________________________________________________________ 6. Catholic universities should do more to respond to environmental issues, Vatican cardinal says, By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency, March 13, 2023, 2:22 PM The cardinal who is seen as Pope Francis’ point man on the environment said in an address at Gonzaga University last week that universities, especially Catholic universities, have a major role to play in constructing a plan to “care for our common home.” Canadian Jesuit Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, spoke at his alma mater in Spokane, Washington, on March 9. Noting that Catholics are called to celebrate nature as an “expression of the love of a personal God, who brought the universe into being,” Czerny said Pope Francis invites us to follow St. Francis of Assisi in “immersing ourselves in the wonder and awe of nature.” https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253856/catholic-universities-should-do-more-to-respond-to-environmental-issues-vatican-cardinal-says__________________________________________________________

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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