1. Vatican bars gay union blessing, says God ‘can’t bless sin’, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, March 15, 2021, 8:08 AM
The Vatican decreed Monday that the Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex unions since God “cannot bless sin.”
The Vatican’s orthodoxy office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a formal response Monday to a question about whether Catholic clergy can bless gay unions.
The answer, contained in a two-page explanation published in seven languages and approved by Pope Francis, was “negative.”
The decree distinguished between the church’s welcoming and blessing of gay people, which it upheld, but not their unions.
The Vatican holds that gays must be treated with dignity and respect, but that gay sex is “intrinsically disordered.”
2. June 27 may decide if Vatican’s financial gamble pays off, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, March 14, 2021, Opinion
On Friday the Vatican released a detailed budget statement for 2020, confirming earlier reports that in 2020 it ran a deficit of about $60 million, which would have been closer to $100 million had income from Peter’s Pence, an annual collection to support the works of the pope, not been included for the first time.

The bottom line is that if it doesn’t want to use up the money it’s got set aside for a rainy day, the Vatican needs help.

All this makes three months from now, June 27, a “circle your calendars” date, because that’s the next time the Peter’s Pence collection will be take up around the world. Traditionally the collection is staged on the Sunday closest to the annual June 29 feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, though last year it was postponed until the Oct. 4 feast of St. Francis due to coronavirus-related suspensions of public worship.
At a certain level, one has to admire the hutzpah of making a fundraising appeal at the same time the Vatican is in the grip of several ongoing financial scandals.

All this makes June 27 a major roll of the dice for the Vatican, in three senses.
First, Guerrero and other officials essentially are asking Catholics to take them at their word that the bad old days are over, so today one can trust that money donated to the Vatican will be properly managed and well spent.

Second, they’re gambling that Catholics will be motivated to give out of sympathy for Pope Francis’s refusal to cut Vatican payroll, seeing it as the humanitarian instinct of a compassionate employer.

Third, the Vatican’s gambling that even places where Francis sometimes has played to mixed reviews – above all the United States, which usually accounts for about 30 percent of total global income to Peter’s Pence – will, nonetheless, come through when the chips are down.
A final thought: Part of the sting of the London financial scandal for many average Catholics was the discovery that money they gave to Peter’s Pence, which is usually marketed as way to support papal charities among the poorest of the poor, was actually going to cover the cost of a Vatican real estate deal.
In response, Vatican officials insisted that if you read the statutes of the fund, it’s clear it’s the pope’s money to allocate as he sees fit. The problem, of course, is that no one actually reads the statutes, but they do listen to what Father says on Sunday and they read what’s in the weekly bulletin.
This time around, it probably would be a good idea for those promotional appeals to match reality. If Father stands up in his local parish and says, “Look, the Vatican is hurting because the Pope doesn’t want to put people on the street in the middle of a pandemic, and he needs our help,” whatever income results would at least have the virtue of being obtained honestly.
If people sense a con, however, the odds against the Vatican’s gamble may get considerably longer.
3. Pro-life bills abound; their fate in court is unknown, By David Crary and Iris Samuels, Associated Press, March 14, 2021
At an intense pace, lawmakers in Republican-governed states are considering an array of tough anti-abortion restrictions they hope might reach the Supreme Court and win approval from its conservative majority, overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a nationwide right to abortion.
A sweeping ban already has been signed into law in South Carolina, only to be swiftly blocked by a lawsuit from abortion-rights groups. Arkansas’s governor signed another ban this past week.
A batch of other near-total bans also were blocked in the courts after their passage in 2019.
It’s not clear if or when the Supreme Court might consider any of them, or take some other path. The court could weaken Roe with approval of less drastic restrictions or even leave the core of the 1973 ruling in place.
4. Pope renews appeal for Syria on 10th anniversary of conflict, By Associated Press, March 14, 2021, 8:05 AM
Pope Francis has renewed his “heartfelt appeal” to all sides in the Syria conflict to demonstrate “signs of good will so that a glimmer of hope can be open for the exhausted population.”
The pope offered prayers for Syria during his traditional Sunday blessing in St. Peter’s Square, noting that a decade has passed since the start of the “bloody conflict.”
5. Cardinal Burke Says Vatican’s Instruction on Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Should Be Rescinded, The former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura calls it ‘a direct violation of universal Church law.’, By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, March 13, 2021
Cardinal Raymond Burke has expressed his “deepest concerns” about an internal Vatican letter regarding new rules for Masses celebrated in St. Peter’s basilica, saying it is in “direct violation of universal Church law” and should be “rescinded immediately.”
The five-point letter addressed to the administrators of the basilica from the Secretariat of State states that “individual celebrations are suppressed” at the side altars of St. Peter’s, and that priests and faithful coming to the basilica or Mass will only be able to take part in one of four concelebrated Masses each morning, as well as other concelebrated Masses during the day at the main altars.

Its last point states that “authorized priests” who wish to celebrate Masses in the extraordinary form, or traditional Latin Mass, can do so only in the Clementine Chapel of the grottoes, and at four set times each morning, also limited to 30 minutes.
The letter’s introduction states that being the season of Lent, which gives “greater centrality to listening to the Word of God and to the Eucharistic Celebration,” it is important for Masses to take place “in an atmosphere of recollection and liturgical decorum.”

The letter, Cardinal Burke wrote in a statement to be published on his website, is “contrary to universal Church law” as it “unjustly conditions the primary duty of the individual priest to offer the Holy Mass daily for the salvation of the world.” More specifically, he and other canonists say it is in breach of both Canon 902 and Article 57 § 2 of Sacrosanctum Concilium.
6. Vatican: Peter’s Pence, donations, keeping projected deficit to $60 million in 2021, By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, March 12, 2021, 12:01 PM
The Vatican said Friday it plans to lower operational expenses by 8% in 2021, while it relies on donations and funds from Peter’s Pence to contain a growing deficit amid the coronavirus crisis.
The Secretariat for the Economy released a 2021 budget for the Holy See March 12, showing a projected deficit of nearly $60 million.
Peter’s Pence will provide the Holy See with $57 million in income, with $37 million being used for operational costs and $20 million for charitable grants.
Peter’s Pence is the Holy See’s annual collection to finance the pope’s charitable works and other priorities, including the Roman Curia.
7. Virginia governor signs abortion coverage expansion into law, By Catholic News Agency, March 12, 2021, 4:00 PM
Virginia’s governor on Friday signed a bill into law expanding abortion coverage in the state, prompting a rebuke from the state’s bishops.
Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed the legislation, House Bill 1896 and Senate Bill 1276, which allows abortion coverage to be included without limits in health plans on the state exchanges. The health plans often receive subsidies, which means that taxpayers would be funding abortions under the law.
“Governor Northam has crossed yet another tragic threshold by inserting abortion without limits into Virginia’s health benefits exchange,” stated Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington and Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond on Friday.

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.