1. Pope Francis’s Decade of Division, By Ross Douthat, The New York Times, March 15, 2023, 5:00 AM, Opinion Lent is with us, and so is the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’s ascent to the papal throne — an appropriate conjunction, since these are days of tribulation for his papacy. There is the two-front war that Rome finds itself fighting on doctrine and liturgy, trying to squash the church’s Latin Mass traditionalists while more gently restraining the liberal German bishops from forcing a schism on Catholicism’s leftward flank.  And yet with all this the pope has not actually delivered all that much concrete change to the church’s progressive wing, pulling back repeatedly instead — retreating into ambiguity on communion for the divorced and the remarried, pulling up short when it appeared he was going to allow new experiments with married priests, permitting his office of doctrine to declare the impossibility of the blessings for same-sex couples that many European bishops wish to license. Which, also predictably, has created both disappointment at unmet expectations and a constant impulse to push as far as possible, even toward the liberal Protestantism that the German church especially seems to seek, on the theory that Francis needs to be forced into embracing the changes‌ he’s always contemplating but never quite delivering. Seen now at its 10-year milestone, then, this pontificate hasn’t just faced inevitable resistance because of its zeal for reform. It has needlessly multiplied controversies and exacerbated divisions for the sake of an agenda that can still feel vaporous, and its choices at every turn have seemed to design to create the greatest possible alienation between the church’s factions, the widest imaginable gyre. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/15/opinion/pope-francis-catholic-church.html__________________________________________________________ 2. Pope pens top Iraqi Muslim leader, urges joint push for basic rights, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, March 15, 2023 In a recent letter to Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the chief figure in Shia Islam, Pope Francis recalled their historic meeting two years ago and urged greater collaboration among their communities in promoting peace and basic human rights. In the letter, dated Feb. 28 and delivered by Cardinal Miguel Ayuso Guixot, head of the Vatican Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, on March 9, the pope recalled their meeting, saying it “did good for my soul.” https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2023/03/pope-pens-top-iraqi-muslim-leader-urges-joint-push-for-basic-rights__________________________________________________________ 3. Polish Church defends John Paul sainthood after abuse claims, By Associated Press, March 14, 2023, 2:26 PM The leaders of Poland’s Catholic Church on Tuesday defended the late John Paul II’s sainthood and fast-track canonization process in response to a Polish TV report alleging that he covered up clergy sex abuses while archbishop in Poland. The Polish Church figures also said that a commission of experts in various fields — lawyers, doctors, psychologists and historians — will be formed soon to investigate cases of past abuse of minors by the clergy. A report last week on TVN24, which is owned by the U.S. company Warner Bros. Discovery, named three priests whom John Paul allegedly moved around during the 1970s after they were accused of abusing minors. The report cited communist secret security documents but also included interviews with abuse survivors.  “The canonization process leaves no doubt as to John Paul’s II sainthood,” the communique said. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/03/14/church-sex-abuse-john-paul-poland-wojtyla/cebb15fa-c295-11ed-82a7-6a87555c1878_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. Ohio Supreme Court to review block of near-ban on abortion, By Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press, March 14, 2023, 2:04 PM The Ohio Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to review a county judge’s order that is blocking enforcement of the state’s near-ban on abortions, and to consider whether the clinics challenging the law have legal standing to do so. In its split decision, the court, however, denied Republican Attorney General Dave Yost’s request to launch its own review of the right to an abortion under the Ohio Constitution, leaving those arguments to play out in lower court. This means abortions remain legal in the state for now, up to 20 weeks’ gestation. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/03/14/ohio-supreme-court-abortion-ban-constitution/2e6b4032-c274-11ed-82a7-6a87555c1878_story.html__________________________________________________________ 5. The Catholic Church is clear about chaste living, By Gerald E. Murray, The Washington Post, March 14, 2023, 4:33 AM, Letter to the Editor The March 12 front-page article “Grindr app data mined to expose gay priests” said that Catholic Church “law requires priests not to have sex, but church leaders have long disagreed about what that literally means, long before the complex digital era. Experts disagree whether actions such as having a hookup app on your phone, engaging in sexual talk on an app or watching people have sex at a bathhouse qualify under church law as sex.” Catholic moral theology has been consistent throughout the church’s history about the obligation to live chastely. Chaste living includes not entertaining impure thoughts, not watching pornographic or sexually provocative films or live performances, and not looking to spend time with people who are likely to seek illicit sex with you. Canon 1395, §2 states “A cleric who has offended in other ways against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, if the offense is committed in public, is to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/03/14/catholic-church-celibacy-lifestyle/__________________________________________________________ 6. Vatican-China deal ‘not the best deal possible,’ top Holy See diplomat says, By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, March 14, 2023, 8:54 AM The Vatican’s foreign minister has said that the Vatican-China deal was “not the best deal possible” and that negotiations are underway to make the deal “work better.” In an interview with Colm Flynn for EWTN News, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican secretary for Relations with States, said that Holy See diplomats are “negotiating improvements” to the Holy See’s provisional agreement with Beijing on the appointment of bishops, first signed in 2018. “Obviously, the objective is to get the best deal possible, which certainly this agreement is not the best deal possible because of the other party: They were only prepared to go so far and to agree to certain things. But that was what was possible at the time,” Gallagher said. “It wasn’t really a great time to sign the deal, for various reasons. It was always going to be difficult; it was always going to be used by the Chinese party to bring greater pressure on the Catholic community, particularly on the so-called underground Church. So we just go forward.” https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253860/vatican-china-deal-not-the-best-deal-possible-top-holy-see-diplomat-says__________________________________________________________ 7. Pope’s top aide says Germany can’t go it alone on blessing same-sex unions, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, March 14, 2023 A top aide to Pope Francis said there’s a need for dialogue with the German bishops after a recent vote in favor of blessing same-sex unions, insisting that the move does not align with official Catholic doctrine. “A local, particular church cannot make a decision like that which involves the discipline of the Universal Church,” said Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, on Monday. “There must certainly be a discussion with Rome and the rest of the Churches in the world … to clarify what are the decisions to make,” Parolin said. Over the weekend, the influential and wealthy German Church concluded its controversial “Synodal Path” reform process, a multi-year consultation launched in 2019 and aimed at giving lay people a stronger voice after the country’s devastating clerical sexual abuse crisis further emptied church pews. The final meeting in the process brought together more than 200 representatives of Catholic life in Germany, who voted overwhelmingly in favor of same-sex blessings, but delayed the start date until March 2026. https://cruxnow.com/10th-anniversary-pope-francis-election/2023/03/popes-top-aide-says-germany-cant-go-it-alone-on-blessing-same-sex-unions__________________________________________________________

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.