1. Arkansas House OKs allowing conscience objections by doctors, By Associated Press, March 16, 2021
The Arkansas House on Monday approved legislation that would allow doctors to refuse to treat someone because of religious or moral objections, a proposal that opponents say would give broad powers to discriminate against patients.
The majority-Republican House voted 72-20 for the measure, which says health care workers and institutions have the right to not participate in non-emergency treatments that violate their conscience. The bill goes back to the Senate, which last month approved an earlier version of the legislation.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has not said whether he supports the bill and said Monday he was still reviewing the measure. Similar proposals stalled in the Legislature in 2017 and 2019.
2. LGBTQ Catholics stung by Vatican rebuff of same-sex unions, By David Crary and Luis Andres Henao, Associated Press, March 16, 2021
The Vatican’s declaration that same-sex unions are a sin the Catholic Church cannot bless was no surprise for LGBTQ Catholics in the United States — yet it stung deeply nonetheless.

Jesuit Father James Martin, another priest who advocates for greater LGBTQ inclusion in the Catholic church, said in a post on Twitter that he received dozens of messages from LGBTQ people on Monday saying they were discouraged by the Vatican’s pronouncement. He urged them not to despair.
“Besides, what is the alternative?” he asked. “To live in fear of the future that God has in store for us?… To doubt that Jesus is on the side of those who feel in any way marginalized?”
Vatican doctrine holds that gays and lesbians should be treated with dignity and respect, but that gay sex is “intrinsically disordered” and that same-sex unions are sinful.

The Vatican’s pronouncement was welcomed by some church conservatives, however, such as Bill Donohue, president of the New York-based Catholic League.
“There will be no recognition of homosexual unions or marriage by the Catholic Church. It is non-negotiable. End of story,” he said.
“Pope Francis has been under considerable pressure by gay activists, in and out of the church, to give the green light to gay marriage,” Donohue added, calling Monday’s statement “the most decisive rejection of those efforts ever written.”
3. USCCB urges lawmakers to oppose amendment that could require government funding of abortion, By Kate Scanlon, Catholic News Agency, March 15, 2021, 3:00 PM
The U.S. bishops’ conference is urging congressional lawmakers to oppose the proposed Equal Rights Amendment, a measure they say could threaten religious freedom and fund abortion.
Some members of Congress are pushing for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the United States Constitution. The amendment states that “[e]quality of rights under law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
Although the original congressionally-mandated deadline for the ratification of the amendment was 1982, some members in the House now seek to remove that deadline and honor the recent votes of several state legislatures, as well as previous votes of other states, to ratify the amendment.
4. Biden’s contradictory Catholicism misleading and confusing, Archbishop Naumann says, By Catholic News Agency, March 15, 2021, 2:11 PM
It is a serious matter for President Joe Biden to profess Catholicism while publicly backing contradictory action on matters such as abortion, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas has said in an interview with The Atlantic.
“I want to protect my people from being misled. His actions, right now, do mislead,” Naumann said in an interview with The Atlantic published March 14. “They do create confusion for people in terms of what the Church believes and teaches.”
“Obviously, the president doesn’t believe what we believe about the sacredness of human life, or he wouldn’t be taking the actions that he is. And yet, he continues to receive the Eucharist,” said the archbishop.
“We can’t judge his heart. But we consider the action itself a grave moral evil.”
5. ‘No easy answers’: Top German Catholic bishop responds to Vatican’s ‘no’ on same-sex blessings, By Catholic News Agency, March 15, 2021, 12:00 PM
A leading German Catholic bishop responded to the Vatican’s rejection of blessings for same-sex couples on Monday by saying that there were “no easy answers” to the issue.
Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference, made the comment March 15 after the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) clarified that the Catholic Church does not have the power to give liturgical blessings of homosexual unions, in a statement approved by Pope Francis.

He continued: “In Germany and in other parts of the worldwide Church, there have been discussions for some time about the way in which this teaching and doctrinal development in general can be advanced with viable arguments — on the basis of fundamental truths of faith and morals, progressive theological reflection, and also in openness to more recent results of the human sciences and the life situations of people today. There are no easy answers to questions of this kind.”
CNA Deutsch has previously reported that Bätzing expressed support for same-sex blessings, saying that “we need solutions for this.”
6. Biden administration asks Supreme Court to toss out abortion funding case, By Catholic News Agency, March 15, 2021, 11:00 AM
The Biden administration is asking the Supreme Court to throw out a challenge to restrictions on federal funding of pro-abortion groups, signaling it intends to roll back the restrictions.
In 2019, the Trump administration issued the Title X Protect Life Rule, clarifying that recipients of Title X family planning grants could not refer for abortions and could not be co-located with abortion facilities. Rather than comply with the rule, Planned Parenthood announced its withdrawal from the program later that year, forfeiting an estimated $60 million in annual Title X funding.
The Baltimore mayor and city council, as well as a number of states and pro-abortion groups, challenged the rule in court. While the Fourth Circuit court in September ruled 8-6 against the rule, the Ninth Circuit court upheld the rule in Feb., 2020, in a separate challenge.
In February, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case which is currently scheduled to be argued in the fall of 2021.

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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