1. Trump Will Decide His Abortion Stance Soon, By Alex Leary, The Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2024, Pg. A4 Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said he would make a decision soon on where he stands on federal abortion limits, aiming for a middle ground that would protect access earlier in a pregnancy but bar later procedures for women nationwide. On abortion, Trump is staking out a position on a contentious issue that has been blamed for weaker-than-expected performances by Republicans in recent elections, as Democrats rallied to the polls to protect abortion access in the wake of a 2022 Supreme Court ruling that ended the right to the procedure.  Trump was asked in the Fox News interview about a New York Times report that he was settling on a ban after 16 weeks of pregnancy and whether that would be politically acceptable. “We’re going to find out and pretty soon I’m going to be making a decision,” Trump said, without confirming that specific number. “I would like to see if we could make both sides happy.” Trump said he believes in exceptions for rape and incest and to save the life of the mother. “You have to go with the exceptions. And the number of weeks, I’ll be coming up with a recommendation fairly soon,” he said.  https://www.wsj.com/politics/elections/trump-nears-decision-on-abortion-stance-aims-to-make-both-sides-happy-433b0904__________________________________________________________ 2. Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church Talks War, the Pope, and Same-Sex Blessings, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk spoke with EWTN at the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family in Washington, D.C., By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, March 18, 2024 In an exclusive interview with EWTN News, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, spoke of the continued need for humanitarian aid in his country and discussed Pope Francis’ peace efforts and the recent controversy over same-sex blessings. The Ukrainian patriarch was in the U.S. for a week of meetings with public officials and Church leaders to foster renewed support for Ukraine. He spoke with EWTN at the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family in Washington, D.C. Archbishop Shevchuk emphasized his gratitude to the American people for their support but voiced concern that the U.S. could be tiring of helping Ukraine. He pleaded: “Please don’t give up Ukraine.”  Archbishop Shevchuk said there is a great desire among the people of Ukraine for Pope Francis to visit the country and that they “are praying” for him to come soon. Despite this, Archbishop Shevchuk admitted that the Vatican’s neutrality in the wake of the war “was not very well received in Ukraine in the beginning, because how can somebody be neutral when there is an aggressor who is killing us constantly each day?”  Archbishop Shevchuk said the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has no plans to implement or further discuss the Vatican document Fiducia Supplicans, which allows “nonliturgical blessings” for homosexual couples. The Ukrainian Church was the first Eastern Church under Rome to declare that the document would not be implemented in its jurisdiction. Shortly after the document’s release, Archbishop Shevchuk issued a statement in which he said that because the document “does not address questions of Catholic faith or morality, does not refer to any prescriptions of the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches, and does not mention Eastern Christians,” it “applies exclusively to the Latin Church and has no legal force for the faithful of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.”  https://www.ncregister.com/cna/head-of-the-ukrainian-catholic-church-talks-war-the-pope-and-same-sex-blessings__________________________________________________________ 3. Vatican Observatory publishes new method to better understand the Big Bang theory, By Diego López Marina, Catholic News Agency, March 18, 2024, 8:00 AM Two priests and cosmologists from the Vatican Observatory have made further progress in developing a new mathematical method to understand the Big Bang theory, which describes the first moments of the universe. In a 2022 article published in the prestigious journal Physical Review D, Fathers Gabriele Gionti, SJ, and Matteo Galaverni introduced the new and promising mathematical tool. They have recently published a new article in the European Physical Journal C, a publication that presents novel research results in theoretical physics and experimental physics. “It really is fascinating to try to understand the physical laws in the early moments of the universe. The search for new physical laws and the effort to fully understand them is a process that fills our minds and hearts with great joy,” the priests said in a Vatican Observatory publication released March 14. The observatory’s statement points out that Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which postulates that gravity is the curvature of space-time rather than a force as proposed by Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity, remains the best physical theory “for understanding the large-scale structure of the universe today.” However, there are still unresolved questions about the laws of physics during the first moments of the universe and about how gravity works on extremely small scales, which can be studied using quantum mechanics.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/257109/vatican-observatory-priests-develop-new-method-to-better-understand-big-bang-theory__________________________________________________________ 4. Vatican cardinal hints at possible rethink on two-state solution in Middle East, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, March 18, 2024 A top cardinal and leading papal diplomat has said that amid the ongoing war in Gaza, peace in the Holy Land requires a change of mentality in which both sides recognize and respect each other’s right to exist, regardless of whether there is one state or two. “I don’t know if two states are better than one, integrated,” said Italian Cardinal Fernando Filoni, a veteran diplomat and currently Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Asked whether the two-state solution was still a viable option, Filoni said, “I can’t say,” and added that predicting the potential outcome of such a solution is difficult, because “they are two realities that live in the same territory.” The Vatican has long insisted on a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, a position reaffirmed recently by Pope Francis in an interview with an Italian media outlet. Filoni’s comments represent one of the first hints that at least some in the Vatican may be rethinking that stance.  https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-middle-east/2024/03/vatican-cardinal-hints-at-possible-rethink-on-two-state-solution-in-middle-east__________________________________________________________ 5. Skiing priests illustrate the ‘rest of the story’ about the Catholic Church, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, March 17, 2024, Opinion To invoke a medical analogy, journalism rarely delivers a whole-body scan when it covers a subject. A news report is more akin to a targeted x-ray, focused on whatever part of the body is creating the biggest problem at the moment – great for identifying a specific ailment, not so much for capturing a patient’s overall state of health. More or less randomly, that thought comes to mind in light of a March 11-12 skiing competition for priests from the Alpine regions of Italy, France and Switzerland, which took place this year in the Italian resort city of Courmayeur, nestled at the foot of the towering Monte Bianco. By all accounts, the roughly 35 clerics who took part thoroughly enjoyed themselves, as did townspeople and visitors enchanted by the spectacle. To judge from most journalism on the Catholic Church, you wouldn’t know such moments were even possible. Recent Catholic headlines have focused on sources of heartburn such as a Vatican document approving the blessing of same-sex unions, comments from Pope Francis calling on Ukraine to wave a white flag in its war with Russia, and excerpts from a new papal autobiography in which, among other things, he takes aim at his critics. The cumulative impression can be that Catholicism is basically a battlefield, with opposing camps fighting each other continually. Yet the ski contest, which is just one tiny example among countless others, captures an important corollary: Sure, the Church has its problems and tensions, but despite them, most Catholics, much of time, actually are having a blast. Walk into most parishes, rectories, seminaries, or other Catholic venues, and you won’t find a debating society or a MMA octagon cage – you’ll find family, with all the pathos but also all the joy it implies. Think of it as the Hillaire Belloc rule: “Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, there’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so, Benedicamus Domino!” All of which brings us to the March 11-12 “Alfred Delavay Challenge,” which featured a cross-country race, a downhill slalom contest, and a combined event, involving deacons, priests, and even a bishop from Switzerland, France and Italy, all of which share an Alpine border. The competition dates from 1962, making this the 62nd edition. The event began with a Mass celebrated by Italian Bishop Giovanni Ambrosio, who retired from the Diocese of Piacenza in 2020, but who, at 80 years old, still strapped on his skis and took part in the race – though he admitted his goal wasn’t so much to win as to make sure that his old-fashioned wineskin, which he was carrying to sip on between events, came through unscathed.  Does the “Alfred Delavay Challenge” represent news? Maybe not, at least in the classic sense. However, if you want to understand the Catholic Church – and I mean the whole experience of the Church, not simply the elements that drive social media, cable TV talk segments, and snarky commentary – then you can’t overlook what happened last week at Monte Bianco, and the innumerable other moments of good cheer that percolate at all levels. Yes, Catholic life is marked by endless tension, resentment and scandal, and no responsible coverage can pretend it’s not so. Yet it’s equally irresponsible, and misleading, to style all that as the whole story – because, let’s remember, laissez les bons temps rouler is also an eminently Catholic sentiment. https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2024/03/skiing-priests-illustrate-the-rest-of-the-story-about-the-catholic-church__________________________________________________________ 6. Ireland’s Snakes of Secularization, Hope of a spiritual rebirth has not been extinguished in the land of St. Patrick., By National Catholic Register, March 17, 2024, Editorial There is a very understandable desire among the faithful in Ireland — and elsewhere — to interpret this month’s rejection by Irish voters of a pair of “woke” constitutional amendments as a decisive Catholic inflection point. According to this narrative, the unexpected and overwhelming rejection of these amendments represents a watershed moment in terms of reversing the tide of secularization that has washed over Irish society in recent decades. Unfortunately, that’s probably untrue. What happened instead this month is that the large majority of Irish voters, secular and religious alike, correctly judged that the two proposed amendments to the Republic of Ireland’s Constitution were “solutions” to problems that exist only in the minds of the progressive activists who were primarily responsible for pushing forward the amendments. The first amendment would have deleted an existing element of the Irish Constitution that constructively emphasizes the societal importance of at-home mothers. Yet the reality on the ground is that the large majority of Irish women — just like their sisters in other developed countries — want their national government to provide more support to allow them to stay home and raise children, not less. It was obvious to anyone not blinded by progressive ideology that the amendment would not advance this widely shared aspiration. Instead, it would have entrenched the radical feminist perspective that views promotion of motherhood as oppression, not as an asset. Similarly, with respect to the second amendment that would have widened the constitutional definition of the family to include other “durable relationships,” as well as marriage, voters understood the agenda in play wasn’t to make Irish society more inclusive towards same-sex couples and other groupings that depart from the traditional definition of the family. Like it or not, that’s already happened in Ireland. Voters could readily discern that what social radicals were really seeking was the institutionalization of their own hostile attitude toward families headed by a man and woman joined in marriage — ignoring the positive and foundational role these families continue to play in the lives of most Irish people. But the hostility of voters toward the progressive inanities expressed by both amendments can’t be taken as a sign that secularism is now generally on the wane in Ireland — or that a concomitant rebirth of Catholic faith is broadly underway. The outcome of other recent referenda establishes that strong public support now exists in Ireland for so-called abortion rights and for same-sex “marriage,” in both cases in direct contradiction to what the Church teaches about an issue of fundamental moral importance. Alongside a multitude of other indices, these electoral outcomes communicate just how far contemporary Ireland has strayed from its profound historical attachment to the tenets of Christian faith.  What’s required today in Ireland is the same thing that’s needed throughout the secularized societies of the West: sprouts from the seeds of the New Evangelization, generating holy and faithful disciples — both lay and clerical — who are willing to proclaim the Good News of Christ through their actions and words, no matter what the personal cost. Such disciples are in fact already at work, often unnoticed by secular eyes but never without impact upon the hearts and minds of the people whose lives they lovingly touch. We should recall that in St. Patrick’s own time, it was his saintly witness that legendarily was responsible for driving the snakes permanently out of Ireland. And it’s the saints of the present day who are the instruments that God intends to use to shoo away the contemporary snakes of secularization that beset our world today. https://www.ncregister.com/commentaries/ireland-s-snakes-of-secularization__________________________________________________________ 7. A Renaissance Fixer-Upper, Saving Michelangelo’s Dome, By Cammy Brothers, The Wall Street Journal, March 16, 2024, Pg. C11, Book Review Among the innumerable pleasures of traveling in Europe, one of the most satisfying involves gazing up at the magnificent domes of the Continent’s cathedrals and mosques. It’s a wonder any of these structures have remained standing. Hagia Sophia has collapsed four times, and is frequently enveloped in scaffolding. In 1545 the ceiling vaults of Venice’s newly constructed Marciana Library caved in, landing its architect in jail. Many of these edifices were built before the rigorous methods of modern engineering were established, relying more on imprecise intuition than proven principle. In “Saving Michelangelo’s Dome: How Three Mathematicians and a Pope Sparked an Architectural Revolution,” Wayne Kalayjian, a civil and structural engineer who lectures at the University of Southern California, provides a lively account of the construction and repair of the dome of St. Peter’s. It is an episodic and complex story that takes place over several centuries, and encompasses the founding of the new church in 1506; the design of the dome by Michelangelo around 1550; the dome’s construction, after Michelangelo’s death in 1564, by Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana; the development of an alarming number of cracks over the next centuries; and, as the book’s central focus, the dome’s restoration in the 1750s. This is Mr. Kalayjian’s first book, but he is a natural writer, and his authority on matters of engineering lends clarity to a difficult topic.  The book’s central claim is that, in the course of solving the vexing problem of cracks in the dome that threatened imminent collapse, the three mathematicians effectively founded the field of modern engineering. As obvious as it may seem to us now in an atmosphere of burgeoning interest in math and science, the idea of inviting mathematicians to look for creative solutions was by no means an obvious one in the 18th century.  https://www.wsj.com/arts-culture/books/saving-michelangelos-dome-review-looking-up-in-rome-d103836e__________________________________________________________ 8. Abortion story from wife of Nevada Senate hopeful reveals complexity of issue for GOP candidates, By Gabe Stern, Associated Press, March 16, 2024, 12:15 PM Last month, when the wife of a Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Nevada talked candidly about the abortion she had before the two met — and the long journey of regret and healing that followed — many Republicans welcomed it as a more compassionate approach to an issue that has hurt GOP candidates at the ballot box. But with Democrats nationally eying abortion rights as key to their prospects in the November election, from the presidency all the way down the ballot, Sam Brown’s evolving tone on abortion, particularly in choosing to publicly revisit his wife Amy’s story and oppose a national abortion ban, hints at just how complicated the fight over abortion rights could become for GOP candidates this fall. In Nevada, the Browns’ story could be a factor in a competitive June 11 primary for a seat that Republicans view as a pivotal pickup opportunity. It also shows how abortion could be decisive in determining which party controls the U.S. Senate, where Democrats now hold a 51-49 majority but have many more seats on the line this year.  https://apnews.com/article/brown-abortion-texas-nevada-senate-roe-wade-81bf8c872d0219fad5d6d3da9c576e23

__________________________________________________________ 9. Amid boom times, Las Vegas becoming a model of ‘intentional Catholicism’, By John Lavenburg, Crux, March 16, 2024 When Father Sean Dresden addressed the St. John Paul II Parish faithful for the first time as founding pastor, during a Mass held at a Henderson, Nevada high school, he emphasized that the physical location of their worship wasn’t really essential. “The heart of my message is that we’re not necessarily building a building, we’re building a community,” Dresden told Crux. “I’m a firm believer in providence, and whether it’s three years or 15 years before we get a building, the important thing is the people, the community that we’re going to build, and the message of the gospel that we’re going to share.” The first Mass for St. John Paul II Parish was March 3, and right now it has about 400 parishioners, which Dresden said “is a wonderful start.” With the growth of the area, it projects to have about 3,500 families by the time a new church building is opened in what Dresden said will hopefully be three to five years. St. John Paul II Parish is the first new parish to open since Las Vegas was elevated to an archdiocese by Pope Francis last May. Its projected growth, and Dresden’s emphasis on building a community, is a microcosm of what’s taking place across the archdiocese. Archbishop George Leo Thomas of Las Vegas told Crux that the archdiocese currently has seven building projects underway, including a new chapel in the student center at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. The other six projects are either new facilities or expansions to existing structures, both multipurpose and church buildings. Thomas said they’re also targeting land in the north end of Las Vegas, where there is also considerable growth. The archdiocese now has 34 parishes, including St. John Paul II Parish, across the five counties it covers. Thomas estimates the archdiocese has 800,000 to a million Catholics, and with the growth of the city of Las Vegas itself and the surrounding suburbs, Thomas surmised that the archdiocese could add another 10,000 parishioners on an annual basis for the foreseeable future.  https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2024/03/amid-boom-times-las-vegas-becoming-a-model-of-intentional-catholicism__________________________________________________________ 10. A Catholic activist in Belarus is handed a 3-year sentence as a crackdown on dissent intensifies, By Yuras Karmanau, Associated Press, March 15, 2024, 2:17 PM A Catholic activist in Belarus was handed a three-year prison sentence Friday on charges that Western diplomats have denounced as politically driven, the latest move in the authorities’ sweeping crackdown on the country’s civil society. Uladzislau Beladzed, 33, who taught the catechism at the city’s Cathedral of the Holy Name of the Saint Virgin Mary, was convicted on charges of insulting the president and inciting social discord. Beladzed actively participated in protests sparked by a 2020 vote that handed another term to Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko and was denounced by the opposition and the West as rigged. Belarusian authorities responded to the massive demonstrations with a sweeping crackdown that saw more than 35,000 people arrested and thousands beaten by police. Beladzed was detained by police at rallies on several occasions. He went on to support the country’s movement for free elections, and, after the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, he publicly prayed for peace. During the protests, some Catholic and Protestant churches provided shelter and support to demonstrators. Catholic and Protestant clergy who supported the protests and sheltered demonstrators at their churches became targets of repression, but even some Orthodox priests condemned the crackdown. About 80% of Belarus’ population of 9.5 million are Orthodox Christians. Around 14% are Catholics, living mainly in the country’s western, northern, and central regions, while a further 2% belong to Protestant churches.  https://apnews.com/article/belarus-lukashenko-crackdown-34823675cc1dd832307db874373d05d8

__________________________________________________________ 11. Bulgarians pay their last respects to the late Orthodox patriarch, By Associated Press, March 15, 2024, 10:06 AM Thousands of Orthodox Christians from across Bulgaria flocked to Sofia’s main Alexander Nevski Cathedral on Friday to pay their respects to their late spiritual leader, Patriarch Neophyte, who died Wednesday at the age of 78.Neophyte, who became patriarch in 2013, was the first head of the Bulgarian church to be chosen after the fall of Communism in 1989. He died in a hospital in Sofia after a long illness.  Neophyte was widely acclaimed for his diplomatic skills in resolving internal conflicts among the senior clergy, as well as maintaining good relations with other churches and denominations. With the charisma of a modest and well-tempered leader, Neophyte won respect among the faithful. He publicly welcomed Pope Francis during the pontiff’s visit to Sofia in 2019, a major gesture of reconciliation between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches but which was seen by other senior figures in the Bulgarian Church as “an attack on Orthodoxy.” In a statement, the Bulgarian Catholic church praised Neophyte’s “sincere brotherly Christian love” for the Bulgarian Catholic community.  https://apnews.com/article/bulgaria-orthodox-patriarch-memorial-service-mourning-neophyte-bb9d104f677496cacbfe30a65c198d70

__________________________________________________________ 12. Hong Kong’s draconian National Security Law won’t affect seal of confession, diocese says, By Matthew Santucci, Catholic News Agency, March 15, 2024, 4:30 PM The Diocese of Hong Kong on Friday issued a statement that the seal of confession would not be violated under the new National Security Law, legislation that grants greater latitude to prosecute crimes of treason and foreign political interference. “With regard to the legislation of Article 23 on safeguarding national security, the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong recognizes that as a citizen, it has obligation to national security,” the March 15 statement said.  In the brief statement, released on Friday, the Diocese of Hong Kong stated that the legislation will not alter the confidential nature of confession (the sacrament of reconciliation) of the Church. According to diocesan figures, the Catholic population of Hong Kong — a city of 7.5 million — is 392,000.  The new 212-page homegrown National Security Law, also known as Article 23 of the Basic Law — the constitutional document guaranteeing Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy under Chinese rule — is the latest attempt to curtail civil liberty and crack down on crimes against national security, including treason, espionage, external interference, and disclosure of state secrets.   The proposed legislation, unveiled on March 8, comes after a four-week-long consultation period, culminating in a 220-page summary report. The new legislation carries up to life imprisonment for treason, while failure to disclose treason committed by others carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. It includes a provision to protect attorneys from being charged with treason but does now allow clergy the same protection.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/257113/diocese-says-hong-kongs-draconian-national-security-law-won-t-affect-seal-of-confession__________________________________________________________ 13. French Bishops Condemn Macron’s Assisted Suicide Bill, Reims Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort condemned the president’s proposal in a recent interview., By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, March 15, 2024 Several French Catholic bishops this week roundly condemned a recently announced proposal by the country’s government to legalize the practice of assisted suicide. French President Emmanuel Macron announced last week that the French Parliament in May would examine a proposal to legalize “aid-in-dying” throughout the country. Macron in an interview with the Catholic newspaper La Croix described the measure as “a law of fraternity” that “reconciles the autonomy of the individual and the solidarity of the nation.” The law “opens the possibility of asking for help in dying under certain strict conditions,” the president said. Reims Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort condemned the president’s proposal in an interview with La Croix. “Calling a text that opens the door to both assisted suicide and euthanasia a ‘law of fraternity’ is a deception,” the archbishop told La Croix. “Such a law, whatever one may desire, will shift our entire health care system toward death as a solution.” Tours Archbishop Vincent Jordy likewise criticized Macron’s description of the proposed law, arguing that fraternity “means taking care of others, it means supporting them until the end, especially when they are weak and fragile.”  https://www.ncregister.com/cna/french-bishops-condemn-macron-s-assisted-suicide-bill__________________________________________________________ 14. Synod announces new study groups, ‘permanent forum’ on synodality, By Michelle La Rosa, The Pillar, March 14, 2024, 6:50 PM Pope Francis announced on Thursday the creation of 10 new study groups, which will meet in coming months to discuss topics raised in the first global session of the Synod on Synodality. The work of the study groups will stretch beyond the October synod gathering in Rome, extending the already-lengthened synod process that began with local consultations and listening sessions in 2021. While the study groups will give a brief report on their work at global synod gathering this October, they are not expected to conclude their work until at least June 2025. Meanwhile, the second global gathering of the Synod on Synodality, to be held in Rome this October, will narrow its focus to the question of “How to be a synodal Church on mission?” The General Secretariat of the Synod has also announced that it will create a “permanent Forum” on synodality in the Church, “to deepen the theological, juridical, pastoral, spiritual and communicative aspects of the Church’s synodality.” The permanent forum will function “at the service of the synodal process in a broader sense” and will work to explore “the terminological and conceptual understanding of the notion and practice of synodality.”  In conjunction with the pope’s letter, the General Secretariat of the Synod released on Thursday an outline for the questions which the new study groups will consider, in collaboration with the dicasteries of the Roman Curia. Some of the synod’s most controversial topics – including the question of the female diaconate and discernment of ethical anthropological issues – are included in the questions for discussion by the study groups, meaning they will not be the focus of discussion at the Vatican gathering in October. One study group will be asked to “reinterpret the traditional categories of anthropology, soteriology and theological ethics with a view to better clarifying the relationship between charity and truth in fidelity to Jesus’s life and teaching, and consequently also between pastoral care and (moral) doctrine.” The outline cites the need to “better articulate the circular relationship between doctrine and pastoral care.” It quotes the Synthesis Report, which states that “Sometimes the anthropological categories that we have elaborated are not sufficient to grasp the complexity of the elements that emerge from experience or from the knowledge of the sciences and require refinement and further study.”  https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/synod-announces-new-study-groups__________________________________________________________

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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