1. The court’s integrity on trial: Precedent should win in the upcoming abortion case.

By The Washington Post, March 2, 2020, Pg. A18, Editorial

The Supreme Court hears one of its most important oral arguments of the current term on Wednesday, and much more is at stake than policy on the perennially divisive issue — abortion rights — at the heart of the litigation. The court’s integrity itself will be on trial. All Americans, and certainly all nine justices, should favor a ruling consistent with precedent — and the vital principle that constitutional rights do not vary according to which party gets to nominate members of the court.


2. Pope Francis designates Detroit church as a basilica.

By Associated Press, March 1, 2020, 3:10 PM

A Detroit church has been declared a basilica by Pope Francis, a rare honor for a Roman Catholic parish in the U.S., officials announced Sunday.

Ste. Anne Church is one of only 86 churches in the United States, including three in Michigan, to carry the title of Minor Basilica, the Archdiocese of Detroit said.


3. Coughing pope cancels participating in Lenten retreat.

By Associated Press, March 1, 2020, 6:43 AM

A coughing Pope Francis told pilgrims gathered for the traditional Sunday blessing that he is canceling his participation at a week-long spiritual retreat in the Roman countryside because of a cold.

It is the first time in his seven-year papacy that he has missed the spiritual exercises that he initiated early in his pontificate to mark the start of each Lenten season.


4. Argentine president proposes legalizing elective abortions.

By Associated Press, March 1, 2020, 12:21 PM

Argentine President Alberto Fernández announced Sunday that he will send Congress a proposal to legalize voluntary abortion — an initiative that was rejected two years ago.

Argentine law permits abortions in cases of rape or where a mother’s life is at risk.


5. Colombia Weighs Legalizing Abortion, a First for Big Latin American Countries: The potential ruling would represent a milestone in a region where abortion is largely restricted.

By Juan Forero, The Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2020, 5:37 PM

Arguing that abortion endangers the health of women while violating the rights of the fetus, lawyer Natalia Bernal Cano filed suit with this country’s highest court seeking a total ban on the procedure.

The Constitutional Court took her case. But in a twist, the justices may rule as early as Monday to make abortion—currently permitted only in cases of fetal abnormality, rape or if the mother’s health or mental well-being are in danger—legal in all instances. If the court does so, this nation of nearly 50 million will become the largest to openly permit the procedure in Latin America, where 97% of women live in countries where abortion is highly restricted, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a U.S. research group supportive of abortion rights.


6. Fighting abuse in lay movements: Vatican mandates norms, guidelines.

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, March 1, 2020

Organizations, Catholic or not, led by a charismatic leader who is followed uncritically and commands or demands control over members are at risk for cases of physical, sexual and psychological abuse, said Jesuit Father Hans Zollner.

The Vatican office that grants official recognition to international Catholic lay movements and organizations ordered the groups to develop detailed child-protection guidelines and norms for handling allegations of the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.

The Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life has a juridical section led by a canon lawyer and is reviewing the guidelines from the organizations required to file them. The staff of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors is assisting with the process, Farrell said.


7. Catholic leaders call for UK government to end 2-child limit for public benefits.

By Charles Collins, Crux, March 1, 2020

Catholic leaders are urging the UK government to drop a two-child limit on benefits as a new budget is about to be announced.

Introduced in 2017, the policy meant low-income families having a third child or more lost their entitlement to additional support through child tax credit and universal credit, worth £2,780 ($3,500) per child per year. The government said it would save £1 billion ($1.28 billion) over four years, and also would be an incentive for parents on benefits to find work.


8. Math problems aside, a bit of Roman seasoning can be good for priests.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, March 1, 2020, Opinion

For English-speakers, the 7:00 a.m. daily liturgy is organized by the Pontifical North American College, the residence for American seminarians studying in the Eternal City. One of the things that can’t help but strike a visitor is the strong turnout of clergy every morning; while the ratio of priests to lay faithful in the US and Europe overall is about 1-1,300, at the station churches it’s usually more like 1-2 or 1-3.

It’s a reminder of an inescapable truth about Rome: There may be a priest shortage in the rest of the world, but definitely not here.

Overall, almost three-quarters of the Catholics in the world are in the global south, yet more than two-thirds of the Church’s priests are in the global north. Purely in terms of understanding one’s market, that can’t help but seem a dubious allocation of personnel.

Granted, there’s a strong case that some of those priests could be better utilized somewhere else. Nonetheless, experience over the years suggests there are at least three basic reasons why a bit of Roman seasoning often has a positive effect on priests, perhaps especially Americans.

First, it imparts global perspective. Rome is the crossroads of the Catholic world par excellence, where an average day might involve spending time with a talented lay academic from Slovakia, a visiting priest from Nigeria and a lay professional from Bolivia, all of whom have stories to tell about how the faith plays out back home.

Second, spending some time in Rome is also an education in Italian flexibility.

The late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago was fond of saying that Americans may be ecclesiastically Catholic, but they remain culturally Protestant. He meant that the cultural foundations in America include a strong dose of Calvinist rigor, which can translate into American Catholics, including our clergy, coming off as fusspots, insisting on exacting obedience to even minor rules and protocols.

Legendarily, Italians are masters of adaptation.

Third, spending some time in Rome also imparts at least a basic degree of Vatican literacy, which is helpful for American priests who have to go back home and explain to people what in God’s name is going on over here.


9. ‘Contagion of Prayer’: Italian Priests Stoke Devotion in Faithful Isolated by Virus: Clergy are ministering in quarantined towns, using old and new media to raise spirits and encourage a religious perspective on the epidemic.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, February 29, 2020, 9:00 AM

Religious practice has fallen in Italy in recent decades, as it has across Western Europe. Yet the Catholic Church remains a reference point for many in Italy. Particularly in rural and small-town areas, like the parts of northern Italy where coronavirus has infected hundreds of people, the local parish and pastor help form communities’ identities and provide support in times of crisis.

Under restrictions preventing them from ordinary worship and other church activities, priests in northern Italy have continued to minister, even in the quarantined towns. They are using old and new media to keep up spirits and encourage a religious perspective on the epidemic. Some even see an upside: an opportunity for greater reflection and devotion.


10. Pope cancels audiences for third day with apparent cold.

By Associated Press, February 29, 2020, 5:39 AM

Pope Francis canceled official engagements for the third day in a row Saturday as he battled an apparent cold.

The 83-year-old pope, who lost part of a lung to a respiratory illness as a young man, has never canceled so many official audiences or events in his seven-year papacy.


11. Pope tells scandal-marred Legion they still haven’t reformed.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, February 29, 2020, 7:39 AM

Pope Francis told the Legion of Christ religious order Saturday it still has a long road of reform ahead, making clear that 10 years of Vatican-mandated rehabilitation hadn’t purged it of the toxic influences of its pedophile founder.


12. Cardinal Re claims Cardinal Zen is at odds with John Paul II, Benedict XVI on China.

By Catholic News Agency, February 29, 2020, 3:09 PM

The newly-appointed Dean of the College of Cardinals purportedly sent a letter to cardinals Wednesday claiming that the China-Vatican deal deal represents the minds of St. John Paul II and of Benedict XVI, and that Cardinal Zen is mistaken in his opposition to the deal.

An Italian text of the letter from Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dated Feb. 26, was published Feb. 29 by La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana.

“I desire first of all to emphasize that, in their approach to the situation of the Catholic Church in China, there is a profound symphony of the thought and of the action of the last three Pontificates, which — out of respect for the truth — have favored dialogue between the two parties and not contrariety,” Cardinal Re wrote.

“Cardinal Zen has affirmed several times that it would be better to have no Accord than than a ‘bad Accord’. The three last Popes did not share this position and supported and accompanied the drafting of the Accord that, at the present moment, seemed to be the only one possible,” he stated.

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, has been an outspoken opponent of the 2018 agreement between the Vatican and the People’s Republic of China regarding episcopal appointments.


13. Vatican task force offers help to church on abuse prevention.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, February 28, 2020, 8:10 AM

The Vatican is launching a task force of experts to help Catholic dioceses and religious orders develop guidelines to handle cases of sexual abuse by clergy and tend to survivors.

The initiative was proposed last year during Pope Francis’ summit on preventing abuse. It was considered necessary given Catholic leaders in some parts of the world — mostly poor, conflict-marred areas in Africa and Asia — have failed to comply with a 2011 Vatican directive to develop the guidelines.

Task force participants said Friday that the aim is to provide legal expertise and help to dioceses and religious orders that simply don’t have the professional resources or have otherwise neglected to comply with the 2011 directive.


14. Justice Department weighs in on Kentucky religious freedom case.

By Catholic News Agency, February 28, 2020, 3:00 PM

The Department of Justice on Thursday registered its support for the religious freedom case of a Kentucky photographer in a lawsuit over a city anti-discrimination ordinance.


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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