1. Cross incorporating service emblems removed on religious grounds, By Mark A. Kellner, The Washington Times, March 21, 2023, Pg. A2 The Department of Veterans Affairs quickly removed a metal cross incorporating emblems of the military branches from public display in its Austin, Texas, VA Clinic roughly 90 minutes after a watchdog group raised a complaint. William Negron, spokesman for the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, told The Washington Times the cross “has been taken down” following a demand letter from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The group said the display violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, agency regulations and Defense Department rules on the use of the emblems. The cross had been affixed to a column in the clinic lobby. It bore the emblems of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, along with the image of a bugler and the words, “Remember Our Veterans.” No other religious symbols were displayed along with the cross.  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/mar/20/texas-va-clinic-removes-remember-our-veterans-meta/__________________________________________________________ 2. Minnesota advances abortion bill to protect out-of-state patients, By Niha Masih, The Washington Post, March 21, 2023, 3:57 AM Minnesota has advanced legislation that would shield local providers and their out-of-state patients from action by states that punish those seeking or providing abortions, as Democratic lawmakers move to establish the state as a Midwestern haven for reproductive rights. If it becomes law, the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act would expand on an executive order issued last year by Gov. Tim Walz (D) that shields abortion patients and providers from other states’ laws. The bill passed Monday by 68 to 62 votes in the state’s Democratic-controlled House and will now need to clear the Senate, where Democrats hold a razor-thin majority. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/03/21/minnesota-abortion-bill/__________________________________________________________ 3. Crime and sin, Pope Francis’ comments on homosexuality raise more questions than answers, By Stephen L. Mikochik, The Washington Times, March 21, 2023, Pg. B2, Opinion In a Jan. 24 Associated Press interview, Pope Francis urged bishops in countries that criminalized homosexual conduct to work for the repeal of such laws. Though he restated the Church’s position that such conduct was a sin, he claimed without elaboration that there was a distinction between a sin and a crime. I agree with His Holiness that bishops should work to repeal such laws, but unlike what happened in America, they should proceed in a way that does not undermine marriage. …  The AP interview raised other questions I will not address here. For example, with homosexuals in mind, Pope Francis affirmed that “God wants us as we are and with the strength that we each fight for our dignity.” Did His Holiness mean dignity regardless of sexual tendencies or dignity to act on such tendencies? Again, when he urged families to create the “framework for … [gay members] to live in peace,” did he mean just “a son or a daughter with homosexual tendencies,” or would he include married couples, even where it might involve formal cooperation with their same-sex unions. Again referring to homosexuals, he stated that he “[didn’t think] anyone should be discriminated against[,]” without distinguishing between just and unjust discrimination, as did the two popes before him and Section 2358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Though a press interview is not the forum for theological analysis, I suspect Pope Francis was following the lead of the Holy Spirit “to make a little confusion” in order “to create harmony” through our striving to resolve, in his words, the “mess.” I hope my thoughts have furthered that harmony and have not worsened the mess. Stephen L. Mikochik is a professor emeritus at Temple Law School and a visiting professor of the Ave Maria Law School. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/mar/20/crime-and-sin-pope-francis-comments-on-homosexuali/__________________________________________________________ 4. Tennessee House OKs narrow abortion exemption bill, By Kimberlee Kruesi and Jonathan Mattise, Associated Press, March 20, 2023, 9:25 PM Tennessee’s GOP-dominant House on Monday advanced legislation that would add a narrow exemption to the state’s strict abortion ban, despite concerns raised by Democrats and medical experts that the bill does not go far enough to protect doctors and pregnant patients. The legislation was drastically reworked from its original version that was introduced just last month after Tennessee’s influential anti-abortion lobbying group came out in opposition. Tennessee Right to Life warned that could face political retribution for voting on a bill that would have allowed doctors to provide abortions based on their “good-faith judgement.” Instead, the legislation advanced Monday allows doctors to use a “reasonable medical judgment” when determining an abortion is necessary to prevent the death of a pregnant patient or to spare her from the irreversible, severe impairment of a major bodily function. Some doctors argue that is a harsher legal standard.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/03/20/tennessee-abortion-republicans/40199132-c786-11ed-9cc5-a58a4f6d84cd_story.html__________________________________________________________ 5. Top Vatican official admits spying on banker’s phone, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra admitted to asking Vatican national police to spy on the director of the Vatican’s primary bank., By The Pillar, March 20, 2023, 6:25 PM The sostituto of the Secretariat of State, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, appeared as a witness before a Vatican City court on Friday, telling judges that he had ordered unsanctioned electronic spying on the phone of the director general of the IOR, the Vatican bank which had rejected a loan application from Peña Parra’s office. Admitting that he ordered electronic “monitoring” of IOR director Gianfranco Mammì, both in Vatican City and in Italy without a court order, raises questions about the operation of the rule of law at the highest levels of the curia, and accountability among Vatican law enforcement personnel.  https://www.pillarcatholic.com/top-vatican-official-admits-unauthorized-spying-on-bankers-phone/__________________________________________________________ 6. Vatican Largely Silent as China Forces Catholics to ‘Adapt to Socialist Society’, For many years, knowledgeable voices have been warning the Vatican about the dangers of Sinicization., By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, March 20, 2023 As the Chinese Communist Party continues to enforce its Sinicization program, placing ever tighter controls on religions and co-opting them to promote Marxist doctrine, the Vatican remains largely silent publicly despite the program’s total incompatibility with the Catholic faith. In an address on March 5 to open China’s National People’s Congress, outgoing Chinese Premier Li Keqiang boasted of how much the Sinicization of religions has been implemented, saying it has been carried out “gradually” and stressing the necessity that the CCP “actively guide religions to adapt to socialist society.” The overall goal of Sinicization is the forcible acculturation and assimilation of Chinese communist culture into society — a program that has led to the brutal persecution of the Islamic Uyghurs in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, as well as minorities in other areas such as Tibet and Inner Mongolia. Meanwhile, authorities in the province of Henan in north-central China, which has the highest percentage of Christians in the country, have been implementing the Sinicization program with zeal, forcing all religious followers to register to worship in churches, mosques, or Buddhist temples. Through a government-created phone app, believers must provide personal details such as name, telephone number, identity card details, permanent residence, occupation and date of birth, Asia News reported March 8. At the same time, state bodies ostensibly representing the interests of the Catholic Church and other civil society interests are merely a cover to rubber stamp such a policy, say China-watchers.  https://www.ncregister.com/news/vatican-largely-silent-as-china-forces-catholics-to-adapt-to-socialist-society__________________________________________________________ 7. Encounter Jesus in the Mass this Easter with this 7-week series offered by the Eucharistic Revival, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, March 20, 2023, 3:36 PM This Easter season the U.S. bishops are inviting old and new Catholics to discover the truth, beauty, and goodness of the Mass through a brand-new reflection series releasing every Thursday from Divine Mercy Sunday to Pentecost, April 13 through May 25. Titled “Beautiful Light: A Paschal Mystagogy” and part of the bishop’s National Eucharistic Revival campaign, the series will feature powerful weekly reflections from some of the nation’s leading Catholic speakers and theologians on the divine mystery of the Mass. “At every age and stage of life, Jesus invites us to discover the joy of friendship with him,” said National Eucharistic Revival spokesperson Sister Alicia Torres, FE, in a Monday press release. “For Catholics, this happens in a most special way during Mass — the source and summit of the Christian life.’” “Many of us haven’t had the chance to really explore the beauty and mystery God invites us into at Mass. That is the goal of [this series], to give every Catholic a chance to go deeper this Easter season,” Torres said. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253897/encounter-jesus-in-the-mass-this-easter-with-this-7-week-series-offered-by-the-eucharistic-revival__________________________________________________________ 8. U.S. bishops: Catholic health care providers shouldn’t perform ‘gender transition’ procedures, By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency, March 20, 2023, 4:00 PM The U.S. Catholic bishops released a statement Monday offering moral guidance for Catholic health care institutions, reiterating that “gender transition” interventions are not to be performed because they do not respect the fact that God has created each person as a unity of body and soul. “The body is not an object, a mere tool at the disposal of the soul, one that each person may dispose of according to his or her own will, but it is a constitutive part of the human subject, a gift to be received, respected, and cared for as something intrinsic to the person,” the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine wrote. “As the range of what we can do expands, we must ask what we should or should not do. An indispensable criterion in making such determinations is the fundamental order of the created world. Our use of technology must respect that order.” To that end, the bishops wrote, “Catholic health care services must not perform interventions, whether surgical or chemical, that aim to transform the sexual characteristics of a human body into those of the opposite sex or take part in the development of such procedures.” https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253898/us-bishops-catholic-healthcare-providers-shouldnt-perform-gender-transition-procedures__________________________________________________________ 9. Maryland Senate passes bill to end statute of limitations for child sex abuse lawsuits, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, March 20, 2023, 4:30 PM Legislation that would end the statute of limitations for lawsuits against entities that are accused of negligence involving incidents of child sexual abuse overwhelmingly passed the Maryland Senate last week. The bill, sponsored by Sen. William C. Smith, D-Montgomery, passed the Senate in a 42-5 vote. The proposed legislation was sent to the House of Delegates, where it has been referred to the Judiciary Committee. The House has already passed a version of the same bill. The Maryland Catholic Conference criticized the bill for its unequal treatment of private groups, Crux reported. The legislation creates a different set of rules for public entities than it does for private entities. The legislation would fully eliminate the statute of limitations for a victim to file a lawsuit related to child sexual abuse against private and public entities. The proposed bill would cap the amount of money that victims could receive but at different levels, depending on whether the lawsuit is filed against a private or a public entity. A victim who sues a public entity, such as a public school, could be awarded up to $890,000, according to the proposed legislation. However, a victim who sues a private entity, such as a Catholic Church, could be awarded up to $1.5 million, which is nearly 70% more than public entities. The legislation would also be retroactive, which means victims could file lawsuits against entities even if the current statute of limitations has already passed. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253900/maryland-senate-passes-bill-to-end-statute-of-limitations-for-child-sex-abuse-lawsuits__________________________________________________________

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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