1. Yes, you can protect religious freedom and equality for all simultaneously, The Fairness for All Act is a bill both LGBTQ Americans and faith-based groups can get behind, By Rep. Chris Stewart, Roll Call, March 22, 2021, 6:00 AM, Opinion
Americans are overwhelmingly in agreement that every person deserves their chance at the American Dream, regardless of their race, religion or sexuality.
I recently reintroduced a bill that would move Congress — and America — toward greater unity and bipartisanship. The Fairness for All Act would do three things. First, it would comprehensively protect LGBTQ Americans in the Civil Rights Act. Second, it would comprehensively protect religious individuals and organizations. Third, it would safeguard the important and historical protections of our civil rights laws for racial and ethnic minorities, religious minorities, and women and girls.

The next several months are key to whether we will succeed in passing Fairness for All or a similar measure. President Joe Biden, a religious man, supports a different LGBTQ rights bill, the Equality Act. But that bill does not address legitimate concerns around religious freedom that I and other conservatives share. That’s a missed opportunity and something the sponsors of the Equality Act need to wrestle with.

Utah, my home state, known for its strong religious communities, adopted a law similar to Fairness for All in 2015. It has been a tremendous success. The law has protected religious freedom while at the same time protecting the civil rights of LGBTQ Utahans. It passed the state Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support, and recent polling has shown the law remains extremely popular with Democrats, Republicans and independents. In fact, conservative Utah is now tied with progressive Vermont in polls of public support for legal protections for LGBTQ people.

The time is right for Congress to act and to establish Fairness for All nationwide.
Rep. Chris Stewart is a Republican representing Utah’s 2nd District. He serves on the Appropriations and Intelligence committees.
2. Pope decries shame of racism, like ‘virus’ lurking in wait, By Associated Press, March 21, 2021, 8:23 AM
Pope Francis on Sunday denounced racism, likening it to a virus that lurks in waiting and only to emerge and show that “our supposed social progress is not as real or definitive” as people think.
Francis tweeted on racism on the date that the United Nations marks as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The pope likened racism to a “a virus that quickly mutates and, instead of disappearing, goes into hiding, and lurks in waiting.”
3. Pope decries lack of access to drinking water for many, By Associated Press, March 21, 2021, 8:51 AM
Pope Francis on Sunday urged more efforts to ensure all people have access to drinking water.
Francis lamented that far “too many people have access to (only) a little water and that (which) is possibly polluted.” He encouraged all to “reflect on the value of this marvelous and non-substitutive gift of God,” adding that water “isn’t some good of commerce but “fount of life and of health.”
“It is necessary to assure the everyone has potable water and to hygienic services,’’ Francis said in his traditional Sunday noon remarks to the faithful.
4. Advocates urge transparency in Biden priest investigation, By Associated Press, March 20, 2021, 1:01 AM
A prominent victims advocate group on Friday urged Santa Clara University in Northern California to release details about unspecified allegations against its president, a Jesuit priest who presided over an inaugural Mass for President Joe Biden and is now under investigation.
The university said Thursday that the Rev. Kevin O’Brien allegedly “exhibited behaviors in adult settings, consisting primarily of conversations, which may be inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries.” He is currently on leave from the Catholic university.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, released a statement Friday calling on university officials to be more transparent about the accusations “so as to encourage others who may have experienced similar misconduct to come forward.”

The priest has known Biden for about 15 years, dating back to when he was serving at Georgetown University, and he also presided over services for Biden’s vice presidential inaugurations.
5. Pope Struggles to Contain Conservative-Liberal Tensions in Catholic Church, President Biden’s stance on abortion deepens differences between conservative U.S. bishops and Pope Francis, who also faces pressures in liberal Germany, By Francis X. Rocca and Ian Lovett, The Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2021, 9:00 AM
Pope Francis is struggling to manage powerful bishops in the U.S. and Germany, two groups at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, as he tries to advance his progressive agenda without jeopardizing the unity of the Catholic Church.
The election of President Biden, a progressive Catholic whom some U.S. bishops want to censure for his support of abortion rights, has exacerbated longstanding tensions between the pope and the largely conservative American episcopate. U.S. church leaders have resisted promoting the pope’s priorities of social and economic justice and care for the environment over opposition to abortion and defense of religious freedom.
On the left, the pope is trying to rein in German bishops who—encouraged by the pope’s liberalizing gestures on topics including sexuality, ecumenism and the role of women—are pressing for changes that go further than Pope Francis is comfortable with, and that conservatives warn could cause a schism.
Pope Francis’ most recent attempt to restrain the Germans came in this week’s Vatican document forbidding clergy to bless same-sex unions, a practice supported by some leading German bishops.
6. Vatican pressed on decree limiting Latin Mass in St. Peter’s, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, March 19, 2021, 11:57 AM
A second Catholic cardinal has questioned the legitimacy of a recent decree by the Vatican to restrict the celebration of the old Latin Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and forbid private Masses in its side chapels.
The March 12 circular was written on the letterhead of the Vatican Secretariat of State and carried the initials of its No. 2, Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra.
It immediately raised questions, given the implication that it was an effort to limit the celebration of the Latin Mass favored by traditionalist Catholics who have expressed hostility to Pope Francis.
Francis, for his part, has spoken disparagingly of these “restorationist” Catholics and made clear he prefers the modern liturgy celebrated in the vernacular and with priests facing the congregation.

Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the retired Holy See doctrine chief, said the Secretariat of State had neither the legal nor the theological right to decide such liturgical matters in St. Peter’s. He called the decree “very strange” and said “nobody is obliged to obey it.”

His criticism came after Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former Vatican high court justice and another conservative, also questioned the legitimacy of the decree and called for it to be rescinded.
7. South Carolina judge: Abortions to continue during lawsuit, By Meg Kinnard, Associated Press, March 19, 2021, 12:02 PM
A lawsuit challenging South Carolina’s new ban on most abortions is “likely to succeed,” a judge wrote Friday, ruling that abortions can continue until the lawsuit is resolved.
Siding with a request from Planned Parenthood, the ruling from U.S. District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis essentially mirrors previous piecemeal extensions of an injunction halting the law. Her most recent extension had been set to expire Friday.
Lewis initially suspended the “South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act” on its second day in effect, following a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood.
8. Biden administration moves to resume Title X funding of pro-abortion groups, By Catholic News Agency, March 19, 2021, 6:00 PM
The Biden administration is expected to allow abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, to once again receive federal family planning funding through the Title X program.
On Thursday, the Office of Population Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a statement that it would restore Clinton-era rules for the Title X family planning program.
The agency noted that under the rule implemented in the year 2000, “the program operated successfully for years,” and that its new rule would be “substantively similar” to that rule with “a few definitional updates that account for minor operational changes over the past 20 years.”
The Title X program provides grants for family planning services. Under the 1970 law that established the program, none of the funds can be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.
9. Survey: Catholics in US more aware of Christian persecution, but blind spots linger, By Catholic News Agency, March 19, 2021, 2:01 PM
Catholics in the US are showing more awareness of the problems of Christian persecution worldwide, the pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need has said.
“It is heartening that, compared to a year ago, significantly more U.S. Catholics say that Christian persecution around the world is very grave and that the issue has become a matter of concern to more faithful. They also want both their Church and their government to step up efforts to do more to combat the issue,” George Marlin, chairman of Aid to the Church in Need-USA said March 17.
57% of U.S. Catholics said they think Christian persecution is “very severe” globally, an increase from 41% last year. About 67% said they are “very concerned” about Christian persecution.
Close to 50% of U.S. Catholics said that half or more of religiously-based attacks in the world are directed at Christians. They identified China, North Korea, and Pakistan as countries where Christians face severe persecution.
Some 52% said Pope Francis is “very engaged” on Christian persecution issues, an increase from 47% last year. About 30% said they think their bishop is “very engaged” on this issue, and 28% say their parish is.
Aid to the Church in Need said there were still gaps in respondents’ awareness. Most respondents did not know that in Pakistan in 2020 some 2,000 mainly Christian girls were abducted and threatened with forcible conversion to Islam. They were unaware that in China Christians who go to Mass are digitally surveilled. Also not known was that in Nigeria last year about 3,500 Christians were killed for their faith. In North Korea, identifying as a Christian can be a capital offense.
Marlin said the poll shows “the great need to inform the public regarding specific instances of Christian persecution.”
10. U.S. bishops urge passage of immigration reform bills, By Catholic News Agency, March 19, 2021, 10:00 AM
The U.S. bishops’ conference on Friday praised the House of Representatives for passing two immigration reform bills, and urged the Senate to follow suit.
On Thursday, the House passed the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 1603).
The former bill would grant conditional permanent resident status to eligible immigrants who entered the United States illegally as minors. It would also grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to immigrants from certain countries facing humanitarian crises, protecting them from deportation for a period of time. Among other requirements, immigrants would need to pass a background check to be eligible for permanent resident status.
The latter bill, H.R. 1603, would grant certain protections to immigrants who work in agriculture, as well as to their families.

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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