1. Americans Pull Back From Values That Once Defined U.S., WSJ-NORC Poll Finds, Patriotism, religion and hard work hold less importance, By Aaron Zitner, The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2023, 5:30 AM Patriotism, religious faith, having children and other priorities that helped define the national character for generations are receding in importance to Americans, a new Wall Street Journal-NORC poll finds.  Some 38% of respondents said patriotism was very important to them, and 39% said religion was very important. That was down sharply from when the Journal first asked the question in 1998, when 70% deemed patriotism to be very important, and 62% said so of religion. The share of Americans who say that having children, involvement in their community and hard work are very important values has also fallen. Tolerance for others, deemed very important by 80% of Americans as recently as four years ago, has fallen to 58% since then.  https://www.wsj.com/articles/americans-pull-back-from-values-that-once-defined-u-s-wsj-norc-poll-finds-df8534cd__________________________________________________________ 2. Do not forget this Nicaraguan bishop’s brave stand for human rights, By The Washington Post, March 26, 2023, 7:00 AM, Editorial In February, 222 political dissidents who had been either in prison or house arrest in Nicaragua arrived in the United States, having accepted exile as a condition of their release. One opponent of President Daniel Ortega’s regime refused the deal: Rolando Álvarez, the 56-year-old bishop of Matagalpa, a large town 80 miles northeast of Managua, who had been under house arrest since August. The government promptly declared him guilty of treason and sentenced him to 26 years. He also was stripped of his Nicaraguan citizenship. History records many instances in which religious leaders, including those of the Roman Catholic Church, have resisted the abuses of temporal authority, and have been persecuted for it. Not since Communist Hungary tortured and jailed Cardinal József Mindszenty in the early Cold War, however, has a dictatorship borne down on a single cleric with something like the ferocity Mr. Ortega is visiting upon Bishop Álvarez, whose activism began by opposing ecologically destructive mining projects and expanded to include protests against the government’s human rights violations in general. The persecution of Bishop Álvarez is part of a systematic campaign of repression against the Nicaraguan church, whose leaders have often tried to protect pro-democracy activists and mediate between them and the Ortega regime.  A positive result of Bishop Álvarez’s imprisonment was to shock Pope Francis out of his reluctance to speak forthrightly about the Ortega regime. Perhaps out of an abundance of diplomatic caution, the pope had previously limited himself to vague expressions of concern even after another senior bishop and the Vatican ambassador were ousted last year.  Though an improvement over appeasement, the pope’s confrontational posture is not necessarily more likely to bring about change in Managua, where the regime continues to enjoy the backing of its own police and military, as well as Cuba, Venezuela and Russia. To be sure, the prisoner release in February probably showed that U.S. economic pressure was having some effect, but it’s unclear that stronger measures would get more results without inflicting collateral damage on the second-poorest population in the Western Hemisphere. A March 22 joint hearing of two House Foreign Affairs subcommittees included strong bipartisan denunciation of the regime, especially its treatment of Bishop Álvarez. Keeping this brave man’s name before the public may not be sufficient to liberate Nicaragua, but it is necessary. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/03/26/catholic-bishop-repression-nicaragua/__________________________________________________________ 3. Outgoing Catholic charity chief: Poverty requires more than ‘Band-Aids’, By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, March 26, 2023, 7:00 AM, Interview Fifty years ago this May, a local Bethesda kid named John Enzler was ordained a Catholic priest. He thought he’d work in a parish his whole life. Instead, he shot up the ranks of the Washington Archdiocese, growing into a leader and super-effective fundraiser focused on helping the increasing number of his region’s poor, homeless and hungry. Monsignor Enzler led several big, affluent parishes in the area, worked for the archdiocese and then, 12 years ago, became CEO of Catholic Charities of Washington, which serves some 167,000 people each year in the District and several Maryland counties and is one of the biggest social-services providers in the area. It is also one of the largest of Catholic Charities’ 167 branches around the country. Enzler’s tenure in church and nonprofit leadership coincided with an explosion in the region’s population, a nosedive in the stature of institutional religion — including that of the Catholic Church — and a swelling of the gap between rich and poor. Catholic Charities of Washington is bigger than when he started, now with nearly 1,000 staff working on everything from immigration law to job training and dental care. Its budget was $64 million when he arrived and now, with pro bono services, is slightly more than $100 million. Enzler, a tall pastor with a gentle voice, will step down in June and take on a slower pace, supporting and fundraising for Catholic Charities and serving as a part-time counselor at his alma mater, St. John’s College High School. As he prepares to step down — a gala is planned for April 1, a date he jokingly calls “appropriate” — The Post spoke with him about the region’s social safety net and his belief that people can find spirituality and God in serving others.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2023/03/26/catholic-charities-dc-homelessness-migrants/__________________________________________________________ 4. Pope expands sex abuse law, reaffirms adults can be victims, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, March 25, 2023, 11:02 AM Pope Francis on Saturday updated a 2019 church law aimed at holding senior churchmen accountable for covering up sexual abuse cases, expanding it to cover lay Catholic leaders and reaffirming that vulnerable adults and not just children can be victims of abuse when they are unable to freely consent. With the update, Francis made permanent temporary provisions that were passed in 2019 in a moment of crisis for the Vatican and Catholic hierarchy. The law was praised at the time for laying out precise mechanisms to investigate complicit bishops and religious superiors, even though it amounted to bishops policing fellow bishops without any requirement that civil law enforcement be informed.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/03/25/vatican-sex-abuse/960671b6-cafe-11ed-9cc5-a58a4f6d84cd_story.html__________________________________________________________ 5. Pope Francis accepts resignation of German bishops’ VP, By Luke Coppen, The Pillar, March 25, 2023, 11:54 AM Pope Francis accepted the resignation Saturday of one of Germany’s leading Catholic bishops. The Vatican announced March 25 that the pope had accepted Bishop Franz-Josef Bode’s resignation as head of the Diocese of Osnabrück, in northwestern Germany, but gave no reason for the step. Bode is 72, three years below the age when diocesan bishops are required to offer their resignations to the pope. He is the deputy chairman of the country’s bishops’ conference and one of the four chief organizers of the controversial “synodal way.”  Days after the synodal way’s final plenary meeting on March 9-11, Bode invited same-sex and remarried couples to contact his diocese about receiving blessings after the synodal way endorsed “blessing ceremonies for couples who love each other.”  The move openly defied a 2021 Vatican declaration that “the Church does not have, and cannot have, the power to bless unions of persons of the same sex.”  https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/pope-francis-accepts-resignation__________________________________________________________ 6. Nordic bishops issue letter affirming Church teaching on human sexuality, By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, March 25, 2023, 2:40 AM Bishops from the five Nordic countries have released a letter on the traditional Christian teaching on sexuality, upholding the “embodied integrity of personhood” against modern transgender ideologies. “Now, notions of what it is to be a human, and so a sexual being, are in flux. What is taken for granted today may be rejected tomorrow. Anyone who stakes much on passing theories risks being terribly hurt. We need deep roots,” the eight members of the Nordic bishops’ conference say in the letter, which was released Saturday. “Let us, then, try to appropriate the fundamental principles of Christian anthropology while reaching out in friendship, with respect, to those who feel estranged by them,” they continue. “We owe it to the Lord, to ourselves, and to our world, to give an account of what we believe, and of why we believe it to be true.” The pastoral letter is being read aloud at Masses this weekend at Catholic churches in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland. EWTN Norway provided CNA with a copy of the letter.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253941/nordic-bishops-issue-letter-affirming-church-teaching-on-human-sexuality__________________________________________________________ 7. Pelosi on cleric who barred her from Communion: ‘That’s his problem, not mine’, By Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service, March 24, 2023, 4:50 PM Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a rare public rebuke of her home bishop on Thursday, voicing choice words for Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and other prelates during a wide-ranging interview about the intersection of politics and her Catholic faith. Her remarks came during an event hosted by Georgetown University’s Center on Faith and Justice as part of a “Higher Calling” series focused on the faith of politicians. When Jim Wallis, the center’s executive director, mentioned that people of faith “don’t always agree with the leaders of our church on every matter of policy,” Pelosi referenced tensions between herself and members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as a result of her public advocacy for abortion rights.  Friction between bishops and Catholic Democrats over abortion, which the Catholic Church condemns, eventually spurred at least three other bishops to bar Pelosi from Communion in their dioceses as well. Despite the bans, Pelosi has continued to receive Communion in Washington and took part in the Eucharist while visiting the Vatican last year.  On Thursday, Pelosi said she is “pretty much in sync” with bishops on most other issues but believes some clerics have been willing to “abandon the bulk” of their “social contract” in pursuit of their opposition to abortion.  Pelosi singled out Cordileone again later in the program while responding to a question about her support for LGBTQ rights. She noted the key role the bishop played in the passage of California’s Proposition 8, briefly banning in the state same-sex marriage — which church leaders have decried as outside “God’s plan for marriage and family.” “We’ve had very, very negative anti-LGBTQ stuff coming from our archbishop,” she said, later adding: “He’s made it very clear: Maybe we’re not all God’s children. Maybe we do not have a free will.” Pelosi struck a different tone when discussing Pope Francis, who she intimated has taken a more compassionate approach toward LGBTQ people. She also cited one of his encyclicals — “Laudato Si,” which focuses on climate change — while discussing the need to protect “God’s creation.”  The rest of the interview, which stretched nearly an hour and a half, touched on Pelosi’s personal faith and approach to politics. She noted that her mother wanted her to be a nun, but Pelosi said she was more drawn to the priesthood, particularly the officiating of the Eucharist. “Maybe one day women will be able to do that as well,” she said. “That’s something to think about, and I was hoping the pope would too.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2023/03/24/pelosi-cleric-who-barred-her-communion-thats-his-problem-not-mine/__________________________________________________________ 8. Maryland parents want and need school vouchers, By Brian Jordan, The Washington Post, March 24, 2023, 2:38 PM, Letter to the Editor Regarding the March 20 Metro article “Friction over Md. voucher funding”:No nonpublic school seeks intrusion into the Maryland public school system with the BOOST voucher program. Most of my parishioners’ children attend public schools in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Yes, we want public schools to succeed, as much as we want a number of families to have school choice through the voucher program. BOOST’s full $10 million out of Maryland Gov. Wes Moore’s (D) proposed state budget of more than $63 billion is a reasonable request, and it should not be cut by 20 percent, as Mr. Moore proposed. Full funding is consistent with the governor’s mantra of leaving no child behind. Recent statistics indicate that there are 76 school choice programs in 32 states and D.C. and Puerto Rico. These programs allow parents to send their children to private or charter schools, including Catholic and Jewish schools, through tax credits, vouchers and scholarships when they otherwise might not be able to afford it. Mr. Moore’s stance is surprising. He has promoted charter schools and nonpublic schools. Now he wants to gradually eliminate funding for them in Maryland? As a pastor and a labor priest who has served among labor unions for 40 years, I am surprised that Maryland would even consider the elimination of school choice. The writer is canonical administrator of St. Francis International School. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/03/24/maryland-parents-school-choice-boost/__________________________________________________________ 9. NY’s power to regulate religious schools trimmed by judge, By Michael Hill, Associated Press, March 24, 2023, 2:11 PM Parents cannot be required to pull their children from private schools in New York that fail to meet state-designated standards, a judge decided, striking down a key provision of rules recently passed to strengthen oversight of such schools, including those specializing in religious education. The ruling in a state trial court in Albany came in response to a lawsuit brought by ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools, called yeshivas, and related advocacy groups over education rules enacted last fall. Under the rules, the state’s 1,800 private and religious schools must provide an education that is “substantially equivalent” to that of a public school. Opponents in the ultra-Orthodox community say the rules improperly target yeshivas, some of which focus intently on religious instruction with far less teaching in secular subjects such as English, math and science.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/03/24/religious-schools-yeshivas-court-new-york/05262b40-ca64-11ed-9cc5-a58a4f6d84cd_story.html__________________________________________________________ 10. Texas bishops support plan to give families tuition credits to spend on private or parochial schools, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, March 24, 2023, 11:08 AM Catholic bishops in Texas are all-in advocating for parental school choice in the state Legislature this spring.  “St. Paul VI spoke well of the Catholic Church’s understanding of education. He said, ‘Parents, who have the primary and inalienable right and duty to educate their children, must enjoy true liberty in their choice of schools.’ Therefore, parental choice continues to be a top priority of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops,” Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth said in a video released Monday.   A bill introduced by state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, would establish an education savings account program to allow parents to receive some of their tax dollars back to help pay for the educational institution of their choice. This would allow more Catholic parents to be able to better afford to enroll their children in a Catholic or private school or home-school.  In Iowa earlier this year, Catholic bishops hailed the passage of a school choice bill as a boon for Catholic schools. That state’s bill would allow students to put $7,598 in an educational savings account to be spent at any private or parochial school.   https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253931/texas-bishops-support-plan-to-give-families-tuition-credits-to-spend-on-private-or-parochial-schools__________________________________________________________ 11. This Florida approach to an alarming teen crisis is a paradigm shift, Florida first lady Casey DeSantis has spearheaded an exciting new approach for troubled teens, By Grazie Pozo Christie, Fox News, March 23, 2023, 8:00 AM The Centers for Disease Control’s recent report on teen mental health should greatly alarm every American. While adults have been bowed down by the many challenges we’ve collectively faced these last few years, our young people have been utterly crushed.  In 2021, a full 42 percent of high school students experienced depression, or persistent feelings of sadness, and 22 percent seriously considered suicide. In Florida, bipartisan consensus has emerged addressing this very grave crisis with some bold new initiatives.   Schools in Florida now offer a training program for students and teachers called Teen Mental Health First Aid, so they can not only understand and recognize “symptomatic behavior” in teens but also know how to help the sufferer and direct them to a responsible adult for care. This program creates ready “first responders” for teens facing mental health challenges or even a crisis.  How many times do we have to read in the aftermath of a teen suicide that friends noticed some worrisome behaviors but didn’t know what to say or do? This program has been proven to help. On a macro level, Florida first lady Casey DeSantis has spearheaded an exciting new approach based on a “healthy kid” model. Its premise is that young people will inevitably face grave challenges and that those who are “resilient” will be better able to surmount these challenges – and not only survive them but even emerge stronger than before. This mental health initiative also proposes that resilience can be taught and fostered. This is a paradigm shift – one that has bipartisan backing in Florida. From my perspective as a physician and mother of five children who have had to navigate the shifting sands of modern teen life, it is exactly the right one.  To counter the despair that too often leads to suicidal ideation, the Toolkit also teaches hope. Yes, the desire for great and good things – and the effervescent feeling of anticipation that comes with confident expectation of better tomorrows – are mental muscles that can be exercised and made strong. The world has always been a complicated and sometimes dark place. Today is no exception. We can’t solve all the problems that our young people face, but we can learn to react quickly when they fall into trouble. And Florida’s Resilience Instruction is a promising attempt at building into teens the character traits and mental dispositions that will protect them when facing life’s inevitable challenges. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/florida-approach-alarming-teen-crisis-paradigm-shift__________________________________________________________

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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