1. Debt Encumbers Aspirants to Religious Orders, By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2022, Pg. A3

MacLean Andrews has raised more than $20,000 from friends, family members and strangers in an effort to pay off his student debt and join a Catholic religious order.

Mr. Andrews is raising money to try to pay off his student debt via letters, phone conversations, Zoom calls and face-to-face meetings with the help of a nonprofit called the Labouré Society. It is one of at least three in the U.S. dedicated to helping people who aspire to serve in Catholic religious orders but first need to find a way to pay off the loans they accumulated in college.

Not all religious orders require college degrees but most aspirants in the U.S. have them, as well as experience in secular jobs.

A study released in January by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University found that 6% of men and women who made a permanent commitment to a religious order in the U.S. last year had delayed their application because of educational debt. The average delay was four years and the average amount of debt was $41,000, up from two years and $19,500 in 2012, according to CARA.

Groups such as Labouré say the problem is actually much bigger, because the survey doesn’t count people who give up during the years long process of reflection, called discernment, that precedes joining a religious order, or are deterred from even starting that process.


2. Inside the plan to create an abortion refuge for a post-Roe era, Abortion providers in blue-state Illinois are laying the groundwork for an influx of patients from states poised to ban abortion if the Supreme Court overturns its landmark precedent, By Caroline Kitchener, The Washington Post, March 28, 2022, 5:00 AM

Attached to an abortion clinic on the Missouri-Illinois border, this first-of-its-kind call center offers a window into the splintered future of abortion care in the United States if the Supreme Court decides this summer to roll back Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. Since the call center opened in December, Ball and her colleagues have been laying the groundwork to turn their operation into a blue-state abortion refuge for patients from across the South and Midwest, whose more conservative home states are poised to restrict abortion access if Roe falls.

The emerging red-blue abortion map has prompted a new level of tactical maneuvering — with abortion providers envisioning a proliferation of clinics a stone’s throw from red-state territory and conservative lawmakers exploring measures to prevent abortion patients from crossing state lines for care.

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe in June — and 13 states immediately ban abortion through “trigger laws” already on the books — the abortion clinics here expect to be inundated with calls from all over the country. Six additional states are considering trigger bans this year, while 13 others have introduced measures that mirror the restrictive Texas law.


3. Canada Indigenous tell pope of abuses at residential schools, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, March 28, 2022,7:49 AM

Indigenous leaders from Canada and survivors of the country’s notorious residential schools met with Pope Francis on Monday and told him of the abuses they suffered at the hands of Catholic priests and school workers, in hopes of securing a papal apology from him and a commitment by the church to repair the harm done.

“While the time for acknowledgement, apology and atonement is long overdue, it is never too late to do the right thing,” Cassidy Caron, president of the Metis National Council, told reporters in St. Peter’s Square after the audience.

This week’s meetings, postponed from December because of the pandemic, are part of the Canadian church and government’s efforts to respond to Indigenous demands for justice, reconciliation and reparations — long-standing demands that gained traction last year after the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves outside some of the schools.


4. Ex-Albany bishop acknowledges covering up abuse allegations, By Associated Press, March 28, 2022

The former bishop of the Diocese of Albany has acknowledged covering up allegations of sexual abuse against children by priests in part to avoid scandal and protect the reputation of the diocese.

Howard J. Hubbard made the admission during a deposition taken last year as part of a response to dozens of claims filed under New York’s Child Victims Act. A judge ordered the deposition released on Friday.

Hundreds of people have sued the Albany diocese over sexual abuse they say they endured as children, sometimes decades ago.


5. More houses of worship are reopening, but attendance is flat, survey finds, By Yonat Shimron, The Washington Post, March 26, 2022, Pg. B2

Across the country, religious congregations have reopened, or reopened with some health restrictions still in place, after two pandemic years, according to a new Pew Research survey.

But there has been little or no rise in the number of people attending in-person religious services over the past six months, while the number of those watching services online also has remained steady.

The survey of 10,441 U.S. adults taken March 7-13 showed that only 27 percent of respondents said they attended services in person this month compared with 67 percent who typically do. Back in September, when the coronavirus was still surging and hospitals were reaching capacity numbers, the percentage of those attending in-person religious services was 26 percent.

Likewise, those streaming services online remained steady: 28 percent in September 2021 and 30 percent today.


6. Pope Condemns War, but Remains Neutral, By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2022, Pg. A6

Pope Francis celebrated a liturgy for peace between Russia and Ukraine, lamenting the “vicious war that has overtaken so many people and caused suffering to all…this cruel and senseless war that threatens our world,” in his most high-profile gesture yet to deplore the conflict while maintaining his neutrality.

The ceremony on Friday in St. Peter’s Basilica, which the pope asked Catholic bishops and their flocks around the world to join in through prayer, was marked by tension between his sympathy for what he called “our defenseless Ukrainian brothers and sisters” under bombardment and his continuing refusal to explicitly name Russia as the aggressor.

Pope Francis’ neutrality has its roots in Vatican tradition but also reflects his particular agenda, which includes better relations with the Russian Orthodox Church and a wariness of identifying the Vatican with U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. and its European allies are supporting Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion with military aid and economic sanctions on Russia.


7. Amendment on abortion doesn’t advance in Maryland, By Brian Witte, Associated Press, March 25, 2022

A proposal to enshrine the right to abortion in the Maryland Constitution failed to advance in the Maryland Senate on Friday, though other measures to expand access to providers moved forward.

After legislation received preliminary approval in the Senate to expand abortion access in the state, Senate President Bill Ferguson said those measures would be “the only time we take up this issue this session.”


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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!

“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.