1. Framing the debate over sex abuse and the seal of the confessional, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, March 28, 2023, Opinion It’s entirely possible that by the time this article appears, Father James Connell of Milwaukee, already barred from hearing confessions unless the penitent is in immediate danger of death, may be facing other suspensions – possibly from preaching, possibly from public ministry altogether.  The warning came two days after Listecki had removed Connell’s permission to hear confessions, following a March 12 op/ed piece by Connell in support of a bill in the Delaware legislature that would remove legal protections for the seal of the confessional. Connell, now 80, is a canon lawyer and former vice-chancellor for the Milwaukee archdiocese, as well as a longtime advocate for survivors of clerical sexual abuse.  Most secular legislators, pundits and child welfare advocates have no experience of the Catholic confessional, so it’s easy for them to assume instinctively that any form of secrecy is bad. Given falling percentages of believers who utilize the sacrament, many Catholics themselves may leap to the same conclusion. In that context, it’s especially important to hear from people who do have experience of how the sacrament actually works, confessors and penitents alike. Let’s face it: However many punishments are imposed on dissidents such as Connell, the issue he’s raising isn’t going away. To defend the confessional seal, the church will have to offer more than discipline – it’ll have to convince a skeptical public that confidentiality isn’t the enemy of truth, but a vital instrument for bringing it to light. https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2023/03/framing-the-debate-over-sex-abuse-and-the-seal-of-the-confessional__________________________________________________________ 2. Republicans, religious freedom advocates oppose rollback of faith-based student group protections, By Mark A. Kellner, The Washington Times, March 27, 2023, 8:40 PM A dozen House Republicans led by North Carolina’s Virginia Foxx on Friday blasted a Biden administration proposal the lawmakers said would gut protections for faith-based student groups. Republican members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Ms. Foxx, sent a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona calling on him to drop the move, which would reverse protections put in place during the Trump administration. Supporters say the rule is designed to make sure religious student organizations receive even-handed treatment alongside secular student groups. The 2020 rule established a hotline where free exercise violations could be reported and committed the department to act on complaints. The hotline was quietly discontinued, observers say, and a blog post by Assistant Secretary Nasser H. Paydar says an 18-month investigation concluded the department doesn’t have to be involved in such issues. Mr. Paydar said the existing provision, called the “Free Inquiry Rule,” “has caused confusion about schools’ nondiscriminatory requirements” and imposed “a novel and unduly burdensome [investigatory] role” for the Education Department. He insisted the agency had a “commitment to religious freedom” which the rule rollback wouldn’t change.  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/mar/27/republicans-religious-freedom-advocates-oppose-rol/__________________________________________________________ 3. Kansas high court signals continued abortion rights support, By John Hanna, Associated Press, March 27, 2023, 7:09 PM Kansas’ highest court signaled Monday that it still considers access to abortion a “fundamental” right under the state constitution, as an attorney for the state argued that a decisive statewide vote last year affirming abortion rights “doesn’t matter.” The state Supreme Court is considering exactly how far the Republican-controlled Legislature can go in restricting abortion under a 2019 decision protecting abortion rights. The justices heard arguments from attorneys for Kansas and abortion providers in two lawsuits but isn’t likely to rule for months. One lawsuit challenges a 2015 law banning a common second-trimester abortion procedure, and the other challenges a 2011 law that regulates abortion providers more strictly than other health care providers. Legal challenges have blocked both laws from being enforced.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/03/27/abortion-restrictions-lawsuits-kansas/1b2dea4e-cc9a-11ed-8907-156f0390d081_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. Why did Pope Francis accept Bishop Bode’s resignation?, By Luke Coppen, The Pillar, March 27, 2023, 1:34 PM, Opinion What reason did the Vatican give when it made the surprise announcement Saturday that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of one of Germany’s most prominent bishops? The answer: none whatsoever  The lack of official clarity over the reasons for Bode’s departure may suit both Rome and the German Church. The belief that Bode might have been punished for his role in the synodal way is useful when the Vatican is facing accusations that it has done too little too late to stop Germany’s rupture with the worldwide Church. Speculation that Bode was removed for running ahead of other bishops over same-sex blessings is also convenient for Rome as it may temporarily reduce pressure for it to intervene on the matter in Germany.  The ambiguity over whether Bode was let go because of his errors in abuse cases permits German Church leaders, such as Bishop Bätzing, to lionize their colleague as a trailblazing reformer without provoking uproar among abuse survivors.  It also allows Bode to continue to exercise behind-the-scenes influence on the German reform program. His synodal way colleague Dorothea Sattler said Monday that she assumed he would “still be active in an advisory capacity” in the years to come. This strategic ambivalence ensures that there are plenty of winners — and only two losers: truth and transparency. https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/why-did-pope-francis-accept-bishop__________________________________________________________ 5. New Maryland provider opening in post-Roe ‘abortion desert’, By Leah Willingham, Associated Press, March 27, 2023 A new abortion provider is opening this year in Democratic-controlled Maryland — just across from deeply conservative West Virginia, where state lawmakers recently passed a near-total abortion ban. The Women’s Health Center of Maryland in Cumberland, roughly 5 miles (8 kilometers) from West Virginia, will open its doors in June — a year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned federal abortion protections — to provide abortions to patients across central Appalachia, a region clinic operators say is an “abortion desert.”“Hours in any direction, there are no other abortion providers here — it’s smack dab in the middle of an absolute abortion desert, and that’s by design,” said Katie Quiñonez, executive director of the Charleston-based Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, the state’s lone abortion clinic until it was forced to stop the procedures after legislators in September passed a ban with narrow exemptions.  https://apnews.com/article/maryland-abortion-clinic-west-virginia-647cbd9eccfaaa740e523a5c39208b19__________________________________________________________

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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