1. Virus pandemic garners attention for obscure Catholic St. Corona.

By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, March 30, 2020, Pg. A7

Of all the notable figures the coronavirus pandemic has thrust into the spotlight — Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx, Tom Hanks — none is more unexpected than a little-known Catholic saint, a martyr of the 2nd century who seemingly shares the name of the deadly virus.

St. Corona typically has not been beseeched as a patron saint of cures or contagions (fallacious internet stories to the contrary), but as a benefactor during times of economic crisis, according to the Catholic News Service.

Still, her intercession could be of aid in the ongoing health emergency, say scholars.

“In view of how COVID-19 has triggered an economic crisis, with many people fearful about money matters looming ahead, it might not be at all far-fetched for them to call on the saint for support,” the Catholic News Service said in its post.

The news service added that St. Corona’s feast day — May 14 — may prove a more reasonable time for emerging from the shadows of stay-at-home orders for many Americans than Easter, as has been promulgated by the White House.


2. Was Dorothy Day a Saint or a Subversive?

By Karen Armstrong, The New York Times, March 29, 2020, Pg. 19, Sunday Book Review

In March 2000, 20 years after her death, the Vatican began a stringent examination of Dorothy Day’s life to prove that she had demonstrated the “heroic virtue” that qualifies a Catholic for sainthood; this process is ongoing. More recently, in September 2015, Pope Francis cited Day — alongside Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and Thomas Merton — as an American who exemplified principles that were desperately needed in our inequitable world. Day was a tireless advocate for the poor and homeless, but what exactly is a saint and was she one?

John Loughery and Blythe Randolph, who are seasoned biographers, claim that they will never again have such a “challenging and complex” subject as Day, implying that this in part justifies their biography, “Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American Century” — the first full-length portrait, according to the book jacket, to appear in 40 years. But it may also be true that Day’s life highlights tensions that are currently of concern to both Catholics and Americans.

Throughout her life, Day remained an impassioned and radical critic of United States policy. She spoke against the draft in Congress shortly after the beginning of World War II, and in her lectures and articles, she condemned the use of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She later insisted that the Catholic President John F. Kennedy was as much to blame for the Cuban missile crisis as Nikita Khrushchev. When the Cold War was at its height, she vociferously asserted that the Soviets differed from the Gospels only in the methods they used to achieve equality.

Yet, paradoxically, Day the political radical was a rigidly conservative Catholic, accepting without demur church rulings on episcopal authority, papal infallibility, abortion, birth control, masturbation and premarital sex that encroached on personal liberty. She embraced doctrines and practices that Protestants had deplored since the Reformation: transubstantiation, the cult of Mary and the saints, the rosary, relics, confession and indulgences.

In the Hebrew Bible, the word for “holiness” (qadosh) literally means “set apart, other”; and the cultivation of sanctity has often been an “othering” — a deliberate and dramatic inversion of a social or spiritual norm. Passionately denouncing the inequity of his time, Francis of Assisi abjured his wealth and joined the beggars. Accused of flouting male authority by demanding that bishops and priests reform, Catherine of Siena starved herself, becoming frighteningly and androgynously “other.” Ever since the Pilgrim fathers fled the “popery” of Europe, America’s national religion has been Protestant, and Catholicism was long felt to be incompatible with enlightened liberty. In her wholehearted embrace of the Catholic faith, was Day also attempting an “othering,” tacitly and subversively suggesting that there were different ways of being a loyal citizen and devout Christian — that the radicalism of a St. Francis, indeed, of Jesus himself, spoke imperatively to the American dilemma?


3. Pope backs U.N. chief’s call for global ceasefire to focus on coronavirus.

By Philip Pullella, Reuters, March 29, 2020, 6:47 AM

Pope Francis on Sunday backed a call by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire so the world can focus on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.


4. Francis on Friday delivered an iconic image that stirred a country’s soul.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, March 29, 2020

Twenty years from now, if you were to ask Italians to think back about what images stuck in their minds from the coronavirus, it’s a good bet that after Friday night, many would give the same answer.

“Papa Francesco standing alone in St. Peter’s Square, under the rain, praying for it to end,” they’d likely say.

In one fell swoop Friday night, Francis not only delivered what seems destined to become the most iconic image of the pandemic, he effectively shut down what had been a mounting undercurrent of criticism about the supposed “invisibility” and “silence” of the Church.

The pontiff prayed before images of Maria, Salus Populis Romani, and the crucifix from the Roman church of San Marcello, both credited with protecting the city in times of plague. He also offered an Urbi et Orbi blessing, traditionally delivered only after a papal election and on Christmas and Easter, accompanied by a plenary indulgence.


5. Francis Faces Crisis as Virus Penetrates Vatican Walls.

By Jason Horowitz, The Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2020, Pg. A7

“For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives,” Francis, who is 83 and had part of a lung removed during an illness in his youth, said in remarks hauntingly delivered on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica Friday evening.

He spoke alone and before a vast and empty square, its cobblestones slicked with rain and reflecting the blue lights of the police locking down Rome to fight the virus. “We find ourselves afraid,” the pope added. “And lost.”

The remarks on such a dramatic and grand stage amounted to a change of course for the pontiff, who throughout the first weeks of the coronavirus crisis in Italy — now the world’s deadliest outbreak — tended to talk about other things, or addressed the issue via live stream.


6. Pope and closest aides do not have coronavirus: Vatican.

By Philip Pullella, Reuters, March 28, 2020, 1:53 PM

The Vatican said on Saturday that tests carried out in the building where Pope Francis lives after one resident tested positive for coronavirus showed that the pontiff and his closest aides do not have the disease.


7. Priests, Rabbis, Imams Wrestle With Coronavirus Constraints: Lockdowns lead to drive-through confessions, calls to prayer at home and assembling minyans virtually.

By Francis X. Rocca and James Marson, The Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2020, 1:00 PM

At mosques around the world, the muezzins who ordinarily call Muslims to prayer five times a day are enjoining the faithful to pray at home, for the first time since Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century.

Orthodox Jews in Israel, forbidden under quarantine from going to their synagogues, are stepping out onto their balconies and porches to assemble for communal prayer.

Catholic priests in Maryland have been hearing drive-through confessions, offering forgiveness of sins to penitents who remain seated in their cars, a safe social distance away.

Ministers and ordinary believers of different faiths are adapting their practices to combat the coronavirus pandemic, in some cases going to the limits of what tradition and teaching allow.


8. Abortion ruling in Md.

By Ann E. Marimow, The Washington Post, March 28, 2020, Pg. A1

A federal appeals court refused to clear the way Friday for a Trump administration policy that bars federally funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions.

The decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit applies only to Maryland and means it is the one state not subject to the abortion restrictions opponents say reduce access to reproductive health care for low-income women.


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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