1 ‘A step back in time’: America’s Catholic Church sees an immense shift toward the old ways, By Tim Sullivan, Associated Press, May 1, 2024, 12:37 AM
Across the U.S., the Catholic Church is undergoing an immense shift. Generations of Catholics who embraced the modernizing tide sparked in the 1960s by Vatican II are increasingly giving way to religious conservatives who believe the church has been twisted by change, with the promise of eternal salvation replaced by guitar Masses, parish food pantries and casual indifference to church doctrine.
The shift, molded by plummeting church attendance, increasingly traditional priests and growing numbers of young Catholics searching for more orthodoxy, has reshaped parishes across the country, leaving them sometimes at odds with Pope Francis and much of the Catholic world.
The changes are not happening everywhere. There are still plenty of liberal parishes, plenty that see themselves as middle-of-the-road. Despite their growing influence, conservative Catholics remain a minority.

Yet the changes they have brought are impossible to miss.
The progressive priests who dominated the U.S. church in the years after Vatican II are now in their 70s and 80s. Many are retired. Some are dead. Younger priests, surveys show, are far more conservative.

But this is not a simple story. Because there are many who welcome this new, old church.
They often stand out in the pews, with the men in ties and the women sometimes with the lace head coverings that all but disappeared from American churches more than 50 years ago. Often, at least a couple families will arrive with four, five or even more children, signaling their adherence to the church’s ban on contraception, which most American Catholics have long casually ignored.
They attend confession regularly and adhere strictly to church teachings. Many yearn for Masses that echo with medieval traditions – more Latin, more incense, more Gregorian chants.

If this movement emerged from anywhere, it might be a now-demolished Denver football stadium and a borrowed military helicopter carrying in Pope John Paul II.
Some 500,000 people descended on Denver in 1993 for the Catholic festival World Youth Day. When the pope’s helicopter landed just outside Mile High Stadium, the ground shook from the stomping.
The pope, whose grandfatherly appearance belied an electric charisma, and who was beloved both for his kindness and his sternness, confronted an American church shaped by three decades of progressive change.
If the church is often best known to non-Catholics for its opposition to abortion, it had grown increasingly liberal since Vatican II. Birth control was quietly accepted in many parishes, and confession barely mentioned. Catholic social teaching on poverty suffused churches. Most priests traded in their cassocks for plain black shirts with Roman collars. Incense and Latin became increasingly rare.

Even today, surveys show most American Catholics are far from orthodox. Most support abortion rights. The vast majority use birth control.
But increasingly, those Catholics are not in church.
In 1970, more than half of America’s Catholics said they went to Mass at least once a week. By 2022, that had fallen to 17%, according to CARA, a research center affiliated with Georgetown University. Among millennials, the number is just 9%.

Young priests driven by liberal politics and progressive theology, so common in the 1960s and 70s, have “all but vanished,” said a 2023 report from The Catholic Project at Catholic University, based on a survey of more than 3,500 priests.

2. Tears and despair at Florida abortion clinic in final hours before ban, A Fort Lauderdale-area clinic saw patients into the night — and turned some away — as the state prepared for a six-week abortion ban to take effect May 1., By Caroline Kitchener, The Washington Post, May 1, 2024, 5:00 AM

As of Wednesday morning, clinics across the country’s third-largest state can no longer offer abortions to most patients who walk through their doors — forced to turn away any woman who is further than six weeks along, a point when many still don’t know they’re pregnant. The enactment of Florida’s new ban on May 1 is widely expected to be the biggest jolt to abortion access across the country since Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022.
Florida’s new abortion law, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) last year and confirmed by the Florida Supreme Court last month, replaces a 15-week ban that took effect soon after Roe fell. It will affect significantly more women than any other state ban on abortions in the first trimester. More than 80,000 women get an abortion in Florida in a typical year, accounting for about 1 in 12 abortions nationwide.
For every Florida woman with an unwanted pregnancy, the future will now be determined by the size of the fetus on the ultrasound screen. If it’s small enough to measure under the six-week limit, she can have the abortion. If not, she’ll either have to order abortion pills online or travel to a clinic at least three states away.

A ban of this magnitude will immediately upend abortion access far beyond Florida’s borders, with Floridians traveling to North Carolina, Illinois and Virginia, where clinics are already struggling to absorb patients from antiabortion states across the Southeast. And while abortion rights advocates are hoping voters will approve a measure in November that would lift the ban in January — restoring abortion access in Florida until roughly 24 weeks of pregnancy — tens of thousands of women will be affected between now and the new year, regardless of what happens in the election.

3. Arizona’s Democratic leaders make final push to repeal 19th century abortion ban, By Associated Press, May 1, 2024, 1:04 AM
Democrats in the Arizona Legislature are expected to make a final push Wednesday to repeal the state’s long-dormant ban on nearly all abortions, which a court said can be enforced.
Fourteen Democrats in the Senate are hoping to pick up at least two Republican votes to win final approval of the repeal bill, which narrowly cleared the Arizona House last week and is expected to be signed by Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs.
The near-total ban, which predates Arizona’s statehood, permits abortions only to save the patient’s life — and provides no exceptions for survivors of rape or incest. In a ruling last month, the Arizona Supreme Court suggested doctors could be prosecuted under the 1864 law, which says that anyone who assists in an abortion can be sentenced to two to five years in prison.

4. What Florida Can Learn From Georgia’s Six-Week Abortion Ban, Neighboring state’s experience offers clues: busy clinics, short time frames and constant uncertainty, By Laura Kusisto, The Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2024, 5:00 AM
When Georgia banned abortion around six weeks of pregnancy in 2022, the number of patients seeking the procedure at the Feminist Women’s Health Center dwindled to a trickle, confirming worries from abortion-rights advocates who predicted the law would operate much like a total ban. Then, after the initial shock, the appointment traffic came back.
On a recent warm April day, the suburban Atlanta facility was almost as busy as it ever was. It has been providing abortions three days a week, seeing about 30 patients a day. And the clinic recently added a fourth day to accommodate demand.

In neighboring Florida, a six-week ban takes effect Wednesday, creating additional regionwide anxieties in the South, where abortion access has narrowed dramatically since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago. If Georgia is any guide, Florida can expect a complicated landscape ahead: Fewer overall abortions but continued access for women who act fast, and bustling activity at clinics, though uncertainty for doctors and patients.
While more than a dozen states have bans on abortion throughout pregnancy, restrictions at or around six weeks are less common and more poorly understood. These so-called heartbeat laws generally prohibit abortion once fetal cardiac activity can be detected. For Georgia, the limits have reduced abortions by about half, compared with activity before the ban.

5. Bishops say new U.S. regulations ‘advance an ideological view of sex’, By John Lavenburg, Crux, May 1, 2024
While recent healthcare related non-discrimination regulations implemented by the Biden administration don’t include an abortion mandate as the U.S. bishops feared, they’ve taken issue with how the regulations advance an “ideological view of sex.”
The Department of Health and Human Services on April 26 published a final rule to nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act, known as Section 1557, adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the definition of discrimination on the basis of sex.
The U.S. bishops have long anticipated the change, as they first submitted comments when the changes were proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services back in 2022. At the time, however, the U.S. bishops lamented not only the potential changes to the definition of sex, but that an abortion mandate would eventually be a part of the final rule.
“We appreciate that the final rule does not attempt to impose a mandate with regard to abortion,” Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for Religious Liberty said in an April 30 statement.
“These regulations, however, advance an ideological view of sex that, as the Holy See has noted, denies the most beautiful and most powerful difference that exists between living beings: sexual difference.”

6. Virginia Catholic bishops urge Gov. Youngkin to veto contraception mandate bills, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, May 1, 2024, 7:00 AM
Both Roman Catholic dioceses in Virginia are urging Gov. Glenn Youngkin to veto bills that would establish a “right to contraception” and require health insurance companies to provide coverage for contraception — but do not contain any religious exemptions or parental rights protections.
“Taken together, these bills would end lives and undercut parental rights,” Jeff Caruso, the executive director of the Virginia Catholic Conference, which represents the Diocese of Richmond and the Diocese of Arlington, told CNA.
“They also completely disregard the fundamental rights of entities with sincerely and deeply held religious or moral objections to covering or providing abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations, and contraceptives,” Caruso said. “We urge Governor Youngkin to protect life, liberty, and parental rights by vetoing these extremely harmful bills.”
One of the bills, supported by most Democratic lawmakers and opposed by most Republicans, would require that all health insurance plans in the commonwealth include coverage for every contraceptive that has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

7. Kansas has new abortion laws while Louisiana may block exceptions to its ban, By John Hanna and Sara Cline, Associated Press, April 30, 2024, 6:00 PM
Kansas is requiring abortion providers to share new patient information with the state and increasing funds to anti-abortion centers, while in Louisiana bills to loosen its restrictive ban face an uphill battle, thanks to Republican supermajorities in both Legislatures.
Democratic lawmakers in Louisiana are pushing bills to add exceptions, including in cases of rape and incest, to the state’s near-total abortion ban. A GOP-dominated House committee began its review of those measures Tuesday, but similar proposals failed last year.
Meanwhile in Kansas, the GOP-controlled Legislature on Monday overrode all four of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s vetoes of measures sought by anti-abortion groups. Starting July 1, abortion providers must ask patients why they are terminating their pregnancies and report the answers to the state, and it will be a specific crime to coerce someone into having an abortion.

8. Some North Carolina abortion pill restrictions are unlawful, federal judge says, By Gary D. Robertson, Associated Press, April 30, 2024, 8:10 PM
Some of North Carolina government’s restrictions on dispensing abortion pills — such as requiring only doctors prescribe and provide the drug to the patient in person — are unlawful because they frustrate the goal of Congress to use federal regulators to ensure the drug is distributed safely, a judge ruled on Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles in Greensboro granted a partial victory to a physician who performs abortions and who last year sued state and local prosecutors and state health and medical officials on state medication abortion regulations beyond those addressed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Other restrictions on the drug mifepristone that were challenged, however, such as requiring an in-person consultation 72 hours in advance, an in-person examination and an ultrasound before prescribing, are not preempted and can remain, Eagles wrote. That is because they have not been expressly reviewed and rejected by the FDA, or because they focus more on the practice of medicine or on general patient health, she added.

9. Trump says states should decide on prosecuting women for abortions, has no comment on abortion pill, By Christine Fernando, Associated Press, April 30, 2024, 4:17 PM
Former President Donald Trump says in a new interview it should be left to the states whether to prosecute women for abortions or whether to monitor women’s pregnancies. He declined to comment on access to the abortion pill mifepristone, which has been embroiled in an intense legal battle.
In an interview published Tuesday by Time magazine, Trump responded to questions about how he would handle various abortion questions if elected by repeatedly saying it should be left up to the states.
“You don’t need a federal ban,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said. “Roe v. Wade … wasn’t about abortion so much as bringing it back to the states. So the states would negotiate deals. Florida is going to be different from Georgia and Georgia is going to be different from other places.”
When asked if he would veto a bill that would impose a federal ban, he reiterated “it’s about states rights” and said “there will never be that chance” because Republicans, even if they take back the Senate in November, would not have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster and bring the bill to a vote.

10. Chaplains in public schools? Florida’s Catholic bishops ‘pleased’ by new law, By Matt McDonald, Catholic News Agency, April 30, 2024, 5:45 PM
Florida’s bishops are welcoming a new law that allows public schools in the state to have volunteer chaplains.
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, which represents bishops in the state’s seven dioceses on public policy matters, did not take a position on the bill while legislators debated it earlier this year.
“However, we recognize the good that chaplains can do in schools by helping students to address their spiritual and emotional needs. We are pleased that parents will determine the services their children will receive in districts that choose to establish chaplaincy programs,” said Michelle Taylor, associate director of communications for the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, in an email message to CNA on Tuesday.
The measure, which takes effect July 1, requires public schools and charter schools that establish such a program to publish on their websites a list of volunteer school chaplains and their religious affiliation. It also requires that parents provide written consent before their child receives services from a chaplain or participates in programs provided by a chaplain.

11. Hong Kong criticizes U.S. bill to rename street in honor of imprisoned human rights defender, By Kate Quiñones, Catholic News Agency, April 30, 2024, 6:10 PM
An unnamed Hong Kong government spokesperson criticized a bill proposed by two U.S. congressmen that would rename the address of the Hong Kong Economic Trade Office in Washington, D.C. “Jimmy Lai Way,” honoring a 75-year-old democracy advocate who has been incarcerated in Hong Kong since 2020.
The spokesperson called on the U.S. to  “stop maliciously interfering” in Hong Kong affairs, according to a Tuesday report by the Hong Kong Free Press.
Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Tom Suozzi (D-NY) proposed the bill last week.
Jimmy Lai, a pro-democracy businessman and convert to Catholicism, was arrested on several charges under the controversial national security law, which was passed by China’s communist-controlled government in 2020. His newspaper, Apple Daily, published pro-democracy content and was often critical of the Chinese Communist Party. 

“Jimmy Lai — a courageous man of deep faith who stands for democracy, human rights and respect for the rule of law — exemplifies moral principle and defiance in the face of tyranny,” Smith said in a statement to CNA. 

12. Former Anglican vicar becomes first bishop of UK ordinariate, By Edward Pentin, Catholic News Agency, April 29, 2024, 6:45 PM
The Vatican has announced a new leader of the ordinariate in Great Britain.
Father David Waller, 62, a parish priest and vicar general of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, will replace Monsignor Keith Newton, 72, who is retiring after serving over 13 years as the ordinary of the ecclesiastical structure for former Anglicans.
In a statement, Newton called the Vatican’s April 29 announcement “momentous” given that Waller, who is a celibate, will become the first bishop ordinary of the ordinariate. 
As someone who was already married as an Anglican clergyman before entering the Church through the ordinariate, Newton was not allowed episcopal consecration.
Established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011 through his 2009 apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, the ordinariate is an ecclesiastical structure for Anglicans wishing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining their distinctive Anglican patrimony.  

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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