1. German Catholics to bless gay unions despite Vatican ban, By Kirsten Grieshaber, Associated Press, May 10, 2021
Germany’s powerful Catholic progressives are openly defying a recent Holy See pronouncement that priests cannot bless same-sex unions by offering such blessings at services in about 100 different churches all over the country this week.
The blessings at open worship services are the latest pushback from German Catholics against a document released in March by the Vatican’s orthodoxy office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which said Catholic clergy cannot bless same-sex unions because God “cannot bless sin.”
The document pleased conservatives and disheartened advocates for LGBTQ Catholics around the globe. But the response has been particularly acute in Germany, where the German church has been at the forefront of opening discussion on hot-button issues such the church’s teaching on homosexuality as part of a formal process of debate and reform.
2. Cultural gap between US and Rome clear in recent reactions to Biden, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, May 9, 2021, Opinion
Back in the pre-Covid days of yore, when there still was such a thing as a lecture circuit, one of the more popular talks I gave was titled, “Rome is from Mars, America from Venus: Navigating the Cultural Gap between the Vatican and Main Street USA.” Basically, it explored the different clusters of instincts, perspectives and assumptions in these two cultural worlds, which often lead one to misunderstand the other.
The topic comes to mind again this week, watching reactions to the Biden administration play out on both sides of the Atlantic. In the States, you’d think we’re getting set for an MMA octagon title bout; in Rome, you might think Biden and his Vatican buddies are BFFs.
In US Catholic circles, a debate is reemerging which has lain largely dormant since the last time the Democrats nominated a pro-life Catholic for president, which is the question of whether someone who identifies as Catholic yet breaks with Church teaching on the life issues, especially abortion, should be denied communion.

Meanwhile, this is not the conversation about Biden that’s prevailed here in Rome over the past week, where the top note instead has been praise for the president’s decision to waive intellectual property rights for Covid vaccines in order to speed up distribution to poorer nations.

All this is emblematic of a long-standing contrast between the US and Rome, one that reaches back to the Obama years and beyond. In the States, Catholic reaction to a political leader is heavily conditioned by the abortion issue; in the Vatican, many other considerations come into play, especially concerns about justice for the world’s poorest peoples and nations typically left behind.

In any event, fact of the matter seems clear: While America’s second Roman Catholic president may have an ambivalent relationship with the leadership of his church at home, here at the global HQ so far he’s getting a friendlier reception. If nothing else, that dynamic ought to make the announcement of Biden’s pick as his Vatican ambassador, which should come soon, an interesting one indeed.
3. 2 Catholic bishops at odds over Biden receiving Communion, By David Crary, Associated Press, May 9, 2021
They share Catholicism as a faith and California as their home base. Yet there’s a deep gulf between Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego in the high-stakes debate over whether politicians who support abortion rights should be denied Communion.
Cordileone, who has long established himself as a forceful anti-abortion campaigner, recently has made clear his view that such political figures — whose ranks include President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — should not receive Communion because of their stance on the issue. The archbishop issued a pastoral letter on the topic May 1 and reinforced the message in an hourlong interview Friday with the Catholic television network EWTN.

McElroy, in a statement published Wednesday by the Jesuit magazine America, assailed the campaign to exclude Biden and other like-minded Catholic officials from Communion.

The polarized viewpoints of the two prelates illustrate how divisive this issue could be if, as expected, it comes before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at its national assembly starting June 16. There are plans for the bishops to vote on whether the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine should draft a document saying Biden and other Catholic public figures with similar views on abortion should refrain from Communion.
4. Judge slain in Sicily by mafiosi put on path to sainthood, By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, May 9, 2021, 12:38 PM
A magistrate slain by mobsters in Sicily and praised by two popes has been beatified by the Roman Catholic church on Sunday in the last formal step before possible sainthood.
Rosario Livatino was gunned down on a Sicilian highway outside Agrigento as he drove to work in 1990. Three years later, during a pilgrimage to Sicily, Pope John Paul II hailed him a “martyr of justice and, indirectly, of the Christian faith.”
Livatino was beatified in a ceremony in a cathedral in Agrigento. Hours later, Pope Francis at the Vatican said Livatino worked to judge “not to condemn, but to redeem.” As an investigative magistrate, Livatino, 37, had been leading probes into the Mafia and corruption when he was slain. He was known for praying daily before entering court.
5. ND governor vetoes penalizing state colleges over abortions, By James MacPherson, Associated Press, May 8, 2021, 1:19 PM
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has partially vetoed a bill aimed at penalizing the state’s 11 colleges and universities for funneling federal grant money to individuals or organizations that promote or perform abortions.
The Republican governor said in his veto message late Friday that the “multimillion-dollar penalties directed toward our public higher education institutions and mandatory criminal charges against state employees” is “problematic.”
Burgum vetoed the portion of the bill that contains the sanctions, citing state law that already forbids “an agency of the state” from funding or supporting programs that do not “give preference, encouragement and support to normal childbirth.” Burgum said the sections he did not veto were intended to clarify that unless institutions abide by anti-abortion policies, they are ineligible to receive challenge grant dollars.
6. Pope Francis calls for suspension of Covid-19 vaccine patents in ‘Vax Live’ concert video, By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, May 8, 2021, 6:40 AM
Pope Francis called for the “temporary suspension of intellectual property rights” for COVID-19 vaccines in his video message to the “Vax Live” concert co-chaired by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
“The coronavirus has produced death and suffering, affecting the lives of everyone, especially the most vulnerable,” Pope Francis said in his message to the concert, which will be broadcast on May 8.
“I beg you not to forget the most vulnerable,” the pope said.
More than 20,000 vaccinated people filled a stadium at “Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World,” which was pre-taped on May 2 in Los Angeles.
7. Catholics debate Biden’s waiver of property rights for vaccines, By John Lavenburg, Crux, May 8, 2021
Two U.S. faith organizations on the front lines of the global coronavirus response stand with the federal government in support of waiving intellectual property (IP) protections for COVID-19 vaccines, in an effort to help poorer countries get more doses.
Other Catholic voices aren’t quite sold, worrying that if market incentives for developing new medicines are distorted by government action, research and development such as the extraordinary push that produced the Covid vaccine will be reduced.
In conversations with Crux, officials from Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Jubilee USA Network touted waiving IP protections on the vaccines – copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets –  as an essential step towards ending the pandemic.

There are, however, opponents to waiving the IP protections.
Stephen J. Ubl, CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) – that’s members include AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson – said in a statement that “this decision will sow confusion between public and private partners, further weaken already strained supply chains and foster the proliferation of counterfeit vaccines.”
In a conversation with Crux, Father Robert Sirico, president of the Acton Institute – a Michigan-based think tank promoting free market policies undergirded by religious principles – said rather than waiving IP protections, there should be more of a focus on steps such as improving the supply chain. He also fears waiving IP protections sets a dangerous precedent that would take away the incentives for companies to do this work in the future.
8. If German bishops go into schism, the Reichskonkordat comes into play, By The Pillar, May 7, 2021
If Catholic bishops in Germany were to be declared in schism amid a row over same-sex blessings and other doctrinal issues, the German government would recognize them to have lost the right to both oversee their dioceses and to administer the billions collected annually in the country’s Church tax, an expert in Church-state relations told The Pillar.
The reason? Well, here’s where it gets kind of weird — the reason is because of the Reichskonkordat, a 1933 treaty signed between the Holy See and Germany’s Nazi government, which remains in force today.

If a diocesan bishop in Germany were to be declared in schism, Jovicic said, the concordat between Germany and the Holy See would require the German government to recognize legally that the bishop was no longer able to act as an administrator of diocesan assets. That would seem to prevent a bishop in schism from spending or distributing Church money after Rome declared a penalty against him.
In the United States, the situation would be different. Because American law does not recognize directly the canonical identity of Catholic entities, parishes and dioceses are organized into civil structures, usually non-profit corporations or corporations sole. If the pope removed a bishop as the canonical head of his diocese, the move would not automatically trigger his resignation as head of the correspondent civil corporation. Depending on the corporation’s governing documents, a bishop unwilling to step down might lead to a complicated, and costly, legal battle.
9. Vatican Conference 2021: Chelsea Clinton, Francis Collins speak on second day, By Catholic News Agency, May 7, 2021, 5:00 PM
On the second day of an online Vatican conference on “exploring the mind, body, and soul,” Chelsea Clinton called for the regulation of “anti-vaccine content” on social media.
She made the appeal during a May 7 discussion on building a more equitable health system in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The daughter of former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began by thanking the Vatican for convening the virtual meeting.
10. Arizona bishops praise new hospital clergy visitation law, By Catholic News Agency, May 7, 2021, 6:00 PM
Arizona’s five bishops expressed their gratitude at a new law forbidding hospitals from unduly restricting clergy visitations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During the pandemic, too many people have died without the spiritual assistance or sacraments desired at the end of their lives,” said the May 5 letter, which was signed by Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tucson; Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix; Bishop Eduardo Nevares, auxiliary bishop of Phoenix; Bishop James Wall of Gallup; and Bishop John Pazak, of the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix.
“Even now, there remain places where clergy are not able to have in-person visits that are requested by dying patients,” said the bishops.
The legislation, HB 2575, was introduced by state Rep. Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott Valley). It amends Arizona law to say that if a hospital is allowing in-person visits of any kind, “the hospital must facilitate the ability of clergy to visit the patient in person for religious purposes.”
11. California bill could bar UC Health from affiliating with Catholic hospitals that limit abortions, By Alejandra Molina, Religion News Service, May 7, 2021, 4:23 PM
While district of San Francisco state Senator Scott Wiener, a Democrat, has hailed the University of California Health System as embodying the state’s progressive values, he has also lambasted its contracts with facilities that he said forbid gender-affirming and abortion health care.
These contracts often include partnerships with Catholic-affiliated institutions like Dignity Health, the largest hospital provider in California, which, according to its website, “agree(s) not to perform certain services like elective abortions, elective sterilization or in-vitro fertilization.”
Wiener has said these restrictions “endanger lives” and, now, he wants to pass legislation that would bar UC Health from contracting with hospitals that prevent UC physicians and medical students from providing reproductive and LGBTQ-inclusive care, including: contraception, tubal ligation, abortion, gender-affirming care and treatment for incomplete miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.
UC Health said it affiliates with other health systems, as many of its hospitals operate at capacity. And, in California, “Catholic facilities are often the most likely to provide care to medically underserved populations, because of their commitment to serve the poor,” according to a UC Health 2020 report.

Senate Bill 379 would ensure that, moving forward, UC Health would only affiliate with hospitals that will allow its staff to provide all necessary care. The bill cleared the Senate Health Committee in late April and is scheduled to be heard May 10 by the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

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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