1. Democrats Protect Lives, With a Big Exception: The ‘elective’ procedure blue-state politicians wouldn’t halt for the coronavirus pandemic.

By Rick Santorum, The Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2020, Pg. A17, Opinion

Battle lines are being drawn over when and how to reopen the economy. These are hard decisions—the kind politicians prefer to avoid—because they’re both uncertain and consequential. Yet you can tell people’s true character in a crisis—what is most important, what they’re willing to fight for.

Generally the left is on the side of continuing the shutdowns, while the right favors opening up. The left’s main concern is protecting life: Economic activity must give way for the sake of the most vulnerable. The right, while initially compliant, is now in revolt over infringements on personal liberty and the dire economic impact of shutdowns.

Both sides deserve credit for taking a consequential stand on the principled debate between life and liberty. I am especially grateful to Democratic politicians who put the lives of the most vulnerable ahead of the liberty of young, healthy people. I’m also grateful to President Trump and Republicans for initially joining Democrats in that position. Whatever you think of these policies, these officials showed character by standing up for the importance of life—not just any life, but the lives of the old, the sick and often the forgotten. This was a great moment for a society that doesn’t agree in large majorities about much of anything.

There was one exception to the closure of these types of medical facilities in states run by Democratic governors. These facilities for 50 years have put economic freedom (and on rare occasions health) over the life of the most helpless, most vulnerable among us. How can governors insist on closing life-saving cancer centers as nonessential while keeping open abortion clinics, whose sole purpose is to end life? How can governors insist on saving every life possible, no matter the hardship to working families in their states, while keeping open facilities so people don’t have to live with the responsibility of raising new life?

In this moment of crisis, our character is laid bare, for better and for worse.

Mr. Santorum served as a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, 1995-2007.


2. Supreme Court tackles clash of Catholic schools, ex-teachers.

By Jessica Gresko, Associated Press, May 11, 2020

On Monday, the court is hearing a case involving Kristen Biel and Agnes Morrissey-Berru, both former fifth grade teachers at Catholic schools in California. Biel taught at St. James Catholic School in Torrance and Morrissey-Berru at Our Lady of Guadalupe in nearby Hermosa Beach. Morrissey-Berru’s teaching contract wasn’t renewed in 2015, when she was in her 60s, after she’d taught more than 15 years at the school. And Biel’s contract wasn’t renewed after she disclosed she had breast cancer and would need time off.

Both sued their former employers, with Morrissey-Berru alleging age discrimination and Biel alleging disability discrimination. A lower court said both lawsuits could go forward, but the schools have appealed and have the support of the Trump administration.

The question for the justices is whether the schools are exempt from being sued as a result of a unanimous 2012 Supreme Court decision that said the Constitution prevents ministers from suing their churches for employment discrimination.


3. Catholic bishop suspends priest and issues trespass order over blog about clergy sex abuse.

By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, May 11, 2020, Pg. B6

A months-long standoff between a Catholic bishop in Virginia and a priest who blogs frequent, strident criticism of the church’s handling of clergy sexual abuse has boiled over, with the diocese suspending the priest from ministry and changing parish and residence locks where he was assigned, the priest said Saturday.

The Rev. Mark White, who has been assigned to two southwest Virginia parishes, had refused to leave the church properties despite a trespass order, saying Richmond Bishop Barry Knestout is the one violating canon law by not giving more details about what Knestout considers White’s wrongdoing and by not waiting for an appeal to the Vatican to play out.

Irma Harrison, second vice chair of the parish council at St. Joseph, said the parishes are strongly behind White. With the pandemic keeping them apart and Mass suspended, the removal of the priest to the communities is “devastating,” she said.

4. Spanish cardinal investigated for blessing Valencia from basilica on feast day.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, May 11, 2020

A Spanish cardinal  has gotten into legal trouble for opening a church and bringing an image of the Virgin Mary to the door of the building to bless the city of Valencia. Some accused him of breaking the country’s COVID-19 coronavirus social distancing norms, but the archdiocese said there was no wrongdoing.

The civil authorities are investigating if Cardinal Antonio Cañizares broke the pandemic safety measures by opening the doors of a church in Valencia to let people see the image of the Virgin.

Despite some reports, the archdiocese argues the image never left the church, but was placed facing the Plaza de la Virgen, a public square dedicated to Mary. Videos show several hundred people, wearing face masks and respecting social distance rules, had gathered to venerate the image.


5. Colorado Catholics allowed to celebrate in-person Mass again.

By Associated Press, May 11, 2020

Catholics across much of Colorado are allowed to celebrate Mass in-person again as the coronavirus eases in the state, church officials said.


6. Pope calls for EU solidarity to deal with virus.

By Associated Press, May 10, 2020

Pope Francis is calling on leaders of European Union countries to work together to deal with the social and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

He prayed that the same spirit that inspired European integration efforts “not fail to inspire all those who have responsibility in the European Union” to deal with the coronavirus emergency in a “spirit of harmony and collaboration.”


7. Public Mass for Catholics resumes Monday in South Carolina.

By Associated Press, May 10, 2020

Catholic churches across South Carolina will resume allowing members of the public to attend Mass beginning Monday.

Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone made the announcement in a letter earlier this month, with in-person Sunday services set to resume next weekend. Priests have been celebrating Mass privately, with many services broadcast on the internet.


8. Pope, UN chief press for solution to ‘Anglophone problem’ in Cameroon.

By Crux, May 10, 2020

Pope Francis and UN Secretary General António Guterres have renewed pressure on the Cameroon government to find lasting solutions to the Anglophone problem in the western African nation.

According to a top government official who asked not to be named, Francis and the UN boss recently asked Cameroon’s “President for Life,” Paul Biya, to declare a ceasefire and to open a space for peaceful discussions.

Separatists in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions for nearly four years now have been fighting for what they call “the restoration of the statehood of the Southern Cameroons.” It’s the part of Cameroon colonized by Britain, but which, at independence, voted in a plebiscite to reunite with the part of the country colonized by France.


9. About three-quarters of U.S. Catholic parishes applied for government paycheck protection.

By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, May 9, 2020, Pg. A2

About 13,000 of the country’s 17,000 Catholic parishes applied for the government’s small-business stimulus program, and about half have so far received the requested funds, according to the church’s group for diocesan fiscal managers.

The multitrillion-dollar Cares Act, which took effect in mid-April, covers employees’ salaries for private companies and nonprofit organizations through the Small Business Administration. The government money is distributed through banks and is like a loan — except the loan is forgiven if the money is used to pay workers’ salaries.


10. NY priest on virus front lines with embattled congregation.

By John Minchillo, Associated Press, May 9, 2020, 8:05 PM

The Rev. Fabian Arias, a Catholic priest from Buenos Aires, Argentina, is the pastor of Iglesia de Sion, a congregation with a mission relationship alongside Saint Peter’s Church in Manhattan, and has performed funeral services 14 times in the last two months. Saturday’s service for López was the first he’s been able to perform in a private residence.

“Ninety-nine percent of funeral homes are not receiving people for religious ceremonies; they say ‘no,’” said Arias “They will take your body and provide cremation.”

The financial costs of services, already difficult for working-class families to afford, are compounded by the historic death toll thrusting funeral homes across the city into overcapacity. Most have ended traditional religious services and family gatherings, including cemetery burials.


11. Court halts ban on mass gatherings at Kentucky churches.

By Associated Press, May 9, 2020, 12:58 AM

A federal court halted the Kentucky governor’s temporary ban on mass gatherings from applying to in-person religious services, clearing the way for Sunday church services.

U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove on Friday issued a temporary restraining order enjoining Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration from enforcing the ban on mass gatherings at “any in-person religious service which adheres to applicable social distancing and hygiene guidelines.”


12. Applying Occam’s razor to the latest “he said-he said” Vatican contretemps.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, May 9, 2020, Opinion

As if to prove the past is always prologue, Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, is once again involved in a “is he a coauthor or not?” controversy, though in this case on the side of disavowal, and Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the notorious papal accuser, is once again bristling at what he regards as a personal betrayal.

Given that this is the Vatican, the natural temptation will be to seek Machiavellian conspiracy theories to explain the discrepancies over a new conservative petition styling coronavirus lockdowns as a massive threat to religious freedom and “a disturbing prelude to the realization of a world government beyond all control.”

It’s worth pondering, however, whether more ordinary human dynamics actually are the best lens through which to view the situation.

Perhaps, then, the situation is this: Sarah agreed with the basic sentiments in the petition and gave his assent, but upon second thought felt that given his history and his situation as a Vatican official (at least for the time being), discretion might be the better part of valor. Viganò, a personality type prone to overreaction, then predictably overreacted.

Is it possible to read more into the situation than that? Sure. But in the absence of a compelling reason to do so, maybe it’s best just to leave things there.


13. Should Catholics right now worry less about Big Brother than Thoreau?

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, May 9, 2020, Opinion

From the beginning of the coronavirus lockdowns, there’s been a vigorous discussion about the church/state implications of governments determining which religious practices are acceptable and which aren’t, and whether such measures, albeit often for the noblest of motives, set troubling precedents for religious freedom.

Is it possible, however, that the coronavirus’s real winner in terms of control over religion isn’t so much Big Brother but Henry David Thoreau? Or, to frame the question differently, is the real threat to Catholicism amid the coronavirus less constitutional and legal than ecclesiological?

At least one expert on constitutional law and church/state relations in the States believes it’s something worth thinking about.

“The premise is that we have to have all kinds of things that are open, so you’re allowed to go to Walmart and Target and Home Depot and Loewe’s, but church is unessential, so we can open up the mall so long as we tell people to wash their hands and wear a mask but church isn’t important enough to take that risk,” said Rick Garnett, director of the Program on Church, State and Society at the University of Notre Dame.

“If that takes hold, I do think that’s dangerous, and not only for regulatory reasons but really for deeper cultural ones,” Garnett said.

“The idea is that it’s no big deal, it’s really no big loss, if people can’t go to church. It’s the Thoreau version of private, individualistic religion,” Garnett said. “If this is what makes that actually take hold in the culture, as opposed to the necessity of gathering in person and having a common sacramental life, that would be a big change.”


14. Belgian Brothers of Charity fight for their name after CDF decision.

By Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency, May 8, 2020, 2:00 PM

After the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ruled that the hospitals of the Brothers of Charity in Belgium can no longer be considered as Catholic, the religious order is seeking to prevent the hospital network from using its name, their general superior told CNA.

Br. René Stockman, general superior of the Congregation of the Brothers of Charity, said he fought to keep the Catholic identity and mission of the hospitals intact. But when the Brothers of Charity Organization, the non-profit group which manages the hospitals, approved pro-euthanasia guidelines 2017, he immediately referred the matter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which issued its decision at the end of March.

Raf De Rycke, president of the Brothers of Charity Organization, said on May 5 that he intends to continue using the order’s name, and claimed the hospitals fulfil the same mission, and the same vision as ever, despite bringing in euthanasia.

In an official statement published on their website, the Brothers of Charity Organization has accused Stockman of using the issue of euthanasia “within a broader and longer-lasting conflict” between the order and the non-profit on the use of assets.


15. U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See hails faith-based relief efforts amid pandemic.

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, May 8, 2020, 10:00 AM

The U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See has called attention to the role of faith-based organizations in delivering U.S government relief funds to assist people who are suffering due to the coronavirus in Italy.

“The United States is funding NGOs and faith-based organizations that can effectively deliver critical assistance,” U.S. Ambassador Callista Gingrich told EWTN News May 6.

“It’s important that American money be put to good use. Faith-based organizations are effective and trustworthy partners. They’re inspired by a sense of purpose and dedication to help those most in need,” the ambassador said.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has committed $50 million to aid Italy as it responds to the outbreak, which includes $30 million in funding split between faith-based organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and public international organizations, an official from the embassy told CNA.


16. Andrew Walther Appointed President and COO of EWTN News: Walther, an experienced Catholic journalist, media executive and advocate for persecuted Christians, will assume the helm of EWTN’s news division on June 1.

By National Catholic Register, May 8, 2020

EWTN Global Catholic Network has announced that Andrew Walther has been named the new president and chief operating officer of EWTN News, Inc.  Walther is replacing Dan Burke, who left EWTN News, Inc. in February.

Walther has more than 20 years of experience in journalism, media production and executive management, including a long relationship with EWTN News. He began his career in journalism writing for the Register two decades ago, and more recently helped conceptualize and launch EWTN News Nightly. He will be stepping down as vice president for communications and strategic planning at the Knights of Columbus at the end of May to head EWTN News.

Kathryn Jean Lopez, senior fellow of National Review Institute & editor-at-large of National Review, predicted Walther’s appointment “will be a blessing for the persecuted Church, families, the priesthood and consecrated life — so much that is true, good, and beautiful.”

Said Lopez, “That’s been what I’ve seen of his trailblazing work, most notably at the front-lines of fighting genocide and rebuilding human lives in Iraq at the Knights, and that’s what I look forward to watching in the months and years to come with him as a crucial part of the leadership team at EWTN at such a critical time in our history.”


17. Vatican Cardinal in Row Over Claim That Virus Hurts Religion.

By The Associated Press, The New York Times, May 8, 2020

A petition signed by some conservative Catholics claiming the coronavirus is an overhyped “pretext” to deprive the faithful of Mass and impose a new world order has run into a hitch.

The highest-ranking signatory, Cardinal Robert Sarah, head of the Vatican’s liturgy office, claims he never signed the petition. But the archbishop who spearheaded it said Friday that Sarah was fully on board, and he has the recorded phone conversations to prove it.

It’s another manifesto from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former Holy See diplomat who achieved notoriety with his 2018 j’accuse of a high-level Vatican cover-up of sex abuse. Vigano has gone on to opine — negatively — on everything from the Vatican’s China policy to Pope Francis’ outreach to Muslims and the pope’s Amazon synod.

Aside from Sarah and Vigano, the prominent signatories include three other conservative cardinals who have been critical of Francis’ papacy, including the ousted prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, and the retired archbishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen.


18. Poll: Most in US back curbing in-person worship amid virus.

By Elana Schor and Emily Swanson, Associated Press, May 8, 2020, 11:04 AM

While the White House looks ahead to reopening houses of worship, most Americans think in-person religious services should be barred or allowed only with limits during the coronavirus pandemic — and only about a third say that prohibiting in-person services violates religious freedom, a new poll finds.

Just 9% of Americans think in-person religious services should be permitted without restrictions, while 42% think they should be allowed with restrictions, and 48% think they should not be allowed at all, the poll shows. Even among Americans who identify with a religion, 45% say in-person services shouldn’t be allowed at all.


19. Pence says lack of religious services has been ‘burden’

By David Pitt, Associated Press, May 8, 2020, 4:36 PM

Vice President Mike Pence spoke Friday to a group of faith leaders in Iowa about the importance of resuming religious services, saying the cancellations in the name of slowing the spread of the coronavirus have “been a burden” for congregants.

Iowa is among many states where restrictions on in-person services are starting to ease as stay-home orders imposed to stop the virus are being gradually ended.

Gov. Kim Reynolds, who joined both of the state’s Republican senators at the event, has instituted new rules that allowed services to resume with restrictions if they maintain social distancing and practice thorough sanitary cleaning.


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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