1. Pope Francis calls people of all religions to pray for end of pandemic.

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, May 14, 2020, 5:30 AM

Pope Francis urged people of every religion to fast and pray Thursday for an end to the coronavirus pandemic and “other pandemics” of hunger and war.

“Today all of us, brothers and sisters of all religious traditions, pray in a day of prayer and fasting, of penance, called by the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity. Each of us prays … united in the brotherhood that unites us in this moment of pain and tragedy,” Pope Francis said in his homily on May 14.

The pope said that this interfaith day of prayer, fasting, and charity is not an expression of “religious relativism,” but “a day of fraternity” and prayer.


2. Poll shows a partisan split over virus-era religious freedom.

By Elana Schor and Emily Swanson, Associated Press, May 13, 2020, 11:11 AM

As the nation’s houses of worship weigh how and when to resume in-person gatherings while coronavirus stay-at-home orders ease in some areas, a new poll points to a partisan divide over whether restricting those services violates religious freedom.

The poll found Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say prohibiting in-person services during the coronavirus outbreak violates religious freedom, 49% to 21%.

A majority of Democrats, 58%, say they think in-person religious services should not be allowed at all during the pandemic, compared with 34% of Republicans who say the same. Among Republicans, most of the remainder — 48% — think they should be allowed with restrictions, while 15% think they should be allowed without restrictions. Just 5% of Democrats favor unrestricted in-person worship, and 38% think it should be permitted with restrictions.


3. Pontifical universities to reopen in the fall, but have backup plans.

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, May 13, 2020

The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education has asked pontifical universities and faculties to plan to reopen in the fall and teach with students present.

The universities in Rome are making those preparations, but many of them also are devising backup plans in case the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and many students are prevented from traveling to Rome.


4. Pope implores Catholics to ask Our Lady of Fatima for end to coronavirus.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, May 13, 2020

On the 103rd anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin Mary to three shepherds in this small Portuguese town of Fatima, Pope Francis asked Catholics to pray to Our Lady of Fatima for an end to the coronavirus pandemic.

“In our prayers we ask God, through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for peace for the world, the end of the pandemic, the spirit of penance and our conversion,” Francis said at the end of his weekly Wednesday general audience.


5. With major deficits projected, Vatican says Holy See not at risk of default.

By Hannah Brockhaus and JD Flynn, Catholic News Agency, May 13, 2020, 2:30 PM

The new head of the Holy See’s financial office said Wednesday the Vatican is not at risk of fiscal default, even while reports in the Italian media indicate dire deficit projections for the Holy See. 

Speaking to Vatican Media May 13, Jesuit Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves said the Holy See is sure to see its deficit grow due to the coronavirus pandemic, but is not in danger of default.

“That doesn’t mean that we are not naming the crisis for what it is. We’re certainly facing difficult years,” the priest said.

In fact, the Vatican had been facing difficult financial prospects before the coronavirus pandemic. In 2018, the Holy See had a budget deficit of 70 million euros in its 300 million euro budget.


6. Vatican, US Church leaders quiet on coronavirus ‘world government’ letter signed by bishops.

By JD Flynn, Catholic News Agency, May 13, 2020, 3:36 PM

Neither the Vatican nor U.S. bishops have responded to a letter signed by several Catholic bishops, which argues that the coronavirus pandemic has been exploited in order to create a one-world government.

The May 7 letter, titled “Appeal for the Church and the World,” claims that “there are powers interested in creating panic among the world’s population with the sole aim of permanently imposing unacceptable forms of restriction on freedoms, of controlling people and of tracking their movements.”

“The imposition of these illiberal measures is a disturbing prelude to the realization of a world government beyond all control,” it adds. (bold original)

Among the letter’s reported signatories are three cardinals: Cardinal Joseph Zen, emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Janis Pujats, emeritus archbishop of Riga, Latvia, and Cardinal Gerhard Muller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Muller’s office has confirmed that the cardinal signed the letter, which he told German media this week he views as an invitation to think critically about issues related to the pandemic.


7. Could curial politics stop a Vatican finance trial?

By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency, May 13, 2020, 6:00 PM, Opinion

As details continue to emerge about a raft of financial scandals at the Vatican Secretariat of State, some observers have been left wondering at the apparent lack of urgency or interest in the Holy See’s response.

While vague updates have been issued about ongoing investigations, mounting political and diplomatic pressure behind the scenes could be slowing moves to bring charges against suspended staff members.

Some curial officials are privately concerned that, while clerical staffers might be expected to quietly take responsibility for misconduct, lay staff facing prosecution could start talking. If they do, some fear, they might make the scandals exponentially worse, and implicate more senior figures.

Catholics have been calling for more transparency in ecclesiastical leadership, especially in the wake of the Theodore McCarrick revelations and other recent abuse scandals. A trial would be seen by some as evidence of movement towards that transparency. But those steeped in the old school will likely exert influence for a resolution that saves face, in deference to a long-standing disposition to avoid scandal. Tension between those camps will be real.

The Vatican may soon have to decide if it is willing to allow prosecutors to commit to a full legal process, wherever that may lead and whomever it may implicate. That choice could decide the conflict between self-preservation and real reform for the highest levels of the curia.


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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!
“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.