1. God Save the Clarence Thomas Court, By William McGurn, The Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2021, Pg. A17, Opinion
For Clarence Thomas, any chance he might become chief justice has long since passed. But at 72, he is coming into his own. For circumstances have now made it as plausible to speak of the Thomas court as the Roberts court.

Today the changes on the court have left Justice Thomas uniquely empowered. First, the new conservative majority now requires two defections for the liberals to triumph. Second, as the associate justice with the most seniority, it falls to Justice Thomas to assign the majority opinion when the chief justice comes down on the dissenting side. That presents Chief Justice Roberts with a dilemma: Since he can no longer dictate the outcome by himself, choosing the dissenting side without Justice Kavanaugh invites a Thomas majority opinion.
Take Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which the court recently decided to hear. It involves a Mississippi law that would limit most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. We don’t know if the chief voted to hear the case. But even if he didn’t, he now has an incentive to side with conservatives so he can write a majority opinion more narrow than what Justice Thomas would likely write.
2. Public funding for religious schools at heart of court case, By Alex Swoyer, The Washington Times, May 25, 2021, Pg. A7
The Supreme Court has grappled in recent years with laws barring public funds from going to religious schools, but an upcoming case could give the court’s conservative majority a new opportunity to tackle animus toward Catholics and private schools.
The new dispute between church and state comes out of South Carolina, where Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, created a grant program from part of the federal funding given to the state through Congress’ coronavirus relief package. The program allowed families to apply and receive grants to use for educational purposes at any school — public, private or religious.
The South Carolina Supreme Court, though, barred private and religious schools from receiving any of the grants, saying the state constitution’s Blaine Amendment forbids public funds going to private schools.
The Catholic Church and a trade association for private schools in the state took the legal battle to federal court last month, filing a new lawsuit challenging the Blaine Amendment as unlawful.
3. Religious Freedom and the White House: Who Is (and Isn’t) Advocating for Faith-Based Groups?, By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, National Catholic Register, May 25, 2021, Opinion
Traditional religious belief is under assault by the Biden administration. Catholics should ready ourselves for the battle to preserve the rich tradition of religious pluralism in the United States. It’s going to be an uphill one.
Before President Biden’s inauguration, a disturbing plan of action was circulating among progressives. The Center for American Progress (CAP), whose executive director is John Podesta, Bill Clinton’s former White House chief of staff, and whose board members include Stacey Abrams, a former Georgia gubernatorial candidate who has become a darling of the progressive left, drafted something of a manifesto called “Recommendations for the Biden Administration on Engaging With Religious Communities.
Far from welcoming diverse faith traditions, the CAP caricatured Christians who don’t tick the progressive boxes and, if that wasn’t enough, sneakily implied that only “white Christians” are pro-life and pro-family.

We have here the makings of a mighty conflict. President Biden and his advisers will use every instrument they have at their disposal to advance the policy objectives of progressives. The Supreme Court will certainly be called upon to curtail any aggression toward religious belief.
The justices’ steadfast commitment to the rights guaranteed under the Constitution is reassuring, but can only go so far. Americans — whether religious, “nones” or somewhere in between — must also cherish religious liberty. If we don’t, it will be taken from us.
Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is a legal analyst for EWTN News.
4. Democratic Senators warn of court-packing if Roe is altered by Supreme Court, By Kate Scanlon, Catholic News Agency, May 24, 2021, 1:20 PM
Democratic senators have argued that overturning or otherwise limiting Roe v. Wade would pave the way to change the size or structure of the high court, The Hill reported Monday.
The Supreme Court agreed last week to take up the case of Jackson Women’s Health Organization v. Dobbs, which concerns a Mississippi state law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The court indicated it will consider one question in the case: “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional?”

Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network, told CNA in an email that “Democratic politicians are bullying and intimidating the Court because they want the justices to carry water for liberal dark money groups.”
“If they continue the shameless bullying and intimidation campaign they will destroy the rule of law and we will end up with a Court that is just a rubber stamp for liberal dark money priorities, not an independent judiciary,” Severino said.
5. Cardinal Pell calls for more lay involvement in Vatican financial reform efforts, By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service, May 24, 2021, 10:33 AM
Cardinal George Pell, former secretary for the economy, praised Pope Francis’ ongoing financial reform efforts in an online conference on Thursday, while calling for more lay involvement.
“The Catholic people are entitled to honesty and efficiency,” Pell said at the online event (Jan. 14) organized by the Global Institute of Church Management.
“Financially I’m not sure the Vatican can continue on much longer losing money the way we’re losing money” he added, pointing to the financial pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic and the church’s own financial mismanagement.

Pell also said he is “very hopeful” about recent lay appointments made by the pope, including six women at the Council for the Economy, set up to oversee the financial decisions of Vatican departments.
6. Pope to Vatican’s own media workers: Who reads your news?, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, May 24, 2021, 4:47 PM
Pope Francis challenged the Vatican’s own media employees Monday to essentially justify their continued work, asking them how many people actually consume their news as he visited the office that costs the Holy See more than all its embassies around the world combined.
Francis paid a visit to the Dicastry of Communications to mark the 90th anniversary of Vatican Radio and the 160th anniversary of the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. He appeared to use the occasion to lay down the gauntlet for the Vatican’s in-house media to remain relevant in a challenging media landscape and fraught time for the Holy See financially.

The cost-benefit question of the Vatican’s in-house media operations has been posed many times, since the communications office consumes more of the Holy See’s annual budget than any other department. According to the latest figures, the Dicastry for Communications had a 43 million euros ($52.5 million) budget for 2021, around 20 percent of the whole.
7. Bishop and priests arrested days before Pope’s annual prayer for China, By The Pillar, May 24, 2021
Two days after the bishop of a Chinese missionary territory was reportedly arrested along with several priests and seminarians, Pope Francis urged the Church to pray for Chinese Christians, as he does annually ahead of the May 24 Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians.
“Tomorrow the Catholic faithful [of China]l celebrate the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians and the heavenly patron of their great country,” Pope Francis said Sunday.

The pope’s prayers came just hours after reports that a bishop, seven priests, and ten seminarians were arrested in China in an apparent crackdown on the underground Church. Francis did not make mention of the arrests.

Speaking in October, shortly before the Vatican-China deal was renewed, Cardinal Parolin said that the agreement was intended “to help the local Churches to enjoy conditions of greater freedom, autonomy and organization, so that they can dedicate themselves to the mission of proclaiming the Gospel and contributing to the integral development of the person and society.
At the time of the deal’s renewal, Parolin was asked about the persecution of Christians in China and responded “But what persecutions?”
8. Chicago priest Pfleger reinstated after abuse investigation, By Kathleen Foody, Associated Press, May 24, 2021, 7:59 PM
Nationally known activist Chicago priest the Rev. Michael Pfleger will be reinstated as the leader of his parish after an investigation found “insufficient reason to suspect” he sexually abused children, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago announced Monday.
The decision from the archdiocese comes more than four months after it asked Pfleger to step aside and told his parish that its Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review had received an allegation that the priest had sexually abused a minor more than 40 years ago. Three accusers ultimately came forward, with one saying he was 18 when Pfleger sexually abused him.

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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