1. Philadelphia Puts an Ideology Ahead of Kids, The only criteria for the placement of children should be a stable home in which the child has the best chance of thriving., By Rev. Phillip J. Brown, The Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2020, Pg. A16, Letter to the Editor
Philadelphia’s banning of Catholic Social Services’ foster care and adoption services isn’t antireligious cruelty, it is antichild cruelty (“Philadelphia’s Antireligious Cruelty” by Thomas Paul, Houses of Worship, Nov. 6). The longstanding legal standard for foster-care placement and adoption has always been “the best interests of the child.” Philadelphia and other jurisdictions have turned this legal standard on its head to promote other values. The only criteria for the placement of children should be a stable home in which the child has the best chance of thriving. As Mr. Paul rightly points out, there are plenty of agencies willing to place children in alternative-lifestyle homes.
Rev. Phillip J. Brown is President-Rector St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore.
2. French Catholics protest for end to lockdown on Mass, By Associated Press, November 16, 2020
With banners reading “Let us Pray” and “We Want Mass,” Catholic protesters held scattered demonstrations around France on Sunday to demand that authorities relax virus lockdown measures to allow religious services.
In the western city of Nantes, hundreds gathered in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary, some kneeling on the rain-soaked pavement, according to local broadcaster France Bleu. Similar gatherings were reported or planned in the eastern city of Strasbourg, Bordeaux in the southwest, and outside the Saint-Louis Cathedral in Versailles.
Devout Catholics sang hymns and protested for hours Friday at the landmark Saint-Sulpice Church on the Left Bank of Paris at a similar demonstration — but Paris police said the protest didn’t respect social distancing and violated an order against praying in the streets, so they banned a similar rally planned for Sunday.
3. In a moment of turmoil, U.S. Catholic bishops meet virtually, By David Crary, Associated Press, November 16, 2020
Catholic bishops of the United States open a national meeting Monday under dramatic circumstances.
A pandemic has compelled them to meet virtually from their far-flung dioceses. A hard-fought presidential election has caused sharp divisions in their own ranks. And six days before the meeting, the Vatican released a revelatory report detailing how clerics in the U.S. and abroad failed to hold ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick to account until many years after suspicions of serial sexual misconduct had become widespread.
“The shadow of the McCarrick report hangs over this meeting,” said John Gehring, Catholic program director at a Washington-based clergy network called Faith in Public Life.

Among the opening speakers at USCCB’s two-day meeting will be its president, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez. He has described the report as “another tragic chapter in the Church’s long struggle to confront the crimes of sexual abuse by clergy.”
Other scheduled speakers include the Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Christophe Pierre, and one of the conference’s top advisers on the prevention of clerical sex abuse, National Review Board chair Suzanne Healy.
4. Key papal moments illustrate challenges of new COVID-19 lockdowns, By John L. Allen Jr.Crux, November 16, 2020, Opinion
As both the United States and Europe face resurgences of the coronavirus pandemic and are moving towards new lockdowns in many places, it’s a good time to look back at the experience of the first wave in the spring and take stock of lessons learned.
In Catholic terms, the issues back then – which, in various forms, are coming to the fore again now – break down in three broad categories: Church/state relations and religious freedom; economic, social and political fallout; and pastoral considerations.
Symbolically, a key papal moment over the past few months captures the challenges inherent in each.

Church/state issues

For the moment, there’s no indication that Francis’s broad preference for compliance has changed, but also no sense the Vatican will override the judgment of bishops and pastors in other parts of the world.
Economic, social and political fallout

All in all, Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti lays out a vision for how the shock of the pandemic could create the conditions for social change that otherwise might be seen as too sweeping or radical.
It remains to be seen whether he’ll have much luck promoting that agenda, though with the transition to President-elect Joe Biden in the US, the pope may at least find a partner who instincts are a bit more in sync with his own.
Pastoral care

In a thousand different ways, bishops, pastors, religious and lay Catholics alike will be challenged over the weeks to come to create their own smaller-scale Urbi et Orbi moments, grasping what people are feeling and offering them consolation in a way that breaks through the fear and the noise.
One can’t just photocopy what Francis did, of course, but one can’t ignore the power of it either. Frankly nothing else that’s happened since the pandemic erupted probably better illustrated why the religious and spiritual contribution is, arguably, “essential” after all.
5. Reality of the abuse scandals now seems A Tale of Two Cardinals, By John L. Allen Jr.Crux, November 15, 2020, Opinion
Over the last three years, sexual abuse charges against two high-profile and massively influential cardinals have rocked the Catholic Church, and now, seemingly, both stories have reached their conclusions. George Pell is a free man, while Theodore McCarrick is defrocked and exposed as a cunning manipulator able to hoodwink three papacies until his string finally ran out.
The McCarrick and Pell sagas contain two unavoidable truths about the clerical abuse scandals, and they must always be held together: Every accusation of abuse has to be taken seriously, but the mere fact of an allegation doesn’t make it true.
To put the point differently, McCarrick illustrates the risks of clericalism in blinding an entire system to clear warning signs and sincere attempts to blow the whistle; Pell illustrates the risks of anti-clericalism in allowing implausible charges to go to trial and cost a man 400 days behind bars before being finally dismissed.
Clericalism and anti-clericalism are two sides of the same prejudicial coin, and both are toxic in getting to the truth.
6. Government restrictions on religion reach new peak, Pew Research Center says, By Catholic News Agency, November 15, 2020, 5:01 PM
Government restrictions on religion are at their highest since tracking began in 2007, the Pew Research Center has said in its new report, finding that 56 countries reached “high” or “very high” levels of restrictions on religion in 2018.
“In 2018, the global median level of government restrictions on religion – that is, laws, policies and actions by officials that impinge on religious beliefs and practices – continued to climb, reaching an all-time high since Pew Research Center began tracking these trends in 2007,” Pew said Nov. 10. While the rise from 2017 was “relatively modest,” it continues the “substantial rise” in restrictions.
To track trends in religion, the Pew Research Center has created a Government Restrictions Index, a 10-point scale using 20 indicators. It has also created an index of social hostilities. While the coronavirus epidemic has prompted a wave of debate about restrictions on religious gatherings, Pew’s latest report concerns the year 2018.
7. Where the Vatican fails on sex abuse, A report on Mr. Mccarrick shows the Catholic hierarchy cannot police itself., By The Washington Post, November 14, 2020, Pg. A18, Editorial
One of the main takeaways from the report, therefore, is the manifest inadequacy of the system now in place that counts on archbishops to police abuse by bishops. Yet proposals from within the American church’s U.S. hierarchy to give laypeople a prominent, formal role in investigating allegations involving bishops, floated two years in Baltimore, were controversial within the U.S. bishops conference — and do not appear to have been seriously considered by the Holy See.

As things stand now, laypeople may be named to investigate accusations of wrongdoing against bishops, as former FBI director Louis Freeh is doing, at the behest of the New York archdiocese, in the case of Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who is alleged to have molested an altar boy in the 1970s. Yet the church has not codified a role for lay­people in overseeing the hierarchy. It needs to, and when the U.S. bishops convene Monday, virtually, for their annual November meeting, they would be wise to consider that lesson from the McCarrick report.
8. Report shows ‘tragic incompetence’ on McCarrick, Barron says, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, November 14, 2020
A new Vatican report on the case of ex-cardinal and ex-priest Theodore McCarrick tells a story of “tragic incompetence” driven by a “self-referential and self-protective” clerical culture, according to Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles.
“It reveals how sclerotic and dysfunctional the system was,” Barron said. “Again and again, as I read the report, I was struck by the wickedness of McCarrick himself, but also by the tragic incompetence of so many who were charged with investigating, following up, asking serious questions, etc.”
Barron is chair of the US bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis and a widely followed figure on social media. As of July 2020, Barron’s Youtube videos had been viewed more than 50 million times and he had more than three million followers on Facebook.
9. Archbishop Cordileone applauds prosecution of St. Junipero Serra statue vandalism, By Catholic News Agency, November 13, 2020, 8:17 PM
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco applauded the Marin County District Attorney for filing charges over the vandalism of a statue depicting St. Junipero Serra at Mission San Rafael last month.
“This is a breakthrough moment for Catholics,” Cordileone said in a statement Friday.
He said the decision to prosecute five people on felony vandalism charges “represents the first time that any of the lawbreakers attacking statues of St. Junípero Serra and other acts of vandalism on Catholic Church property across California will be held accountable for their actions in a court of law.”
10. McCarrick Report at odds with Cardinal Wuerl’s claims of ignorance, By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, November 13, 2020, 4:22 PM
The McCarrick Report sheds new light on when former Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, knew of allegations made against his predecessor, and what steps he and Vatican officials took to monitor or restrict McCarrick’s travel and residence.
11. Massachusetts bishops decry push for abortion expansion, By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, November 13, 2020, 10:30 AM
Catholic bishops in Massachusetts are fighting a state measure to expand legal abortion.
An amendment adopted by the state house on Thursday would allow for abortions in certain circumstances throughout pregnancy, a move the state’s Catholic Conference has said goes “well beyond what is enshrined in state law.”
The amendment to a larger budget bill was adopted by the state house on Thursday by a 108-49 vote, State House News Service reported. A dozen Democrats voted against the amendment, while one Republican voted for it.
Under House amendment 759, abortions can be performed after 24 weeks in the case of a lethal fetal anomaly.
In addition, 16 and 17 year-old girls could also have an abortion without parental consent.
Minors under the age of 16 can obtain a judicial bypass waiver to get an abortion without parental consent. A waiver could be granted via teleconference, according to the bill’s sponsor, State House News Service reported.
12. China’s five-year plan proposal stresses eugenics in birth policy, says expert, By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, November 13, 2020, 10:00 AM
The Chinese government’s latest five-year plan proposal contains a birth policy with an emphasis on eugenics, a China scholar said this week.
China, known for its decades-long one-child policy, is now looking to counter its aging population by encouraging Chinese women to have more babies — but only certain kinds of women.
Among the Chinese Communist Party’s goals listed in its policy blueprint for the years 2021-2025 is to “optimize its birth policy” and “improve the quality of the population.”

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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