1. Support for Abortion Access Is Near Record, WSJ-NORC Poll Finds, Some 55% of respondents say a pregnant woman should be able to get an abortion for any reason, By Julie Wernau, The Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2023, 9:00 AM  New results from a Wall Street Journal-NORC poll show Americans’ support for abortion access is at one of the highest levels on record since nonpartisan researchers began tracking it in the 1970s. Some 55% of respondents say it should be possible for a pregnant woman to obtain a legal abortion if she wants it for any reason.   https://www.wsj.com/politics/policy/support-for-abortion-access-is-near-record-wsj-norc-poll-finds-6021c712__________________________________________________________ 2. Beijing bishop stresses ‘Sinicization’ of faith in visit to Hong Kong, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, November 20, 2023 During a recent visit to Hong Kong, Beijing Archbishop Li Shan stressed the need to more closely combine the Catholic faith and Chinese culture, saying the Church ought to pursue evangelization efforts in the spirit of “Sinicization.” In opening remarks for a theological conference in Hong Kong titled, “The Synodal Church and the Church in China: Communion, Participation, Mission,” Li said the combination of faith and Chinese culture is a source of wisdom. “We pray that under the guidance of the revelation of the Holy Spirit of God, under the direction of the spirit of the Church’s communion, and under the diligent exploration of all of us, the Chinese Church will be able to promote the work of evangelization and spirituality along the direction of Sinicization,” he said. The term “Sinicization” occasionally has generated controversy among critics who see it not merely as denoting an intersection of faith and culture, but also a pretext for extending control over the Church by China’s Communist authorities.  https://cruxnow.com/church-in-asia/2023/11/beijing-bishop-stresses-sinicization-of-faith-in-visit-to-hong-kong__________________________________________________________ 3. For one group of trans women, the pope and his message of inclusivity are a welcome change, By Nicole Winfield and Trisha Thomas, Associated Press, November 19, 2023, 5:55 PM  Francis’ latest initiative was a document from the Vatican’s doctrine office asserting that, under some circumstances, transgender people can be baptized and can serve as godparents and witnesses in weddings. It followed another recent statement from the pope himself that suggested same-sex couples could receive church blessings. In both cases, the new pronouncements reversed the absolute bans on transgender people serving as godparents issued by the Vatican doctrine office in 2015, and on same-sex blessings announced in 2021. Prominent LGBTQ+ organizations have welcomed Francis’ message of inclusivity, given gay and transgender people have long felt ostracized and discriminated against by a church that officially teaches that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.” Starting from his famous “Who am I to judge” comment in 2013 about a purportedly gay priest, to his assertion in January that “being homosexual is not a crime,” Francis has evolved his position to increasingly make clear that everyone — “todos, todos, todos” — is a child of God, is loved by God and welcome in the church. That judgment-free position is not necessarily shared by the rest of the Catholic Church. The recent Vatican gathering of bishops and laypeople, known as a synod, backed off language explicitly calling for welcoming LGBTQ+ Catholics. Conservative Catholics, including cardinals, have strongly questioned his approach.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/11/19/vatican-transgender-lgbtq/025dde4c-869a-11ee-924c-6e6807155e36_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. Yet another mystery emerges about what the Pope actually said, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, November 19, 2023, Opinion  All this comes to mind in light of a new such mini-giallo that’s emerged this week regarding the content of a recent meeting between Pope Francis and roughly forty priests of the Diocese of Rome, which took place at a parish in the Villa Verde neighborhood on the city’s eastern outskirts. In theory this was a private meeting, with no official recording or transcript, but the next day an influential Italian blog called Silere non Possum (“I cannot be silent”) carried a lengthy account of the session, complete with lengthy allegedly direct quotes. Three lines in particular stand out in terms of news interest. “You’ll say the pope is a Lutheran”: Francis supposedly said this in the context of discussing his pastoral approach to communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, telling a story about a 60-year-old Italian woman who’d written him a letter explaining that she was in a second marriage and had children with her husband, but couldn’t take communion. According to the blog, Francis said he advised the woman to make a confession and then quietly go to another parish and take communion. “Some may say that the pope is a relativist. Let it be a fruitful relativism.”: This line was allegedly delivered in the same context, regarding the divorced and civilly remarried. “Anglo-Saxon culture. Those of us who are Latins, we have closeness to the people. Clericalism is an attitude that’s distant from the people.”: This line, which allegedly came up in the context of discussing the various demands priests often face from their congregations, would appear to suggest that the pope sees clericalism as a particular temptation of Anglo-Saxon clergy. If the pope indeed said these things, it would shed interesting light on several aspects of his papacy. Whether he actually did so, however, is the $64,000 question. For the record, Silere non Possum identifies itself as a blog founded by a lay Italian canon lawyer and expert on the Vatican penal system named Marco Felipe Perfetti. It clearly has good sources; major news outlets such as the Associated Press, for example, have quoted its reports on the abuse scandals surrounding ex-Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik. On the other hand, even a casual reading of the site reveals a fairly strong anti-Francis editorial line. Moreover, because Silere non Possum is a blog rather than a news agency, it often doesn’t quote sources by name or provide a clear sense of where its information comes from, making it problematic to assess its credibility.  One struggles to escape the impression that the blog’s goal was to provide fresh reasons for its readers to get upset with Francis, without necessarily being overly scrupulous about verbatim accuracy. On the other hand, if the pope never said anything even remotely like what the blog quotes, it’s hard to know why the Vatican wouldn’t say so out loud. A spokesman could simply state, “While the contents of the session were private, I can confirm that the comments attributed to the Holy Father are false.” Instead, all we’re getting at the moment is a version of the standard “no comment,” leaving it unclear what exactly transpired. A cynic, actually, might be inclined to conclude that Francis or his advisers are happy enough to have those lines floating around, framing public impressions of what the pope really thinks, without having to take direct ownership of them. In any event, and until we get either official confirmation or denial, “the pope is a Lutheran” and “Anglo-Saxon culture” vis-à-vis clericalism now take their place alongside “the carnival is finished” and “Hell doesn’t exist” as celebrated non-quotation quotations, from one of the most epigrammatic popes of all time – so much so, in fact, that even stuff he may never have said is well on its way to immortality. https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2023/11/yet-another-mystery-emerges-about-what-the-pope-actually-said__________________________________________________________ 5. As home schooling soars in U.S., Catholic schools struggle to recover from pandemic, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, November 18, 2023, 6:00 AM As Catholic schools struggle to reach pre-pandemic student enrollment levels, Catholic home education appears to be enjoying a small renaissance, in keeping with trends showing an ongoing spike in home schooling across the U.S.   The Washington Post last month reported that home schooling is by far the “fastest-growing form of education” in the United States, with double-digit increases in home-school enrollment seen in a majority of U.S. states over roughly the past five years. That increase crosses “every measurable line of politics, geography, and demographics,” the Post said, with the paper estimating “between 1.9 million and 2.7 million home-schooled children in the United States.” “By comparison,” the paper said, “there are fewer than 1.7 million in Catholic schools, according to the National Catholic Educational Association” (NCEA).   https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256048/as-homeschooling-soars-in-us-catholic-schools-struggle-to-recover-from-pandemic__________________________________________________________ 6. Hong Kong’s Roman Catholic cardinal says he dreams of bishops from greater China praying together, By Kanis Leung, Associated Press, November 17, 2023, 11:04 AM Hong Kong’s newly appointed Roman Catholic cardinal said he dreamed of bishops and faithfuls from different parts of greater China praying together one day during a historic visit by the head of the Chinese Catholic church, a publication affiliated with the city’s diocese reported Friday.  Joseph Li, who was installed by China’s state-controlled Catholic church as an archbishop, arrived in Hong Kong on Monday at the invitation of cardinal Stephen Chow, marking the first-ever official visit by a Beijing bishop to the city. His five-day tour was a reciprocal visit following Chow’s landmark trip to Beijing in April — the first visit to the Chinese capital by the city’s bishop in nearly three decades. Experts said Chow’s invitation was a symbolic gesture that could strengthen the fragile relationship between China and the Vatican.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/11/17/hong-kong-cardinal-stephen-chow-beijing-bishop/0b79ef8c-8552-11ee-924c-6e6807155e36_story.html__________________________________________________________ 7. Haley says she would sign six-week abortion ban if still S.C. governor, By Hannah Knowles, The Washington Post, November 17, 2023, 11:31 PM Pressed on abortion at a Christian conservative gathering, GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley said Friday that she would sign a six-week abortion ban in her home state of South Carolina if she were still governor. Haley has tried to strike a more nuanced tone on abortion than some of her fellow Republican hopefuls by calling for legislators to seek areas of “consensus” at the federal level. She has also said that while she opposes abortion, she “doesn’t judge anyone for being pro-choice.” At the same time, she has previously said she would support any restriction on the procedure that can pass while sidestepping calls for a particular limit. At a forum on Friday for 2024 candidates hosted by evangelical organization the Family Leader, Haley was asked to be more specific about which types of laws she supports.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/2023/11/17/haley-abortion-six-week-south-carolina/__________________________________________________________ 8. Has the ‘Zuppi mission’ stalled?, By Luke Coppen, The Pillar, November 17, 2023, 3:55 PM Six months ago, the Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis had entrusted Italy’s Cardinal Matteo Zuppi with a delicate mission. The May 20 announcement was thin on details. It said that the pope had given Zuppi — a veteran peacebuilder linked to the Community of Sant’Egidio — “the task of leading a mission, in agreement with the Secretariat of State, to help ease tensions in the conflict in Ukraine.” In the months that followed, the cardinal  — a spindly but dynamic figure with an endearing smile — traveled to what the Vatican sees as the four decision-making centers of the war. He went to Kyiv and Moscow in June, Washington in July, and Beijing in September.  Zuppi’s globetrotting made headlines, but after he returned from a trip to China, the focus shifted elsewhere and the Russo-Ukraine war dropped down the news agenda following the outbreak of the Israel–Hamas war.  But given that the war in Ukraine continues to be fought with undimmed ferocity, commentators are asking what has become of the pope’s peace effort. Has it stalled, or perhaps even been quietly set aside? The Italian Catholic website Il Sismografo noted Nov. 13 that Zuppi had been “asked for months for some news about the concrete results of his effort.”  “No answer has ever been given. Everything seems at a standstill. Lots of media visibility. Lots of public relations,” it said. Franca Giansoldati, Il Messaggero’s Vatican correspondent, wrote in a Nov. 15 article about “the almost zero results of the diplomatic mission” launched by the pope and Zuppi. So, has the “Zuppi mission” come to nothing?  Both Zuppi and Parolin seem confident that some kind of resolution is possible concerning the Ukrainian children taken to Russia. At the same time, their comments suggest it is difficult to close whatever kind of deal is being proposed out of the media spotlight. Perhaps the question they are wrestling with is: What moves would actually secure a humanitarian breakthrough? Does Zuppi need to pack his suitcase again and do another four-city trip? Is the time approaching when the pope himself should travel to the power centers? It’s likely to take a while to weigh up such complex considerations — giving the impression that everything is at a standstill. Yes, the Vatican’s peace mission has not been accomplished, but it hasn’t been abandoned either. https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/has-the-zuppi-mission-stalled__________________________________________________________ 9. ‘Anti-Christian hate crimes’ in Europe up 44% in past year, watchdog group says, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, November 17, 2023, 1:28 PM Europe has witnessed a 44% jump in anti-Christian hate crimes across more than two dozen European countries over the past year, according to a group that monitors discrimination against Christians.  The Vienna-based Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe (OIDAC Europe) on Thursday released its annual report detailing the spike in anti-Christian incidents, which it said is “connected to a rise in extremist motivation and a higher acceptance of the targeting of churches.” OIDAC Europe says on its website that it researches, analyzes, documents, and reports “cases of intolerance and discrimination against Christians in Europe.” The group’s surveys of “intolerance and discrimination” against Christians reported “physical attacks and threats against individual Christians or Christian communities, desecration and vandalism of Christian sites” and “violations of freedom of religion, expression, association, and conscience,” among other incidents.  In its release on Thursday, OIDAC Europe said “arson attacks on churches” increased by 75% between 2021 and 2022. The report also revealed “legal discrimination against Christians who expressed traditional Christian worldviews.” The top five countries for anti-Christian hate crimes, the report said, were Germany, Italy, France, Spain, and Poland. The United Kingdom and Austria were also near the top of the list.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256040/anti-christian-hate-crimes-in-europe-up-44-percent-in-past-year-says-watchdog-group__________________________________________________________

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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