1. Why My Church Grew During the Pandemic, By Stephen Ford, The Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2021, Pg. A13, Opinion We can’t find seats. The pews are full. This has been my family’s experience at St. Rita Catholic Church most Sundays since the pandemic began. Some weeks, there’s barely enough standing room in the vestibule. When other churches were shutting their doors, ours remained open. Sure enough, the faithful flocked. I recently asked one of our three priests, Father Nicholas Schierer, what explains St. Rita’s dynamism.  The church says Holy Communion is the “source and summit” of our faith, he told me, so we moved heaven and earth to make the sacraments available to the people of God.  Nationwide, in-person church attendance is as much as 50% lower than it was two years ago. Yet Father Gee estimates Mass attendance at St. Rita’s is as much as 20% higher than pre-pandemic levels. Other parishes have since fully reopened, but many families have opted to stay here. Collections for the poor also have gone up, while other parishes have seen declines. “If you’re not having Mass, you’re not getting money to help the most vulnerable,” says Father Gee.  Ours was a vibrant parish before the pandemic; now it is flourishing even more. In a time of sickness, it offered spiritual health. In a time of darkness, it offered the light of hope. In a time of loneliness, it offered tangible, intentional Christian community. That’s exactly what people of all beliefs needed over the past 18 months. It’s why my family will keep struggling to find a seat on Sunday morning. Mr. Ford is the founder of West Exec Writing. https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-my-church-grew-during-the-pandemic-mass-service-catholic-adoration-eucharist-11637795847?___________________________________________________________ 2. Court revives lawsuit of teacher fired for same-sex marriage, By Associated Press, November 26, 2021 A lawsuit filed by a teacher who was fired from his job at a Catholic high school in Indianapolis for being in a same-sex marriage can proceed, a state appeals court ruled. A panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Tuesday that a Marion County court erred in dismissing Joshua Payne-Elliott’s lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The ruling reverses that decision and sends the case back to the lower court, The Indianapolis Star reported. Payne-Elliott had worked for 13 years as a world language and social studies teacher at Cathedral High School. He was fired in June 2019 after the archdiocese mandated that all Catholic schools under its purview enforce a morality clause barring employees from entering into same-sex marriages. https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2021/11/court-revives-lawsuit-of-teacher-fired-for-same-sex-marriage___________________________________________________________ 3. Social Distancing Was a Problem Before Covid, Marriage and childbirth rates, declining for years, reached new lows during the pandemic., By Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2021, 3:00 PM, Opinion On this family holiday weekend, a look at a study of the American family. It’s called “The Divided State of Our Unions: Family Formation in (Post-)Covid America” and comes from the Institute for Family Studies, the American Enterprise Institute and the Wheatley Foundation. It’s based on two surveys conducted by YouGov for IFS and Wheatley. When the pandemic came, marriage and fertility rates in America had already been falling steadily. Last year the marriage rate fell to 33 per 1,000 of the unmarried population, and the lifetime fertility rate to 1.64 per woman—“levels never seen before in American history,” as per the study. (Fertility has been below the “replacement rate” of 2.1 for more than a decade.)  The authors considered three possibilities. One was that marriage and fertility would simply continue downward. Another was a “renaissance scenario”—the loneliness, dislocation and existential questioning of the past year and a half would produce a new appreciation for the idea of family, a longing for and desire to make them. The third was that “economic, religious, and partisan divides in family formation” would “deepen” in Covid-19’s wake. The report found most evidence for the third scenario. The desire to marry among single Americans ticked up 2 points since the pandemic, but 17% of Americans 18 to 55 reported their desire to have children had decreased, while only 10% said it had increased. And Covid might have “poured fuel” on the fissures. Interest in family formation varies by income, religion, even partisan affiliation. The rich, the religious and Republicans have a “relatively greater propensity” to marry.  A change in the character of social breakdown doesn’t require arguments for self-discipline but a case for exertion and activity—for gambling on life and joining it. “We have to make a deeper, warmer argument—a case against giving up that is rooted in what we have to gain not just by living but by living well.” It would be an argument “for the good of life.” We must “persuade human beings to overcome passivity and paralysis and jump into life.” https://www.wsj.com/articles/social-distancing-was-a-problem-before-covid-family-marriage-pandemic-religion-11637795685?___________________________________________________________ 4. Pope declares French priest-victims of Paris Commune martyrs, By Associated Press, November 25, 2021, 11:16 AM Pope Francis has declared five Catholic priests who were killed during the Paris Commune revolutionary government that took control of Paris in 1871 were martyrs who were killed out of “hatred for the faith.” The martyrdom declaration means that the five priests can be beatified, the first big step toward possible canonization, without the Vatican having to confirm a miracle attributed to their intercession. In announcing Francis’ decree Thursday, the Vatican identified only two of the priests: Enrico Planchart and Ladislao Radigue. The other three priests were from two other religious orders. They were all killed May 26, 1871, in Paris. The Paris Commune was hostile to the Catholic Church, which it accused of “complicity in the crimes of the monarchy.” It confiscated church funds, seized church property, and arrested hundreds of priests, nuns and monks. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pope-declares-french-priest-victims-of-paris-commune-martyrs/2021/11/25/014164f8-4e0b-11ec-a7b8-9ed28bf23929_story.html___________________________________________________________ 5. Cyprus: pope will transfer migrants to Italy after visit, By Menelaos Hadjicostis and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, November 25, 2021, 12:52 PM Pope Francis is arranging to transfer a number of migrants to Italy from the east Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, where he is opening a three-day visit next week, a Cypriot government official said on Thursday. Government spokesman Marios Pelekanos told The Associated Press the Vatican is now making the arrangements with Cypriot authorities. There are no specifics yet as to how many migrants will leave the island or about the logistics of their trip since the pontiff will travel to Greece immediately after his Cyprus visit. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/cyprus-pope-will-transfer-migrants-to-italhy-after-visit/2021/11/25/27de0240-4e12-11ec-a7b8-9ed28bf23929_story.html___________________________________________________________ 6. ‘Get up!’ Pope prays that Lebanon can get back on its feet, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, November 25, 2021, 10:38 AM Pope Francis told Lebanon’s prime minister on Thursday that he was praying that God would help Lebanon “get up” and get back on its feet following an unprecedented economic crisis that has thrown three quarters of the country’s 6 million people, including a million Syrian refugees, into poverty. Prime Minister Najib Mikati met privately with Francis for about 20 minutes and gave him a piece of masonry tile from a 19th-century Beirut church that was seriously damaged in the August 2020 port explosion that killed 216 people and injured more than 6,000. At the end of the audience, Francis invited Mikati and the Lebanese delegation to observe a minute of silence and prayer, the Vatican said. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/get-up-pope-prays-that-lebanon-can-get-back-on-its-feet/2021/11/25/071d26f8-4dea-11ec-a7b8-9ed28bf23929_story.html___________________________________________________________ 7. US abortions may be inching up after decades of decline, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, November 24, 2021, 11:56 PM U.S. abortions appear to be inching up after a long decline, though officials are cautious about calling it an upward trend because a government report issued Wednesday is incomplete. National abortion figures in 2017 reached their lowest level since the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortions. But the next two years, there were small increases in the abortion rate and numbers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. They rose 1% in 2018. The next year, the numbers increased 2% and the rate per 1,000 women of child-bearing age rose 1%. The CDC report represents the latest available data on U.S. abortions. But it must be interpreted cautiously because it is based on voluntary reporting and is not comprehensive, experts say. Among its limitations: It does not include abortions from three states — including California, the nation’s most populous state. Other states may have significant undercounts. https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/us-abortions-may-be-inching-up-after-decades-of-decline/2021/11/24/37170b5e-4d58-11ec-a7b8-9ed28bf23929_story.html___________________________________________________________ 8. Congressman Smith: Nigeria’s Removal from U.S. Watch List a ‘Retreat’ from Fight Against Religious Persecution, By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency, November 24, 2021 The decision to remove Nigeria from the list of “Countries of Particular Concern” was “totally unjustified,” and a backwards step in the fight against religious persecution, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said in a speech Nov. 23. “Despite the fact that Fulani militants are systematically targeting and slaughtering Christian farmers in Nigeria’s Middle Belt as well as attacking non-Fulanis throughout the country with the apparent complicity or at least indifference of Nigerian authorities — a record that landed Nigeria on the CPC list last year — the State Department no longer identifies Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC), nor even places Nigeria on its Special Watch List,” Smith said. The New Jersey Republican, the author of several bills related to religious freedom including the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, called the Biden administration’s decision “a retreat from the noble and necessary fight to protect victims of religious persecution.” https://www.ncregister.com/cna/congressman-smith-nigeria-s-removal-from-u-s-watch-list-a-retreat-from-fight-against-religious-persecution___________________________________________________________ 9. Report declares treatment of Christian minority women and girls a ‘human rights catastrophe’, By Catholic News Agency, November 24, 2021, 12:00 PM A report issued on Wednesday declared the treatment of Christian minority women and girls in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia a “human rights catastrophe.” The study, “Hear Her Cries,” published by the charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on Nov. 24, said that, “at its most extreme,” forced conversions could amount to “genocide.” The report, released on Red Wednesday, an annual commemoration raising awareness of anti-Christian persecution, highlighted cases in countries including Egypt and Pakistan. It also focused on Nigeria, which was controversially removed from this year’s U.S. State Department watchlist of countries with the most egregious violations of religious freedom. The study found numerous cases of forced kidnapping and exploitation in Egypt, that Christians account for 95% of women and girls seized by Islamists in Nigeria, and that 70% of those forcibly converted and married in Pakistan are Christians. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/249693/report-declares-treatment-of-christian-minority-women-and-girls-a-human-rights-catastrophe___________________________________________________________

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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