1. Fireworks Over Religious Liberty, The Supreme Court says Cuomo’s restrictions on worship violate the First Amendment., By The Wall Street Journal, November 27, 2020, Pg. A14, Editorial

Wow. That word rarely applies to Supreme Court opinions. But it does in our view to the Court’s order on Thanksgiving eve enjoining New York’s Covid-19 order restricting attendance at religious services. The Court is back as a sentinel protecting the free exercise of religion, even in a health emergency.

In an unsigned 5-4 per curiam decision, the Court blocked as discriminatory Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s arbitrary limits of 10 or 25 people in houses of worship in certain Covid hot spots. The petitions came from the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America, which represents Orthodox Jews (Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo).

While the 5-4 order is welcome, it is disappointing that the ruling wasn’t 9-0. New York’s restrictions on religious worship are so overbroad, and so arbitrary, that their violation of the Free Exercise Clause should be an easy call. Americans have tolerated extraordinary restraints on their freedom in the pandemic, but it’s increasingly clear as we learn more about the virus that too many Governors have needlessly infringed on basic rights.

And too many judges have acquiesced. Americans should welcome the Supreme Court back at the ramparts as a defender of liberty.


2. Trump’s mark on court sets in conservatives split from Roberts, reshaped majority backs faith groups in covid case, By Robert Barnes, The Washington Post, November 27, 2020, Pg. A1

The Supreme Court’s new conservative majority showed its muscle on Thanksgiving Eve, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett playing a key role in reversing the court’s past deference to local officials when weighing pandemic-related restrictions on religious organizations.

All three of President Trump’s nominees to the court were in the 5-to-4 majority that blocked New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s restrictions on houses of worship in temporary hot spots where the coronavirus is raging.

“Governor Cuomo should have known that openly targeting Jews for a special covid crackdown was never going to be constitutional,” said Eric Rassbach, vice president and senior counsel at the Becket Fund, which represented Agudath Israel. Covid-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus. “The Supreme Court was right to step in and allow Jews and Catholics to worship as they have for centuries.”


3. Courts Face More Cases on Covid Limits, High court ruling on religious services could affect up to 20 lawsuits across nation, By Stephanie Yang, Josh Mitchell and Alicia A. Caldwell, The Wall Street Journal, November 27, 2020, Pg. Pg. A6

The Supreme Court ruling that blocked New York from imposing strict limits on attendance at religious services could influence lawsuits in other states seeking to overturn similar rules on houses of worship.

Up to 20 cases involving houses of worship in states including Nevada, New Jersey, California and Oregon could be affected by the Supreme Court decision, legal experts say.


4. Pope backs Argentine women’s opposition to abortion bill, By Associated Press, November 27, 2020, 5:35 AM

Pope Francis is encouraging Argentine women who are protesting a proposed new law to legalize abortion, saying the protection of life is above all a matter of human ethics.

In the letter to the women dated Nov. 22, the Argentine pope wrote: “Is it fair to eliminate a human life to solve a problem? Is it fair to hire a hit man to solve a problem?”

After Francis’ handwritten letter circulated on social media this week, the news portal of the Holy See confirmed Francis’ intervention on Friday.

Vatican News said Francis was responding to a group of women from the shantytowns of Buenos Aires where he used to minister who have organized in recent years to oppose efforts to decriminalize abortion. In the letter, Francis thanked the women for their activism and encouraged them, saying “the country is proud to have women like you.”


5. New cardinals quarantine in pope’s hotel ahead of consistory, By Nicole Winfield and Trisha Thomas, Associated Press, November 27, 2020, 7:44 AM

The Vatican’s Santa Marta hotel was built to sequester cardinals during papal elections. It’s now sequestering soon-to-be cardinals in town for this weekend’s ceremony to get their red hats: A handful are in protective coronavirus quarantine, confined to their rooms on Vatican orders and getting meals delivered to their doors.

The 10-day quarantines, with COVID-19 tests administered at the start and finish, are just one example of how Saturday’s ceremony to elevate new cardinals is like nothing the Holy See has ever seen.


6. Woke Capitalism in a Secular World, Principles grounded in faith or existential commitment should guide companies., By Andrew V. Abela, The Wall Street Journal, November 27, 2020, Pg. A13, Opinion

This week’s emotional response by employees at Penguin Random House Canada when they learned that their company would publish best-selling author Jordan Peterson’s next book follows Target’s flip-flop last week on whether to sell Abigail Shrier’s book, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.” They are the latest expressions of the new religion of wokeness that is spreading through corporations at a staggering pace, filling the vacuum left by the decline in traditional belief and practice.

In practice, “woke capital” does little more than pay tribute to progressive causes through marketing and posturing. The problem for companies that play along is that the proponents of many progressive causes are hostile to free enterprise itself. The best that such companies can hope for is short-term appeasement.

It is not the role of unelected business leaders to involve public companies in controversial political or social issues. They should instead work on the good that they were established to do, in a principled fashion. And they should look closely at the source of these principles to make sure that what they are following is a moral compass, not a wind vane.

Mr. Abela is dean of the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America.


7. Pope Francis: A Crisis Reveals What Is in Our Hearts, To come out of this pandemic better than we went in, we must let ourselves be touched by others’ pain., By Pope Francis, The New York Times, November 26, 2020, 5:00 AM, Opinion

In every personal “Covid,” so to speak, in every “stoppage,” what is revealed is what needs to change: our lack of internal freedom, the idols we have been serving, the ideologies we have tried to live by, the relationships we have neglected.

In lockdown I’ve often gone in prayer to those who sought all means to save the lives of others. So many of the nurses, doctors and caregivers paid that price of love, together with priests, and religious and ordinary people whose vocations were service. We return their love by grieving for them and honoring them.

Whether or not they were conscious of it, their choice testified to a belief: that it is better to live a shorter life serving others than a longer one resisting that call. That’s why, in many countries, people stood at their windows or on their doorsteps to applaud them in gratitude and awe. They are the saints next door, who have awakened something important in our hearts, making credible once more what we desire to instill by our preaching.

They are the antibodies to the virus of indifference. They remind us that our lives are a gift and we grow by giving of ourselves, not preserving ourselves but losing ourselves in service.

Yet some groups protested, refusing to keep their distance, marching against travel restrictions — as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom! Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals. It means having a regard for all citizens and seeking to respond effectively to the needs of the least fortunate.

It is all too easy for some to take an idea — in this case, for example, personal freedom — and turn it into an ideology, creating a prism through which they judge everything.

The coronavirus crisis may seem special because it affects most of humankind. But it is special only in how visible it is. There are a thousand other crises that are just as dire, but are just far enough from some of us that we can act as if they don’t exist. Think, for example, of the wars scattered across different parts of the world; of the production and trade in weapons; of the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing poverty, hunger and lack of opportunity; of climate change. These tragedies may seem distant from us, as part of the daily news that, sadly, fails to move us to change our agendas and priorities. But like the Covid-19 crisis, they affect the whole of humanity.

This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities — what we value, what we want, what we seek — and to commit to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of.

God asks us to dare to create something new. We cannot return to the false securities of the political and economic systems we had before the crisis. We need economies that give to all access to the fruits of creation, to the basic needs of life: to land, lodging and labor. We need a politics that can integrate and dialogue with the poor, the excluded and the vulnerable, that gives people a say in the decisions that affect their lives. We need to slow down, take stock and design better ways of living together on this earth.

Pope Francis is the head of the Catholic Church and the bishop of Rome. This essay has been adapted from his new book “Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future,” written with Austen Ivereigh.


8. Supreme Court rules against NY coronavirus restrictions, By Jessica Gresko, Associated Press, November 26, 2020

As coronavirus cases surge again nationwide the Supreme Court late Wednesday barred New York from enforcing certain limits on attendance at churches and synagogues in areas designated as hard hit by the virus.

The justices split 5-4 with new Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the majority. It was the conservative’s first publicly discernible vote as a justice. The court’s three liberal justices and Chief Justice John Roberts dissented.

The move was a shift for the court. Earlier this year, when Barrett’s liberal predecessor, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was still on the court, the justices divided 5-4 to leave in place pandemic-related capacity restrictions affecting churches in California and Nevada.

The court’s action was a victory for the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues that had sued to challenge state restrictions announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Oct. 6.

The Diocese of Brooklyn, which covers Brooklyn and Queens, argued houses of worship were being unfairly singled out by the governor’s executive order. The diocese argued it had previously operated safely by capping attendance at 25 percent of a building’s capacity and taking other measures. Parts of Brooklyn and Queens are now in yellow zones where attendance at houses of worship is capped at 50 percent of a building’s capacity, but the church is keeping attendance lower.


9. England’s bishops ‘delighted’ over resumption of public worship on Dec. 2, By Charles Collins, Crux, November 26, 2020

England’s Catholic bishops say they are “delighted” that public worship will resume when the national COVID-19 lockdown expires on Dec. 2.

On that date, England will have a three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions, but the UK government has confirmed that public worship will be allowed even under the strictest Tier 3 level.


10. Supreme Court: Pandemic No Excuse to Discriminate Against Religious Groups, By Paul Strand, CBN News, November 26, 2020

A gigantic victory for religious liberty late Wednesday night at the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 5-4 ruling, the justices told New York Governor Andrew Cuomo he can’t discriminate against religious groups when it comes to Covid-19 restrictions.

“The Court sent a clear and important signal: a global pandemic does not give lawmakers license to discriminate on the basis of religion,” stated Ashley McGuire, senior fellow at The Catholic Association.  “How fitting that this injunction protecting the faithful comes on the day we celebrate those who first came to America in search of this basic freedom. Countless Americans whose right to worship has been unjustly curtailed by policy makers singling out churches during this pandemic have reason for an extra measure of gratitude today.”

“Today, as Americans gather around altars and dining room tables and give thanks to God for the blessings that He has showered on us, we can add thanks for a Constitution that protects religious liberty in our country and a Supreme Court which refuses to abandon that first freedom,” commented Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, also of The Catholic Association.


11. Arkansas senate passes abortion ban in new challenge to Roe, By Catholic News Agency, November 25, 2020, 10:30 AM

Arkansas lawmakers have introduced a bill to ban nearly all abortions in the state in what lawmakers and pro-life advocates hope will serve as a new challenge to Roe v. Wade.

On Nov. 18, State Sen. Jason Rapert (R) and Rep. Mary Bentley (R) introduced Senate Bill 6, to create the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act. The bill criminalizes abortions except when done to save the life of the mother, but does not carry charges or convictions for mothers of unlawfully aborted children.


12. Communities that take their own ‘path’ lack Holy Spirit, pope says, By Junno Arocho Esteves, Crux, November 25, 2020

Pope Francis said he was dismayed by Catholic communities and groups that claim to be working to improve church life, but attempt to do so without prayer, the Eucharist and unity with the rest of the church.

“At times, I feel a great sadness when I see a community that, with goodwill, takes a wrong path because it thinks it is making the church through gatherings, as if it were a political party: the majority, the minority, what this one thinks of this or that or the other, (saying), ‘This is like a synod, a synodal path that we must take,’” the pope said Nov. 25 during his weekly general audience.

While the pope did not mention a specific country or situation, already in June 2019, he had written a letter to Catholics in Germany urging them to ensure that their “synodal path” was guided by the Holy Spirit with patience and was not simply a “search for immediate results that generate quick and immediate consequences but are ephemeral due to the lack of maturity or because they do not respond to the vocation to which we are called.”

The Catholic Church in Germany launched the Synodal Path in 2019. Scheduled to run for two years, it is debating the issues of power, sexual morality, priestly life and the role of women in the church.


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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