1. An abducted German priest is said to be freed in Mali one year after being seized in the capital, By Baba Ahmed, Associated Press, November 27, 2023, 7:45 AM A German priest who was abducted by rebels in Mali’s capital in November 2022 has been released by his captors, a church member and a former colleague told The Associated Press on Monday. Church members in the capital of Bamako learned of the release of Rev. Hans-Joachim Lohre late Sunday, according to Dia Monique Pare, a former colleague who had confirmed his kidnapping. There were few details about his release.  Lohre was abducted by al-Qaida-linked rebels in Bamako. It was the first time that militants had seized a foreigner in the capital since their insurgency began more than a decade ago. Other foreign religious figures have been abducted in more remote parts of the country.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/11/27/mali-bamako-german-priest-abduction-rebels/e1d469a4-8d22-11ee-95e1-edd75d825df0_story.html__________________________________________________________ 2. Pope Francis says he has a lung inflammation but will go to Dubai this week for a climate conference, By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, November 26, 2023, 3:12 PM  Pope Francis on Sunday revealed that he has a lung inflammation but will go later this week to Dubai to address the climate change conference. Francis skipped his weekly Sunday appearance at a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, a day after the Vatican said he was suffering from a mild flu. Instead, Francis gave the traditional noon blessing in an appearance televised live from the chapel in the Vatican hotel where he lives.  In those comments, Francis said that he was going to the United Arab Emirates for the COP28 gathering on climate change and that he would deliver his speech, as scheduled, on Saturday to the participants. “Besides war, our world is threatened by another great peril, that of climate change, which puts at risk life on Earth, especially for future generations,’’ the pontiff said in the words read by the priest.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/11/26/pope-francis-flu-vatican/6c4a36d6-8c42-11ee-95e1-edd75d825df0_story.html__________________________________________________________ 3. It’s impossible to ignore Pope Francis’s growing Jewish problem, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, November 26, 2023, Opinion When Pope Francis was elected in 2013, the forecast among those invested in Jewish-Catholic dialogue generally was rosy.  It’s not that anyone suspects Francis of repudiating the theological advances in Catholic understanding since 1965’s Nostra Aetate, the document of the Second Vatican Council on relations with Judaism. It’s rather that appropriating those insights, and translating them into both his rhetoric and his pastoral agenda, sometimes just don’t seem that much of a priority. Moreover, there’s a perception that Francis’s campaign to build bridges with Islam sometimes comes at the expense of solidarity with Jews.  These three sources of tension – the politics of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the theological approach to Judaism, and the inter-faith balancing act vis-à-vis Islam — are all coming to a head amid the current conflagration. The criticism of the pope’s response to the Gaza war started almost immediately. In mid-October, for example, the French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, the son of a Polish Jew who survived Auschwitz, asserted that Francis “is now totally discredited” for his failure to clearly face the reality of Islamic-inspired terrorism, and “represents a catastrophe for the church and for Europe.” This past week, a public statement from the Council of the Assembly of Rabbis in Italy reflected frustration in Jewish circles after the pontiff essentially accused both sides in the Gaza conflict of “terrorism.” In so doing, the rabbis asserted, Francis placed “innocent people torn from their families on the same level as people detained often for very serious acts of terrorism.” The rabbis wondered aloud what the point has been of decades of Jewish-Catholic dialogue when, in a time of need, what Jews get from the pope isn’t solidarity but “diplomatic acrobatics, balancing acts and icy equidistance, which is certainly distance but is not fair.” Aides to the pope quickly dismissed the criticism, but it’s unlikely to disappear just because senior Vatican diplomats describe it as unwarranted.  Recently an Italian Jew named Vittorio Mascarini, who leads a Zionist organization in Italy, wrote in the Jewish News Syndicate: “If it continues to maintain its ambiguous position, the Holy See risks its entire relationship with Israel and world Jewry.” The war in Gaza has already taken an enormous toll. For Francis, who clearly aspires to be a peace-maker, it undoubtedly would be especially agonizing should his relationship with Jews and Judaism end up being among the casualties. https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2023/11/its-impossible-to-ignore-pope-franciss-growing-jewish-problem__________________________________________________________ 4. Rome sets red lines for talks with German bishops, By Luke Coppen, The Pillar, November 24, 2023, 2:02 PM The Vatican has told German bishops that women priests and Church teaching on homosexual acts are not up for discussion in talks scheduled for next year. Rome set out its red lines in an Oct. 23 note to Beate Gilles, the general secretary of the German bishops’ conference. A conference spokesman confirmed that the bishops had received the message — reportedly sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin — during a meeting of their permanent council at the start of this week.   The talks — which will focus on resolutions issued by Germany’s contentious “synodal way” — are due to involve the Vatican’s dicasteries for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Promotion of Christian Unity, Bishops, Divine Worship, and Legislative Texts. The note’s publication follows the release of a Nov. 10 letter in which Pope Francis said he shared concerns that elements in the German Church are taking steps “to steer it increasingly away from the universal Church’s common path.” The pope was referring to the decisions of the synodal way, an initiative that brought together the country’s bishops and select lay people at five “synodal assemblies” between 2020 and 2023.  Participants endorsed texts calling for women deacons, a re-examination of priestly celibacy, lay preaching at Masses, same-sex blessings, and a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on homosexuality.  The note said that two topics where “there is no possibility of arriving at a different assessment” were the teachings that priestly ordination is reserved to men and the Church’s negative judgment on homosexual acts.   https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/rome-sets-red-lines-for-talks-with__________________________________________________________ 5. ‘Red Week’: Buildings and monuments across the world lit red in honor of persecuted Christians, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, November 24, 2023, 6:00 AM Buildings, monuments, and hundreds of churches across the world are being lit up in red throughout November in honor of persecuted Christians suffering for their faith. Organized by the Christian aid group Aid to the Church in Need International (ACN), the week of demonstrations Nov. 19–26 is known as “Red Week” and has been taking place in honor of persecuted Christians every November since 2015. This year several special events being held in conjunction with Red Week will emphasize the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, India, and Africa.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256088/buildings-and-monuments-across-the-world-lit-red-in-honor-of-persecuted-christians__________________________________________________________ 6. Bishop Barron in ‘frank disagreement’ with Synod on Synodality’s report on ‘development of moral teaching’, By Courtney Mares, Catholic , November 24, 2023, 11:45 AM Bishop Robert Barron has said that he is in “frank disagreement” with the final report of the Synod on Synodality’s claim that advances in the sciences require an evolution in the Church’s moral teaching on human sexuality. In a reflection published this week, the bishop of Winona–Rochester, Minnesota, said it is “troubling” to see how members of the German bishops’ conference are already “using the language of the synod report to justify major reformulations of the Church’s sexual teaching.” Barron took particular issue with the suggestion that “advances in our scientific understanding will require a rethinking of our sexual teaching, whose categories are, apparently, inadequate to describe the complexities of human sexuality” in the synthesis document. He called this language “condescending to the richly articulate tradition of moral reflection in Catholicism,” including the theology of the body developed by St. John Paul II.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256105/bishop-barron-in-frank-disagreement-with-synod-on-synodality-s-report-on-development-of-moral-teaching__________________________________________________________ 7. Peruvian bishops hail new law that specifies the rights of the unborn child, By Diego Lopez Marina, Catholic News Agency, November 23, 2023 The Peruvian Bishops’ Conference congratulated the country’s congress for the passage of Law 31935, which specifies the rights granted in the constitution to unborn children. “This legislative decision reinforces our commitment to the defense of life from the moment of conception and consolidates the recognition of human dignity as the supreme principle. Children from their conception are the greatest treasure in the world, the future of the human family,” says the Nov. 20 statement from the bishops’ conference signed by Miguel Cabrejos, the archbishop of Trujillo and conference president. Article 2 of the Political Constitution of Peru recognizes the right of the conceived child in “everything that favors him.” However, the current Civil Code in Article 1 makes a distinction between the conceived child and human person by establishing that “the human person is a subject of law from birth” and thus leaves room for arguing “but not from conception.” As amended, the civil code states: “Human life begins with conception. The human person is a subject of law from his conception. The Peruvian state recognizes and guarantees respect for the dignity of the conceived child, as well as its right to life, individual identity, mental and physical integrity, as well as to freely develop in the womb [i.e., without external interference].”  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256099/peruvian-bishops-hail-new-law-that-specifies-the-rights-of-the-unborn-child__________________________________________________________ 8. Closing arguments in Vatican trial seek to expose problems in the city state’s legal system, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, November 22, 2023, 2:44 PM Lawyers for a once-powerful cardinal accused Vatican prosecutors of being “prisoner to their completely shattered theory” on Wednesday in the latest round of closing arguments of a trial that has raised fundamental questions about the rule of law in the city state. Despite attempts to demonize Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the two-year trial hasn’t proved any of the prosecutors’ allegations of embezzlement, abuse of office or witness tampering against him, said attorneys Maria Concetta Marzo and Fabio Viglione. “The cardinal is innocent,” they said in a statement. “Thanks to the hearings, we were able to ascertain that none of the accusations had any foundation and that prosecutors were prisoner to their completely shattered theory.” Becciu is on trial along with nine others in a sprawling case that is focused on the Vatican’s 350 million-euro investment in a London property but also includes two other tangents. Prosecutors have accused the 10 of a host of financial crimes including fraud, corruption, embezzlement and abuse of office. Becciu has denied wrongdoing, as have the other defendants. A verdict is expected in mid-December.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/11/22/vatican-trial-cardinal-becciu/851a3f10-896f-11ee-a36e-fdb7be9bd43d_story.html__________________________________________________________ 9. Christian school that objected to transgender athlete sues Vermont after it’s banned from competing, By Lisa Rathke, Associated Press, November 22, 2023, 4:05 PM A Vermont Christian school that withdrew its girls basketball team from a playoff game because a transgender student was playing on the opposing team is suing Vermont for barring it from state tournaments and a state tuition program. Mid Vermont Christian School of Quechee forfeited the Feb. 21 game, saying it believed that the transgender player jeopardized “the fairness of the game and the safety of our players.” The executive council of the Vermont Principals’ Association, which governs school sports and activities, ruled in March that Mid Vermont Christian had violated the council’s policies on race, gender and disability awareness, and therefore was ineligible to participate in future tournaments. The school filed a federal lawsuit in Burlington on Tuesday, saying the Vermont Agency of Education’s refusal to designate it as an approved independent school amounted to discrimination against religious schools. A separate entity, the Vermont State Board of Education, requires independent schools to post on their websites and provide to the board a statement of nondiscrimination that is consistent with the state’s public accommodation and fair employment laws, and submit a signed assurance by the head of the school that it complies with the public accommodation law. If a school is not approved, it cannot participate in Vermont’s town tuition program, which pays for students in communities that do not have a public school to attend other public schools or approved private schools of their choice. Approval is also needed for an independent school to have students take college courses through a state program.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2023/11/22/christian-school-lawsuit-transgender-game-vermont/cf6e9cb8-897a-11ee-a36e-fdb7be9bd43d_story.html__________________________________________________________ 10. China is expanding its crackdown on mosques to regions outside Xinjiang, Human Rights Watch says, By Simina Mistreanu, Associated Press, November 22, 2023, 6:41 AM The Chinese government has expanded its campaign of closing mosques to regions other than Xinjiang, where for years it has been blamed for persecuting Muslim minorities, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Wednesday. Authorities have closed mosques in the northern Ningxia region as well as Gansu province, which are home to large populations of Hui Muslims, as part of a process known officially as “consolidation,” according to the report, which draws on public documents, satellite images and witness testimonies. Local authorities also have been removing architectural features of mosques to make them look more “Chinese,” part of a campaign by the ruling Communist Party to tighten control over religion and reduce the risk of possible challenges to its rule. President Xi Jinping in 2016 called for the “Sinicization” of religions, initiating a crackdown that has largely concentrated on the western region of Xinjiang, home to more than 11 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/2023/11/21/china-muslims-human-rights-watch-mosques/d3f6b3a0-88d1-11ee-a36e-fdb7be9bd43d_story.html__________________________________________________________ 11. Nevada judge rejects attempt to get abortion protections on 2024 ballot, By Gabe Stern, Associated Press, November 22, 2023, 8:06 PM A judge has struck down an effort to enshrine reproductive rights, including abortion, in Nevada’s constitution, as abortion rights advocates in the western swing state attempt to follow other states in putting the question before voters in 2024. Judge James T. Russell in Carson City District Court concluded on Tuesday that the proposed ballot initiative is too broad, contains a “misleading description of effect” and has an unfunded mandate. The petition, if passed by voters, would have amended the state constitution to include the “fundamental right to reproductive freedom,” including prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, birth control, vasectomy, tubal ligation, abortion and abortion care. “This is probably the clearest case I have seen that I think there is a violation of the single-subject rule,” Russell said on Tuesday, according to KOLO-TV Reno, which first reported the ruling. “I’ve seen a lot of them over the years and in respect to this particular matter, there are too many subjects. Not all of which are functionally related to each other.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/11/22/abortion-nevada-reproductive-freedom/956ae8ce-899c-11ee-a36e-fdb7be9bd43d_story.html__________________________________________________________

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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!
“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.