1. Pope Francis Tries to Settle Accounts, By Ross Douthat, The New York Times, November 29, 2023, 5:04 AM, Opinion For years now, Pope Francis’s governance of the Roman Catholic Church has been seemingly designed to drive the church’s conservative and liberal wings ever further apart. Thus the persistent question hanging over his pontificate: How will he hold this thing together? By opening debate on a wide array of hot-button subjects without delivering explicit changes, he has encouraged the church’s progressives to push the envelope as far as possible, even toward real doctrinal rebellion, in the hopes of dragging him along. At the same time, by favoring the progressives in his personnel decisions and making institutional war on the legacy of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, he has pushed conservatives toward crisis, paranoia and revolt. On both fronts it’s unclear whether the papacy’s weakening authority can pull either group of rebels back. But in the last few weeks we’ve seen a clear attempt to use that authority, a real test of the pope’s ability to keep the church together. On the one hand, Pope Francis has moved against two of his sharpest critics on the right: First, he removed Bishop Joseph Strickland from his diocese in Tyler, Texas; now he has stripped Cardinal Raymond Burke of his privileges at the Vatican, including an income and an apartment. At the same time, the Vatican has tried to draw a bright line against the experiments of the German bishops, the leading progressive faction, by issuing a letter declaring that any reforms the Germans contemplate cannot change the church’s teaching on the all-male priesthood and the immorality of homosexual relations. In each case you have an act of discipline seemingly tailored to the way that the rebellions are manifesting themselves. Among conservatives and traditionalists, specific critiques of the pope himself from prominent bishops and cardinals have now met with specific personal punishments. Among liberals and progressives, a broad attempt to liberalize the church’s moral teachings has now met with a general doctrinal rebuke. But in each case one should be skeptical that the discipline will work. Both sides will note, for instance, that criticizing the pope earns you a sacking, but seeming doctrinal disobedience merits only a sternly worded letter. Unless the latter move is eventually backed up by something like the Strickland firing, progressives are likely to persist in the same line the German church is already pursuing, where the practices of the church are simply altered — via blessings for gay couples, say — without Rome granting formal permission. The assumption is that if liberalization becomes a fact on the ground, eventually the church’s laws will have to follow — and the more that assumption is entrenched, the harder it becomes for Rome to avoid some eventual rupture. Meanwhile, those Catholics who admire Strickland and Burke are likely to be confirmed more deeply in a culture of conservative resistance, in which to remove a bishop from his real-world office only increases his potential influence in the magisterium of internet Catholicism. The idea that a bishop or cardinal could be somehow more orthodox than the Vatican would have seemed like an impossibility to the church’s conservatives just a few short years ago. But the world’s general crisis of authority, mediated by scandal and technological disruption, now extends through conservative Catholicism as well — a long, ragged crack that Francis’s unsteady leadership has opened in what was previously the papacy’s most secure base of support.  There is in God’s providence, presumably, a form of papal stewardship that can prevent a schism or separation between the Catholic trends embodied in Germany and America — and sometime soon a new pope may get the chance to try. But what he will inherit is not just specific messes made by his predecessor, but an underlying reality of division that any policy made in Rome will need divine assistance to resolve. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/29/opinion/pope-francis-catholic-church.html__________________________________________________________ 2. Texas Supreme Court takes up judge’s temporary order easing abortion restrictions, By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, November 29, 2023 The Texas attorney general’s office urged the state Supreme Court to lift a temporary hold on the state’s abortion law, arguing that the Democratic state judge exceeded her authority by wiping out virtually all limits on abortion access. The high court heard oral arguments Tuesday in the state’s challenge to Travis County District Judge Jessica Mangrum’s Aug. 4 temporary order allowing doctors to terminate pregnancies that pose a risk to the woman’s “life and/or health” based on their “good faith judgment.” That standard is significantly looser than the state’s post-Roe law, which prohibits abortions except to save the woman’s life or prevent the “substantial impairment of major bodily function” based on the provider’s “reasonable medical judgment.” Texas Assistant Attorney General Beth Klusmann said the state legislature drew a line on abortion access, but that the court opted to “essentially eliminate the line so that there really will never be a circumstance in which a woman is unable to obtain an abortion.”  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/nov/28/texas-supreme-court-takes-judges-temporary-order-e/__________________________________________________________ 3. Pope cancels trip to Dubai for UN climate conference on doctors’ orders while recovering from flu, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, November 28, 2023, 2:50 PM Pope Francis canceled his trip to Dubai for the U.N. climate conference on doctors’ orders Tuesday, even though he is recovering from the flu and lung inflammation, the Vatican said. Francis, who turns 87 next month, was scheduled to leave Rome on Friday to address the COP28 meeting first thing Saturday morning. He also was supposed to inaugurate a faith pavilion Sunday on the sidelines of the conference before returning home.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/11/28/pope-cancels-trip-health-cop28-climate/cc198f34-8e1e-11ee-95e1-edd75d825df0_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. When an Oregon town told a church to limit its meals to the homeless the DOJ stepped in, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, November 28, 2023, 3:55 PM The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) this month signaled its support for an Oregon Episcopal church in a legal dispute over a homeless meals program that the church has run for years.  St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Brookings, Oregon, has for years regularly provided meals for homeless people in the area up to six days per week, but the city in 2021 ordered that it could only do so up to two days per week.  The church subsequently sued the city over the order. This week, the Department of Justice filed a statement in support of the church. The DOJ said in a press release that the city’s new ordinance might run afoul of the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). That law, according to the DOJ, “protect[s] individuals, houses of worship, and other religious institutions from discrimination in zoning and landmarking laws.”  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256125/when-an-oregon-town-told-a-church-to-limit-its-meals-to-the-homeless-the-doj-stepped-in__________________________________________________________ 5. Spend This Advent With Mary, Don’t miss the world premiere of two Advent carols, By Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, National Catholic Register, November 28, 2023, Opinion This year, for Advent, we at the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship are launching something new: “A Very Marian Advent Prayer Service.” Every year, many of us (including me) struggle to keep Advent in its proper liturgical sense: a season of preparation for the coming of our Savior marked by fasting and other penitential acts, in addition to special prayers, rituals and symbols. It’s not just the distractions of the secular and commercial; the sheer joy at the anticipation of Christmas keeps bursting through. So this year, why not spend Advent waiting with Mary for the coming of the Baby Jesus? Mothers know full well the challenges of the last month of pregnancy: the anticipatory joy amid what is often physical suffering or fears of the suffering that childbirth brings. It is the perfect metaphor for what we should be feeling during Advent: the incredible joy of knowing that God humbled himself to become one of us out of his great love for us, a joy, though, mixed with sadness from the realization that it was our own sins that caused this to happen; the cross lies ahead.  Beauty is not a luxury item. Beauty reveals the very nature of God. Adorning our worship with sacred beauty, as the woman in Scripture adorned the body of Christ with rare perfume, is doing the most important work of all: giving our very best to God. It is the overflowing love of God that then moves us to serve our neighbor. So with Mary this Advent, we will wait, longing for the birth of Our Lord. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone is the archbishop of San Francisco and the founder and chairman of the board of the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship. https://www.ncregister.com/commentaries/advent-2023-spend-with-mary-archbishop-cordileone__________________________________________________________

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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