1. Study: 30% of religious congregations unlikely to survive next 20 years, By Sean Salai, The Washington TimesOctober 18, 2021, Pg. A9

A new wide-ranging multifaith study predicts that 30% of U.S. religious congregations will become defunct because of dramatic decreases in attendance over the coming two decades.

A survey of 15,278 congregations in 80 Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Ba’hai denominations found that large congregations continued to grow, while smaller congregations shrank in 2020, according to the study produced by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.

Heading into the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the top 10% of churches by size already represented 70% of all weekly participants in religious services, the institute found.


2. Pro-life, pro-choice groups go head-to-head to turn out voters, By Mica Soellner, The Washington TimesOctober 18, 2021, Pg. A4

The abortion debate is shaping up to play a greater-than-normal role in voter turnout in the 2022 midterms, with mobilization efforts already ramping up on both sides of the issue.

In light of the six-week abortion ban passed in Texas, upcoming hearings on the issue at the Supreme Court, and debate over the Hyde Amendment in Congress, the perennial issue is reemerging as a major catalyst.

“We think this will be the single most important issue of next year’s midterms, and we believe that it’s going to mobilize people on both sides,” said Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote.org.


3. Parents: Your Teens Don’t Need a Smartphone, By Maureen Ferguson, National ReviewOctober 17, 2021

The power struggle between Congress and Big Tech is heating up in the wake of bombshell whistleblower allegations about Instagram’s harmful effects on the mental health of teenagers. In response, Republican senator Marsha Blackburn and Democratic senator Richard Blumenthal teamed up for a laudable bipartisan investigation, but concerned parents should not expect much to change.

Parents could, however, take matters into their own hands. Parents are the real power brokers when it comes to their children, yet we often give in to the relentless pleas for iPhones, Instagram, SnapChat, and TikTok. Here’s a pro-tip from this mother of five: Just say no to smartphones and social media for your teenagers. No smartphone. No social media. It is easier than you think.

Eventually, kids need to learn how to use technology responsibly — and better to teach them while still under your roof. After some trial and error, we decided senior year is the sweet spot for our kids — so our older teens shifted to smartphones and have chosen to have a light footprint on social media. But they had a chance to grow up without being manipulated by Silicon Valley algorithms, without being corrupted by YouTubers and TikTok-ers, and without their brains being rewired and attention spans short-circuited.

So don’t wait for the politicians and tech giants to come up with well-intentioned solutions. You may not be a genius, but you can outsmart the artificial intelligence designed to keep your kids hooked on screens. Children are being robbed of the innocence of childhood, simple joys, and authentic formation in friendship and love. Give your kids the gift of saying no. Ours are grateful we did.

Maureen Ferguson is a Senior Fellow for The Catholic Association


4. Pope decries attacks in Norway, Afghanistan and England, By Associated Press, October 17, 2021, 7:23 AM

Pope Francis on Sunday decried recent deadly attacks in Norway, Afghanistan and Britain, expressing closeness to the families of victims and calling violence “a defeat for everyone.”

“Last week various attacks were carried out, for example in Norway, Afghanistan, England, which caused many deaths and injuries,” the pope said, after greeting the public in St. Peter’s Square for his customary Sunday remarks and blessings delivered from a window of the Apostolic Palace.

“I express my closeness to the families of the victims,” Francis said.

In Norway, a bow-and-arrow attack claimed five lives and left three persons wounded.

In southern Afghanistan, a suicide bombing at a mosque killed 47 people and wounded scores more. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

In England, a British lawmaker who was meeting at a church with some of his constituents was fatally stabbed, and police are investigating the slaying as a terrorist act.


5. Memo to reporters: Policy matters less to Catholics than you may think, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, October 17, 2021, Opinion

In its most recent survey of American Catholics, the Pew Research Center found virtually no change in the broad support Pope Francis enjoys among American Catholics. For those who say they attend Mass at least once a week, 83 percent also said they have a favorable view of the pope in late September, virtually unchanged from the last such poll in March.

The lowest such mark Francis ever got, in 2018 at the peak of the McCarrick and Pennsylvania Grand Jury revelations, was about 70 percent, which, among other things, makes one wonder how the narrative of “Americans v. The Pope” has managed to prove so enduring.

In all likelihood, it’s a classic case of never allowing facts to get in the way of a good story.

Those numbers, however, weren’t the most interesting aspect of the Pew results. That came when pollsters asked American Catholics for their reaction to the clampdown Pope Francis recently imposed on the Latin Mass, which generated an avalanche of commentary and protest in Catholic media circles and dominated internet discussion for weeks.

In response to the question, “What have you heard about the pope’s new restrictions on the traditional Latin Mass?”, two-thirds of American Catholics reported that they’ve heard nothing at all – nada, jack, zip, zilch.

The first take-away from the Pew study, therefore, should be a note of humility for those of us who imagine ourselves shapers of Catholic opinion, because we clearly don’t have the reach or impact we sometimes imagine.

The bigger picture to be gained here, however, is a measure of realism about the importance of “issues” when it comes to forming the perspectives of average Catholics about the Church and its leadership.


6. Debate, vote on proposed eucharistic document will top US bishops’ agenda, By Julie Asher, Catholic News Service, October 17, 2021

When the U.S. bishops gather for their fall assembly in Baltimore Nov. 15-18, it will be the first in-person meeting of the full body of bishops since November 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the bishops’ June 2020 spring meeting, and their November 2020 fall assembly and June 2021 spring meeting were both held in a virtual format.

Topping the meeting’s agenda with be debate and votes on a proposed document on the Eucharist, “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” and on a eucharistic revival initiative.

During their spring meeting this past June, 75% of the U.S. bishops approved the drafting of a document, addressed to all Catholic faithful, on eucharistic coherence.


7. Repeal of Illinois abortion notification buoyed by Texas law, By Associated Press, October 17, 2021

Alarmed and at the same time energized by a Texas law that bans most abortions, abortion-rights advocates in the General Assembly are targeting what people on both sides of the contentious issue consider the last restriction on access to abortion in Illinois.

Democrats in the House and Senate are pushing to repeal a law requiring that a parent or guardian be notified at least 48 hours in advance when a minor 17 or younger seeks an abortion. Consent is not required as it is in nearly half the states.

To parental-notice supporters, it’s a “commonsense” approach to ensuring that families are involved in a minor’s health care and even identify children in abusive situations who need additional help. Opponents say it serves no purpose but to delay a minor’s constitutional right to choose their health care, a disruption that could have adverse effects.


8. Most churchgoers trust their clergy for vaccine guidance, but leaders aren’t really offering it, Yet most clergy have been silent on the issue during the pandemic, By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, October 16, 2021, Pg. B1

[A] new survey out Friday finds the majority of regular churchgoers have heard little if anything, positive or negative, from their clergy about vaccines.

The survey by Pew Research adds new details about the complex role of religion in the United States during the pandemic.

Done during September, it found that 61 percent of regular attendees — people who go to religious services at least once a month — have at least a “fair amount” of confidence in the religious leaders at their house of worship to provide guidance about coronavirus vaccines. That trust varies depending on the group. On the high end, 78 percent of people who go to Black Protestant churches say they have that confidence in their leaders while, on the low end, only 56 percent of Catholics say it. Sixty-one percent is about the same level of confidence churchgoers express in public health officials on vaccine issues, and higher than their faith in local officials (50 percent), state officials (49 percent) and the news media (41 percent).

However, while most regular attendees said they trust their cleric, 54 percent said that leader “hadn’t said much about the vaccine either way,” Pew found.

Among clergy who did say something, the vast majority — 39 percent — encouraged people to get a vaccine. Just 5 percent of people said their clergy had discouraged them from getting vaccinated, Pew found.

And while the data doesn’t show causality, it shows a strong correlation between Americans who said their clergy had encouraged them to get the vaccine and the ones who did. Among attendees who said their clergy encouraged them, 87 percent told Pew they were at least partially vaccinated and 82 percent said they were fully vaccinated. Of those attendees whose clergy said nothing or discouraged them, 63 percent said they were partially vaccinated and 58 percent said they were fully vaccinated.


9. U.N. nuncio denounces nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, By Catholic News Service, October 16, 2021

The world’s leaders “cannot allow” themselves to be “spectators to violence and war, to brothers killing brothers, as if we were watching games from a safe distance,” Archbishop Gabriele Caccia told a U.N. committee session discussing nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction Oct. 13.

“The lives of peoples are not playthings. We cannot be indifferent onlookers,” the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations added.

The archbishop, quoting Pope Francis’ encyclical “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship,” also stressed that world leaders should never forget the people “who have suffered the effects of atomic radiation or chemical attacks.”

He also reiterated the pope’s assessment about the immorality of not just using but also possessing nuclear weapons, “since the intrinsic intentionality of having nuclear weapons is the threat to use them.”


10. Texas Abortion Law Battle Continues, By Brent Kendall, The Wall Street Journal, October 16, 2021, Pg. A4

The Justice Department on Friday said it would soon file a request with the Supreme Court seeking to block enforcement of a Texas law that bans many abortions in the state.

The department’s plans, announced by a spokesman, will pose a new test for the high court just weeks after the justices, on a 5-4 vote, declined to prevent the law from taking effect in September.

The Justice Department has argued that its case against Texas offers an easier path for the Supreme Court to intervene than an earlier lawsuit filed by abortion providers against the state. Texas disagrees and has argued the federal government’s lawsuit is improper.


11. Pro-life advocates focused on legal battles. They’re not enough to end abortion., Policies to support women and children should be the point of the movement, not an afterthought., By Stephanie Ranade Krider, The Washington Post, October 15, 2021, 9:09 AM, Opinion

No longer is it sufficient to frame the abortion issue as pitting the rights of the mother against the rights of her unborn child. Rather, we ought to be discussing the rights of both together, and how much we as a society value them both. If we could support policies that aided women and their children alongside gestational limits on abortion, we could prepare for the end of Roe in a way that didn’t devolve into panic or leave women feeling abandoned. The end of Roe ought to be just our starting point — such that, regardless of legal options, women would feel empowered and able to choose life.

Stephanie Ranade Krider is the former vice president and executive director of Ohio Right to Life. She owns a consulting firm and co-hosts the podcast, “So What Do We Have?”.


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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