1. 5 conservative cardinals challenge pope to affirm church teaching on gays and women ahead of meeting, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, October 2, 2023, 2:32 AM Five conservative cardinals from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas have challenged Pope Francis to affirm Catholic teaching on homosexuality and female ordination ahead of a big Vatican meeting where such hot-button issues are up for debate. The cardinals on Monday published five questions they submitted to Francis, known as “dubia,” as well as an open letter to the Catholic faithful in which they outlined their concerns. The cardinals said they felt duty-bound to inform the faithful “so that you may not be subject to confusion, error, and discouragement.”  The synod and its proposals for greater lay involvement have thrilled progressives and rattled conservatives who warn any changes could lead to schism. The cardinals are among those who have issued such warnings, and their questions to Francis asked him to affirm Catholic doctrine lest the synod undue the church’s traditional teaching. In particular, they asked Francis to affirm that the church cannot bless same-sex couples, and that any sexual act outside marriage between man and woman is a grave sin. The Vatican teaches that homosexuals must be treated with dignity and respect but that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.” They asked him if the synod itself could replace the pope and bishops as the supreme authority in the church, an issue of concern to some in the hierarchy who feel threatened by the synod’s call for empowering lay people. And they asked him to affirm or deny if the church in the future could one day ordain women; church doctrine holds that only men can be ordained priests.  They were Cardinals Walter Brandmueller of Germany, a former Vatican historian; Raymond Burke of the United States, whom Francis axed as head of the Vatican supreme court; Juan Sandoval of Mexico, the retired archbishop of Guadalajara, Robert Sarah of Guinea, the retired head of the Vatican’s liturgy office, and Joseph Zen, the retired archbishop of Hong Kong.  Brandmueller and Burke were among four signatories of a previous round of “dubia” to Francis in 2016 following his controversial opening to letting divorced and civilly remarried couples receive Communion. Then, the cardinals were concerned that Francis’ position violated church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. Francis never responded to their questions, and two of their co-signatories subsequently died. Francis apparently did respond to this new round of questions penned by the five cardinals in April. The cardinals didn’t publish his reply, but they apparently found it so unsatisfactory that they reformulated their five questions, submitted them to him again and asked him to simply respond with a yes or no. He didn’t, prompting the cardinals to make the texts public and issue a “notification” warning to the faithful. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/10/02/vatican-conservatives-synod-lgbtq/28fc5f04-60ea-11ee-b406-3ea724995806_story.html__________________________________________________________ 2. Vatican Assembly Puts the Church’s Most Sensitive Issues on the Table, Pope Francis’ calls for open-minded discussion will be tested this week as bishops meet with lay people, including women, to debate topics such as married priests and the blessing of gay couples., By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, October 2, 2023, 5:01 AM Throughout his decade as leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis has allowed debates on previously taboo topics and set in motion subtle shifts toward liberalizing changes that have enraged conservatives for going too far and frustrated progressives for not going far enough. This month, starting on Wednesday, Francis’ desire for the church to discuss the concerns of its faithful, even the most sensitive topics, will culminate at the Vatican in an assembly of bishops from around the world that will allow, for the first time, lay people, including women, to attend and vote. The issues under discussion will include priestly celibacy, married priests, the blessing of gay couples, the extension of sacraments to the divorced and the ordination of female deacons. Detractors are wary of the very nature of the assembly, known as a synod, and have criticized it as a bureaucratic talkathon or as an insidious Trojan horse for progressives to erode the church’s traditions under the cloak of collegiality.  https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/02/world/europe/pope-francis-synod.html__________________________________________________________3. Women’s voices and votes loom large as pope is set to open a Vatican meeting on church’s future, By Nicole Winfield and Trisha Thomas, Associated Press, October 2, 2023, 8:09 AM A few years ago, Pope Francis told the head of the main Vatican-backed Catholic women’s organization to be “brave” in pushing for change for women in the Catholic Church. Maria Lia Zervino took his advice and in 2021 wrote Francis a letter, then made it public, saying flat out that the Catholic Church owed a big debt to half of humanity and that women deserved to be at the table where church decisions are made, not as mere “ornaments” but as protagonists. Francis appears to have taken note, and this week opens a global gathering of Catholic bishops and laypeople discussing the future of the church, where women — their voices and their votes — are taking center stage for the first time. For Zervino, who worked alongside the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio when both held positions in the Argentine bishops’ conference, the gathering is a watershed moment for the church and quite possibly the most consequential thing Francis will have undertaken as pope.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/10/02/catholic-church-vatican-women-synod-pope/3e88b61c-60d9-11ee-b406-3ea724995806_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. House adds anti-abortion guardrails to bill reauthorizing global AIDS relief, President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief goes to Senate as deadline looms, By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, October 2, 2023 The House has voted to reauthorize the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief after adding pro-life protections, teeing up a showdown with the Senate as Republicans accuse the Biden administration of seeking to expand the program’s mission to allow promoting abortion. The House voted 216-212 late Thursday to pass the State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill, which includes a one-year extension for PEPFAR, after amending the legislation to prohibit the global HIV/AIDS relief from going to non-governmental organizations that advocate for abortion. The bill’s passage came after a heated debate over the Biden administration’s September 2022 plan, “Reimaging PEPFAR’s Strategic Direction,” which called for integrating the program initiated by President George W. Bush with areas such as “sexual reproductive health, rights and services.”  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/sep/29/house-adds-anti-abortion-guardrails-bill-reauthori/__________________________________________________________ 5. California governor names Laphonza Butler, former Kamala Harris adviser, to Feinstein Senate seat, By Michael R. Blood, Associated Press, October 2, 2023, 6:49 AM California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected Laphonza Butler, a Democratic strategist and adviser to Kamala Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign, to fill the U.S. Senate seat made vacant by the death of Sen. Dianne Feinstein.  Butler leads Emily’s List, a political organization that supports Democratic women candidates who favor abortion rights.   Emily’s List, the group Butler leads, focuses on electing Democratic women who support abortion rights. With the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn women’s constitutional right to abortion, the issue has become a galvanizing one for many Democrats.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/10/01/senate-feinstein-newsom-california-laphonza-butler/c39a66d8-60d0-11ee-b406-3ea724995806_story.html__________________________________________________________ 6. ‘Two Trains Charging at Each Other’: A Texas Bishop Takes On the Pope, Bishop Joseph Strickland, a hero to the emboldened traditionalist wing of American Catholicism, is in open warfare with the Vatican as it hosts a landmark gathering., By Ruth Graham, The New York Times, October 2, 2023, 5:00 AM This year alone, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, has accused the pope of undermining the Catholic faith, has suggested that other Vatican officials have veered so far from church teaching that they are no longer Catholic, and has warned that a landmark global gathering that opens this week at the Vatican could threaten “basic truths” of Catholic doctrine. With a savvy instinct for inserting himself into theological disputes and culture-war dust-ups across the country, Bishop Strickland has become a leading voice in the emboldened traditionalist wing of American Catholicism. Now, he is at the center of what is shaping up to be an unusually personal clash in an escalating conflict between Pope Francis and American conservatives: The Vatican, in a relatively rare move, has investigated the bishop’s leadership and is reported to be privately considering asking for his resignation. The bishop, in a rarer one, has publicly refused. “I cannot resign as Bishop of Tyler because that would be me abandoning the flock that I was given charge of by Pope Benedict XVI,” he wrote in an open letter to Catholics in his diocese in September. He said that he would comply if the pope removes him from office. The conflict poses a delicate challenge for the Vatican, given Bishop Strickland’s popularity among conservative Catholics.  https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/02/us/pope-vatican-catholic-church-texas-bishop.html__________________________________________________________ 7. Pope Francis creates 21 new cardinals who will help him to reform the church and cement his legacy, By Nicole Winfield and Trisha Thomas, Associated Press, September 30, 2023, 9:15 AM Pope Francis created 21 new cardinals at a ritual-filled ceremony Saturday, including key figures at the Vatican and in the field who will help enact his reforms and cement his legacy as he enters a crucial new phase in running the Catholic Church. On a crisp sunny morning filled with cheers from St. Peter’s Square, Francis further expanded his influence on the College of Cardinals who will help him govern and one day elect his successor: With Saturday’s additions, nearly three-quarters of the voting-age “princes of the church” owe their red hats to the Argentine Jesuit.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/09/30/vatican-pope-new-cardinals-synod/975bb1c0-5f69-11ee-b961-94e18b27be28_story.html__________________________________________________________ 8. Judge blocks 2 provisions in North Carolina’s new abortion law; 12-week near-ban remains in place, By Gary D. Robertson, Associated Press, September 30, 2023, 2:58 PM A federal judge on Saturday blocked two portions of North Carolina’s new abortion law from taking effect while a lawsuit continues. But nearly all of the restrictions approved by the legislature this year, including a near-ban after 12 weeks of pregnancy, aren’t being specifically challenged and remain intact. U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles issued an order halting enforcement of a provision to require surgical abortions that occur after 12 weeks — those for cases of rape and incest, for example — be performed only in hospitals, not abortion clinics. That limitation would have otherwise taken effect on Sunday. And in the same preliminary injunction, Eagles extended beyond her temporary decision in June an order preventing enforcement of a rule that doctors must document the existence of a pregnancy within the uterus before prescribing a medication abortion.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/09/30/north-carolina-abortion-law-hospitals-pill/66f7e33c-5fc3-11ee-b961-94e18b27be28_story.html__________________________________________________________ 9. Baltimore Archdiocese files for bankruptcy before new law on abuse lawsuits takes effect, By Lea Skene, Associated Press, September 29, 2023, 3:16 PM  The Archdiocese of Baltimore on Friday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization days before a new state law goes into effect removing the statute of limitations on child sex abuse claims and allowing victims to sue their abusers decades after the fact. The step will allow the oldest diocese in the United States “to equitably compensate victim-survivors of child sexual abuse” while the local Catholic church continues its mission and ministries, Archbishop William E. Lori said in a statement posted on the archdiocese website.  https://apnews.com/article/church-abuse-bankruptcy-baltimore-archdiocese-fd2c76a1764af8c61f17db73c6655510__________________________________________________________ 10. Thousands join Dominicans in Washington, DC, for rosary pilgrimage, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, October 1, 2023, 3:15 PM A few thousand Catholics joined Dominican priests and sisters on Saturday for a daylong event in Washington, D.C., focused on praying and reflecting on the rosary to conclude a nine-month rosary novena. The Sept. 30 Dominican Rosary Pilgrimage, which was held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, included talks by Dominican priests, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, confession, and a vigil Mass. The pilgrimage was held one day before the start of the month of the rosary in October.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/255533/thousands-join-dominicans-in-washington-dc-for-rosary-pilgrimage__________________________________________________________ 11. ‘Not much new’ will come out of this year’s synod, Vatican’s doctrine chief predicts, By Almudena Martínez-Bordiú, Catholic News Agency, October 1, 2023, 2:34 PM Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, the Vatican’s new chief of doctrine, predicts that “those who expect big changes” to come out of this month’s Synod of Bishops will be “disappointed.” But the Argentinian prelate, speaking Saturday in an exclusive interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, left the door open to such changes happening at a later date.  “People who are afraid of strange or misplaced doctrinal advances, and people who, on the other hand, expect great changes, are going to be really disappointed,” he said. The Synod on Synodality, he said, “is not conceived in this vein.” “At least not this year,” he added. “Afterwards, we will see what emerges, and next year we will see what happens, but for this synod, this year, we cannot expect too much.”  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/255532/not-be-much-new-will-come-out-of-this-year-s-synod-vatican-s-doctrine-chief-predicts__________________________________________________________ 12. New study shows that now almost two-thirds of US Catholics believe in Real Presence, By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, September 29, 2023, 6:05 PM A new study shows that almost two-thirds of adult Catholics in the United States believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, a significantly different result from the often-cited 2019 Pew Research study that suggested only one-third of adult Catholics in the U.S. believe in the Church’s teaching on the Blessed Sacrament. The CARA study, which also points to a high correlation between weekly and monthly Mass attendance and belief in the Real Presence, comes amid the second year of the U.S. bishops’ Eucharistic revival, which was launched in part because of the Pew Research poll.  The new report — published by Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and commissioned by the University of Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life — challenges the methodology and results of the Pew survey but still demonstrates that a large number of Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence, which the Catechism calls the “source and summit” of the faith. Zachary Keith, assistant director on the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, told CNA Thursday that it is important to look at how questions relating to belief in the Eucharist are phrased, citing the difference in wording of both studies as a “large part of the reason for the discrepancy.”  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/255526/new-study-show-that-now-almost-two-thirds-of-us-catholics-believe-in-real-presence__________________________________________________________ 13. An Evening of Letters and Rose Petals to Ask St. Thérèse to Pray for ‘the Impossible,’ These vigils, now held on five continents, began in 1992 in Lisieux, in Normandy, France, where Thérèse spent her youth and years as a Carmelite., By Anna Kurian, Catholic News Agency, October 1, 2023 For more than 30 years, the Community of the Beatitudes has been hosting “rose petals” evenings dedicated to the French saint Thérèse de Lisieux (1873–1897). The concept is simple: Devotees write a letter to the “Little Flower” (a common term of endearment for the saint) asking for graces through her intercession, and a year later their letters are returned to them. Many testify that they were granted graces even though they had asked God for “the impossible.” The story of these vigils, now held on five continents, began in 1992 in Lisieux, in Normandy, France, where Thérèse spent her youth and years as a Carmelite. A member of the Beatitudes community, Jean-François Callens, who was then the head of a house near Grenoble, was also in charge of the spiritual program for a vigil held in the basilica on the theme of intercessory prayer. That evening, he invited everyone to write a letter to Thérèse, and envelopes were handed out, with the promise of returning them a year later. “Thérèse had the nerve to promise that she would spend her eternity doing good on earth,” Callens recalled saying to those gathered. “Do you think, my friends, that she will keep her word and rain roses down on us?” And to everyone’s astonishment, real rose petals fell down upon the group. Was it a miracle? No, it was more of a sign. Prior to the event, Callens had invited members of the community to visit local florist shops and collect all the rose petals they could find. Then they made a plan to drop them from the top of the catwalk in the nave of the basilica in order to “persuade the discouraged that their prayers are not isolated or lost.” Encouraged by this first shower of blessings, the community continued the tradition in all its houses. Sister Marie-Liesse Bigot, who was present from the outset, helped to spread the initiative throughout the world — particularly in New Zealand and the United States, where she has lived. Even today, she hosts seven or eight evenings a year around Oct. 1, St. Thérèse’s feast day. And she has collected the letter from these evenings into a book, published in French, called Je passerai mon ciel à faire du bien sur la terre; fioretti des Soirées Pétales de roses.   https://www.ncregister.com/cna/an-evening-of-letters-and-rose-petals-to-ask-st-therese-to-pray-for-the-impossible__________________________________________________________ 14. Standing Up for Nicaragua, As the Ortega regime attempts to dismantle Catholicism in the country, Bishop Rolando Álvarez’s imprisonment represents the pinnacle of why the world needs to care and governments need to act now., By Michael Warsaw, National Catholic Register, September 30, 2023, Opinion It was seven months ago that the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, in Nicaragua sentenced Bishop Rolando Álvarez Lagos of Matagalpa to 26 years and four months in prison, charging him with being a “traitor to the homeland.” That outrageous attack on religious freedom and, more specifically, the Catholic Church in Nicaragua drew international media coverage and widespread condemnation. Today, however, the exact whereabouts of Bishop Álvarez are unknown, and some people question whether he is even still alive. Meanwhile, the regime’s persecution of the Church continues unabated. These recent acts of aggression demonstrate how ineffective the United States and the international community have been so far in pressuring the Ortega government to change course. And Catholic priests and faithful citizens and religious groups in Nicaragua are paying a heavy price for that failure.  While the Nicaraguan people are facing a dire moment, the peaceful and prayerful resistance of the country’s Catholics is a sign of hope. Historically, the Church has flourished in times of intense persecution against all odds, and dictators have been left defeated when their objective is to detach the faithful from the deep Catholic faith that permeates culture. Of course, these aren’t reasons to let up on pressing the U.S. government and the international community to act on behalf of Nicaragua, but they should provide us with encouragement as we pray and push for greater support of the Central American nation’s afflicted local Church. Michael Warsaw is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the EWTN Global Catholic Network, and the Publisher of the National Catholic Register. https://www.ncregister.com/commentaries/standing-up-for-nicaragua__________________________________________________________ 15. Study: Australia’s young Catholic women trend conservative, By Luke Coppen, The Pillar, September 29, 2023, Opinion A study has found striking generational differences among Catholic women in Australia. An 84-page summary of Australian responses to the International Survey of Catholic Women — described as one of the most extensive surveys of Catholic women ever undertaken — concluded that “older respondents were more supportive of reform and change than their younger counterparts across most themes, with younger respondents more likely to convey conservatism.” Commenting on the age-based differences, the report’s co-author Tracy McEwan told the Sydney Morning Herald: “There has been a push back towards conservatism. I think that’s been impactful for young adults in the Church.”  https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/study-australias-young-catholic-women__________________________________________________________

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.