1. Retired pope hopes to soon join friends in ‘the afterlife’, By Associated PressOctober 20, 2021, 7:44 AM

Retired Pope Benedict XVI has said he hopes to soon join a beloved professor friend in “the afterlife,” in a sign that the 94-year-old pontiff is not only accepting his eventual death but welcoming it.

Benedict penned an Oct. 2 letter to a German priest, thanking him for letting him know of the passing of the Rev. Gerhard Winkler, a Cistercian priest and academic colleague of the former Joseph Ratzinger.

“Of all my colleagues and friends he was the closest to me,” Benedict wrote, according to the letter reproduced in German media. “Now he has reached the afterlife, where many friends certainly await him. I hope I can join them soon.”


2. If China moves on Taiwan, what’s the Vatican’s plan?, By Ed. CondonThe PillarOctober 19, 2021, Opinion

After a series of military exercises, weapons tests, and political saber rattling, the international community is braced for the possibility of a military conflict between China and Taiwan.

But, as the last senior diplomatic power with full diplomatic relations with Taiwan, what would a Chinese annexation mean for the Vatican?

The Holy See, obviously, has no stake in the military calculus around the possibility of Taiwanese annexation. But as the only major international player with formal relations with Taiwan, as well as an important agreement with the mainland, the Vatican would have to decide how to react — and in doing so could face a complicated diplomatic calculation.

The Vatican’s chief diplomat, Archbishop Paul Gallagher said in June that while human rights concerns Hong Kong are “obviously the object of concern” for the Church, Vatican diplomats ​​”have yet to be convinced that it would make any difference whatever” to speak out against Beijing’s action in the region.

Set in this context, the chances of any Vatican diplomatic protest of a possible Chinese effort to annex Taiwan appear remote.

It is also worth considering if a Chinese takeover of Taiwan might be quietly, perhaps silently, considered a useful development within the Vatican Secretariat of State.

In the run-up to the renewal of the Vatican-China agreement last year, government figures and Church leaders in Taiwan both acknowledged speculation that ending formal relations with Taiwan would be a necessary condition for the Vatican to re-establish a formal diplomatic presence in Beijing.

While the Secretariat of State has appeared willing in the past to sublimate what are effectively pastoral concerns with China into its diplomatic negotiations, public silence over the fate of a diplomatic partner would not go unnoticed when the Holy See campaigned in international bodies for other goals, like pro-life and pro-family policies in South America and Europe, for example.

If silence on Taiwan led to a more solid diplomatic relationship with Beijing, it could also give the impression that the Holy See’s entire diplomatic work was, in the end, unconnected to its humanitarian principles.


3. A Hard but Real Compromise Is Possible on Abortion, By Jon A. Shields, New York TimesOctober 19, 2021, Opinion

This liberal civil war has been quietly moderated by common moral intuitions about abortion. These intuitions predispose us to feel more protective of a fetus as it begins to resemble a newborn (and these days those intuitions may be primed more often thanks to the prevalence of ultrasound imaging).

This is why Americans tend to make a clear distinction between abortions in the first trimester and those in the second and third. And, thus, Americans balance the clashing liberal claims they hear by giving considerable weight to pro-choice arguments early in pregnancy and more consideration to pro-life ones as the fetus develops.

Why have so many providers restricted abortion access in ways that are roughly consistent with the sensibilities of most Americans? And why have they continued to do so even in the face of decades of pressure from fellow pro-choicers to offer abortion on demand and without apology? Partly because providers share Americans’ moral intuitions. As a large body of research shows, providers usually dislike providing abortions at some point in the second trimester when the fetus becomes more recognizably human.

Anti-abortion groups have been less inclined to make such compromises, as Dr. Wicklund knows all too well. But that might change if Roe is scaled back to protect a narrower range of abortions and our legal regime shifts to a compromise like Dr. Wicklund’s — one that grants broad access to abortion in the first trimester but largely restricts it in the second and third. Despite the recent drama of the Texas abortion law, I suspect that in post-Roe America, the same moral intuitions that have long moderated abortion providers might eventually temper abortion opponents as well.

Jon A. Shields is a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and has written widely on abortion politics and the American right.


4. Christian Schools Boom in a Revolt Against Curriculum and Pandemic Rules, With public schools on the defensive, is this a blip or a ‘once-in-100-year moment for the growth of Christian education’?, By Ruth Graham, The New York TimesOctober 19, 2021

An adult survivor of abuse by a priest appealed to the world’s seminarians to become In the 2019-20 school year, 3.5 million of the 54 million American schoolchildren attended religious schools, including almost 600,000 in “conservative Christian” schools, according to the latest count by the Education Department.

Those numbers are now growing.

The median member school in the Association of Christian Schools International, one of the country’s largest networks of evangelical schools, grew its K-12 enrollment by 12 percent between 2019-20 and 2020-21. The Association of Classical Christian Schools, another conservative network, expanded to educating about 59,200 students this year from an estimated 50,500 in the 2018-19 school year. (Catholic schools, by contrast, are continuing a long trend of decline.)

The question for private schools is whether growth in reaction to a pandemic and a culture war is sustainable after concerns about both have receded. “This will be a blip in some places,” Troy Keaton, the chairman of Smith Mountain Lake’s board, conceded while seated at a conference table at his church. “But this is a long-term opportunity for people that know how to love, care, teach and do high-quality things.”


5. Cardinal Dolan outlines 7 ‘non-negotiables’ for the Synod on Synodality, By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, October 19, 2021, 5:09 PM

In an effort to explain Pope Francis’ vision for the Synod on Synodality for his flock, Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s homily Sunday offered seven “non-negotiables” that Jesus intended for the Church.

The Synod on Synodality, initiated by Pope Francis earlier this month, is a two-year, worldwide undertaking during which Catholics will be encouraged to submit feedback to their local dioceses.

1. Dolan said that “the energy and direction driving the Church comes from the Holy Spirit, not ourselves.”

2. “While in the world, we are not of the world, and thus our guiding principles come from the Gospel, revelation, and the patrimony of the Church’s settled teaching,” he said.

3. Dolan said “that the principles of the innate dignity of every human person and the inherent sacredness of all human life are the towering moral lighthouses on our path.”

4. Dolan said that “our journey through this life back to our true and eternal home of heaven is most effectively accomplished precisely as a journey as we walk with and accompany each other, with Jesus as our guide, His Mother and the saints, and we sinners at each other’s side.”

5. “On this journey we pay special attention to those at the side of the road, especially those who are sick, weak, poor, or unable to keep up with us,” he said.

6. “Our wealth only comes from faith, trust, prayer, the sacraments, and His grace,” he said.

7. Finally, Dolan said that “mercy, love, invitation, humility, joy, selfless generous service, and good example are our only tools, never harshness, condemnation, or pride.”

Dolan said he sees these seven “non-negotiables” as “synodality in a nutshell.”


6. Planned Parenthood whistleblower turned Hispanic pro-life leader details clinic corruption, intimidation, By ACI Prensa, Catholic News Agency, October 19, 2021, 12:00 AM

Mayra Rodríguez worked for Planned Parenthood for 17 years and was in charge of three clinics.

In 2016, the abortion provider recognized her as employee of the year.

Shortly thereafter she would become one of the most outspoken pro-life advocates in the Hispanic community.

During her tenure with Planned Parenthood, Rodríguez said she witnessed falsified abortion records, serious complications from abortions, and experienced intimidation based upon false accusations threatening her immigration status after Rodríguez indicated she would report a doctor at the clinic she directed who botched an abortion on a 19-year-old girl and then falsified the report.

After years of legal battles, Mayra Rodríguez prevailed in 2019 in her wrongful termination lawsuit against Planned Parenthood and was awarded $3 million.

Rodríguez, a Mexican national, said she is hopeful that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, can be overturned by the upcoming Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case pertaining to Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy because legal abortion “has never been good for Hispanic women.”

The former Planned Parenthood Employee of the Year noted, “once you give women a true option, they will choose not to have an abortion.”


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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