1. Vatican Urges Iran to Avoid Widening Gaza Conflict, By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, October 30, 2023, 9:10 AM The Vatican’s equivalent of a foreign minister urged his Iranian counterpart to avoid widening the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Speaking with Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Archbishop Paul Gallagher reiterated “the absolute need to avoid widening the conflict and to reach a two-state solution for a stable and lasting peace in the Middle East,” the Vatican spokesman said. The Vatican said that the Monday-morning phone conversation was requested by Iran. https://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/israel-hamas-gaza-war-latest/card/vatican-urges-iran-to-avoid-widening-gaza-conflict-fz5YhQHpY9MvL5PEcukT__________________________________________________________ 2. Macron vows to enshrine women’s rights to abortion in French Constitution in 2024, By Associated Press, Associated Press, October 29, 2023, 9:36 AM President Emmanuel Macron promised on Sunday to enshrine a woman’s right to an abortion in the French Constitution by next year. The president said on X, formerly Twitter, that a bill making this possible would be presented to his Cabinet by the end of this year so that “in 2024, the freedom of women to have an abortion will be irreversible.” Abortion in France was decriminalized under a 1975 law, but there is nothing in the constitution that would guarantee abortion rights. It was the rollback of abortion rights in the United States after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 50-year-old ruling last year and stripped women’s constitutional protections for abortion that propelled France on a path toward unconditionally guaranteeing such rights.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/10/29/france-macron-abortion-constitution/30aa8a4c-7660-11ee-97dd-7a173b1bd730_story.html__________________________________________________________ 3. Fallout from the Pope’s ‘October Surprise’ on the Rupnik case, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, October 29, 2023, Opinion  On Friday, Pope Francis delivered his own “October surprise” by announcing that he had lifted the statute of limitations in canon law in order to allow prosecution of Father Marko Rupnik, the most famous – or, perhaps more accurately, the most infamous – accused sexual abuser in the Catholic Church at the moment. The decision came on the heels of what had been a month-long span in which it seemed, for all the world, that the Rupnik case was being relegated to the rear-view mirror. The pope had a friendly meeting with a key Rupnik ally Sept. 15, the Diocese of Rome gave Rupnik’s Centro Aletti a clean bill of health three days later, and recently Rupnik was welcomed into a diocese in his native Slovenia after being kicked out of the Jesuits in June.  Now, however, to paraphrase Mark Twain, it would seem reports of Rupnik’s resurrection may have been greatly exaggerated. The 68-year-old priest-artist will face some sort of canonical process after all, though when that case will begin, how it will be conducted within the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, which charges will be considered and what sort of punishment might be imposed all remain unclear. As we wait for those details to be filled in, there are three immediate take-aways from the surprise announcement. First, Francis injected his Oct. 4-29 Synod of Bishops on Synodality with at least a degree of relevance it otherwise appeared to lack. The synod’s final act comes today with the closing Mass, which means reporters and pundits have been preparing their wrap-up pieces all week – and, frankly, prior to Friday, the odds were good that the word “flop” would have figured prominently in many. Despite panegyrics from hand-picked participants during Vatican briefings about an internal climate of listening and communion, no one seemed capable of pointing to anything concrete that might have justified the time and expense. The final report released Saturday night, technically styled a “synthesis,” mostly soft-pedaled difficult questions by calling for further discussion and study. One media outlet captured the bland result by referring to this as a “decaffeinated” synod. In light of the move on Rupnik, however, there’s at least one outcome to which anyone seeking to defend the synod can point, beginning with Francis himself: “The Pope is firmly convinced that if there is one thing the Church must learn from the Synod, it is to listen attentively and compassionately to those who are suffering, especially those who feel marginalized from the Church,” a Vatican statement said. Granted, critics will say this decision should have come much earlier, and that if the pope is genuinely interested in listening, he already should have met Rupnik’s accusers and not just one of his principal apologists. If he really needed a month-long summit to reach those conclusions, cynics might say, things are even worse than we suspected. Nonetheless, for those inclined to find a silver lining in the synodal experience, the belated concession on Rupnik is at least something. Second, the move on Rupnik boosts the credibility of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which had pressed Francis to act, but also creates a new set of expectations.  Third, and speaking of expectations, Francis has created some new ones for himself, mostly under the heading of coming clean. The Rupnik affair now seems reminiscent of what happened in 2018, when Francis initially rejected criticism of Chilean Bishop Juan Barros over his role in a high-profile clerical abuse scandal in Chile, then pivoted after a contentious trip to the country and dispatched investigators, culminating not only in the resignation of Barros but an offer en masse by all the country’s bishops to step down. Once again, Francis appears to have changed course after experiencing backlash. Now, however, explanations offered back then that the pontiff is on a learning curve likely will ring hollow, because he’s already played that card. People are going to want an explanation of his conduct, including Francis’s still-mysterious role in the lifting of Rupnik’s 2020 excommunication, and the other vicissitudes in the story. The pope has said he wants to listen to the suffering, but what survivors are demanding isn’t simply a canonical process, however grateful they may be for that development.  https://cruxnow.com/2023-consistory-and-synod-for-synodality/2023/10/fallout-from-the-popes-october-surprise-on-the-rupnik-case__________________________________________________________ 4. Pope’s meeting on church future says it’s ‘urgent’ to guarantee governance roles for women, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, October 28, 2023, 6:08 PM Pope Francis’ big gathering of Catholic bishops and laypeople said Saturday it was “urgent” to guarantee fuller participation of women in church governance positions and called for research on allowing women to be deacons to be released within a year. But the meeting didn’t take decisive action on that issue, and it backed off any specific calls for welcoming LGBTQ+ Catholics despite Francis’ repeated outreach to the gay community and willingness to consider blessing same-sex couples. After a month of closed-door debate, Francis’ meeting on the future of the Catholic Church ended late Saturday with the approval of a 42-page text on a host of issues that will now be considered at a second session next year. None of the proposals is binding, and they are merely offered for Francis to consider. Each paragraph passed with the necessary two-thirds majority, but the ones involving women and questioning the need for priestly celibacy obtained the most “no” votes.  There was no mention whatsoever of homosexuality in the text, even though the working document going into it had specifically noted the calls for a greater welcome for “LGBTQ+ Catholics” and others who have long felt excluded by the church. The final text merely said people who feel marginalized by the church, because of their marital situation, “identity and sexuality, ask to be listened to and accompanied, and their dignity defended.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/10/28/vatican-women-lgbtq-pope/be49a40c-758c-11ee-936d-7a16ee667359_story.html__________________________________________________________ 5. Synod on Synodality 2023: Summary Report Calls for Greater ‘Co-Responsibility’ in Church, Changes to Decision-Making, The document was presented to the synod’s 344 voting members in attendance after its drafters attempted to incorporate more than 1,150 proposed amendments into the text. Each paragraph of the text was approved by a two-thirds majority vote., By Jonathan Liedl, National Catholic Register, October 28, 2023 The Vatican’s nearly monthlong Synod on Synodality assembly, convened by Pope Francis, concluded Saturday evening with members approving an ambitious text calling for greater “co-responsibility” among all believers in the evangelizing mission of the Church — and proposing concrete reforms to achieve it. Entitled “A Synodal Church in Mission,” the 42-page summary report included notable proposals to establish new ministries for the laity, increase lay involvement in decision-making, create processes to evaluate bishops’ performance of their ministry, change the way the Church discerns “controversial” issues, and expand the footprint of synodal assemblies going forward. “The exercise of co-responsibility is essential for synodality and is necessary at all levels of the Church,” the summary report stated. “Every Christian is a mission in the world.” The document also repeatedly sought to ground synodality in Scripture, Tradition and the teaching of Vatican II, while also affirming the need to further develop the often misunderstood concept itself and apply it more deeply to the Church’s theology and canon law.  Two sections that received some of the most opposition concerned proposals related to the possible inclusion of women in the diaconate. Sixty-seven members voted against the proposal that “theological and pastoral research on women’s access to the diaconate should be continued,” taking into account the results of two commissions Pope Francis established to study the topic. “If possible, the results should be presented at the next Session of the Assembly,” the report proposed. Sixty-one members opposed a proposal that said a “deeper reflection” on the diaconate’s status as “a proper and permanent degree of the hierarchy” would “also illuminate the issue of women’s access to the diaconate.” Notably, the summary text did not include the term “LGBTQ+ people,” after the phrase was included in the working document that guided assembly discussions. The summary report did, however, emphasize the assembly’s “closeness and support to all those who experience a condition of loneliness” as a result of “fidelity to the Church’s tradition and magisterium in marriage and sexual ethics” and called upon Christian communities to listen and accompany those in these situations. Regarding resistance to certain proposals, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, the relator general of the Synod of Synodality, said that if the results were considered in the context of parliamentary voting in a democratic state, “we would be very happy indeed” with the outcome.  https://www.ncregister.com/cna/synod-on-synodality-2023-summary-report__________________________________________________________ 6. Vatican releases Synod on Synodality report proposing larger role for laity in Church, By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, October 28, 2023, 3:28 PM The Vatican released the Synod on Synodality’s “synthesis report” on Saturday night outlining key proposals discussed during the nearly monthlong assembly’s confidential conversations. The highly anticipated text was approved paragraph by paragraph on Oct. 28 by a vote of 344 synod delegates, which for the first time included women and other non-bishops as voting members. The document, the synthesis of the assembly’s work from Oct. 4–29, proposes a “synodal Church” that implements synodality throughout Church governance, theology, mission, and discernment of doctrine and pastoral issues. The 42-page text, released by the Vatican in Italian, covers 20 topics from “the dignity of women” to “the bishop of Rome in the College of Bishops.” For each topic, “convergences,” “matters for consideration,” and “proposals” are outlined.  More than 80 proposals were approved in the synod vote, including establishing a new “baptismal ministry of listening and accompaniment,” initiating discernment processes regarding the decentralization of the Church, and strengthening the Council of Cardinals into a “synodal council at the service of the Petrine ministry.” Other proposals include giving lectors a preaching ministry “in appropriate contexts,” implementing structures and processes to increase the accountability of bishops in matters of economic administration, supporting “digital missionaries,” and promoting “initiatives that enable shared discernment of controversial, doctrinal, pastoral, and ethical issues in the light of the word of God, Church teaching, theological reflection, and valuing synodal experience.” The document also encourages churches to experiment with “conversation in the spirit”— the listening-and-reflection method the synod’s delegates have used in their deliberations this month — and forms of discernment in the life of the Church. It calls for the implementation of “the exercise of synodality at regional, national, and continental levels.”  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/255850/vatican-releases-synod-on-synodality-report-proposing-larger-role-for-laity-in-church__________________________________________________________ 7. Pope Francis prays for a world in ‘a dark hour’ and danger from ‘folly’ of war, By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, October 27, 2023, 2:25 PM Amid the latest bloodshed in the Middle East, Pope Francis led special Friday evening prayers in St. Peter’s Basilica for a world “in a dark hour” and in “great danger” from what he described as the folly of war. Francis delivered his remarks in the form of a prayer to the Virgin Mary and didn’t mention by name the conflict that exploded when Hamas militants attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7 and Israel retaliated by sealing off the Gaza Strip and battering the Palestinian territory with airstrikes. He said he was praying for “especially those countries and regions at war,” and he pleaded with Mary to “take the initiative for us, in these times rent by conflicts and laid waste by the fire of arms.” “This is a dark hour,″ Francis said in a subdued voice, in his remarks in the basilica.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/10/27/pope-francis-war-israel-palestinians-hamas/75b035c6-74f1-11ee-936d-7a16ee667359_story.html__________________________________________________________ 8. Satanic Temple loses lawsuit against Indiana pro-life law, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, October 27, 2023, 10:40 AM A group of Satanists lost a lawsuit against a major pro-life law in Indiana this week after a judge threw the case out for lack of standing.  The Satanic Temple had filed a lawsuit in 2022 against Indiana’s Gov. Eric Holcomb and state Attorney General Todd Rokita, challenging the state’s sweeping pro-life law that year that largely outlawed abortion except in narrow circumstances.  The Satanists had claimed that the state’s ban violated constitutional law as well as state religious freedom law. Their suit argued that abortions constitute an “exercise of [the] religious beliefs” of Satanists and that the pro-life law thus infringed on that right.  In her ruling this week, District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson tossed out the lawsuit, claiming that the Satanic Temple had failed to show it had any standing to bring it in the first place.   https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/255839/satanic-temple-loses-lawsuit-against-indiana-pro-life-law__________________________________________________________ 9. Dictatorship in Nicaragua cancels registration of 25 institutions including the Franciscans, By Walter Sanchez Silva, Catholic News Agency, October 27, 2023, 10:05 AM In a new attack against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, the dictatorship of President Daniel Ortega canceled the legal status and registration of 25 institutions, including that of the Franciscan Friars Minor and those of several other Christian denomination groups. This decision by the regime was announced Oct. 24 through the official government newspaper La Gaceta, which noted that eight of the 25 non-profit organizations (OSFL) requested the cancellation voluntarily. Some of the other 17 NGOs canceled by the dictatorship are the Order of the Franciscan Friars Minor of the Seraphic Province of Assisi in Nicaragua, the Association of Women Golondrinas, the Center for Comprehensive Care of Boys and Girls with Autism Foundation, the International Church of Christ Association in Nicaragua, the True Vine Christian Ministry Association and the St. Francis Medical Specialists Association. Among the reasons given by the dictatorship for the cancellation of these organizations is that they allegedly did not report their financial statements nor their boards of directors.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/255838/dictatorship-in-nicaragua-cancels-registration-of-25-institutions-including-the-franciscans__________________________________________________________ 10. Cardinal Müller Says Synod on Synodality Is Being Used by Some to Prepare the Church to Accept False Teaching, The prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith assesses the first phase of the synodal gathering at the Vatican., By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, October 27, 2023, Interview Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former prefect for the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Synod on Synodality is not an episcopal assembly but more like an Anglican synodal meeting, and is being used by some participants as a means to prepare the Catholic Church to accept ideologies that run contrary to Scripture and Tradition. In an extensive Oct. 24 interview with the Register, Cardinal Müller also warned that some in the assembly are “abusing the Holy Spirit” in order to introduce “new doctrines” such as an acceptance of homosexuality, women priests and a change in Church governance. As one of 52 delegates personally chosen by Pope Francis to attend the Oct. 4-29 meeting, the first of two assemblies which will conclude in 2024, the German cardinal participated in all of this month’s session before departing early on Oct. 25 to ordain new priests in Poland. Cardinal Müller said the synodal meeting was “very controlled” and quite manipulated, with most of the interventions coming from only a few keynote speakers who spoke to them as if they knew no theology. He said that he, himself, was given only three minutes to speak to the whole assembly.  https://www.ncregister.com/interview/cardinal-mueller-says-synod-on-synodality-is-being-used-by-some-to-prepare-the-church-to-accept-false-teaching__________________________________________________________ 11. The Catholic Church considers its future, Hosted by Claire Donnelly, Meghna Chakrabarti, NPR, October 27, 2023, Radio Show Hundreds of Catholics are in Rome for a major meeting about the future of the church. For the first time, women and laypeople are invited — and have a vote.  Today, On Point: The Catholic Church considers its future. Guests Cathleen Kaveny, Darald and Juliet Libby professor in Boston College’s Theology Department and Law School. Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla, editor-in-chief of the Association for Catholic Information in Africa, a service of EWTN, or the Eternal Word Television Network. Priest. Fr. Tom Reesesenior analyst at Religion News Service. Jesuit priest. Also Featured Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association. https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2023/10/27/the-catholic-church-considers-its-future__________________________________________________________ 12. The Unfulfilled Promise of the International Religious Freedom Act, By Thomas F. Farr, Real Clear Wire, October 27, 2023, Opinion Twenty-five years ago this month, a unanimous Congress passed the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. IRFA created a new office at the State Department, headed by an ambassador at large, with a mandate to condemn religious persecution and advance religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy. At the time, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright resisted the law on behalf of the administration, arguing that religious freedom should not be given special treatment in U.S. diplomacy. Political realities (including President Clinton’s looming impeachment trial) induced the president to sign IRFA, but the Albright objection has survived to become a major impediment to the law’s successful implementation. Achieving IRFA’s goals was never going to be easy. Religious freedom is viewed by many nations as a Western Trojan horse designed to undermine their own religions. Religious persecution is rampant and growing. Millions of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and countless other religious minorities live in constant fear of persecution, including unjust imprisonment, violent expulsion, torture, rape, kidnapping, and murder. The persecutors range from governments like China, Russia, and Iran, to Islamist terrorists, like Hamas and Hezbollah, supported by Iran. But the potential of the new policy was considerable. Even partial success would relieve terrible human suffering and advance fundamental U.S. national interests. If anyone could pull this off, it would be America, whose founding commitment to religious freedom for all people was, and remains, unprecedented in history. IRFA’s opening sentence observed that religious freedom “undergirds the very origin and existence of the United States.” In addition, advancing religious freedom on the ground would further U.S. national interests. There is considerable evidence of religious freedom’s practical benefits, such as its contributions to stability and economic growth, and its capacity to counter religious violence and terrorism. America itself has experienced these benefits and would certainly profit if our diplomats could convey them to other nations. But American success in combating persecution and advancing religious freedom has been elusive. Comprehensive annual reports issued between 2007 and 2022 by the Pew Research Center show that international religious persecution has actually increased, in some cases dramatically. The fundamental right of religious freedom for every human being is as fragile as ever outside the West, and is under increasing pressure in Western Europe and the United States. Small victories have occurred. U.S. IRF diplomacy has rescued a few souls from persecution, but such laudable outcomes have been extremely rare. State Department reports have identified and condemned persecutors, but almost none of the punitive actions authorized by IRFA have been employed against them. A poster child of persecution, Iran, has received billions in U.S. aid. As one who served alongside the first two IRF ambassadors, and has known and supported the others, I can personally attest that their efforts have been energetic, noble, and often creative. But ambassadors are not magicians. If U.S. religious freedom policy is to succeed on the ground, it must have the active support of our entire executive branch, especially our foreign policy leaders. As a rule, that has not been the case. Indeed, many of our leaders appear no longer to believe in the American model of religious freedom for everyone.  Crediting the “values” of the many nations who utterly reject religious freedom, and the very idea of inalienable rights for every human being, is hardly the way to success. Unfortunately, under the Biden administration, Albright’s logic has reached its logical end point, and it’s not good for U.S. IRF policy. In his first rollout of the Human Rights report, Secretary of State Antony Blinken officially rejected, on behalf of the Biden administration, a report commissioned by his predecessor, Secretary Mike Pompeo, that called for a retrieval of the principles of inalienable rights in U.S. foreign policy. Blinken declared: “All people are entitled to [human] rights, no matter where they’re born, what they believe, whom they love, or any other characteristic. [All] human rights are co-equal; there is no hierarchy that makes some rights more important than others.” But if inalienable rights do not exist, and all human rights are co-equal, then those with political power can simply manufacture their own “rights” and coerce others to affirm them. That is now happening in American domestic and foreign policy.  Thus have IRFA’s goals effectively been abandoned. The powers of the United States are being employed to repudiate what is arguably America’s most valuable gift to the world – the truth claim that religious freedom is necessary for everyone, everywhere. https://realclearwire.com/articles/2023/10/27/the_unfulfilled_promise_of_the_international_religious_freedom_act__149968.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.
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