1. School board member sues district, saying she was told to stop quoting Bible, By Jonathan Edwards, The Washington Post, October 6, 2023, 5:00 AM, Opinion Early this year, Heather Rooks, a freshman School Board member in Peoria, Ariz., received an email from the district’s lawyer telling her that her practice of reading Bible verses at board meetings was illegal, according to a recently filed lawsuit. But at the body’s meeting on March 9, she read 1 Corinthians 16:13 anyway. “Stay awake, stand firm in your faith, be brave, be strong,” she said before thanking Cotton Boll Elementary teachers and students for a tour of their school, then congratulating the Peoria High Panthers boys’ basketball team on winning the 4A Arizona state championship. Board President David Sandoval interrupted Rooks to remind her that the staff attorney had told board members that reading scripture “from this side of the dais” violated the establishment clause, which prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.”  Rooks is now suing the Peoria Unified School District, which she helps lead. In a 28-page complaint filed Sept. 26 in the U.S. District Court for Arizona, Rooks accuses district officials of violating her First Amendment free speech rights.   https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/10/06/arizona-school-board-bible-verses-lawsuit/__________________________________________________________ 2. Fear and Loathing in a Synod, ‘Synodality’ will mean what Pope Francis wants it to mean. And that’s likely the point., By Francis X. Maier, The Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2023, 5:36 PM, Opinion This week a select group of Catholic bishops, clergy and lay people flocked to Rome for a three-week “synod on synodality.” If the topic sounds obscure and mind-numbing, it is both. The gathering is meant to be a conversation with the pope about pressing concerns within the church. The problem is that synodality is hardly the most urgent issue facing the Catholic world; it’s an ambiguous theological concept that, in the end, will mean whatever the pope wants it to mean. And that’s likely the point. Pope Francis has very different priorities from his predecessors and intends to pursue them, solidifying his place as the most authoritarian Roman pontiff in decades.  To this day, most lay Catholics and many clergy can’t define the word or its implications. Even so, nothing dooms this month’s meeting to fail. Rightly understood, synodality is about involving all faithful Catholics in renewing the mission of the church. But there’s a widespread unease about the synod’s real goals. What constitutes a “faithful” Catholic is now unclear. Some senior churchmen, like Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, the synod’s relator-general, have questioned the legitimacy of Catholic teaching on homosexuality. Earlier this week, Roman authorities added to the ambiguity by effectively dismissing five cardinals’ questions about the synod’s intentions regarding same-sex marital blessings, female priests, the conditions for sacramental absolution and other disputed issues. Adding to the skepticism is Pope Francis’ dislike of the U.S. His recent complaints about “backward-looking” thought, a “climate of closure,” “very strong reactionary” attitudes and a decay of true religion into (right-wing) ideology in American Catholic life prove the point. Such remarks are insulting and false. They fail to encourage or heal, while provoking more resistance to him personally. They further undermine support for whatever synodality turns out to be. Between December 2020 and May 2022, I conducted 30 confidential interviews with bishops in 25 states and one foreign country. Not one was an ideologue, “conservative” or otherwise. Not one expressed disloyalty to Francis; confusion yes, irritation at times, but always sincere fidelity. They, and the people they pastor, deserve better. Mr. Maier is a senior fellow in Catholic studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. https://www.wsj.com/articles/fear-and-loathing-in-a-synod-pope-francis-catholic-division-synod-vatican-d5fd1cd6__________________________________________________________ 3. Colorado Supreme Court to hear cake baker’s latest religious freedom case, By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, October 5, 2023, 5:11 PM Jack Phillips, the cake baker whose yearslong fight for religious freedom made him a household name, will be returning to the courtroom — this time before Colorado’s Supreme Court.  In 2018, Phillips went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, where he won in a landmark decision after being sued by Colorado for declining to bake a same-sex wedding cake.  Now, in the third case against him, Phillips is being sued by Autumn Scardina, a man who identifies as a woman, for refusing to bake a pink birthday cake with blue frosting intended to celebrate Scardina’s transgender self-identification.  After both a trial court and an appeals court ruled against him, Phillips appealed and is being represented by the religious freedom law firm Alliance Defending Freedom.  With Colorado’s Supreme Court taking up the appeal, Phillips, a Christian, will be arguing to the state judiciary’s highest officials that declining to create custom cakes that express messages he considers objectionable is an exercise of his freedom of religion.   https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/255593/colorado-supreme-court-to-hear-cake-baker-s-latest-religious-freedom-case__________________________________________________________ 4. Vatican State Secretariat frozen out on climate change doc, By The Pillar, Associated Press, October 5, 2023, 8:52 PM The Vatican’s diplomatic office was shut out of the drafting process ahead of Pope Francis’ Wednesday apostolic exhortation Laudate deum, according to sources close to the process, despite several sections of the text which focused on international policy and policy-making. One senior Vatican source told The Pillar that the freeze-out has left officials in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State discouraged, and could have long-term diplomatic effect for the Holy See.  But Vatican diplomats told The Pillar that if the Secretariat of State is perceived to have diminishing influence on Vatican affairs, it could make ongoing diplomacy — even on climate change — more difficult.  https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/vatican-state-secretariat-frozen__________________________________________________________

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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