1. As COVID-19 vaccine mandates rise, religious exemptions grow, By Colleen Long and Andrew Demillo, Associated Press, September 16, 2021

An estimated 2,600 Los Angeles Police Department employees are citing religious objections to try to get out of the required COVID-19 vaccination. In Washington state, thousands of state workers are seeking similar exemptions.

And in Arkansas, a hospital has been swamped with so many such requests from employees that it is apparently calling their bluff.

Religious objections, once used sparingly around the country to get exempted from various required vaccines, are becoming a much more widely used loophole against the COVID-19 shot.

And it is only likely to grow following President Joe Biden’s sweeping new vaccine mandates covering more than 100 million Americans, including executive branch employees and workers at businesses with more than 100 people on the payroll.


2. Court to hear case on religious schools barred from Maine choice program, By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service, September 16, 2021

The Supreme Court is going back to school this term.

The justices are taking up a challenge by two sets of parents in Maine against a state education department rule that lets families who live in towns without public schools receive public tuition funds to send their children to another public or private school as long as it’s not a religious school.

The case, Carson v. Makin, will decide the future of tuition reimbursement for schools with a religious affiliation and is likely to be a key decision in the future of government oversight and parental choice in education.


3. $3.5T socialist safety net has some Hyde holes, U.S. taxpayer monies should never be used to fund abortions, By Kristan Hawkins, The Washington Times, September 16, 2021, Pg. B4, Opinion

One of the many problems with Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, imagined by committed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, is their commitment to permanently end Hyde Amendment protections so that preborn babies’ lives can be ended on the American taxpayer’s dime.

Even though Hyde protections have been added to the budget and any number of other spending bills for more than 40 years, Democrats have been adamant in leaving them out. When attached to a spending bill, Hyde protections limit taxpayerfunded abortion to cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger, which accounts for about 2% of all abortions, according to Corporate Abortion analysis.

A true remedy to the threat of forced taxpayer funding of abortion is currently known as H.R. 18, The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ). The measure would make Hyde protections permanent law, ensuring no federal tax dollars could be used to fund abortion and abortion marketing in the U.S. and around the world.

The budget reconciliation package is currently being crafted. As Democrat lawmakers work, pro-life Americans will continue to call on them to ensure no new funds for abortion will be included. The failure to add Hyde protections to the new measure must be a deal-breaker.

Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America, with more than 1,250 groups on col-lege, university, and high school campuses in all 50 states.


4. U.S. bishops applaud effort to open pathway to citizenship, By John Lavenburg, Crux, September 16, 2021

The U.S. bishops’ conference is calling on Congress to follow-through on immigration reform after the House Judiciary Committee approved language this week that would create a pathway to citizenship in the forthcoming budget reconciliation bill.

The provisions – approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Sept. 13 – would create a pathway to citizenship for an estimated eight million undocumented people including Dreamers who arrived in the United States as minors, Temporary Protected Status recipients, Deferred Enforcement Departure beneficiaries and agricultural and other essential workers.

“We welcome this crucial step,” said Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville of Washington, chairman of the USCCB committee on Migration, in a Sept. 15 statement. “We call on both the House and Senate to include these provisions in the final reconciliation bill.”


5. After latest presser, the great game of parsing the pope can roll on, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, September 16, 2021, Opinion

Pope Francis delivered another of his impromptu airborne news conferences Wednesday on his return flight from Slovakia, and, as ever, it was fascinating. In part, it confirmed the pontiff’s reputation for answering questions in a style that’s both carefully nuanced and practically imprecise, so that no one party to a debate ever is quite able to claim vindication.

Weaving those points together, it’s reasonable to conclude the pope’s position is this: Abortion is murder, those who participate in abortion are at least temporarily excommunicated, and, as such, generally should not receive communion. However, a priest or bishop should not be the one to turn such a person away, because it risks turning what should be a compassionate pastoral response to failure into a political statement.

In other words, “no” to abortion and “no” to communion bans.

As I say, that’s at least a reasonable interpretation of the pope’s answer Tuesday. Yet because he didn’t say it quite so explicitly or unambiguously, there no doubt will be multiple other readings, and the great Catholic game of parsing the pope will roll on. Certainly neither side in the US debate can clearly assert “the pope’s with us” just on the back of this answer.


6. Pope: No place for politics in Biden Communion flap, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, September 15, 2021

Pope Francis said Wednesday that Catholic bishops must minister with “compassion and tenderness,” not condemnation, to politicians who support abortion rights and warned that clerics shouldn’t let politics enter into questions about receiving Communion.

Francis was asked en route home from Slovakia about the debate in the U.S. church about whether President Joe Biden and other politicians should be denied Communion because of their stances on abortion. U.S. bishops have agreed to draft a “teaching document” that many of them hope will rebuke Catholic politicians, including Biden, for receiving Communion despite their support for abortion rights.

Francis declined to give a “yes” or “no” answer, saying he didn’t know the U.S. case well enough. He repeated that abortion was “homicide,” and that Catholic priests cannot give the Eucharist to someone who is not in communion with the church.


7. Largest US Catholic parish rises in California’s interior, By Alejandra Molina, Associated Press, September 15, 2021

It’s billed as the largest Catholic parish in the United States and it’s being constructed about 200 miles north of Los Angeles, in what’s often referred to “as the heart of California’s dairy industry.”

With an estimated $18.5 million price tag, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church will seat 3,200 people, will encompass approximately 33,000 square feet and is expected to open in spring 2022. The church is being built in Visalia, a city in Tulare County, and Catholic leaders there are hailing it as the largest U.S. parish in terms of seating capacity.


8. Some abortion foes question tactical wisdom of new Texas ban, By David Crary, Associated Press, September 15, 2021

The new Texas law that bans most abortions in the state has been welcomed by many of the religious leaders who help bolster the anti-abortion movement. Yet some abortion opponents in U.S. religious circles are wary of the law and questioning the movement’s current direction.

The wariness relates in part to the law’s most novel feature, which some critics view as an invitation to vigilantes: It provides no enforcement role for public officials and instead authorizes private citizens to sue anyone they deem to be assisting in an abortion, with the prospect of gaining $10,000 in the process.


9. DOJ Motion for Injunctive Relief in Texas Heartbeat Act Litigation—Some Observations, By Ed Whelan, National Review, September 15, 2021, 11:24 AM, Opinion

Late on Tuesday evening, the U.S. Department of Justice filed its motion for injunctive relief against the state of Texas in its lawsuit over the Texas Heartbeat Act. A few observations:

1. DOJ maintains that it has broad authority to seek “equitable relief to protect interests of the federal government, notwithstanding the absence of express statutory authority to do so.” It argues that the “unique circumstances presented here—including, most notably, S.B. 8’s deliberate attempt to thwart ordinary mechanisms of federal judicial review through a congressionally conferred cause of action—distinguish this case from past cases where courts have held that the mere fact that federal constitutional rights are being violated does not necessarily authorize the United States to sue.” (See pp. 22-28.)

Texas will surely vigorously contest DOJ’s position on this issue. This will likely be a major focus of the dispute, both before federal district judge (and Obama appointee) Robert L. Pitman and on appeal in the Fifth Circuit. It’s a safe bet that Pitman will agree with DOJ and adopt its proposed order. It’s far less clear to me that the Fifth Circuit will do so.

2. Any injunctive relief that Pitman provides will likely be of little or no use to abortion providers in Texas unless and until there is a final ruling from the Fifth Circuit (or Supreme Court) that affirms Pitman’s order. If the injunctive relief is vacated on appeal (including by the en banc Fifth Circuit), the abortion providers will remain liable for any post-heartbeat abortions that they do in the interim.

3. Indeed, the injunctive relief that DOJ seeks—even if ultimately affirmed—would not provide abortion providers any protection against private lawsuits brought in federal court by residents of other states under federal diversity jurisdiction.

Ed Whelan is a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics And Public Policy Center and holds EPPC’s Antonin Scalia Chair in Constitutional Studies. He is a regular contributor to NRO’s Bench Memos. He is co-editor of The Essential Scalia: On the Constitution, the Courts, and the Rule of Law.


10. Abortion Has Never Been Just About Abortion, By Thomas B. Edsall, The New York Times, September 15, 2021, Opinion

As recently as 1984, abortion was not a deeply partisan issue.

Some of the scholars and journalists studying the evolving role of abortion in American politics make the case that key leaders of the conservative movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s — among them Richard VigueriePaul WeyrichPhyllis Schlafly and Jerry Falwell Sr. — were seeking to expand their base beyond those opposed to the civil rights movement. According to this argument, conservative strategists settled on a concerted effort to politicize abortion in part because it dodged the race issue and offered the opportunity to unify conservative Catholics and Evangelicals.

Randall Balmer, a professor of religion at Dartmouth and the author of a new book, “Bad Faith: Race and the Rise of the Religious Right,” looked at conservative strategizing in a recent op-ed in The Guardian.

In an email, Balmer wrote, “Opposition to abortion became a convenient diversion — a godsend, really — to distract from what actually motivated their political activism: the defense of racial segregation in evangelical institutions.”

Thomas B. Edsall has been a contributor to the Times Opinion section since 2011. His column on strategic and demographic trends in American politics appears every Wednesday. He previously covered politics for The Washington Post.


11. Pope questions vaccine skeptics, including cardinals, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, September 15, 2021, 11:53 AM

Pope Francis said Wednesday he didn’t understand why people refuse to take COVID-19 vaccines, saying “humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines,” and that serene discussion about the shots was necessary to help them.

“Even in the College of Cardinals, there are some negationists,” Francis said Wednesday, en route home from Slovakia.

He noted that one of them, “poor guy,” had been hospitalized with the virus. That was an apparent reference to U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was hospitalized in the U.S. and placed on a ventilator last month after contracting the virus.

Significantly, Francis didn’t cite the religious objection used by some who refuse the vaccines. Some conservatives have refused to get the shots citing the remote and indirect connection to lines of cells derived from aborted fetuses.


12. Pope rejects German archbishop’s resignation over abuse, By Geir Moulson, Associated Press, September 15, 2021, 1:03 PM

Pope Francis has rejected the resignation of the archbishop of Hamburg, who offered to step down in March after a report faulted him for his handling of sexual abuse allegations in his previous diocese.

The papal nuncio’s office in Berlin said in a statement Wednesday that the pontiff made his decision after two envoys traveled to Cologne in June to look into possible mistakes by senior church officials there in handling past sexual abuse cases. Stefan Hesse, Hamburg’s archbishop since 2015, previously served in several senior roles in the Cologne archdiocese.


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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