1. European evaluators visit Vatican mired in financial scandal, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, September 30, 2020, 4:00 AM
European anti-money laundering evaluators began a periodic visit to the Vatican on Wednesday amid a mounting financial scandal in the tiny city state that has cost a half-dozen people their jobs, including one of the Holy See’s most powerful cardinals.
For the next two weeks, the Council of Europe’s Moneyval team will be checking the Vatican’s compliance with international norms to fight money laundering and terror financing.
2. Pompeo urges Vatican to condemn human rights abuses in China, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, September 30, 2020, 6:30 AM
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the Vatican on Wednesday to join the U.S. in denouncing violations of religious freedom in China, saying the Catholic Church should be at the forefront in the fight to insist on basic human rights there.
Pompeo made the appeal at a conference on religious freedom organized by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See. It took place at the same time the Vatican is entering into delicate negotiations with Beijing on extending its controversial agreement over bishop nominations.
3. As Pompeo arrives in Rome, we’re through the looking glass, John L. Allen Jr., Crux, September 30, 2020, Opinion
One has to say this for US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: He’s certainly found a creative way to make what’s often a pro forma diplomatic courtesy call on the Vatican this week interesting.
By publishing a recent article in First Things warning Pope Francis and the Vatican that their moral authority is at risk should they renew their 2018 deal with China over the appointment of bishops, Pompeo injected a sense of a high-stakes showdown to his visit, which will see him meet Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, and British Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Parolin’s top deputy for foreign relations.

As the curtain lifts today on Pompeo’s Vatican swing, three notes are in order by way of background.
No permanent damage
While Pompeo probably isn’t going to win any popularity contests in the Vatican right now, let’s not exaggerate: There’s not going to be any permanent damage to the US/Vatican relationship over this.

Hardly the low ebb
The US and the Vatican have had full diplomatic relations since 1984, under President Ronald Reagan, and since then popes and presidents always have had rocky relationships.

The politics of chiding the pope

Yet with an election a month away, no senior administration official is likely to say or do anything without at least considering the political fallout. In that light, it’s revealing that the Trump administration apparently didn’t feel there would be any political price to pay for publicly chiding Pope Francis.
4. Pope Francis calls for new economic model to rebuild post-coronavirus world, By Catholic News Agency, September 30, 2020, 6:00 AM
Pope Francis called Wednesday for a new economic model to help rebuild the world after the coronavirus pandemic.
In his general audience address in the San Damaso Courtyard, within the Vatican’s apostolic palace, Sept. 30, the pope criticized “trickle-down theory,” which proposes that tax breaks for high-earners will ultimately yield economic benefits for the rest of society.
He said: “And certainly we cannot expect the economic model that underlies unfair and unsustainable development to solve our problems. It has not and will not, because it cannot do so, even though some false prophets continue to promise the ‘trickle-down’ that never comes.”
5. Pope chooses theme for World Communications Day, By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, September 29, 2020
Even when physical proximity is impossible, Catholic communicators can use the media to reach out to people, help them experience the closeness of the church and invite them to follow Jesus more closely, the Vatican said.
“Come and see: Communicating, encountering people as and where they are” will be the theme for the 2021 celebration of World Communications Day, said the statement released Sept. 29. A papal message on the theme should be published on or around the Jan. 24 feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists.
“In a time that obliges us to social distance due to the pandemic, communication can make possible the closeness that is necessary to recognize what is essential and to understand truly the meaning of things,” said the statement announcing the theme.
6. Catholic officials urge Congress, Trump to adopt new COVID-19 aid bill, By Catholic News Service, September 29, 2020
Top officials at seven nationwide Catholic organizations called on congressional leaders and President Donald Trump to unite behind a new legislative package to “address the public health and economic crisis facing our country and the global community” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saying that the pandemic is causing widespread economic challenges to families and unemployed individuals as well as their respective agencies, the officials urged Congress and the White House to “put aside partisan politics and prioritize human life and the common good” by advancing talks on a new aid bill.
Their plea came in a Sept. 25 letter to Republican and Democratic congressional leaders and the president as negotiations on the bill have come to a standstill. The text of the joint letter was released midday Sept. 28 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other groups that signed on to it.

Signing the letter were Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB president; Mercy Sister Mary Haddad, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States; Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services; Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA; Vincentian Father Dennis H. Holtschneider, president and CEO of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities; Ralph Middlecamp, president of the National Council of the U.S. Society of St. Vincent de Paul; and Presentation Sister Dale McDonald, director of public policy at the National Catholic Educational Association.
7. Vatican defends China bishop negotiations on eve of U.S. visit, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, September 29, 2020
The Vatican on Tuesday answered critics and justified its pursuit of an extended agreement with China on bishop nominations, acknowledging difficulties but insisting the effort had achieved limited, positive results.
The Holy See articulated its position on the eve of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who this month wrote a harsh critique of the Vatican’s 2018 accord with China. Pompeo is scheduled to headline a religious liberty conference on Wednesday with the Vatican secretary of state and foreign minister, two architects of the deal.
8. San Francisco to allow up to 100 people at indoor worship services, By Catholic News Agency, September 29, 2020, 3:01 PM
The office of San Francisco’s mayor announced Tuesday that places of worship will be permitted to hold services indoors at 25% capacity, up to 100 people, beginning Wednesday.
Restaurants will also be allowed to reopen for indoor dining at 25% capacity, up to 100 people.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco thanked the mayor, as well as the thousands of Catholics who urged that they be permitted to attend Mass.

The US Department of Justice had on Sept. 25 warned San Francisco officials that its restrictions on public worship in the city may be unconstitutional.
9. When The Dogma Lives Loudly, By Charles J. Chaput, First Things, September 28, 2020, Opinion
hen Sen. Dianne Feinstein grilled federal circuit court nominee—and now Supreme Court nominee—Amy Coney Barrett three years ago, she fretted that “the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”
Given the senator’s obvious prejudices, she should indeed be concerned. Ms. Barrett’s life story suggests that she actually believes and seeks to live what her Catholic faith teaches. Worse, she has a superb intellect, a deep grasp of the law, and an excellent record as a jurist. In other words, she’s a nightmare for a certain kind of political tribe.
Let’s put aside for a moment Sen. Feinstein’s Know Nothing-style vulgarity. After all, she’s hardly alone in her bigotry. Disdain for vigorous religious convictions, especially the Catholic kind, is a virus that’s going around. It seems to infect a number of Democratic senators, including Sen. Kamala Harris, Feinstein’s California colleague and vice presidential nominee, who saw looming peril in that dangerous national conspiracy otherwise known as the Knights of Columbus. 

Those who value our First Amendment right to religious freedom should realize that tests about belief are attacks on religious liberty. And positioning dissenting Catholics as “mainstream Americans” and believing Catholics as “extremists”—now a common and thoroughly dishonest culture war technique—is a particular affront to the free exercise of religion. It puts the rights of far more Americans at risk than will ever be nominated for the court.
Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., is the archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia. His latest book, Things Worth Dying For: Thoughts on a Life Worth Living, will be published by Holt in March 2021.

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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