1. Hoping for Inroads, Pope Gives China Leeway, By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, September 5, 2023, Pg. A1 The small group of Chinese Catholics who crossed the border to see Pope Francis covered their faces for fear of reprisal. Church officials blamed the Communist government for preventing mainland China’s bishops from coming to see the pope. And diplomats said that China had watched the pope’s activities closely, and warily.Yet as Pope Francis returned to Rome on Monday from a four-day trip to Mongolia, he had nothing but positive things to say about China. “The relations with China are very respectful — I personally have great admiration for the Chinese culture. They are very open, let’s put it this way,” Francis said in a news conference aboard the papal plane. He said he hoped there would be more exposure to Roman Catholics in China so that the Chinese citizens did not think that the church had intentions to shape their culture and values or that it was “dependent on another power.” In his decade as pope, Francis has excoriated what he considers the authoritarian streak of Western nationalists, the reactionary ideology of American conservatives in the church and the unchristian hardheartedness of leaders in Washington and Europe who don’t open their borders to migrants or act to protect the environment. But when it comes to China, where he is hoping his church will make inroads, Francis is much more forgiving. The pope’s delicate — critics say doormat — diplomacy in the region was highlighted during his visit to Mongolia, a nation sandwiched between China and Russia, great powers run by two strongmen who have vexed the Vatican, but whom Francis has been reluctant to criticize.  https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/04/world/europe/pope-china-mongolia.html__________________________________________________________ 2. It’s Not Pro-Life to Oppose a Program That Has Saved 25 Million Lives, By Richard W. Bauer, The New York Times, September 5, 2023, 5:00 AM, Opinion In 1997, the global AIDS crisis was growing more dire by the day. That year, I was on a mission as a Roman Catholic priest and social worker to help care for people with H.I.V. in Tanzania. I witnessed pure horror. Death was a daily occurrence, from infants to adults. At the clinic where I was working in Dar es Salaam, our goal was to ensure no one died alone, and to treat the spiritual, psychological and physical pain that came with dying. A turning point arrived in 2003, when President George W. Bush introduced the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR for short, a multibillion-dollar initiative to combat the H.I.V. pandemic. The results were astounding: People who had come to the clinic to say goodbye before returning to their home village to die, came back to the clinic, and within weeks of receiving antiretroviral therapy, were on the way to regaining their health. As a pro-life man of faith, I have witnessed the miracle of Lazarus over and over again. PEPFAR has meant that millions of H.I.V.-positive children and adults who were near death have been brought back to life. And yet today, PEPFAR’s future is in peril: Some House Republicans refuse to move forward with a five-year reauthorization of the program in its current form because of evidence-free insinuations that it indirectly funds abortion. PEPFAR’s legislative authorization expires at the end of this month. Unless Congress acts urgently to renew it, the world could lose PEPFAR as we know it.  Churches have championed PEPFAR since the early days of the program, and faith-based organizations, like the clinics and institutions where I served, play a major role in the development and administration of the program. In fact, faith-based institutions deliver 30 percent to 70 percent of health care services in low- and middle-income countries in Africa, according to one estimateFaith leaders from the United States and around the world, including those who oppose abortion, have recently written letters calling for reauthorization. These leaders recognize that jeopardizing the future of PEPFAR disrespects the sanctity of human life.  Richard W. Bauer is a Roman Catholic priest with the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, hospital chaplain and social worker in Washington. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/05/opinion/abortion-pepfar.html__________________________________________________________ 3. Pope wants to keep big Vatican meeting on the church’s future behind closed doors, ideology-free, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, September 4, 2023, 11:08 AM Pope Francis defended the decision to keep the discussions of a big Vatican meeting on the future of the Catholic Church behind closed doors, saying Monday the three-week conference was a religious moment for the church and “not a television program” that was open to scrutiny. Francis was asked repeatedly on his way home from Mongolia about the Oct. 4-29 meeting, or synod of bishops, which is opening after an unprecedented two-year canvassing of rank-and-file Catholics around the globe about their hopes for the church. Many Vatican watchers consider the synod to be a defining moment of the Francis pontificate, since the official agenda includes hot-button issues such as the role of women in decision-making roles in the church, the acceptance of LGBTQ+ Catholics and celibacy for priests.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/09/04/synod-vatican-pope-conservative-media/f067b4d8-4b34-11ee-bfca-04e0ac43f9e4_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. Pope insists Vatican-China relations are on track but says more work is needed, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, September 4, 2023, 11:11 AM Pope Francis insisted Monday that the Vatican’s relations with China were going well, but said work must still be done to show Beijing that the Catholic Church isn’t beholden to a foreign power. Francis spoke about the Holy See’s dealings with China during a press conference en route home from Mongolia, where Beijing and its crackdown on religious minorities overshadowed an otherwise historic first papal visit to the majority Buddhist nation. Francis sent a telegram of greetings to Chinese President Xi Jinping as his aircraft flew through China’s airspace coming and going to Mongolia. The pontiff also gave a special shout-out to the Chinese people at the end of his main Mass in Ulaanbaatar. He brought up to the altar the current and retired bishops of Hong Kong to demonstrate his “warm” affection for the Chinese people.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/09/04/pope-china-vatican-russia-vietnam/4d840fae-4b35-11ee-bfca-04e0ac43f9e4_story.html__________________________________________________________ 5. American conservatives are not more Catholic than the pope, By David Gibson, The Washington Post, September 4, 2023, 6:30 AM, Opinion Pope Francis made headlines recently by ripping the conservative Catholics who dominate the U.S. church as a “reactionary” cohort who have replaced faith with ideology. It was the pontiff’s most pointed criticism of the influential Americans who have been his harshest foes since he was elected more than a decade ago.  So why is Francis speaking out so sharply now, after 10 years as pope? One reason is time. He will be 87 in December, and though he is remarkably strong, he is increasingly beset by ailments and fatigue. Also, Benedict XVI died late last year, so Francis doesn’t have to worry as much about offending an emeritus pope he regarded with great affection. Above all, Francis is frustrated.  Many American conservatives think that they can wait Francis out and that the next pope will represent a return to the right in Rome. That’s not a good bet. Global Catholicism’s center of gravity is in the Southern Hemisphere now, among Latinos who are proud of Francis, the first Latin American pope. The church in the United States represents just 5 percent of the 1.3-billion-member worldwide church. Moreover, at the end of this month, Francis will create 18 new cardinals eligible to vote in a papal conclave, meaning he will have named more than 70 percent of the College of Cardinals who will elect his successor.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/09/04/pope-wars-against-american-bishops/__________________________________________________________ 6. Daniel Ortega Turns Against the Jesuits, Pope Francis’ religious order is paying the price for its blind belief in the dictator’s utopian promises about socialism., By Mary Anastasia O’Grady, The Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2023, 1:57 PM, Opinion Few religious institutions were of greater service to Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega during his rise to power than the Catholic religious order known as the Society of Jesus. But the Jesuits have outlived their usefulness to the 77-year-old tyrant. Last month he froze their bank accounts, dissolved their legal status in the country, seized their property, and took over the Jesuit Central American University in Managua, founded in 1960. So goes the revolution, gobbling up its own—again. In the 1970s, Mr. Ortega and his communist Sandinista army led a guerrilla war, backed by the Soviet Union and Cuba, against dictator Anastasio Somoza. In those days the Jesuits and other Catholic priests in Central America were known as advocates of liberation theology—which shared certain Marxist concepts. Some of these men of the cloth—and some nuns—became political and used the Gospel in their work around the country to support the “social justice” agenda of the Sandinistas. When Somoza was toppled in 1979, Mr. Ortega installed his own military dictatorship. He made a Catholic priest minister of culture; a Maryknoll priest became foreign minister, and a Jesuit would later serve as education minister.  The second coming of Somoza wasn’t what the Jesuits had in mind when they backed sandinismo, and by last month Central American University had become a hotbed of the pro-democracy struggle. But the signs were there during his first dictatorship, and Mr. Ortega’s true believers looked the other way. The crocodile is eating them last, to paraphrase Winston Churchill’s definition of an appeaser. Pope Francis, who is a Jesuit, hasn’t said a thing in defense of his brothers in Nicaragua. It may be painful to admit that naiveté about the utopian promises of socialism and resentment toward the bourgeoise led the Jesuits down a dangerous path in Latin America. Unchecked power, as usual, turned the state into a predator. The road back to Nicaraguan freedom won’t be easy. https://www.wsj.com/articles/daniel-ortega-turns-against-the-jesuits-dictator-south-amaerica-catholic-church-4d68b049__________________________________________________________ 7. Pope gives ‘noble’ Chinese people a shoutout at Mass in Mongolia in bid to warm ties, By Nicole Winfield and Saruul Enkhbold, Associated Press, September 3, 2023, 1:05 PM, Opinion Pope Francis sent a special greeting to China’s “noble” people on Sunday, giving them a special shout-out at the end of a Mass celebrated in neighboring Mongolia during the first-ever papal visit that was largely overshadowed by Beijing and its crackdown on religious minorities. Francis brought up to the altar the retired and current bishops of Hong Kong, Cardinal John Hon Tong and Cardinal-elect Stephen Chow, clasped their hands and told the crowd that included many mainland Chinese pilgrims that he wished them all well. “I want to take advantage of their presence to send a warm greeting to the noble Chinese people,” Francis said. “To all the (Chinese) people I wish the best and to always go forward, always progress.”  China’s ruling Communist Party has been waging a years-long, sweeping crackdown on religion, tightening controls, especially on Christianity and Islam that are viewed as foreign imports and potential challengers to Communist authority. The crackdown targeting Uyghurs in the northwestern Xinjiang region has been especially fierce, with claims that more than 1 million ethnic minority members were forcibly sent to prison-like reeducation centers where many have said they were tortured, sexually assaulted, and forced to abandon their language and religion.  https://apnews.com/article/mongolia-pope-russia-pope-1d7cf3a3987b3565d00d0d8f5b43182c__________________________________________________________ 8. An Ohio ballot measure seeks to protect abortion access. Opponents’ messaging is on parental rights, By Julie Carr Smyth and Christine Fernando, Associated Press, September 2, 2023, 6:50 PM The wording of a proposed constitutional amendment on Ohio’s fall ballot to ensure abortion rights seems straightforward: It would enshrine the right “to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions.” Yet as the campaigning for and against the nation’s latest tug-of-war over abortion begins in earnest this weekend, voters are getting a different message from the measure’s opponents. They are characterizing it as threatening a wide range of parental rights. “As parents, it’s our worst nightmare,” one particularly ominous online ad funded by Protect Women Ohio, the opposition campaign, says of November’s Issue 1. That ad suggests the amendment would let minors end pregnancies without parental permission, calling it “a potential reality so grim it’s hard to even imagine.” Another suggests parents would have no say in minors’ ”sex change surgery.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/09/02/abortion-ohio-constitution-parental-rights-election-2023/e2817200-498b-11ee-b76b-0b6e5e92090d_story.html__________________________________________________________ 9. Tolkien’s Biblical Epic, The long-lasting popularity of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ shows that in a secular age, readers still respond to Judeo-Christian teachings about morality, providence and power, By Meir Soloveichik, The Wall Street Journal, September 2, 2023, Pg. C4, Opinion If, in the 1930s, someone had sought to predict the bestselling English author of the 20th century, they probably would not have selected the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, who died 50 years ago on Sept. 2, 1973, spent his entire professional life in the academy, yet his impact on the world reached far beyond the ivory tower. His “Lord of the Rings” series of novels, which launched the modern genre of fantasy literature, have sold over 150 million copies and served as the source material for the wildly successful films of Peter Jackson.  To understand the enduring enchantment of Tolkien’s works, one must comprehend a central feature of his life that the 2019 biopic “Tolkien” largely chose to ignore: his Catholic faith. If sales of “The Lord of the Rings” rival those of the Bible itself, it is because the series offers a profoundly biblical view of the world. The reality and consistency of human sin described in Genesis is a central theme throughout Tolkien’s books. Sauron’s ring, rightly understood, is much more than a “MacGuffin”—an object whose only importance is that it helps move the plot forward. Rather, the ring is one of the true characters of the novel, representing sin and its many temptations.  Faithful Jews and Christians believe, in different ways, in the ultimate “return of the king.” But we also believe that we are called to live courageously in a world where that has not yet occurred. In one of the best-known scenes from the book and the film, Frodo ruefully wishes that he lived in a time before the ring was rediscovered, before evil made itself so profoundly manifest. “So do I,” Gandalf replies, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” This advice given by a wizard to a hobbit offers a succinct summation of what the Bible communicates to humanity and what has sustained men and women of faith in some of the darkest of times. Fifty years after Tolkien’s passing, the series that helped create the fantasy genre endures because of its realism. Rabbi Meir Soloveichik is the author of “Providence and Power: Ten Portraits in Jewish Statesmanship.” https://www.wsj.com/arts-culture/books/tolkien-lord-of-the-rings-biblical-morality-5d806107__________________________________________________________

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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