Vatican Charities, Roe v. Wade Challenged, and the Global Growth of Catholicism

EWTN News in Depth discusses a possible challenge to Roe v. Wade at the U.S. Supreme Court and speaks with Mary Ann Glendon on religious freedom

St. Peter's Basilica Near the River Tiber
St. Peter's Basilica Near the River Tiber (photo: Carla Bellaard / Pixabay)

If you’ve ever wondered how the Vatican receives and distributes money for its religious works around the world, the May 21 episode of EWTN News in Depth has you covered.

Plus, show host Montse Alvarado conducts an “On the Record” interview with one of the top women in Catholic Church leadership! Mary Ann Glendon, a former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See (more on her resume below) discusses her work at the Vatican, dangers she sees for religious freedom, and her hopes for the future of the Church. A must-see, I think.

But back to Vatican finances, “trust” and “transparency” are two watchwords that reoccur as Rome correspondent Colm Flynn speaks to clergy and lay appointees who help to administer massive streams of money. Only in recent years have these been subjected to any external regulation, and it’s evidently a hard balance to strike between mission and oversight.

Watching this story (which opens the full episode) your head might spin at the complexity of overseeing the world’s largest charity — and the world’s largest Church.

Find out, for example:

  • How foreign missionaries and their work are sustained at times by the Vatican’s unique freedom from certain international banking regulations 
  • What the lay finance experts think — the ones working to help reform the Vatican’s financial practices and bring them closer to international regulatory standards
  • How the Vatican’s money administrators’ experience in the financial sector compares to their counterparts in the global arena 

On the Record: Catholic Trailblazer Mary Ann Glendon

Mary Ann Glendon is not only a Harvard law professor who has worked with three popes in her career, she was also the first woman to lead a papal delegation and the first female president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. 

When Glendon sits down with Montse Alvarado, to discuss her work at the Vatican, she cuts to the chase. 

“The threat to religious freedom in the Western liberal democracies has grown in ways that none of us anticipated,” she says. “The biggest threat right now … is that unfortunately, most people do not think it is under threat.” 

She goes on to say that this is because many violations against Christians are underreported by the media, even though the “facts are there” through reports conducted by the Pew Forum and others. 

Her advice for us? “I think somehow, lay people have to make their voices heard about that.”

Watch the full interview:


News of the Week: Future of Abortion Laws at Stake 

The Supreme Court has agreed to consider the legality of Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. Called by some the “heartbeat law,” the legislation was struck down by a lower court for placing an undue burden on women’s legal right to terminate her pregnancy before the fetus can survive outside her womb. 

National Catholic Register reporter Matt Hadro weighs in on News in Depth about what this could mean for the future of abortion laws in the United States. Is it a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade? Watch the segment here to find out.


Where is Catholicism blooming — and fading — across the world?

Also on EWTN News in Depth … Globalization. Immigration. Secularization. Evangelization. News in Depth explains recent demographic shifts in the world’s Catholic population, and some of their causes.

“Twenty-five percent of the U.S. population self identifies as non-religiously affiliated, but that phenomenon is also taking root all throughout Latin America,” one expert tells EWTN’s Mark Irons. Then, an expert panel with representation from Africa, Latin America and the U.S. weigh in.
Here are some key takeaways:

Persecution Persists. From Father Don Bosco Onyalla of the Association of Catholic Information, Kenya: Alongside more positive developments, some North and West African governments are restricting the building of Catholic churches and schools. Others, like Nigeria, are committing more heinous human rights violations. “In Nigeria ... we had killings, abductions, almost every day.

Secularization in Latin America. From Alejandro Bermudez, Executive Director, CNA/ACI Prensa: “The original concept of extended family … that would be both a social and spiritual network, is being reduced dramatically because people are moving wherever they can find jobs.” 

Formation Roadblocks for Migrant Catholics. From Dr. Matthew Bunson, Washington Bureau News Chief: “Seventy-one percent of the growth in the U.S. Church since 1970 is from Latinos ... we need to meet and deal with and welcome these new immigrants, integrate them into our parishes and dioceses.”

Watch the full panel:

Last, but not least ... financial transparency at the parish level

Did you know that parish finance councils are mandated by canon law? News in Depth reporter Kate Scanlon talks to experts and seasoned pastors (like my former pastor, Msgr. Charles Pope at Holy Comforter Saint Cyprian Catholic Church in Washington D.C.) about the importance of accountability and transparency for financial stewardship in local parishes. Catch the whole story in just two minutes.

Watch the full show: