Christmas with the Holy Family
"It is important that, together, you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus."

Pope Francis offered encouragement to married couples on the Feast of the Holy Family. Equating the experience of marriage with a boat tossed on the waves, he stressed that we can "never forget, though, that by virtue of the sacrament of matrimony, Jesus is present in that boat; he is concerned for you and he remains at your side amid the tempest."

The message was part of his ongoing "Amoris Laetitia Family Year." You can find more info about this later in this email. Read the whole letter here.
Family Life in Hispanic Cultures
Lucia Luzondo of the Person & Identity Project joins the latest episode of the podcast to chat about the experiences of Hispanic/Latino families. Later in the episode, Kara and Andrew don't let their lack of expertise stop them from talking about Pixar's instant classic Coco, how it portrays Mexican culture, and how it resolves conflicts between individualism and family life.

Find previous episodes here and share it with your friends!
Pastoral Framework for Marriage and Family Life
The USCCB's newest pastoral framework will assist dioceses as local pastoral planning and implementation continue to take place since the publication of Amoris Laetitia. "Called to the Joy of Love" provides guidelines for the pastoral accompaniment of married couples and families in every phase of life, drawing upon the teachings and recommendations contained in the apostolic exhortation.

Read and download the digital version of the pastoral framework here.
A Year for the Family
Marking five years since his apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, on love in the family, Pope Francis has ushered in a "year" of celebration and deepened reflection on the family. From March 19th, 2021 all the way through the 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome on June 26th, 2022, the Vatican's Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life will be especially promoting the Christian message on the family in light of the challenges of our time. The USCCB is likewise celebrating the year with its own events and resources, which you can find here.
Legal/Policy Updates
Foster Care - A Methodist child welfare agency in Tennessee sued HHS on December 2nd, challenging a nondiscrimination rule that could force it to place children with cohabitating, same-sex, or non-Christian couples.

Health Care Mandate - On December 15th, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Sisters of Mercy v. Becerra, where Catholic health care providers are defending their win against an HHS mandate under the Affordable Care Act to provide "gender confirmation" procedures.

Wedding Vendors - A federal district court in New York ruled on December 15th that Christian photographer Emilee Carpenter could be forced to serve same-sex weddings. She plans to appeal.

Schools - On December 30th, Illinois issued guidance on the "protection of transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming students" to further strengthen schools' embrace and imposition of gender ideology. At the city level, new rules requiring "transgender"-friendly restroom signage and furthering development of gender-neutral restrooms took effect in Chicago Public Schools on December 1st. Philadelphia schools announced on December 9th that they will allow students to identify as "nonbinary" on school forms.

On December 22nd, a federal court ordered an Indiana high school to allow a "Gay-Straight Alliance" club to promote and fundraise on par with other student organizations.

In public school libraries, an ongoing effort by parents to get gender ideology-promoting and similar (sometimes graphic) books out of public school libraries continued in December, with mixed results in places such as Solana Beach, CAAnkeny, IA; Pennridge, PA; Canutillo, TXSan Antonio, TX; and Virginia Beach, VA. Parental pushback also arose in Forest Hills and Reeths-Puffer, MI, over read-alongs of such books.

International - Canada criminalized "conversion therapy" on December 8th, including even consensual adult talk therapy. The same day, Tokyo announced it will legally recognize same-sex couples. The next day, on December 9th, Chile redefined "marriage," and New Zealand passed a "self-ID" law, making for easy legal recognition of one's "gender" change (a similar law will go into effect in Switzerland in 2022). And on December 14th, the European Union's high court ruled that member states must recognize same-sex couples and children in their care as "families."