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Courage offers virtual Lenten reflection

February 27, 2021 CNA Daily News 3

Denver Newsroom, Feb 27, 2021 / 03:48 am (CNA).- As pandemic restrictions continue to affect in-person events, a pair of ministries for people with same-sex attraction and their loved ones is hosting a free, virtual Lenten reflection to foster spiritua… […]

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Review: 2021 Lenten fish sandwiches

February 19, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Feb 19, 2021 / 12:30 pm (CNA).- A lot has changed in the three years since CNA’s last ranking of fish sandwiches. 


The Chick-Fil-A fish sandwich, which we at CNA crowned the winner of the 2018 fish sandwich rankings, is not on the menu anymore. 


Bojangles once had a location near CNA’s Washington, D.C. offices but has closed that restaurant. The chain’s “Bojangler” fish sandwich placed fourth out of the six fast food sandwiches sampled by CNA in 2018.


This year, as Lent is upon us once again, CNA put five fast-food restaurants head-to-head (or fin-to-fin?) to compare their fish sandwich offerings. 


New to CNA’s 2021 review is Arby’s fish sandwich offering. Additionally, several other restaurants featured on the 2018 review have updated their fish sandwiches since then. 


Note: This review features only fish sandwiches, defined as a piece of fried fish and other toppings and condiments in between bread. All items were ordered as specified on the menu with no modifications, and were obtained at the drive-thru and consumed at home. The ratings cover a five “?” scale, with one being the lowest ranking and five the highest ranking. A “pandering” bonus is awarded to limited-time fish sandwich offerings for the Lenten season. All prices are for Washington, D.C. area locations and may differ throughout the country.



Crispy Fish

Price: $4.29

Calories: 570

Website description: “Put away your fishing boat and rubber fishing pants. Arby’s wild-caught Alaskan Pollock is crispy-fried to golden-brown perfection. We top it with tartar sauce and shredded lettuce.​” The sandwich is also available as a “King’s Hawaiian Fish Deluxe” on a King’s Hawaiian roll with the addition of cheese and tomato. 

First impressions: The sandwich came wrapped in a dedicated fish sandwich wrapper, and also came with a packet each of Arby’s Sauce and Horsey Sauce. The fish was decidedly more on the yellow end of golden. Arby’s has “the meats,” but could it have the fish, too? I was intrigued.

Review: I liked the sesame seed bun, which kind of elevated the experience. The iceberg lettuce would have tasted better as romaine–it was forgettable and flavorless. The fillet itself was sizable but, again, tasted rather flavorless and was neither crunchy nor crispy. There was an appropriate amount of tartar sauce. I tried the Horsey Sauce and the Arby’s Sauce on the sandwich, which simply made it taste like horseradish and…Arby’s, I guess, respectively. It didn’t enhance it, it overpowered it. There was nothing special about this sandwich, aside from the bun. It would have benefitted from pickles. 

Pandering: Yes, this is a limited-time offering. 

Rating: ??? and a half 


Burger King

Big Fish

Price: $4.49

Calories: 513 

Website description: “Our premium Big Fish Sandwich is 100% White Alaskan Pollock, breaded with crispy panko breading and topped with sweet tartar sauce, tangy pickles, all on top of a toasted brioche-style bun.”

First impressions: The website claims that tartar sauce goes on the sandwich, but I’m pretty sure that my sandwich came with mayonnaise instead. The sandwich was wrapped in a dedicated wrapper specifically for fish. It smelled decent. There was a lot of lettuce on the sandwich. I liked that the pickles were crinkle-cut. 

Review: The Big Fish has the same problem as the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish–there’s nothing overtly wrong with it, but there’s nothing overtly good about it either. The addition of iceberg lettuce and pickles added an interesting texture to the sandwich, but I would have preferred romaine lettuce instead. While some of the other sandwiches suffered due to a relative lack of sauces, the Big Fish had a layer of “tartar sauce” (Burger King claims) spread on both the bottom bun and on top of the fillet. The overload of “tartar sauce” gave the distinct feeling of “wow, this is extremely unhealthy,” as I was eating the sandwich, which I guess is an appropriate feeling for Lent. The fish was not crunchy, and had a similar texture to a french fry. The lettuce was flavorless. It wasn’t bad, but I’m not going to go running for a Big Fish again unless I’m on the New Jersey Turnpike on a Friday. Also the Big Fish gave me a stomach ache after I ate it. 

Pandering: No, this is on the permanent menu.

Rating: ??? 



Price: $4.79 

Calories: 380 

Website description: “This McDonald’s fish sandwich has fish sourced from sustainably managed fisheries, topped with melty American cheese and creamy McDonald’s tartar sauce, and served on a soft, steamed bun.” A link on the website for users to “learn what kind of fish is in Filet-o-Fish” leads to a 404 error. 

First impressions: It looked like a standard Filet-O-Fish, and was packaged in a cardboard box. I had to wait a short time before I received the sandwich, so I assume it was freshly made.  

Review: There was nothing bad about this sandwich, but there was not a whole lot exemplary about it either. The fish wasn’t soggy, but wasn’t super crispy either. The tartar sauce tasted like…tartar sauce. I’m unclear as to why there was half a slice of American cheese on the sandwich, as it was impossible to discern the taste under the tartar sauce. It would have been nice to have pickles or some other vegetable topping as well to add texture and nutritional value to the sandwich. I’m not mad I ate a Filet-O-Fish, but I’m not going to rush back for another one anytime soon. 

Pandering: No, this is on the permanent menu, but there must be consideration given to the fact that this was the original “hey, I want Catholics to eat at my restaurant on Fridays” menu item. (We will ignore the Hula Burger.)  

Rating: ???



Cajun Flounder Sandwich

Price: $4.49 

Calories: 670 

Website description: “Our all new Flounder Fish Fillet, served on a warm and toasted buttery brioche bun, with crisp barrel cured pickles and tartar sauce.”

First impressions: The sandwich I received was wrapped in a foil bag, and had a paper wrapper on the sandwich itself–which I assume was to preserve the structural integrity of the sandwich. The fillet itself spilled out from the bun and was not, contra the sandwiches at Wendy’s, Arby’s, and McDonald’s, a square, making it feel less-processed. 

Review: This thing is good. There was a level of spice that was not overpowering, but was an interesting contrast to the brioche and condiments. The bread was able to hold up to the sizable flounder fillet, and the flounder had more of a “meatier” taste to it than the pollock sandwiches of other fast food chains. The pickles were delicious, but my sandwich could have benefited from a bit more tartar sauce. If you live near a Popeyes, this is definitely worth getting–although it is significantly more calorie-dense than other options. 

Pandering: Yes, this is limited time only and was introduced the week before Lent. 

Rating: ?????



Wild Caught Alaskan Fish Sandwich 

Price: $4.39 

Calories: 530

Website description: “Wild caught Alaskan pollock fillet, crunchy panko breading, topped with creamy dill tartar sauce, pickles, lettuce, and American cheese. Proof that ice fishing is actually totally worth it.”

First impressions: The sandwich was exactly as the website described it, and it came wrapped in foil. A helpful sticker reading “fish” was placed over the “chicken” print on the foil. I noted that unlike McDonald’s, Wendy’s puts a whole slice of cheese on their sandwich. 

Review: After my first bite I said, out loud, “Well done, Wendy.” I did not have super high hopes for Wendy’s after my 2017 review (which was, not coincidentally, the last time I had a fish sandwich at Wendy’s), but this was actually a pretty solid sandwich. The fish was crispy–there was an audible “crunch” sound when I bit into it. The cheese was not doing much for me, but the pickles and romaine lettuce were a nice touch. The pickles were thick cut and flavorful. I thought the sandwich could have used a smidge more tartar sauce, but this was a solid fish sandwich. 

Pandering: Yes, this is a limited time offering and replaced the previous Wild Caught North Pacific Cod Sandwich of years past. 

Rating: ???? and a half


Final Thoughts: 

While I was disappointed to see the Chick-Fil-A fish sandwich go, I must say that I was overall fairly impressed with this year’s slate of fried fish in between buns. Wendy’s and Popeyes, who had fairly strong showings in 2018, both improved their offerings–which was no easy task. It was interesting to see the embrace of food trends–both Burger King and Wendy’s boast about panko breading their sandwiches. (But only Wendy’s fillet actually tasted crunchy.) It was also interesting to see how the fish products have shifted over the years–Alaskan pollock seems to be the go-to fish now, as opposed to cod. And I still have no idea what was actually in the Filet-O-Fish. 


The improvements in the limited-time offerings showed the glaring deficiencies of the tried-and-true standby at McDonald’s. It wouldn’t hurt McDonald’s to toss on some lettuce or pickles to their Filet-O-Fish, or perhaps add a flavor to the tartar sauce. It would greatly enhance the experience. McDonald’s could previously rest on its laurels as the original Catholic-pandering restaurant for Lenten Fridays, but those days may be numbered now. 



Best fillet: Wendy’s Wild Caught Alaskan Fish Sandwich 


Worst fillet: McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish


Best bread: Wendy’s Wild Caught Alaskan Fish Sandwich


Cheapest option: Arby’s Crispy Fish


Priciest option: McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish


Fewest calories: McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish


Most calories: Popeyes Cajun Flounder Sandwich 


Best overall: Popeyes Cajun Flounder Sandwich 


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Brazilian bishops discuss controversial text of ecumenical Lenten campaign

February 17, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Brasilia, Brazil, Feb 17, 2021 / 12:39 pm (CNA).- The National Conference of Bishops of Brazil has issued a statement to confront a wave of complaints over the inclusion of gender ideology and the almost null presence of Catholic concepts in the base text of the Ecumenical Fraternity Campaign for Lent 2021.

The Fraternity Campaign is a prominent Catholic fundraiser celebrated in Brazil during Lent; every five years it is carried out in conjunction with mainline ecclesial communities.

This year’s campaign is entitled “Fraternity and dialogue: commitment of love”, and the motto is a phrase from the Letter from Paul to the Ephesians: “Christ is our peace: he who made one of both peoples.”

The controversy in social networks arose because the material for parish meditations during Lent includes a text that says: “another social group that suffers the consequences of systemic politics and violence and the creation of enemies is the LGBTQ+ population,” and provides information on alleged violence against gay people.

The manual quotes the “Grupo Gay da Bahía,” a homosexual lobby group, and claims that “193 LGBTQ+ were murdered in 2017.”

“These homicides are the effects of hate speech, religious fundamentalism, voices against the recognition of the rights of LGBTQ+ populations and other persecuted and vulnerable groups,” the text says.

After the storm of protests and calls to boycott the campaign, the CNBB released a statement claiming that “for 2021, as approved in our 2018 general assembly, the campaign was meant  to be ecumenical and, according to a custom since 2000, under the responsibility of the NCC,” or National Council of Christian Churches.

“In the first meetings, the urgency to address these times of polarization and fanaticism was discerned and this chose the topic of dialogue, but the elaboration of the basic text was assigned to NCC.”

“Consequently, the text followed the structure of NCC’s thinking and work. Several meetings were held, the text went through the revision of the theological consultancy of NCC, a consultancy of members of various churches, reaching then what we have today. Therefore, it is not a text in the style of what would happen if it were prepared by the CNBB commission, since we have two different theological understandings, although around the same ideal of serving Jesus Christ,” the CNBB statement says.

The text of this year “must be understood in this way, as it was in the fraternity campaigns carried out in an ecumenical way,” they added.

To answer the problem of gender ideology, the bishops cite page 673 of the Lexicon of ambiguous and disputed terms on families, life and ethical issues, of the Pontifical Council for the Family. The bishops affirm in this regard that “Catholic doctrine on gender issues affirms that ‘gender is the transcendent dimension of human sexuality, compatible with all levels of the human person, among which are the body, mind, spirit, the soul. Gender is therefore malleable and is subject to internal and external influences to the human person, but it must obey the natural order predisposed by the body.’”

Several lay Catholics questioned the wisdom of the CNBB in releasing the material for the campaign, especially when the significance of mainline ecclesial communities in Brazil is negligible and the brunt of the collection depends on the hundreds of thousands of Catholic parishes in the country.

Bruno Braga questioned the response of the bishops and said on his Facebook account that the episcopal note tries to defend “a campaign evidently incompatible with the Catholic faith that does not justify the absurdities committed in the name of a false ecumenism.”

Braga explains that the note speaks of the responsibility of the NCC in the text that will be “distributed and worked in parishes and churches throughout the country,” but does not mention that “who coordinated the preparation of the text is the pro-abortion pastor Romi Bencke.”

Bencke is a Lutheran pastor who supports abortion and same sex marriage, and was heavily involved in drafting the text for the campaign.

The Dom Bosco Center also published a video explaining Bencke’s pro-abortion, feminist, and pro-gender ideology stance.

“The problem is that there is no space to talk about sexual and reproductive rights for women. People know these issues are very difficult, an abortion for example,” says Bencke in the video made available by the Don Bosco group.

The video also shows Catholic priest Oscar Beozzo, a well-known liberation theologian in Brazil, who considers Bencke to be “the soul” of the 2021 ecumenical Fraternity Campaign.

“In a sense, the 2021 Fraternity Campaign pretends to be like something like a Socialist Worker’s Party or the Democratic Party infiltrating the Catholic Church. The doctrine of these organizations is fully replicated in a document prepared to be executed in all the Brazilian dioceses. That must be an alarming sign for us,” the group said in a video released Feb. 5.

“The campaigns of Fraternity are carried out during Lent until Palm Sunday, it is a time of penance, prayer and conversion. It is a very important time to reflect upon our lives,” the Don Bosco group also said.

The video also indicates that the words Mary, Saint Joseph or the sacraments are not found in the text, and Pope Francis is mentioned only once to make a reference to caring for the environment.

Braga also said that “the 2021 Fraternity Campaign is an aberration and should be abandoned immediately.”

Braga also argued that the money collected annually on Palm Sunday is used in “causes that would not be consistent with Catholic doctrine” and asked Catholics not to contribute to it. The campaign raises annually the equivalent to $700,000.

But in their statement, the Brazilian bishops argue that the money will not be spent in projects that are inconsistent with Catholic teachings.

“From the beginning of the 2021 Fraternity Campaign, we have informed the NCC about the difficulty and even the impossibility of working together in the structure of the Fraternity Campaign, unlike previous ecumenical campaigns. On this point, based on the last campaigns, that of 2016, this presidency (of the CNBB) has already expressed the difficulties and, in a spirit of communion and co-responsibility, will discuss the matter in a future meeting and the conclusion will be reported immediately,” concludes the bishops’ statement.