28

May 24

TCA Media Monitoring May 28, 2024

1. The Untold Story of the Network That Took Down Roe v. Wade, A conservative Christian coalition’s plan to end the federal right to abortion began just days after Trump’s 2016 election., By Elizabeth Dias and Lisa Lerer, The New York Times, May 28, 2024, Opinion
 

 
For more than 40 years, a passionate band of conservative and mostly Christian activists tried to find ways to undermine the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion and revolutionized America. But they had been losing. The country appeared to be moving away from them, increasingly secular and increasingly liberal on sexual matters. The anti-abortion movement lacked the critical mass needed in Washington and the control of courts to end federal abortion rights. But now, with Trump, who promised to name “pro-life judges,” in the White House, there was a new vista before them.
 
Leo, the force behind this network, arrived at the Mayflower after spending the day at Trump Tower in New York. He met with the president-elect and his top aides about turning the list of Supreme Court justice candidates that Leo curated into legal reality. Republicans in the Senate had taken a risk by refusing to hold hearings to fill the seat left open by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia toward the end of Barack Obama’s presidency. Now, with Trump positioned to nominate one of its own, Leo’s movement stood on the verge of an enormous triumph, with a court that would once again be dominated by Republican-appointed justices — and those who were firmly on the side of restricting abortion. Trump confirmed in the meeting that if someone was not on the list, that person would not be considered.
 

 
The story of how an elite strike force of Christian lawyers, activists and politicians methodically and secretly led the country down a path that defied the will of a majority of Americans, who wanted abortion to remain legal, has been hidden until now. The ultimate aim of this behind-the-scenes conservative coalition, which powered one of the most significant political resurgences the United States has ever seen, went far beyond questions of when — and if — a pregnancy can be legally ended. For them, the fall of Roe was not an end but a beginning in their effort to make all abortion illegal and, in effect, roll back the sexual revolution. It was not only a political battle but a spiritual mission, rooted in their Christian faith and their belief that they were fighting for the highest moral stakes of the modern age. Their opponents didn’t see what was coming until it was far too late. After so many decades of taking Roe for granted, supporters of abortion rights had grown dangerously complacent and disorganized in ways that made them slow to appreciate the severity of the threat.
 
This investigation is built on more than 350 interviews with people who had knowledge of these events, including elected officials, lawyers, activists, doctors and ordinary people whose lives were changed by the fall of Roe. The reporting spanned 16 states and Washington, from statehouses to the White House, and a review of previously unreported documents.
 

 
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/28/magazine/roe-v-wade-christian-network.html
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2. Still hurting from violence, Mexican priests and families hope for peace ahead of elections, Ahead of upcoming presidential elections, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and frontrunner Claudia Sheinbaum have strongly rejected any criticism of the governing party’s security strategies, By MarÍa Teresa HernÁndez, Associated Press, May 28, 2024, 1:03 AM
 
José Portillo Gil, the gang leader known as “El Chueco” — the Crooked One — lowered his gun. The Rev. Jesús Reyes then spoke what he feared might be his final words: Please, don’t take my brothers’ corpses away.
 
Next to him, at the altar of his church in northern Mexico, Jesuit priests Javier Campos, 79, and Joaquín Mora, 80, lay in a pool of blood.
 
“I could almost feel the bullets going through my body,” said Reyes, who survived the attack without being shot.
 
The killings took place in Cerocahui in mid-2022, but the sorrow over the crimes has not diminished in the communities nestled in the remote Tarahumara mountains. Nor have Catholic leaders’ demands for peace abated.
 
Since he took power in 2018, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has avoided direct confrontation with cartels and violent gangs controlling and terrorizing local communities. His “ hugs, not bullets ” policy has drawn extensive criticism from faith leaders, human rights organizations and journalists who have echoed victims’ fears and anger.
 
Presidential front-runner and governing party candidate Claudia Sheinbaum hesitantly met with representatives from the Mexican bishops’ conference. And though she agreed to sign a peace commitment that proposed strategies to reduce the violence in Mexico, the 61-year-old said she did not share the bishops’ “pessimistic evaluation” of the current situation.
 
“In the time that I have been here in the Tarahumara, I had never faced such difficult times,” said Reyes, whose hearing was severely damaged by the gunshots.
 

 
Among the inhabitants of the Tarahumara mountains, specially within the Indigenous Raramuri people, priests like Ávila, Reyes and the murdered Jesuits are often regarded as profoundly beloved figures who fearlessly offer comfort and help.
 

 
Earlier this year, four bishops from the Pacific coast state of Guerrero met with Mexican drug cartel bosses in a bid to negotiate a possible peace accord. The meeting highlighted how the government’s policy of not confronting the cartels has left ordinary citizens to work out their own separate peace deals with the gangs.
 

 
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/05/28/mexico-elections-catholic-church-violence/ad565648-1caf-11ef-becb-2cf8dbfd9eb9_story.html
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3. When is a baby fully human?, More than 23% of American women say it is only at birth, By Elizabeth Graham, The Washington Times, May 28, 2024, Opinion
 
Is it a baby, or isn’t it? The perceptions of many Americans may surprise you.
 
With Florida recently enacting a six-week abortion ban, it cracks open a decadeslong conversation about when a baby is considered fully human. After all, if a baby doesn’t look like the form of a human for a while, it can be easier to accept or even condone abortion.
 
At Stand for Life, we recently commissioned some in-depth research on the perceptions of American women of childbearing age about abortion. The research found that only 12% of them who consider themselves pro-choice said conception is when a baby is fully human; 22% of them said after six weeks, 21% after 12 weeks, and 45% said a baby is fully human only at birth. Contrast this with those who identify as pro-life: 88% said a baby is fully human at conception. Combined with those who identify as a mix of pro-life and pro-choice, the overall sample size revealed over 23% do not believe a baby is fully human until it is born.
 
It’s so important to me and our entire team at Stand for Life that as we talk about statistics and the issue of abortion, we always remember that we are talking about real people with real needs and fears. Our mission is to affirm and defend the dignity of every single human being because they are made in the image of God, so it must also include vulnerable women who are considering or have had an abortion. And it must include the people with whom we disagree about this and other issues.
 
While many do not view life as beginning at conception but rather at various periods of pregnancy, half of pregnant women call their preborn child a baby. There is a cultural, ethical and spiritual conflict in America over the true beginning of life.
 
As a Christian, I look to the Bible for my answer on human value and dignity. The Bible gives a compelling vision that there is no measuring stick to evaluate whose life is valuable and whose is not. It says that all human beings have worth and value simply by virtue of the truth that they have been made in the image of God. Yet only 79% of those who are pro-life agree that all humans are made in the image of God, 53% who identify as mixed on the issue of abortion believe it, while 13% of those who identify as pro-choice do.
 
Each life, be it that of a child with a disability, an older adult, a refugee or an unborn baby, has infinite value and is worthy of protection. This is why Stand for Life advocates for the vulnerable. If so many in America do not agree that human life begins at conception, then those in the womb are vulnerable.
 

 
Stand for Life wants everyone to see that human dignity is worth protecting, from conception to natural death, because everyone bears the image of God, regardless of how a culture or a society defines their worth. Scripture provides clear instruction for how we should live out our lives and for how we should defend, affirm and protect vulnerable people because they are created in the image of God.
 
As believers in Christ, we should uphold a different standard when it comes to embracing the value of human life, so let’s intentionally shift the wrong thinking that permeates our culture. All lives are worthy of protection, whether it’s at six weeks or 90 years. It takes all of us, but it can be done.
 
Elizabeth Graham is the CEO of Stand for Life, an organization that connects, unifies and mobilizes organizations, leaders, influencers and the public to affirm and protect the dignity of life.
 
https://highergroundtimes.com/higher-ground/2024/may/27/when-is-baby-fully-human/
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4. Report: Pro-life pregnancy centers provided over $367.9 million worth of services in 2022, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, May 28, 2024, 7:00 AM
 
A new report found that 2,750 pro-life pregnancy resource centers in the United States provided nearly $367.9 million worth of life-affirming pregnancy services and material goods to clients and their families in 2022.
 
The report, published this month by the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, estimates that the total monetary value of the goods and services provided in 2022 was more than one-third — over $100 million — higher than the total value provided in 2019. This includes diapers, baby formula, ultrasounds, health care services, and education among a variety of other goods and services.
 
According to the report, this total includes nearly $176 million in free medical services, more than $113.3 million in free education and support services, and more than $78.5 million worth of material resource items. The report found that the centers provided more than 16 million virtual and in-person sessions with clients.
 
One example of major growth from 2019 to 2022 was a 194% increase in material services and baby items delivered to families. Other areas of growth included a 41% increase in attendees for parenting and prenatal education programs and a 27% increase in testing for sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
 

 
https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/257814/report-pro-life-pregnancy-centers-provided-over-367-dollars-9-cents-million-worth-of-services-in-2022
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5. Is Pope’s PR safety net misrepresenting his use of slang?, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, May 28, 2024
 

 
One of the topics that arose was the question of the admission of homosexual men to Catholic seminaries. Soon afterwards, rumors began to circulate that Francis had used an off-color term in the context of the discussion, saying there’s already too much frociaggine in seminaries, which translates roughly to “faggotry.”
 

 
In presenting the news, a striking share of media outlets have done so in ways seemingly intended to take the pope off the hook, noting high up in their coverage that Italian is not his mother tongue and suggesting he may not have understood that the term in question is offensive.
 
One prominent Italian newspaper, for example, pointed out that growing up in Argentina, the future pope spoke the Piedmont dialect rather than today’s standard Italian, and quoted unnamed bishops present at the time who said “it was obvious Francis was not aware of how much in our language the word is weighty and offensive.”
 
Many media outlets also suggested the pope must not have known what he was saying, given his reputation as the pope of “Who am I to judge?” Francis has built a reputation for being LGBTQ+-friendly, so the coverage holds, meaning that he must have used the term almost accidentally, without intending to shock or offend.
 
What should be made of these interpretations?
 
To begin, it’s true there may be a generational discount to be applied. Francis, after all, is 87, and at times may use outdated expressions in ways that if someone younger were to say it, the effect would be different. My grandad had a heart of gold, but could sometimes use racial vocabulary that would make anybody cringe.
 
For another, throughout his career Francis has been known occasionally to indulge in off-color expressions of all sorts. Some find that aspect of his personality crude or off-putting, others see his capacity to employ the argot of the street as part of his pastoral charm … carrying the “smell of his sheep,” as it were. In any event, it’s a trait that doesn’t necessarily always reflect the pope’s developed thinking, but rather something more akin to shooting from the hip.
 
And, yet.
 
Yet, here’s the thing. I didn’t grow up in an ethnically Italian home like Francis, I haven’t spoken Italian all my life, and the primary language in which I work every day isn’t Italian either. When Francis speaks Italian, he sounds like a native; when I do, I come off as Father Guido Sarducci in reverse, meaning an immigrant in Italy with a comically thick American accent (and, sadly, I’m not doing a bit, it’s just how I sound.)
 
Yet, even I know that the word frocio and its variants are strong medicine, and definitely not something you say in mixed company.
 
I recall distinctly in my first Italian class here in Rome a quarter-century ago, we had a gay teacher, and, at one point, a teenager in the class called him frocio – the response was immediate and unmistakable, with at least a half-dozen people shouting at the poor kid to put a sock in it.
 
The bottom line is that it strains credulity, to put it mildly, that Pope Francis simply didn’t understand the language he was using. Moreover, it’s striking that many of the same people now urging us to believe in the pope’s naïveté more typically are the ones extolling his savvy, deeply in-touch command of the moment.
 
Given all that, there’s another interpretation of his statement to the Italian bishops, which is that he meant what he said: In his view, there’s an overly strong element of what is sometimes called a worrying “gay lifestyle” in at least some seminary environments, which suggests caution in terms of admitting gay candidates.
 
At the moment, CEI is considering a new set of admissions guidelines, a draft of which distinguishes between orientation and behavior in the evaluation of gay candidates. Perhaps Francis deliberately wanted to trigger a yellow light, an invitation to slow down and be careful about inadvertently encouraging unhealthy elements in seminary life.
 
Is that necessarily what he had in mind?
 
Right now it’s impossible to be sure, but it seems at least as credible as the “pope didn’t know what he was saying” theory. In the absence of a clarification from the Vatican Press Office – and on that front, I wouldn’t hold my breath – perhaps we’ll have to await the next pope interview to get a definitive answer.
 
Of course, at the rate those things roll around, it could come this afternoon, so stay tuned.
 
https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2024/05/is-popes-pr-safety-net-misrepresenting-his-use-of-slang
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6. Pope used vulgar Italian word to refer to LGBT people, Italian newspapers report, By Reuters, May 27, 2024, 11:35 PM
 
Pope Francis used a highly derogatory term towards the LGBT community as he reiterated in a closed-door meeting with Italian bishops that gay people should not be allowed to become priests, Italian media reported on Monday.
 
La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, Italy’s largest circulation dailies, both quoted the pope as saying seminaries, or priesthood colleges, are already too full of “frociaggine”, a vulgar Italian term roughly translating as “faggotness”.
 

 
La Repubblica attributed its story to several unspecified sources, while Corriere said it was backed up by a few, unnamed bishops, who suggested the pope, as an Argentine, might have not realised that the Italian term he used was offensive.
 
Francis, who is 87, has so far been credited with leading the Roman Catholic Church into taking a more welcoming approach towards the LGBT community.
In 2013, at the start of his papacy, he famously said, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”, while last year he allowed priests to bless members of same-sex couples, triggering substantial conservative backlash.
 
Nevertheless, he delivered a similar message on gay seminarians – minus the reported swear word – when he met Italian bishops in 2018, telling them to carefully vet priesthood applicants and reject any suspected homosexuals.
 

 
In a 2005 document, released under Francis’s late predecessor Benedict XVI, the Vatican said the Church could admit into the priesthood those who had clearly overcome homosexual tendencies for at least three years.
 
The document said practicing homosexuals and those with “deep-seated” gay tendencies and those who “support the so-called gay culture” should be barred.
 
https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/pope-used-vulgar-italian-word-refer-lgbt-people-italian-newspapers-report-2024-05-27/
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7. The Senators Protect IVF, but From Whom?, A bill introduced by Ted Cruz and Katie Boyd Britt is moral and political malpractice., By Ryan T. Anderson, The Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2024, 11:31 AM, Letter to the Editor
 
Sens. Ted Cruz and Katie Boyd Britt no doubt sincerely believe “IVF is profoundly pro-family,” but they are profoundly mistaken (“We’ll Protect Both Life and IVF,” op-ed, May 20). As practiced, in vitro fertilization requires killing human beings at their earliest stage of existence. Many more embryos are produced than can ever be brought to term. We may store excess embryos for years, but eventually those not destroyed in the procedure itself will be discarded.
 
IVF also involves eugenics. We must decide which embryos to implant or freeze, a decision based on which embryos appear “best.” However loving the intentions of those who use it, IVF treats children as a commodity, not a gift.
 
That said, the majority of Americans disagree with me. There is no political will to prohibit IVF, which is legal in all 50 states. The federal legislation introduced by the senators is unnecessary. All it will do is feed a Democratic narrative on a supposed war on IVF. It is moral and political malpractice.
 
Ryan T. Anderson is the President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
 
https://www.wsj.com/articles/unnecessary-ivf-legislation-eugenics-embryos-7b067c5d
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8. Remembering the fallen and how religion carried them through, ‘Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends’, By Danielle Runyan, The Washington Times, May 27, 2024, Opinion
 
Memorial Day is a time of great reflection to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to our nation, how religion played an integral role in their service, and our continued remembrance of their dedication to something greater than themselves.
 
Our republic was founded by men who believed that freedom meant being sovereign, with our first freedom including the ability to freely exercise our religious beliefs. While many are struck by the misconception that service members give up their constitutional rights when they wear the uniform, nothing could be further from the truth.
 
Despite the push for a secular nation, many fail to realize that religion and religious liberty have always played an essential role in society and culture, making them necessary ingredients for good governance and a strong military.
 
Perhaps no individual had a greater influence in incorporating religious exercise with military service than George Washington.
 

 
In fact, military regulations require strict adherence to not only the free exercise clause of the First Amendment but also the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which provides every American with even greater protections for exercising their religious beliefs. The government can curtail religious exercise only if a “compelling interest” can be established. Without it, every American — including service members — can engage in freedom of religious expression.
 
This is precisely why, for decades, service members have enjoyed expressing their religious beliefs by wearing replica dog tags created by Shields of Strength. For over 25 years, Kenny Vaughan and his company have sold or donated over 4 million dog tags bearing military insignia and biblical Scripture.
 
When Army Capt. Russell Rippetoe became the first American casualty of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was wearing a Shields dog tag. At his funeral in Arlington National Cemetery, President George W. Bush mentioned Capt. Rippetoe’s dog tag and read the Bible verse engraved on it.
 
Like Rippetoe, thousands of other service members wear Shields dog tags because they symbolize their religious and military identities, facilitate their spiritual growth, and provide comfort during military service. The dog tags inspire soldiers and their families by combining the love of country (a military insignia) with the love of God (a religious message).
 
But more than two years ago, the executive branch effectively put Shields of Strength out of business by declining to grant a license to Shields if their dog tags included biblical text. Because this is contrary to the First Amendment and RFRA, we are fighting to get Shields’ dog tags back in the hands of those motivated by a power greater than themselves and dedicated to a life of service.
 
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13 (ESV).
 
At a time when patriotism and a willingness to serve in uniform is at an all-time low, it is incumbent upon us to remember the fallen and their families and why religious exercise is so important to military service. Our nation would cease to exist without our brave men and women in uniform.
 
Danielle Runyan is senior counsel and chair of the Military Practice Group at the First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit law firm dedicated to defending religious freedom for all. Read more at FirstLiberty.org.
 
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2024/may/25/remembering-fallen-and-how-religion-carried-them-t/
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9. What we know about the young missionaries and religious leader killed in Haiti, A spokesperson for the families of a young missionary couple from the U.S. says their bodies are going to be transported to Missouri this week, By DÁnica Coto and Jim Salter, Associated Press, May 26, 2024, 7:44 PM
 
The bodies of a young missionary couple from the U.S. who were attacked and fatally shot by gang members in Haiti are expected to be transported to Missouri this week, a spokesperson for the families said Sunday.
 
Thursday’s killings of Davy and Natalie Lloyd, and Jude Montis, the local director of a mission group, Missions in Haiti Inc., happened in the community of Lizon in northern Port-au-Prince. They were leaving a youth group activity at a church, a family member told The Associated Press.
 

 
Missions in Haiti’s website says its goal is “to see the Gospel of Christ make a difference in the lives of Haiti’s young people.”
 
Davy Lloyd’s parents, David and Alicia Lloyd, of Oklahoma, started the organization in 2000 seeking to focus on the children of Haiti. David and Alicia Lloyd are full-time missionaries in the country.
 
“Although the entire nation is steeped in poverty, the children suffer the worst,” they wrote on the website. “Thousands are malnourished, uneducated, and headed for hopeless lives apart from Christ.”
 

 
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/2024/05/26/haiti-young-missionaries-killed-gang-violence/b2020a00-1ba3-11ef-becb-2cf8dbfd9eb9_story.html
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10. Christian group temporarily opens beaches it has closed on Sunday mornings as court fight plays out, Beachgoers were out on the sand of one New Jersey shore community on a Sunday morning before Memorial day for the first time in generations amid a battle over a Christian religious group’s Sunday morning beach closures, By Associated Press, May 26, 2024, 5:22 PM
 
For the first time in generations, beachgoers were out on the sand in a New Jersey shore community on the Sunday morning before Memorial Day as a Christian religious group fights the state over its regular beach closures there during Sunday services.
 
The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist group that established a Christian seaside retreat at the Jersey Shore in 1869, said it had closed its beaches on Sunday mornings during religious services in Ocean Grove for more than a century and a half before the state Department of Environmental Protection accused the group of violating state beach access laws.
 
The department threatened fines of $25,000 per day.
 
The association unsuccessfully sought an emergency ruling in its favor, then said last week it would temporarily allow beachgoers access on Sunday this holiday weekend while it continues to fight the court case.
 

 
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/2024/05/26/ocean-grove-sunday-beach-closed-christian/26fa0626-1ba1-11ef-becb-2cf8dbfd9eb9_story.html
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11. Harrison Butker’s Very American Traditionalism, By Ross Douthat, The New York Times, May 24, 2024, Opinion
 
Across almost two weeks of controversy over the commencement speech that Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker gave at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., one of the most useful pieces of commentary came from Kevin Tierney, writing in Catholic World Report. Tierney neither defended nor attacked Butker’s sweeping condemnation of modern secular culture and lukewarm forms of Catholic faith. Instead he identified the kicker’s worldview as part of a distinctive tendency that Tierney calls “DIY traditionalism” — a form of Catholic piety that offers a “radical emphasis on personal accountability, is inherently populist, and has little direct connection to Church authorities.”
 
A little context: Butker is a Latin Mass Catholic as well as Travis Kelce’s teammate. Benedictine College is a conservative Catholic college that featured prominently in a recent Associated Press report on the rightward turn in American Catholic piety and practice. 
 

 
But the speech did more than just champion “one of the most important titles of all: homemaker” while denouncing “degenerate cultural values” in society at large. Butker also delivered a sweeping condemnation of the church’s bishops, whom he cast as weak-kneed bureaucrats and denounced especially for suspending Masses and disappearing from the lives of the faithful during the pandemic. He criticized priests for being “overly familiar” with their parishioners — “because as my teammate’s girlfriend says, familiarity breeds contempt.”
 

 
As Tierney writes in his essay, the alienation from the institution also yields a practical difference in how this kind of Catholic culture works. Traditional Latin Mass adherents often cannot operate through the usual channels of Catholic life. They can’t just show up at a parish, participate in its programs, work with but also defer to the vision of its priest. Instead, the traditionalist laity often have to create a subculture that operates much more independently. 
 

 
First, this kind of church-within-a church dynamic is exactly the justification offered by church authorities for their attempts to suppress or limit access to the traditional liturgy (attempts that include restrictions on advertising in parish bulletins!). The fear is that the traditional Mass creates a sect of believers that operates without normal ecclesiastical supervision, which then recruits from among the much larger population of conservative Catholics — through, say, a traditionalist commencement speech at a conservative college — and draws them into its alienated ranks.
 
Even Tierney, broadly sympathetic to the traditionalists, describes their movement as “dynamic but also chaotic,” with the potential to “go off the rails without a lot of corrective mechanisms in place.” If you don’t sympathize at all with the desire to maintain the old liturgy, if you regard traditionalism as entirely retrograde, you’ll see it the way many of Pope Francis’s allies do: as a dangerously divisive force within the church.
 
But then here is the second point, and the great irony: The kind of lay-led organizing described above, in which ordinary Catholics get together and create culture and community without priestly leadership or hierarchical direction, is exactly what Vatican II was supposed to usher in. And if you just gave a general description of the TLM movement it could easily code as “progressive” — with the assumption being that if a bunch of lay Catholics are getting together to do something that cuts across the lines of parishes and dioceses and that the hierarchy regards with disapproval, they must be seeking a more liberalized and modern church.
 
In reality, traditionalism itself has turned out to be one of the most successful movements of the entire post-Vatican II era, using one manifestation of the spirit of the age (disputatious, populist, anti-authority) to organize against a different manifestation (the renovation of the liturgy). It’s thrived with the advance of the internet, which has made community-building easier and enabled immediate documentary access to the pre-1960s Catholic patrimony traditionalists are eager to restore. And it’s proven to be a very American movement — coming to you in this case from the place where the heartland meets the celebrity culture of the N.F.L. (Nor is it a coincidence that the other center of traditionalism is France, another revolutionary nation where the national Catholic Church has always had a complex relationship with Rome.)
 
I think you can see in Butker’s judgmental zeal the obvious ways in which traditionalism can be self-limiting. But the idea that it simply represents a kind of atavism, a medieval relic unaccountably preserved, misunderstands the nature of its strength. No less than any progressive form of Catholicism, Butker and his movement are the fruits of a weakened hierarchy, a disillusioned-but-empowered laity and a democratic age.
 
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/24/opinion/harrison-butker-catholicism.html
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12. Why is Pope Francis Criticizing Catholic Conservatives?, By Ashley McGuire, Real Clear Religion, May 24, 2024, Opinion
 
I was standing in St. Peter’s Square when Pope Francis was announced as the next pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.
 
White smoke. Habemus Papam. Habemus Francis!
 
The name choice was lost on no one. Pope Francis was likening himself to St. Francis of Assisi, the saint tasked by God with the unenviable job to “rebuild my church.” Dogged by scandals, the Church was in desperate need of a rebuilder. A unifier.
 
I had spent the prior several days defending unpopular church dogma on every television station, a task which has earned me the label of “conservative Catholic.” It’s an American political term that doesn’t fit a global Church with one billion members, but it’s the press’ best attempt at ‘orthodox’ or ‘faithful’.
 
It’s a label I usually shrug off, and yet 2013 me would not have expected 2024 me to see Pope Francis, my spiritual father and the purported emblem of Christian unity, on “60 Minutes” taking the political bait and calling “conservative” Catholics “suicidal” and stuck in “a dogmatic box.”
 
This is not only unfairly harsh, but it simply isn’t true.
 
The American Church — which for reasons that elude many earns the seemingly regular rebuke of the Holy Father — is far from suicidal, and neither are the Catholics that fill her pews.
 
Is Mass attendance down, especially since Covid? Yes.
 
But the Church is so much more than one statistic. It is her seminaries, many of which are teeming with young men faithful to church doctrine and eager to give their lives in service to the church. According to Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the head of my diocese in Washington, D.C., who recently called President Biden a “cafeteria Catholic,” we are experiencing a more than 60-year high in vocations.
 
The surge in vocations in many parts of the country is primarily driven by a desire for a return to tradition and orthodoxy, something the Associated Press recently described as an “immense shift” in the Catholic Church.
 
“Generations of Catholics who embraced the modernizing tide sparked in the 1960s by Vatican II are increasingly giving way to religious conservatives who believe the church has been twisted by change,” they wrote, “with the promise of eternal salvation replaced by guitar Masses, parish food pantries and casual indifference to church doctrine.”
“The shift,” they continued, is “molded by…increasingly traditional priests and growing numbers of young Catholics searching for orthodoxy,” and has “reshaped parishes across the country…”
 
The AP is a bit late to the game, as Georgetown University’s Center for Advanced Research in the Apostolate (CARA) noted fifteen years ago that the fastest growing religious orders are those that, “follow a more traditional style of religious life…They also wear a religious habit, work together in common apostolates, and are explicit about their fidelity to the Church and the teachings of the Magisterium.”
 
That’s code for “conservative.”
 
Conservatives, suicidal? More like conservatives, engines of revival.
 
But the labels are so old. What’s not is the actual work of the Church. It’s her schools, which were bursting during the pandemic when public schools were closed. It’s her charities that nourish millions of the hungry. It’s her hospitals that provide one in seven hospital beds to a disproportionately indigent community. It’s that part of the Church that embodies that “freshness and fragrance of the Gospel” that Pope Francis so famously called us to, back when his words inspired instead of insulted.
 
The optimism and dynamism that defines American Catholicism, whatever label you choose to give it, is well captured in a recent book, True Confessions: Voices of Faith from a Life in the Church, by Francis X. Maier, former chancellor to Archbishop Charles Chaput, a giant of a prelate who somehow managed to build up both the diocese of Denver and Philadelphia into bastions of faith despite being yet another Catholic labeled “conservative.”
 
The American Church has continued to forge ahead and thrive despite a decade of confusion and division from afar. The European church is on the brink of schism. Some of the African Church is openly rejecting papal decrees that muddy the waters on human sexuality. The financial and sex abuse scandals are far from cleaned up by the Vatican. A synod on synodality has been convened to purportedly bring about kumbaya, all the while the Holy Father seems to spend more time kicking his unfavored sheep than shepherding them. 
 
And yet we forge on, working to build up our Church despite the shackles of our so-called “dogmatic boxes.” As for the work of unity, Pope Francis appears content to leave that to his successor. 
 
Ashley McGuire is a Senior Fellow with The Catholic Association, author of Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female, and co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show, “Conversations with Consequences.”
 
https://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2024/05/24/why_is_pope_francis_criticizing_catholic_conservatives_1033772.html
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13. Survey: Pro-abortion laws ascendant globally, By Kate Quiñones, Ken Oliver-Méndez, Catholic News Agency, May 24, 2024, 12:27 PM
 
The Vatican recently released a staunchly pro-life document, Dignitas Infinita (“Infinite Dignity”), that identifies various threats to human dignity such as abortion, euthanasia, and surrogacy.  
 
Nonetheless, various nations continue moving in the opposite direction on core life issues. This week, “EWTN Pro-Life Weekly” surveyed the state of abortion policy and related family life issues across several continents. 
 

 
In March, France became the first nation in the world to specifically enshrine abortion as part of the country’s constitution with an abortion amendment passing by a 780-72 vote conducted in the Palace of Versailles.
 
In April, the European Union (EU) Parliament passed a nonbinding resolution to add abortion and include abortion in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The resolution criticized the doctor’s rights of conscience and specifically called out Poland and Malta for their pro-life laws.
 
The EU is not the only international body that supports and pushes abortion on a global scale.
 
The United Nations Human Rights Committee called on the U.S. government to bring its laws in line with the World Health Organization’s 2022 Abortion Care Guidelines, calling the laws human rights violations. These guidelines call for abortion to be available on request with no limits on gestation, without any waiting periods, and without recommendations or parental consent.
 
The U.N. and World Health Organization, among other organizations, recently launched the Human Reproductive Program, part of which features videos promoting abortion and guiding health care workers around the world to walk clients through the abortion process.
 

 
https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/257797/survey-pro-abortion-laws-ascendant-globally
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14. Bishop Conley asks Pope Francis to provide ‘encouragement, clarity, support’ to U.S. bishops, By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency, May 24, 2024, 1:02 PM
 
Bishop James Conley of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, on Friday encouraged Pope Francis to “familiarize himself” with the American episcopate before a prospective return to the United States, which Conley said “could be an opportunity for the Holy Father to see the Catholic Church here in a different light.”
 
In a column first published May 15 and posted to the diocesan website May 24, Conley described his brother bishops as “unquestionably loyal to Pope Francis, which makes his ambiguities and seeming criticisms difficult to understand.”
 
“In my case, life as a bishop has been a blessing, because my brother U.S. bishops have been overwhelmingly good, committed men. They have very different skills and personalities. All have strengths and weaknesses. None of them is close to perfect. But they’re faithful to the Church and devoted to their people,” Conley wrote.
 
Pope Francis has in the past said that the Church in the United States is marked by “a climate of closure” and “a very strong reactionary attitude,” which “is organized and shapes the way people belong, even emotionally.”
 
More recently, when asked about “conservative bishops in the United States,” the pope said a conservative is someone who “clings to something and does not want to see beyond that.”
 
“It is a suicidal attitude,” the pope said, as reported by “60 Minutes.” “Because one thing is to take tradition into account, to consider situations from the past, but quite another is to be closed up inside a dogmatic box.”
 

 
https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/257800/bishop-conley-asks-pope-francis-to-provide-encouragement-clarity-and-support-to-us-bishops
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15. Catholic bishops sue Biden administration over abortion provisions in pregnant workers law, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, May 24, 2024, 4:08 PM
 
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and other Catholic institutions filed a lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s administration over new rules that could require them to provide workplace accommodations for women who seek abortions.
 
The lawsuit challenges regulations issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) related to the implementation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The Catholic University of America (CUA) and two Catholic dioceses joined the USCCB in the lawsuit.
 
Although the law itself does not mention abortion, the regulations would require that employers accommodate women for workplace limitations that arise from “having or choosing not to have an abortion.”
 
The law requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to women who develop workplace limitations from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The EEOC rules consider “having or choosing not to have an abortion” as one of the related medical conditions covered under the legislation.
 

 
https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/257804/catholic-bishops-sue-biden-admin-over-abortion-provisions-in-pregnant-workers-law
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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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The media monitoring clips provide 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 - such as religious liberty and other fundamental Church concerns. The clips are not intended to be an exhausted source of in-depth coverage on any particular issue. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.