TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 260 – Mary Ann Glendon On Being A ‘Voice For The Voiceless’ & Sneak Peek Of ‘Irena’s Vow’
With a new book exploring her vast experience within the Vatican, former ambassador to the Holy See Mary Ann Glendon shares insights about her time serving under 3 pontificates beginning with John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis. In the Courts of Three Popes discusses the role of women as it has evolved within the church, the task of being ‘a voice for the voiceless,’ and “what are we, the laity, doing to live up to the vocation to be a transformative presence in the secular sphere where we live and work?”
We also hear about a new movie called Irena’s Vow showcasing the amazing devotion of a Catholic nurse as she worked to save Polish Jews during the Holocaust. We talk with her actual daughter Jeannie Smith about her mother’s incredible story. Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily as we continue through this Easter season! Catch the show every Saturday at 5pmET on EWTN radio!
1. Pope Francis Shuts Down the Cafeteria, The pope affirms that Catholics can’t pick and choose between life and social ethics., By Raymond J. de Souza, The Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2024, Pg. A13, Opinion
Is Pope Francis trying to close the cafeteria?
On an Easter Sunday appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Cardinal Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Washington, lamented that President Biden is a “cafeteria Catholic” who “picks and chooses dimensions of the faith to highlight while ignoring or even contradicting other parts.”
This week the Vatican published a “declaration” from its doctrinal office titled “Dignitas Infinita,” or “infinite dignity,” in which Pope Francis strongly affirmed the “inherent” dignity of every human being and identified a list of assaults against it: abortion, surrogate childbearing, euthanasia, capital punishment, poverty, war, the travails of migrants, human trafficking, sexual abuse, marginalization of the disabled and digital violence.
Unusually for Pope Francis, the text quotes extensively from his predecessors—the title is a phrase used by St. John Paul II—demonstrating that concerns for human dignity inform all of Catholic teaching and can’t be neatly aligned with a conservative or liberal political agenda. Mr. Biden likes Pope Francis on immigration but not abortion. He thinks the pontiff is bringing him a menu. Pope Francis, for his part, thinks the president mistakes table d’hôte for à la carte.
Much of the media paid attention to the document’s language on gender theory, which Pope Francis has previously called “the ugliest danger” today. The text was unambiguous: “Therefore, all attempts to obscure reference to the ineliminable sexual difference between man and woman are to be rejected.” That’s broad and would seem to cover not only medical interventions but the use of language, including forms of address and prayers.
Pope Francis is trying something that Pope Benedict XVI attempted in his own treatment of Catholic social teaching. The church is for economic freedom and the rights of workers. It is both pro-life and pro-poor. It teaches that both contraception and in vitro fertilization are intrinsically immoral. It defends human rights and the obligation to act for the common good.

The debate over dignity is a debate about who God is. The Catholic answer: Only God is God—we aren’t.
Father de Souza is a priest in Kemptville, Ontario.
2. Trump’s New Way on Abortion, He embraces states’ rights and aims to show that Democrats are the radical ones., By Kimberley A. Strassel, The Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2024, Pg. A13, Opinion
If 235 years of federal elections have shown anything, it’s that outcomes rarely hinge on single issues or events. Bear that in mind amid this week’s Beltway acclamation that Donald Trump’s Monday abortion message just sealed Joe Biden’s re-election.
Mr. Trump kicked off the week with a video laying out his position that abortion should be left to the states, subject to “the will of the people.” He restated that his party is on the side of “the miracle of life” and fertility treatment, and that he is “strongly in favor of exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.” The press decreed that in four minutes Mr. Trump had blown his campaign, with a divisive “earthquake” that had left his party “reeling” and put Team Biden on offense.
Don’t tell the media (or even Mr. Trump), but what he did on Monday was position himself similarly to a former rival, Nikki Haley. Ms. Haley distanced herself from a 15-week national abortion ban—on grounds that it is unattainable and divisive—which won her plaudits for political honesty and a recognition that a majority of Americans describe themselves as pro-choice and that Republicans can’t alienate them and win elections. The Monday video was a Trumpian version of the same.
As tough decisions go, it was likely the right approach in the longer term. Democrats immediately capitalized on rulings from the Florida and Arizona supreme courts upholding abortion bans, seeking to equate Mr. Trump’s support for states’ rights with support for draconian state restrictions. Mr. Trump also had to contend with the inevitable conservative blowback, as pro-life groups and politicians who support a national ban accused him of faithlessness.

The manic energy with which Democrats seized on Mr. Trump’s abortion statement this week was a reminder of their electoral weakness—and ought to have Republicans eager to get on top of the issue. Even if abortion favors Democrats, it’s all they have. They are hoping it will matter more to voters than border chaos, inflation, wages, crime, squatters, college tuition, car bans or a president in visible cognitive decline.
The Democrats have benefited from the GOP’s fear of being exposed on the issue. Mr. Trump chose to rip off the Band-Aid, and he did so early enough to give candidates down the ballot time to sort it out. Republicans are perfectly capable of blowing it, especially in swing states where Democrats are teeing up ballot measures that aim to keep abortion front and center. But they no longer have an excuse to let Democrats define the issue for them.
3. Biden cynically defers women’s sport rule change until after election, By The Washington Times, April 12, 2024, Pg. B2, Editorial
The Biden administration is slow-walking a top item on the LGBTQ left’s to-do list, opening an opportunity for Republicans to spotlight the unpopular scheme as Election Day nears.
Democrats have spent more than a year laying the groundwork for redefining sex discrimination under Title IX to include disparate treatment on the basis of “gender identity.” Doing so would gut the 1972 statute that was enacted to provide equality of opportunity for girls and women in collegiate athletics.
The change would overrule 25 state-level bans on allowing men who identify as women from participating in female sports under the guise of ensuring “equality.” As a result, biological males would grab even more of the gold medals and championships out of the hands of the girls and women for whom the contests were intended.

The new administrative rule is ready to go, and the Biden administration’s most hardened ideologues are eager to implement it by fiat as soon as possible. Officials with more calculating designs, however, have paused the proposal until after November, having realized the public is not on their side.
In a Rasmussen poll conducted last month, respondents by a better than 7-to-1 margin are against allowing men claiming to be women to compete against biological girls and women. Only extremists on the left deny the inherent unfairness of forcing girls and women to have to compete against these bigger, stronger and faster faux females.

If redefining discrimination under Title IX were actually a good idea, Democrats would implement it right now. Since that’s not happening, it’s only fair to put a spotlight on what the administration is planning so voters can make an informed choice in November.
4. Idaho’s AG: DOJ was ‘political’ in suing state over pro-life law ahead of Supreme Court arguments, By Alex Swoyer, The Washington Times, April 12, 2024, Pg. A6
Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador says the Supreme Court is poised to bolster state voters when it rules on his office’s appeal of a lower court ruling that supported what he calls the Department of Justice’s “political” attack on Idaho’s abortion ban.
“It would be tremendous for the people of Idaho to be successful in this and to protect the state law. The people of Idaho had spoken on this through their elected representatives,” Mr. Labrador said Wednesday in an interview. “It is important to know that the Biden administration’s lawless manipulation of [the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act] will endanger the life of women and unborn children.”
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that returned jurisdiction on abortion to the states, Idaho enacted the Defense of Life Act, which penalizes doctors for performing an abortion unless it is done to prevent the woman from dying.

Mr. Labrador accuses the Justice Department of “forum shopping” to challenge pro-life legislation in a jurisdiction that backs Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. He notes that the EMTALA does not refer to abortion but was amended to include protecting pregnant women and the life of the unborn.
“After Dobbs, the United States adopted the novel view that EMTALA creates a federal right to abortion in emergency rooms, even though EMTALA is silent on abortion and actually requires stabilizing treatment for the unborn children of pregnant women. The United States’ position conflicts with the universal agreement of federal courts of appeals that EMTALA does not dictate a federal standard of care or displace state medical standards,” he wrote in his court filing.
5. U.S. Catholics support for Pope Francis still high, but lower than before, By John Lavenburg, Crux, April 12, 2024
A new report has found that Pope Francis’s favorability rating among American Catholics has fallen from 83 percent in 2021 to 75 percent in 2024, with those who view the pontiff unfavorably also saying he represents a change in the direction of the church.
The nation’s ever-growing partisan divide is at the heart of Francis’s favorability drop. Survey data shows that the partisan gap of views of Francis are as large as ever, with Democrats giving the pontiff a favorability rating of 89 percent, and Republicans giving him a favorability rating of 63 percent.
“The overall drop in favorability reflects growing dissatisfaction with the current pope among Catholics who identify as Republicans or Independents who lean towards the Republican Party,” concludes the survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.
6. Pope will travel to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Singapore in longest trip of papacy, By Nicole Winfield and Niniek Karmini, Associated Press, April 12, 2024, 7:19 AM
Pope Francis will visit Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and Singapore in September, the Vatican announced Friday, confirming the longest trip of Francis’ papacy that is sure to test his health, stamina and mobility.
The Vatican confirmed the Sept. 2-13 visit, saying the 87-year-old pope would visit Jakarta, Indonesia; Port Moresby and Vanimo, Papua New Guinea; Dili, East Timor; and Singapore. Further details will be announced later.
Francis’ health has become a source of increasing concern and speculation, even though the pontiff is able to carry on with a rigorous schedule of meetings at the Vatican and even excursions to local parishes.
7. Polish lawmakers vote to move forward with work on lifting near-total abortion ban, By Vanessa Gera, Associated Press, April 12, 2024, 9:52 AM
Polish lawmakers voted Friday to continue work on proposals to lift a near-total ban on abortion, a divisive issue in the traditionally Roman Catholic country, which has one of the most restrictive laws in Europe.
Members of the lower house of parliament, the Sejm, voted to work on four separate bills. Two of them propose legalizing abortion through the 12th week of pregnancy, in line with European norms. The Sejm also voted to create a commission that would work on the four bills.
One plan proposes decriminalizing giving assistance to a woman who terminates a pregnancy, currently a crime punishable by three years in prison. And a fourth would keep a ban in most cases but allows abortions in cases of fetal defects — a right that was eliminated by a 2020 court ruling.
8. 9 facts about U.S. Catholics, By Justin Nortey, Patricia Tevington And Gregory A. Smith, Pew Research Center, April 12, 2024
Catholics are one of the largest religious groups in the United States, outnumbering any single Protestant denomination. The U.S. has more Catholics than all but three other countries – Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines – according to the Vatican’s Statistical Yearbook of the Church.

Today, 20% of U.S. adults describe themselves as Catholics, according to our latest survey. This percentage has been generally stable since 2014. But it is slightly lower than in 2007, when 24% of U.S. adults identified as Catholic.

Most U.S. Catholics are White, but a third are Hispanic. The Catholic population is 57% White, 33% Hispanic, 4% Asian and 2% Black, while 3% are of another race.

Catholics tend to be older than Americans overall. Nearly six-in-ten Catholic adults (58%) are ages 50 and older. Among all U.S. adults in the survey, by comparison, 48% fall in this age range.

Roughly three-in-ten U.S. Catholics (29%) live in the South, while 26% live in the Northeast, 24% in the West and 21% in the Midwest.

About a third of U.S. Catholics (32%) have a bachelor’s degree. Another 28% have some college experience but not a bachelor’s degree, and 40% have a high school education or less. This distribution is similar to that of the general adult population.

About three-in-ten U.S. Catholics (28%) say they attend Mass weekly or more often. Larger shares of Catholics say they pray on a daily basis (52%) and say religion is very important in their life (46%).

About half of Catholic registered voters (52%) identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, while 44% affiliate with the Democratic Party.

While the Catholic Church opposes abortion, about six-in-ten Catholics say abortion should be legal. This includes 39% who say it should be legal in most cases and 22% who say it should be legal in all cases. Roughly four-in-ten Catholics say abortion should illegal in most (28%) or all (11%) cases.

Three-quarters of Catholics view Pope Francis favorably, according to our February 2024 survey. That’s a little lower than the 80% of Catholics or more who expressed a positive view of Francis in many previous polls during his papacy, which began in 2013.
9. The Great Hypocrisy of the Pro-Life Movement, By David French, The New York Times, April 11, 2024, Opinion
To understand the remarkable moral, political and intellectual collapse of the pro-life movement, look to the Alabama Supreme Court, not just to Donald Trump’s recent pledge not to sign a national abortion ban or Kari Lake’s flip-flop on Arizona’s reinstated 1864 anti-abortion law.
When the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that I.V.F. embryos were subject to the state’s wrongful death statute, it forced the pro-life movement to fully examine the cultural and political implications of its position on unborn children, and pro-life Republicans blinked. They caved, almost instantly, on a core philosophical element of the movement — the incalculable value of every human life no matter how small — and the movement is now standing by or even applauding as Trump is turning the Republican Party into a pro-choice party, one more moderate than the Democrats, but pro-choice still.
The traditional pro-life argument comes from different religious and secular sources, but they all rest on a common belief: From the moment of conception, an unborn child is a separate human life. Yes, the baby is completely dependent on the mother, but it is still a separate human life. The baby’s life isn’t more important than the mother’s — which is why the best-drafted pro-life laws protect the life and physical health of the mother — but it possesses incalculable worth nonetheless. Absent extreme circumstances, the unborn child must not be intentionally killed.
And while pro-life Americans can disagree about how to protect unborn children — whether it’s primarily through legal restrictions, primarily through measures meant to reduce the demand for abortion, or primarily through a combination of abortion restrictions or financial assistance to mothers and families — there has long been agreement on that one core claim: From the moment of conception, an unborn child is a person worth protecting.

The Alabama court taught us that. It presented the pro-life movement with a decision squarely rooted in its own logic, and much of the Republican Party said no, and it said no as loudly and emphatically as it could. Is it any wonder that Trump followed suit? Is it any wonder that MAGA is following his lead?
The older I get, the more I’m convinced that we simply don’t know who we are — or what we truly believe — until our values carry a cost. For more than 40 years, the Republican Party has made the case that life begins at conception. Alabama’s Supreme Court agreed. Yet the Republican Party can’t live with its own philosophy. There is no truly pro-life party in the United States.
10. Portuguese Catholic Church announces it will compensate victims of sex abuse, By Associated Press, April 11, 2024, 11:58 AM
The Portuguese Catholic Church said Thursday it has unanimously agreed to pay some form of compensation to victims of sex abuse by clergy.
The country’s Bishops Conference said after a four-day general assembly meeting at the Fatima shrine that it will set up a fund with contributions from all the Portuguese dioceses to meet the eventual payments.
“In communion with the suffering of the victims, the Portuguese Bishops reaffirm their total commitment to do everything in their power to make reparations, and express their hope that this process of welcoming, accompanying and preventing will be a contribution to the actions of society,” the Bishops’ Conference said.
11. Iowa Supreme Court weighs whether 6-week abortion ban can take effect, By Annie Gowen, The Washington Post, April 11, 2024, 5:57 PM
Iowa’s Supreme Court heard oral arguments Thursday in a case that could decide the future of abortion in that state, the latest legal battle that threatens abortion access across the country during a historic election year.
At issue is a ban passed by the legislature last July that restricts the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy, the point when fetal cardiac activity can be detected. Planned Parenthood and others immediately sued to block the law and won a preliminary injunction from a lower court.
During the hour-long hearing in Des Moines, the justices on Iowa’s highest court quizzed lawyers for each side on how the state’s past abortion rulings — which in recent years narrowed protections for abortion — apply to the pending law. They questioned whether the case should be sent back to the district court for further arguments and review.
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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