TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 262 – Father Roger Landry On Columbia Protests & Eric Groth Talks Wildcat!
Columbia chaplain Father Roger Landry joins to discuss what he’s witnessing amid growing campus protests as he is working to help quell fear within the community, saying Jewish students “feel very unsafe on campus, in the heart of New York City, which is the largest concentration of Jews outside the Holy Land.” Touched by Catholic students offering to gather to pray the Rosary for the dire situation, Father Landry advises lots of prayer and time before the Blessed Sacrament. With Wildcat coming to theaters next week, Catholic director Eric Groth joins sharing insights about the film that showcases the life and writings of Flannery O’Connor. Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily to prepare us for the 5th Sunday of Easter. Catch the show every Saturday at 5pmET on EWTN radio!
1. Inside the long-odds push to undo an abortion ban in ruby red Arkansas, After winning campaigns in both red and blue states, abortion rights activists are facing a test of the limits of their success in what is sometimes ranked as the most ‘pro-life state in America’, By Hannah Knowles, The Washington Post, April 26, 2024, 5:00 AM

Voters have backed abortion rights in every statewide referendum on the issue since Roe v. Wade fell 22 months ago — in red and blue states alike. Now a push for one in Arkansas could test the limits of the abortion rights movement’s success. If there’s anywhere abortion opponents can beat back its momentum, it’s here — a deeply Christian, conservative place sometimes ranked as the “most pro-life state in America.”
Supporters of a direct vote are betting that abortion rights has become a winning issue here in the post-Roe era, with strict bans galvanizing liberal voters and also giving some conservatives pause. Arkansas allows abortion only to save the life of the woman, exemplifying the kind of restrictions that have Republican politicians across the country squirming. It is also a rural state with high poverty rates, uneven access to medical services and the highest maternal death rate in the United States — making in-state options for abortion especially important, supporters say.
But the ballot proposal to legalize abortion through 18 weeks after fertilization — and afterward in limited cases — is facing stiff headwinds, with many voters guided by their faith and a conviction that life begins at conception. The main groups funding abortion ballot measures around the country have so far passed over Arkansas, a testament to the uncertainty of success as well as divisions over strategy. Efforts to put abortion on the ballot in 2024 battlegrounds including Arizona, Nevada and Florida have drawn far more attention.
2. 17 states challenge federal rules entitling workers to accommodations for abortion, By Andrew Demillo, Associated Press, April 25, 2024, 9:36 AM
Republican attorneys general from 17 states filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging new federal rules entitling workers to time off and other accommodations for abortions, calling the rules an illegal interpretation of a 2022 federal law.
The lawsuit led by Tennessee and Arkansas comes since finalized federal regulations were published April 15 to provide guidance for employers and workers on how to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The language means workers can ask for time off to obtain an abortion and recover from the procedure.
The rules, which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission adopted on a 3-2 vote along party lines, will go into effect June 18. The lawsuit filed in federal court in Arkansas argues the regulations go beyond the scope of the 2022 law that passed with bipartisan support.
3. Planned Parenthood announces $10 million voter campaign in North Carolina for 2024 election, By Makiya Seminera, Associated Press, April 25, 2024, 3:09 PM
Abortion continues to be a key part of Democrats’ election playbook in North Carolina, which for 2024 will include what abortion-rights advocates call an unprecedented investment in get-out-the-vote efforts.
Planned Parenthood affiliated groups in North Carolina announced on Thursday a $10 million campaign in the state that largely focuses on persuading people concerned about narrowing abortion access to vote in November.
The spend, according to representatives for Planned Parenthood Votes and Planned Parenthood Action PAC North Carolina, attempts to end both a GOP supermajority at the General Assembly that enacted new abortion limits last year and to defeat Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Robinson, who wants the law to become more restrictive.
4. UK Catholic bishops discourage medical and social gender transition in pastoral statement, By Kate Quiñones, Catholic News Agency, April 25, 2024, 10:52 AM
Following a recent Vatican declaration on human dignity, the Catholic bishops of England and Wales condemned medical and social transgenderism while encouraging a “sensitive” response in a pastoral reflection released on Wednesday.
The Vatican’s doctrinal office came down strongly against gender ideology, stating that “all attempts to obscure reference to the ineliminable sexual difference between man and woman are to be rejected.”
The Catholic bishops of England and Wales followed the Vatican’s lead in their April 24 statement, “Intricately Woven by the Lord,” which encouraged rooting pastoral care in “acceptance … of the body as created.” 
“We cannot encourage or give support to reconstructive or drug-based medical intervention that harms the body,” they wrote. “Nor can we legitimize or uphold a way of living that is not respectful of the truth and vocation of each man and each woman, called to live according to the divine plan.”
5. Catholic Charities Isn’t Religious? So Sayeth the Wisconsin Supreme Court, The court’s ruling regarding the Diocese of Superior’s social-ministry entity is puzzling, to say the least., By Michael Warsaw, National Catholic Register, April 25, 2024, Opinion
Another Tax Day has come and gone, but a big taxation question in Wisconsin remains unresolved, in the wake of a recent ruling that Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Superior isn’t religious enough in the eyes of the state’s Supreme Court to qualify for a religious tax exemption.
The nonprofit organization, called Catholic Charities Bureau (CCB), provides a host of social services, including job training and housing support for people with mental and physical disabilities.
As Bishop James Powers explains in a 2023 press release, “As our diocese’s social-ministry arm, Catholic Charities Bureau and their subsidiary ministries provide essential resources to the most vulnerable members of our community. These ministries carry out the redeeming work of Our Lord by reflecting Gospel values; everything they do is steeped in the mission of the Church.”
Yet according to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the work CCB and its affiliates do is secular, not religious. For that reason, the court on March 14 ruled that CCB and four other affiliated charities aren’t exempt from paying state unemployment taxes to cover their employees.

Fortunately, Becket, the religious-liberty-focused law firm, is representing CCB and the other charities and plans to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. One hopes that the federal justices will demonstrate greater common sense.
Wisconsin’s position is puzzling, to say the least. A big part of the problem is that state lawmakers did such a ham-handed job of writing the tax act in the first place. Why even offer a religious exemption if the criteria are so narrow that even St. Mother Teresa wouldn’t have qualified? Isn’t the point of such tax exemptions to encourage charities to render the kind of social services the state would otherwise have to provide (and pay for) itself?
If charities are privately providing their employees with unemployment benefits, it’s hard to see who would be harmed if religious and nonreligious charities were both exempt — unless the state’s hard line is really about something else.
But there’s a larger issue at stake here. Slowly but surely, hard-core secularists are trying to narrow religious-liberty protections to cover only explicit expressions of religious faith, such as worship, religious instruction and evangelization. This wrong reading of the First Amendment is blind to the notion of putting one’s faith in action.

In the end, it’s not tax breaks but Jesus himself who motivates our charitable work as Catholics. There is, after all, a higher law than the Wisconsin Unemployment Compensation Act to consider in this case.
6. Radicalized Students Will Regret Backing Hamas, There are many noble causes worth sacrificing one’s studies, reputation and future for. Hamas is not one of them., By National Catholic Register, April 25, 2024, Editorial
Today’s Gen Z students have a (perhaps unfair) reputation for caring more about their social-media profiles than they do about history or international politics. So, it’s puzzling why so many would be spurred into activism by, of all things, an Islamic terrorist group committed to the genocide of Jews and the destruction of Israel, let alone one responsible for the mass murder and rapes of innocent Israeli citizens last year on Oct. 7.
Yet, however illogically, Hamas — which couldn’t be more diametrically opposed to the postmodern secular agenda that predominates academia today — has become the cause célèbre on the campuses of Columbia, Harvard, Yale and other institutions of purportedly higher education around the country.

How these young people have shouted down free speech, justified Hamas’ Oct. 7 atrocities, and spewed antisemitic hate at their Jewish classmates is truly shocking. Any Christians who have gotten sucked into this mayhem should be especially ashamed of themselves. The Jewish people are our elder brothers and sisters, as Pope St. John Paul II said.
Though the large numbers of adults who entered the Catholic Church this Easter in many parts of the U.S. don’t fit the narrative, we’re told this is the age of the “nones,” those who profess no religious belief. So, perhaps, the ugly scenes we see unfolding now aren’t surprising. Without God, something must fill the void.
But as Proverbs 4:23 reminds us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” There are many noble causes worth sacrificing one’s studies, reputation and future for. Hamas is not one of them.
The students involved in these protests are sorely mistaken to align themselves with an organization based on violence and hate. Years from now, when their children and grandchildren find those keffiyehs among their college keepsakes, they’ll have to explain why they once embraced such a venomous ideology — and ended up on the wrong side of a truly dark moment of history.
7. Columbia in Chaos: Catholic Chaplain Offers Path Through Campus Tensions, Prayer and Charity to Counter Anti-Israel Encampment and Aggression., By Matthew McDonald, National Catholic Register, April 26, 2024
The Catholic chaplain at Columbia University is encouraging students to meet the anti-Israel encampment on campus with prayer, charity and adoration of the Eucharist.

“I’ve challenged the students … that in response to those who are encamping for a political cause, why don’t we encamp in all-night adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, asking the Prince of Peace to give us his peace so that we can offer each other the sign of peace,” Father Roger Landry told host Dr. Grazie Christie on EWTN’s radio show and podcast Conversations with Consequences, airing April 27.
Pro-Hamas students on April 17 began living in tents near the heart of the campus in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. The protest entered its ninth day Thursday.
The situation there is tense. Father Landry told the Register that he started hearing helicopters overhead in the early morning hours.
Many students aren’t sure what to do.
“For me as a Catholic chaplain here, the Catholics have questions about how they’re supposed to respond to this circumstance. And I have said to them many times: We as Catholics, the most important things we can do is we can pray and we can exercise charity — in every circumstance, no matter what, those are the two most important things we can do,” Father Landry said.
Father Landry, a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, said he tries to get students to realize that they aren’t likely to solve the generations-long divisions in the Holy Land through protests on a college campus halfway around the world.
“But what they can do,” he said, “is they can care for their Jewish elder brothers and sisters here on campus, most of whom feel very unsafe on campus, in the heart of New York City, which is the largest concentration of Jews outside the Holy Land. There’s no reason why Jews need to feel persecuted and beleaguered.”
“They likewise need to reach out to those Palestinians here, including some students who come from Gaza, who have just seen their life changed irrevocably because of what has happened since Hamas did its evil on Oct. 7 there in the Holy Land,” he said.
Since Hamas attacked Israel, and Israel counterattacked and eventually invaded Gaza after that, Columbia’s campus has been “in a state of chaos,” Father Landry, a frequent contributor to the Register said. 
The priest said he was disturbed to see the tenor of some of the pro-Hamas demonstrations beyond the barriers at the edges of the campus last October.
While Jewish demonstrators held posters of loved ones harmed or missing after the Hamas attack, the pro-Hamas posters “were all very communist, explicitly communist,” he said, “describing that the Palestinians and the Gazans were part of an oppressed class” and justifying violence against Israelis.
“And so, we have to be alert to the presence of outside actors who are trying to bring people into this oppressor-oppressed Marxist matrix, which is absolutely contrary to the Gospel, to what Jesus himself teaches, and to what he sent us out to live,” Father Landry said.
Catholics are against “all forms of injustice” and should “be willing to fight for those who are having it taken away from them,” he said.
“But the way toward justice, the way toward harmony, the way toward peace, is not by the types of diabolical divisions that so many false leaders try to foment,” Father Landry said. “And so, to prepare Catholics to bring the Gospel into these situations, to bring the light of the Lord, to bring the peace of the Lord, to bring the joy of the Lord, this is a context in which Catholics can really shine.”
The key for Catholic students at Columbia, he said, is to live their faith.
“We are disciples of the Prince of Peace, who by his passion, death, and resurrection brought reconciliation to the world. And unless we’re living that as Catholics, we’re not really living the Catholic life,” the priest said. “And so I tell the students that I challenge them: This is a time where your Catholic faith is going to make a huge difference, not just for you, but for others here [at] Columbia.”
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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