1. Will Abortion Make Florida a Swing State?, Overruling DeSantis’s six-week restriction is coming to the ballot., By The Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2024, Pg. A16, Editorial
Take a bow, Justice Samuel Alito. On Monday the Florida Supreme Court provided further vindication for his 2022 Dobbs opinion overturning Roe v. Wade and returning abortion policy to the people to decide. The Florida court let Gov. Ron DeSantis’s six-week abortion restriction take effect, while also approving a ballot measure that will leave its ultimate fate up to voters.

Liberals claim Dobbs has backfired on Republicans, but Justice Alito doesn’t think his job as a judge is to engage in politics by other means. “We do not pretend to know how our political system or society will respond to today’s decision,” he wrote. “And even if we could foresee what will happen, we would have no authority to let that knowledge influence our decision.” Just so.

Yet if voters explicitly want to put abortion in the Florida constitution, they can do it. In a separate 4-3 decision, the state Supreme Court signed off on a November ballot referendum. “No law,” the constitutional proposal reads, “shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.”
Opponents will argue this language is vague, maybe intentionally, and they’ll have a point. Does a “health” exception cover mental health? Who qualifies as a “healthcare provider”?

One caveat is that constitutional amendments in Florida need 60% to pass.

Settling these questions might take a couple of election cycles, but Justice Alito never said otherwise. The Supreme Court gave abortion policy back to the electorate, which is better than having it dictated by judges. Now the people are deciding.
2. The Danger of Making a Religion of Politics, Perfectionism and moral zeal conflict with the pluralism a free society needs., By William A. Galston, The Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2024, Pg. A15, Opinion
The Declaration of Independence summarizes liberalism—not as a political creed opposed to conservatism, but as a philosophical account of government. This theory rests on truths held to be self-evident: that all human beings are created equal; that they have certain rights no one can take from them and which they can’t surrender; that these rights include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that legitimate government exists to secure these rights and is based on the consent of individuals who regard themselves as together forming a distinct people; that this consent is revocable when the government undermines its proper ends; and that the people reserve the right to reform or replace it with other institutions better suited to promoting these ends.
Liberalism is built on political and personal liberty: the freedom we have to authorize government and to pursue the happiness we define for ourselves.

The effort to explain rising internal opposition to liberal democracy has become a cottage industry in the past decade. In an op-ed for the Washington Post last month, journalist Fareed Zakaria argued that since the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of the Soviet Union, rapid economic and social changes have corroded communal life and empowered minority groups in ways that have “unnerved” longstanding majorities. “Freedom and autonomy often come at the expense of authority and tradition,” Mr. Zakaria wrote. “As the binding forces of religion and custom fade, the individual gains, but communities often lose.” The result, he said: We are freer but lonelier, and we struggle to fill our sense of emptiness.
New York Times columnist David Brooks agreed, contending last month that dissatisfied Americans are feeling an absence of “meaning, belonging, and recognition.” Like Mr. Zakaria, he suggests that infusing liberal politics with moral meaning is the remedy for the declining power of religion.
I have two qualms with this argument. First, it minimizes simpler explanations for the declining confidence in liberal democracy. One is that the U.S. has been ill-governed for the past two decades. Consider the record: two costly, mostly failed wars; a financial crisis from which it took years to recover; a pandemic during which Americans experienced more restrictions and more deaths per capita than many other advanced societies; a postpandemic inflationary surge; cultural conflict that has polarized politics. Against this backdrop, we need not invoke religion to explain declining confidence in liberal institutions, which are, like all forms of government, judged mostly by their fruits.
Second, if the decline of religion is contributing to the weakening of liberalism, it is dangerous to look to politics as the solution. Yes, politics can be an arena of common purpose during wartime, economic calamity or natural catastrophe. For those seeking social change, political movements offer the satisfaction of collective action guided by shared moral commitments.
But for most people, a sense of true purpose and belonging won’t come through politics. This is especially true in liberal societies without enforced religious orthodoxies, whose denizens pursue their own conceptions of meaning and worth mostly in families, voluntary associations, religious institutions and work.
When we ask politics to fill the role vacated by religion, the consequences are dangerous. The natural longing for perfection shifts from heaven to a realm that resists it. Doctrinal commitment to a set of secular ideas is pitted against the diversity of belief inherent in free societies. A religious-like fervor for a particular set of political values undermines the spirit of conciliation that makes peaceful common life possible.
To cure our current ills, better governance is a safer bet than a politics of meaning, even one designed to bolster liberal principles and hopes.
3. The Problem With Saying ‘Sex Assigned at Birth’, By Alex Byrne and Carole K. Hooven, The New York Times, April 3, 2024, 5:02 AM, Opinion
As you may have noticed, “sex” is out, and “sex assigned at birth” is in. Instead of asking for a person’s sex, some medical and camp forms these days ask for “sex assigned at birth” or “assigned sex” (often in addition to gender identity). The American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association endorse this terminology; its use has also exploded in academic articles. The Cleveland Clinic’s online glossary of diseases and conditions tells us that the “inability to achieve or maintain an erection” is a symptom of sexual dysfunction, not in “males,” but in “people assigned male at birth.”
This trend began around a decade ago, part of an increasing emphasis in society on emotional comfort and insulation from offense — what some have called “safetyism.” “Sex” is now often seen as a biased or insensitive word because it may fail to reflect how people identify themselves. One reason for the adoption of “assigned sex,” therefore, is that it supplies respectful euphemisms, softening what to some nonbinary and transgender people, among others, can feel like a harsh biological reality. Saying that someone was “assigned female at birth” is taken to be an indirect and more polite way of communicating that the person is biologically female. The terminology can also function to signal solidarity with trans and nonbinary people, as well as convey the radical idea that our traditional understanding of sex is outdated.
The shift to “sex assigned at birth” may be well intentioned, but it is not progress. We are not against politeness or expressions of solidarity, but “sex assigned at birth” can confuse people and creates doubt about a biological fact when there shouldn’t be any. Nor is the phrase called for because our traditional understanding of sex needs correcting — it doesn’t.
This matters because sex matters. Sex is a fundamental biological feature with significant consequences for our species, so there are costs to encouraging misconceptions about it.

Admittedly, no one individual, or even a small group, can turn the lumbering ship of English around. But if professional organizations change their style guides and glossaries, we can expect that their members will largely follow suit. And organizations in turn respond to lobbying from their members. Journalists, medical professionals, academics and others have the collective power to restore language that more faithfully reflects reality. We will have to wait for them to do that.
Meanwhile, we can each apply Strunk and White’s famous advice in “The Elements of Style” to “sex assigned at birth”: omit needless words.
Mr. Byrne is a philosopher and the author of “Trouble With Gender: Sex Facts, Gender Fictions.” Ms. Hooven is an evolutionary biologist and the author of “T: The Story of Testosterone, the Hormone That Dominates and Divides Us”
4. Catholic bishops meet with Mexico’s cartel bosses to plead for peace, By Mary Beth Sheridan and Lorena Rios, The Washington Post, April 3, 2024, 6:00 AM
Citing a “profound crisis of violence and social disintegration,” Mexico’s Catholic bishops are staking out an aggressive new role in national security, going so far as to sit down with feuding drug traffickers in one blood-soaked state to hammer out a truce.
The church is also pressing for a change in the anti-crime strategy pursued by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Church leaders recently persuaded the candidates in the July 2 presidential election to sign a “National Commitment for Peace” that includes a lengthy list of proposed reforms, such as strengthening local police forces and making the justice system more professional and transparent.
Together, the initiatives amount to a new level of activism for a church that has largely stayed outside the political fray. Mexico is the world’s second-most-populous Catholic country, after Brazil. But its priests have historically been constrained by the anticlerical policies that took root during the 19th-century war of independence from Spain. Until the 1990s, it was illegal for priests even to wear their vestments in public.

5. Pope shows off rosary of slain Ukrainian soldier, denounces ‘madness of war’, By Associated Press, April 3, 2024, 9:19 AM
Pope Francis led thousands of people in a moment of silence Wednesday to pray for the aid workers killed by an Israeli strike in Gaza and a young Ukrainian soldier named Oleksandre who was killed in ‘’this madness of war.”
Francis appealed anew for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and the release of hostages taken from Israel on Oct. 7 by Hamas. Praying for the families of the seven World Central Kitchen workers killed, he called for humanitarian aid to reach Gaza’s people and for all efforts to prevent the conflict from spreading.
At the end of his general audience, Francis also showed tourists and pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square the rosary and camouflaged New Testament book that a 23-year-old Ukrainian soldier named Oleksandre had with him when he was killed in the eastern city of Avdijevka.

6. Michigan bishops lament new surrogacy law, say women could be exploited, By John Lavenburg, Crux, April 3, 2024
A newly enacted package of bills in Michigan that decriminalizes paid surrogacy contracts ignores multiple concerns that exist within the practice, including protecting women from exploitation and human trafficking, according to the state’s Catholic bishops.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the Michigan Family Protection Act on April 1. Whitmer touted the package of bills as “commonsense, long overdue” action that not only repeals the state’s ban on surrogacy contracts, but also protects families formed by in vitro fertilization (IVF), and ensures LGBTQ+ parents are treated equally.
Meanwhile, the Michigan Catholic Conference, the policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops, have warned that the bills will create a new, unregulated industry in the state that will result in the advertising, recruiting and targeting of women to become paid egg donors and surrogates.
The organization also said it fears that the state will likely see a surge in surrogate agencies and attorneys whose work is built around negotiating contracts between couples of individuals with means and “vulnerable, cash strapped young women” for the conception, birth, and forfeit of a child.

7. French government cracks down on priest who said homosexual relations are sinful, By Walter Sánchez Silva, Catholic News Agency, April 3, 2024, 8:00 AM
The French government has initiated a series of legal measures against Father Matthieu Raffray for calling homosexual relations sinful and for describing homosexuality as a “weakness.”
On March 15, the priest of the Institute of the Good Shepherd — created in 2006 in Rome for “the defense and dissemination of Catholic Tradition in all its forms,” according to the website of this society of apostolic life — posted a video on Instagram in which he encouraged the faithful to fight against their weaknesses.
Raffray commented that each person has his or her own weapons with which to fight, but the devil convinces people that the fight “is too hard” and therefore it’s useless to resist.
The video was denounced by various LGBT lobby groups, and Aurore Bergé, government minister for equality between women and men and the fight against discrimination, called the priest’s statements “unacceptable.”

8. Repeal the Comstock Act before the GOP tries using it to ban abortion, By The Washington Post, April 2, 2024, 10:06 AM, Editorial
Prudish even by the standards of the Victorian Age, Anthony Comstock ranks as one of the more bizarre and destructive figures in U.S. history. The founder of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice in 1873, Comstock boasted of hounding women to suicide by pursuing their prosecution for selling contraceptive pills or assisting abortions. As a federal postal inspector, he once raided an art gallery selling nude paintings, including a reproduction of the “Birth of Venus,” which a court ordered seized. He saw newspapers, magazines and novels as satanic influences for promoting “evil reading” and encouraged destruction of books.

Though the justices seemed likely to back the FDA for other reasons, the emergence of the Comstock Act from legal dormancy could foreshadow more conservative attempts to use it against reproductive freedom — in a post-Roe world where nearly two-thirds of all abortions are now carried out by medication. It should never come to that: Congress needs to repeal the law.

Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court picks were instrumental in the court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, a fact for which the presumptive GOP nominee and his party are paying a political price. For the time being, Mr. Trump is trying to take credit with the GOP’s pro-life wing, while ducking the issue otherwise. A high-profile effort to repeal the Comstock Act could force him to say clearly where he stands. One way or the other, this obsolete, misogynist law needs to be wiped off the statute books.
9. Peru archbishop who sued 2 journalists over reports on abuses, financial corruption resigns early, By Nicole Winfield and Franklin BriceÑo, Associated Press, April 2, 2024, 1:35 PM
 A Peruvian archbishop who sued two journalists over their reports about sexual abuse and alleged financial corruption in his religious movement, Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, has resigned amid a Vatican investigation.
Pope Francis on Tuesday accepted the resignation of Piura Archbishop José Eguren. At 67, he is several years shy of the normal retirement age for bishops of 75.
The Vatican didn’t say why Eguren was retiring early in its brief announcement. But the Vatican last year began an in-depth investigation into alleged abuse and financial wrongdoing in the Peruvian-based Sodalitium to which Eguren belongs.
The Vatican has had its eye on Sodalitium, which has chapters across South America and the U.S., for over a decade. In 2017, a report commissioned by the group’s new leadership determined that its founder, Luis Fernando Figari, sodomized his recruits and subjected them to humiliating psychological and other sexual abuses.

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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