TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 259 – Remembering Dr. Jérôme Lejeune & First No-Photoshop Women’s Magazine!
Marking 30 years since the passing of Venerable Dr. Jerome Lejeune this week, we talk with the president of the Lejeune Foundation in Spain, Mónica López Barahona and Pablo Siegrist about his cause for canonization as well as the tremendous work they are continuing in helping those living with certain cognitive disabilities. We also revisit with Mary Rose Somarriba to discuss a new era of Verily Magazine, ‘home for content that elevates the everyday.’ Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily for Divine Mercy Sunday! Catch the show every Saturday at 7amET/5pmET on EWTN radio!
1. IVF in Alabama: The Real Story, The state Supreme Court case exposed a culture of negligence, and clinics should be accountable., By Mike Pence and John Mize, The Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2024, Pg. A15, Opinion
The controversy over the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision on in vitro fertilization obscured the ruling’s importance and spurred the Alabama Legislature to enact an ill-considered law that will harm families seeking treatment for infertility.
In LePage v. Center for Reproductive Medicine, the court affirmed that embryos are legal persons for the purposes of the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. That was a correct decision under the Alabama Constitution. In our view it was also morally right. But regardless of how one views the rights of the preborn, families experiencing infertility should be treated with respect and afforded legal protections. That’s what the Alabama justices did.
One of us (Mr. Pence) sought fertility treatment with his wife when starting a family in Indiana. Mr. Mize has worked in biobanking storage facilities in the state. We urge states to adopt basic protections for IVF patients.
The Alabama case exposed a culture of IVF industry negligence. A lack of safeguards, combined with reckless disregard for the facility’s clients, resulted in the destruction of human embryos. The Alabama Supreme Court held that parents and embryonic children alike are owed basic legal protection from such negligence.

Americans who pursue IVF should be able to start and grow their families knowing that the law will protect them. Further, we urge officials to bring IVF practices in the U.S. up to the highest professional standards. Italy forbids the destruction, sale, or research use of human embryos. Germany allows only three embryos to be created at a time, while France and Sweden allow only two, tying the number of embryos created to the number to be implanted. Australia and New Zealand take similar approaches.
We believe lawmakers should adopt these broadly accepted standards, for the good of both parents and their nascent children. American families deserve leaders who put their divisions aside and get this right.
Mr. Pence served as vice president of the United States, 2017-21, and is founder of Americans Advancing Freedom. Mr. Mize is CEO of Americans United for Life.
2. Right to children or children’s rights? Surrogacy debate comes to a head in Rome, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, April 5, 2024, 10:26 AM
An international campaign to ban surrogacy received a strong endorsement Friday from the Vatican, with a top official calling for a broad-based alliance to stop the “commercialization of life” catering to wealthy would-be parents.
A Vatican-affiliated university hosted a two-day conference promoting an international treaty to outlaw surrogacy, based on the campaigners’ argument that the practice violates U.N. conventions protecting the rights of the child and surrogate mother.
At issue is whether there is a fundamental right to have a child, at any cost, or whether the rights of children trump the desires of potential parents.
The conference, which also drew U.N. human rights representatives and experts, marked an acceleration of a campaign that has found some support in parts of the developing world and western Europe. At the same time, Canada and the United States are known for highly regulated arrangements that draw heterosexual and homosexual couples alike from around the world, while other countries allow surrogacy with fewer rules.
Pope Francis in January called for an outright global ban on the practice, calling it a despicable violation of human dignity that exploits the surrogate mother’s financial need. On Thursday, Francis met privately with one of the proponents calling for a universal ban, Olivia Maurel, a 33-year-old mother of three.

“There is no right to have a child,” Maurel told the conference at the LUMSA university. “But children do have rights, and we can say surrogacy violates many of these rights.”
She and proponents of a ban argue that surrogacy is fundamentally different from adoption, since it involves creating a child for the specific purpose of separating him or her from the birth mother for others to raise as their own.

The Vatican’s overall position, which is expected to be crystalized in a position paper Monday on human dignity, stems from its belief that human life begins at conception and must be given the consequent respect and dignity from that moment on. The Vatican also holds that human life should be created through intercourse between husband and wife, not in a petri dish, and that surrogacy takes in vitro fertilization a step further by “commercializing” the resulting embryo.
3. Republicans down, abortion up. What did overturning Roe achieve?, By Jason Willick, The Washington Post, April 5, 2024, 6:00 AM, Opinion
The Florida Supreme Court’s go-ahead on Monday for a November abortion referendum sets in motion the most significant electoral contest on the issue since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Floridians will decide whether to override the legislature’s six-week abortion ban, which the court upheld, with a constitutional amendment allowing unfettered abortion access until about 24 weeks of pregnancy.
One poll late last year put support in the state for the pro-choice measure at 62 percent. The Biden campaign is gleeful about the chance to play up abortion rights in a state Donald Trump won by less than four points in 2020. The smart money is still on Trump winning Florida, without which his path to the presidency would collapse — but keeping the state of nearly 23 million people in the red column would almost certainly depend on hundreds of thousands of Floridians voting pro-Trump and pro-choice.
As that contest gets underway, it’s worth taking stock of just how badly the Republican Party and the pro-life cause have been routed since the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. First, Dobbs contributed to Democrats’ historically strong performance in the 2022 midterms. In 2020, according to a careful academic study, abortion pushed independent voters toward the GOP by 4.5 percent. In 2022, the issue pushed them toward Democrats by 13 percent.
As the authors explain: “For decades, while partisan voters had distinct positions on abortion, it did not seem that elected officials had much say in the matter as Roe v. Wade generally established the constitutional right to abortion.” In other words, abortion policy had been severed from the electoral process. Dobbs restored the connection, leading “to a recalibration of priorities” among pivotal voters. The result was a boost to Democratic candidates that helped deny Republicans a politically stable majority in the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, since Dobbs, the pro-choice side has won referendums in state after state — not just in blue states such as California (67 percent to 33 percent) or purple states such as Michigan (57-43) but red states such as Kansas (59-41), Ohio (57-43), Montana (53-47) and Kentucky (52-48). The arena of direct democracy has been an unmitigated disaster for abortion opponents. If the six-week ban survives in Florida, it will probably only be because the state requires a 60 percent supermajority for constitutional amendments.

The Supreme Court in Dobbs declared that, when it comes to abortion, the justices would cease their half-century reign. But it looks so far like the new Ruler, the American people, will sanction a similarly permissive abortion regime overall, albeit with geographic variation. The real test of the Dobbs opinion will be whether abortion policy made by majorities carries more legitimacy than policy made by the Supreme Court — and whether the process of expanded democratic give-and-take strengthens or weakens political institutions.
Roe helped Trump take the White House in 2016 by driving conservative turnout in an election that would immediately change the balance on the Supreme Court. But with Roe gone, Republicans have been victims of their own success. To be restored to power in 2024, the populist president who engineered Roe’s overthrow will need to master the disorienting democratic forces unleashed by that project.
4. The Setting of the Sundown Kid, Joe Lieberman kept the Sabbath holy and won admirers across sectarian lines., By Meir Soloveichik, The Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2024, Pg. A13, Opinion
The Connecticut Senate found a solution to its budget stalemate on a Friday evening in 1971. But a crucial vote, 27-year-old Joseph Lieberman, had gone home to celebrate the Sabbath. At Majority Leader Ed Caldwell’s direction, the chamber delayed the vote, observed the day of rest, and passed the budget Saturday night. The next day’s Bridgeport Post carried a pithy headline: “Butch Caldwell and the Sundown Kid.”
Lieberman, who died last week at 82, recounted this story in his 2011 book, “The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath.” “For me,” he wrote, “Sabbath observance is one of the greatest gifts of my life.” Jewish law prohibits the use of electronic devices, as well as traveling by car, on the Sabbath. Every Friday before sunset, his wife, Hadassah, would kindle candles so that the “older, gentler, and timeless light” replaced “the modern, sharp, and artificial light of the computer, the television, and the BlackBerry screen.”
He insisted that the rules of the Sabbath ensured spiritual liberty. “Every generation has its own pharaoh and its own slave masters uniquely based on the culture of the time,” he wrote. “Our pharaoh may be the electronic devices—computers, televisions, iPhones—that mesmerize us, dominating hour after hour of our lives. . . . Too often they show us an electronic alternative reality full of negativity, trivia, or degradation. From all this, the Sabbath offers to free us for a twenty-four-hour period.”

Lieberman’s devotion to his faith earned the admiration of members of other religious communities. The police escorts, often religious Christians, admired him and sometimes engaged the senator in discussions about the Bible. Another state senator, Con O’Leary, reported that his mother planned to vote Republican in the 1988 presidential race but would back the Democrat for U.S. Senate because “I like the fact that Joe Lieberman is a religious man and keeps his Sabbath.”
This bond with diverse religious Americans reflected what set Lieberman apart from certain Jewish organizations in America, which lobbied for a wholly secular public square. In 2000, when Lieberman was the Democratic nominee for vice president, his public persona attracted the ire of the Anti-Defamation League, whose then-leader, Abraham Foxman, insisted that Lieberman’s focus on faith “risks alienating the American people.” Lieberman argued the opposite: “There must be a place for faith in America’s public life.” He insisted that the Constitution guaranteed “freedom of religion,” not “freedom from religion.”

Jews see the weekly day of rest as a foretaste of the eternal life to come, devoid of daily acrimony, partisanship, ambitions. Lieberman experienced that gift every week and sought, in good faith and generosity, to share its meaning with others. As people of faith, Jews and Gentiles, bid farewell to the Sundown Kid, we can draw consolation from the image of his experiencing the ultimate Sabbath that awaits.
Rabbi Soloveichik is director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York.
5. Bishop calls Easter observance of Transgender Day ‘offensive and unnecessary’, By John Lavenburg, Crux, April 5, 2024
Commenting on the Biden Administration and local officials in Fairfax County, Virginia, promoting March 31, which this year was Easter Sunday, as Transgender Day of Visibility, Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington called it “offensive to many people and unnecessary.”
“I was so extremely, extremely disappointed that our local officials and our president would use the most important religious observance of the Christian calendar to proclaim a message that is political, it is, and a source of division,” Burbidge said April 4. “It was offensive to many people, and unnecessary.”
“I know you’re going to say, ‘well it goes back to March 31, 2009.’” Burbidge continued. “But we transfer holidays all of the time. We haven’t really talked about this day until it was on Easter, so I would tend to think that it was calculated and that is really, really sad, and it was offensive as Christians.”
Transgender Day of Visibility has been celebrated on March 31 since 2009. President Joe Biden has issued a proclamation around the observance of that date every year since becoming president. This year, the day coincidentally fell on Easter Sunday, which falls on a different date each year.
6. Can We Save Our Children From Smartphones?, Jonathan Haidt’s new book clarifies what we already know. He also has some ideas for reform., By Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, April 4, 2024, 6:18 PM, Opinion
There’s a funny thing that happens in a nation’s thoughts. At some point everyone knows something is true, and talks about it with each other. The truth becomes a cliché before it becomes actionable. Then a person of high respect, a good-faith scholar who respects data, say, comes forward with evidence proving what everyone knows, and it is galvanizing. It hits like a thunderclap, and gives us all permission to know what we know and act on it.
That is my impression of Jonathan Haidt’s new book, “The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing An Epidemic of Mental Illness,” that it has broken through and is clearing the way for parents’ groups and individuals to move forward together on an established idea. Mr. Haidt, a widely admired social psychologist who teaches at New York University’s Stern School of Business, has spent his career studying emotion, culture and morality, turning along the way to child development and adolescent mental health.
What we all know is that there’s a mental-health crisis among the young, that they seem to have become addicted to social media and gaming, and that these two facts seem obviously connected. Mr. Haidt says, and shows, that the latter is a cause of the former.

Pew Research reports that, in 2011, 23% of teens had a smartphone. That meant they had only limited access to social media—they had to use the family computer. By 2016 one survey showed 79% of teens owned a smartphone, as did 28% of children 8 to 12. Soon teens were reporting they spent an average of almost seven hours a day on screens. “One out of every four teens said that they were online ‘almost constantly,’ ” Mr. Haidt writes.

Mr. Haidt suggests four reforms:
• No smartphones before high school, only basic phones with no internet capability.
• No social media before 16. Let their brains develop first.
• All schools from elementary through high school should be phone-free zones—students can store their devices in lockers.
• Bring back unsupervised play. Only in that way will kids naturally develop social skills and become self-governing.
7. Thomas Gumbleton, Detroit Catholic bishop who opposed war and promoted social justice, dies at 94, By Ed White, Associated Press, April 4, 2024, 9:56 PM
Thomas Gumbleton, a Catholic bishop in Detroit who for decades was an international voice against war and racism and an advocate for labor and social justice, died Thursday. He was 94.
Gumbleton’s death was announced by the Archdiocese of Detroit, where he was a clergyman for more than 50 years. A cause was not disclosed.
“Bishop Gumbleton was a faithful son of the Archdiocese of Detroit, loved and respected by his brother priests and the laity for his integrity and devotion to the people he served,” said Archbishop Allen Vigneron.
Gumbleton became a national religious figure in the 1960s when he was urged by activist priests to oppose the U.S. role in the Vietnam War. He was a founding leader of Pax Christi USA, an American Catholic peace movement.
8. Lawsuit challenging Indiana abortion ban survives a state challenge, By Isabella Volmert, Associated Press, April 4, 2024, 7:08 PM
The Indiana Court of Appeals gave an incremental win Thursday to a group of residents suing the state over its near-total abortion ban, arguing that it violates a state law protecting religious freedom.
The three-judge panel’s ruling agreed with a lower court that plaintiffs with a religious objection to the ban should be exempt from it. But the written decision had no immediate effect and may be challenged in the state Supreme Court within the next 45 days.
Indiana’s near total abortion ban went into effect in August after the Indiana Supreme Court upheld it, ending a separate legal challenge.
The religious challenge against the ban was brought by four residents and the group Hoosier Jews for Choice in September 2022, saying it violates a state religious-freedom law Republican lawmakers approved in 2015. A county judge sided with the residents — who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana — last December. Indiana later appealed the decision.
9. Judge finds last 4 of 11 anti-abortion activists guilty in a 2021 Tennessee clinic blockade, By Travis Loller, Associated Press, April 4, 2024, 1:06 PM
The final four of 11 anti-abortion activists charged with blocking access to a Tennessee clinic in 2021 have been convicted of violating the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.
Eva Edl, Eva Zastrow, James Zastrow, and Paul Place were found guilty Tuesday by a federal judge in Nashville. They face up to six months in prison, five years of supervised release, and fines of up to $10,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee.
The four participated in a blockade of the carafem reproductive health clinic in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, a town 17 miles (27 kilometers) east of Nashville, nearly a year before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The event was organized by anti-abortion activists who used social media to promote and live-stream actions that they hoped would prevent the clinic from performing abortions, according to court documents.
10. Tennessee court to weigh throwing out abortion ban challenge, blocking portions of the law, By Kimberlee Kruesi, Associated Press, April 4, 2024, 6:15 PM
Attorneys defending Tennessee’s sweeping abortion ban alleged Thursday that doctors challenging the law do not want any oversight when deciding to terminate a pregnancy and instead are improperly withholding care to women facing serious medical emergencies.
The Tennessee Attorney General’s office laid out its arguments while attempting to persuade a three-judge panel to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to clarify when abortion exceptions can be applied in the Volunteer State.
Seven women and two doctors have launched a legal battle alleging current law violates pregnant patients’ right to life as guaranteed by the state’s constitution. They want the judicial panel to clarify the circumstances that qualify patients to legally receive an abortion. Among the circumstances they want included are fatal diagnoses.
11. Tennessee lawmakers pass bill to require anti-abortion group video, or comparable, in public schools, By Kimberlee Kruesi and Jonathan Mattise, Associated Press, April 4, 2024, 6:41 PM
Tennessee would become the latest state to require public school students to watch a video on fetal development produced by an anti-abortion group, or something comparable, under legislation that is headed to Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s desk.
The GOP-dominated Senate passed the legislation Thursday, with the five Democrats in attendance and one Republican voting to oppose.
The Senate voted down various Democratic amendments: to let parents opt their children out of watching the video; to let school districts decide whether to show it; to show a disclaimer that it’s scientifically inaccurate political propaganda; and to let schools teach comprehensive sex education.
12. The faith of the next generation, By Brendan Hodge, The Pillar, April 3, 2024, 3:37 PM
For years, religious leaders in the U.S. have raised concerns about the rise of the “nones” – people who profess to adhere to no faith tradition.
Among American adults under 30, “none” significantly outranks Protestants and Catholics as a religious affiliation.
There’s a certain conventional wisdom that young people often fall away from the Church for a time, but return as they become older. 
But the data suggests otherwise. 
Large continuing surveys like the General Social Survey (GSS) – which has asked samples of Americans questions about their lives and beliefs since 1972 – show that each recent generation has a fairly stable level of religious belief and practice after reaching adulthood. 
Younger generations of Americans are simply less religious than their parents and grandparents – and significantly so.

In the surveys conducted from 1978-1982, 57% of young adult respondents to the GSS described themselves as Protestant, 27% said they were Catholic, and 13% described their religious affiliation as “none.”
A generation later, among those who were young adults in 1998-2002, the number of “nones” had climbed to 22%, while Protestants declined to 44% and Catholics to 25%.
But it’s the current generation that has seen the greatest change. Among young adult respondents in 2018-2022, 42% described their religious affiliation as “none,” 29% as Protestant and 19% as Catholic.
Compared to their grandparents’ generation, the number of Protestants has dropped by half, those describing themselves as Catholics have decreased by 30%, and the number who have no religious affiliation has more than tripled to become the largest group.
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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!

“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.