TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 225 – Father Ben Kiely on Armenia & Dr. Ray Guarendi Offers Simple Steps to a Stronger Marriage!With a dire situation occurring in Armenia, we turn to our dear friend Father Ben Kiely of to understand this threat of genocide as an entire community of Christians are being cut off from essentials like food and medicine. We also talk with the one and only Dr. Ray Guarendi about his new book: Simple Steps to a Stronger MarriageFather Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily to prepare us for this Sunday’s Gospel. Catch the show every Saturday at 7amET/5pmET on EWTN radio! 1. John Paul II’s Legacy Lives On in Lisbon, By Raymond J. de Souza, The Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2023, Pg. A13, OpinionThirty years ago this week, a pilot who had flown combat missions in Vietnam struggled to keep his chopper under control in Denver. As he delivered Pope John Paul II to Mile High Stadium, the crowd’s thunderous cheers created turbulence. The pilot was bringing a pilgrim of peace, but the experience strangely reminded him of war. It was World Youth Day in August 1993. That massive meeting changed the papacy and the Catholic Church, restoring confidence that the hearts of young people could be touched by the Gospel. Pope Francis is a very different kind of pope, but there he was Sunday in Lisbon, with 1.5 million pilgrims for his fourth gathering, after Rio de Janeiro (2013), Kraków, Poland (2016), and Panama City (2019). The next one, he announced, will be in Seoul in 2027.  Lisbon is part of a post-Christian, even Christophobic, Europe. The secularized future is already present, and the church has lost her voice. At WYD, she finds it again. Pope Francis never tires of calling for fresh evangelical energies, but sometimes he thinks not too much can be expected of the young. In an interview published last week, he spoke approvingly of priests who play soccer and feed the poor but stay away from dogma and look the other way on chastity. John Paul took a different view, summarizing his approach at Częstochowa: “You must demand much of yourself, even if others do not demand it of you.” At the closing Mass on Sunday, Pope Francis was weary, delivering a pro forma homily of only nine minutes. But knowing that the young people expected something more, he concluded with a triplex repetition of the biblical exhortation that John Paul made his signature: Be not afraid! Eighteen years after his death, 30 years after Denver, John Paul’s WYD still brings fresh energies to the church—showing young people that the great adventure of the Christian mission is better than the thousand options the world has on offer. Father de Souza is a priest in Kemptville, Ontario, and a columnist with the National Post and National Catholic Register. 2. A Fertility Plan for America, By Vanessa Brown Calder & Chelsea Follett, National Review, August 11, 2023, 6:30 AM, Opinion Fertility is declining around the world and is now below the level needed to replace the previous generation in countries ranging from China to India to Mexico, Brazil, and the U.S. For now, the global average fertility rate, while falling, is above the “replacement rate” needed to prevent the world population from contracting. Still, policy-makers are increasingly worried by this trend, since sub-replacement fertility will result in population ageing and decline in many countries if not offset by other factors, such as increased immigration.  Although fertility initiatives are not likely to revive U.S. fertility meaningfully or permanently, many alternative, low-cost policy reforms could make family life more affordable, easier, and more enjoyable for parents. By removing artificial, government-imposed obstacles to having and raising children, these reforms could even boost the U.S. fertility rate. Several current policies make being a parent harder than it needs to be, which could depress fertility, and are thus ripe for reform. For example, various policies increase the price of family essentials. Reforming these policies would reduce the cost of housing, food, and child care while increasing the availability of goods and services that parents need. Reforms that substantially increase housing supply, including overhauls to zoning and land-use regulations and changes to federal lands policy, could meaningfully increase housing affordability. Permanently eliminating national tariffs and excess FDA regulations would improve access to baby formula. Relaxing day-care regulations — including educational requirements for child-care staff and staff-to-child ratios— would increase child-care availability and affordability. Flexible and remote-work policies allow parents to combine personal and professional obligations more seamlessly, and the private sector has made major strides in providing remote-work opportunities post-pandemic. However, policy-makers should reform labor policies that get in the way of flexible and remote options, from overly restrictive regulations on home-based businesses and independent work, to licensing rules that punish part-time workers (many of whom are parents) and discourage telework. Women who were most likely to work from home during the pandemic experienced higher fertility, perhaps because combining pregnancy and early parenting with work obligations is easier within a remote-work context. Other policies make childbirth more difficult and discourage women from having additional children by limiting parents’ choices about the way their children are conceived and born. C-sections are on the rise, and many federal, state, and local policies make it harder for mothers to avoid C-sections regardless of their preferences. Such restrictions not only disrespect mothers’ autonomy but can make having multiple children risky, potentially lowering fertility without improving health outcomes. Policy-makers worried about fertility should also avoid restrictively regulating reproductive technology, a boon for many couples. Some policies make parenting unnecessarily time-intensive and stressful, with little associated benefit. Under current law, busybodies can report parents for allowing their children to engage in age-appropriate activities, including walking home from school, playing in the yard alone, or staying home alone for short periods. In a handful of states, including Utah, Colorado, and Virginia, policy-makers have passed reasonable-independence or “free-range kids” laws to allow parents peace of mind and provide children with growth opportunities. Regardless of their impact on fertility, the reforms listed would benefit families. Instead of replicating costly initiatives that have failed in other countries, policy-makers should address the underlying policy factors creating problems for families and limiting parental choice. At the very least, any expansion of spending on families should be paired with deregulation of the goods that parents require and reform of policies that make family life harder. These reforms have independent merit and are worth pursuing regardless of their influence on fertility. Vanessa Brown Calder is the director of opportunity and family-policy studies at the Cato Institute. Chelsea Follett is a policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity and the managing editor of 3. The Catholic Church in Africa Is a Blessing, Youthful vitality and evangelical fervor for proclaiming the Gospel even in the context of intense persecution are Africa’s gifts to the Church today., By Michael Warsaw, National Catholic Register, August 11, 2023, Opinion When participants gather in Rome at this fall’s Synod on Synodality to reflect how the global Catholic Church can better communicate the saving love of Jesus for all humanity, a vast continental contrast in opinions will be on prominent display. And the tension can be summed up by two opposing questions. Can the Church’s mission of evangelization be accomplished only by discarding those teachings that contradict secular progressivism, as the leaders of Germany’s Synodal Way and their supporters in other wealthy Western nations insist? Or can this New Evangelization be accomplished only if the Church fearlessly continues to proclaim what it has always upheld, as Church leaders across Africa collectively declare? A striking illustration of these divergent viewpoints took place in March at the concluding session of Germany’s Synodal Way. That day, the assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of same-sex blessings in blatant disregard of the recent Vatican admonition that such blessings of homosexual couples are impermissible for the straightforward reason that God “does not and cannot bless sin.” But a brave and sensible African voice nonetheless was heard in opposition.  “Catholic people from Africa are strictly against homosexual partnerships … so I consider this a topic for the universal Church,” Emeka Ani, chairman of the country’s Federal Pastoral Council for Catholics With Other Mother Tongues and Rites, told the gathering “People look to Africa, and I believe that this is why the universal Synod on Synodality will reject this topic,” he added. In contrast to the sparse and graying congregations present on Sundays in so many of the churches in Germany and other Western European nations, Masses in African nations are packed with young, exuberant Catholics who are eager to worship God reverently during their liturgies and to spread the love of Jesus afterward in service to others. Here in the U.S. — where, unlike in Germany, the large majority of our Church leaders have not embraced the dissenting secularist agendas — we can be thankful as well as inspired by this fearless witness of African faith. It’s the kind of dynamism that will power the Church forward in the manner envisioned by St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, the trio of popes who have shared the responsibility for initiating the era of New Evangelization ushered in by the Second Vatican Council. One of the most inspiring manifestations of this new era in the life of the Church has been World Youth Day. As always, the latest version of the event in Lisbon that concluded on Aug. 6 bore witness to the reality that vast numbers of young people from all around the globe continue to be animated by their sacramental encounter with Jesus Christ.Fortified by the blessing of our African brothers and sisters in faith, we should pray that this same evangelical commitment will prove to be the prevailing spirit at the 2023 Synod on Synodality, as well. 4. Hong Kong police arrest Catholic activist under national security law, By The Pillar, August 10, 2023, 4:10 PM Police in Hong Kong arrested 10 people Thursday for alleged violations of national security laws in connection with a shuttered humanitarian relief fund, including a prominent local Catholic leader. According to the Hong Kong Free Press newspaper, among the six men and four women arrested Aug 10 was Bobo Yip, a prominent pro-democracy activist and former chairwoman of the Diocese of Hong Kong’s Justice and Peace Commission. According to HKFP, following her arrest, Yip was taken to a Catholic bookstore in the Yau Ma Tei neighborhood where police gathered evidence and seized two computers. A statement from Hong Kong’s national security police confirmed the arrests, and said that the 10 detainees are suspected of “conspiring to collude with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security” in connection with the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, the same charges and organization which led to the arrest of Hong Kong’s former bishop Cardinal Joseph Zen last year. If convicted, Yip and the other nine arrestees could face a lengthy jail term, up to life in prison. 5. How ‘Traditionis custodes’ brought American liturgy wars back to the future, By Ed. Condon, The Pillar, August 10, 2023, 3:03 PM, Opinion Dioceses in the United States continue to adjust to the new normal, following Pope Francis’ promulgation of the motu proprio Traditiones custodes two years ago. The papal law, which abrogated Pope Benedict XVI’s signature liturgical reform Summorum pontificum, ushered in a widespread restriction of what used to be properly called the extraordinary form of the liturgy, often known as the “traditional Latin Mass.” But, while Traditionis sets up clear obstacles to the celebration of the old liturgy in American dioceses, many bishops have found ways to live-and-let-live within the new framework — often incurring criticism for being “anti-Francis” in the process. Meanwhile, some diocesan bishops have pressed on further, issuing strict and sometimes legally controversial restrictions on how their clergy are to celebrate the ordinary form of the Mass. Above both, the Holy See seems to be taking an asymmetrical approach to the emerging trends, vacillating between aggressive interventions and a more hands-off approach. The results are still in flux, but they so far draw an increasingly divided liturgical map of U.S. dioceses. With the future uncertain, to date the liturgical landscape of the post-Traditionis custodes Church in the U.S. has come to resemble, in some key ways, the Church of the 1980s. 6. Crucial Test Case: Maryland Parents Versus ‘Pride Storybooks’, Oral argument was heard in federal court from a group from Montgomery County families who want public school officials to respect their right to opt their children out of the ‘inclusive’ anthology., By Andrea M. Picciotti-Bayer, National Catholic Register, August 10, 2023, Opinion Parents in Montgomery County, Maryland, have had enough. Progressive ideologues captured the local public school system and thought they’d gotten away with it. Now a group of parents from various religions have taken them to federal court, demanding that school officials respect their right to opt their children out of indoctrination in gender ideology. If ever there was a test case for people who want to protect their children from secularist dogma at odds with their religious beliefs, this is it.  In fall 2022, the Montgomery County Board of Education announced it would use “Pride Storybooks,” a collection of more than 20 new “inclusivity” books for pre-K through eighth-grade classrooms. As you might expect, every box is ticked. From Pride parades to gender transitioning and pronoun preferences, the collection is carefully curated to indoctrinate.  As I say, this is a crucial test case. A legal victory will protect children from the misinformation and fantasies of gender ideology and remind school boards and administrators across the country that parents are the primary educators of their children — even when they’re inside a public school. Watch this space.

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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