TCA Radio Podcast – “Conversations With Consequences”

Episode 18: Abortion pill reversal and the myth of late term abortion

Is late term abortion ever medically necessary? Can the abortion pill really be reversed, or is that just a pro-life twisting of the facts? Our host Dr. Grazie Christie interviews another doctor, Dr. Mary Jo O’Sullivan, about late term abortion, pro-life bioethics and how Dr. O’Sullivan works to reverse medication (abortion pill) abortions.

1. Diocese names priests accused of abuse.

By Associated Press, The Washington Post, August 23, 2019, Pg. A3

A report released Thursday by Vermont’s Roman Catholic Church found there were “credible and substantiated” allegations of the sexual abuse of minors against 40 priests in the state since 1950.

All but one of those allegations occurred before 2000, and none of the priests is still in ministry, the report said. Most of the priests who were named in the report are now dead.

2. U.S. Catholic bishops hire a new spokeswoman — one month after another stirred controversy with her pro-Trump tweets.

By Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post Online, August 22, 2019, 5:28 PM

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced Thursday that church and politics veteran Chieko Noguchi is its new head of public affairs, a position that speaks for the Catholic Church in the United States. For the past 10 years, Noguchi worked in communications for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, under Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Noguchi also worked for then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).

Neither Noguchi nor her new boss, USCCB Chief Communications Officer James Rogers, would confirm Thursday why Noguchi’s predecessor, Judy Keane, left. Last month, when controversy about Keane’s pro-Trump tweets erupted, Rogers told The Washington Post that she was on leave and hinted at some displeasure.

3. Eucharistic Faith and Eucharistic Lives.

By Fr. Roger J. Landry, The Anchor, August 23, 2019
Fr. Roger J. Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts and the National Chaplain of Catholic Voices USA.

In Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked who people said he was, and his two polls showed that only one person said he believed Jesus was who he truly was, the Messiah and Son of God (Mt 16:13-20).

Recently the Pew Research Center asked U.S. Catholics who or what they understood the Eucharist to be. The response, like in Caesarea, was sobering.

Only 50 percent of U.S. Catholics said that they knew the Church’s teaching that after the consecration, the bread and wine are totally changed into Jesus’ body and blood; 45 percent said that the Church teaches that the “bread” and “wine” are only symbols, and five percent didn’t know what the Church teaches.

Even among the 50 percent of those who were aware of the Church’s teaching, a third said that they still regarded the Eucharist as a symbol, leaving a total of only 31 percent who actually believed the Church’s teaching. 69 percent of Catholics said that they believe that the Eucharist was just a symbol — that Jesus is not on the altar after the consecration, or in the tabernacle, or in us after Holy Communion.

Rather than news, the report was a confirmation of what had long been known and inferred: there is a grave crisis in Eucharistic faith. That crisis is ultimately at the root of many others: low Mass attendance, shuttered parishes, closed schools, insufficient priestly vocations, waning Catholic influence in society, growing secularism, and, as Pope-emeritus Benedict incisively wrote in April, even the clerical sexual abuse of minors.

Putting Jesus in the Holy Eucharist in his proper place leads to great vitality. Not doing so leads to decline and death. That’s the choice the Church faces.

Who do we say that the Eucharist is?

4. Bishops ‘raise their voice’ for the Amazon, as fires rage in Brazil.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, August 23, 2019

The smoke came from forest fires in the Amazon jungle, which is located approximately 1,600 miles from the city. The fires have been burning at unprecedented rates for the past three weeks.

The bishops of Latin America, seeing the devastation being caused to the region, released a statement on Thursday called “We raise our voice for the Amazon rainforest.”

“The bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean want to raise our concern over the gravity of this tragedy that not only has a local or a regional impact, but of planetary proportions,” the bishops of CELAM – the Latin American bishops’ conference – wrote.

Over 60 percent of the Amazon basin, something that is at the center of an upcoming Vatican summit of bishops from the region, touches Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname.

5. UN chief urges world to stamp out religious persecution.

By Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press, August 22, 2019

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the world on the first international day to remember the victims of religious persecution to “step up to stamp out anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred, the persecution of Christians and other religious groups.”

The U.N. chief on Thursday cited a rise in attacks against individuals and groups around the world, saying: “Jews have been murdered in synagogues, their gravestones defaced with swastikas; Muslims gunned down in mosques, their religious sites vandalized; Christians killed at prayer, their churches torched.”

Guterres said the first International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion and Belief was an opportunity to show support by doing “all in our power to prevent such attacks and demanding that those responsible are held accountable.”

Samuel Brownback, the U.S. ambassador at large for religious freedom, told the council that according to the Pew Forum, “83% of the global community live in countries with high or very high restrictions on the free practice of faith — and it’s getting worse, not better.”

He pointed to “the horrific actions of violence and ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims” in Myanmar, persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan “either at the hands of non-state actors or through discriminatory laws and policies,” Boko Haram’s attacks on mosques and churches in Nigeria, and the Islamic State extremist group’s targeting of Iraq’s Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Turkmen “for atrocity crimes.”

6. Money crunch after Planned Parenthood quits federal program.

By Lindsay Whitehurst and David Crary, The Associated Press, August 22, 2019

Planned Parenthood clinics in several states are charging new fees, tapping financial reserves, intensifying fundraising and warning of more unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases after its decision to quit a $260 million federal family planning program in an abortion dispute with the Trump administration.

About 4 million women are served nationwide by the Title X program, which makes up a much bigger portion of Planned Parenthood’s patients than abortion. But the organization said it could not abide by the abortion-referral rules because it says they would make it impossible for doctors to do their jobs.

Planned Parenthood will continue to participate in Medicaid, the federal health-coverage program for low-income Americans. That’s Planned Parenthood’s biggest source of government funding — about $400 million or more annually in recent years. The Republican-controlled legislatures in Texas, Iowa and Missouri have taken steps to block that flow of funds in their states.

7. Pressure mounts on Buffalo bishop after two seminarians resign over scandal.

By Christopher White, Crux, August 22, 2019

As pressure continues to mount for Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone to step down over his handling of sex abuse cases, two seminarians have publicly left the diocesan seminary and echoed calls for his resignation.

The first seminarian, Stephen Parisi, withdrew in a 6-page letter dated August 15 where he outlines what he describes as a lack of proper governance.

He concluded his letter by directly addressing Malone, offering a stinging assessment of his leadership and pleading for his resignation.

Malone is widely considered to be a test case for Vos Estis Lux Mundi, the Vatican’s newly enacted norms for bishop accountability, and Buffalo is now viewed by many Church observers as the new epicenter for the U.S. Church’s abuse crisis.

8. Bishops praise proposal to clarify religious exemptions for federal contractors.

Catholic News Agency, August 22, 2019, 4:15 PM

Leaders at the U.S. bishops’ conference have praised a U.S. Labor Department proposal to clarify protections for religious employers seeking federal contracts.

“Faith-based groups should have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field as they seek to partner with the federal government to provide critical social services,” said the heads of three committees for the U.S. bishops.

Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty; Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, FL, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; and Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, signed an Aug. 21 statement about the proposed changes.

“These proposed rules protect religious liberty, a core constitutional right, by clarifying existing religious exemptions consistent with federal law and recent Supreme Court precedent. We are grateful to the Administration for taking this step, and we look forward to filing more detailed public comments with [the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs],” they said.

The Labor Department announced the proposed rule changes Aug. 15 in the federal register and asked for public comment.

9. Children before politics say parents as Catholic adoption agency heads to court.

By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, August 22, 2019, 5:30 PM

Parents of five adoptive children were present in court on Thursday in support of a Catholic adoption agency in Michigan that is threatened with closure by a new state policy.

“Political grandstanding should never come at the expense of vulnerable children,” stated Melissa Buck, who with her husband Chad has adopted five children with special needs through St. Vincent Catholic Charities in Michigan.

Buck was speaking out against a new state requirement that adoption agencies match children with same-sex couples—regardless of the agencies’ religious mission—in order to receive state funding.

“No one has ever been kept from adopting or fostering a child in need because of St. Vincent’s religious beliefs,” Buck stated on Aug. 22 after oral arguments in Buck v. Gordon, the challenge to Michigan’s new policy, at the Western District Court of Michigan in Grand Rapids.

10. Update: Australian pro-life leaders organize to block bill legalizing abortion.

By Catherine Sheehan, Catholic News Service, August 22, 2019, 8:55 AM

Thousands of pro-life supporters demonstrated in the streets of Sydney, expressing their opposition to a bill in the New South Wales state parliament that would permit abortion until birth for any reason.

The demonstration Aug. 20 called on members of parliament (MPs) to defeat the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill that was introduced Aug. 1.

The bill passed Aug. 8 in the Legislative Assembly, the lower house of the state parliament, 59-31, following a limited three-day period for comment.

New South Wales is the only Australian state where abortion remains a criminal offense. Abortion is permitted only when the mother’s physical or mental health is in danger.

11. The Viganò affair has revealed the depth of the Church’s crisis.

Fr Mark Drew, The Catholic Herald (UK), August 22, 2019

A year ago, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò was a retired diplomat who was little known beyond the limited world of Vaticanologists. He had reached the senior position of apostolic nuncio to the United States in October 2011, but his retirement in 2016 would normally have signalled an end to his influence.

On August 25, 2018, however, Archbishop Viganò issued an astonishing declaration which gained him a notoriety for which his previous career contained no precedent. An 11-page document, released simultaneously to news outlets in Italy and the US, made claims which sent shock waves through the worldwide Church.

Archbishop Viganò claimed that the Vatican had been told by successive US nuncios since 2000 that Theodore McCarrick was suspected of sexual misconduct against seminarians and priests. He accused senior figures of ensuring that these did not stop McCarrick being made Archbishop of Washington and a cardinal.

Less dramatically, and more realistically, he will certainly dread the ire of his former colleagues. Some of them see his attack on Francis as ideologically motivated – or, in an even more common view, as a result of frustrated ambition. Even those who have a sneaking sympathy for his tilting at the Roman status quo fear that he may have gone too far and perhaps set back the cause he wished to serve. The breaking of the Pontifical Secret, which he swore to observe (as all curial officials do), was particularly shocking to many in Rome.

Archbishop Viganò has not remained aloof from the fray he himself created.

The respect which Catholics have for the papacy should surely not mean that a Pope or his closest collaborators should never be called to give an account of their decisions. We must, however, show them respect and be prepared to give a benevolent interpretation to their actions whenever possible. The Church as a threatened institution can only be served by its members practising a charity which is forgetful of self. Archbishop Viganò might have advanced his cause better by being more generous to those he criticised. But perhaps his fiercer opponents should show him a measure of the same generosity.

Fr Mark Drew holds a doctorate in ecumenical theology from the Institut Catholique. He is the parish priest of Hedon and Withernsea in Middlesbrough diocese

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