TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 224 – Talking Faith, Fatherhood, and World Youth Day with Knights of Columbus! As the Knights of Columbus convened in Orlando this week for their annual convention, Dr. Grazie Christie talks about all the fruits of World Youth Day and their incredible humanitarian efforts in Ukraine with Szymon Czyszek, director of International Growth in Europe. We also talk with Damien O’Connor about faith formation and building strong fathers and families. Dennis Gerber also joins discussing the incredible fundraising the Knights do for so many vital programs and issues important to Catholics today. Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily to prepare us for the Feast of the Transfiguration this Sunday as thousands are in Portugal for World Youth Day. Catch the show every Saturday at 7amET/5pmET on EWTN radio! 1. A feud between a patriarch and a militia leader adds to the woes of Iraqi Christians, By Abby Sewell and Salar Salim, Associated Press, August 4, 2023, 1:30 AM Iraqi Christians have struggled since the Nineveh plains, their historic homeland of rolling hills dotted with wheat and barley fields, were wrested back from Islamic State extremists six years ago. Although the threat from IS has receded, some towns are still mostly rubble. There are few inhabited homes or basic services, including water. Many Christians have given up and left for Europe, Australia or the United States. Others are trying to follow. Now the shrinking religious minority that was also violently targeted by al-Qaida before the rise of IS has been rocked by yet another crisis in the form of a political showdown between two influential Christian figures — a Vatican-appointed cardinal and a militia leader, with land and influence at the core of the drama. The dispute adds to the woes of Iraqi Christians, who have often felt sidelined in the political order. A 2021 visit by Pope Francis provided a glimmer of hope that quickly faded. Meanwhile, the Christian population has plummeted. The number of Christians in Iraq today is estimated at 150,000, compared to 1.5 million in 2003. Iraq’s total population is more than 40 million. The political tension rose last month when Cardinal Louis Sako withdrew from his headquarters in Baghdad to northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region after Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid revoked a decree recognizing his position as patriarch of the Chaldeans, Iraq’s largest Christian denomination and one of the Catholic Church’s eastern rites. Sako said he will not return to Baghdad until his recognition is reinstated. His departure added to the feeling of helplessness among many Christians. 2. Pope visits a once-troubled Lisbon neighborhood and says true charity must ‘get your hands dirty’, By Nicole Winfield, Barry Hatton and Helena Alves, Associated Press, August 4, 2023, 6:46 AM Pope Francis visited a once troubled and crime-plagued neighborhood of Portugal’s capital Friday to draw attention to the charitable side of the Catholic Church and the need to protect the world’s most vulnerable people with concrete gestures that “get your hands dirty.”  Two decades ago, drug and crime problems dogged the neighborhood, but Serafina has tried to put that past behind it thanks in part to efforts by church charity groups, including one that was created to provide an alternative to parents considering abortions or who otherwise couldn’t care for their children. Speaking off the cuff to young people and the charity organizers, Francis said true service must be done with concrete gestures that make an impact. He thanked church groups that have “gotten your hands dirty, touching the reality and the misery of others.” “There is no such thing as abstract love. It doesn’t exist,” the pope said. He said he couldn’t come to Lisbon to celebrate World Youth Day without visiting the center because “this is also youth, in the sense that you generate new life continually.” 3. For the Vatican, bishop’s illicit marriage poses a choice between two scandals, By Chris Altieri, Crux, August 4, 2023, OpinionA fellow ran down to the courthouse this week and got hitched, which, in itself, isn’t any sort of a headline. This groom, however, happens to be Howard Hubbard, the former Catholic bishop of Albany – the capital diocese in the U.S.State of New York – who is still a cleric and a bishop even in retirement, and that makes his nuptials more than a little news story. That Hubbard got married even though the Vatican had told him “No,” after he asked to be released from the clerical state and be permitted to contract marriage … well, that makes this an even bigger news story.  It puts the Vatican between a rock and a hard place. Sure, the Congregation for Bishops – currently headed by an American, Archbishop (and soon-to-be Cardinal) Robert Prevost – could censure Hubbard short of defrocking him, but … not to put too fine a point on it … why would he or anyone else care? Basically, it means the Vatican and Pope Francis must choose between the scandal of punishing a renegade bishop who has so far escaped serious consequences for his admitted coverup of abuse, and who now stands accused of abuse himself, and the scandal of tacitly condoning the clear disobedience of a guy who obviously conducted his office very poorly in some crucial regards, and is accused of doing worse. That’s a tough spot to be in, but the Vatican and Pope Francis brought a good bit of this on themselves. Under Pope Francis’s 2019 Vos estis lux mundi – on paper, a sweeping reform giving broad powers to investigate both abuse and coverup and streamlining the legal process of prosecuting such and similar crimes under Church law – the Vatican could have taken an expansive view of the legislation and applied it vigorously to investigate Hubbard. Imagine if they’d used the law to do a thorough and proper criminal review of his time in office and then published a report worthy of the name? They could have decided not to prosecute after doing the investigation and publishing the report, and still would have done great service to responsibility, accountability, and transparency – the threefold watchword that was the leitmotif of a 2019 child protection summit in the Vatican that preceded Vos estis. In general, however, the Vatican has interpreted Vos estis narrowly and used the law sparingly.  There’s nothing neat and tidy, but Pope Francis and the Vatican could use Hubbard’s disobedience as the justification for imposing peremptory suspension of rights and privileges but leaving him a cleric, and then immediately conducting not only an investigation of his admitted failures to report abuse allegations but also a thorough review of his whole Albany tenure. They could publish the report and either make the suspension permanent, or try him and make it permanent, refusing dispensation for aggravating circumstances. Then, they could use his case as a model to go after other bad actors, past and present. 4. In new interview, Pope says he’s a ‘stone in the shoe’ for his critics, By Crux, August 4, 2023 In his latest surprise media interview, this one with a Spanish language outlet that appeared at the same time he’s in Lisbon celebrating World Youth Day, Pope Francis said he knows he represents “a stone in the shoe” for many critics, but said he remains determined to unmask what he called “prophets of confusion.” The pope told Vida Nueva that he does not feel the time is ripe for a Third Vatican Council, in part because “Vatican II still has not been implemented,” and condemned ideological movements in the Church which “dress up in a restorationist air, with a lot of apparent mystique, but also a lot of corruption.” Francis acknowledged that his reform efforts to date in the Church have revealed “a certain impotence,” in that there’s only so far “over the limit” it’s possible to go, and admitted that “I have not yet dared to put an end to the culture of a [royal] court in the Curia.” Referring to criticism he’s received for gestures such as regularly meeting transgender persons at his Wednesday audience, Francis cited the example of Jesus in the Gospels, who spent a large amount of time in dialogue with people who weren’t necessarily his followers.  On international affairs, Francis said he is a determined foe of imperialism in all forms, especially in Latin America. “Imperialism is very strong, and America is the victim of empires of all kinds,” the pope said, without citing any specific empire, and said that the answer is to focus on the people as “protagonists of their own destiny,” though not on populism.  With regard to World Youth Day, the pope said that any pastoral approach driven by ideology, “of the left, the right or the center … is sick from the beginning, and hurts the young.” “Right now, groups linked in some way to right-wing ideologies are perhaps the most dangerous,” Francis said. “I fear intellectual youth groups, those who summon young people to reflect and then they fill them with weird ideas,” he said, adding that when it comes to future priests, “we need normal seminarians, with their problems, who play soccer, who don’t go to the neighborhoods to dogmatize.” 5. Pope gets an electrifying World Youth Day welcome and urges fighting for economic justice, climate, By Nicole Winfield, Helena Alves and Barry Hatton, Associated Press, August 3, 2023, 4:10 PM Hundreds of thousands of flag-waving young people from around the globe gave Pope Francis a raucous welcome to the World Youth Day festival in Portugal’s capital Thursday, in a sign of youthful support for the 86-year-old pontiff and his calls for inclusivity and economic justice. In a display of enthusiasm not seen since the early years of Francis’ decade-old papacy, teenagers and young adults thronged a downtown Lisbon park for the opening ceremony of the Catholic jamboree. Pilgrims ran alongside as his popemobile made languid loops through the crowd and a smiling Francis basked in their cheers. The pope, who was hospitalized twice this year, had said he hoped to be “rejuvenated” by his five-day trip to Portugal, and it appeared as if the sun-baked crowd delivered. Organizers estimated some 500,000 pilgrims attended the music-and-dance filled World Youth Day opening ceremony in Lisbon’s Eduardo VII park, a figure that was expected to more than double during the festival’s coming days. 6. New poll: Support for use of violence to restore ‘right to abortion’ increases, By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, August 3, 2023, 12:38 PM A new poll from the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Threats has found that Americans’ support for violence to restore a federal right to abortion has grown significantly over the last six months. The survey found that 12% of Americans agreed with the statement “The use of force is justified to restore the federal right to abortion.” That’s a sharp increase from the 8% who agreed with the statement in January. The increase was most pronounced among self-described Democrats. About 8% of Democrats in January said they favored the use of violence to restore abortion rights, compared with 16% who agreed with the statement in June. Independents’ support for violence to restore the federal right to abortion rose from 11% to 14% from January to June. Among Republicans, the number remained at 6%. 7. Virginia bishops praise governor’s new transgender, parents’ rights school policies, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, August 3, 2023, 11:00 AM The two bishops of Virginia have praised the new transgender and parental rights school policies recently implemented by Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, calling them a “considerable improvement” and a “much needed” change to earlier state education guidelines.  The new policies, released last month, affirmed that parents will maintain the right to considerable oversight of their children while they are enrolled in public schools. The state also addressed several key questions related to school policies regarding transgender-identifying students. The model policies stipulate that school rules “shall be drafted to safeguard parents’ rights with respect to their child and to facilitate the exercise of those rights.” Schools are ordered to keep parents closely abreast of their children’s well-being while in school. The rules further affirm that parents, not schools, will decide if their child is permitted to indulge in a “transgender” identity, including dressing and identifying as the opposite sex. 8. Generation Xers’ church attendance drops to millennial levels, survey suggests, By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency, August 3, 2023, 1:30 PM Church attendance has dropped off since the pandemic for Generation X more sharply than for other age groups, according to a new survey.  The survey of 2,000 adults conducted by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University found that the percentage of people ages 39 to 57 who attended a worship service during the week, either in person or online, fell to 28% in 2023, down from 41% in 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported this weekGen Xers saw the largest percentage drop among the age groups surveyed. The percentage of Gen Xers who worship weekly is now as low as among millennials, at 28%, the survey posits. In fact, the oft-maligned millennial generation experienced during the pandemic the least amount of change in their perspectives about the Christian faith and their participation in biblical practice, the researchers assert. In contrast, “no generation endured greater spiritual turbulence than Gen X during the pandemic,” said George Barna, director of research at the Cultural Research Center. 9. Is the Vatican a den of spies?, By Ed. Condon, The Pillar, August 3, 2023, 5:13 PM The Vatican financial trial in its final recess, before defense attorneys make their closing arguments after the August break and the judges adjourn to consider their verdict. While the judges and lawyers are (and should be) concerned with the evidence directly related to the sprawling indictment against the 10 accused, the trial has also thrown up testimony which paints the Vatican as a kind of hotbed of spying.  Prosecutors have also already given their reasons for excusing Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, Becciu’s former right-hand man, from being charged. But the uncomfortable reality is that the current trial has laid bare a culture of private spies, illegal wiretaps, and casual disregard for the rule of law at the very top of the Vatican power structure.  In response, no charges have been filed — instead, the current second-highest ranking curial official has openly admitted to what many outsiders will see as an egregious abuse of office, and insisted he would do it all again in the future. If prosecutors can secure convictions in the coming months, especially against Cardinal Becciu, some will hold out the result as proof that reform and accountability have finally come to the Vatican.  But so long as officials like Peña Parra can boast of flouting the law and pursuing their own private intelligence operations, others will conclude nothing has actually changed in the Vatican.  What does seem clear for the moment is that the same culture of private agendas and parallel power structures that created the current scandal remains intact. As long as that continues, history seems likely to repeat itself.

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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