TCA Radio Podcast — “Conversations with Consequences”

Episode 16: The ousting of Dr. Leana Wen and the future of Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood: With revenues of over half a BILLION dollars a year from taxpayers, is this giant corporation a “healthcare” provider or a political machine? We argue that the recent firing of Dr. Leana Wen tells us Planned Parenthood is not interested in women’s health, but only in their bottom line and political clout.  

Dr. Grazie Christie and Ashley McGuire of The Catholic Association drill down in lively conversation.

1. Supreme Court and Religious Liberty: Catholic Foster-Care Case Looms, Sharonell Fulton, et al. v. City of Philadelphia could have major implications as the high court continues to sort out questions of how far religious-freedom protections.

By Lauretta Brown, National Catholic Register, August 8, 2019

The Supreme Court could take up a significant religious-freedom question next term that examines whether a city or state can require religious adoption services to place children with same-sex couples despite their faith-based objections.

The case, Sharonell Fulton, et al. v. City of Philadelphia, could have major implications as the high court continues to sort out questions of how far religious-freedom protections extend in the aftermath of its 2015 decision legalizing same-sex “marriage” in Obergefell v. Hodges.

The city of Philadelphia refused to permit foster children to be placed with families that worked with Catholic Social Services (CSS) of the Philadelphia Archdiocese in March 2018, after the organization confirmed to the Philadelphia Inquirer that in upholding Catholic moral teaching on the nature of marriage, it would not place a child with a same-sex couple and instead would refer them to another agency.

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, a legal adviser for The Catholic Association, told the Register that the Philadelphia case could be “huge” for religious liberty because it is looking at “any kind of partnership where faith-based agencies are being asked to certify same-sex marriage as an okay model for families as a condition for working with local or state governments.”

Picciotti-Bayer explained how religious groups are being targeted by laws that have sprung up in recent years and were not envisioned by the Supreme Court in the Smith decision. “The Smith case in particular, just didn’t envision — because it wasn’t before the court, and it wasn’t an issue before the country — how imposing these … SOGI [sexual orientation and gender identity] laws are and how they can generally be presented as a neutral law. But they’re not really neutral. They’re really going after people of faith and institutions of faith and trying to basically condition people’s thinking, impose ideas on churches and people of faith, especially Catholics.”

She said that, in defending CSS, Becket is pointing out that “some of the lower courts have gotten it wrong, and so the only one who’s going to clarify things and really be consistent with the First Amendment demands is the Supreme Court; and at this point, the circuit split is so significant in understanding the precedent that it’s time to clarify it. You can’t let this cook any longer.”

Picciotti-Bayer praised the perseverance of CSS and Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput in continuing the legal battle amid the closures of agencies in other states.

“When you think about these agencies, in the case of Philadelphia, Catholic Social Services isn’t a money-making operation and their foster-care program was always running at a loss economically, but it’s part of the Church’s ministry and mission to reach out to the most vulnerable,” she said. “It really reflects the leadership of Archbishop Chaput and the head of Catholic Social Services and Becket to say, ‘This issue is so important that we’re not going to give up without a fight.’”

The Catholic Association was among the groups that filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of CSS in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The state of Texas also filed a brief supporting CSS in the Third Circuit, and Texas Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins told the Register why the case was significant to the Lone Star State.

“This is a case about defending religious freedom. Catholic Social Services was helping the people of Philadelphia find loving homes for neglected children, but the city of Philadelphia ousted CSS simply because of its religious beliefs on the nature of marriage,” Hawkins said. “Texas is fighting to defend religious freedom and the principle that the government cannot punish a faith-based organization because the government doesn’t like its religious beliefs.”

2. New survey: Only one-third of Catholics believe in Real Presence.

By Charles Collins, Crux, August 9, 2019

On July 23, the prestigious polling firm released a new report – “What Americans Know About Religion” – that found that half of Catholics in the United States don’t know the Catholic Church teaches the Eucharist is the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Most of the other half thought the Church taught the Eucharist was just a symbol of Christ’s body, although 4 percent said they were unsure what the Church taught.

That was the first punch.

This week, Pew delivered the second – it reported that only one-third of Catholics believe that the Eucharist is the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

It doesn’t take a math degree to figure out what that means, although Pew does helpfully fill in the blanks: “One-in-five Catholics (22 percent) reject the idea of transubstantiation [the technical term for the bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood of Christ], even though they know about the Church’s teaching.”

Although Pew gives the numbers of those who know the Church teaching and reject it, it doesn’t ask how many of those who don’t know the Church teaching on the Eucharist correctly, but would change their own views to bring them in line with the Church.

In any event, these caveats will bring little comfort to U.S. Church leaders – After all, the Catechism says, “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it.”

3. A Different Team and a Lasting Championship.

By Fr. Roger J. Landry, The Anchor, August 9, 2019
Fr. Roger J. Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts and the National Chaplain of Catholic Voices USA.

Sports have always been one of the great practice fields for human growth — for cultivating preparation, perseverance, leadership, teamwork, poise — and even in an age in which many star athletes fail to live in an exemplary way off the field, the character of those who strive to be role models can have a profoundly positive influence on others in various walks of life.

That’s one reason why St. Paul regularly used sports — like running and boxing — in his preaching of the Gospel because what’s required to fight the good fight and finish the race in athletics is akin to the discipline needed to be faithful disciples. In my priestly work with men, young people and increasingly with women, sports have not only been a good conversation starter but a school of spiritual lessons.

Even though I am routinely inspired by articles and features on, I have never encountered anything as moving as the lead article and video the morning of August 3. It was about cloistered nun, Sr. Rose Marie of the Queen of Angels, from the Poor Clare monastery in Alexandria, Virginia, who had just celebrated the 25thanniversary of her profession.

The article, entitled, “Whatever Happened to Villanova Basketball Star Shelly Pennefather? ‘So I Made This Deal With God,’” was part of a promo for a documentary entitled “A Long Embrace” about the former Mary Michelle “Shelly” Pennefather, debuting that evening.

Much was made in the article and documentary about her impressive feats on the court: 96-0 in high school; a record 2,408 points for Villanova, in the era before three-pointers; three time All-America and Big East Player of the Year; and 1987 Wade Trophy as Female College Player of the Year.

When the General Judgment takes place, however, those achievements will seem insignificant compared to what she is now accomplishing with a different team and a different coach in monastic enclosure toward an imperishable crown — an eternal victory won by Christ that she and her habited teammates are praying that we will share.

4. Women who want information on abortion-pill reversal should have a right to it.

By Grazie Pozo Christie, The Washington Examiner, August 8, 2019, 12:02 AM
Grazie Pozo Christie M.D. is a policy adviser for the Catholic Association.

A growing number of states are enacting laws requiring doctors who perform pharmaceutical abortions to inform the mothers that it may be possible to halt the abortion if they change their minds.

Now, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Medical Association are suing North Dakota, claiming that the state is forcing physicians to deliver misleading and nonmedical information. Authors of an article in the New England Journal of Medicine also decry these laws on the basis that the “abortion pill reversal” regimen has not been definitively proven to be effective.

Neither the AMA nor the authors of the New England Journal of Medicine article claim that abortion pill reversal regimens are unsafe for the mother or the child. There is extensive evidence to support the safety of progesterone treatment for both patients. Given the safety record of abortion pill reversal (exponentially greater than chemical abortions), it is a simple matter of justice to offer all women who are miscarrying a treatment that can improve the chances of their baby’s survival.

The North Dakota law and similar ones in other states ensure that women who consent to a chemical abortion get all the information they need, including information they need if they change their minds. Women deserve to know that doctors and nurses are available to help them and that they can access the same treatment offered to mothers across the world who are hoping to one day hold their child in their arms.

5. The unnamable violence: Why the West is silent about the wave of desecration.

By Matthew Schmitz, The Catholic Herald (UK), August 8, 2019

When churches are desecrated, statues smashed and priests attacked, the once-Christian West doesn’t know how to respond.

The rise in violence against Catholics has been strangely ignored and downplayed – not only by the media, but by Catholics themselves. Many Catholics are understandably reluctant to complain about what Pope Francis has called “polite persecution” when their brothers abroad are being beheaded by ISIS. Catholic leaders also rightly stress that they suffer less than some other religious groups – most notably Jews, who likewise face a surge in violence.

Other Catholics fear that drawing attention to these attacks will encourage the scapegoating of Muslims, despite the fact that most of these acts do not seem to be perpetrated by Muslims. Satanist symbols like “666” or slogans of sexual liberation are a recurring features of these attacks. These are not the symbols employed by ISIS.

These legitimate concerns have led to an unfortunate pattern of minimisation. “We adopt a reasonable attitude. We do not want to develop a discourse of persecution. We do not wish to complain … We are not victims of a ‘Cathophobia’,” Archbishop Georges Pontier, head of the French bishops’ conference, told Le Point magazine. “In its history, Judaism has fought an ongoing struggle against anti-Semitic groups. We Catholics in France now do not have to face such violence every day!”

Confronting anti-Catholic acts requires a different sort of work than confronting violence against other faiths. The problem is not hatred of the other, but hatred of the self. It is a refusal of patrimony, an attempt to deny one’s own character. As Weiler and Benedict have both clearly seen, Christianity does not require the West’s tolerance; it demands its loyalty. Unless Europe realises that toleration of other religions does not justify denial of Europe’s own Christian identity, anti-Christian acts are likely to increase, while being studiously ignored by those who purport to deplore all prejudice.

6. Pope Francis Turns to the Curé of Ars.

By Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Catholic Register, August 8, 2019

The surprise Aug. 4 “Letter to Priests” from Pope Francis proposed again the figure of the patron saint of parish priests, St. Jean-Marie Vianney, amid the crisis of sexual abuse in the priesthood.

Writing on the 160th anniversary of the death of the holy Curé of Ars, the Holy Father desired to offer — as an “elder brother and father” — a spiritual and fraternal support to all the innocent priests for whom the abuse crisis has been a time of betrayal, suspicion and pain. The letter finds its immediate context in the follow-up to the Vatican summit on sexual abuse in February 2019.

In the months afterward, important legal measures were taken to address mandatory reporting and how bishops in particular were to be held to account for improperly handling allegations that are reported. Pope Francis’ letter wisely acknowledges that canonical measures alone are not enough. The letter is an expression of the Holy Father’s repeated insistence that the crisis calls for a conversion of heart and culture.

In that light, the papal letter speaks to priests in a heartfelt manner, beginning with acknowledging the pain felt in the priesthood due to the scandals. That pain of innocent priests is threefold — pain felt for the victims who are numbered in their congregations, the pain of betrayal by fellow priests, and the pain of the cloud of suspicion that hangs over all priests.

7. On anniversary, Japan’s bishops renew hope for nuclear-free world.

By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, August 8, 2019, 10:40 AM

With the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, the bishops of Japan are renewing calls and prayers to build peace by abolishing nuclear weapons worldwide and promoting integral human development.

They also expressed hope that Pope Francis’ visit in November and his expected calls for peace will strengthen people’s desire and boost efforts to bring about a nuclear weapon-free world.

The first atomic bomb used in warfare was dropped by the United States on Hiroshima Aug. 6, 1945, killing more than 100,000 people. On Aug. 9 another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing about 74,000 people. Japan surrendered Aug. 15.

St. John Paul II visited both cities during a February 1981 trip and appealed for peace, calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons around the world.

8. What the Church does – and does not – teach about gun control.

By Mary Farrow, Catholic News Agency, August 8, 2019, 5:12 PM

CNA spoke with two moral theologians about what principles of Church teaching Catholics should consider when voting or advocating for gun control laws.

The principle of self-defense

Fr. Thomas Petri, OP, a moral theologian and professor at Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies, told CNA that the issue of gun control is one that is not definitively settled in Church teaching, in terms of exactly what practical policies to enact. 

“It’s important to say that firearms…are something relatively modern in the life of the Church and the history of the Church. The Church tends to think in terms of centuries and not in years,” he said.

While Church teaching does not explicitly spell out exactly which gun regulations should and should not be enacted, Petri said, the Church does give Catholics some principles to take into account when they are considering or voting on gun control policies.

One of these principles is the principle of self-defense, he said.

Dr. Kevin Miller, a moral theologian and assistant professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville, told CNA that self-defense falls under the Church’s teachings about the respect for life.

“You are commanded to respect the life of others,” Miller said. “You are also commanded to respect your own life – love your neighbor as yourself. So out of love for your own life, you’re allowed to protect your own life.”

There is an important distinction to be made in intent, both Petri and Miller noted. The Church teaches that one must never intend to kill someone as an end, or as a means to an end.

Another principle to take into account when considering gun regulations is the rights of states to protect the common good, Miller said.

“The production and the sale of arms affect the common good of nations and of the international community, hence public authorities have the right and duty to regulate them. The short term pursuit of private or collective interests cannot legitimate undertakings that promote violence and undermine the international juridical order,” states paragraph 2316 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.—and-does-not—teach-about-gun-control-16921

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