TCA Podcast – “Conversations with Consequences”

Episode 34: Healing from human trafficking, with Laura Bramon of World Vision

Your hosts Dr. Grazie Christie and Andrea Picciotti-Bayer are joined by human trafficking expert Laura Bramon to talk about a Catholic vision of sexuality; healing from the violence of human trafficking; efforts to legalize prostitution around the world; sex slavery and trafficking as it is used by genocidal aggressors (in this case ISIS over the Yazidis); agency and freedom in relation to sexuality; runaway and homeless youth; and more.

Laura is Senior Program Manager for Child Protection and Education at World Vision, a global Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and communities in over 100 countries.

1. Catholic dioceses spar over Archbishop Sheen sainthood.

By David Crary, The Associated Press, December 12, 2019, 3:37 PM

In an unusual public spat, the Roman Catholic diocese of Peoria, Illinois, is accusing the Rochester, New York, diocese of trying to “sabotage” the beatification of Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

Sheen, who before his death in 1979 was famous for his radio and TV preaching, had been scheduled to be beatified — the last step before sainthood — in a ceremony in Peoria on Dec. 21.

However, the Vatican recently took the rare step of indefinitely postponing the ceremony at the request of the Rochester diocese, which said more time was needed for further investigations.

2. Landowners Stall Plans for Border Wall, Texas farmers and Catholic diocese resist federal efforts to claim their land.

By Elizabeth Findell, The Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2019, Pg. A3

Nearly three years into the Trump administration, almost no border wall has been built in Texas. Local property owners ranging from ranchers to a Catholic diocese and institutions have resisted federal efforts to claim their land.

At the more than 100-year-old Sacred Heart Children’s Home, the nuns in charge have declined to give their consent. “The nuns are holding back for the time being,” due in part to concerns over river access and irrigation, said their spokesman, Mercurio Martinez.

Other Catholic institutions have said a wall conflicts with their faith, citing Pope Francis, who in a May television interview criticized “this new culture of defending territories by building walls.” The Diocese of Brownsville has refused federal efforts to survey five parcels of land it owns, including a historic chapel, an oratory with a library and a priest’s home, and three pieces of vacant land that might someday hold churches.

The Catholic Church is highly influential in this predominantly Hispanic area. The counties around the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo range from 34% to 70% Catholic, among the highest such rates in the nation, according to the U.S. Religion Census.

3. The biggest Pinocchios of 2019.

By Glenn Kessler, Washington Post Online, December 13, 2019, 3:00 AM

It’s time for our annual roundup of the biggest Pinocchios of the year.

‘Thousands of women died every year pre-Roe.’

Leana Wen, when she was president of Planned Parenthood, repeatedly stated that “thousands of women” died every year from botched abortions before the Supreme Court in 1973 nullified antiabortion laws across the United States in Roe v. Wade. We dug through the statistics and it turns out she was citing numbers from the 1930s, before the advent of antibiotics. In 1972, the number of deaths in the United States from legal abortions was 24 and from illegal abortions 39, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Wen was fired from her job shortly after our fact check. The New York Times, citing the fact check, said “she had been told repeatedly by her staff [that the claim was false] but disregarded” the advice.

4. A New American Blessed … and Martyr for Students.

by Fr. Roger J. Landry, The Anchor, December 13, 2019
Fr. Roger J. Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts and the National Chaplain of Catholic Voices USA.

One of the unfortunate consequences of the hasty announcement and precipitate postponement of the rites raising Sheen to the altars, however, was that it took all of the attention away from the December 7 beatification of another American whose cause for canonization had been getting planned ever since Pope Francis signed the decree authorizing it 13 months ago and the official date was announced in April: LaSallian Brother James Alfred Miller, a native of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, who was martyred for the faith in Guatemala in 1982.

Pope Francis, in his 2018 exhortation on holiness, Gaudete et Exsultate, wrote about the “saints next door,” and in many ways Blessed James is an all-American holy neighbor. He was born in 1944 and grew up working hard on his family’s dairy and chicken farm in Custer, Wisconsin, praying at home, and wanting to be priest. He was fascinated by other countries, reading an encyclopedia from cover to cover to get to know foreign countries and regions where he hoped to bring the faith.

He was described by those who knew him as likeable, sociable, simple, humble, generous, honest, kind, intelligent, ordered, courageous, prayerful, zealous, and hardworking. His fellow Christian Brothers dubbed him a “common, good guy,” “very human,” “a man of union and communion,” who had the “gift of gab,” a perpetual smile, a “deep faith and love for his religious vocation,” and a contagious, boisterous guffaw.

He also, they noted, was perpetually “late to class and community prayers,” something that Cardinal José Luis Lacunza of Panama, presiding over his beatification, joked had prepared him very well for service in Latin America, “where punctuality is not numbered among our virtues!”

One of the Christian brothers who had known Blessed James throughout his religious life said he loved to do things “very quietly, behind the scenes,” and “never asked for recognition.”

Now, all he did is in the foreground, with his having received the most important acknowledgment a human being can.

His beatification shows that the Lord continues to exalt the humble.

It also shows that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven remain those who keep the faith and teach others to do the same.

5. Director: Guilt and forgiveness at heart of ‘The Two Popes’

By Inés San Martín, Crux, December 13, 2019

Although superficially, “The Two Popes” is about an imagined conversation between Pope Benedict XVI and then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio – today Pope Francis – for the director of the film it is all about guilt, forgiveness and dialogue.

“The film is on guilt,” said Fernando Meirelles, best known for the films City of God and The Constant Gardener.

In the movie, “both popes have done really stupid things in their past, and they feel guilty about it,” Meirelles said.

The movie is about the two, talking “about what they feel guilt for, and they have to forgive themselves and forgive the other.”

“So forgiveness is one of the main themes of the film [too],” he said.

Though the premise of the film itself is fabricated – a conversation between Benedict and his successor in 2012 that never actually took place – many facts are interwoven within the fantasy, and most of the dialogue is rooted in things they have actually said.

6. Vatican calls Greta Thunberg ‘great witness’ of Church’s environmental teaching.

By Elise Harris, Crux, December 12, 2019

On Thursday top Vatican officials hailed Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, recently named TIME Magazine’s “Person of the Year” for her environmental advocacy, as a “great witness” of Church teaching on care for creation and the human person.

Speaking to reporters at the Dec. 12 publication of Pope Francis’s message for the 2020 World Day of Peace, celebrated on Jan. 1 each year, Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Vatican office for Integral Human Development, called Thunberg “a great witness to what the Church teaches on the care of the environment and the care of the person.”

“What is her objective? Skipping school for a future, a future that can’t be guaranteed because there is no care for the environment,” he said, adding that in many cases, there is a complete lack of coherence between the international policies on the environment and what children are told.

Asked whether she was a model of the “ecological conversion” Francis calls for in the message, Turkson said that “model” was not the right word, but insisted that her activism brings attention to the Church’s insistence that “attention to the poor and society also coincide with care for the environment, the common home.”

“It’s a coherence with the Church’s teaching,” he said, adding that care of the environment is also a matter of faith.

7. Why Pope Francis’ Appointment of Cardinal Tagle Is Significant.

By Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Catholic Register, December 12, 2019

Did Pope Francis just name his successor? Much of the commentary about the appointment of Cardinal Luis Tagle, until now archbishop of Manila, to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples put that question in first or second place. That’s speculation — about which, more later — but the appointment on its own merits is most significant; some have said that Cardinal Tagle is for Pope Francis what Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was for St. John Paul II.

The most remarkable thing about Cardinal Tagle’s appointment is that the position was not vacant. Cardinal Fernando Filoni, a widely respected diplomat famous for being the only ambassador not to leave Baghdad during the 2003 Iraq War, is 18 months shy of his 75th birthday and two years shy of completing his second five-year term. Given that Cardinal Tagle is only 62, the retirement of Cardinal Filoni and his replacement by Cardinal Tagle could have taken place in the normal course of events soon enough.

But the Holy Father must have felt a great urgency to get Cardinal Tagle into “Prop,” as the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples is still known in Rome, an abbreviation for its old Latin name, Propaganda Fide.

Popes don’t get to name their successors, but that didn’t stop the speculation that Cardinal Tagle’s appointment was Pope Francis attempting to do just that.

It’s without basis; after all, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio would never have become pope in the first place if Benedict XVI had the power to choose; it would have almost certainly been Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan.

In any case, the decisions made by the cardinals in the conclave are determined by the circumstances that emerge in the days immediately beforehand.

Cardinal Tagle’s potential as a future pope will depend now, in his new role, to a greater degree on what the cardinals think about the current pontificate at the next conclave. If they have a favorable impression perhaps Cardinal Tagle will seem more attractive. If they have a negative impression, the opposite will be true. In any case, that will be determined then, not now.

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