TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 191 – Embracing The True Season Of Advent & Dr. Popcak On Finding Christmas Joy Amidst Grief As we prepare our hearts heading into the last week of Advent, the TCA team talks ways to simplify the holiday season, embracing what is most meaningful and letting go of the stress. As so many are suffering this winter dealing with sorrow and loss, Dr. Gregory Popcak offers sage advice on dealing with grief as we look to the true joy of Christmas in Christ Incarnate. Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily to prepare us for this Sunday’s Gospel. Catch the show every Saturday at 7amET/5pm ET on EWTN radio! 1. The Trials of Jimmy Lai, By The Wall Street Journal, December 16, 2022, Pg. A16, Editorial Newspaper publisher Jimmy Lai’s trial on national security charges has been delayed until September. Already he has been convicted on trumped-up charges of business fraud and participating in unlawful protests. But even from his prison cell, Mr. Lai is embarrassing Hong Kong authorities, who have to keep changing the rules to get him. On Monday White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan put it bluntly. “What’s just happened with respect to Jimmy Lai is a—in our view, a violation of the basic law and the commitments that China made with respect to autonomy for Hong Kong.” Two days earlier, after Mr. Lai was handed a 69-month sentence on his fraud conviction, State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted that the U.S. condemns the “grossly unjust outcome.”  This is the way a banana republic operates, twisting the law any way it can to punish a designated political target. Hong Kong’s obsession with rigging everything to convict Jimmy Lai is exposed for everyone to see. 2. Traditional Marriage Gets Some Respect, By Daniel Frost, The Wall Street Journal, December 16, 2022, Pg. A17, Opinion In the oral argument for Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), one exchange set off alarm bells among social conservatives. Justice Samuel Alito asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli if the legalization of same-sex marriage could cause universities and colleges to lose their tax-exempt status if they didn’t recognize same-sex marriage—as Bob Jones University had for prohibiting interracial dating in the 1970s. Mr. Verrilli’s answer was ominous for institutions with traditional views on sex and marriage. “It’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that,” he said. “It is—it is going to be an issue.” Mr. Verrilli stumbled, but a simple one-word answer would’ve been enough: No. The hypothetical, which put opposition to interracial marriage on the same plane as opposition to same-sex marriage, was spurious. The court ruled against the school in Bob Jones University v. U.S. (1983) because all three branches of the federal government had a “firm national policy to prohibit racial segregation and discrimination in public education.” This consensus led the justices to conclude that “racially discriminatory educational institutions cannot be viewed as conferring a public benefit” and therefore aren’t entitled to tax-exempt status.  The Respect for Marriage Act, which President Biden signed on Tuesday, puts the Bob Jones analogy to rest even as it affirms the legality of same-sex marriage. Now all three branches of government are on record affirming that belief in traditional marriage is “decent and honorable.” It isn’t only explicit in the legislation’s text, which protects tax-exempt status for “an otherwise eligible entity or person.” Every Supreme Court justice who joined the majority in Obergefell, every Democrat in Congress and President Biden himself have unanimously affirmed that believing in traditional marriage need not be based in bigotry.  Social conservatives shouldn’t forget what Democrats agreed to in the Respect for Marriage Act. They shouldn’t let Democrats forget it, either. Mr. Frost is director of public scholarship at Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life. 3. Pope returns Greece’s Parthenon Sculptures in ecumenical nod, By Associated Press, December 16, 2022, 6:49 AM Pope Francis has decided to send back to Greece the three fragments of Parthenon Sculptures that the Vatican Museums have held for centuries, the Vatican announced Friday. The Vatican termed the gesture a “donation” from the pope to His Beatitude Ieronymos II, the Orthodox Christian archbishop of Athens and all Greece, “as a concrete sign of his sincere desire to follow in the ecumenical path of truth.” The Vatican thus becomes the latest Western state to return its fragments of the Parthenon marbles, leaving the British Museum among the holdouts. But the Vatican statement suggested the Holy See wanted to make clear that it was not a bilateral decision to return the marbles from the Vatican state to Greece, but rather a religiously inspired donation. The statement may have been worded in order not to create a precedent that could affect other priceless holdings in the Vatican Museums. 4. Abortion Clinics Shouldn’t Have to Stand Alone, By Sarah Green Carmichael, Bloomberg, December 16, 2022, 9:54 AM, Analysis Today, almost all — 96% — abortion procedures take place in clinics, not in hospitals or doctor’s offices. And many of those clinics are closing. Data from the Abortion Care Network estimate that the number of independent clinics in the US fell 35% over the last 10 years and that the pace of closure doubled in 2022, after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade. That has put enormous strain on the clinics that are still operating. After bans took effect in neighboring states, North Carolina saw a 37% increase in the number of abortions performed; Kansas, 36%; Colorado, 33%. Some providers now see 50 abortion patients per 12-hour shift, more than double the number they saw before Dobbs. And thousands of women haven’t been able to get the abortions they need; in just the two months following the decision, an estimated 10,000 women continued pregnancies they would have otherwise ended. This got me wondering: Why do we rely so heavily on abortion clinics? Why isn’t abortion accessible through the same channels we use for other prescriptions or outpatient procedures? And in a country where 1 in 10 women traveled out of state to terminate pregnancies before Dobbs, why can’t doctor’s offices and hospitals pick up more of the load?  For decades, these facilities have done vital work, not only offering abortion care but also mammograms, birth control and treatment for sexually transmitted infections — plus defending reproductive rights in court. But our nation’s battered network of abortion clinics shouldn’t have to stand alone. The rest of the medical establishment, from individual doctors to hospital systems to health agencies, should stand with them. Doing so would send an unambiguous message: Abortion is health care. 5. Jesuit case underscores secrecy, leniency for abuse of women, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 15, 2022, 1:33 PM Revelations that the Vatican let a famous priest off the hook twice for abusing his authority over adult women has exposed two main weaknesses in the Holy See’s abuse policies: sexual and spiritual misconduct against adult women is rarely if ever punished, and secrecy still reigns supreme, especially when powerful priests are involved. The Jesuit order, to which Pope Francis belongs, was forced to admit Wednesday that its initial statements about the Rev. Marko Ivan Rupnik, an internationally recognized religious artist, were less than complete. The order had said Rupnik was accused in 2021 of unspecified problems “in the way he exercised his ministry” but that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith determined the allegations were too old to prosecute. But under questioning by journalists, the Jesuit superior general, the Rev. Arturo Sosa, acknowledged the Congregation had prosecuted Rupnik for a separate, prior case from 2019 that ended with his conviction and temporary excommunication for one of the gravest crimes in the church’s in-house canon law: that he used the confessional to absolve a woman with whom he previously had sexual relations. 6. Pro-life groups seeking Nebraska abortion ban refuse to yield to Jane’s Revenge gunfire threats, By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, December 15, 2022, Pg. A1 The first note threatened to “shoot up” a Catholic student center if pro-lifers succeed in their quest to ban abortions within the city limits of Bellevue, Nebraska. A second note was found taped to the door of an evangelical Christian church. The FBI and police are investigating the messages claiming to be from radical pro-choice group Jane’s Revenge, which has taken responsibility for nearly two dozen attacks this year on pro-life facilities and churches nationwide. The group said in a July post on that “the attacks will surely continue with increasing frequency.”  Threats are nothing unusual to the pro-life movement in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the 1973 ruling that made abortion a federal constitutional right and returned the issue to the states. At least 177 churches, pro-life pregnancy centers, offices and churches have been vandalized since the draft opinion was leaked on May 2. Three centers were firebombed. A pro-life canvasser was shot in September as she went door to door in Lake Odessa, Michigan. The man who shot the canvasser was charged with assault. He said it was an accident. The FBI has announced no arrests in the attacks on the pro-life facilities, frustrating the movement’s leaders. 7. Africa’s leaders gather in DC as religious persecution in Nigeria is still being ignored, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, December 15, 2022, 9:04 AM As President Joe Biden welcomes leaders from over 40 African nations this week, religious freedom advocates are calling for the U.S. government to recognize the rising persecution of Christians in Nigeria. The U.S. Africa Leaders Summit will meet through Thursday, Dec. 15, in the nation’s capital. Among other African leaders, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been welcomed by Biden despite recent controversy surrounding Nigeria’s handling of religious violence. Persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, including minority sects within Islam, is on the rise in Nigeria, according to religious and human rights organizations, including Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Yet, for the second year in a row, the United States Department of State has excluded Nigeria from its religious freedom violations list of “countries of particular concern” (CPC). According to Sean Nelson of ADF, the CPC list is “the most powerful tool the U.S. government has to influence the religious freedom situation in other countries.” Many, including ADF and the USCIRF, were shocked and outraged by the State Department’s decision to leave Nigeria off the list. “Removing Nigeria from the CPC list has led to the emboldening of Islamic terrorists, radical militants, and other extremists who kill, torture, and abduct Christians, as well as Muslims who reject extremism,” an ADF petition to include Nigeria on the CPC list stated. In a Dec. 2 statement, USCIRF announced it is “tremendously disappointed that the Secretary of State did not implement our recommendations and recognize the severity of the religious freedom violations that both USCIRF and the State Department have documented in (Nigeria).” Making its position very clear, USCIRF stated that “there is no justification for the State Department’s failure to recognize Nigeria.” 8. Vatican confirms papal apology, Russia praises ‘ability to admit mistakes’, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, December 15, 2022 Confirming remarks by a Russian government spokesperson, the Vatican said Thursday that Pope Francis has apologized for controversial recent remarks that Russian minorities are responsible for the most “cruel” acts in the ongoing war in Ukraine. In a statement to journalists Dec. 15, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said, “I can confirm, regarding the comments made by the Russians about the apology from the Vatican, that there have been diplomatic contacts in this regard.” Bruni’s statement came after Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova at a briefing in Moscow said that, “A message has been received from the Vatican through diplomatic channels, which contains an official statement on behalf of the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Pietro Parolin, in connection with the statement of the Pope.” This message, Zakharova said, states that the Vatican’s Secretariat of State “apologizes to the Russian side” and voices the Holy See’s “deep respect for all the peoples of Russia, their dignity, faith and culture, as well as for other countries and peoples of the world.”

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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