TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 139 – Montse Alvarado On A Post-Roe World & Father Roger Landry On Advent In The Holy Land Dr. Grazie Christie and co-host and TCA colleague Ashley McGuire catch up with Montse Alvarado, host of EWTN News In Depth about the most important religious freedom cases that marked this year including the impending Dobbs decision and what a post-Roe world might look like. The executive director of the Becket Fund also touches on why women are at the helm of the pro-life movement. Before offering an inspiring homily, Father Roger Landry joins taking us on a virtual pilgrimage to the Holy Land as we prepare our hearts and minds this Advent to meet Christ in mystery and majesty. Catch the show every Saturday at 7amET/5pm ET on EWTN radio! 1. US regulators lift in-person restrictions on abortion pill, By Matthew Perrone, Associated Press, December 17, 2021, 8:41 PM The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday permanently removed a major obstacle for women seeking abortion pills, eliminating a long-standing requirement that they pick up the medication in person. Millions of American women will now be able to get a prescription via an online consultation and receive the pills through the mail. FDA officials said a scientific review supported broadening access, including no longer limiting dispensing to a small number of specialty clinics and doctor’s offices.  The effect will vary by state. More than a dozen Republican-led states have passed measures that limit access to the pills, including outlawing delivery by mail. 2. Pope at 85: No more Mr Nice Guy, as reform hits stride, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 17, 2021, 6:30 AM Pope Francis celebrated his 85th birthday on Friday, a milestone made even more remarkable given the coronavirus pandemic, his summertime intestinal surgery and the weight of history: His predecessor retired at this age and the last pope to have lived any longer was Leo XIII over a century ago. Yet Francis is going strong, recently concluding a whirlwind trip to Cyprus and Greece after his pandemic-defying jaunts this year to Iraq, Slovakia and Hungary. He has set in motion an unprecedented two-year consultation of rank-and-file Catholics on making the church more attuned to the laity, and shows no sign of slowing down on his campaign to make the post-COVID world a more environmentally sustainable, economically just and fraternal place where the poor are prioritized.  After spending the first eight years of his papacy gently nudging Catholic hierarchs to embrace financial prudence and responsible governance, Francis got tough this year, and appears poised to keep it that way. 3. Report: 11 executions in 2021 mark three-decade low, By Michael Tarm, Associated Press, December 16, 2021 States and the federal government carried out 11 executions this year, the fewest since 1988, as support for the death penalty has continued to decline. That’s according to an annual report on the death penalty released Thursday, which was also sharply critical of the Supreme Court and its role in green-lighting executions.  The federal death penalty was put on hold in June by Attorney General Merrick Garland, well short of the permanent abolition activists hoped for when Joe Biden became the first sitting U.S. president to have openly opposed the death penalty. State executions continue despite growing numbers of Americans opposed to the death penalty.  Support for the death penalty, meanwhile, has plummeted from a high of 80% in 1994 to 54% this year, according to a 2021 Gallup poll cited in the report. Since the mid-1990s, opposition has risen from under 20% to around 45% now.  Despite a campaign pledge to decisively end executions, Biden hasn’t addressed the issue publicly as president. The report noted he hasn’t backed legislation to strike the death penalty from U.S. statutes. 4. Supreme Court returns Texas abortion case to appeals court, By Mark Sherman, Associated Press, December 16, 2021 The Supreme Court has formally returned a lawsuit over Texas’ six-week abortion ban to a federal appeals court that has twice allowed the law to stay in effect, rather than to a district judge who sought to block it. Justice Neil Gorsuch on Thursday signed the court’s order that granted the request of abortion clinics for the court to act speedily. But the clinics wanted the case sent directly to U.S. Judge Robert Pitman, who had previously though briefly blocked enforcement of the Texas abortion ban known as S.B. 8. 5. Pro-life advocates decry FDA decision allowing women to get abortion pills by mail, By Katie Yoder, Catholic News Agency, December 16, 2021, 3:42 PM The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lifted restrictions on mifepristone, a drug approved for use in medical abortions, on Thursday.  The FDA’s move drew pointed criticism from Catholic leaders and pro-life groups. “Every life is sacred: the lives of mothers and the lives of the unborn. Not only does this decision further the tragic taking of unborn lives but it does little to care for the well-being of women in need,” Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said in a statement. “Far from the accompaniment that women in crisis pregnancies deserve, this decision would leave women alone in the midst of trauma, often without any medical attention or follow up care,” Lori said. “One of the essential tasks of governments is to safeguard the health and well-being of citizens,” he continued. “As such, the FDA ought to act to protect the lives and health of mothers and children, rather than merely succumbing to the abortion industry’s pressure to loosen safety standards.” 6. Pew survey: Half of U.S. Catholics pray every day, and the number is dropping, By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, December 16, 2021, 5:44 PM A new survey of U.S. adults found that 51% of Catholics pray every day, down from 59% from 2014. Meanwhile, the portion of Americans with no religious affiliation continues to rise. Those are some of the highlights of a new Pew Research Center survey, which focuses on changes in the U.S. religious landscape. The responses show that much of America is still religious, but significantly less than it once was.  Although just 51% of Catholics pray every day, 29% reported praying weekly or monthly, Pew found. Much of that prayer must be happening at home or somewhere else each week, though, because only 26% of Catholics report attending religious services at least once a week. By comparison, 61% of Protestants reported praying every day, while 22% say they pray weekly or monthly. Only 10% of Protestants seldom or never pray.  A little less than 10% of Catholics attend religious services once or twice a month. That leaves the far majority of Catholics, 65%, only attending religious services a few times a year or less. While the majority are infrequent attendees, only 14% of Catholics said they “never” attend.

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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