TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 243 – How Our Lady Of Guadalupe Miraculously Fulfilled A Prophecy & Jerry Jenkins Talks The Chosen! As we celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe this week, we hear about a new book entitled: Guadalupe and the Flower World Prophecy. Joseph and Monique Gonzalez trace how God prepared the Americas for conversion before Our Lady even appeared. We also chat with Jerry Jenkins about The Chosen and his book series that fleshes out the show’s characters even more–in an effort to share the Gospel message with even more fans of the show. Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily to prepare us for this Sunday’s Gospel. Catch the show every Saturday ay 7amET/5pmET on EWTN radio! 1. Pope says priests can bless same-sex unions, requests should not be subject to moral analysis, By Associated Press, December 18, 2023, 9:06 AM Pope Francis has formally approved allowing priests to bless same-sex couples, with a new document explaining a radical change in Vatican policy by insisting that people seeking God’s love and mercy shouldn’t be subject to “an exhaustive moral analysis” to receive it. The document from the Vatican’s doctrine office, released Monday, elaborates on a letter Francis sent to two conservative cardinals that was published in October. In that preliminary response, Francis suggested such blessings could be offered under some circumstances if they didn’t confuse the ritual with the sacrament of marriage. The new document repeats that rationale and elaborates on it, reaffirming that marriage is a lifelong sacrament between a man and a woman. And it stresses that blessings should not be conferred at the same time as a civil union or even with the clothing and gestures that belong in a wedding. 2. The fight to move the Catholic Church in America to the right — and the little-known O.C. lawyer behind it, By Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times, December 18, 2023, 3:00 AM  Among rank-and-file American Catholics, Francis is enormously popular as he enters the second decade of his papacy, with 84% of weekly Massgoers holding a favorable opinion of him. But as he nudges the global church left, an elite group of U.S. conservatives led by Busch is trying to pull the American church right. From an office a few blocks from John Wayne Airport, Busch, 69, has helped steer this small but powerful faction of Trump-aligned Republicans through a nonprofit he created, the Napa Institute, to rally conservative Catholics. They distrust Francis’ approach to LGBTQ+ people and the divorced, and bristle at how he has framed liberal priorities like climate change and economic inequality as “pro-life” issues on the level of abortion.  Busch declined interview requests. In an emailed response, he wrote that he and his affiliates “universally recognize Pope Francis as the Vicar of Christ, pray for him, and understand the obedience that is owed to the Holy Father, regardless of whatever spirited and respectful dialogue and debate there might be regarding the contours of our faith and morals.” Busch’s influence stretches across Catholic America from its largest archdiocese, Los Angeles — he calls Archbishop José Gomez “one of my closest advisors” — to South Bend, Ind., where his institute has funded lectures at the University of Notre Dame by conservatives like Justice Clarence Thomas, to Washington, D.C.  Those who know Busch said he is motivated by a sincere and deep faith, and at times it has led him to break from the expected conservative path. In 2017, as the Trump administration began separating migrant families at the southern border, Busch invited Gomez to speak in defense of immigrants to a symposium of Catholic conservatives in D.C. When contacted by The Times for this story, friends said Busch had recently developed his own worries about divisions in the church and was quietly working to address the discord that some blame at least partially on him. Earlier this year, he initiated a meeting with the progressive American priest Father James Martin, an advisor to Francis reviled in right-wing circles for his advocacy for gay Catholics. And, they said, Busch this fall began inviting people of diverse political viewpoints to monthly dinners. “Tim hates the polarization,” said Father Roger Landry, the Catholic chaplain at Columbia University. “Tim wants to fix the polarization.” 3. Pro-Life Laws Continue to Have an Impact: What the Numbers Are Saying About Births and Abortions Post-Dobbs, Studies tracking births and abortions post-Dobbs indicate that pro-life laws are making a real difference despite a possible increase in abortions nationwide., By Lauretta Brown, National Catholic Register, December 18, 2023, Opinion While pro-life battles continue in the states in the year and a half since Roe v. Wade was overturned, early data indicates that tens of thousands of babies have been born as a result of the strong pro-life laws subsequently barring most abortions in 14 states. At the same time, one study found an increase in abortions nationwide since the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe in June 2022. A November study based on preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that “in the first six months of 2023, births rose by an average of 2.3 percent in states enforcing total abortion bans compared to a control group of states where abortion rights remained protected, amounting to approximately 32,000 additional annual births resulting from abortion bans.” Michael New, associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of SBA Pro-Life America, told the Register that this study, commissioned by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, is just the latest showing that “pro-life laws have resulted in an increase in children being born.” New noted that while abortions can be “very hard to count” since some women will travel across state lines to obtain them or use chemical abortion pills through the mail, births are easy to count. “When we see good evidence that births are going up, that’s good, solid evidence that more pregnancies are being carried to term because of these pro-life laws,” he said.  The study found that effects “vary substantially across ban states, with much larger effects observed in states that are bordered by other ban states and hence have long travel distances to reach facilities that remain open.” In Texas, for example, the study found a 5.1% increase in birth rates; and in Mississippi, there was a 4.4% increase. 4. Pope Francis’ 87th birthday closes out a big year of efforts to reform the church, cement his legacy, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 17, 2023, 12:35 PM Pope Francis turned 87 on Sunday, closing out a year that saw big milestones in his efforts to reform the Catholic Church as well as health scares that raise questions about his future as pope.  One early present came Saturday, when a Vatican tribunal handed down a mix of guilty verdicts and acquittals in a complicated trial that Francis had supported as evidence of his financial reforms. The biggest-name defendant, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, was convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to 5½ years in prison.  Only seven popes are known to have been older than Francis at the time of their deaths, according to the online resource Catholic Hierarchy.  While Francis’ health scares punctuated his 87th year, perhaps the biggest milestone of all, and one that is likely to shape the remainder of Francis’ pontificate, was Benedict’s Dec. 31 death. Benedict largely stuck to his promise to live “hidden to the world” and allow Francis to govern unimpeded. But his death after 10 years of retirement removed the shadow of a more conservative pope looking over Francis’ shoulder from the other side of the Vatican gardens. His death has seemingly freed up Francis to accelerate his reform agenda and crack down on his right-wing opponents. For starters, Francis presided over the first stage of his legacy-making meeting on the future of the Catholic Church. The synod aims to make the church more inclusive and reflective of and responsive to the needs of rank-and-file Catholics. The first session ended with “urgent” calls to include women in decision-making roles in the church. The next phase is scheduled for October 2024.  Alongside the synod, Francis this year appointed an unusually progressive theologian as the Vatican’s chief doctrine watchdog, and he has already begun setting a very new tone for the church’s teachings that could have big effects on the church going forward. Cardinal Victor Fernandez has issued decrees on everything from how to care for cremated ashes (in a defined and sacred place) to membership in Masonic lodges (forbidden) and whether transgender people can be godparents (they can).  At the same time, Francis has begun hitting back at his conservative critics, for whom Benedict was a point of reference for the past 10 years. Francis exiled Benedict’s longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, to his native Germany after a series of infractions culminating with a tell-all memoir published in the days after Benedict’s death that was highly critical of Francis. Then, he forcibly removed the bishop of Tyler, Texas, Bishop Joseph Strickland, whose social media posts were highly critical of the pope. And most recently, he cut off the former Vatican high court judge, Cardinal Raymond Burke, after he warned that Francis’ reform-minded synod risked dividing the faithful. 5. Ex-Jesuit’s religious community in Slovenia ordered to dissolve in one year over widespread abuse, By Associated Press, December 17, 2023, 7:37 AM The Vatican has decided to shut down a Slovenian-based female religious community founded by a controversial ex-Jesuit artist accused by some women of spiritual, psychological and sexual abuses. The archdiocese of Ljubljana, Slovenia said in a statement Friday that the Loyola Community would have one year to implement the Oct.20 decree ordering its dissolution. The reason given was because of “serious problems concerning the exercise of authority and the way of living together.” The dissolution of the community was the latest chapter in the saga of the Rev. Marko Rupnik, a once-famous Jesuit artist and preacher whose mosaics decorate churches and basilicas around the world. __________________________________________________________ 6. Cardinal is convicted of embezzlement in big Vatican financial trial, sentenced to 5½ years, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 16, 2023, 5:58 PM A Vatican tribunal on Saturday convicted a cardinal of embezzlement and sentenced him to 5½ years in prison in one of several verdicts handed down in a complicated financial trial that aired the city state’s dirty laundry and tested its justice system. Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the first cardinal ever prosecuted by the Vatican criminal court, was absolved of several other charges and his nine co-defendants received a mixed outcome of some guilty verdicts and many acquittals of the nearly 50 charges brought against them during a 2½ year trial. Becciu’s lawyer, Fabio Viglione, said he respected the sentence but would appeal.Prosecutor Alessandro Diddi said the outcome “showed we were correct.” The trial focused on the Vatican secretariat of state’s 350 million euro investment in developing a former Harrod’s warehouse into luxury apartments. Prosecutors alleged Vatican monsignors and brokers fleeced the Holy See of tens of millions of euros in fees and commissions and then extorted the Holy See for 15 million euros to cede control of the building. __________________________________________________________ 7. Order blocking enforcement of Ohio abortion ban stands after high court dismisses appeal, By Associated Press, December 16, 2023, 1:20 PM The Ohio Supreme Court has dismissed the state’s challenge to a judge’s order that has blocked enforcement of Ohio’s near-ban on abortions for the past 14 months. The ruling moves action in the case back to Hamilton County Common Pleas, where abortion clinics asked Judge Christian Jenkins this week to throw out the law following voters’ decision to approve enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution. The high court on Friday said the appeal was “ dismissed due to a change in the law.” The justices in March agreed to review a county judge’s order that blocked enforcement of the abortion restriction and to consider whether clinics had legal standing to challenge the law. They ultimately denied Republican Attorney General Dave Yost’s request that they launch their own review of the constitutional right to abortion, leaving such arguments for a lower court. 8. Christian population shrinking in China amid ‘crackdown’, By Zelda Caldwell, Catholic News Agency, December 15, 2023, 4:45 PM The size of the Christian population in China has leveled off after the dramatic increases of the 1980s and 1990s, according to a Pew Research Center analysis released this week.This finding, human rights activists and scholars told CNA, is not surprising given the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) efforts in recent years to suppress the practice of Christianity. China had witnessed a dramatic growth in Christianity in the 1980s and 1990s when restrictions on the practice of religion that were imposed during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s were relaxed. Between 1982 and 1997, the number of Christians worshipping in registered churches more than doubled, from 6 million to 14 million, according to the Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS). In comparison, the general population saw 22% growth during the same time period. This week’s survey, conducted by academic organizations in China, found that growth come to a virtual standstill in recent years. Between 2010 and 2018 the number of adults identifying as Christian held steady at about 2% and in 2021 fell to 1%. 9. Salesian priest stabbed to death in Democratic Republic of the Congo, By Abel Camasca, Catholic News Agency, December 15, 2023, 6:45 PM The Salesian News Agency (ANS) reported the murder of Salesian missionary Father Léopold Feyen in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), on Dec. 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. According to the Vatican news agency Fides, the 82-year-old priest was stabbed several times in his bedroom in Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in the municipality of Masina just east of Kinshasa. The Salesians said that Feyen was known locally as “Koko Pol” and had health problems. He did not hold any leadership position, but “he supervised the management of the orchards cultivated to produce fruits and vegetables for schools.” “In so many years of work, he dedicated his life to young people, especially those most in need, with the heart of the Good Shepherd, becoming for them, like Don Bosco, ‘father, teacher, and friend,’” the Salesians highlighted. __________________________________________________________

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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