TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 244 – Archbishop Cordileone On A Very Marian Advent & Keara Burke On Losing A Child To Trisomy 18 As we head into the last weekend of Advent and prepare our hearts for the Nativity of Our Lord, Archbishop Cordileone joins on ways to spend our last days of Advent with Mary, sharing two new Advent carols, including a musical version of setting G.K. Chesterton’s poem, ‘A Christmas Carol.’ With a Texas abortion case making headlines recently, Mary Fiorito introduces us to Keara Burke who tells us all about her son Rory who lived a short 6 days after being born with Trisomy 18. Burke shares her own journey and what we can learn when we follow God’s will over our own. Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily for not only the last Sunday of Advent but Christmas day! Catch the show every Saturday at 7amET/5pmET on EWTN radio! 1. Vatican prosecutor appeals verdict that largely dismantled his fraud case but convicted cardinal, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 22, 2023, 3:10 AM The Vatican’s chief prosecutor has appealed a court verdict that largely dismantled his theory of a grand conspiracy to defraud the Holy See of millions of euros but found a cardinal guilty of embezzlement. Prosecutor Alessandro Diddi filed his appeal earlier this week, days after the three-judge tribunal issued its verdict in a complicated financial trial that aired the Vatican’s dirty laundry and tested the peculiar legal system in an absolute monarchy in the center of Europe. While the headline from Saturday’s verdict focused on Cardinal Angelo Becciu’s 5 ½-year sentence for embezzlement, the meat of the ruling made clear that the judges rejected most of Diddi’s 487-page indictment. Diddi had accused Becciu and nine other people of dozens of counts of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, extortion, corruption, abuse of office and witness tampering in connection with the Vatican’s bungled investment in a London property. 2. Quiet Talks, Loud Defiance and the Pontiff’s Gift, By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, December 22, 2023, Pg. A1 In March 2021, as stunned L.G.B.T.Q. Catholics grappled with a Vatican document approved by Pope Francis that ruled against blessing same-sex unions, one of his confidants, who is gay, says they spoke on the phone. Juan Carlos Cruz, a sexual abuse survivor who had befriended the pope over years of conversations, says that Francis, who had just returned from Iraq, gave him the sense that the Vatican “machine” had gotten ahead of him in the ruling; it stated that God “cannot bless sin.” But he says Francis “acknowledged that the buck stops with him. I got the impression that he wanted to fix it.” For Mr. Cruz, who visited Francis for his 87th birthday over the weekend, and for many L.G.B.T.Q. Catholics, Francis did just that this week. He signed off on a major declaration by the same Vatican office on church doctrine that had issued the negative ruling two years before. The new rule allows priests to bless same-sex couples as long as the blessing is not connected to the ceremony of a same-sex union, to avoid confusion with the sacrament of marriage. While the declaration does not change church teaching that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered,” it is a concrete sign of acceptance for a portion of the faithful that the church has long castigated. Now, as liberals celebrate and same-sex couples begin receiving public blessings, some are wondering why the pope delivered the groundbreaking rule now, more than a decade after he started his pontificate with a resoundingly inclusive message on gay issues. “Who am I to judge?” he famously said in 2013, when asked about a priest rumored to be gay. People who have talked to him over the years and Vatican analysts say Francis’ thinking evolved through frequent private conversations with L.G.B.T.Q. Catholics and the priests and nuns who minister to them. It was a long process, filled with fits and starts, but also the result of a gradual reorganization of the church by Francis, including the recent appointment to top jobs of like-minded churchmen who were amenable to the changes. The death last year of his conservative predecessor freed the pope’s hand, experts say, but they also believe that the overreach of Vatican antagonists — who sought to box Francis in — played a part, backfiring spectacularly. 3. A Haven From the Ivy League’s Madness, By Greg Weiner, The Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2023, Pg. A7, Opinion The debate over antisemitism at elite universities has largely missed the point. The most important question isn’t how academic administrators respond to antisemitism but why the educations they provide seem to foster such hatred. For American Jews, the question cuts deeper: Given our traditional love of learning, do we care about the quality of education or only the prestige of the institutions providing it?   That lawmakers had to ask about students’ genocidal sympathies at all reveals that some of our most prestigious universities are abjectly failing to cultivate virtue or wisdom.  American Jews thus must re-evaluate whether elite institutions—whose obsession with selectivity perversely grounds their prestige in the proportion of students they refuse to teach rather than how they actually educate—truly reflect our belief in the importance of learning. These institutions have largely abandoned their responsibility to form morally circumspect and intellectually curious citizens by engaging the permanent questions of the human condition. Those tending the lamp of this education are often Catholic, such as Assumption University, where I serve as the first Jewish president of a Catholic college in the U.S. Most of us aren’t elite by common metrics, and many effectively combine the liberal arts with professional preparation. These institutions haven’t, by and large, been scenes of raging antisemitism. That isn’t because Catholic schools oppose bigotry or because their intellectual traditions share many premises and sources with Jewish ones, though they do. Rather it’s because they avoid the heat of contemporary events and instead fix their attention on enduring questions. Their students are invited to ancient and continuing conversations about the true and good. They confront challenging books, not politicized mobs.  The Catholic intellectual tradition is one of open inquiry. Like its Jewish counterpart, it sees human beings as oriented toward reason expressed in language with one another. In the Torah, words are the instrument of creation. God doesn’t simply create light: He says, “Let there be light.” Similarly, in the Gospel, St. John retells the creation story of Genesis by stating that “in the beginning was the word.” In the original Greek, “word” is logos—the idea of reason expressed in speech, one of the foundations of Catholic education.  For Jews in the U.S., admission to elite universities has historically meant a hard-earned entry into the American mainstream. Now that we are finding we are less welcome than we had assumed in these universities and the mainstream, we might consider which institutions will fulfill our traditional love of learning. American Jews will find fewer markers of social prestige on the Catholic liberal-arts campuses that take their mission seriously. But we may also find better education and, united in a love of truth and an openness to learning, more reliable friends. Mr. Weiner is president of Assumption University. 4. Church for ‘nones’: Anti-dogma spiritual collectives emerge across the U.S., These spiritual communities discard doctrine, prefer questions over answers and have no intention of converting anybody to anything, By Kathryn Post, The Washington Post, December 21, 2023, 9:53 AM  Vinings Lake is one of a handful of spiritual communities across the United States sprouting from the soil of the exvangelical and deconstruction movements. While their Sunday morning gatherings retain the basic structure of many Christian services — music, teachings, fellowship — these collectives reject dogma, prefer questions over answers and have no intention of converting anybody to anything. Here, LGBTQ inclusion is not up for debate, people of all faiths and no faiths are welcome, and Jesus can be a savior, a radical rabbi or a metaphor, depending on your spiritual inclination. Although they are few, these communities also are emblematic of a larger groundswell of spiritual “nones” searching for new forms of ritual and belonging. __________________________________________________________ 5. New York bill could interfere with Chick-fil-A’s long-standing policy to close Sundays, By Maysoon Khan, Associated Press, December 21, 2023, 5:32 PM New York lawmakers have introduced a bill that would require restaurants in state highway system rest areas to operate seven days a week, a measure apparently aimed at interfering with a policy at the fast food chain Chick-fil-A of staying closed on Sundays. The bill, introduced last week, is yet another salvo in a yearslong political battle involving the company, whose late founder Truett Cathy infused its business practices with his conservative Christian values. Loved by many for its chicken sandwiches, but disliked by others over its founder’s opposition to same-sex marriage, Chick-fil-A has always kept its locations closed on Sundays so employees can enjoy time with their families and “worship if they choose,” according to the company’s website. While the bill, if passed, would apply to all restaurants, Chick-fil-A is mentioned by name in some written legislative materials explaining the justification for the proposed law. __________________________________________________________ 6. Ohio governor visits hospitals, talks to families as decision on gender-affirming care ban looms, By Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press, December 21, 2023, 4:02 PM Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has been visiting hospitals and speaking with families helped and harmed by gender-affirming care as he decides what action to take on legislation preventing minors from obtaining such treatments, he told The Associated Press in a year-end interview Thursday. “I’m trying to learn as much as I can to make a good decision,” he said during the sitdown at the Governor’s Residence, where he also discussed implementation of the state’s new recreational marijuana law, term limits, abortionthe death penalty and the 2024 U.S. Senate race. DeWine has until Dec. 29 to either sign or veto the gender-affirming care bill, which also blocks transgender student athletes from playing girls’ and women’s sports, or he can allow it to become law without his signature. 7. The belles of St. Mary’s: College rescinds transgender policy, By Michelle La Rosa, The Pillar, December 21, 2023, 2:10 PM St. Mary’s College, a women’s college in South Bend, Indiana, has decided not to implement its plan to enroll male students who identify as female. The change was announced in a Dec. 21 email to the college community, written by president Katie Conboy and chair of the board Maureen Karantz Smith. The college leaders cited division in the community over the planned policy change. “When the Board approved this update, we viewed it as a reflection of our College’s commitment to live our Catholic values as a loving and just community. We believed it affirmed our identity as an inclusive, Catholic, women’s college,” the letter said. “It is increasingly clear, however, that the position we took is not shared by all members of our community. Some worried that this was much more than a policy decision: they felt it was a dilution of our mission or even a threat to our Catholic identity,” it continued. “Moreover, we clearly underestimated our community’s genuine desire to be engaged in the process of shaping a policy of such significance.” The college leaders apologized for the division in the community and announced an upcoming series of listening sessions “to explore what it means to embrace our values as a Catholic, women’s college.” They reiterated their commitment to moving forward on the “journey toward equity, inclusion, and justice.” 8. Second bishop detained by the dictatorship in Nicaragua, By Diego Lopez Marina, Catholic News Agency, December 21, 2023, 3:15 PM The Nicaraguan police arrested on Dec. 20 the bishop of Siuna, Isidoro del Carmen Mora Ortega, making him the second prelate arrested by the dictatorship headed by President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo. The arrest of Mora, 63, came a day after the bishop celebrated a Mass in Matagalpa and asked people to pray for their bishop, Rolando Álvarez, who was placed under house arrest in August 2022 and unjustly sentenced to 26 years and four months in prison in February this year. Currently Álvarez is imprisoned in the prison known as “La Modelo,” where political prisoners of the regime are commonly sent. 9. Protect Life, Decline to Sign, By Grazie Pozo Christie, Townhall, December 21, 2023, Opinion If you are leaving a shopping center in Florida, or you have stopped for gas at a turnpike rest stop, you may be approached by someone collecting signatures. It happened to me one day a couple of weeks ago. A man in a blue vest asked me if I was a Floridian and a voter. When I said yes, he told me that with enough signatures we could put an amendment in the state constitution “To keep women safe.” Those were his words. When I pressed him for details, I learned the truth. And I declined to sign.    The amendment that the ACLU and other abortion activists are pushing to get on the ballot for 2024 would, if passed, do the very opposite of keep women safe. It would endanger women and eliminate all the commonsense medical safeguards that have been established to protect them. Let me explain.  The proposed amendment states: “No law shall prohibit, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.”    The implications of this language are vast. Any reasonable medical guardrail around a chemical or surgical abortion would be prohibited – for instance, a pre-procedure ultrasound is currently required to determine the age and location of the baby. This is a non-invasive test that only takes a few minutes, but it is vital, as it eliminates the grave risk of attempting a chemical abortion on a baby already too large or ectopically located. Maternal hemorrhage, sepsis and even death have resulted from chemical abortion under these conditions. As a radiologist, every day I’m called on to use ultrasound to “date” a pregnancy for an expectant mother who is unsure when her last period was. This is extremely common, especially in younger women and teens. And I’m always on the look-out for an ectopic pregnancy which is an emergency.  Of course, if you are running an abortion business, the ultrasound requirement simply cuts into profit by adding to the cost of the procedure in time, equipment and personnel. But there’s no doubt it protects patients.   Also on the chopping block under the proposed amendment is the current requirement that only a physician may perform an abortion, and that the same physician must inform the patient, 24 hours before, of the risks of the procedure, and of the age of the baby. If approved, the amendment would remove this time for reflection, a time in which mothers, having new information, may freely choose a different path. It would also make it possible for a non-physician to perform a surgical abortion, and a receptionist or other staff member to assess the patient and dispense chemical abortion pills. This is because, in Florida, a “healthcare provider” means any employee of the facility, even an employee with no medical training.    Of course, a main goal of the proposed amendment is to legalize elective abortion through all 40 weeks of pregnancy. The amendment language ensuring no limits is this: abortion after viability shall always be permitted “when necessary to protect the patient’s health.” “Health” has been defined and interpreted by courts to include psychological or emotional and other factors. Moreover, the “healthcare provider” making that determination can be any employee of the abortion facility, from the abortionist to the receptionist.      Contrary to what most people might believe, the vast majority of second- and third-trimester abortions are elective – performed on healthy babies of healthy mothers. In fact, the most common reason given for late term abortions is simply delayed decision-making. But late term abortion involves an unique and awful reality: science indicates that fetuses feel the pain of the dismemberment involved in abortion as early as 14 weeks. If you doubt this, do a little research into fetal analgesia during fetal surgery. You can be sure that no doctor would operate on a 15-week fetus without first properly anesthetizing her. The sheer barbarity of second and third trimester abortion cannot be overstated.   Abortions, whether chemical or surgical, whether first or third trimester, have enormous medical, social, and ethical implications. Obviously for the baby who loses his or her life, sometimes quite painfully, but also for the mother, who undergoes a psychologically costly and physically risky procedure. If, and when, you are approached by the man in the blue vest as you go about your daily activities, decline to sign. Florida women, and Florida babies, deserve better.  Grazie Pozo Christie, M.D., is a Senior Fellow for The Catholic Association and host of the nationally syndicated radio show Conversations with Consequences. She practices radiology in the Miami area, where she lives with her husband and five children. 10. The theology of Christmas ‘villancicos’, By Grazie Pozo Christie, Angelus, December 21, 2023, Opinion I spend every Advent preparing my Nativity, like a bird feathering her nest. It is spread on a console table before the front door, and I fuss and fuss with it, moving kings and shepherds to just the right spots, and turning the Virgin Mary so that her gaze seems to fall on the little empty crib. I like to listen to “villancicos,” or Spanish Christmas songs, while I work. There are no magical reindeer in these songs, and no jolly wonderworker delivering toys to children who already have too many of them. There is, instead, an encounter with the intense humanity of the scene in Bethlehem: A real man, harried and haunted, a real woman, heavy with God, a real baby, blue with cold. The “villancicos” bring us through the door of the rude stable and keep us there. We find the whole genius of Christianity on display: The Lord of grandeur and awe, of greatness beyond our power to conceive, enfolded in the tender flesh of a newborn and held up to us by his young mother.  All the little details awaken our affection and compassion. The José and Maria of the songs are scared, young, lonely, and terribly tired. Jose begs for shelter for his wife, as she shivers on the donkey, holding the hidden God inside her. The innkeeper gruffly refuses, as he stupidly doesn’t recognize the queen of heaven. The cold wind that whistles through the chinks and spaces of the stable wall makes the baby quiver and shake. Won’t someone lend them a sheepskin? Maria’s hands, the hands of my heart, are chapped with the washing of the diapers; how I wish I could wash them for her! The mice have eaten holes in José’s underwear, and “gitanillos” have stolen the baby’s diapers. Maria come quick and chase them out! José, won’t you hold the baby? His mother, my mother, is exhausted. Or, let me hold the pretty one for just a moment; I want to kiss his forehead and whisper in his ear that I love him. There is a familiarity with the baby of these songs, in which God has been pulled down from heaven and put in our laps to dandle and caress. He looks like the children in our homes, with olive skin and almond-shaped eyes. There are no barriers of immensity between us and the “Niño Dios,” no chance of losing him in a maze of theology. And yet there is theology in every inch of the scene. The wood of the stable prefigures the wood of the cross, and the swaddling clothes the burial sheets they will one day wind around his body. He sleeps, now, in a trough where the beasts eat, but before very long he will be food for everyone that approaches the altar. His mother holds him and will hold him again when it is not delightful but agonizing. I move the manger a little closer to the good José leaning on his staff and consider the placement of the three kings and their camels. How smartly they read the stars and how quickly they set out! There is a little shepherd boy who has a lamb slung over his shoulders. He has a look of gladness about him that I like, that the baby will like. I place a placid-looking ox close to the manger so that his breath will warm the baby when he comes. I hang a lantern with a little flickering light over the whole scene and wonder if that will be enough to see by. I work hard at making the stream that courses by the stable look real, as I sing aloud the song about the fish who stopped, amazed at seeing the newborn God. My Nativity is a prayer, of course, as are all the “villancicos.” If prayer is union with God, and if he was once a newborn shivering with cold in a windswept corner of the world, I can do nothing better at Christmas than stay a while by his crib. Perhaps my love will warm him. Grazie Pozo Christie, M.D., is a Senior Fellow for The Catholic Association and host of the nationally syndicated radio show Conversations with Consequences. She practices radiology in the Miami area, where she lives with her husband and five children.

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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