TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 141 – Best of 2021 with Father Mike Schmitz and Archbishop Cordileone! As Father Mike Schmitz gears up to headline the March for Life 2022 in January, we revisit with him during this special end of year show discussing the continued success of his Bible in a Year podcast now with his own billboard in Times Square! We also share some of the most pivotal moments of the year discussing the Dobbs case with Archbishop Cordileone, Jeanne Mancini, legal scholar Helen Alvare, and the dire situation in Afghanistan with RFI’s Eric Patterson. Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God this weekend! Catch the show every Saturday at 7am ET/5pm on EWTN radio! 1. Here’s How Joe Biden Can Protect Abortion Rights, By David S. Cohen, Greer Donley and Rachel Rebouché, The New York Times, December 30, 2021, 5:00 AM, Opinion If the high court refuses to uphold abortion rights for all Americans and with Congress hopelessly stalemated over legislation that would codify a federal right to abortion, the Biden administration can and should act boldly to protect abortion access. But it will require some outside-the-box thinking — and a willingness to experiment with tactics that may well fail.  [T]he administration could challenge the many state laws that conflict with the F.D.A.’s regulation of mifepristone and support other lawsuits filed on these grounds.  Second, the Biden administration could lease federal property to abortion providers — for instance, allowing a clinic to operate out of a federal office building or a mobile clinic on federal land. Only a small set of state civil laws apply on federal land, and a civil abortion law like Texas’s S.B. 8 clearly does not fall within this group.  Third, the administration ought to take steps to expand access to telemedicine services for abortion, as it has done for the practice more generally.  The Biden administration should turn the tables. Without bold approaches, it may very well forfeit an opportunity to save abortion rights and access now and into the future. Mr. Cohen, Ms. Donley and Ms. Rebouché are law professors with expertise in reproductive health. 2. Religious Freedom Gets Its Day in Court, By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, National Catholic Register, December 30, 2021, Opinion Religious freedom in the United States is being threatened as never before. This year the Supreme Court vindicated religious freedom in crucial cases, but there were some disappointments. With more key decisions in the pipeline, and the prospect of more assaults on religious freedom sanctioned or sponsored by the Biden administration, this is a good opportunity to look back at the Supreme Court’s record in 2021. 3. Demography reigns down in Africa, By Brendan Hodge, The Pillar, December 29, 2021 For the first time in a generation, the Roman Curia is without any African cardinals in top leadership positions, after Pope Francis accepted this month the resignation of Cardinal Peter Turkson from the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. But Africa is growing in importance within the Catholic Church, and is poised to become an even more important global center of Catholicism in the decades to come. The growing prominence of Africa in the global Church is driven by two different stories: the conversion of sub-Saharan Africa in the first half of the 20th century, and the growth of Africa’s population — unique among all regions of the world — in the 21st. 4. Top Five Most Under-Covered Vatican Stories of 2021, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, December 30, 2021, Opinion 5. Hart and DiMarzioIn the United States, Bishops Joseph Hart in Cheyenne and Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn had become identified with the clerical abuse scandals, in part because both faced their own charges of abuse. Both, however, were cleared by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Hart in January and Di Marzio in September.  Granted, the bitter lesson of the abuse scandals has been that smoke means fire more often than not, and that every accusation must be taken seriously. Hart and DiMarzio are also reminders, however, that accusation is not the same thing as evidence, and that reality often is far messier and more complex than simplistic narratives would suggest. 4. Monsignor Robert OliverIn itself, the fact that American Monsignor Robert Oliver was let go as chief of staff for the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in April was no big thing. He’d been in the Vatican for nine years, which is a long run, and his job is among the more frustrating and emotionally draining in the system.  What makes the Oliver ouster noteworthy isn’t the what, but the how. We’re talking about a kind, generous, and completely committed worker who gave almost a decade of his life in service to the Vatican. So, when they decided to cut him loose, did someone high up in the system pull him aside and thank him for a job well done? Did they maybe put together a small going-away party, giving him a papal medal or something? Nope. Instead, Oliver discovered he was out from a blasé news release, listing people who’d been reappointed to the commission without his name on the list, issued while he was on a brief trip to the States. In fairness, it’s not just Oliver – that’s how the Vatican treats most of its employees, which is why the place suffers from what I’ve called an “HR pandemic.”  3. The Pope and the RabbisIf you don’t even remember this happened during 2021, no need to feel bad, because it attracted almost no interest anywhere outside Israel. However, in August Pope Francis stirred controversy in the Jewish world for his comments on the Torah, meaning the Jewish law. “The law (Torah) does not give life,” the pope said during a General Audience on August 11.  This story is a reminder of how narratives control the way popes are seen. Francis is seen as a liberal reformer who favors inter-faith dialogue, so any development suggesting disrespect on his part is played down or ignored. Just imagine, though, what the public reaction might have been had Pope Benedict XVI said exactly the same thing, and you’ll appreciate the point. 2. Lay MovementsIn many respects, the Catholic Church is where logic goes to die, and Pope Francis’s crackdown on lay movements in June is a good example of the point. In most respects you might think Francis would be a “let a thousand flowers bloom” kind of guy, and especially favorable to lay initiatives that challenge the clerical grip on power.  Yet no pope in recent memory has been tougher on the lay movements than Francis, as his June decree illustrates. In effect, it imposed term limits for the leaders of these movements, whose founders heretofore tended to run the show for life, and also ordered the movements to ensure that all members have a voice in choosing leaders. 1. The Other TrialThe other big Vatican trial of the year sort of flew under radar – the case pivoting on the Preseminary of St. Pius X, until recently located on Vatican grounds, and featuring charges that one minor seminarian had sexually abused another.  A key point that emerged during the trial was that nobody really knew who was in charge of the pre-seminary.  One has to ask how it’s possible that the Vatican had a residence for minor boys on its own territory, one in which those boys had regular contact with all manner of older seminarians and clergy, and yet no one in authority, at at least three distinct levels of the church, apparently took it upon themselves to exercise any quality control until the dam broke. That’s a worrying insight about the state of reform, and there’s no reason to believe the problem of overlapping jurisdiction to which it points has been resolved. One can only wonder how many more institutions, schools, movements, and other Catholic entities may be in similar circumstances, albeit not on Vatican grounds – and who’s minding the store in those places too.

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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