TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 252 – Haley Stewart On The Golden Key & Monica Kelsey On Safe Haven Baby Boxes Word on Fire’s Haley Stewart discusses the need for challenging children’s literature. Inviting all readers to enter what G.K. Chesterton called “the glorious fairyland of George MacDonald,” Haley discusses The Golden Key and why “children need to be steeped in fairy tales that don’t gloss over the dark and ugly parts of the world.” We also talk with Monica Kelsey about safe haven baby boxes and her own moving story that inspired their creation. Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily to prepare us for this Sunday’s Gospel. Catch the show every Saturday at 7amET/5pmET on EWTN radio! 1. Catholic bishops in Mexico say they negotiated for possible peace accord with drug cartel leaders, By Fabiola Sánchez, Associated Press, February 16, 2024, 1:57 AM Four Roman Catholic bishops met with Mexican drug cartel bosses in a bid to negotiate a possible peace accord, one of the bishops said, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Thursday he approves of such talks. The revelation by Bishop of Chilpancingo-Chilapa, José de Jesús González Hernández, in remarks at a public appearance, illustrate the extent to which the government’s policy of not confronting the cartels has left average citizens to work out their own separate peace deals with the gangs. López Obrador acknowledged it wasn’t the first time church leaders had held such talks, and that they have done so before in the neighboring state of Michoacan and in other states.  2. Researchers cite abortion law for 2% increase in Texas birthrate, Women could be evading anti-abortion law, scholars say, By Sean Salai, The Washington Times, February 16, 2024 Texas’ birthrate increased by 2% after state lawmakers banned most abortions in 2021, new research shows. But scholars say women could be finding ways around the law. A recent study from the University of Houston’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender and Society analyzed the impact of the Texas Heartbeat Act, which restricted most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy in September 2021. As births started climbing in April 2022, the study found Texas’ fertility rate rose from 60.68 to 61.92 births per 1,000 girls and women aged 15-44 between 2021 and 2022 — the first annual increase since 2014. Teen fertility also surged for the first time in 15 years, even as the national rate fell. While researchers said the increase “might be explained in part by factors unrelated to the ban,” they pointed to a July 2023 analysis by Johns Hopkins researchers that associated Texas’ law with 9,799 additional births between April and December 2022. Numbers are not yet available to estimate the effects of a more sweeping Texas abortion ban that took effect in August 2022, triggered by the Supreme Court returning jurisdiction over the procedure to state governments two months earlier. Several leading abortion scholars interviewed by The Washington Times said the study confirms that Texas’ law has led to more women carrying their pregnancies to term. However, they cautioned that an unknown number of women have either left Texas to end their pregnancies in other states or ordered abortion pills online, limiting the baby boom. 3. Greece becomes first Orthodox Christian country to legalize same-sex civil marriage, By Nicholas Paphitis, Associated Press, February 15, 2024, 10:33 PM Greece on Thursday became the first Orthodox Christian country to legalize same-sex civil marriage, despite opposition from the influential, socially conservative Greek Church. A cross-party majority of 176 lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament voted late Thursday in favor of the landmark bill drafted by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ‘ center-right government. Another 76 rejected the reform while two abstained from the vote and 46 were not present in the house. 4. New Hampshire Senate rejects enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution, By Holly Ramer, Associated Press, February 15, 2024, 3:58 PM  Another attempt to enshrine abortion rights in the New Hampshire Constitution failed Thursday, this time in the Senate. State law prohibits abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy except when the mother’s health or life is in danger or there is a fatal fetal anomaly. The Republican-led House earlier this month voted 193-184 in favor of a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights up to that threshold, short of the three-fifths majority needed to advance the proposal. On Thursday, the Republican-led Senate rejected a similar measure outright, voting 14-9 along party lines against a more broadly worded proposal to add language to the constitution protecting “personal reproductive autonomy.” 5. Iowa’s abortion providers now have some guidance for the paused 6-week ban, if it is upheld, By Hannah Fingerhut, Associated Press, February 15, 2024, 11:26 AM Iowa’s medical board on Thursday approved some guidance abortion providers would need to follow if the state’s ban on most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy is upheld by the Iowa Supreme Court. The restrictive abortion law is currently on hold as the court considers Gov. Kim Reynolds’ appeal of the lower court’s decision that paused the crux of it, but the medical board was instructed to continue with its rulemaking process to ensure physicians would have guidance in place when the court rules. While the board’s language outlines how physicians are to follow the law, the specifics on enforcement are more limited. The rules do not outline how the board would determine noncompliance or what the appropriate disciplinary action might be. Also missing are specific guidelines for how badly a pregnant woman’s health must decline before their life is sufficiently endangered to provide physicians protection from discipline. 6. If a Parish Isn’t Crying, It’s Dying, Silence has its place in church, but don’t forget that ‘God put the wiggle in children.’, By Mark Naida, The Wall Street Journal, February 15, 2024, 5:17 PM, Opinion My son George began his preaching career at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Grove, Okla. The only problem? A priest was delivering his homily at the same time. As the Rev. Valerian Gonsalves offered his thoughts on the Gospel, my son, then 8 months old, shouted and smacked his hands on the back of the pew in front of him. It wasn’t long before congregants turned around to find him flashing a mostly toothless smile. During such moments, all parents ponder the same question: At what point does my child become so disruptive that I need to escort him out? Thankfully, Oklahomans are kind and generous, and I felt no hostility to the ruckus. People approached my wife and me after Mass and, rather than offer veiled remarks about how “spirited” our kids are, told us that our son is destined for the priesthood. It isn’t this way everywhere. Though Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me,” the preponderance of “cry rooms” sealed off from the rest of the parish with piped-in sound and spare chairs sends the message that some churches prefer quiet, solemn services.  Parents don’t want to be exiled to a room designated for the wailing and gnashing of teeth while they prepare to receive the Eucharist, and at St. Anthony’s they won’t be. “If you leave Mass with your child, feel free to do so, but please come back.” If the tips don’t work, and a fussy little one really needs something to focus on other than Mass, the card serves another purpose. At the bottom, it reads: “Please let your child use the reverse side of this card to draw and doodle.” 7. Pope Francis accepts resignation of Panamanian cardinal who went missing, By Walter Sanchez Silva, Catholic News Agency, February 15, 2024, 5:30 PM The Vatican Press Office reported Feb. 15 that Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán as bishop of the Diocese of David in Panama, two weeks after his yet-to-be-explained disappearance, and named Father Luis Enrique Saldaña Guerra as his successor. The appointment occurs a few days before Lacunza turns 80 on Feb. 24, the day on which he will cease to be an elector in a possible conclave to elect Pope Francis’ successor should he die or resign. The Panamanian Bishops’ Conference published a statement Feb. 15 expressing their “gratitude to Cardinal José Luis Lacunza and welcoming the designated bishop of the Diocese of David,” noting that the Holy Father accepted the resignation of the cardinal “after almost five years” since he complied with the provisions of Canon 401.1 of the Code of Canon Law,” which requests bishops to present their resignation to the pope at the age of 75. The apostolic nunciature in Panama posted a statement on X Feb. 15, explaining that “the new bishop will communicate in due time, the day, place and time of his episcopal ordination, and consequently the canonical taking possession of the Diocese of David.” 8. English Catholic priest vindicated for ‘pro-life’ opinion in end-of-life case, By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, February 15, 2024, 5:50 PM Father Patrick Pullicino, an English Catholic priest and neurologist, has been vindicated after being investigated by a U.K. medical regulation agency for giving his expert opinion in an emergency end-of-life case in which he called for further tests before cutting off a hospitalized man’s nutrition and hydration. The man, referred to as “RS,” ultimately died in 2020 amid legal battles between his family and the hospital over his fate.  But shortly after the man’s death, a complaint was brought against Pullicino by a euthanasia activist in 2021 accusing the priest of bias because of his Catholic and “pro-life values,” according to Christian Concern, the advocacy organization that defended the priest. Pullicino was subsequently investigated by the U.K.’s General Medical Council (GMC) in early 2021, and this month he was finally exonerated. 9. Saint Mary’s College’s President and Trustees Should Resign, Leaders of the Catholic women’s college have done irreparable harm by quietly approving a pro-transgender admissions policy., By Michael Warsaw, National Catholic Register, February 15, 2024, Opinion In their disastrous testimony at a congressional hearing back in December, the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania laid bare the relativistic rot that’s eating away the integrity of America’s elite institutions of higher learning from within. Their shocking attempts to excuse the antisemitic and even genocidal rallying cries of anti-Israel demonstrators on their campuses with overly legalistic defenses of free-speech rights cost two of them their jobs. Having lost the support of their Jewish students and many alumni and key donors, no other outcome was possible. They had to go. A breach of trust of a different sort has taken place at Saint Mary’s College in Indiana. And the damage it’s caused at the all-women Catholic school, located next door to the University of Notre Dame, is so serious and irreparable that the consequences ought to be just as severe: President Katie Conboy should resign, along with the entire board of trustees. In November, it came to light that Conboy and the trustees last summer had quietly agreed to open undergraduate admissions to applicants “whose sex is female or who consistently live and identify as women” beginning next fall. In other words, Saint Mary’s was poised to admit males in the guise of transgender “women.” Presumably these troubled young men would have been housed in the same dorms and used the same restrooms and locker rooms as their female schoolmates. It’s 2024, after all. Who could object? A lot of justly outraged people, it turned out, including alumnae, students and parents who are paying a hefty price to send their daughters to a school they assumed had enough smarts to know the difference between a man and a woman. Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who was never consulted or informed of this rather consequential policy change, wasn’t pleased either. In a statement expressing his profound disapproval, he emphasized that what Saint Mary’s was doing “departs from fundamental Catholic teaching on the nature of woman and thus compromises its very identity as a Catholic woman’s college.” The backlash and negative publicity, which coincided with an alumnae fundraising drive and the height of the admissions application season, prompted Conboy and the trustees to reverse course, at least for the time being. But as with Harvard, MIT and UPenn, no amount of “listening sessions” can undo the damage that has been done. That’s why a wholesale change of leadership is needed.  The misguided men that Saint Mary’s was so eager to admit need something more than a warm welcome. They need and deserve the truth. And since President Conboy and the Saint Mary’s trustees would rather perpetuate — and impose — a lie than uphold the truth, they no longer have any legitimacy as Catholic educators.  It’s time for them to step aside. We can’t afford to allow our Catholic institutions of higher education to follow so many of their secular counterparts down the path of militant relativism.

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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