TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 96 – Mary Eberstadt On Letters To Biden & Fr. Roger Landry Offers Ideas For Lent 2021!
Dr. Grazie Christie chats with Mary Eberstadt of the Faith and Reason Institute about her recent letters to President Biden recently published by Newsweek magazine. Mary also holds the Panula Chair in Christian Culture at CIC and she says ‘souls are on the line’ – and we must pray for the president’s conversion. Fr. Roger Landry, our weekly homilist, also joins as a guest with some very practical ways to grow spiritually during this Lenten season with a focus on the Holy Trinity.
1. Vatican expects deficit of $60 million in 2021, By Catholic News Agency, February 19, 2021, 5:40 AM
The Vatican said on Friday that it expects to record a deficit of around $60 million in 2021 amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Secretariat for the Economy said in a Feb. 19 statement that Pope Francis had approved this year’s budget on Thursday evening.
It said: “With total revenues of 260.4 million euros [$316 million] and expenses of 310.1 million euros [$376 million], the Holy See expects a deficit of 49.7 million euros [$60 million] in 2021, heavily impacted by the economic crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
2. Culture Warrior Xavier Becerra is Unqualified to Lead HSS Department, By Brian Burch, Newsweek, February 19, 2021, 7:00 AM, Opinion
President Joe Biden regularly touts his Catholic faith despite advancing a policy agenda deeply unpopular with religious Americans. He has now nominated the co-chair of Catholics for Biden, California attorney general Xavier Becerra, to be his secretary of Health and Human Services. Catholics tempted to welcome this nomination may be surprised by Becerra’s record.
Becerra has been nominated to lead one of our most important government agencies, tasked with enhancing the health and wellbeing of all Americans. Yet he is a deeply partisan and ideologically driven nominee with no formal education, training or background in medicine or health. His most notable experience could best be described as waging left-wing culture wars while serving as attorney general of California.
Like the president who nominated him, Becerra has a track record of open hostility to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. He is flagrant in his opposition to Catholic teaching on family, marriage, biological science, religious freedom and of course, the pre-eminent issue of the sanctity of human life.

President Biden has nominated a deeply unqualified man with a long history of antagonism toward people of faith. Xavier Becerra has consistently used his power to punish political opponents in pursuit of an extreme ideological agenda. The Department of Health and Human Services deserves a secretary with a record of protecting the rights and health of all Americans, not a culture warrior best known for ruthless prosecution of nuns and trying to keep churches closed.
Brian Burch is president of Catholic Vote.
3. Anti-vax at the Vatican? You might lose your job, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, February 18, 2021, 10:39 AM
The Vatican is taking Pope Francis’ pro-vaccine stance very seriously: Any Vatican employee who refuses to get a coronavirus shot without a valid medical reason risks being fired.
A Feb. 8 decree signed by the governor of the Vatican city-state says that employees who opt out of vaccination without a proven medical reason could be subject to a sanction up to and including “the interruption of the relationship of employment.”

The decree sparked heated debate Thursday, since its provisions go well beyond the generally voluntary nature of COVID-19 vaccinations in Italy and much of the rest of the world.
4. SC governor signs abortion ban; Planned Parenthood sues, By Jeffrey Collins, Associated Press, February 18, 2021, 1:03 AM
South Carolina’s governor on Thursday signed a bill banning most abortions, one of his top priorities since he took office more than four years ago. Planned Parenthood immediately sued, effectively preventing the new law from taking effect.
The “South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, is similar to abortion restriction laws that a dozen states have previously passed. All are tied up in court. Federal law, which takes precedence over state law, currently allows abortion.
5. Portugal’s euthanasia law goes for constitutional review, By Associated Press, February 18, 2021, 12:38 PM
Portugal’s president on Thursday asked the country’s Constitutional Court to evaluate a recent law passed by parliament that allows euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill and gravely injured people.
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said in a statement the legislation appears “excessively imprecise,” potentially creating a situation of “legal uncertainty.”
6. Where Does Faith Come in With Biden’s Valentine’s Day Order?, There’s a glaring void in the president’s re-establishment of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, National Catholic Register, February 18, 2021, Opinion
On Sunday, Feb. 14, President Biden issued an executive order establishing the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. At first blush, the new administration appears to confirm the important role of religious people and groups in the United States.

Take a closer look, however, and what you see is a head fake.

The “Partnership Office” will “include collaborating with civil society to: address the COVID-19 pandemic and boost economic recovery; combat systemic racism; increase opportunity and mobility for historically disadvantaged communities; and strengthen pluralism.” If that’s not enough for a small office within the White House, it will “also support agency partnerships that advance the United States Government’s diplomatic, international development, and humanitarian work around the world.”
While the kitchen sink of social ills both domestically and internationally is listed as part of the work of this office, the term “faith-based” mysteriously disappears in its short form title. Is there something more going on here?
“A key commitment of the Partnerships Office is embracing pluralism,” explains the White House Fact Sheet. What will this commitment to pluralism mean for Catholic-run organizations?

Adding to that concern is the appointment connected to the renewal of the Partnership Office. President Biden named Melissa Rogers to serve as its executive director. She held the position during the Obama administration. Before her appointment Rogers co-wrote an opinion piece with Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr., that asserts that religion “is the source of some of our deepest divisions.” She goes on to denounce “the weaponization of faith for political purposes.” So much for a friendly approach to faith.

Biden’s Partnership Office is sure to promote and partner with secular philanthropic groups across the country and around the world. Faith-based groups not on a progressive bandwagon, however, are likely to have a much harder time continuing to serve those in need. Instead they will be pushed to the peripheries — or, worse yet, out of business.

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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!

“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.