TCA Podcast – “Conversations with Consequences,” EWTN, Episode 44

The Ambassador of International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback Interview, February 22, 2020

Ambassador of International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback joins The Catholic Association’s Dr. Grazie Christie and Andrea Picciotti-Bayer.

1. Federal appeals court now says Florida Latin cross can stay.

By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service, February 21, 2020

Reversing its previous decision, a federal appeals court ruled Feb. 19 that a World War II-era cross can remain standing in a park in Pensacola, Florida, based on the Supreme Court’s decision last year about a similar cross on public property in Maryland.

The 11th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals said Florida’s 34-foot Latin cross does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Circuit Judge Kevin Newsom, writing for the three-judge panel, said the cross “has evolved into a neutral” symbol.

2. States step up funding for Planned Parenthood clinics.

By Susan Haigh, Associated Press, February 21, 2020, 6:00 AM

Severalstates have begun picking up the tab for family planning services at clinics run by Planned Parenthood, which last year quit a $260 million federal funding program over a Trump administration rule prohibiting clinics from referring women for abortions.

States including New Jersey, Massachusetts and Hawaii already are providing new funding, and Democratic governors in Connecticut and Pennsylvania have proposed carving out money in state budgets to counter the effects of the national provider’s fallout with the Republican presidential administration.

3. On summit anniversary, what we still don’t know about clerical abuse.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, February 21, 2020, Opinion

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Pope Francis’s historic summit on the clerical sexual abuse crisis in February 2019, which brought together presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences to promote a global culture of transparency and accountability.

[D]ecades into the clerical abuse crisis there’s still no such hard data about its global reach.

There’s reasonably solid information about the number of cases and victims, and therefore the percentage of priests guilty of abuse, in the United States, Australia, Ireland, Germany and other settings which have been epicenters of the crisis, but we don’t have much clue about the spread elsewhere.

What tends to fill that gap are a priori assumptions, reflecting the perspectives and biases of whoever’s talking.

For instance, Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa of Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo, by far the largest Catholic country in Africa in terms of population, has said that “cases are rare in our country.”

One can hear similar things from bishops in other parts of the world. Most survivors scoff in response, insisting such comments reflect denial.

Is it possible, for instance, that there was something in Western cultures during the peak years of the crisis that produced a level of abuse not seen elsewhere? Or, is it possible that the crisis is actually far worse in other settings that lack a legal and cultural support system for victims to seek redress, where clericalism is far more rampant, and where cultural attitudes towards sexual relations with adolescents and even children are radically different?

The only answer to either question right now is, “Sure, that’s possible, but we really don’t know.” One can try to apply generalized data from the World Health Organization about child abuse worldwide, for instance, which suggests levels are depressingly high pretty much everywhere, but that’s inexact.

That, in turn, brings us back to where things stand one year from the pope’s summit.

What’s striking is how much still isn’t understood. Neither ecclesiastical nor civil authorities in most parts of the world have invested the resources to provide a reliable picture, so we’re left with guesswork and projections.

For sure, the immediate work of identifying abusers and those who covered up for them is critically important, among other things because it’s what tends to spark lawsuits, grab headlines and drive protest. Yet the slower and less sensational task of understanding the origins and distribution of clerical abuse, including the environmental and cultural factors which either encourage or obstruct it, also merit a spot on the to-do list.

Perhaps expanding the infrastructure to do that kind of research is one resolution to take away from this anniversary – because, let’s face it, “disease” is an unfortunate fact of life in the Catholic Church as much as anywhere else, and it would be nice to have a reliable tracking system for where and how it spreads.

4. New Zealand abortion bill ‘totally unacceptable’, bishops say.

By Catholic News Agency, February 20, 2020, 7:01 PM

The unborn child will lose all rights under a bill to change New Zealand’s abortion laws, and women pressured into abortion will not receive the help they need, the country’s Catholic bishops have warned.

“In the womb, the child already has its own unique genetic identity and whakapapa. Our abortion laws must reflect this reality,” said Cynthia Piper, a spokeswoman for the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.

“It is a major failing of the proposed new law that there will no longer be any statutory requirement to consider the rights of the unborn child. That is totally unacceptable to the bishops and many New Zealanders.”

The New Zealand Parliament’s Abortion Legislation Select Committee has recommended changing abortion law to remove any legal restrictions for an abortion up to 20 weeks into pregnancy, and thus “effectively introducing abortion on demand,” the bishops’ conference said Feb. 19. The bill has already passed a first reading.

Under the proposal, pregnancies more than 20 weeks into pregnancy would require a health practitioner to believe with reason that the abortion is “appropriate” given the women’s physical and mental health and well-being. Piper objected that such criteria are not defined and are too subjective and broad.

5. Abuse survivors seek more progress 1 year after papal summit.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, February 20, 2020, 2:46 PM

Survivors of church sex abuse have descended on Rome this week, marking the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ summit of church leaders on preventing abuse with calls for more accountability and acknowledgment of their pain.

6. Amid protests, Portugal lawmakers vote to allow euthanasia.

By Barry Hatton, Associated Press, February 20, 2020, 8:49 AM

Portugal’s parliament voted Thursday in favor of allowing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill people.

The landmark vote left Portugal poised to become one of the few countries in the world permitting the procedures. However, the country’s president could still attempt to block the legislation.

The Catholic church in Portugal has led opposition to the procedures, which currently are illegal and carry prison sentences of up to three years. Church leaders have urged lawmakers in vain to hold a referendum on the issue.

7. Florida Legislature passes abortion parental consent bill.

By Brendan Farrington, Associated Press, February 20, 2020, 7:12 PM

Girls under the age of 18 will have to get a parent’s permission before having an abortion under a bill passed by the Florida Legislature on Thursday that Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign.

8. Appeals court keeps block on Mississippi 6-week abortion ban.

By Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press, February 20, 2020, 5:41 PM

A federal appeals court is keeping a block on a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions as early as about six weeks — a stage when many women may not even know they are pregnant.

A panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made the decision Thursday, finding that the law is unconstitutional because it would ban abortion before the point of viability, when a fetus could survive outside of the womb.

9. US bishops: Pope Francis talks Fr. James Martin, euthanasia, at private meeting.

By JD Flynn, Catholic News Agency, February 20, 2020, 5:00 PM

During a private meeting with bishops from the southwestern United States, Pope Francis talked about his 2019 meeting with Fr. James Martin, SJ, and about pastoral care and assisted suicide.

Several bishops present at the meeting told CNA that in addition to discussions about his then-pending exhortation on the Amazon region, and on the challenges of transgenderism and gender ideology, Pope Francis discussed his Sept. 30 meeting with Martin, an American Jesuit who is well-known for speaking and writing about the Church’s ministry to people who identify themselves as LGBT.

“The Holy Father’s disposition was very clear, he was most displeased about the whole subject of Fr. Martin and how their encounter had been used. He was very expressive, both his words and his face –  his anger was very clear, he felt he’d been used,” one bishop told CNA.

“He told us that the matter had been dealt with; that Fr. Martin had been given a ‘talking to’ and that his superiors had also been spoken to and made the situation perfectly clear to him,” another bishop said.

According to bishops present at the papal meeting, Pope Francis also spoke about euthanasia, and was asked about comments from Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who said at a December symposium that priests should “let go of the rules” in order to be present with people who have initiated assisted suicide.

At the symposium Paglia mentioned that he would be hold the hand of someone dying from assisted suicide, and that he does not see such an action as lending implicit support for the practice.

Pope Francis apparently told bishops that while priests must love mercifully those who have terminal illnesses, they can not “accompany” someone who is in the act of suicide, which the Catholic Church teaches to be gravely immoral.

10. Picture this: Knights of Columbus publish new illustrated history.

By Kevin Jones, Catholic News Agency, February 19, 2020, 12:00 AM

A multitude of photos and copies of historic records enliven a new history of the largest Catholic men’s organization in the world, “The Knights of Columbus: An Illustrated History,” to be released in March.

“It’s a testament to the power of faith in action,” Andrew Walther, a co-author of the book, told CNA.

Readers will “get a sense of just how many things the Knights have affected in so many different ways for the betterment of communities large and small.”

The book includes hundreds of photos depicting the Catholic men’s organization and its work through the decades alongside a written history of the Knights of Columbus, whose membership now numbers close to 2 million Catholic men around the world.

Walther is vice president for communications and strategic planning at the Knights of Columbus. He co-authored the book with his wife Maureen Walther, a lifelong parishioner at the Connecticut parish where the fraternal order was founded in 1882.

“The Knights of Columbus: An Illustrated History” will be released on March 9, and is now available for preorder.

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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