TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 97 – Father Benedict Kiely On Pope Francis In Iraq & Msgr. John Cihak Talks Cardinal Sarah!
As Pope Francis makes his historic trip to Iraq next week, we preview the journey with Father Benedict Kiely, and why the message must remain focused on Christian persecution. We also chat with former Vatican official Monsignor John Cihak about the legacy of Cardinal Robert Sarah. Monsignor also discusses leading a Catholic school in Portland, Oregon amid the ongoing COVID pandemic–and his Catholic Guide to Depression–during a life of lockdown. Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily for this Sunday’s Gospel.
1. No, the FDA shouldn’t make the abortion pill more accessible, By Grazie Pozo Christie, The Washington Examiner, February 26, 2021, 12:00 AM, Opinion
Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are asking the Food and Drug Administration to eliminate “immediately” the requirement that the abortion drug mifepristone be administered in person by a certified healthcare worker. The medical reality is that the need to safeguard the health of vulnerable patients justifies and even demands the FDA requirements. A victory for pro-abortion activists in this arena would seriously compromise the safety of women and girls.
Mifeprex or mifepristone, the “abortion pill,” is only one of several dozen medications that the FDA’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies regulates. … In the case of mifepristone, REMS was instituted because the drug poses a significant risk of life-threatening complications related to maternal infection and hemorrhage. Young, healthy women have, on many occasions, bled to death or died of sepsis after a medication abortion, and many more have endured disabling complications but survived.

Given how sensible the restrictions instituted by the FDA for the use of Mifeprex are, it may seem surprising that those who want to see them abandoned or disregarded should proclaim themselves the champions of women. They seem, rather, to be champions of the abortion industry and its leader, Planned Parenthood, which both stand to make fortunes by selling the drugs without proper oversight.
The FDA should withstand these demands from pro-abortion Democrats, no matter how strong the pressure, and continue to protect consumers from those who would put ideology and profit ahead of the health and safety of women and vulnerable girls.
Grazie Pozo Christie is a policy adviser for The Catholic Association and co-host of its podcast, Conversations with Consequences.
2. Head of German Catholic bishops: ‘I do not deny Communion to a Protestant who asks for it’, By Catholic News Agency, February 26, 2021, 4:00 AM
The president of the German Catholic bishops’ conference said on Thursday that he would continue to give Holy Communion to Protestants who ask for it.
Bishop Georg Bätzing told journalists at a press conference on Feb. 25 that it was necessary to respect the “personal decision of conscience” of those seeking to receive Communion.
CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported that Bätzing was responding to a question about a controversial proposal for a “Eucharistic meal fellowship” between Catholics and Protestants.
3. Will the Vatican investigate a cardinal implicated in its own abuse trial?, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, February 26, 2021, Opinion
An unusual sex abuse trial currently underway in the Vatican took a potentially explosive turn Wednesday, and the response may have a great deal to say about how serious the reforms launched by Pope Francis actually are.
Three witnesses testified that Italian Cardinal Angelo Comastri, who was relieved of his position as Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica last Saturday by Pope Francis, or his aides, had been aware of sexual abuse allegations at a pre-seminary on Vatican grounds and took no action. Though the merits of that testimony have to be critically examined, at the very least it creates the basis for an investigation of the 77-year-old Comastri, which, depending on the outcome, could lead to a charge of criminal negligence.
This isn’t just a canonical issue about Comastri’s clerical status. In this case, the alleged crimes took place inside the Vatican itself, meaning that if Comastri did something wrong, it’s the Vatican’s own legal system that has to supply civil justice.

Moreover, all we have right now is the uncorroborated testimony of three people that Comastri or his subordinates knew about the abuse allegations. Exactly what he knew, and what, if anything, he did with that information, remains unknown.
Those are precisely the sorts of issues that ought to be addressed in a formal investigation by the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice.
After all, the Vatican has decided to let the Martinelli trial play out in full public view, in part to get credit for its commitment to transparency. The price of that credit, however, is that the Vatican must be seen to act on the information the process generates, even if the trail seems to lead to a Prince of the Church.
The ball’s now in the Vatican’s court, and much would seem to depend on how it reacts.
4. The Equality Act can become law — if Democrats will add religious exemptions, By Jonathan Rauch, The Washington Post, February 25, 2021, 7:13 PM, Opinion
For religious and faith-based organizations, the House version of the Equality Act is toxic, because it overrides religious-liberty protections granted in 1993. More broadly, they fear that both law and secular culture are on a path to equating traditional religious teachings about sexuality to racism.
Yet compromise could be achieved by packaging LGBTQ civil rights protections with relatively narrow exemptions for religious objectors.

These are conservative religious groups that are not prepared to change their doctrinal teachings on marriage and sexuality. But they have broken with the old guard of anti-gay diehards. For LGBTQ Americans, negotiating a package deal would bring important legal protections, yet the political gains would be even more impressive. The once monolithic opposition to LGBTQ rights among conservative religious denominations would be shattered.

So LGBTQ Americans can pursue a deal that delivers legal protections plus a political breakthrough. Or we could walk away empty-handed. Again.
Lyndon B. Johnson is reported to have asked congressional interlocutors, “Do you want a bill, or do you want an issue?” LGBTQ rights advocates have a shot at a historic achievement. Let’s aim for the bill.
Jonathan Rauch is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author, most recently, of “The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth.”
5. House votes to expand legal safeguards for LGBTQ people, By Kevin Freking, Associated Press, February 25, 2021, 12:30 AM
The Democratic-led House passed a bill Thursday that would enshrine LGBTQ protections in the nation’s labor and civil rights laws, a top priority of President Joe Biden, though the legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
The bill passed by a vote of 224-206 with three Republicans joining Democrats in voting yes.
The Equality Act amends existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics. The protections would extend to employment, housing, loan applications, education, public accommodations and other areas.
6. Campaign aims to foster respect for religious freedom, religious sites, By Catholic News Service, February 25, 2021
Catholic Extension has joined the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations to engage youth around the globe in raising awareness of religious freedom and cultivating interreligious respect through a campaign called #forSafeWorship.
The campaign is part of a global call to action to foster solidarity and protect religious sites and worshippers.
Catholic Extension is collaborating with the alliance, known as UNAOC, through a special storytelling project “designed to celebrate the universality of religious sites as symbols of our shared humanity, history and traditions,” said a news release from the Chicago-based organization.
7. Top German bishop laments ‘scandalous’ image of church, By Associated Press, February 25, 2021
The head of the German Bishops’ Conference said Thursday that the country’s Catholic church is suffering from a “scandalous image” amid mounting anger over the Cologne archbishop’s handling of a report on past sexual abuse by clergy, but he defended its overall record in addressing the issue.
The Cologne archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, faces discontent after keeping under wraps for months a study he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse.
Woelki has cited legal concerns about publishing the study conducted by a law firm. He has commissioned a new report, which is supposed to be published March 18.

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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“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.