TCA Podcast – “Conversations with Consequences”

Episode 44 –  John Bursch of Alliance Defending Freedom Intl with a Supreme Court Round-Up!

Vice President of Appellate Advocacy and Senior Counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, John Bursch, joins the Catholic Association’s Dr. Grazie Christie, Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, and Ashley McGuire in a new episode of Conversations with Consequences. John shares a thought-provoking analysis of the most important Supreme Court cases coming this term including a Louisiana abortion law that could signal a major turning point in the long movement against abortion in America, gender identity, potential threats to the seal of confession, and more!

1. Roberts Faces Moment of Truth on Abortion Issue at Supreme Court.

By Greg Stohr, Bloomberg, February 28, 2020

The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear its first abortion case since Roberts became the pivotal vote on the issue. Four years after invalidating a Texas law requiring clinic doctors to have hospital admitting privileges, the court will consider whether to switch directions and uphold a similar law in Louisiana.

Supporters of the Louisiana measure, which carries criminal penalties, say the state is trying to protect women from unscrupulous and incompetent abortion providers. Among other arguments, they are urging the court to say that Hope and two unidentified doctors lack the legal right to challenge the law on behalf of their patients.

“We need to be listening to women, not to abortion businesses,” said Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United for Life.

A ruling that upholds the Louisiana law without overturning the 2016 ruling would still be a boost for the anti-abortion cause, said James Bopp, an Indiana lawyer who filed a brief on behalf of the National Right to Life Committee and the Louisiana Right to Life Committee.

“It wouldn’t be as consequential,” Bopp said. “But any time you have a ruling on an abortion case, if the law’s upheld, there is value in that.”

2. Italian Churches Go Into Quarantine: Most of the clergy have failed to deliver much-needed spiritual leadership.

By Alessandra Bocchi, The Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2020, Pg. A13, Opinion

When the coronavirus arrived in Italy, it also arrived in the heart of global Catholicism. Yet throughout the country the church’s response has been underwhelming, and the clergy are failing the faithful amid this crisis.

No one is urging the clergy to commit suicide-by-coronavirus. But “during the most serious time of this outbreak the pope decided to comment on the dangers of populism,” the Italian Catholic conservative writer Francesco Giubilei told me. “People of faith around the world today need spiritual direction and guidance on how to confront this crisis.”

The suspension of most religious activities the church is more cautious, which isn’t necessarily a bad development. But its absence isn’t being compensated by a strong spiritual presence, which Italians desperately need.

3. Pope to endorse principles on AI ethics with Microsoft, IBM.

By Jeffrey Dastin, Reuters, February 28, 2020, 3:04 AM

Vatican officials on Friday planned to release principles promoting the ethical use of artificial intelligence (AI), with the backing of Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) as the first two technology industry sponsors.

The “Rome Call for AI Ethics” asserts that the technology should respect privacy, work reliably and without bias, consider “the needs of all human beings” and operate transparently – an area of ongoing research because AI systems’ decisions are often inscrutable.

The Vatican’s initiative grew out of concerns that Pope Francis raised about AI and its effect on society more than a year ago, according to John Kelly III, executive vice president of IBM and one of the signatories.

4. An autistic boy was denied First Communion because he can’t tell right from wrong, his family says.

By Antonia Noori Farzan, The Washington Post, February 28, 2020, 5:14 AM

In a Tuesday Facebook post that quickly went viral, Jimmy LaCugna wrote that the family was told that “since Anthony is unable to determine right from wrong due to his disability they feel he is not up to the ‘benchmark required to make his communion.’” Calling the church’s choice “very hard and upsetting to comprehend,” he added that his son “wouldn’t even be able to create a sin because he is one of the sweetest and innocent little boy someone would ever meet.”

St. Aloysius is now rethinking its policies. In a Wednesday statement, the parish said that “new information has come to light” indicating that children with intellectual and cognitive disabilities “should be presumed to have an inner spiritual relationship with God.”

5. Orthodox leader in Jerusalem merits a spot on Catholic radar screen.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, February 28, 2020, Opinion

Because the papacy is by far the biggest bully pulpit on the religious landscape, the pope – any pope, really, but especially Francis – tends to overshadow other spiritual leaders in terms of news coverage and celebrity status. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other interesting characters, only that sometimes you have to pay careful attention to notice.

On any such list, a slot right now would have to be reserved for Theophilus III, officially “His Most Godly Beatitude, the Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine, Israel, Syria, Arabia, beyond the Jordan River, Cana of Galilee, and Holy Zion.”

Not only does Theophilus, leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, thus straddle the Israeli/Palestinian divide, but increasingly he’s also a player in an equally pernicious intra-Orthodox rupture.

All this merits a spot on the Catholic radar screen for two reasons.

First, in ecumenical efforts to engage Orthodoxy, Pope Francis and his Vatican team have worked hard to maintain good relations with both Constantinople and Moscow, but it’s difficult when the two aren’t even talking to each other. In that regard, Rome may find Theophilus an interesting conversation partner.

Second, Catholicism and Orthodoxy have shared interests in many places, but perhaps nowhere more so than the Middle East, where a rising tide of jihadist-driven persecution threatens the very survival of Christianity in the land of its birth.

In that context, making common cause is an existential imperative, and knowing who the potential change-makers are is critical.

However flawed, in other words, Theophilus is a potential force, both in a region and in a church in which Catholicism is deeply invested … and that, by a short route, means he’s a “need-to-know” kind of guy.

6. Virginia lawmakers pass bills easing abortion restrictions.

By Sarah Rankin, Associated Press, February 27, 2020, 2:57 PM

Abortion restrictions that were enacted when Republicans controlled Virginia’s General Assembly are being undone in legislation approved by the Democrats who are now in charge.

The House on Thursday gave final passage to a bill that would roll back provisions including a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion and a requirement that women seeking an abortion undergo an ultrasound and counseling. The measure would also undo the requirement that abortions be provided by a physician, allowing nurse practitioners to perform them, and do away with strict building code requirements on facilities where abortions are performed.

7. Legion of Christ vows better abuse response amid new scandal.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, February 27, 2020, 9:25 AM

he Legion of Christ religious order is promising accountability and transparency following damaging new revelations of sex abuse and cover-up that have undermined its credibility, a decade after revelations of its pedophile founder disgraced the order.

The Legion vowed to investigate the confirmed cases of past abuse by 33 priests and 71 seminarians. The Mexico-based order said it would reach out to the victims, publish the names of those found guilty of abuse in either a church or a state court, and punish superiors responsible for “gross negligence” in the handling of abuse accusations.

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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