TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 198 – Father Ben Kiely On Religious Freedom In Iraq & Introducing The Culture Project! With the International Religious Freedom Summit convening in Washington this week, we check in with Father Ben Kiely of, fresh back from visiting Iraq, to learn some of the greatest issues facing persecuted Christians in the region, suffering such oppression. We also learn all about the Culture Project with Greg Schleppenbach, equipping young people to go out and help teens lead lives of virtue, working with parishes across the country. Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily to prepare us for this Sunday’s Gospel, and our call to be ‘salt and light.’ Catch the show every Saturday at 7amET/5pmET on EWTN radio! 1. The World’s Newest Country Is Broken and Forgotten. Enter Pope Francis, The soaring hopes at South Sudan’s creation in 2011 have been cruelly dashed. Pope Francis arrived there with other religious leaders on Friday to highlight its plight., By Declan Walsh, The New York Times, February 3, 2023, 8:36 AM It is just over a decade since the steamy capital of South Sudan exploded in joy, with revelers singing and dancing through the night to mark the birth of their nation as it split from its old enemy, Sudan. The new country was cheered on in 2011 by the American diplomats who had midwifed its delivery and the Hollywood celebrities who championed its cause. Billions of dollars poured into an ambitious state-building project that offered a fresh start to a people weary after decades of war. “Freedom!” they cried. Now that feels like a very long time ago. Engulfed by civil war, famine and most recently floods, the world’s youngest country has been plagued by schisms and thwarted by leaders who pocketed its considerable oil wealth. No Western leader has ever made a public visit, leaving many South Sudanese feeling forgotten. But not by Pope Francis. He arrived in the capital, Juba, on Friday, after visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo — an African tour intended to shine a light on some of the continent’s most troubled yet ignored countries.  Roman Catholic leaders insist the visit is pastoral, not political. But in a country as weak and divided as South Sudan, where Christian churches still wield great influence, politics may be impossible to avoid.  Francis is arriving with unusually prominent companions: the archbishop of Canterbury and the symbolic head of the global Anglican Communion, Justin Welby, and the leader of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshield. In the colonial era, Christian missionaries in Sudan were divided by the river Nile, with Catholics allowed to preach on one side and Anglicans on the other. Now the “three wise men,” as some have dubbed them, are uniting for a joint pilgrimage — the first of its kind, church leaders say — in an effort to bring the plight of suffering South Sudanese to global attention.   The pope is coming “as a shepherd, speaking to his people and calling for a conversion of hearts,” Archbishop Bert Van Megen, the Papal Nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan, said in an interview. About six million of South Sudan’s 11 million people are Catholic, he said, including its president, Salva Kiir. 2. Pope heads to South Sudan to urge peace as fighting kills 27, By Nicole Winfield and Deng Machol, Associated Press, February 3, 2023, 5:06 AM Pope Francis opened the second and final leg of his African pilgrimage by heading to South Sudan on Friday, hoping to encourage the young country’s stalled peace process and draw international attention to continued fighting and a worsening humanitarian crisis. Francis had one final appointment Friday in Kinshasa with Congo’s bishops before flying to the South Sudanese capital, Juba. There, he joins the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Rt. Rev. Iain Greenshields, in a novel ecumenical push for peace. Together, the three represent the religious leadership of the overwhelmingly Christian country, the world’s youngest, which gained independence from the majority Muslim Sudan in 2011 but has been beset by civil war and conflict. The Christian leaders are aiming to give a joint call for South Sudan’s political leaders to put aside their differences and work for the good of their people. Continued fighting, including attacks this week in the south that killed 27 people, has displaced some 2 million people and hampered implementation of a 2018 peace deal, but residents said the arrival of Francis on the first-ever papal visit to South Sudan gave them hope. 3. Republicans blast Smithsonian for kicking out Catholic students over ‘pro-life’ beanies, By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, February 3, 2023 South Carolina Republicans led lawmakers blasting the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum for kicking out a group of Catholic high school students because they wore matching beanies inscribed with the words “pro-life.” Museum staff accosted a dozen students and chaperones from the Our Lady of the Rosary School in Greenville, South Carolina, telling them to remove their blue “Rosary PRO-LIFE” beanies or leave, according to the American Center for Law and Justice. Sen. Tim Scott, South Carolina Republican, called the Smithsonian’s conduct an “outrageous violation of free speech,” while former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said that if the federal institution wants to “silence voices, then Congress needs to silence its funding.” A Memo to the German Bishops, Strong words from Pope Francis were met not with filial obedience, but with criticism from the president of the German bishops’ conference., By Michael Warsaw, National Catholic Register, February 3, 2023, Opinion As events continue to spiral toward a potential disaster — the formal or informal schism of the Catholic Church in Germany from communion with Rome — it’s long past time to send a blunt memo to Germany’s dissenting bishops and lay Church leaders and their heterodox supporters in other countries. Such a memo is urgently needed because of the continuing and brazen refusal of German Church leaders to heed the multiple requests from Pope Francis, from senior Vatican officials, and from bishops elsewhere to rein in their disastrous and fraudulently misnamed “Synodal Way” process. The most recent example was the contemptuous response of Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference, to the Pope’s pointed criticisms in his recent Associated Press interview. The Holy Father stated bluntly that the agendas of dissent being shoved forward in Germany, despite numerous unsuccessful attempts at correction, are “neither helpful nor serious” and reflect an “elitist” and “ideological” mentality. A loyal son of the Church should have been deeply chastened by this direct rebuke from the Successor to St. Peter. Bishop Bätzing wasn’t. He dismissed the Holy Father’s remarks out of hand, sniping back that if Francis had wanted to communicate his concerns about the Synodal Way he should have done so directly to the German bishops when they visited the Vatican collectively in November. Equally, a memo is urgently needed to communicate to the dissenting majority of German bishops and to their supporters outside Germany — prominently including U.S. Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego — that it’s completely unacceptable to attempt a similarly ideological takeover of the ongoing worldwide synod in hopes of advancing these same dissenting agendas in that process too.  These dissenters require a direct and explicit correction from Pope Francis himself instructing them, as Catholics who ostensibly are still in communion with the global Church, to cease and desist from their efforts to misinterpret his call for synodality as a mandate to rupture the Church’s unity — and overturn its doctrines and ecclesiology. As for us, we can assist by praying that the hearts and minds of those who are promoting this false notion of synodality to advance their ideological objectives will become open to such a correction. As well, we can continue our prayerful support of the brave Church leaders inside and outside of Germany who are remaining true to the teachings of the Catholic faith. Michael Warsaw is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the EWTN Global Catholic Network, and the Publisher of the National Catholic Register. FACE-ing the Facts, Despite its original intention to protect abortion, the Department of Justice is now being forced to utilize federal legislation against pro-abortion extremists., By National Catholic Register, February 3, 2023, Editorial An ancient aphorism of the Catholic faith states that out of every evil, God can create a greater good. This principle comes to mind in the context of recent developments regarding federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrance Act prosecutions, initiated by the Department of Justice. On Jan. 30, a Philadelphia jury exonerated pro-life sidewalk advocate Mark Houck of the flimsy FACE-related charges brought against him by the DOJ last year. Only a few days before his acquittal, the DOJ unexpectedly initiated FACE Act proceedings against two pro-abortion radicals who are accused of damaging pro-life pregnancy facilities in Florida. The evil in play here is the ongoing attempt by the DOJ to improperly weaponize the FACE Act to stifle peaceful pro-life protesters. This weaponization has deliberately intensified in recent months, in keeping with Attorney General Merrick Garland’s public commitment last July to mobilize the federal legal apparatus in support of abortion rights after Roe v. Wade was overturned. The greater good in play is the fact that the DOJ is now being forced to utilize this federal legislation against some of the pro-abortion extremists who have unleashed an ongoing wave of violence against pregnancy centers, ever since the text of the draft U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe was leaked at the beginning of last May. Of course it’s also true that the announcement of the FACE Act prosecution in Florida, stemming from attacks on three crisis-pregnancy centers there, is a drop in the bucket compared to the 23 pro-life advocates who have been charged under the federal legislation since President Joe Biden assumed office two years ago. This disparity has become even more glaring, in light of the more than 100 brazen attacks that pro-abortion activists have carried out since May. Given this backdrop, it’s understandable that many pro-life leaders remain unconvinced the DOJ has any intention of applying the FACE Act fairly under Garland’s leadership.   Attorney General Garland and the entire DOJ are going to have to face the fact that they are required to apply federal laws fairly and equally, as they are written — whether they like it or not. 6. Bishop Barron says Minnesota’s new abortion law is ‘the worst kind of barbarism’, By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, February 2, 2023, 12:45 PM Winona-Rochester Bishop Robert Barron called a newly passed Minnesota abortion bill that enshrines abortion rights into law “the worst kind of barbarism.” “I want to share with you my anger, my frustration over this terrible law that was just signed by the governor in Minnesota — the most really extreme abortion law that’s on the books in the wake of the Roe v. Wade reversal,” Barron said in a Jan. 31 video on social media following Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s signing of the bill on Tuesday. The bill, titled the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act, enshrines a constitutional right to “reproductive freedom,” ensuring the right to abortion in Minnesota up to birth for any reason, as well as the right to contraception and sterilization. “Basically, it eliminates any kind of parental notifications so a 12-year-old child can get an abortion without even telling her parents about it,” Barron said.  “But the worst thing,” he added, “is it basically permits abortion all the way through pregnancy up to the very end. And indeed, indeed if a child somehow survives a botched abortion, the law now prohibits an attempt to save that child’s life.”

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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