TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 66- George Weigel On ‘The Next Pope’ & Brad Wilcox Says Divorce Rate Dropping Amid Covid!

On this week’s Conversations with Consequences, Dr. Grazie Christie and TCA colleague Maureen Ferguson get a firsthand look at George Weigel’s ‘The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission’.  Weigel offers a look at challenges the next pontificate might face and how watered-down Catholicism has always lost when it comes to true Church leadership.

With many states still in quarantine, Brad Wilcox of the National Marriage Project joins with a look at some uplifting trends with regard to marriage, offering some silver linings to the lonely world of lockdown. Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily for this Sunday’s Gospel. Make sure to tune in every Saturday at 5pm ET on EWTN radio!

1. Turkey Retreats From Modernity, By Charlotte Allen, The Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2020, Pg. A13, Opinion

This Friday marks the end of Turkey’s experiment with secular modernity. That’s when regular Islamic religious services begin at Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia. The 1,500-year-old structure had served as a museum and symbol of Turkish tolerance until President Recep Tayyip Erdogan decreed the change earlier this month.

The Hagia Sophia has a dizzying history. It originally was built in 537 as the central cathedral of what would become Greek Orthodox Christianity. Ottoman Turkish Muslims conquered the Greek-speaking Christian Byzantine Empire and converted it into a mosque in 1453. But in 1934 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of modern Turkey, decreed Hagia Sophia would become a secular museum.

Turkey’s Muslim majority may be indifferent. The country is dotted with the ruins of its classical Greek past and nearly 1,000 years of Byzantine civilization—most of which have been deliberately destroyed or allowed to collapse. Atatürk’s experiment with secular and Western values seems to have come a cropper in a Turkey that takes religion more seriously than the secular West does. But for a structure like Hagia Sophia, it seems no change lasts forever.

Ms. Allen is the author of “The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus” (Free Press, 1998).

2. As Hagia Sophia opens as mosque, Orthodox observe day of mourning, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, July 24, 2020

As Muslims chant prayers from Istanbul’s famed Hagia Sophia for the first time 86 years on Friday morning, Orthodox Christians worldwide will recite a hymn of lamentation for what they see as a major blow to interreligious coexistence.

“Our response to the outrage that is being performed today can only come through prayer,” Metropolitan Agathangelos of Fanari, General Director of the Apostolic Ministry of the Church of Greece, said in a statement last week.

“Just as our ancestors and Fathers turned to the Most Holy Theotokos, the Warrior General of our Nation, each time the enemies besieged the walls of (Constantinople), so now we must also recourse there to ask the Virgin Mary with peace in our souls to liberate the temple of the Holy Wisdom of God from all dangers,” he said.

3. Prelate Faces Trial In Sex-Assault Case, By Noemie Bisserbe and Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2020, Pg. A16

A former Vatican envoy to France will stand trial on sexual-assault charges in Paris on Nov. 10, in the latest case of a senior Catholic churchman formally accused of sexual misconduct.

Several men allege that Archbishop Luigi Ventura, who served as papal nuncio or ambassador to France until December, assaulted them between 2018 and 2019.

The Vatican took the unusual step of withdrawing the archbishop’s diplomatic immunity to prosecution in July 2019, in accordance with what it said were the nuncio’s wishes, to “collaborate fully and spontaneously with the French judicial authorities.”

4. What Should Jesus Look Like?, By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, July 23, 2020, 6:05 PM

Recent controversies over the historical legacy of racism in America haven’t spared the symbols of religion.

The targets of criticism have even included images of the founder of Christianity himself. Shaun King, a prominent activist with the Black Lives Matter movement, wrote on Twitter last month that “all murals and stained glass windows of white Jesus, and his European mother, and their white friends should also come down. They are a gross form [of] white supremacy. Created as tools of oppression. Racist propaganda.”

The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and writer on religious topics, responded by rejecting the destruction of images but agreeing that “Jesus should be portrayed more like he (probably) looked…a first-century Galilean carpenter” resembling residents of the region today.

The question of how to represent Jesus visually is nearly as old as Christianity itself. It is complicated by the historical mystery of what he actually looked like, and even more so by the theological mystery of his dual identity as both man and God.

With the rise of the civil rights movement, depictions of Jesus as a Black man began to appear in the U.S. But the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote in 1957 that the “color of Jesus’ skin is of little or no consequence…. The significance of Jesus lay, not in His color, but in His unique God-consciousness and His willingness to surrender His will to God’s will.… He would have been no more significant if His skin had been black. He is no less significant because His skin was white.”

5. Vatican foreign minister: Religious freedom must be protected, By Simon Caldwell, Crux, July 23, 2020

The Catholic Church has failed to defend Christians effectively, partly because it historically accepted persecution as part of its “community story,” a Vatican official said.

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister, told an online forum in mid-July that efforts to counter persecution were now required because the entire fabric of human rights was at stake — even in the West — if religious freedom continued to be attacked.

He made his remarks on the first anniversary of the 176-page “Truro report,” the publication of which led to a commitment by the British government to address the global persecution of Christians specifically.

The report revealed a surprising scale of persecution of Christians globally, leading Hunt, an Anglican, to conclude that he was “not convinced that our efforts on behalf of Christians have always matched the scale of the problem.”

The report recommended that Britain seek a U.N. Security Council Resolution to require all of the nations of the Middle East and North Africa to protect Christians and to permit U.N. observers to monitor security measures.

6. German abbess faces possible landmark trial on church asylum, By Catholic News Service, July 23, 2020

A Benedictine abbess who granted refuge to female asylum-seekers faces trial for refusing to pay a fine, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA.

It could become a landmark case by determining whether granting church asylum amounts to the punishable offense of “aiding and abetting illegal residence,” as state prosecutors often interpret it. There is no supreme court ruling on this issue yet, KNA reported.

Mother Mechthild Thurmer granted refuge to female asylum-seekers in her monastery in the Bavarian town of Kirchschletten more than 30 times. The main hearing at the Bamberg district court was canceled in mid-July because the judge wanted to wait for a possible further charges against her, a court spokesman told KNA.

7. Bishops urge Catholics to ‘meet hatred with love’ after churches vandalized, By Catholic News Agency, July 23, 2020, 12:30 PM

Leading U.S. bishops have released a joint statement on Wednesday, July 22, responding to the recent spate of vandalism against Catholic churches across the United States.

“In the last few weeks, we have witnessed, among other things, one church rammed with a car and set on fire, as well as statues of Jesus Christ and of the Virgin Mary defaced or even beheaded. An historic mission church has also been badly damaged by fire, and the cause is still under investigation,” said the statement, co-signed by Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, who leads the USCCB’s religious liberty committee, and Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

The archbishops said that the attacks on churches, regardless of the motivation behind the perpetrators, “are signs of a society in need of healing.” 

The archbishops said that there was a need to imitate Jesus and “respond to confusion with understanding and to hatred with love.”

8. Churches burned, people beheaded in Mozambique’s escalating extremist violence, By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, July 23, 2020, 10:30 AM

Catholic bishop has deplored the world’s indifference to escalating extremist violence in northern Mozambique, where multiple churches have been burnt, people beheaded, young girls kidnapped, and hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the violence.

Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa of Mozambique’s Pemba diocese has been an outspoken advocate for the needs of the more than 200,000 people who have been displaced by the violent insurgency.

9. New York court case could signal hope for faith based adoption agencies, By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, July 23, 2020, 8:30 AM

A federal court ruling in New York this week could point to eventual victory at the Supreme Court for Catholic foster care placement in Philadelphia.

On Tuesday, the Second Circuit federal appeals court granted New Hope Family Services, a Christian adoption provider in Syracuse, New York, protection from a state order that threatened it with closure.

New Hope had a faith-based “recusal-and-referral” policy of declining to recommend children for unmarried or same-sex couples, while referring such cases to other agencies. The state’s Office of Children and Family Services required New Hope to not decline such cases. New Hope has served 1,000 children over a span of 50 years in its adoption services.

The adoption provider lost its case before a district court, which ruled that it failed to make a case that its First Amendment rights were violated by the state order.

However, a three-judge panel for the Second Circuit on Tuesday put a temporary stay on the state’s order.

While the court did not yet decide the “ultimate question” in the case, it acknowledged that New Hope made a “plausible claim” that its First Amendment religious and free speech rights were violated. The panel of judges also said that the state’s action may have been “informed by hostility toward certain religious beliefs.”

10. Germany’s Catholic Bishops Divided Over Vatican Instruction on Parishes, By Catholic News Agency, July 23, 2020

A new Vatican instruction on parishes has received a mixed reception in Germany.

The document, released July 20 by the Congregation for Clergy, urged parishes worldwide to become centers of evangelization. It also emphasized that, according to canon law, only priests can direct the pastoral care of parishes. 

Amid an ongoing debate about the role of lay people in the German Church, the country’s bishops responded to the Vatican instruction with both praise and criticism.

The bishops’ comments followed the Vatican’s decision in June to block the German Diocese of Trier’s plan to reduce the number of its parishes from 800 to 35.

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne said he was “grateful” for the Vatican instruction, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German language news partner.

In a July 22 statement, Cardinal Woelki thanked Pope Francis for the “many suggestions for a missionary awakening of the Church.”

He said: “At the same time it [the document] reminds us of the fundamental truths of our faith, which especially in Germany we may sometimes lose sight of when we are too preoccupied with ourselves. It is not we who ‘make’ the Church, and it is also not ‘our’ Church, but the Church of Jesus Christ. The Lord himself founded it and with it the sacraments and the ministerial priesthood.”

But Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück, vice-president of the German bishops’ conference, described the instruction as a “strong brake on the motivation and appreciation of the services of lay people.”

In a statement issued Wednesday, Bishop Bode said he feared that the text, entitled “The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the Church,” indicated a “conversion to clericalization.”

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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