TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 100 – Catholic Filmmaker Roma Downey On ‘Resurrection’ & Fr. Dave Pivonka On Pope’s Trip To Iraq!
On a special 100th episode of Conversations with Consequences, Dr. Grazie Christie talks with Catholic filmmaker and actress Roma Downey about her new film, ‘Resurrection’ premiering March 27 just in time for Holy Week and the Easter season. We also hear about Pope Francis’ trip to Iraq with Franciscan University president Father David Pivonka and the impact the historic papal trip had on the hearts and minds of Iraqi Christians who have lived thru decades of persecution. We also introduce Leigh Snead, the newest member of TCA on this special anniversary edition of Conversations with Consequences!
1. Pope Francis’ Mosul Moment, By Javier Martínez-Brocal, The Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2021, Pg. A13, Opinion
I have covered three popes and joined countless papal voyages around the world. These journeys are thoughtfully planned months, sometimes years, in advance. Their detailed itineraries always include picture-perfect stops meant to inspire. But I can’t remember any image as stirring as Pope Francis among the ruins of a city once controlled by Islamic State.

The emotional pinnacle of the trip earlier this month came during a stop at the Hosh al-Bieeya, or Church Square, which contains the ruins of four Christian churches destroyed by ISIS. One was converted into a prison by ISIS, which in its fury also damaged most of the mosques in the area.

While the visit recognized and honored the victims of countless tragedies, Pope Francis also intended to look forward. At Church Square he spoke to a group of Muslims and Christians working together to restore the 12th-century Al Nuri Mosque in Mosul’s Old City, as well as two nearby churches, Al Tahera and Al Saa’a. “We want to hear the chimes of the church clock again,” one Muslim member of the group explains. “They remind us that every hour is a gift from God.”

No matter how powerful the visit, the pope won’t change Iraq’s long history of war and violence over a few days. But it meant something to this Muslim-majority nation. “The only way to live in peace with yourself is to tolerate the other,” Mr. Mohammed said. “It is time for us to understand that the other is not a threat, that sectarianism will lead us to destruction and violence. I look at the differences as a beautiful image, not a threat to me.”
Mr. Martínez-Brocal is director of Rome Reports, a TV news agency that specializes in coverage of the Vatican.
2. Becerra confirmed to shepherd Biden’s ambitious health plans, By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press, March 18, 2021, 2:06 PM
The Senate on Thursday confirmed California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as President Joe Biden’s health secretary, filling a key position in the administration’s coronavirus response and its ambitious push to lower drug costs, expand insurance coverage, and eliminate racial disparities in medical care.
The 50-49 largely party-line vote makes the 63-year-old Becerra the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

Becerra’s Senate confirmation was a defeat for religious and social conservatives who worked to derail him over his support for abortion rights. During his confirmation hearings Becerra tried to play down the issue, acknowledging Americans have deeply held differences on abortion and assuring senators that he would follow the law. The law says abortion is legal but also that taxpayer money cannot be used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman.
3. Senate confirms Xavier Becerra as the secretary of health and human services, By Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times, March 18, 2021
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Xavier Becerra, a son of Mexican immigrants who became a member of Congress and California’s attorney general, as President Biden’s secretary of health and human services after a bitter partisan fight that centered on his qualifications and support for abortion rights.
The vote was 50 to 49. Senator Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican to support his confirmation.

Catholic Vote, an advocacy organization, condemned the vote shortly after it happened. In a written statement, Brian Burch, the group’s president, called Mr. Becerra’s confirmation “a clear and present danger for Catholics and all people of faith,” and branded Mr. Becerra “a culture warrior and extreme left-wing ideologue.”
4. Xavier Becerra’s Confirmation To Secretary Of The Department Of Health And Human Services, By Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, The Catholic Association, March 18, 2021
“Xavier Becerra’s confirmation to Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is a blow to all Americans who value religious liberty and the sanctity of life. Becerra has spent his career advancing radical, pro-abortion policies and persecuting those who disagree with him. As a physician, I take very seriously conscience protections, and I am alarmed by Becerra’s treatment of the Little Sisters of the Poor whom he attacked for their beliefs about the sanctity of all human life. If President Biden was serious about unity, he would have chosen a Secretary of HHS more in line with the majority of Americans who want to see greater restrictions on abortion.
5. Senate Confirms ‘Fanatical’ Abortion Supporter Becerra for HHS, ‘Radical Activist’ Who Sued Nuns, By Paul Strand, CBN News, March 18, 2021
One of President Biden’s most controversial nominees was confirmed today as the new Health and Human Services secretary. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, most well-known for his legal attacks on various pro-life organizations and activists, was confirmed to the HHS post on a straight party-line vote in the Senate: 50 Democrats for, 49 Republicans opposed.
Reaction was swift and uniformly negative from the pro-life community.

“Xavier Becerra’s confirmation to Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is a blow to all Americans who value religious liberty and the sanctity of life,” stated Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a policy advisor for The Catholic Association. “Becerra has spent his career advancing radical, pro-abortion policies and persecuting those who disagree with him.
“Becerra is a culture warrior and extreme left-wing ideologue who has repeatedly trampled on our most fundamental constitutional rights,” remarked Brian Burch of the faith-based group CatholicVote.
He added, “We can only assume Becerra’s clear contempt for religious freedom will continue in his new role. It is only a matter of time before he targets the Little Sisters of the Poor again, strips doctors and religious institutions of conscience rights, and mandates other harmful policies that assault core freedoms cherished by people of faith.”
6. Vatican cardinals defend gay union blessing ban amid dissent, By Nicole, Associated Press, March 18, 2021, 5:32 PM
Three cardinals close to Pope Francis defended a recent Holy See pronouncement that priests cannot bless same-sex unions as the Vatican faced outright dissent from some Catholic clergy and questions about the pontiff’s approval of the document.
Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican’s laity office, concurred Thursday with the pronouncement that a “blessing” is a sacramental action related to the sacrament of marriage, which the Catholic Church teaches can only be celebrated between a man and woman.

Later Thursday, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican’s development office, pointed to Francis’ pastoral outreach to gay men and lesbians but repeated the church’s position.
“The church has a very clear teaching about marriage that needs to be proclaimed,” O’Malley said during an online panel discussion organized by Georgetown University.
Their comments came amid continuing criticism of the document released Monday by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which said the Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex unions because God “cannot bless sin.”
7. German archbishop offers to resign after abuse criticism, By Kirsten Grieshaber and Daniel Niemann, Associated Press, March 18, 2021, 4:18 AM
A report commissioned by Germany’s Cologne archdiocese on church officials’ handling of past cases of sexual abuse found 75 cases in which high-ranking officials neglected their duties. The findings on Thursday prompted the archbishop of Hamburg to offer his resignation to Pope Francis.
The report commissioned by Cologne’s archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, absolved Woelki himself of any neglect of duty with respect to abuse victims.
However, Woelki’s late predecessor, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, was accused of two dozen instances of wrongdoing such as failing to follow up on or report cases of abuse, not sanctioning perpetrators or not caring for victims. Meisner retired in 2014 and died in 2017.
Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hesse, previously a senior church official in Cologne, was faulted for 11 cases of neglecting his duty.
8. Pope advances causes of three more Italian sisters who died of Ebola, By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, March 18, 2021
Less than a month after he recognized the “heroic virtues” of three Italian women religious who died caring for Ebola patients in Congo, Pope Francis did the same for three others who also contracted the disease and died in 1995.
The six members of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor were among the more than 250 victims of the Ebola outbreak in Kikwit, Congo, in 1995. All six sisters contracted Ebola while caring for others suffering from the virus.
At a meeting March 17 with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, the pope formally recognized that the other three sisters also lived the Christian virtues to a heroic degree. A miracle attributed to their intercession would be needed for their beatification.
9. Biden inauguration priest under investigation in California, By Associated Press, March 19, 2021
The Jesuit priest who presided over an inaugural Mass for President Joe Biden is under investigation for unspecified allegations and is on leave from his position as president of Santa Clara University in Northern California, according to a statement from the college’s board of trustees.
Father Kevin O’Brien allegedly “exhibited behaviors in adult settings, consisting primarily of conversations, which may be inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries,” according to the statement by John M. Sobrato, the board chairman.
O’Brien gave the service at Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, one of the most prominent Catholic churches in Washington, in January for Biden, who is the nation’s second Catholic president, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris, their families and elected officials before the inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.
O’Brien also presided over services for Biden’s inaugurations as vice president.
The priest has known Biden’s family for about 15 years, according to the university. O’Brien was then serving at Georgetown University, another Jesuit college. O’Brien has been president of Santa Clara University since July 2019.
10. White House claims that Pope Francis approved the ‘efficacy’ of COVID vaccines, By Catholic News Agency, March 18, 2021, 8:38 AM
The White House on Wednesday claimed that Pope Francis has affirmed “the safety and efficacy” of the three COVID vaccines approved for use in the U.S.
However, the latest statement of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) on the morality of some COVID vaccines limited its judgement to “moral aspects” of their use, and not their “safety and efficacy.” And while Pope Francis has strongly recommended that people be vaccinated against COVID-19, he has not commented on the safety of specific vaccines.
11. Papal priorities reflected in Yellen meeting, Catholic participants say, By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter, March 18, 2021
A typical day for Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen includes nonstop meetings with presidents, finance ministers and heads of Fortune 500 companies. On March 16, she added faith leaders to her schedule in what is believed to be the first time the head of the Treasury Department sat down with a full delegation of high-ranking religious leaders. Catholic participants described the meeting as one that reflected many of the priorities of Pope Francis.
“We opened and closed the meeting with prayer and, to some degree, with some intensive theological reflection,” said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, who organized the meeting. “And Yellen listened intently to the religious leaders.”
In between the prayers, the full agenda included discussion on COVID-19 response outreach, climate change and Puerto Rico debt relief, among a range of policy initiatives aimed to protect the vulnerable and address inequality.
LeCompte told NCR that Jubilee USA, an interfaith organization advocating for debt relief for developing countries, held a meeting with the Biden administration’s transition team on Nov. 24, which was followed up by a letter sent by LeCompte and Bishop David Malloy, chair of the U.S. bishops’ committee on International Justice and Peace.
12. Petition calls for Archbishop Naumann’s removal as bishops’ pro-life chair, By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter, March 18, 2021
More than 20,000 individuals have signed a petition calling for Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, to be removed from his post as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee following a series of comments signaling hostility towards President Joe Biden over his position on abortion.
The open letter, according to its authors, “highlights how the archbishop’s culture-war attacks on the president’s faith contrasts with the approach of Pope Francis, who has expressed his desire to find common ground with the administration.”
The letter was published on March 18 by the advocacy groups Faith in Public Life and Faithful America. Signatories call for Naumann to be replaced by a bishop who will give attention to a range of pro-life concerns, stating that “Pope Francis reminds us that ‘the lives of the poor’ and ‘those already born’ are ‘equally sacred.’ ” Among its signers are 400 priests and men and women religious.

Naumann was elected as head of the bishops’ pro-life committee in November 2017 for a three-year term that began in November 2018. He will be succeeded by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore in November 2021.

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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