TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 205 – Shannon Bream on Love Stories Of The Bible Speak & Bishop Thomas Paprocki! Shannon Bream—attorney, host of Fox News Sunday, and NY Times’ bestselling author—joins the TCA team discussing her new book out next week: The Love Stories of the Bible Speak: Biblical Lessons on Romance, Friendship, and Faith. Poring over pages of Scripture, Bream offers insights into some of the Bible’s greatest stories, especially our call to ‘sacrificial love.’ Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., also joins sharing his thoughts on the ongoing Eucharistic revival and the vital truth of the Real Presence. Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily to prepare us for this Sunday’s Gospel. Catch the show every Saturday at 7amET/5pmET on EWTN radio! 1. Christian Colleges Can Be Good for Jews, By Rebecca Sugar, The Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2023, Pg. A13, Opinion Acceptance rates for Jews at top colleges have been declining, as entire categories of applicants have become disfavored by university admissions offices. For religiously observant Jews, there is another problem: Even schools with large numbers of Jewish students may not be viable options. Religious Jews need a critical mass of committed coreligionists on campus for prayer quorums and holiday celebrations. They need kosher food, which many colleges don’t offer. Even if they get a coveted spot at a top school, observant Jews will often face anti-Semitism and find they have to defend themselves against radical ideologies that target their beliefs. There is unexplored potential, however, at an array of institutions that Jewish applicants usually overlook: Christian schools. Institutions that honor the Judeo-Christian tradition and celebrate Western civilization tend to resist the academic decay, and attendant anti-Semitism, now plaguing many first- and second-tier campuses. Christian institutions frequently offer the classical-liberal education most of academia has abandoned. Words such as “God,” “truth” and “morality” haven’t been reimagined. Free speech is honored. Jews and Israel are generally respected.  Most Jews are still trying to get into schools where Jewish life has been robust. The do-it-yourself approach to being a Jew on campus isn’t for everyone. But the admissions landscape has dramatically shifted, and many highly qualified, wandering Jewish students are left seeking new options that meet their needs and standards of excellence. Christian schools are already offering much of what these students are looking for. Diplomacy, philanthropy, a plan and a few hundred pioneers could turn some of these Christian campuses into very attractive Jewish choices. Jews have built infrastructure to accommodate their needs before. They can do it again. 2. Have Europe’s bishops followed the American path in choosing a leader?, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, March 24, 2023, Opinion When the U.S. bishops elected a center-right prelate and protégé of an influential conservative Italian cardinal as their president last November, it was framed in much reporting and commentary as a protest vote against Pope Francis. “Bishops elect anti-Francis archbishop as president,” was how the National Catholic Reporter headlined an editorial blasting the choice of Archbishop Timothy Broglio, while Patheos asked, “Did the Bishops Just Stick Their Collective Thumb in the Pope’s Eye?”  Yet after the European bishops did more or less the same thing yesterday – to wit, elect a moderate-to-conservative figure who rose through the ranks under the patronage of a well-known conservative Italian cardinal – there’s been no such spin. That’s despite the fact that the contrast between the outgoing president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, and the new leader is especially dramatic. In choosing Italian Bishop Mariano Crociata of the small Diocese of Latina, the European bishops, whether intentionally or not, have opted for a seemingly significant course change after five years of Hollerich, a Jesuit and a key Pope Francis ally.  Among pundits and reporters, the American bishops typically are seen as a bastion of resistance to the progressive reform agenda of Pope Francis, so virtually anything they do will be spun as a major act of defiance. The Europeans, by way of contrast, generally are seen as allies of the pope – or, if anything, even more liberal than he is, as reflected in the results of the recent German “synodal path.” It does not come naturally, therefore, to many church-watchers to conclude that the Europeans may just have followed the American path – to the extent, that is, that either Broglio or Crociata genuinely represent a challenge to the Francis papacy, as opposed to simply being expressions of the unity-in-diversity that’s always been part of the Catholic story. 3. U.S. bishops urge Dept. of Education to keep rule protecting campus religious groups, By John Lavenburg, Crux, March 24, 2023 In response to a proposal from the U.S. Department of Education to rescind religious freedom protection for faith-based organizations at public universities, deeming them unnecessary, the U.S. bishops have asked the department to preserve the protection, which it calls “commonsense.” After more than a year of review, the department announced February 21 that it proposed to rescind a portion of the Religious Liberty & Free Inquiry Rule that in part ensures the freedom of faith-based student organizations at public universities to require members to abide by the tenets of the faith. Nassar Paydar, Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education, wrote in the February announcement that the provision in question “is not necessary in order to protect the First Amendment right to free speech and free exercise of religion given existing legal protections.” “It has caused confusion about schools’ nondiscrimination requirements, and it prescribed a novel and unduly burdensome role for the Department in investigating allegations regarding the public institutions’ treatment of religious student organizations,” Paydar explained.  The USCCB sent out a message March 23 explaining that recession of the “Equal Campus Access” provisions will send a message to religious student groups that they are not welcome on public campuses. “[The regulations] provide commonsense protection for faith-based student organizations that have faced discrimination on many public college campuses for nearly four decades,” the USCCB said. “By protecting students of all faiths, the existing regulations ensure that students of all religious faiths will be welcome on public college campuses.” 4. Abortion-rights supporters prevail in New Hampshire House, By Holly Ramer, Associated Press, March 23, 2023, 4:42 PM In a victory for abortion-rights supporters, the Republican-led but closely divided New Hampshire House on Thursday rejected multiple bills to further restrict abortion access while also approving legislation to protect it. The eight abortion-related bills came up for a vote during what has been a hectic week for abortion policy nationwide. Nine months after the U.S. Supreme Court ended a nationwide right to an abortion, court fights are playing out on multiple fronts, states dominated by Democrats are seeking to protect access and Republicans are trying to tighten restrictions.  The proposal in question, backed by virtually all Democrats, would have repealed the state’s ban on abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy. The bill was tabled after the 192-192 tie. Democrats succeeded, however, in sending the Senate a bill that would remove the civil and criminal penalties associated with the ban, a change Republican Gov. Chris Sununu supports. The House also voted to add an explicit right to abortion up to 24 weeks to state law, though the Republican-led Senate already has defeated a similar bill. 5. Milwaukee priest loses confession faculties after confession column, By The Pillar, March 23, 2023, 7:05 PM The Archdiocese of Milwaukee announced Wednesday that a priest has lost the faculty to hear confessions validly, after he published an op-ed supporting a bill that would remove legal protections for the confessional seal. Archbishop Jerome Listecki announced March 22 that he had “immediately removed the canonical faculties of Father [James] Connell to validly celebrate the Sacrament of Confession and to offer absolution, here in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and thereby also in the Catholic Church around the world.” Priests are required to have faculties from a diocesan bishop to validly hear confessions and confer sacramental absolution. Listecki’s withdrawal of Connell’s faculties renders the priest unable to hear confession in any cases unless a particular penitent is in immediate danger of death. Connell, 80, is retired from active ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, after a priestly career which included stints as both a diocesan curial official and a parish pastor. The priest, who is a canon lawyer, has been a long-time advocate for the victims of clerical sexual abuse.  On March 12, he published an op-ed in the Delaware News Journal, which voiced support for a bill in the Delaware legislature that would strip legal protection from the confessional seal, requiring priests to report knowledge or suspicion of child abuse and neglect which they had gleaned from the confessional. “No institution in our society, not even a recognized religion, has a significant advantage over governments’ compelling interest and responsibility to protect its children from harm by abuse or neglect. Thus, no valid freedom of religion argument rooted in the absence of truth can provide a moral justification for sheltering perpetrators of abuse or neglect of children from their deserved punishment, while also endangering potential victims,” the priest wrote. 6. Bishop Paprocki to Pro-Lifers: ‘We Must Step Up Our Struggles to Counter the Evil Forces of Death’, ‘We are to care for, protect and welcome new life, as the Blessed Mother did for the Christ Child,’ the bishop urged the faithful ahead of the Illinois March for Life., By Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, National Catholic Register, March 23, 2023, Opinion Editor’s Note: Ahead of the Illinois March for Life on March 21, Mass was held at Sangamon Auditorium at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki was the main celebrant and homilist. Following Mass, the bishop gave remarks to pro-lifers at the Illinois March for Life Rally at the Lincoln statue in front of the Illinois State Capitol Building. The homily and address are reprinted with permission.  We have gathered here from all across the Land of Lincoln because the lives of unborn babies in our state of Illinois are threatened as never before. Since the United States Supreme Court decision last year in Dobbs v. Jackson overturned the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade and rightfully returned the question of the legality of abortion back to the states, large states such as Illinois, California and New York have unabashedly sought to make these states abortion-friendly havens. In states such as ours, we cannot relax our pro-life efforts now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned. On the contrary, we must step up our struggles to counter the evil forces of death. Today was intentionally chosen for the Illinois March for Life not only because it is a day when the Illinois General Assembly is in session, but also because of its proximity to the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, which the Church normally celebrates on March 25. This celebration commemorates the visit of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary to announce that she was to be the mother of our Savior. After giving her consent to God’s word, Mary conceived Jesus in her womb and became the mother of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. God became incarnate in the womb of a woman and “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). In modern times, the feast of the Annunciation has taken on special meaning in the Church’s efforts to protect and defend all human life. Scientific advances such as ultrasound imaging have allowed us to confirm that life begins at conception. The Annunciation helps us to recognize the gift of new life from its very beginning in the womb. It calls us to reflect on how we are to care for, protect and welcome new life, as the Blessed Mother did for the Christ Child.  When the angel Gabriel first appeared to Mary, she was troubled and confused at the unexpected news, yet faithfully embraced God’s plan for her life. As a young, pregnant woman, Mary would face many challenges. Today, mothers facing an unexpected pregnancy may have trouble recognizing the great gift that God has given them. Concerns about a lack of material and financial resources, as well as physical and emotional support systems, often crowd their minds and their hearts. Fear and anxiety can push women to believe that abortion is their only option. As Catholics, we know that abortion is never the answer for a woman in need. During challenging periods in our lives, we all need the care and support of others. For a pregnant woman in need, the real, tangible support of others can allow her to see a way forward. Knowing she is not alone can allow her to open her heart to God’s plan and choose life. I encourage all of you to embark on this journey, which is so urgently needed for the lives of unborn babies, the spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being of their mothers and fathers, and for the benefit of our entire community. We ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as we discern how together we can build a culture of life by better supporting those who bear the gift of life to the world. Relying on our own human resources, our efforts are limited, but Mary’s response to the angel reminds us that “nothing will be impossible for God” (Luke 1:37). So, we turn now to her Son, who comes to us in this Eucharist. May God give us this grace. Amen. 7. Local Chinese authorities order parents at school to sign pledge renouncing their faith, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, March 23, 2023, 2:08 PM In another crackdown on religious freedom, local authorities in an eastern Chinese city ordered parents of kindergarteners to sign a pledge that affirms they are not religious. Guardians of children at schools in Wenzhou, a city in the Zhejiang province, were asked to sign a “pledge form of commitment for family not to hold a religious belief,” according to the human rights group China Aid. The pledge states that the parents affirm they “do not hold a religious belief, do not participate in any religious activities, and do not propagate and disseminate religion in any locations.” It also makes them affirm “exemplary observance of the [Chinese Communist] Party discipline and the country’s laws and regulations [and to] never join any Falun Gong and other cult organizations.”  The Chinese constitution states that citizens “enjoy freedom of religious belief” but limits religious practices to “normal religious activities,” according to the U.S. Department of State. The Chinese government recognizes five religions, which it calls “patriotic religious associations”: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism. However, the city and the nation as a whole have repeatedly been accused of violating the rights of those who practice these religions as well.  One of the fiercest critics of the Chinese Communist Party’s crackdown on Catholics is Cardinal Joseph Zen, who was arrested for helping operate the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund to help Hong Kong citizens who protested the Chinese Communist Party. In a 2020 interview with WION, Zen said the Vatican’s deal with China only emboldened the Chinese Communist Party to crack down harder. “We have only the moral strength to resist peacefully against the persecution,” Zen said. “It’s [important] for us to keep our faith, not to surrender our faith; we can even sacrifice the sacraments — when you are arrested you cannot keep the sacraments but your faith is in your hearts to help you but you cannot deny your faith.” 8. Exiles describe Nicaragua regime’s ‘unholy war against the Catholic Church’ at congressional hearing, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, March 23, 2023, 5:14 PM Recently released political prisoners and human rights activists testified before members of Congress Wednesday about the ongoing persecution in Nicaragua, which one witness called an “unholy war against the Catholic Church.” In recent years, the Nicaraguan government under Daniel Ortega has detained, imprisoned, and likely tortured numerous Catholic leaders, targeting at least one bishop and several priests.  In addition, the Ortega regime has repressed Catholic radio and television stations and driven Catholic religious orders, including the Missionaries of Charity, from the country.  Among those to testify March 22 was Juan Sebastian Chamorro, a former presidential candidate opposed to the Ortega regime who detailed his arrest and imprisonment. 9. Eric Adams Has a Point About Church and State, By Thomas Farr, Real Clear Religion, March 22, 2023, Opinion New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ heretical views on the “separation of church and state” sparked apoplexy on the left and confirmed the authoritarian impulse at the center of sexual liberation ideology. Speaking at a Manhattan interfaith breakfast on March 2, Mayor Adams delivered some street-wise constitutional analysis: “Don’t tell me about no separation of church and state. State is the body. Church is the heart. You take the heart out of the body, the body dies.” Shocked by this apostasy, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote that his “alarming remarks can only give aid and comfort to right-wing Christian nationalists.” Writing for the New York Times, Dana Rubenstein described the event as “surreal” and quoted a New York rabbi who called Adams’ statement “unhinged and dangerous.”  Rubenstein helpfully explained, “The phrase ‘separation of church and state’ is not in the Constitution, but the First Amendment’s statement that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’ has been widely interpreted to dictate such a separation.” “Widely interpreted,” that is, by those who wish to ban unacceptable religious views from American public life. Separationism entered our public lexicon with Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter asserting a “wall of separation between church and state. The wall, he averred, prevented clergy from engaging in politics. According to scholar Philip Hamberger, the separation idea garnered little support until later in the 19th century when Irish and other Catholic immigrants began to flood east coast cities, bringing with them the Mass and parochial schools. The wall of separation was adopted by nativist political parties and led to the 19th century Blaine amendments, designed to prevent state aid to Catholic schools.  So who decides critically important public issues like human life and dignity, marriage, and the meaning of sex? The body politic – including its religious citizens, communities, and ideas. The left would exclude the venerable ideas of natural law and inalienable rights recognized at the founding. They would do well to remember Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister writing from a Birmingham jail. He drew on St. Thomas Aquinas to remind the nation that “a just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God.” Adams was onto something important. “State is the body. Church is the heart. You take the heart out of the body, the body dies.” Surely even the left can agree that in America, we all have a voice, even the Church. Thomas F. Farr is President Emeritus of the Religious Freedom Institute.

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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