TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences”

Episode 49 –  Little Sisters And Meeting The Coronavirus Moment

Meeting the coronavirus moment, the The Catholic Association’s Dr. Grazie Christie and Andrea Picciotti-Bayer discuss the work of the Little Sisters of the Poor with Sister Constance Veit as they are helping to protect the most vulnerable–the elderly and the infirm from the deadly virus. Author and historian David Reinhard joins with a unique look at protecting the Little Sisters’ right to serve and the beauty of Catholic organizations that have helped communities in the face of crises for centuries.

We also get a tour of the frontlines with a doctor battling the disease and helping patients in one of the busiest emergency rooms in the country–and our good friend Father Roger Landry offers some spiritual wisdom as we go through the rest of our Lenten journey–with much of the nation in quarantine and unable to attend Mass.

1. A Coronavirus Great Awakening?: Sometimes the most important ingredient for spiritual renewal is a cataclysmic event.

By Robert Nicholson, The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2020, Pg. A15, Opinion

Could a plague of biblical proportions be America’s best hope for religious revival? As the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II approaches, there is reason to think so.

Three-quarters of a century has dimmed the memory of that gruesome conflict and its terrible consequences: tens of millions killed, great cities bombed to rubble, Europe and Asia stricken by hunger and poverty. Those who survived the war had to grapple with the kinds of profound questions that only arise in the aftermath of calamity.

Americans, chastened by the horrors of war, turned to faith in search of truth and meaning. In the late 1940s, Gallup surveys showed more than three-quarters of Americans were members of a house of worship, compared with about half today. Congress added the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. Some would later call this a Third Great Awakening.

The past four years have been some of the most contentious and embarrassing in American history. Squabbling over trivialities has left the public frantic and divided, oblivious to the transcendent. But the pandemic has humbled the country and opened millions of eyes to this risky universe once more.

For societies founded on the biblical tradition, cataclysms need not mark the end. They are a call for repentance and revival. As the coronavirus pandemic subjects U.S. hospitals to a fearsome test, Americans can find solace in the same place that Butterfield did. Great struggle can produce great clarity.

Could a rogue virus lead to a grand creative moment in America’s history? Will Americans, shaken by the reality of a risky universe, rediscover the God who proclaimed himself sovereign over every catastrophe?

Mr. Nicholson is president of the Philos Project

2. Make Abortion More Available During the Pandemic — Not Less: This crisis has underscored the need for greater access to reproductive health care.

By The New York Times, March 27, 2020, Editorial

In recent days, leaders in several states — including Texas, Ohio and Louisiana — have pushed to close abortion clinics or severely curtail access, arguing that abortion is a nonessential procedure that ought to be delayed.

These state leaders know that once an abortion clinic closes for any significant period, it becomes difficult to reopen. That’s why Texas has fewer clinics today than it did before the enactment of its restrictive 2013 anti-abortion law, which aimed to regulate clinics out of existence. Though the law was struck down by the Supreme Court three years later, many clinics were never able to staff back up and become operational again.

Surely all of this is top of mind for Louisiana’s governor, John Bel Edwards, a Democrat opposed to abortion, as the Supreme Court prepares to decide on a case involving a Louisiana law that’s nearly identical to Texas’. That decision, expected in June, could close all but one abortion clinic in Louisiana.

But there doesn’t have to be a disruption. There are steps that states and the federal government can take now to ensure that women get the care they need. Here are a few.

Make Abortion Pills Available by Mail

Don’t Criminalize Women Who Seek Abortions

Birth Control for All

In addition, all states ought to allow people to get a full year of contraception at a time.

Contraception is already widely available via telemedicine, and such services could be expanded during the pandemic.

Help Women Pay for Abortions

3. A Ban on Religious Garb in Public: The nonprofit Becket — Religious Liberty for All discusses the Quebec case and its American counterpart. Also: Two stories about birthdays.

By Montserrat Alvarado, Malka Groden, Amrith Kaur, and Asma Uddin, The New York Times, March 27, 2020, Pg. A26, Letter to the Editor

In “When Putting On a Head Scarf Is All It Takes to Get Fired” (news article, March 8), you featured the stories of four women — Muslim, Sikh, Jewish and Catholic — persecuted for their faith by the ban on religious garb for government employees, and in other professional settings, in Quebec.

Forcing these women to make an impossible choice between their faith and their livelihood is an affront to human dignity. Governments have no business forcing citizens to hide or abandon their faith in some ill-conceived effort to create a “neutral” state in which people are all the same.

Thankfully, laws in the United States protect our diversity and allow women (and men!) to remain true both to their religious beliefs and their desire to serve their communities. Our laws protect religious exercise and expression, even for government workers.

We should take Quebec’s law as a warning sign of the injustice inflicted by a society that shoves faith behind closed doors and stop the imposition of secularism as a government-sponsored religion.

The writers, four American women, have partnered with Becket — Religious Liberty for All, a nonprofit. They are, respectively, Catholic, Jewish, Sikh and Muslim. Ms. Alvarado is vice president and executive director of Becket.

4. Because coronavirus has led to enough sacrifices, Catholic bishops say it’s okay to eat meat on Fridays during Lent.

By Antonia Noori Farzan, The Washington Post, March 27, 2020, 4:26 AM

As the novel coronavirus has given new meaning to a season of self-sacrifice, some faith leaders are granting worshipers a pass from traditional Lenten rituals. On Thursday, Bishop James F. Checchio, whose diocese in New Jersey includes about 600,000 Catholics, announced that he was waiving the requirement to abstain from eating meat on Fridays. Both the food shortages in grocery stores and the fact that people were already sacrificing so much had factored into his decision, he wrote, adding that meat was still off-limits for Good Friday.

Catholic dioceses from Brooklyn to Pittsburgh to Houma-Thibodaux, La., have issued similar decrees over the past week.

5. Planned Parenthood Continues to Push Abortion Despite Coronavirus Pandemic: ‘While surgery centers postpone elective and diagnostic procedures, abortion centers are churning out surgical and chemical abortions and putting women, especially the poor, at risk,’ pro-life leaders warned.

By Lauretta Brown, National Catholic Register, March 26, 2020

Health-care facilities across the United States have postponed nonessential surgeries and saved personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves for treating COVID-19 patients amid the ongoing pandemic — but many abortion facilities consider themselves exempt from orders postponing nonessential surgeries.

In Texas and Ohio, where abortion facilities, including Planned Parenthood, are doing business as usual and utilizing medical supplies that are desperately needed elsewhere, political leaders are pushing back against the abortion industry’s continued operations.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a pro-life physician and policy adviser for The Catholic Association, told the Register that the reasons that all nonessential surgeries and procedures are being postponed apply to abortion, as well.

“There’s only so much protective equipment that exists, and people are trying to provide it quicker and manufacture it faster and get it out to affected areas,” she explained, noting that her cousin who’s a second-year resident in a New York emergency room had to use the same mask for four days until she was able to send him more masks. “That’s happening across the country.”

Another reason to postpone abortions is that, in these facilities, “there’s a thousand ways that you can pass on infection, so those are exactly the places that should be closed.”

“From a medical perspective,” Christie said, “there is no such thing as a medically necessary or essential abortion … it’s always a choice; it’s always elective.” She said that for situations like an ectopic pregnancy or an emergency procedure for a woman later in pregnancy, those “would definitely take place in a hospital” and “would also not be covered under this kind of elective surgery ban; it would be done on an emergency basis, and it would also not be called an abortion.”

Christie cited a list of procedures that should be canceled or postponed, sent out by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, indicating that orthopedic surgeries need to be delayed. She said that these procedures are for patients that “might be in severe pain for an arthritic hip or might be completely disabled and not be able to get around because they need a joint replacement. Those are being postponed indefinitely.”

“Americans in severe pain are being asked to wait because of the public good and to save a COVID-19 patient because we can’t use our supplies on nonessential surgeries,” she said. “Those patients are being asked to wait, but abortions of perfectly healthy babies on perfectly healthy, comfortable women — comfortable from the medical perspective — are being fast-tracked, and that’s a totally ideological position that has no relation to medicine.”

6. Abortion providers sue Texas over virus outbreak order.

By Paul J. Weber, Associated Press, March 25, 2020, 8:06 PM

Planned Parenthood joined other abortion providers Wednesday in suing Texas over moving to ban abortions during the coronavirus outbreak, including one clinic owner saying Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s weekend order has already resulted in more than 150 canceled appointments.

The federal lawsuit filed in Austin, Texas, is among the most high-profile challenges to a government response to the coronavirus pandemic. Abortion providers accused Republican leaders in Texas of exploiting the pandemic for politics after Abbott on Sunday halted nonessential surgeries in order to free up medical supplies to fight COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

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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