TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 258 – Maureen Ferguson On Reasons To Keep Your Kids Off Smartphones
TCA colleague Maureen Ferguson joins on the real dangers of social media and why parents should come together and not allow children or teens to use smartphones. We also revisit with Alejandro Monteverde discussing Mother Cabrini with the movie still in theaters. Father Roger Landry offers an inspiring homily to prepare our hearts for Easter Sunday as we follow in the footsteps of Christ this Good Friday. Catch the show every Saturday at 7amET/5pmET on EWTN radio!
1. Skeptical Justices Question Abortion Pill Curbs, Court expresses doubt that doctors who brought case have right to sue, By Jess Bravin and Jan Wolfe, The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2024, Pg. A1
The Supreme Court appeared likely to preserve access to the abortion pill mifepristone, following arguments Tuesday in which justices suggested that protecting doctors who oppose abortion wasn’t enough justification to roll back access to the drug.
Several justices, including some who voted to overrule Roe v. Wade two years ago, focused their questioning on whether the doctors and medical associations that brought the case in fact have the right to sue. Those doctors and groups don’t prescribe mifepristone, don’t perform abortions and have no legal obligation to help women end unwanted pregnancies.
2. Alito and Thomas kept bringing up Comstock. That scared abortion rights supporters, By Dan Diamond, The Washington Post, March 26, 2024, 6:40 PM
Antiabortion activists have spent several years resurrecting the Comstock Act, arguing that a future Republican administration could use the 151-year-old law to block the mailing of all abortion-related drugs and materials to effectively ban abortions nationwide.
The Supreme Court may be about to hand them a legal road map.
Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Clarence Thomas repeatedly invoked the Comstock Act during Tuesday’s oral arguments regarding the abortion drug mifepristone, pressing lawyers about whether the 1873 federal law should apply to abortion drugs sent through the mail today. Alito rejected the Biden administration’s argument that the law is obsolete — it has not been applied in nearly a century — with the conservative justice insisting that Food and Drug Administration officials should have accounted for the law when expanding access to mifepristone by mail in 2021.
3. Louisiana Legislature opened window for sex abuse survivors to sue, but state’s high court shut it, By Kevin McGill, Associated Press, March 26, 2024, 5:08 PM
Advocates for adult victims of childhood sexual abuse say they will ask Louisiana’s Supreme Court to reconsider a ruling that wiped out 2021 legislation giving them a renewed opportunity to file civil damage lawsuits over their molestation.
The ruling bucked a trend. Advocates say 24 other states have laws, upheld as constitutional, that revived the right to sue for people abused as children. Until last week’s 4-3 decision in New Orleans, Utah was the only state where such a law was found unconstitutional.

Richard Windmann, president of the group Survivors of Childhood Sex Abuse, said proponents of the law would go the U.S. Supreme Court.
Another possible avenue mentioned by advocates would be to amend the state constitution, which would require approval from two-thirds of the state House and Senate and approval from voters statewide.
4. Drug and Telehealth Eased Access to the Procedure, By Kara Dapena and Maureen Linke, The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2024, Pg. A6
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday over how patients can access mifepristone, commonly known as the abortion pill. The justices suggested that protecting the doctors who filed the suit wasn’t enough justification to roll back access to the drug, but several states already have telehealth restrictions in place.
Telehealth for medication abortion became available in 2020 when the Food and Drug Administration stopped enforcing its in-person dispensing requirement and allowed certified mail-order pharmacies to ship pills to patients during the pandemic. These changes became permanent in 2023, when the agency also allowed certified bricks-and-mortar pharmacies to dispense the pills for the first time.
In September 2023, some 16% of all abortions within the formal U.S. healthcare system were performed via telehealth, according to WeCount, an abortion-data project sponsored by the Society of Family Planning, which supports abortion rights. Twenty-six states and D.C. allow telehealth for medication abortion. The remaining states have restrictions that supersede federal guidance: 14 ban abortion throughout pregnancy, and the remaining 10 have various combinations of in-person requirements, such as mandatory ultrasounds and visits to doctors and counselors.
5. Democrats stoke worst-case abortion scenarios though very few stem from rape, medical emergencies, By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, March 27, 2024
A tiny percentage of U.S. abortions are performed in cases of rape or incest or to save the pregnant woman’s life, but you wouldn’t know that by listening to Democrats as they roll into campaign season.
President Biden used his State of the Union address to spotlight the struggles of a Texas woman whose unborn baby had a fatal chromosomal condition. She wound up traveling out of state to terminate her pregnancy.
“There are state laws banning the right to choose, criminalizing doctors and forcing survivors of rape and incest to leave their states as well to get the care they need,” Mr. Biden said.
Such cases are tragic, but they represent a tiny minority of U.S. abortions, according to the few studies that examine the reasons behind a woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy.
The pro-choice Guttmacher Institute found in 2004 that 1% of women surveyed made the decision to have an abortion because of rape. Less than 0.5% reported becoming pregnant as a result of incest. Those figures were unchanged from Guttmacher’s previous study in 1987.
The institute also found that 12% of women in 2004 and 8% in 1987 reported “physical problem with my health” as a reason for having an abortion. The questionnaire did not ask whether the pregnancy posed a major threat to their life or health.
The pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute followed up in 2022 by examining the eight states that collect and report data on reasons for abortion.
The institute found that 0.3% of women cited rape and/or incest, and 0.2% were because of “risk to the woman’s life or a major bodily function.” Another 2.5% of respondents pointed to other physical health concerns, and 1.3% cited fetal abnormalities.
“Overall, common exceptions to abortion restrictions are estimated to account for less than 5% of all abortions,” the institute said in its report, which was updated last year.
The Lozier analysis found that 95.7% had abortions for “elective and unspecified reasons.”
Guttmacher provided more detail. About three-quarters of women reported in 1987 and 2004 that “having a baby would dramatically change my life,” either because having a child would “interfere with education” or “interfere with job/employment/career.”
Money was also a problem. In 2004, 73% said they couldn’t afford a baby, up from 69% in 1987.
Abortion research isn’t an exact science. Four states, including California, don’t require hospitals, clinics and physicians to report their abortion statistics, meaning that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics are based on data from 46 states.
6. Pope appears in better health, praises Israeli and Arab fathers who both lost daughters in conflict, By Associated Press, March 27, 2024, 9:49 AM
Pope Francis appeared in better health on Wednesday, walking into the Vatican audience hall on his own with a cane for his weekly general audience and delivering his prepared text with a clear voice.
The encounter was Francis’ first public event since Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square, when he decided at the last minute to skip his homily, avoiding the speech at the start of a busy Holy Week that will test his increasingly fragile health.
In recent weeks, the 87-year-old Pontiff has often shown increased difficulties in walking, has asked an aide to read aloud his remarks and has been heard breathing heavily during public events.
The Holy Week schedule is challenging for popes even under the best of circumstances. But that is especially true this year for Francis, who has been battling on and off all winter what he and the Vatican have described as a case of the flu, bronchitis or a cold.

The pope also noted that there were two people in the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall — “two fathers” — and that one was Palestinian, the other Israeli.
He said that both of them had lost their daughters over the course of the Middle East conflict, “and they are both friends.”

The Vatican press office said Bassam Aramin’s daughter Abir was killed in 2007 by an Israeli soldier as she left school; Rami Elhanan’s daughter Smadar was killed in 1997 in an attack in Jerusalem.
7. U.S. bishops write in support of Senate religious freedom resolution, By John Lavenburg, Crux, March 27, 2024
In a letter to multiple U.S. Senators, the U.S. Bishops’ Conference Committee on International Justice and Peace chairman expressed his support for a resolution that recognizes religious freedom as a fundamental right and supports it as a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy.
The resolution, S. Res. 569, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Christopher Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, and Sen. James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, on Feb. 29. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. It doesn’t have a date set for a vote.
If the resolution is passed, the Senate would recognize religious freedom as a fundamental human right and recognize the critical importance of religious freedom in supporting democracy, encouraging pluralism and robust political participation, and fostering global stability and peace. The resolution would also have the Senate express concern over threats to religious freedom around the world and condemn all efforts to suppress religious freedom.
8. Legal ‘Standing’ and the Mifepristone Abortion Pill Case, Liberals suddenly find virtue in the consistency of Supreme Court conservative Justices., By The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2024, 5:25 PM, Editorial
The Supreme Court Tuesday sounded skeptical about the challenge by pro-life doctors to the Food and Drug Administration’s dispensing rules on the abortion pill mifepristone. We confess to being amused that our friends on the left have suddenly discovered the importance of the Court’s legal-standing principles.
Justice Samuel Alito was more sympathetic to the plaintiffs’ claims, in part because he has criticized the Court’s inconsistent enforcement of its standing principles. He noted that a “chain of probabilities” was sufficient to determine standing in the Department of Commerce v. New York (2019) case about the census questionnaire. He has a point and was in partial dissent in that case, but one standing mistake doesn’t justify a bigger one.
Justice Alito also raised concerns with Ms. Prelogar’s claim that nobody would have standing to challenge the FDA’s rule changes. That’s not clear, but Ms. Prelogar correctly noted that the tort system remains available to plaintiffs to remedy adverse effects.
The conservative Justices have often been lambasted by their colleagues and the press for strictly enforcing the Court’s standing principles, such as a challenge to Texas’s so-called bounty-hunter abortion law. It’s nice to see that their critics now agree with them, at least when it suits the critics’ policy preferences.
9. The FDA’s Failures on Abortion Drugs Demand Supreme Court Intervention, By Grazie Pozo Christie, National Review, March 26, 2024, 6:30 AM
Regardless of where they stand on abortion, any physician who cares about maternal safety should be alarmed by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) mishandling of the safety protocols surrounding abortion drugs.
Oral arguments will take place today at the Supreme Court in Food and Drug Administration v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine. In this case, physicians contend that the FDA failed to meet its legal obligation to protect girls and women when it ignored significant health risks and in 2016 began stripping away maternal-safety protections around mifepristone. The FDA has eliminated its mifepristone safeguards so much that, as of February, girls and women can obtain the drug via mail order after a brief online or telephonic interview with a remote “provider.” This leaves girls and women with no physician oversight, no in-person exam, no ultrasound, and no follow-up visit to ensure completion of the abortion.
My daily work as a radiologist includes the evaluation of expectant mothers in the first ten weeks of pregnancy, the time frame during which the FDA has approved mifepristone for use. I am shocked at the agency’s shoddy and politicized deregulation of this drug. The FDA is tasked with ensuring that the use and distribution of any drug is appropriately tailored to its risk profile. With mifepristone’s significant complication rate (7.9 percent in the original U.S. trials) and serious complications (sepsis, hemorrhage requiring transfusion, death), the FDA implemented a “risk evaluation and mitigation strategy” (REMS) when it approved the drug in 2000. Nothing but a disregard for maternal safety explains the agency’s abandonment of the original REMS in 2016.
These facts compelled me to submit an amicus brief in the case which explains why maternal/fetal ultrasound — my area of expertise — is a crucial part in evaluating a woman seeking a chemical abortion. It also explains how dangerous these drugs are without ultrasound evaluation. It’s a simple procedure, but one that can’t be done when mifepristone is obtained without an in-person doctor visit.

The science is clear. The FDA knows these numbers. It has access, as I do, to studies that show that up to 11.8  percent of women who had a chemical abortion were actually ineligible because of advanced fetal age and size. It also knows that if a chemical abortion happened after 84 days of gestation, 38.5 percent of those women required follow-up surgery and 4 percent sustained significant infection. In fact, all the original studies the FDA used to establish the REMS included an ultrasound in the protocol to properly date the pregnancies. By making mifepristone a “do it yourself” proposition, the agency has abandoned its duty to protect the health and safety of girls and women.
In truth, whether they are pro-life or pro-choice, physicians who care for pregnant women should want to maximize their safety. We know mifepristone is not, as is widely and wrongly reported: “safer than Tylenol.” How could it be, if up to 4.6 percent of women have to visit the emergency room after taking it?
I sincerely hope the Supreme Court will demand the FDA fulfill its legal obligation to protect “the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security” of drugs. When it comes to mifepristone, the agency has sacrificed that noble mission by putting politics over science and endangering girls and women.
10. The Supreme Court and Mifepristone, The question in a case about the abortion pill is whether judges can act as a Super FDA on drug approvals., By The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2024, Pg. A14, Editorial
The Supreme Court on Tuesday will review the Food and Drug Administration’s rules for dispensing the abortion pill mifepristone. The main question in FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine isn’t whether regulators exceeded their authority, but whether lower-court judges have done so.

Merits aside, the threshold question for the Court is whether the doctors have legal standing to sue, which requires a concrete injury that is traceable to a defendant’s actions and that can be redressed by courts. The plaintiffs don’t appear to satisfy these requirements.

Agency actions must merely be “reasonable and reasonably explained for purposes of the APA’s deferential arbitrary-and-capricious standard,” the High Court said in Prometheus Radio Project (2021). Agencies often don’t have “perfect empirical or statistical data,” and the APA “imposes no general obligation on agencies to conduct or commission” their own studies.
Yet that is essentially what the plaintiffs want the Court to force the FDA to do. Judicial flyspecking of government environmental reviews is a growing separation-of-powers problem that has stalled beneficial projects. If courts start second-guessing FDA decisions, it will slow the development of life-saving treatments. This is a case that calls for judicial modesty, no matter your views on abortion.
11. The Medical Basis of the Mifepristone Ruling, Under the FDA’s relaxed protocols, women are at far greater risk of a deadly ectopic pregnancy., By Christina Francis, The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2024, Pg. A15, Opinion
‘I’m very sorry, but you have an ectopic pregnancy.” As an OB/GYN hospitalist I find myself delivering these painful words to patients increasingly often. An ectopic pregnancy—when an embryo implants outside the uterus—is fatal for the baby and can threaten the mother’s life if it isn’t swiftly treated. It is the leading cause of maternal death in the first trimester.
Rising ectopic pregnancy rates are more dangerous in light of the widespread use of the abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol, whose side effects include pelvic pain and bleeding—also the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. In Food and Drug Administration v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, the Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider the FDA’s decision to relax safety protocols for administering those drugs. The changes increase the likelihood that a woman will mistake a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy for normal abortion-drug side effects.
OB/GYNs have noted a dramatic rise in the number of women seeking emergency care for ectopic pregnancies. Kaiser Permanente documented it in a study of nearly a million pregnancies over a decade. It found a “significant increase” in ectopic pregnancies, “largely driven by increasing incidence in younger women.” Last month alone I treated six women with ectopic pregnancies; even a few years ago I didn’t treat that many in a year. The stark increase prompted me to ask the hospital where I’ve worked for the past 10 years if it had tracked this in its internal data. The recorded number of patients with ectopic pregnancies has doubled in the past eight years.
Several factors likely contribute to the spike. Patients with a history of pelvic inflammatory disease, a condition whose primary causes are gonorrhea and chlamydia, have a threefold increase in the risk of ectopic pregnancy. Patients with intrauterine devices, while unlikely to conceive, are 600% more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy if they do. Advanced maternal age also increases the likelihood a woman will have an ectopic pregnancy. Gonorrhea and chlamydia rates have been rising, IUDs are increasingly the birth-control method of choice, and women are having babies later in life. It’s unsurprising that ectopic pregnancies are increasing.
Meanwhile the FDA, whose principal purview is safety, discounted the need to check for ectopic pregnancies when it revised its protocols for dispensing mifepristone, the primary drug used in a chemical abortion. Why should this matter? Because when a woman has an ectopic pregnancy but mistakes its symptoms for normal drug side effects, she will spend precious minutes or hours at home, which could be the difference between life and death.

A woman today can acquire mifepristone with no screening for an ectopic pregnancy, and she may not even realize she has one until it is a full-blown medical emergency. During oral arguments before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the lawyer representing the FDA was asked how ectopic pregnancy could be ruled out without any kind of medical examination. She replied that you can ask questions like, “Are you experiencing shoulder pain?” If a woman with an ectopic pregnancy is experiencing shoulder pain, she belongs on an operating table and may be within an hour from death.
Given that the FDA warns of this risk in the drug label, its changes in protocol were arbitrary and capricious—the legal standard the Fifth Circuit applied in ruling against the agency. The justices should uphold that decision.
Dr. Francis is CEO of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
12. The Supreme Court Got It Wrong: Abortion Is Not Settled Law, By Melissa Murray and Kate Shaw, The New York Times, March 26, 2024, Opinion
In his majority opinion in the case overturning Roe v. Wade, Justice Samuel Alito insisted that the high court was finally settling the vexed abortion debate by returning the “authority to regulate abortion” to the “people and their elected representatives.”
Despite these assurances, less than two years after Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, abortion is back at the Supreme Court. In the next month, the justices will hear arguments in two high-stakes cases that may shape the future of access to medication abortion and to lifesaving care for pregnancy emergencies. These cases make clear that Dobbs did not settle the question of abortion in America — instead, it generated a new slate of questions. One of those questions involves the interaction of existing legal rules with the concept of fetal personhood — the view, held by many in the anti-abortion movement, that a fetus is a person entitled to the same rights and protections as any other person.

Although the Idaho law limits the provision of abortion care to circumstances where death is imminent, the federal government argues that under EMTALA and basic principles of federal supremacy, pregnant patients experiencing emergencies at federally funded hospitals in Idaho are entitled to abortion care, even if they are not in danger of imminent death.

These two cases may also give the court a chance to seed new ground for fetal personhood. Woven throughout both cases are arguments that gesture toward the view that a fetus is a person.

In response to the shifting landscape of reproductive rights, President Biden has pledged to “restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land.” Roe and its successor, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, were far from perfect; they afforded states significant leeway to impose onerous restrictions on abortion, making meaningful access an empty promise for many women and families of limited means. But the two decisions reflected a constitutional vision that, at least in theory, protected the liberty to make certain intimate choices — including choices surrounding if, when and how to become a parent.
Under the logic of Roe and Casey, the enforceability of EMTALA, the F.D.A.’s power to regulate mifepristone and access to I.V.F. weren’t in question. But in the post-Dobbs landscape, all bets are off. We no longer live in a world in which a shared conception of constitutional liberty makes a ban on I.V.F. or certain forms of contraception beyond the pale.
13. The dangers of unsupervised use of abortion drugs, No longer ‘safe, legal and rare’, By Dr. Ingrid Skop, The Washington Times, March 26, 2024, Opinion
As an obstetrician practicing in Texas, I have cared for many women hurt by abortion — although, like approximately 90% of my obstetric peers, I do not perform elective abortions. I advocate for the life and health of both of my patients: the woman and her unborn child.
In the wake of state laws protecting unborn life and reckless decisions by the Food and Drug Administration, abortion drugs have flooded my state, carried in by abortion advocates, obtained from out-of-state abortion providers, illegally delivered through the mail and transported over the U.S. border from Mexico.

I expect to continue to see women with complications because of these inappropriate and cavalier decisions by the FDA. The FDA’s actions have and will continue to cause women’s crises to become much worse. Underestimation of gestational age because of failure to accurately date the pregnancy by ultrasound will lead to higher failure rates, often requiring emergency surgery.
Abortion drugs provided in the second trimester fail as often as 38% of the time. Failure to rule out ectopic pregnancy with ultrasound may lead to tubal ruptures, catastrophic internal bleeding and possibly maternal deaths. Finally, failure to verify that the person requesting abortion drugs truly wants an abortion will lead to misuse by sex traffickers, incestuous abusers and coercive fathers, causing unwanted abortions.
Inadequate and biased counseling further leads many women to choose abortion drugs under the assumption that they are safe and the only solution to an unexpected pregnancy, but this benefits the abortion industry, not the woman in need. The American Medical Association states that informed consent for medical treatment must include “the burdens, risks, and expected benefits of all options, including forgoing treatment.”

Even under the initial FDA supervision, women frequently had complications from abortion drugs. Failure to end the unborn life occurred in 1%, failure to evacuate all the dead tissue, leading to hemorrhage, infection or need for surgery, occurred in 3% to 8%. Complications occur four times as often with abortion drugs as with surgical abortion, affecting as many as 1 in 5 women. When complications do occur, women are often surprised and do not return to the abortion provider.
The mindset that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare” has been abandoned. Abortion advocates are encouraging these unsafe “chemical coat hangers” in states where abortion is illegal in hopes of continuing to promote widespread abortions for every unintended pregnancy. I can only hope the justices on the Supreme Court and the American people realize the harm women have endured and the dangers that await if these medically unsupervised abortions are allowed to continue.
Dr. Ingrid Skop is vice president and director of medical affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute.
14. Religious leaders in Boston want city to pay $15 billion for reparations, By
The Washington Times, March 26, 2024
Boston’s religious leaders, joined by an assembly of Black and White clergymen, are calling for historic “White churches” to commit to reparations.
The substantial sum of $15 billion is being urged to support the Black community in Boston, as a measure of restitution for the churches’ past involvement in slavery, the leaders said in a gathering at the Resurrection Lutheran Church.
The demand was orchestrated by the Boston People’s Reparations Commission for the institutional role played by the city in the transatlantic slave trade. The sum is also intended to endorse further reparations from the city itself.

Rev. Peterson also singled out the Catholic church, despite it being banned in Massachusetts until the state constitution was passed in 1780.
“They unfortunately assisted in sustaining institutionalized racism across the city,” he said. “Not only are we looking at the period of slavery, we’re looking at three centuries of institutionalized anti-Black racism and the Catholic Church is inclusive of the churches we want to engage.”
15. Abortions outside medical system increased sharply after Roe fell, study finds, Researchers report that volunteer-led networks distributing abortion pills helped drive a rise in ‘self-managed’ abortions, By Caroline Kitchener and N. Kirkpatrick, The Washington Post, March 25, 2024, 11:05 AM
The number of women using abortion pills to end their pregnancies on their own without the direct involvement of a U.S.-based medical provider rose sharply in the months after the Supreme Court eliminated a constitutional right to abortion, according to the most comprehensive examination to date of how many people have ended their pregnancies outside of the formal medical system since the ruling.
Nearly 28,000 additional doses of pills intended for “self-managed” abortions were provided in the six months after the fall of Roe v. Wade — more than quadrupling the average number of abortion pills provided that way per month before the decision and suggesting that many women have turned to medication abortion to circumvent state bans.
The research — published in JAMA on Monday, the day before the highly anticipated Supreme Court arguments on a challenge to a key abortion drug — highlights the importance of abortion pills in post-Roe America.

In the first six months after the Supreme Court decision, the JAMA study shows that most women who chose to self-manage their abortions obtained pills through networks of volunteers that quickly mobilized and expanded after the ruling. These networks — one of the largest of which is based in Mexico — buy pills from international pharmacies, then mail them to people for free without a prescription, offering peer support but typically no direct access to a doctor. The pills often arrive unsealed, according to Plan C.
16. Bill that would have placed the question of abortion access before Louisiana voters fails, By Sara Cline, Associated Press, March 25, 2024, 6:13 PM
A bill that ultimately would have let voters decide whether abortions should be legal in Louisiana, a state with a near-total ban, failed after a Republican-controlled committee rejected it Monday.
The legislation proposed an amendment to Louisiana’s constitution that would enshrine reproductive rights for women, including allowing contraceptives such as birth control, access to abortions and infertility treatments. If the measure advanced, it would have been placed before Louisianans to vote on the amendment. However a GOP-controlled committee voted 10-2 to involuntarily defer the bill, effectively killing the measure.
17. Cardinal Grech sets out vision for ‘rainbow’ synodal Church, By The Pillar, March 25, 2024, 3:50 PM
The Secretary General of the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops used an interview with a Swiss newspaper last week to lay out a vision for the Church, which addressed several contentious issues, including women’s ordination, same-sex blessings, and division among the world’s bishops.
In the March 21 interview Cardinal Mario Grech described that he believes synodality can help the Church move from “uniformity of thought” to “unity in difference,” while reshaping the exercise of authority within global Catholicism.
As the chief organizer of the global synod of synodality, Grech’s comments give a likely indication of how the final phases of the synodal process will play out, and could form the basis for a future reforming agenda during the next conclave.

Amid that call, Grech’s vision for a “rainbow” Church may appeal to some as a blueprint for an ecclesiology of permanent synodality. But other Catholics are likely to ask how a Church without “uniformity of thought” on core teachings can maintain communion of any kind. 
Grech’s role as general secretary of the Synod of Bishops has placed him at the center of what many have come to accept as Pope Francis’ legacy as pope — delivering, or trying to deliver, an enduring new ecclesiological model touching every aspect of the Church’s governance, teaching, and sanctifying functions.
With the pope having moved several times now to extend the synodal process beyond its initial 2023 scheduled ending and into 2025, the expectation among a growing number of cardinals is that how and when the synod should be concluded will be a key factor in the election of the 87-year old Francis’ successor.
18. Norway bishops: Proposal to expand abortion abandons ‘Christian and humanistic heritage’, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, March 25, 2024, 10:30 AM
Norway’s Council of Catholic Bishops is warning that a proposal to liberalize the country’s abortion laws “represents a step away from Norway’s Christian and humanistic heritage” and “obscures our understanding of what is, and is not, a human life.”
A special abortion commission instituted by the Norwegian government has recommended Norway legalize elective abortion through the 18th week of pregnancy and legalize abortion in some cases even later into the pregnancy.
Current law allows elective abortions through the 12th week of pregnancy but only allows abortion in limited circumstances in the 13th week through the 18th week of pregnancy.
Under the current law, abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy require the woman to submit an application to a medical association board, with each reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The proposal would eliminate this requirement through the 18th week.
19. A Year Of Bumps In The Road For Pope Francis, By Raymond J. de Souza, First Things, March 25, 2024
The Holy Father’s eleventh anniversary (March 19) fell at a difficult moment, with a global controversy over his Ukrainian “white flag” remarks, in which he said that Ukraine should negotiate an end to the war with Russia. It is regrettably fitting, as the eleventh year of the pontificate has been a bumpy one for Pope Francis. A year ago it was expected, after the deaths of Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal George Pell, that the road would be more open for Pope Francis to follow his program. It didn’t go quite that smoothly. 
Even amongst the most fervent supporters of Pope Francis, there is disquiet. Mike Lewis of Where Peter Is wrote in December that “it is time to begin again . . . because many Catholics simply don’t get Pope Francis.”
Massimo Faggioli at Commonweal lamented that “there seems to be no prelate at the Vatican who can speak to the Germans on the same theological level that Cardinal Ratzinger or Cardinal Mueller did” and wondered if “a Vatican with a Latin American leadership can mediate the differences between Germany and Africa.” Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter confessed that “our wonderful pope is horribly wrong about Ukraine.”
Thus the eleventh year has been difficult. Herewith eleven bumps in the road from March 2023 to March 2024.
1. Nicaragua

2. Argentina

3. Germany

4. Russian Imperialism

5. Genghis Khan

6. Synod on Synodality

7. Fr. Marko Rupnik, olim Jesuit

8. Laudate Deum

9. Cardinal Raymond Burke

10. Synodality Secretly Undermined

11. Coptic Orthodox Rejection

After a year of disruptions, will the year ahead prove more tranquil?
Raymond J. de Souza is a priest in the archdiocese of Kingston, Ontario.
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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