1. This Easter, let’s not try to pretend Jesus was a ‘Palestinian Jew’, By Paula Fredriksen, The Washington Post, March 28, 2024, 6:00 AM
Easter marks the resurrection of Jesus, but this year the holiday comes with a twist: Jesus resurrected as Palestinian. Never mind that Jesus was born and died a Jew in Judaea. From the pronouncement of a member of Congress to the pages of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Jesus is now heralded as a “Palestinian” or, more delicately, as a “Palestinian Jew.”
Jesus made an appearance on social media as a “Palestinian” around Christmas, and the meme has flourished since then. The gambit casts 1st-century Jews in the role of an occupying power and “Palestinians” as their victims. Just as Herod, the king of Judaea in Jesus’ time, persecuted the “Palestinian” holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, so, too, goes the claim, is modern Israel an occupying power persecuting Palestinians today.

As for the Gaza Strip, it is even less hospitable to Christians. As the New Yorker reported in January, a count by the Catholic Church in Gaza, “once home to a thriving Christian community,” found just 1,017 Christians, amid a population of more than 2 million. After seizing control of Gaza in 2007, Hamas ended the designation of Christmas as a public holiday and discouraged its celebration. The dwindling population of Gazan Christians has been harassed, intimidated, even murdered. Were Jesus to show up in modern-day Gaza, he would find an extremely hostile environment.
So how did Jesus end up “Palestinian”?
Roughly 3,000 years ago, on the eastern rim of the Mediterranean, a coastal confederation of five cities stretched from Gaza into Lebanon. The Bible refers to this zone as Philistia, the land of the Philistines. In 430 B.C., the Greek historian Herodotus, translating this term, gestured toward the broader area as “Palaistinē.”
To the east, the region of the biblical highlands was called Yehudah. The name predates Herodotus by centuries. By Jesus’ lifetime, the Romans labeled this whole area, coast and highlands together, as “Judaea,” a Latinization of “Yehudah.” The people living in Judaea were called “Iudaei”: “Judeans” or “Jews.” Their temple in Jerusalem, the focus of their ancestral worship since the first millennium B.C., was sacred to Jesus, which is why the gospels depict him as journeying there for pilgrimage holidays. An ethnic Judean, Jesus was, accordingly, a Jew.
Where, then, did the name “Palestine” come from? From a foreign imperial colonizing power: Rome. Judeans revolted twice against the Romans. The first revolt, from A.D. 66 to 73, reached an awful climax with the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Still, Rome kept “Judaea” as the region’s designation. But in A.D. 132-135, the Jews again revolted. By that point, Rome had had enough. The empire changed the administrative name of the region to “Syria-Palestina” — a full century after Jesus’ death. It was a deliberate way to “de-Judaize” the territory by using the throwback term for the coastal Philistines.
What does this mean? It means that Jesus was not “Palestinian.” Nor was he a “Palestinian Jew.” This is so for a simple reason: There was no political entity called “Palestine” in his lifetime. If Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he was born in Judaea as a Jew. He certainly died as one, under Rome’s heavy hand — the political condition that led to the two Jewish revolts.
It was Roman colonizers who changed the name of Judaea to Palestine.
Why rehearse this well-known history? Because now, in the current crisis, even Jesus is being enlisted for attacks on Israel. Calling Jesus a “Palestinian” or even a “Palestinian Jew” is all about modern politics. Besides being historically false, the claim is inflammatory. For two millennia, Jews have been blamed for Jesus’ execution by the Romans; casting him as a Palestinian just stokes the fires of hate, using Jesus against Jews once again.
It is, further, an act of cultural and political appropriation — and a clever rhetorical move. It rips Jesus out of his Jewish context. And it rips 1st-century Jews — and 21st-century Israeli Jews — out of their ancestral homeland, turning them into interlopers. This is polemic masquerading as history.
There have already been too many casualties since Oct. 7. Let’s not allow history to be one of them.
Paula Fredriksen, Aurelio professor of scripture emerita at Boston University, is a historian of ancient Christianity and the author of “When Christians Were Jews” and “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”
2. Pope, looking strong, issues lengthy marching orders to priests during Holy Thursday Mass, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, March 28, 2024, 6:42 AM
Pope Francis urged his priests Thursday to avoid “clerical hypocrisy” and treat their flocks with mercy as he delivered a lengthy set of marching orders to Rome-based priests at the start of a busy few days leading to Easter.
A strong-looking Francis presided over a Holy Thursday Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica during which the oils for church services are blessed. Later in the afternoon, he travels to Rome’s main women’s prison for the annual Holy Week ritual in which he washes the feet of inmates in a symbol of humility and service.
The 87-year-old Francis, who has been hobbled by a long bout of respiratory problems this winter, appeared in good form for the morning Mass. He read aloud a long homily, after skipping his text at the last minute during Palm Sunday Mass last weekend.
In his remarks, Francis warned priests against “sliding into clerical hypocrisy,” or preaching one thing to their flocks but doing differently in their own spiritual lives. Rather, he urged them to always show mercy to the faithful and not judge them, and weep instead for their own sins.

3. Biden Title IX rules on trans athletes set for election-year delay, Proposed regulations would outlaw state bans on transgender athletes but allow some targeted restrictions, By Laura Meckler, The Washington Post, March 28, 2024, 6:00 AM
The Biden administration is preparing to finalize sweeping rules in coming weeks governing how sex discrimination is addressed in schools, including new protections for transgender students. But officials plan to put off a companion regulation outlining the rights of trans athletes, according to people familiar with administration planning.
Athletics is among the thorniest issues confronting supporters of transgender rights, including those in the Biden administration. Polling shows that clear majorities of Americans, including a sizable slice of Democrats, oppose allowing transgender athletes to compete on girls’ and women’s teams. Twenty-five states have statewide bans on their participation, with proponents arguing that trans women have a biological advantage over other participants.
The Biden administration’s proposed regulation, published in April 2023, took a nuanced approach. It would outlaw blanket state bans but gives schools a road map for how they can bar transgender girls from competing in certain circumstances, particularly in competitive sports.

“Folks close to Biden have made the political decision to not move on the athletics [regulation] pre-election,” said one person familiar with the administration’s thinking. “It seems to be too much of a hot topic.”

That main Title IX regulation, proposed in June 2022, also says that the law’s prohibition on sex discrimination includes discrimination based on gender identity as well as sexual orientation. The administration has already said this is how it interprets Title IX, but this is the first time that would be codified into a regulation, which would give it additional force.
As proposed, it would compel schools to let transgender students use bathrooms that align with their gender identity, ban bullying based on their gender identity and ensure students are addressed by the pronouns they use. Schools that fail to follow these rules would be subject to investigations and risk losing federal funding.
4. ACLU sues Ohio over law banning transgender treatments for minors, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency March 28, 2024, 9:00 AM
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed a lawsuit against the state of Ohio that challenges the constitutionality of the statewide ban on doctors providing sex change drugs and operations to children.
In a lawsuit filed in the Court of Common Pleas for Franklin County, the ACLU alleges that the state’s prohibition on minors receiving transgender drugs and surgeries violates several parts of the Ohio Constitution, including the health care provision and the equal protection clause. It seeks to overturn the statewide restrictions that would otherwise go into effect on April 24 and asks the court to declare the law unconstitutional. 
The ACLU is further challenging another provision of the law that requires that only biological girls can participate in high school and college female athletics. The ACLU claims the rules are discriminatory against youths who identify as transgender.
“The ban on gender-affirming care will cause severe harm to transgender youth,” Freda Levenson, the legal director at the ACLU of Ohio, said in a statement

5. Americans who’ve given up religion often point to anti-LGBTQ+ teachings, The unaffiliated skew younger, and younger Americans are more likely to reject moral condemnations of same-sex relationships, By Philip Bump, The Washington Post, March 27, 2024, 1:53 PM
A central tenet of right-wing politics in the United States at the moment is the idea that Christians — generally but not exclusively meaning White evangelical Protestants — are embattled. This is a central aspect of Donald Trump’s rhetoric (and sales pitch) in this election cycle, as it was in 2016 and 2020. America is turning away from God, the argument goes, and this sits at the root of our nation’s problems.
Research, including a new analysis from PRRI, supports the idea that Americans are becoming increasingly estranged from religious institutions and traditions. In 2013, a fifth of respondents to PRRI’s national poll indicated that they were religiously unaffiliated: atheists, agnostics or simply not part of any religious tradition. In the most recent iteration of the poll, conducted last year, more than a quarter identified that way.
But there’s another important part of that new PRRI data. While most of those who now identify as unaffiliated after growing up in a religious tradition say their reason for abandoning their religion was that they stopped believing its teachings, nearly half said that the reason was their childhood religion’s hostility to gay and lesbian people. In 2016, only 3 in 10 identified that reason.
Much of the erosion in religious affiliation came among Americans who grew up Catholic. In 2016, when PRRI spoke with Americans who had grown up in that religious tradition, they found that a substantial number had walked away — far more than had joined the church. (About 31 percent said they’d grown up Catholic; only 21 percent still said they were.) The most recent data shows a similar trend. About 30 percent said they had grown up Catholic, most of them White (18 percent of Americans). But now only about 20 percent identify as Catholic, a bit over half of them White.

6. The Quest for a New Vision of Sexual Morality, By Ross Douthat, The New York Times, March 27, 2024, Opinion
The death of Hugh Hefner and the dawn of the #MeToo era, coinciding in the autumn of 2017, seemed to mark a turning point in the history of social liberalism in America.
Out, at last, went Hefner’s sex-positive utopianism, the no-prudes-here giddiness and aspirational promiscuity that linked his “Playboy philosophy” to 1980s sex comedies, 1990s lad magazines, liberal excuses for Bill Clinton’s priapism and the sweeping cultural triumph of pornography.
In came #MeToo feminism, founded on outrage over rape and sexual assault, but inclined more broadly to regard hookup culture as a zone of danger, male desire as a force in need of correction and control, and bare consent as an insufficient criterion for sexual morality.
From the start the #MeToo movement was criticized, usually from a libertarian or classical liberal perspective, for reviving socially conservative or even Victorian impulses under a feminist and progressive guise. But it was precisely that remix that made the movement interesting: #MeToo took what had often been a conservative-coded critique of the sexual revolution — one that emphasized the ways that Hefnerism made life easy for pigs and libertines, forcing young women to accept male sexual expectations in the name of liberation — and promised to make it serve a more progressive and egalitarian vision.

That idea of sex-as-process, with the sexual act itself embedded inside a kind of “best practices” of dialogue and interaction, seems to be where social liberalism has settled, for now, in its attempt to create a post-Hefnerian sexual culture. Thus the general fascination with polyamory, manifest in trend pieces, books and essays too numerous to count, isn’t just about envelope-pushing and shock value. It also reflects a desire to maintain the permissive sexual ethic that men like Hefner turned to their own exploitative ends, but to make it healthier and therapeutic, more female-friendly and egalitarian, safer and more structured.

But the depth of the problem with the attempt to establish “safe” forms of liberation is suggested by yet a third New York magazine cover story, the most controversial of the lot: the transgender cultural critic Andrea Long Chu’s recent essay “Freedom of Sex,” which makes a case for allowing kids experiencing gender dysphoria to undergo interventions like puberty blockers and mastectomies regardless of what medical or psychological claims are made about where the desire to change their sex comes from.

The problem with this presentation, in the case of transgender issues, is that institutions of liberal expertise, in Western Europe especially, are increasingly doubtful about the scientific-therapeutic structure in which transitioning is taking place. The science isn’t actually settled, the safeguards aren’t necessarily effective, the decision to stop puberty or proceed to surgical modification carries all kinds of unsurprising risks.
In which case social liberalism cannot simply promise what it’s been trying to offer since the #MeToo shift: an absolute form of individual freedom wrapped in a protective carapace of expert management and therapeutic process. You can have a culture of hard moral constraint, a conservative order that imposes norms that intentionally limit human freedom — remain faithful to your chosen spouse, live with your given body. Or you can have the kind of freedom-maximizing culture that removes limits and strictures but creates new regrets, new kinds of suffering, new dangers for the vulnerable and weak.
What you probably can’t have is the world where Judith Butler links hands with the American Medical Association in a stable regime of permissive safety, or where “ethical” polyamory transforms the impulse to cheat on your spouse into a pro-social act. At the very least that world remains an undiscovered country — fervently theorized but thus far out of reach.
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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