1. Pope appears unable to climb a few steps as respiratory and mobility problems take their toll, By Associated Press, March 6, 2024, 8:58 AM Pope Francis again asked an aide to read his remarks and was unable to get back onto his popemobile Wednesday, as lingering respiratory and mobility problems continued to take their toll on the 87-year-old pontiff. Francis presided over his weekly general audience, held outside for the first time this year in a chilly St. Peter’s Square. But he had an aide read his catechism lesson, as he has done for the past several days. Last Wednesday, Francis went to the hospital for unspecified diagnostic tests, the results of which have not been released. He has been suffering on and off this winter from what he and the Vatican have said was a cold, bouts of bronchitis and the flu.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/03/06/vatican-pope-francis-health-italy/753ef9da-dbb5-11ee-b5e9-ad4573c62315_story.html__________________________________________________________ 2. Gavin Newsom’s Abortion Flimflam, The governor sets himself up for the 2028 presidential election by falsely attacking red-state restrictions., By Nicholas Tomaino, The Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2024, Pg. A17, Opinion Is Gavin Newsom running for something? In 2022, while pursuing an easy re-election as California governor, he paid for 18 billboards in seven states promoting California as an abortion sanctuary. One, featuring a woman in handcuffs, read: “Texas doesn’t own your body. You do.” Another appended a scriptural appeal beneath its pitch: “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these.” Mr. Newsom is taking his message to the digital commons. On Feb. 25, he tweeted a video advertisement from his Campaign for Democracy PAC that shows a young woman chained to a hospital bed and crying for help. A rape kit rests nearby. “Trump Republicans want to criminalize young women who travel to receive the reproductive care they need,” the narrator says. “Don’t let them hold Tennessee women hostage.” The associated website, RightToTravel.org, asserts that the state “basically” wants to “imprison women and young girls.” Neither Mr. Newsom, the ad nor the website mentions the legislation they have in mind, and it’s obvious why. H.B. 1895 would do nothing of the sort. Tennessee Rep. Jason Zachary, who introduced the measure, describes it in an interview as a “parents’ rights bill.” It would amend the criminal code to establish a felony offense, “abortion trafficking,” if an adult “recruits, harbors, or transports a pregnant unemancipated minor” to procure an abortion without the knowledge and assent of her parent or guardian. A violation would also allow for civil action for the wrongful death of an unborn child. Mr. Zachary says he was inspired to propose the bill by a couple who found themselves in exactly those circumstances—someone they “trusted” had shuttled their 14-year-old daughter out of state for an abortion without their say-so. Abortions are lawful in Tennessee only to protect the mother’s life, but no law purports to prohibit leaving the state to obtain one. Mr. Zachary’s bill would allow for convictions only of third parties, and not if the abortion was performed on an adult or with parental consent.  Mr. Newsom is doubtless positioning himself to be the Democratic presidential front-runner in 2028 and, contingently, in 2024. Yet ushering minors across state lines without their parents’ consent seems an odd hill to die on. A 2022 Pew poll found that among adults who think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, 56% say parental notification should be required for minors. Which explains why Mr. Newsom is aggressively misrepresenting the law. Portraying pro-life Republicans as extremists appeals to both the Democratic base and voters who are moderate on or ambivalent about abortion. Campaigning on the issue in red states may not influence policy there, and Mr. Newsom is unlikely ever to carry overwhelmingly Republican Tennessee. But there are Democrats there, and they vote in presidential primaries. Still, the brazen dishonesty of this campaign tells voters something about the governor’s political character. Mr. Tomaino is an assistant editorial features editor at the Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/gavin-newsoms-abortion-flimflam-campaign-politics-tennessee-misrepresentation-1e4ec5b1__________________________________________________________ 3. Biden’s State of the Union with abortion ‘hero’ Kate Cox, By Janet Morana, The Washington Times, March 6, 2024, Opinion At President Biden’s State of the Union address this week, a young woman expected to be seated next to First Lady Jill Biden will be held up as a victim and a hero. A victim because she had to leave her home state of Texas to abort her third child; a hero because she ended the life of her daughter who was diagnosed in utero with Trisomy 18. The genetic disorder is characterized by three copies of chromosome 18 instead of two. It is a life-limiting disorder that can be fatal, but it’s hard to quantify how many of these babies would live because so many are aborted. Some of the babies who do live through birth will die before their first birthdays, and those who survive will need serious medical interventions that can last a lifetime. Thanks to 50 years of legal abortion in our nation, many Americans – including some pro-life advocates – have been conditioned to believe these special-needs children have no right to life. Even some states that protect most babies from abortion make exceptions for children diagnosed with an illness deemed “incompatible with life.” But some Trisomy 18 babies are famously alive. Bella Santorum, the eighth child of former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and his wife, Karen, is looking forward to her 16th birthday in May. In Canada, Brandon Bosma does numerous speaking engagements and even gave a Ted Talk. In Oklahoma, Megan Hayes, the oldest known individual with full trisomy, will turn 44 in June. Kate Cox, the mother of two surviving children and Jill Biden’s State of the Union guest said she was concerned the pregnancy would harm her physical health and went to court to try to get permission for the abortion under the exception Texas law makes for life-threatening situations for pregnant women. However, according to the organization Trisomy18.org, it’s rare for the disorder to harm a mother’s health. The Texas Supreme Court seemed to agree with that assessment, writing in its opinion that “No one disputes that Ms. Cox’s pregnancy has been extremely complicated. Any parents would be devastated to learn of their unborn child’s trisomy 18 diagnosis. Some difficulties in pregnancy, however, even serious ones, do not pose the heightened risks to the mother the exception encompasses.” Had there been a life-threatening emergency, Ms. Cox’s own doctor could have performed the abortion legally. But by going to court instead, the issue became front-page news. Indeed, a White House spokesman said when the Bidens called Ms. Cox to invite her to the speech, they thanked her for her “courage” in going public with her abortion story.  These are the role models the Democrat Party wants to showcase: Mothers who said no to life as they strived for a perfect child. Mr. Biden and his cohorts want to harden Americans’ hearts as they pursue their policy of taxpayer-funded abortion with no limits. They want us to see abortion as essential health care rather than the intentional murder of a human being. As is tradition, the Republicans will offer a critique following the Biden speech. But nothing would be more eloquent than spotlighting what can happen when we say yes to life. So what I’m hoping to find in that State of the Union audience is a sea of those non-perfect children and truly courageous parents who understood that every life, no matter how short or difficult it might be, has value. Janet Morana is the executive director of Priests for Life and the co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. She is the author of Everything You Need to Know About Abortion – For Teens. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2024/mar/5/bidens-state-of-union-with-abortion-hero-kate-cox/__________________________________________________________ 4. How pushing ‘fetal personhood’ could backfire, By Ruth Marcus, The Washington Post, March 6, 2024, 6:00 AM, Opinion Maybe we should thank the Alabama Supreme Court for its bizarre ruling that frozen embryos are children protected by state law. The decision, which seemed absurd to many people on its face, shone a needed spotlight on the concept of “fetal personhood.” It highlighted the danger that view poses not just to what remains of abortion rights in the United States but also to the modern technology that helps people build families. And — fingers crossed — the appalled reaction to the ruling might help thwart efforts to go even further than the Supreme Court already has in limiting reproductive freedom.  Alabama itself scrambled to do legislative damage control that would allow IVF procedures to resume in the state — but dropped language contained in a draft bill that would have explicitly excluded frozen embryos from the definition of unborn life. Still, that wasn’t enough for the antiabortion Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and the Alabama Policy Institute, which denounced the measure for failing “to respect the dignity of human life.” They want Alabama to model its statute on a 1986 Louisiana law that prohibits viable embryos from being discarded. (The embryos are transferred for storage outside the state, raising the cost of the procedure in Louisiana.) The political lesson of Alabama echoes the fallout from Dobbs. Strong majorities reject extremist positions. They don’t want women who are undergoing miscarriages to be forced to suffer sepsis before they can get medical help. They don’t want lawmakers or courts to interfere with a procedure that has helped millions of couples conceive. They believe that an abortion at six weeks is different from one at 20 weeks; they understand the moral and physiological difference between a microscopic clump of cells and a fetus kicking its mother in the womb. The more rigidly personhood advocates hew to their stance, and the more the public understands about the consequences of this position, the better for those who take a more nuanced view. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2024/03/06/fetal-personhood-embryo-ivf-alabama-supreme-court-backfire/__________________________________________________________ 5. Uptick in attacks on Catholic parishes reveals hostility to faith, religious liberty, By Martin Barillas, Catholic News Agency, March 6, 2024, 8:00 AM  Hostility and vandalism against churches, especially Catholic places of worship, have increased by several multiples since 2018, according to a February report by the Family Research Council (FRC). The report found that attacks on churches are at an all-time high, occurring in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Specifically, the report documented more than 430 incidents in 2023, double the figure for 2022, amounting to an 800% increase since 2018 or an average of 39 attacks per month. These included vandalism, arson and attempts at arson, bomb threats, interruption of worship, and gun-related incidents.   According to the FRC report, from January 2018 to November 2023, there were 709 vandalisms, 135 arson attacks or attempts at arson, 22 incidents involving firearms, 32 bomb threats, and 61 incidents involving assaults, threats, and interruption of worship.  In their January report on religious liberty, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also observed that “recent years have seen an alarming rate of vandalism, arson, and other property destruction at Catholic sites.” The bishops’ report said that the majority of cases occurred at churches and often involved defacement of religious icons with pro-abortion messages, such as “If abortion isn’t safe, neither are you.”  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/257001/uptick-in-attacks-on-catholic-parishes-reveals-hostility-to-faith-religious-liberty__________________________________________________________ 6. Italian prosecutors probe illegal data searches on Vatican trial defendants, By The Pillar, March 6, 2024, 8:19 AM Italian authorities are investigating the illegal access of computer systems and databases used to search for information on key defendants in the Vatican financial trial. According to legal documents filed by the office of the public prosecutor in Perugia, first reported by Italian journalist Maria Antonietta Calabrò, Raffaele Mincione, Gianluigi Torzi, Cecilia Margona, and Fabrizio Tirabassi all featured in illegal searches conducted on the SIVA and SERPICO systems in 2019 and 2020. SIVA, Speaker Identification and Verification Archives, is a database of recorded phone calls and audio files used for voice identification research purposes. SERPICO — Systematic Evidence Recording, Processing and Interpretations of Crime Occurrences — is an international database used by law enforcement agencies to track crime related information and identify patterns of suspicious behavior. Prosecutors have identified a slate of suspects, led by an officer in the Italian Guardia di Finanza, alleged to have abused access to the systems to search for information on individuals, including the four Vatican City defendants — all of whom were convicted in the landmark financial trial last year. According to prosecution filings, the searches were used to look for notices of suspicious financial transactions, as well as personal data, including income reports and tax filings. While prosecutors have not, as yet, alleged on whose behalf the illegal searches were made, the dates of the data breaches began in July 2019, the same month that Pope Francis authorized Vatican law enforcement to commence electronic surveillance of officials at the Secretariat of State and other departments as part of an investigation into the London property deal which exploded into public scandal several months later.   https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/italian-prosecutors-probe-illegal__________________________________________________________ 7. Key findings about religious restrictions around the world in 2021, By Samirah Majumdar, Pew Research Center, March 5, 2024 Pew Research Center has been tracking restrictions on religion around the world since 2007. We divide these restrictions into two categories: actions by governments and actions by private individuals or groups. Our tally of restrictions includes laws that prohibit atheism, as well as attempts to coerce people into adopting religious beliefs. Our latest study, the 14th in this annual series, covers events that took place in 198 countries and territories in 2021. Here are the key findings: Government restrictions on religion reached a new high in 2021. Globally, the median score on our 10-point Government Restrictions Index rose from 2.8 in 2020 to 3.0 in 2021 – the highest level recorded since we began tracking this in 2007. The index tracks 20 measures on government laws, policies and actions that limit religious beliefs and practices, including banning certain faiths; the use of force against religious groups; preferential treatment of some groups over others; and restrictions on preaching, converting or proselytizing. The most common kinds of government restrictions on religion in 2021 included harassment of religious groups and interference in worship. Governments harassed religious groups in 183 countries, the most on record. The harassment took a wide range of forms, from the use of physical force to derogatory comments made by public officials.In Nicaragua, for example, top public officials verbally attacked Catholic clergy for supporting pro-democracy protestors. The president and vice president, who is also the first lady, called Catholic priests and bishops “terrorists in cassocks” and “coup-plotters.” A member of the National Assembly, Wilfredo Navarro Moreira, also called a cardinal and several bishops “servants of the devil” in a television interview. Meanwhile, governments interfered in worship in 163 countries, very close to the peak level of 164 countries reached in 2020. Government interference in worship includes policies or actions that disrupt religious gatherings, deny permits for religious activities, bar access to places of worship, and restrict other rituals. Some cases of government interference in worship in 2021 were related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, three Canadian churches faced government fines for defying lockdown measures, prompting them to file a legal challenge on the grounds that other entities – including restaurants, other businesses and Orthodox Jewish congregations – faced fewer restrictions. In addition, several Canadian clergy faced arrest and fines after holding in-person services in violation of public health measures.  In 2021, China had the world’s highest level of government restrictions on religion, while Nigeria had the highest level of social hostilities involving religion. Social hostilities are actions by private groups or individuals that infringe on the freedom of religious groups.  Governments in 161 countries provided benefits to religious groups in 2021, even as government officials in most of these countries also carried out harassment (149 countries) or interfered in worship (134 countries).  For more information on government restrictions and social hostilities involving religion in other countries, read the full report here. https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2024/03/05/key-findings-about-religious-restrictions-around-the-world-in-2021/__________________________________________________________ 8. Church authorities in Greece slap religious ban on local politicians who backed same-sex marriage, By Associated Press, March 5, 2024, 5:15 PM Backlash from the Orthodox Church of Greece against a landmark law allowing same-sex civil marriage intensified Tuesday, with a regional bishopric imposing a religious ban on two local lawmakers who backed the reform. Church authorities on the northwestern island of Corfu accused the two opposition lawmakers of committing “the deepest spiritual and moral error” in voting for the law, which was approved with cross-party support on Feb. 15. Greece was the first Orthodox Christian country to legalize same-sex marriage. The socially conservative Church of Greece had strongly and volubly opposed the reform proposed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ‘ center-right government, preaching against it and pressuring lawmakers to reject it. “For us, these two (local) lawmakers cannot consider themselves active members of the Church,” a statement from the bishopric of Corfu said Tuesday.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/03/05/greece-church-samesex-marriage-ban-lawmakers/e501a402-db3d-11ee-b5e9-ad4573c62315_story.html__________________________________________________________ 9. Nebraska’s new law limiting abortion and trans healthcare is argued before the state Supreme Court, By Margery A. Beck, Associated Press, March 5, 2024, 4:49 PM Members of the Nebraska Supreme Court appeared to meet with skepticism a state lawyer’s defense of a new law that combines a 12-week abortion ban with another measure to limit gender-affirming health care for minors. Assistant Attorney General Eric Hamilton argued Tuesday that the hybrid law does not violate a state constitutional requirement that legislative bills stick to a single subject. But he went further, stating that the case is not one the high court should rule on because it is politically charged and lawmaking is within the sole purview of the Legislature.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/03/05/transgender-abortion-nebraska-supreme-court/3f43b7ba-db3a-11ee-b5e9-ad4573c62315_story.html__________________________________________________________ 10. Kentucky Senate passes bill to grant the right to collect child support for unborn children, By Bruce Schreiner, Associated Press, March 5, 2024, 8:05 PM The Republican-led Kentucky Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to grant the right to collect child support for unborn children, advancing a bill that garnered bipartisan support. The measure would allow a parent to seek child support up to a year after giving birth to retroactively cover pregnancy expenses. The legislation — Senate Bill 110 — won Senate passage on a 36-2 vote with little discussion to advance to the House. Republicans have supermajorities in both chambers. Republican state Sen. Whitney Westerfield said afterward that the broad support reflects a recognition that pregnancy carries with it an obligation for the other parent to help cover the expenses incurred during those nine months. Westerfield is a staunch abortion opponent and sponsor of the bill. “I believe that life begins at conception,” Westerfield said while presenting the measure to his colleagues. “But even if you don’t, there’s no question that there are obligations and costs involved with having a child before that child is born.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/03/05/kentucky-legislature-child-support-pregnancy/f750bd6a-db46-11ee-b5e9-ad4573c62315_story.html__________________________________________________________ 11. Vatican on France’s abortion amendment: There cannot be a ‘right’ to take a human life, By Matthew Santucci, Catholic News Agency, March 5, 2024, 12:15 PM On Monday France became the first country in the world to enshrine the right to abortion in its basic law, a move that has been staunchly opposed by the French bishops and by the Vatican. “The Pontifical Academy for Life reiterates that precisely in the era of universal human rights, there cannot be a ‘right’ to take a human life,” the academy wrote in a March 4 statement released by the Bishops’ Conference of France following the historic vote. The Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) went on to appeal to “all governments and all religious traditions to do their best so that in this phase of history, the protection of life becomes an absolute priority, with concrete steps in favor of peace and social justice, with effective measures for universal access to resources, education, and health.” While noting that “the protection of human life is humanity’s first objective,” the Vatican academy acknowledged the myriad socioeconomic and personal difficulties that some families and women face. These “life situations and difficult and dramatic contexts of our time” must be addressed by governments and civil society but in a way that is “at the service of the human person and of brotherhood” and protects “the weakest and most vulnerable,” the PAV’s statement continued.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256994/vatican-voices-opposition-to-frances-constitutional-amendment-on-abortion__________________________________________________________ 12. Leaked files reveal transgender group’s ‘pseudoscientific’ crusade, ethical abuse, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, March 5, 2024, 3:50 PM Leaked internal documents have revealed that members of a prominent transgender advocacy organization admitted that the children who receive permanently life-changing transgender procedures are too young to be capable of giving informed consent.  The documents also show, according to a watchdog group, that the organization’s endorsement of transgender procedures for children is based on “pseudoscience.” The group Environmental Progress published on Tuesday what it dubbed “the WPATH Files,” which it described as “semi-private conversations” inside the “internal online forum” of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. WPATH on its website bills itself as a “nonprofit, interdisciplinary professional and educational organization devoted to transgender health.” For years the group has advocated for the use of “puberty suppression” drugs and cross-sex hormones for young boys and girls. The group has also advocated for irreversible surgeries such as castrations and mastectomies for adolescents.  The WPATH guide “Standards of Care for the Health of Transgender and Gender Diverse People,” currently in its eighth edition, is used by health authorities in the U.S. and around the world to develop guidelines for transgender-related procedures. CNN reported that the guide is followed by “the world’s leading medical associations and courts of law.”  In its report on WPATH’s internal documents, Environmental Progress said the communications reveal a “disregard for the scientific process” around transgender-centric medical procedures, particularly regarding the group’s “support for adolescent sex-trait modification involving puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries for minors suffering from gender dysphoria.” WPATH’s “approach to medicine is consumer-driven and pseudoscientific, and its members appear to be engaged in political activism, not science,” the report said. The report notes one January 2022 conversation in which the group’s president, Marci Bowers, admitted that the practice of blocking young patients’ puberty development is “in its infancy” and that the “long-term sexual health” of such individuals “needs to be tracked.” Despite the lack of data to support such procedures, WPATH in the eighth edition of its medical guidelines supported the use of puberty suppression in adolescent patients. WPATH in its latest guidelines argues that young patients should be given access to hormonal transgender treatments so long as they demonstrate “the emotional and cognitive maturity required to provide informed consent/assent for the treatment.” However, in a May 2022 internal panel, doctors suggested that younger patients struggled to understand the effects of those treatments. “When we start people on testosterone or estrogen, you know, we try to be as clear as we can about the stuff that’s going to be permanent and the stuff that’s going to go backwards,” Canadian endocrinologist Dan Metzger said during the panel. “[But] I think the thing you have to remember about kids is that we’re often explaining these sorts of things to people who haven’t even had biology in high school yet,” he added. In the same panel, child psychologist Dianne Berg argued that for children who have undergone “medical interventions,” it is “out of their developmental range” to fully understand “the extent to which some of these medical interventions are impacting them.”  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256996/leaked-files-reveal-pseudoscientific-crusade-abuses-at-leading-transgender-group__________________________________________________________ 13. ‘Oppenheimer,’ Science and Religion, The Academy Award-nominated film serves as a cautionary tale for students of science today., By Father Joseph Thomas, National Catholic Register, March 5, 2024, Opinion The scene of the Trinity nuclear bomb test, from Christopher’s Nolan’s film Oppenheimer, has already become a memorable moment in film history. After the laboratory personnel wait in harrowing suspense during a final countdown, the darkness of the New Mexico desert is suddenly illuminated by the fearsome explosion of the plutonium bomb. As J. Robert Oppenheimer gazes in awe at the terrible power which has been unleashed, he quotes the Hindu sacred text: “Now I am become death, destroyer of worlds…” Shortly before, when asked to give a name to the atomic test, the director of Los Alamos Laboratory responds by making use of the poet John Donne’s invocation of the Christian God: “Batter my heart, three-person’d god.” Such religious language was a significant way by which the famed physicist sought to understand the terrifying power which the new technology had introduced to the world. Oppenheimer recognizes that science is not enough to grasp the new reality which he had helped bring about. And so, among the many other noteworthy aspects of the film, Oppenheimer allows us to reflect anew on the relationship between science, religion, and ethics. Indeed, apart from the skilled direction, acting, and cinematography, the movie stands out for grappling with some of the most profound moral dilemmas of our time. Even if viewers decide to skip the scenes with mature content — a possibility made easier with the current technologies — the film gives us much to ponder. Kai Bird, the author of the biography upon which the movie is based, rightly expresses his hope that the movie might lead to a greater conversation about “the need in our society for scientists as public intellectuals.” The film indeed ends with occasions for the title character’s vindication in the eyes of society at large. The physicist David Hill persuasively defends the integrity of his famed colleague in a Senate hearing, and President Lyndon Johnson presents Oppenheimer with the Enrico Fermi Award as a further stamp of approval.  In this thirst for epochal change, religion is conspicuously absent. Apart from those scattered references that inspire Oppenheimer’s philosophy of life, the subject remains on the margins as the promise of scientific discovery gradually leads to the creation of the deadliest weapon ever engendered by man. In the end, the physicist’s ethical concerns are unable to control or direct the grand march of scientific progress and military buildup. And so for all his intellectual brilliance, the movie depicts Oppenheimer to be a man in profound crisis.  In a world in which science and technology continue to have such a decisive role in our educational system, and in our society as a whole, Christopher Nolan’s penetrating film provides us with some compelling points for reflection. Do we really have the luxury to ignore religious traditions and the vital contributions which they can make toward the moral well-being of society? We can only hope that the tragic events recounted in Nolan’s film might inspire a new generation of leaders who recognize the enormous potential of science and technology, and yet are better able to harmonize these advances with a broader vision of the truth. Only in this way might the intense drama of J. Robert Oppenheimer’s conscience, so powerfully expressed in the film, find a fitting resolution. Opus Dei Father Joseph Thomas is the chaplain at Mercer House in Princeton, New Jersey. https://www.ncregister.com/commentaries/oppenheimer-movie-god-religion-science__________________________________________________________

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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