1. Suddenly There Aren’t Enough Babies. The Whole World Is Alarmed, Birthrates are falling fast across countries, ​with economic, social and geopolitical ​consequences, By Greg Ip and Janet Adamy, The Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2024, 12:01 AM
The world is at a startling demographic milestone. Sometime soon, the global fertility rate will drop below the point needed to keep population constant. It may have already happened.
Fertility is falling almost everywhere, for women across all levels of income, education and labor-force participation. The falling birthrates come with huge implications for the way people live, how economies grow and the standings of the world’s superpowers.

Some demographers think the world’s population could start shrinking within four decades—one of the few times it’s happened in history.

Governments have rolled out programs to stop the decline—but so far they’ve barely made a dent.
2. Vatican Museums under fire from workers, local residents, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, May 13, 2024
Nearly 50 employees of the Vatican Museums have initiated a labor dispute with the Holy See over what they allege are poor, unfair and unsafe working conditions, which could result in a class action lawsuit against Pope Francis’s administration.
First reported by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the complaint has been lodged by 49 out of roughly 700 employees of the Vatican Museums – 47 custodians, an art restorer, and a bookshop employee – represented by Italian lawyer Laura Sgrò, who handles several other high-profile cases involving the Holy See.
In a petition sent to Cardinal Fernando Vèrgez Alzaga, president of the Government of the Vatican City State, Sgrò claimed that current rules cause “labor conditions undermining each workers’ health and dignity.”

3. A Constitutional Right to Gender Surgery?, An appeals court uses the Bostock ruling to usurp state law, in a new version of Roe v. Wade., By The Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2024, Pg. A12, Editorial
The 14th Amendment contains multitudes, but get a load of this: It requires West Virginia’s Medicaid plan to pay for transgender surgeries, at least under the recent 8-6 en banc ruling by a federal appeals court. The health program as it’s written “covers mastectomies to treat cancer, but not to treat gender dysphoria,” the majority says, and thus it’s unconstitutional.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals covers five states, from Maryland to South Carolina, and its ruling in Kadel v. Folwell is a doozy.

Judge Gregory cites and echoes Justice Neil Gorsuch’s logic in the High Court’s 2020 Bostock ruling. The 1964 Civil Rights Act bans employment discrimination by “sex,” and Bostock held that to include gay and transgender status. Justice Samuel Alito warned that the decision, with humane intent, was rewriting the law and inviting chaos: “The entire Federal Judiciary will be mired for years in disputes about the reach of the Court’s reasoning.” And here we are.

The great mistake of Bostock is that it arrogated to judges a policy decision that belongs to legislatures, which can better weigh competing interests and evolving evidence on biology and medicine. Now the consequences are coming due, and the Fourth Circuit’s judicial ukase deserves the Supreme Court’s attention.
4. Louisiana court may reopen window for lawsuits by adult victims of childhood sex abuse, Louisiana’s Supreme Court has agreed to reconsider its ruling that wiped out a law giving adult victims of childhood sexual abuse a renewed opportunity to file damage lawsuits, By Kevin McGill, Associated Press, May 10, 2024, 6:46 PM
Louisiana’s Supreme Court agreed Friday to reconsider its recent ruling that wiped out a state law giving adult victims of childhood sexual abuse a renewed opportunity to file damage lawsuits.
The law was passed by the Louisiana Legislature in 2021 and amended in 2022. Sometimes called a “look back” law, it gave victims of past abuse, whose deadlines for filing civil lawsuits had expired, until June 14 of this year to file — a deadline that could be extended until June of 2027 under pending legislation. At the time, its chief sponsor, Rep. Jason Hughes, a New Orleans Democrat, cited research that showed the average age for child sex abuse victims to report the crimes is 52.
In a 4-3 ruling in March, the state’s highest court had said the law conflicted with due process rights in the state constitution. Justices James Genovese, Scott Crichton, Jefferson Hughes and Piper Griffin had been in the majority in March. But in Friday’s order, Crichton and Griffin joined Chief Justice John Weimer and justices Jay McCallum and William Crain in granting a rehearing.

The rehearing decision follows last week’s revelation that Louisiana State Police carried out a sweeping search warrant in April at the Archdiocese of New Orleans, seeking records and communications between local church leaders and the Vatican about the church’s handling of clergy sexual abuse.

5. Bishop Paprocki: Biden mocks Catholic faith by invoking Christ in pro-abortion message, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, May 10, 2024, 5:30 PM
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, is accusing President Joe Biden of “making a mockery of our Catholic faith” after he made the sign of the cross while promoting abortion.
Biden, who is the country’s second Catholic president, made the sign of the cross at an abortion rally in Tampa, Florida, more than two weeks ago. In his speech, the president criticized Catholic Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing a bill that restricts abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The governor had previously helped enact legislation limiting abortion to 15 weeks of pregnancy.
During the rally, Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Nikki Fried said that when DeSantis decided to run for president, “15 weeks wasn’t good enough; we had to go to six weeks,” at which point Biden made the sign of the cross in apparent disapproval of the pro-life laws.

6. South Carolina to ban sex-change treatments on minors, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, May 10, 2024, 1:45 PM
The majority-Republican South Carolina General Assembly has passed a bill to ban sex-change surgeries and treatments on minors. 
Titled the “Help Not Harm” bill, the measure prohibits health providers from performing sex-change surgeries or hormonal treatments on minors and bans public funding of transgender procedures through Medicaid and other government health plans.
The bill also bars public school officials from withholding information from parents regarding their children’s perception of their gender. 

South Carolina joins 24 other states that have banned or restricted sex-change procedures on minors.
7. Flannery for the Faithful and the Unfamiliar, ‘Wildcat’, By Christopher J. Scalia, The Washington Free Beacon, May 10, 2024, Opinion
When I learned that Ethan Hawke—the actor whose role in Reality Bites made him the epitome of Gen-X cool and therefore an eternal object of my envy—was co-writing and directing a movie about Flannery O’Connor, I was skeptical. What made this dilettantish actor/director/screenwriter/novelist/ex-husband of a Hollywood beauty qualified to treat the life and works of one of America’s greatest writers, a Catholic homebody who wrote about the workings of divine grace with peerless strangeness, beauty, and tragedy? Who was he to cast his daughter, Maya Hawke (Stranger Things), in the starring role? 

I shouldn’t have worried. Hawke’s film, Wildcat, is marvelous, and he proves himself a worthy steward of O’Connor’s work and legacy. This film will thrill her readers and attract new ones.
O’Connor fascinates her admirers in part because she’s an unlikely literary luminary. She was no mid-century bohemian or beatnik, yet her stories were unconventional and unsettling. A devout Catholic, O’Connor grew up in Georgia before leaving home to attend the prestigious University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her classmates and professors had difficulty understanding her accent but her talent was clear, and she won a prestigious prize that allowed her to begin work on her first novel. But in her mid-20s she was diagnosed with lupus—the disease that killed her father when she was a teenager. She spent her last 14 years with her mother at Andalusia, their farm in Milledgeville, Georgia. Despite these unpromising conditions, O’Connor created some of the greatest short stories written in English, in addition to two novels and countless letters that reveal the depth of her faith, the superiority of her craft, and the bite of her wit.

O’Connor’s gritty fiction bristles with off-putting characters and sudden, often violent depictions of the workings of divine grace. As she put it, “My own feeling is that writers who see by the light of their Christian faith will have, in these times, the sharpest eyes for the grotesque, for the perverse, and for the unacceptable.” Wildcat’s mini-adaptations capture what she elsewhere called “distortion … that reveals,” the downright strangeness of the stories. They aren’t literal transpositions, but they are faithful in both form and substance, as off-putting and shocking as the source material.
Hawke and Linney play prominent roles in most of these mini-adaptations, giving the reasonable impression that the stories have strong autobiographical elements. They are manifestations of O’Connor’s battles with her surroundings, her provincial mother and aunt, and her pride, the smugness that saw others as provincial.
The film, focusing on the early years of her writerly vocation, concludes long before O’Connor’s death. The final scenes depict both heartbreak and, if not quite an epiphany, her acceptance of the challenges God has given her and her realization of the talents he has blessed her with. The last shot is a fantastical, beautiful, and triumphant image that glimpses at the transcendent art she is about to create.
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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!

“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.