TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 265 – Chloe Cole On The Fake Science Of Gender-Affirming Care & Praying For Nigerian Christians
With news this week exposing how science was doctored to push gender affirming care to vulnerable youth, detransitioner Chloe Cole shares her testimony exposing the many lies she was told all in the name of medicine. We also discuss Christian persecution in Nigeria with Jacqueline Halbig von Schleppenbach of Sovereign Global Solutions and why the country has ‘become a killing field for defenseless Christians…’ Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily for Pentecost Sunday as he embarks on the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage for the next 60 days. Catch the show every Saturday at 5pmET on EWTN radio!
1. Vatican revamps norms to evaluate visions of Mary as it adapts to internet age and combats hoaxers, The Vatican has radically reformed its process for evaluating alleged visions of the Virgin Mary, weeping statues and other seemingly supernatural phenomena, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, May 17, 2024, 8:56 AM
The Vatican on Friday radically reformed its process for evaluating alleged visions of the Virgin Mary, weeping statues and other seemingly supernatural phenomena that have long punctuated church history, putting the brakes on making definitive declarations unless the event is obviously fabricated.
The Vatican’s doctrine office overhauled norms first issued in 1978, arguing that they were no longer useful or viable in the internet age. Nowadays, word about apparitions or weeping Madonnas travels quickly and can actually harm the faithful if hoaxers are trying to make money off people’s beliefs or manipulate them, the Vatican said.
The new norms make clear that such an abuse of people’s faith can be punishable canonically, saying, “The use of purported supernatural experiences or recognized mystical elements as a means of or a pretext for exerting control over people or carrying out abuses is to be considered of particular moral gravity.”

Francis himself has weighed in on the phenomenon, making clear that he is devoted to the main church-approved Marian apparitions, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe, who believers say appeared to an Indigenous man in Mexico in 1531.
But Francis has expressed skepticism about more recent events, including claims of repeated messages from Mary to “seers” at the shrine of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, even while allowing pilgrimages to take place there.

Whereas in the past the bishop often had the last word unless Vatican help was requested, now the Vatican must sign off on every recommendation proposed by a bishop.
2. Court rejects Maryland parents’ objections to LGBTQ books in elementary school classes, By Mark A. Kellner, The Washington Times, May 17, 2024
A federal appeals court has ruled that parents in Montgomery County can’t remove their elementary school-age children from classes that include books on human sexuality and gender.
The parents — Muslim, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish — had asked the court to uphold their religious free-exercise rights to opt their children out of classes where the books were being used.
Montgomery County Public Schools, the state’s largest school district, unveiled the “inclusivity” reading program in the fall of 2022 for students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
One of the books to which the parents objected, “Pride Puppy,” tells three- and four-year-old students to find images from a vocabulary list including “‘intersex flag,’ ‘drag queen,’ ‘underwear,’ ‘leather,’ and the name of a celebrated LGBTQ activist and sex worker.”
Another volume, “Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope,” promoted what attorneys representing the parents said was a “child-knows-best” view of gender transitioning. They claimed teachers were “instructed to say doctors only ‘guess’ when identifying a newborn [child’s]” gender.
Initially, MCPS allowed parents to remove their children from the discussions. But the district, with the backing of the county’s board of education, reversed its policy for the 2023-2024 school year, and would no longer notify parents in advance about readings from the disputed texts.
Two members of a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond said Wednesday the parents hadn’t made their case for a preliminary injunction against the county’s school district, and couldn’t show that their fears about classroom instruction had been realized.
3. Hogan embraces pro-choice label, vows to restore Roe-protected abortion rights into federal law, By Seth McLaughlin, The Washington Times, May 17, 2024
Larry Hogan, Maryland’s Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, has thrown his support behind codifying abortion rights into federal law and embraced the “pro-choice” label, breaking with former President Donald Trump and most of the rest of his party.
Clarifying where he stands on the thorny issue two days after cruising to victory in the Republican primary, Mr. Hogan said he supports reviving the constitutional right to abortion that was protected under the now-defunct 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
4. Is There a Constitutional Right to Talk About Abortion?, By Linda Greenhouse, The New York Times, May 17, 2024, Opinion

The court’s version of free speech has become a powerful tool against government regulation. Six years ago, effectively striking down a California law, the court gave so-called crisis pregnancy centers — offices that try to imitate abortion clinics but strive to persuade women to continue their pregnancies — a First Amendment right not to provide information on where a woman could actually get an abortion. The state said the notice was needed to help women who came to such centers under the false impression that they provided abortions. In his majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said the “unduly burdensome” requirement amounted to unconstitutionally compelled speech.
Now the question is whether the court’s solicitude toward those who would rather not talk about abortion extends in the other direction. What about state laws that prohibit rather than require offering information about where to get an abortion?

While there is not yet such a case on the Supreme Court’s docket, lower courts have been tightening a First Amendment noose around efforts by anti-abortion states to curb the flow of information about how to obtain legal abortion care across state lines. Federal District Courts in Indiana and Alabama both ruled this month that while states in the wake of Roe v. Wade’s demise can ban abortion, they cannot make it illegal to give abortion-related advice, including advice to minors seeking abortions without parental consent.
A federal magistrate judge issued a similar ruling last November on Idaho’s abortion law, one of the most extreme in the country, which makes it a crime to assist a minor in obtaining an abortion in any state without a parent’s consent. Idaho could criminalize abortion, the judge, Debora Grasham, wrote. “What the state cannot do,” she went on, “is craft a statute muzzling the speech and expressive activities of a particular viewpoint with which the state disagrees under the guise of parental rights.” The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard Idaho’s appeal on May 7.
With the Supreme Court extremely unlikely to revisit its decision 23 months ago in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that eradicated the constitutional right to abortion, the question of how far states can go to prevent their citizens from finding alternative ways to terminate a pregnancy will become increasingly urgent. In his concurring opinion in the Dobbs case, Justice Brett Kavanaugh raised the question of whether a state could now “bar a resident of that state from traveling to another state to obtain an abortion.” The answer was “no,” he continued, “based on the constitutional right to interstate travel.” It is worth noting that Justice Kavanaugh wrote only for himself; none of the other conservatives who made up the Dobbs majority joined him. “Other abortion-related legal questions may emerge in the future,” Justice Kavanaugh offered noncommittally.

One or more of the First Amendment cases is likely to reach the court during its next term. I wonder if the justices have a clue about how much pain lies ahead when they have to decide whether the right to speak inevitably encompasses the right to choose.
5. This Alabama AG won’t stop at the state line to prosecute abortion, Steve Marshall is Exhibit A in why leaving abortion to the states is a nightmare, By Ruth Marcus, The Washington Post, May 16, 2024, 4:07 PM, Opinion
Not content to prevent women from obtaining abortions in his own state, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is doing his best to prevent them from traveling to states where the procedure remains legal. Fortunately, a federal judge just ruled that the Constitution won’t let him. Unfortunately, we might have more of this kind of zealotry heading our way.
Marshall’s antiabortion fervor illustrates one of the many shortcomings of the leave-it-to-the-states approach endorsed by, among others, former president Donald Trump. In Alabama, abortion is prohibited, except where there is a serious risk to maternal health. But in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Marshall threatened to prosecute anyone who helped Alabama women obtain abortions elsewhere, asserting that could amount to a “criminal conspiracy” under state law.
“An elective abortion performed in Alabama would be a criminal offense; thus, a conspiracy formed in the State to have that same act performed outside the State is illegal,” Marshall asserted in court papers.

Just because an abortion might be legal elsewhere, Marshall argued, doesn’t prevent prosecution. “Alabama can criminalize Alabama-based conspiracies to commit abortions elsewhere,” he proclaimed. Marshall didn’t threaten to prosecute the women themselves — Alabama’s abortion law doesn’t criminalize women who obtain the procedure, at least not yet, only those who perform it or otherwise help them. But organizations and individuals who provide funding and advice to women seeking abortions out of state filed suit in federal court, asserting that Marshall’s threat of prosecution was unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson, a Jimmy Carter appointee, agreed. In a ruling on May 6, he declined Marshall’s bid to have the case dismissed, saying the threat violated the constitutional rights to travel and to freedom of speech.
“The Attorney General’s characterization of the right to travel as merely a right to move physically between the States contravenes history, precedent, and common sense,” Thompson wrote. Marshall’s “constrained conception of the right to travel,” he said, “would erode the privileges of national citizenship and is inconsistent with the Constitution.”

One thing we’ve learned since Dobbs is that women who are determined to obtain abortions will find a way to do so: The number of abortions in 2023, the first full year after the ruling, was 11 percent higher than in 2020, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
But another is that antiabortion forces aren’t going to be satisfied with the massive victory the Supreme Court handed them. At the state and federal levels, from legislatures to the executive branch, the right to abortion — what remains of it — is threatened and vulnerable.
6. Pro-lifers imprisoned under FACE Act speak out, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, May 16, 2024, 2:48 PM
After seven pro-life activists were sentenced to years in prison for a “rescue” attempt at a Washington, D.C., abortion clinic, some of the activists are now speaking out.
Joan Andrews Bell, a 76-year-old Catholic and pro-life activist who was sentenced to two years and three months in prison, shared a statement in which she vowed to continue advocating for the unborn and called on others to join her in prayer.
“The rougher it gets for us the more we can rejoice that we are succeeding; no longer are we being treated so much as the privileged born, but as the discriminated against conceived child,” Bell said in a statement obtained by CNA. “We do not expect justice in the courts. Furthermore, we do not seek it for ourselves when it is being denied [to] our beloved brothers and sisters.”
She said that she views her prison sentence as “a time of prayer and reparation” for “the sin of abortion in America.”

Chris Bell, Joan Andrews Bell’s husband of 32 years, told CNA that he has not been able to see his wife since she was convicted and imprisoned in August 2023.
According to Chris, while incarcerated at the Alexandria Detention Center in Northern Virginia, Joan has been kept away from her family. He said that despite her imprisonment, she is in “very good” spirits and is viewing her sentence as “a type of Lent.”
Now that she has been sentenced, he expects she will be moved to another prison, but he has no idea where she will be sent. In the meantime, he said that her entire family is offering up their suffering for the unborn alongside her.
7. Spanish Poor Clares announce break from Catholic Church, By Filipe D’avillez, The Pillar, May 16, 2024, 7:34 PM
A community of 16 Poor Clare religious sisters, based in the Spanish dioceses of Burgos and Vitoria, has declared its intention to leave the Catholic Church and place itself under the jurisdiction of a self-proclaimed bishop who was excommunicated in 2019.
The declaration, which includes a denunciation of Pope Francis, is the latest in a bizarre series of events seeming to stem from a real estate deal that was blocked by Church authorities.
The community was well-known in Spain, and famous for its production of truffles and other sweets.
Sister Isabel of the Trinity, the superior of the community, communicated the decision in a five-page open letter, which was sent to friends and benefactors on May 13, and published on the convent’s website.
8. City of Kansas City apologizes after doxing Chiefs’ Harrison Butker following faith-based commencement speech, The city, in a since-deleted post, revealed where Butker resides, By Paulina Dedaj, Fox News, May 16, 2024, 11:24 AM
The city of Kansas City, Missouri, has apologized after posting a message on social media revealing the residence of Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker after the Super Bowl champion came under attack following his faith-based commencement speech at Benedictine College over the weekend. 
The official social media account of Kansas City on Wednesday issued a brief apology on X after sparking major backlash on social media for sharing a post referencing the city where Butker resides. 

The NFL seemingly condemned the speech, instead reiterating its stance on inclusion.
9. Pope Francis says US Catholic conservatives have ‘suicidal attitude’, By Reuters, Reuters, May 16, 2024, 12:09 PM
Pope Francis said his conservative critics within the Roman Catholic Church in the United States are trapped in a “suicidal attitude,” according to an interview with CBS.
During the April 24 interview with “60 Minutes” that will air this Sunday, Pope Francis was asked his thoughts on the conservative backlash against his papacy, with many of his critics being American clergy members.
Pope Francis responded by saying a conservative is someone who “clings to something and does not want to see beyond that.”

“Because one thing is to take tradition into account, to consider situations from the past, but quite another is to be closed up inside a dogmatic box.”
10. The US’s cruel immigration policy: How the American dream becomes a nightmare, By Grazie Pozo Christie, Angelus, May 15, 2024, Opinion
The United States has a long history of embracing successive waves of immigrants and integrating them into a varied and colorful populace with a shared, stable national identity. We Americans are hugely proud of being a land of immigrants — a hospitable, open-hearted country which has for centuries offered the hard-working poor and oppressed of the world a welcoming home with opportunities to flourish. This is the story that we tell ourselves, and one that I believe in, having lived it myself, and seen so many others live as well.
We are that land, and we should be proud. But today, I think that this very legitimate pride risks interfering with a proper reaction to the humanitarian disaster which is our southern border. The correct reaction is horror, accompanied by a fierce desire to see order restored. Instead, we tend to equate an open border with kindness. It is anything but.
I’m not referring here to the heartlessness of letting an uncontrolled border facilitate the flow of fentanyl and other illicit drugs into our country, a tragedy that has resulted in more than 100,000 deaths each year. Nor am I referring to the exposure of Americans, especially those who live near the border but increasingly in the rest of the country, to violence from a criminal element that moves unconstrained by national boundaries.

My concern, rather, is with the unkindness of policies that entice a growing number of poor and vulnerable people to make an increasingly dangerous trek to our southern border.
The journey, which for most starts in South America, the crossing itself, and the aftermath, are rife with cruelty and violence. The victims of the poverty, corruption, and criminality of their own countries become victims again — this time of rape, prostitution, child labor, and human trafficking.
Recent reporting on the conditions in the Darien Gap, the 60-mile-wide dense jungle separating Colombia and Panama, which most migrants must cross, describe a tragic situation comparable to that of war zones. The Gap’s rough terrain, its frequent landslides, lack of roads, and drinking water, scorching heat, insects, venomous snakes, and crocodiles, are just the beginning of the migrants’ troubles.
The hordes of economic migrants (over half a million in 2023, and expected to be much higher this year according to Panama’s government) face much greater perils: The very people they pay to lead them through the jungle, their coyotes or traffickers, are just as likely as not to be members of the many narcotic and criminal gangs that roam the Gap, robbing, assaulting, raping, and killing the migrants with impunity. Even if the coyotes are not members of the Gulf Clan, Colombia’s largest drug cartel and a paramilitary group, they are certainly incapable of defending their charges from the cartel’s depredations.
The stories and statistics are chilling. The actual number of dead is hard to know, but is believed to be in the hundreds per year.
A recent New York Times report describes victims beaten and robbed of food, and even baby formula, “leaving people battered and starving in the forest. And the assaults often involve cases in which dozens of women are violated in a single event.”
Approximately one-fifth of the migrants are children, and half of those are under 5. Hundreds of children have been orphaned or separated from parents while going through the jungle, eventually becoming an “unaccompanied minor” with all the danger that entails (for instance, the U.S. reports losing track of 85,000 of them).
Adults and children who survive the journey through the jungle are housed in detention centers in Panama, awaiting to board a bus to the Texas border, with free passage granted by the intervening countries. This means, effectively, that our own southern border has been outsourced to Panama, as one Panamanian government official recently put it.
Arriving in the U.S. traumatized, robbed, sometimes orphaned or raped, migrants’ troubles continue. They have to pay their traffickers and the cartels they work for, often through labor and sex slavery. Children are not exempt, as the Labor Department reports that child labor cases have risen steeply, with some jobs being dangerous or brutal. The children in inadequate foster care, left with sex traffickers, or simply “lost” to the system, present nightmarish possibilities to the imagination.
I cannot blame a single man, woman, or child living in one of the many hellscapes of our hemisphere, be it Haiti, Venezuela, or Cuba, for accepting the invitation of a disordered U.S. immigration policy. But if we have sent a signal that all are welcome — even as we have no plan to successfully assimilate them, are not blessed with infinite resources for them, and have not talked about how fair this is to vulnerable Americans — we have made ourselves responsible for the migrants’ suffering.
Thinking of ourselves as a kindhearted and openhanded nation may be, at this point, a huge mistake. The depravity, violence, and heartbreak that our policies are driving in the already-miserable lives of our neighbors make us downright cruel, no matter how good our intentions.
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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