TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,”

Episode 57 – Congressman Dan Crenshaw & Dr. Timothy Flanigan on COVID-19: Facing the Next Phase Bravely

On this week’s Conversations with Consequences, Dr. Grazie Christie and Maureen Ferguson speak with former Navy Seal, Congressman Dan Crenshaw, about his recent piece in the Wall Street Journal on opening back up amid this pandemic, given the ever-polarizing political world we are in. The Congressman also shares his thoughts as we mark Memorial Day, and what we might learn from those that have given the ultimate sacrifice.

TCA colleague Andrea Picciotti-Bayer also joins in with Dr. Timothy Flanigan as we take a look at the current landscape of the pandemic and best practices for opening back up. The Catholic deacon also sheds light on how best to answer the call of our Catholic faith amid this current crisis.

1. Senators Seek DOJ Probe of Planned Parenthood Stimulus Loans.

By Mark Niquette and Ben Brody, Bloomberg, May 22, 2020, 6:07 AM

A group of Republican senators called on the Justice Department to investigate Planned Parenthood affiliates that got coronavirus relief loans even though the lawmakers say they weren’t eligible. The organization said its affiliates are independent and qualified for funding.

The 27 senators, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, asked Attorney General William Barr in a letter Thursday to open a probe, citing a Fox News report that at least 37 Planned Parenthood affiliates in the U.S. applied for and received about $80 million in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses.

2. Trump urges CDC to reopen churches: President says some governors playing political games by stalling.

By Dave Boyer, The Washington Times, May 22, 2020, Pg. A1

President Trump urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday to issue new guidelines to speed up the reopening of churches, saying religious institutions are “essential” to the nation’s recovery, as he criticized Democratic governors for deliberately stalling efforts to get back to work and worship.

3. Vatican envoy warns against ‘cloud of silence’ on Syrian war.

By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, May 22, 2020

Cardinal Mario Zenari, Vatican ambassador to Syria, has urged the international community not to forget the country during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and appealed for the international community to help Syrian refugees.

In a video message showed at the May 20 presentation of the 2019 report of the Jesuit Refugee Service’s Centro Astalli, Zenari recalled how when Pope Francis spoke to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See in January 2019, he cautioned attendees against “the cloud of silence that risks falling over the war that has devastated Syria over the course of the past decade.”

4. Opening salvos in Pope Francis’s financial ‘Reform 2.0’

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, May 22, 2020, Opinion

Facing both a looming economic crisis and reminders that the anti-financial scandal measures adopted to date haven’t been fully effective, Pope Francis and his Vatican team this week have moved to try to defuse the bomb before it goes off, closing several Swiss holding companies responsible for portions of its assets and reallocating internal control over financial data collection.

Even together, the two moves hardly represent a comprehensive fix. Yet they do suggest that dubious transactions, which have generated scandal and so far cost five employees their jobs, coupled with several financial shortfalls caused by the coronavirus pandemic, certainly have gotten the pope’s attention.

he backdrop to these moves can be found in two recent developments.

First, before the pandemic broke out the Vatican was wrestling with a new financial scandal, involving a controversial $225 million land deal in London orchestrated by the Secretariat of State. The affair led to the suspension, and eventual firings, of five employees, as well as the abrupt departures of both the Vatican’s top anti-money laundering guru and the head of its internal police force, the gendarmes.

Second, an internal report recently prepared for Pope Francis and his department heads by the Secretariat for the Economy, first reported by the Roman newspaper Il Messaggero, projected that the Vatican’s annual deficit this year could balloon as much as 175 percent, reaching $158 million. Further, the report warned of long-term financial weaknesses exacerbated by the coronavirus shortfalls, including unfunded pension obligations for a workforce that’s too large to sustain.

One way to read the week’s developments, therefore, is this: Pope Francis now has people in charge of the Vatican’s financial operations whom he trusts, and he’s got at least the working outlines of a vision for reform involving greater consolidation, simplified cash flows and systems for monitoring and evaluation.

It’s hardly a repudiation of the aborted Pell reform, since, among other things, a centralized investment fund was actually his idea. But, it’s still a different approach led by different people. Time will tell where the pope’s “Reform 2.0” goes after this week’s opening salvos.

5. As COVID-19 Kills Catholic Schools, Dems Play Politics.

By Maureen Ferguson, Real Clear Politics, May 21, 2020, Opinion

Catholic schools are a national treasure, and they are facing an existential threat due to the economic fallout of the pandemic. They have also become a political pawn in the fierce debate over the congressional response to the crisis.

The pandemic’s economic wake threatens to decimate what are arguably the most important Catholic schools: those in urban areas that serve disadvantaged kids. From inner-city parochial schools in St. Louis to the Catholic all-girls school Pelosi attended in Baltimore, it’s not too much to say that COVID-19 is in the process of killing scores of Catholic schools across the United States.

As they consider pandemic-relief bills, Congress could act to save these schools by simply giving fair and equal treatment to both public and private schools. Tuition tax-credits should be at the top of the list. Sadly, Pelosi and Democrats in the House who are beholden to the teachers’ unions are trying to cut out any schools that dare to offer an alternative to the failing monopoly of government-run schools. They even attempted to withdraw emergency funds previously appropriated by the “CARES” Act from schools like Most Holy Trinity, Good Shepherd Academy, and others engaged in providing a brighter future for the underprivileged. 

It would be a tragedy for everyone to lose these institutions which have historically been the seeding ground for so many of our country’s leaders, and a lifeline to the American dream.

Maureen Ferguson is a senior fellow for The Catholic Association and co-host of The Catholic Association’s podcast, “Conversations with Consequences.”

6. N.Y. archdiocese unveils plan for phased worship reopening.

By Elana Schor, Associated Press, May 21, 2020, 2:03 PM

The Archdiocese of New York on Thursday released a plan for a phased-in reopening during the coronavirus pandemic, using protocols developed with the advice of medical professionals to help safeguard worshipers.

The five-phase plan for the archdiocese, which includes New York City as well as surrounding counties, begins with the resumption of private prayer and confessions, followed by the celebration of baptisms and marriages with attendance limited to 10 people, according to a summary. Later phases in the plan envision the distribution of weekday Communion outside Mass, followed by limited daily and funeral Masses.

7. Catholics and Lutherans in Minnesota plan to buck their state’s governor and reopen churches May 26.

By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, May 21, 2020, 7:13 PM

Leaders of two of Minnesota’s largest faith groups are planning to resume indoor worship services next week in defiance of the governor’s order, saying it’s “extreme and prejudicial” to put religious gatherings in a reopening category similar to that of tattoo parlors or hair salons and subject them to limits stricter than those placed on retail stores.

In a conference-call news conference Thursday, Archbishop Bernard Hebda, Catholic leader for the state, and the Rev. Lucas Woodford, president of the Minnesota South District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, said they were fine with restrictions earlier in the pandemic. Now that there is a reopening plan, however, they said they can’t accept gathering limits for worship that surpass those affecting places such as the Mall of America.

8. What it means that one of our time’s greatest scientists is a Christian.

By Michael Gerson, The Washington Post, May 21, 2020, 3:41 PM, Opinion

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins — who knows the reference — is not prone to laying up treasures on Earth. But the Templeton Prize, which honors the role of science in the advance of meaning, is still a rather nice bauble to have.

As leader of the NIH’s Human Genome Project, he had directed the team that sequenced the 3 billion DNA letters in the human blueprint.

Collins has used his renown for two essential purposes. First, he has brought a message to the scientific community that science, for all its inexhaustible wonders, has limits. In books such as “The Language of God,” Collins has made the case that knowledge yielded by the scientific method is complemented by other types of knowledge, gained by moral reflection and religious faith. Science can describe human biology in fascinating detail, but it can’t provide human purpose.

Second, Collins has brought a message to his fellow believers that scientific knowledge — particularly about the evolution of the universe and of humankind — is not inconsistent with a proper understanding of faith.

Collins’s achievement — excellence in service to dignity — is rare, badly needed and worthy of honor.

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.