1. Mona Charen and Mary Hasson on feminism and Mona’s book, “Sex Matters”.

“Conversations with Consequences”, The Catholic Association podcast, Episode 4

Author and noted commentator Mona Charen joins the TCA podcast to discuss her book “Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense.” Then Mary Hasson of the Ethics and Public Policy Center is on to talk feminism, marriage, life, and love.


2. The Impossible Future of Christians in the Middle East, An ancient faith is disappearing from the lands in which it first took root. At stake is not just a religious community, but the fate of pluralism in the region.

By Emma Green, The Atlantic, May 23, 2019

The precarious state of Christianity in Iraq is tragic on its own terms. The world may soon witness the permanent displacement of an ancient religion, and an ancient people. Those indigenous to this area share more than faith: They call themselves Suraye and claim a connection to the ancient peoples who inhabited this land long before the birth of Christ.   

But the fate of Christianity in places like the Nineveh Plain has a geopolitical significance as well. Religious minorities test a country’s tolerance for pluralism; a healthy liberal democracy protects vulnerable groups and allows them to participate freely in society. Whether Christians can survive, and thrive, in Muslim-majority countries is a crucial indicator of whether democracy, too, is viable in those places. In Iraq, the outlook is grim, as it is in other nations in the region that are home to historic Christian populations, including Egypt, Syria, and Turkey. Christians who live in these places are subject to discrimination, government-sanctioned intimidation, and routine violence.

Christians who want to stay in their home country, administration officials say, should have the choice to do so. But many families in the Nineveh Plain are ambivalent about their future there. They harbor the same fears that led Catrin and Evan to leave before the devastation visited by ISIS; life has only grown more difficult for Christian minorities since. When I interviewed families in the Nineveh Plain last year, almost all of them admitted that they would leave if they had the chance. Even those most committed to remaining worry that, no matter how much aid they receive from Washington, they are still vulnerable. Christianity’s survival in one of the places where it first took root will depend on whether they decide to stay.


3. Clergy ‘morally obliged’ to report sex abuse.

By Associated Press, The Washington Post, May 24, 2019, Pg. A10

The Italian Catholic Church hierarchy said Thursday that it had approved guidelines establishing a “moral obligation” to report cases of clergy sex abuse to police, after bishops long downplayed the problem and covered it up.

The Italian bishops’ conference did not immediately release the text. But the official in charge of child protection, Monsignor Lorenzo Ghizzoni, said it called for bishops to report credible accusations even though Italian law doesn’t designate clergy as mandated reporters.


4. Democratic lawmakers declare ‘war’ against wave of abortion restrictive laws.

By Gabriella Muñoz and Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times, May 24 2019, Pg. A5

Democrats declared “war” Thursday against Republican-led states approving new abortion restrictions, and announced legislation to codify abortion rights in federal law.

The legislation is unlikely to advance far in Congress, but it creates a flash point for lawmakers looking to push back against Alabama, Georgia, Missouri and other states that either have passed or are eyeing new limits on when an abortion can be obtained.


5. Catholic nuns urged to speak out about, confront sex abuse.

By The Associated Press, May 24, 2019, 7:14 AM

The umbrella group of Catholic nuns is urging religious sisters around the world to speak out about sexual abuse by priests and other abuses of power that they experience, while also announcing new initiatives to protect children in their care.

The International Union of Superiors General, which represents leaders of some 400,000 nuns, issued a final declaration on Friday after their triennial assembly.


6. Iraq’s Christians are slowly coming home, but they face grave new threats.

By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, The Catholic Herald (UK), May 24, 2019

The country’s Christian community is still in mortal danger. They need our help more than ever

Yet, the young Iraqi Christians who survived ISIS and upheaval wrought by ISIS in 2014 now face a new challenge – returning home. To rebuild their towns and recover their cherished sense of community, security, and prosperity, they need the continued support of the U.S. government and private aid agencies.

Many of the young people who have returned have no work. They are bored. While still in their country, they share no part of its growth and recovery. The impact on their identity can be devastating. “A person has his personality through his work,” Saly said matter-of-factly.

Will the heightened threat to the safety and well-being of Americans visiting the region jeopardize Saly and Rahma’s dream for a good and happy life back in their hometown? Who will remain to help young people like Saly and Rahma rebuild their town and help them restore their once peaceful and safe community?

An answer – perhaps a prayer of sorts – came as we were ending our call.

“All of us are human, and we should feel for and help each other,” Rahma told me. “Christianity in Iraq will disappear without your help.”

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is Legal Advisor for The Catholic Association Foundation


7. Abolishing the priesthood would tear the heart out of the Church.

By Sohrab Ahmari, The Catholic Herald (UK), May 23, 2019

A year ago, there appeared in the National Catholic Reporter an account of a Catholic men’s gathering at Cape Cod, which the periodical said offered “glimpses of a future church”. Blazing the path to this church of the future were the author, Bill Mitchell, and his buddies – “nine guys ranging in age from 57 to 69” (all of them white, judging by the accompanying photo).

They kicked things off with some hiking, they relaxed by a fireplace, they lunched. Then they read the Bible and “headed into the kitchen and gathered around a table, a processional provided with some liturgical oomph as Peter opened his mobile phone [and] played the ‘Glory Be’ he created by layering multiple recordings of his own voice”. But oops: “We forgot to plan a sign of peace. Vincent reminded us, and there followed 72 hugs.” Eventually, they performed a pseudo-consecration and took something like Communion. Then they went home.

As I read The Atlantic’s recent cover story calling for the abolition of the priesthood, I couldn’t help but be reminded of that earlier NCR essay. Here was James Carroll, another aging white American boomer, dreaming of a Catholicism that reverts to some mythical original Christianity, freed from priests and prelates and religious orders, from fusty structures and the cobwebbed accumulation of centuries of Roman tradition. A Catholicism, in other words, that might look and sound a lot like Bill Mitchell’s: just some guys, reading the Good Book, hugging it out, lunching and reflecting.

The rebels of 1968, of which Carroll is very much one, never appreciated how much suffering, confusion and tyranny were to be found on the far side of the collapse of authority. They were, and are, relentless. Even now, as they enter their twilight, the James Carrolls feel impelled to take parting potshots at authority. Allow me, then, to sum up bluntly: James, I don’t want to confess my sins to Bill Mitchell and the Cape Cod boys. I don’t want home liturgies and homemade recordings of the “Glory Be”. I don’t want an NGO church. And save your 72 hugs.

Sohrab Ahmari is the op-ed editor of the New York Post, a contributing editor of the Catholic Herald and author of the memoir From Fire, by Water (Ignatius Press)


8. Tweeting won’t solve France’s deeper church-fire problem, Prime Minister Philippe.

By Ashley McGuire, The Hill Online, May 23, 2019 8:30 AM, Opinion

The fires that ravaged Paris’ iconic Notre Dame have long been extinguished but a deeper problem for France’s churches still smolders. Specifically, France has seen an alarming spate of attacks on churches, most of them Catholic, and they suggest a growing hostility towards Catholicism and religion more broadly in French society.

Just weeks before the Notre Dame blaze and just blocks away, the Church of St. Sulpice — the second largest church in Paris and one of the most historically significant — was set on fire after Sunday mass.

A month prior to that, a different Notre Dame, the Church of  Notre-Dame-des-Enfants in Nimes, saw its tabernacle destroyed and hosts — considered to be the real body of Christ and thus sacred to Catholics — thrown on the ground and smashed into a cross made with human excrement.

And sometimes it is explicitly political, as it was when vandals spray-painted the words “blessed abortion” on the walls of Saint-Jacques Church in Grenoble or “our lives, our bodies belong to us” on The Cathedral of Saint-Jean of Besançon or “Satan punishes homophobes” on Toulouse’s Saint-Roch-du-Férétra Chapel, as noted by one religious freedom expert.

And the vandalism is only escalating; The Vienna-based Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe notes a 25 percent increase in attacks on Catholic Churches in 2019 as compared with the prior year. Its executive director, Ellen Fantini, told the press that the attacks are clearly motivated and targeted at what matters most to Catholics. “The pressure,” she said, “is coming from the radical secularists or anti-religion groups as well as feminist activists who tend to target churches as a symbol of the patriarchy that needs to be dismantled.”

The cathedral of Notre Dame burned before the world for a harrowing day before it was extinguished. It’s going to take a lot more than a tweet to solve France’s deeper church-fire problem.

Ashley McGuire is a senior fellow with The Catholic Association and the author of “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female.”


9. Democrats yet again sue Little Sisters of the Poor for contraception coverage.

By Doug Mainwaring, LifeSite News, May 23, 2019

The Little Sisters of the Poor are once again the target of liberals in government who believe that the sisters must be strong-armed into violating their consciences by providing contraceptives and abortifacients to their employees, or face extinction.

After fighting a lengthy battle against the Obama administration to defend their religious liberty, their ministries to the poor and elderly, and their very existence, the sisters had finally found relief when the Trump administration granted them an exemption.

“It is utterly incomprehensible that in a free country like the United States, Catholic nuns who care for the elderly poor are being harassed with new lawsuits to force them to provide contraceptives and abortifacients,” remarked Maureen Ferguson, senior policy adviser for the Catholic Association, when Pennsylvania A.G. Shapiro first launched his legal action. “The Little Sisters of the Poor finally received relief from the federal government’s executive order on religious liberty, yet now the politically motivated state attorneys general of Pennsylvania and California are on the attack.”


10. For This French Priest, Rushing Into Notre Dame’s Flames Was Part of His Mission.

By Solène Tadié, National Catholic Register, May 23, 2019

As the whole world watched the photos and videos of Notre Dame burning April 15, Father Jean-Marc Fournier’s face became indelibly associated with the terrible fire on the first day of Holy Week.

It is an image of heroism and hope imprinted in the minds of millions of people, thanks to the courage this French priest showed in taking part in the rescue of the Blessed Sacrament, the Crown of Thorns and the Tunic of St. Louis, and guiding firefighters through chapels and corridors, while the flames had already consumed a significant part of the cathedral.

Born in 1966, Father Fournier was ordained a priest in 1994 and joined the French Forces in Afghanistan in the 2000s. There, he lost 10 comrades during the Uzbin Valley Ambush in 2008. In 2011, he went back to France, where he joined the Paris Fire Brigade as their chaplain.

In 2015, he was called in to the scenes of three terrible terror attacks that occurred in Paris that year: the shooting at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, followed by the Hypercacher kosher supermarket siege, and, on Nov. 13 of the same year, he took part in the evacuation of the wounded of the Bataclan theater attack — even as the shooting was occurring. During the event, he was seen praying before the victims’ bodies and offering a collective absolution to the wounded.

In an interview with the Register in Paris, Father Fournier talked about his mission with disaster victims, his frequent contact with pain and death, and about how his faith has given him the strength to deal with the most difficult situations.


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