1. A birthrate bomb? A quiz on world population and what it means for the future., By The Washington Post, May 30, 2024, 6:15 AM, Editorial
For centuries, the United States and other nations have relied on rising populations to sustain their vitality. Along with improved productivity, an expanding labor supply drives long-term economic growth. So, what does the generational math look like now?
The key number is “the replacement rate,” at which a population remains stable between generations. Generally, this is around 2.1 children per woman. The United States had long outperformed other industrialized nations: As recently as 2008, it hovered around the replacement threshold. No longer. In 2023, the U.S. fertility rate fell to a record low of 1.62.

These facts suggest that lower birthrates should not be wholly unwelcome. They reflect shifts toward delayed marriage, fewer teen births, less unintended pregnancy, lower child mortality and smaller families, which are the product of higher living standards, mass education and female workforce participation. Governments should not seek to reverse this progress, but to limit the trade-offs these positive trends bring.
In that, the United States has an underappreciated advantage: immigration. The U.S. population would begin shrinking, too, if it weren’t for the too-often-derided inflow of new people. But even at current immigration levels, the U.S. population is projected to peak in 2080 and then begin declining.

The U.S. government could try to make it easier for people to have the number of children they want. “Pro-natal” policies have mostly failed in other countries that experimented with them, however.

Perhaps financial incentives would work better if they were much more generous. Some policies, such as better child-care assistance and poverty-fighting child tax credits, are warranted regardless of their effects on the birthrate. Yet the country already has a debt problem, and there is only so much the government can spend.

The worst option is ignoring the issue. The trends are undeniable, and the consequences of failing to adapt are as predictable as they are distressing. The world must brace itself for the reality already visible in its elementary school classrooms and maternity wards.
2. Tennessee governor OKs penalizing adults who help minors receive abortions, gender-affirming care, By Kimberlee Kruesi, Associated Press, May 29, 2024, 8:53 AM
Tennessee’s governor has approved legislation designed to block adults from helping minors get an abortion or receive gender-affirming care without parental consent, proposals that are both likely to face immediate legal challenges when they go into effect later this year.
Republican Gov. Bill Lee quietly signed the bills Tuesday without comment. However, the governor’s actions weren’t unexpected. During his time in office, Lee has enacted sweeping restrictions on gender-affirming care for young people and has defended Tennessee’s near total ban on abortion while stressing his opposition to the procedure.
Both laws go into effect July 1.
Lee’s actions mean Tennessee will soon become just the second state in the nation to enact legislation that supporters say will stop any adult who “intentionally recruits, harbors, or transports” a pregnant minor within the state to get an abortion without consent from the minor’s parents or guardians. Ambulance drivers, emergency medical services personnel and other common transportation services are exempt under the law.

Last year, Idaho became the first state to enact the so-called “ abortion trafficking ” law, but a federal judge has since temporarily blocked the law after reproductive rights groups sued to challenge it.

3. Report: U.S. Catholics ‘desire to rebuild and strengthen our communion’, By John Lavenburg, Crux, May 29, 2024
To address noticeable tensions, American Catholics want Church leaders to foster unity through promoting interculturality and greater co-responsibility, and for them to better articulate Church teaching, according to the latest synod synthesis report for the American Church.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on May 28 published the “National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America for the Interim Stage,” which summarizes the responses of more than 35,000 Catholics taken during more than 1,000 diocesan listening sessions over Lent.
The U.S. synod team said 76 percent of American dioceses and eparchies submitted reports. There were also 15 separate listening sessions held that focused on Church life, social justice, and vocations, in which over 350 people participated. The American bishops met for a synod listening session, as well.
The 20-page report identifies both sources of tensions and desires expressed by American Catholics.
One area of tension is a feeling of some Catholics that the traditions of the Church are changing. The report also notes that many participants said that a lack of clarity from Church leadership about “our truth” creates confusion, which “is leading to frustration and division among the faithful.”


4. New York attorney general sued for ‘targeting’ pro-life pregnancy centers, By Kate Quiñones, Catholic News Agency, May 29, 2024, 1:55 PM
The nonprofit law firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and others are suing New York Attorney General Letitia James for allegedly “using her power to censor pro-life pregnancy centers” because they promote abortion pill reversal, according to a Tuesday press release.  
The naturally occurring hormone progesterone can be used to combat the abortifacient effect of the first abortion pill. James sued 11 faith-based, pro-life pregnancy help centers earlier this month alleging that the centers promoted misleading statements about abortion pill reversal.
ADF filed the suit along with The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) on behalf of two nonprofit pro-life pregnancy centers. 


5. A template for change? Zero tolerance by the numbers, By Ed. Condon, The Pillar, May 29, 2024, 4:49 PM
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released on Tuesday its annual independent statistical report on abuse allegations in the Church in the U.S.
As with previous years, the headline statistics make for grim reading — some 1,300 new allegations came to light from July 2022 to June 2023. 
But also as with previous years, the report charts some remarkable progress. The number of new allegations in 2022-23 was less than half the previous year’s tally, and barely more than a quarter of the tally for 2019 — the high water mark for allegations coming to light in the wake of the McCarrick scandal and Pennsylvania Grand Jury report.
And, as has been the case for some time now, the overwhelming majority of the new cases reported were of decades-old instances of abuse, more than two-thirds of which concern the 1960s through 1980s. 
The report, compiled by the National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People, has become a bittersweet annual health check for the Church in the United States, marking real year-on-year declines in the number of allegations coming to light, both recent and historical.
While no report could ever capture the human cost of decades of sexual abuse, facilitated by negligent and sometimes maliciously culpable administration, the USCCB findings do lay bare the ever mounting financial price of failure — more than $260 million in compensation to survivors in the last year.
“These numbers are not just numbers,” wrote the conference president Archbishop Timothy Broglio in his preface to the report. “The statistics are the many stories and accounts of the betrayal of trust and the lifelong journey towards recovery.”
The road to recovery, of course, is for the institutional Church, too. And the annual act of transparency the report represents is itself an important indicator of the U.S. bishops’ commitment, as much as a barometer of their progress towards the stated aim of zero tolerance leading to zero instances of abuse.
“No other institution can readily provide and publish the body of knowledge and statistics as the Catholic Church does,” Broglio wrote. “The abuse crisis in the Catholic Church is a part of a larger societal problem of abuse — 100% of the dioceses and eparchies participated in the data collection for the 2023 report.”
For many, the archbishop’s point will seem well made. Especially as dioceses in parts of the country continue to push back against ongoing investigations by state AGs, arguing the Church has been, and continues to be, more cooperative and committed to public accountability than other institutions.
But many observers, too, would argue that the Church still has ground to cover in achieving full transparency and working towards a true culture of zero tolerance.
In dioceses themselves, many lay Catholics — and many diocesan clergy — will likely note that the report itself uses the controversial language of many diocesan review boards to describe allegations as “substantiated” when they have been “deemed credible/true based upon the evidence gathered through the investigation,” even if that has led to no legal finding of guilt.
According to critics, that language, which the Holy See has routinely advised U.S. dioceses not to use, prejudices canonical processes and denies the accused due process. 
But more broadly, some argue, that language is part of a culture which distances individual bishops from taking direct responsibility for how responses to allegations (new and historic) are handled in their dioceses by shifting the decisions to diocesan review boards and other advisory apparatus. 
To some degree, that insulation from direct decision-making in cases can be argued to be necessary — there are recent examples of diocesan bishops interfering in the preliminary stages to shut them down.
But priests now report feeling like chanceries see them as expendable resources or acceptable collateral damage in the drive towards zero tolerance
In that, they can also feel abandoned by their bishops, who can seem insulated from direct responsibility by layers of policy and rings of officials while simultaneously protected from the same levels of public scrutiny in the face of an allegation. 
Nor, under the current implementation of Vos estis lux mundi, are bishops subject to immediate removal from office when facing an accusation, and investigations into those allegations are — at least in the United States — treated as confidential by Church authorities.
Of course, no one U.S. bishop can change how the Vatican chooses to handle accusations against bishops. On the contrary, when bishops have pushed for maximum transparency, as has been the case in more than one Minnesota investigation, they have by all accounts run up against firm resistance from the apostolic nunciature in Washington.


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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