TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 239 – Darling Baby Indi Gregory And Spiritual Warfare Tragic news out of the UK this past week with another infant dying as a ward of the state–Maureen Ferguson and Ashley McGuire discuss the critically ill infant, Indi Gregory and the fight her parents waged to save her life, amid glimpses of a spiritual warfare they encountered as her father felt “dragged to hell,” inside a British courtroom. We also revisit with John Bursch of Alliance Defending Freedom discussing the church’s clear teaching on gender ideology with his new book, Loving God’s ChildrenFather Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily to prepare us for this Sunday’s Gospel. Catch the show every Saturday at 7amET/5pmET on EWTN radio! 1. The Enduring Achievement and Relevance of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, By Mark Rienzi, National Review, November 17, 2023, 6:30 AM, Opinion We live in tense and divided times. Virtually every aspect of our public life feels increasingly polarized. The gap between left and right continues to widen, social unrest abounds, and trust in our institutions nears an all-time low. Our nation is failing to get along. That makes this week’s 30th anniversary of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act timely, and a lesson for our current moment on how Americans can learn to live in peace, despite strong disagreements.  Groups as disparate as the American Civil Liberties Union and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops came together to pursue the common goal of protecting the religious freedom of all Americans, especially minority faith groups. The result was RFRA, a new federal civil-rights law that won near unanimous support in both houses. The push for RFRA was spearheaded by Democrat Chuck Schumer in the House and Democrat Ted Kennedy and Republican Orrin Hatch in the Senate.  The law has helped foster a more pluralistic religious society built on tolerance — even when people disagree. My firm, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, has successfully employed RFRA to defend an array of minority faiths including Muslims, Sikhs, Native Americans, Jews, and Santeros.  RFRA reminds us — and requires us — to recognize that our policy disagreements can just be policy disagreements; they do not need to go so far as forcing the participation of our neighbors with different beliefs. At a time when America is so rife with policy disagreements, that is a good thing. Building consensus across party lines and tribal affiliations is possible. And so too is living in peace with others, even when we disagree. Looking ahead, we would do well to use RFRA’s story as a blueprint in building a more tolerant, free, and peaceful America. MARK RIENZI is the president and CEO of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and a professor of law at the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. 2. Nicaragua’s exiled clergy and faithful in Miami keep up struggle for human rights at Mass, By Giovanna Dell’orto, Associated Press, November 16, 2023, 10:31 AM When the Rev. Silvio Báez finished his homily on a recent Sunday, applause broke out among the hundreds of faithful in St. Agatha Catholic Church, on the outskirts of Miami, that has become the spiritual home of the growing Nicaraguan diaspora. For the auxiliary bishop of Managua, his fellow priests and many worshippers who have fled or been exiled from Nicaragua recently, the Sunday afternoon Mass is not only a way to find solace in community. It’s also a means of pushing back against the government’s violent suppression of critics, including many Catholic leaders.  But Bishop Rolando Álvarez has remained in prison for more than a year and received a 26-year sentence after refusing to get on the February flight to the United States. Báez opens each Mass with a prayer for Álvarez’s health, strength and “unconditional freedom.” The Rev. Edwing Román, who also celebrates Mass at St. Agatha, said Álvarez’s detention in a notoriously harsh prison convinced him returning to Nicaragua isn’t an option for now.  To former political prisoner Carlos Valle, who was exiled in February, the courageous ministry of priests like Román and Báez serves as a “spiritual guide.”  Many priests, nuns and other exiles worry about reprisal, especially against their families still in Nicaragua, and fear going public with their stories. But others feel a responsibility to bring awareness and a sense of hope. 3. Kansas to appeal ruling blocking abortion rules, including a medication restriction, By John Hanna, Associated Press, November 16, 2023, 5:16 PM The Republican attorney general in Kansas is appealing a state judge’s ruling that has blocked enforcement of multiple abortion restrictions, including a new limit on medication and an older rule forcing patients to wait 24 hours before they can get the procedure. Attorney General Kris Kobach filed a notice Thursday in Johnson County District Court in the Kansas City area, saying he will ask higher courts to overturn Judge K. Christopher Jayaram’s decision last month. The judge concluded that abortion providers were likely to successfully argue in a lawsuit that the restrictions violate the Kansas Constitution. 4. U.S. bishops express strong support for proposal to name Newman a doctor of the Church, By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency, November 16, 2023, 5:30 PM Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, was one of several U.S. bishops who spoke passionately in support this week of a proposal to name the 19th-century English cardinal St. John Henry Newman a “doctor of the Church.”  The U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine asked the country’s body of bishops Nov. 15, during their annual fall meeting in Baltimore, if they support a petition brought by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales asking the Vatican to name Newman a doctor of the Church.  The U.S. bishops voted overwhelmingly — with just two bishops voting no — to send a letter to Pope Francis expressing their support for the U.K. bishops’ proposal. Newman, born in 1801, was famously a convert to the Catholic faith from Anglicanism and faced backlash and prejudice from his community and his family.  “If that happens, that Newman is named a doctor, we should really take advantage of that, study his writings deeply. I think it might help to heal some of the divisions in our Church,” Barron said, speaking to his brother bishops ahead of the vote. 5. Where Does Religion Come From?, By Ross Douthat, The New York Times, November 15, 2023, Opinion Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an ex-Muslim critic of Islamic fundamentalism and longtime champion of Enlightenment liberalism, has announced that she now calls herself a Christian — a conversion that she attributes to a twofold realization. First, that atheistic materialism is too weak a base upon which to ground Western liberalism in a world where it’s increasingly beset and the biblical tradition from which the liberal West emerged offers a surer foundation for her values. Second, that despite the sense of liberation from punitive religion that atheism once offered her, in the longer run she found “life without any spiritual solace unendurable.” Her essay, not surprisingly, attracted a lot of criticism. Some of it came from Christians disappointed in the ideological and instrumental way that Hirsi Ali framed her conversion, the absence of a clear statement that Christian claims are not merely useful or necessary but true. The rest came from atheists baffled that Hirsi Ali had failed to internalize all the supposedly brilliant atheistic rebuttals to her stated reasons for belief. I have no criticism to offer. Some sort of religious attitude is essentially demanded, in my view, by what we know about the universe and the human place within it, but every sincere searcher is likely to follow his or her idiosyncratic path. And to set out to practice Christianity because you love the civilization that sprang from it and feel some kind of spiritual response to its teachings seems much more reasonable than hovering forever in agnosticism while you wait to achieve perfect theological certainty about the divinity of Christ. But as I read some of the criticism, it struck me that the Hirsi Ali path as she described it is actually unusually legible to atheists, in the sense that it matches well with how a lot of smart secular analysts assume that religions take shape and sustain themselves.  Given the existence and influence of Christianity, it makes sense that some intellectuals in a decadent post-Christian society would be drawn back toward its consolations. But why were we given Christianity in the first place? Why are we being given whatever we’re being given in the U.F.O. phenomenon? The only definite answer is that the world is much stranger than the secular imagination thinks.

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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