TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 240 – Best Classic Films For Family Movie Night & Litany Of Humility As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, Ashley McGuire offers her top 5 classic films to watch with your family this winter, movies that “open the minds of children to deeper themes about truth and virtue and tell grand stories that expand their intellectual horizons.” We also discuss the Litany of Humility as we strive to embrace a contemplative spirit this Advent. Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily to prepare us for Christ the King Sunday! Catch the show every Saturday at 7amET/5pmET on EWTN radio! 1. How Many Abortions Did the Post-Roe Bans Prevent?, The first estimate of births since Dobbs found that almost a quarter of women who would have gotten abortions carried their pregnancies to term., By Margot Sanger-Katz and Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times, November 22, 2023, 5:03 AM The first data on births since Roe v. Wade was overturned shows how much abortion bans have had their intended effect: Births increased in every state with a ban, an analysis of the data shows. By comparing birth statistics in states before and after the bans passed, researchers estimated that the laws caused around 32,000 annual births, based on the first six months of 2023, a relatively small increase that was in line with overall expectations. Until now, studies have shown that many women in states with bans have ended their pregnancies anyway, by traveling to other states or ordering pills online. What they have been unable to show is how many women have not done so, and carried their pregnancies to term. The new analysis, published Friday as a working paper by the Institute of Labor Economics, found that in the first six months of the year, between one-fifth and one-fourth of women living in states with bans — who may have otherwise sought an abortion — did not get one. 2. Pope Francis meets at Vatican with relatives of Israeli hostages and Palestinians living in Gaza, By Associated Press, November 22, 2023, 8:48 AM Pope Francis met separately Wednesday with relatives of Israeli hostages in Gaza and Palestinians living through the war and begged for an end to what he called terrorism and “the passions that are killing everyone.” Francis spoke about the suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians after his meetings, which were arranged before the Israeli-Hamas hostage deal and a temporary halt in fighting was announced. Francis didn’t refer to the deal, which marked the biggest diplomatic breakthrough since the war erupted following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel. Francis said he met at the Vatican with relatives of some of the 240 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, and separately with a delegation of Palestinians, whom the Vatican said had relatives in Gaza. In the VIP seats of St. Peter’s Square were people holding Palestinian flags and scarves as well as small posters showing apparent bodies in a ditch and the word “Genocide” written underneath. “Here we’ve gone beyond war. This isn’t war anymore, this is terrorism,” Francis said. “Please, let us go ahead with peace. Pray for peace, pray a lot for peace.” 3. Pope calls Gaza war ‘terrorism,’ but Vatican denies he said ‘genocide’, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, November 22, 2023 In the wake of two keenly anticipated meetings between Pope Francis and delegations of both Israelis and Palestinians, the Vatican has denied that the pope referred to the ongoing conflict in Gaza as “a genocide,” despite claims from Palestinians who met the pontiff that he had done so. Speaking during his Nov. 22 general audience, which took place after the meetings, Francis did clearly refer to the Israel-Hamas war as “terrorism,” and repeated his pleas for prayer and for peacemaking efforts.  Following the pope’s general audience, members of both the Israeli and Palestinian delegations held press conferences on their meetings with the pope. One member of the Israeli delegation took issue with Pope Francis’s use of the word “terrorism” to describe the war, saying it is a “false equivalence,” suggesting that Francis was equating Hamas terrorism with legitimate Israeli self-defense. Members of the Palestinian delegation, meanwhile, said Pope Francis in his meeting with them condemned Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel but said that what is happening in Gaza amounts to “genocide,” and that “one cannot respond to terrorism with terrorism.” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni denied the pope’s use of the word genocide, saying, “I don’t think he used that word,” and that instead the pope repeated “the terms with which he expressed himself during the general audience and words which nevertheless represent the terrible situation experienced in Gaza.” The Palestinian delegation, however insisted on the pope’s use of the word, with one member saying, “We were there, and we heard it.” 4. Man agrees to plead guilty to firebombing Wisconsin anti-abortion group office in 2022, By Associated Press, November 21, 2023, 3:07 PM A man accused of firebombing an anti-abortion office in Wisconsin last year has agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge of damaging property with explosives. Online court records show Hridindu Roychowdhury, of Madison, filed a signed plea agreement Monday in the Western District of Wisconsin. He will face up to 20 years in prison but prosecutors have agreed to recommend the judge reduce his sentence because he has accepted responsibility for the crime. A judge is set to consider whether to accept the agreement at a hearing on Dec. 1. According to court documents, someone broke a window at the Madison office of Wisconsin Family Action on May 8, 2022, six days after news outlets reported that the U.S. Supreme Court was set to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. The reports sparked abortion rights supporters to mount protests across the countryTwo Catholic churches in Colorado were vandalized in the days leading up to the Madison firebombing. And someone threw Molotov cocktails into an anti-abortion organization’s office in a suburb of Salem, Oregon, several days later. 5. Democratic division blocks effort to end Michigan’s 24-hour wait for an abortion, By Joey Cappelletti, Associated Press, November 21, 2023, 4:12 PM Michigan Democrats, who early this year had built on the state’s recent reputation for safeguarding abortion rights, have stalled on the once-assured effort due to dissent within the state legislative caucus in recent months. Two key pieces of legislation that would have repealed a 24-hour wait period required for patients receiving an abortion and also allowed state Medicaid dollars to pay for abortions were left out of a package signed Tuesday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The scaled back package of bills known as the Reproductive Health Act will repeal regulations aimed at abortion providers, known as TRAP laws, that critics had said were designed to close abortion providers. It will also ensure that students at Michigan public universities can access information about all their reproductive health options and repeals a law that forced patients to buy a separate insurance rider for abortion.  Democratic unity on the issue began to splinter in September when state Rep. Karen Whitsett voted against the Reproductive Health Act during a committee hearing, signaling trouble ahead for its passage. With all Republicans voting against the package, Democrats needed Whitsett’s support — the party held a 56-54 advantage in the House until earlier this month. 6. Over 100 members of Congress urge Supreme Court to revoke abortion pill approval, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, November 21, 2023, 4:30 PM Over 100 members of Congress are urging the Supreme Court to stop more than half of U.S. abortions by ordering the FDA to revoke its abortion pill approval. The lawmakers are arguing that the FDA’s approval process for the abortion drug had many “irregularities” and the decision to approve them has “endangered women and girls.” Seventeen senators and 92 representatives, led by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Mississippi, and Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, signed onto an amicus brief written by Americans United for Life and sent it to the Supreme Court on Nov. 15. The lawmakers argued in their brief that the Supreme Court should invalidate the FDA’s 2000 approval of the abortion drug mifepristone, the pill that now accounts for over half of all U.S. abortions. This would be a ruling in favor of the pro-life groups in the ongoing abortion case Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. Food and Drug Administration (AHM v. FDA). 7. Hong Kong lawmaker blasts Catholic bishops’ petition for release of Jimmy Lai, By Matthew Santucci, Catholic News Agency, November 21, 2023 A legislative council member from the pro-Beijing New People’s Party has criticized a joint petition signed by 10 Catholic bishops, including three American prelates, calling for the immediate release of pro-democracy media mogul Jimmy Lai. “The Catholic leaders’ call for Lai’s release is a striking example of religious power being commandeered for political ends,” Dominic Lee Tsz-king said, according to a report in the China Daily on Nov. 15. “The very fact that Lai is a Catholic seems to be their only justification for their demand,” he continued. “I advise those religious leaders to know when to quit, or else they will have a heavy price to pay.”  The Nov. 1 petition of the Catholic bishops called for the immediate release of Lai, stating: “There is no place for such cruelty and oppression in a territory that claims to uphold the rule of law and respect the right to freedom of expression.” “In standing up for his beliefs and committing himself through his faith to challenge autocracy and repression, Jimmy Lai has lost his business, been cut off from his family, and has just surpassed 1,000 days in prison while facing the prospect of many more years of incarceration to come. He is 75 years old. He must be freed now.” The petition was signed by 10 Catholic prelates from around the world: Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York; Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal (India); Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Archbishop Anthony Fisher, OP (Australia); Archbishop Gintaras Grušas (Lithuania); Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB (Canada); Archbishop John Wilson (United Kingdom); Bishop Robert E. Barron of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota; Bishop Alan A. McGuckian, SJ (Ireland), and Bishop Lucius Ugorji (Nigeria). 8. Oklahoma sues Biden administration in dispute over abortion, federal family planning funds, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, November 21, 2023, 11:04 AM Oklahoma this month filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) claiming the Biden administration suspended “millions of dollars” in federal funding over the state’s refusal to provide referrals for abortion in family planning services.  The state said in the lawsuit that HHS “overreached by unlawfully suspending and terminating millions of dollars of Title X grant funding” to the state.  That funding “has been terminated solely because Oklahoma will not commit to providing referrals for abortion,” the lawsuit claims.  Title X is a Nixon-era federal family planning program. It was enacted in 1970 and distributes federal grants to community clinics and health departments in order to provide contraception services and other family planning and health services. Federal law forbids Title X funding from being used to directly procure abortions. 9. Bishop Barron Discusses Impact of Social Media, Isolation and ‘Longing for God’ Amid Bishops’ Initiative to Address Mental-Health Crisis, Minnesota shepherd kicked off a heartfelt discussion at the bishops’ fall meeting about how the Church can minister to the growing number of the faithful suffering from mental-health concerns, By Lauretta Brown, National Catholic Register, November 21, 2023 For the Catholic struggling with anxiety, depression or even thoughts of suicide, it is often daunting to think of how to seek help, given the stigma that can be attached to mental illness and the challenge of understanding these difficulties in light of faith. The U.S. bishops have seen and often very personally felt the need to improve their ministry to the growing number of the faithful facing these issues. At the bishops’ fall meeting Nov. 13-16, Bishop Robert Barron of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, led a presentation and discussion on the bishops’ new mental-health campaign. Prior to his presentation, he told the Register about the campaign and the concerns that prompted it. He said that he has followed the crisis surrounding mental health in the U.S. for years, and when he became chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, he thought it was time to address the issue, which is “really impinging upon families and young people.” He pointed to the record-high number of Americans facing depression and high number of suicides. Young people are also increasingly facing feelings of persistent sadness and hopelessness, according to Centers for Disease Control data showing that 44% of teens in the United States report experiencing these feelings, up from 37% in 2019. Bishop Barron brought his concerns to the committee, and they decided to develop a programmatic outreach. The campaign began Oct. 10 with a novena for mental health. Bishop Barron said that they are now developing roundtables “for bishops to get together with mental-health professionals, with clinical people, with pastoral people, just to talk through the issues and to help us understand more clearly what’s at stake and how we can respond.” He said that the bishops also want “to lobby our legislators to try to get more resources for mental health available to people because there’s a great complaint that there aren’t sufficient resources and that, often, the poor or more marginalized part of our population don’t have access to them.” 10. A “Synodal Reform” Of The Papal Conclave?, By George Weigel, First Things, November 22, 2023, Opinion As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day on November 23, my Catholic fellow citizens might take a moment to give thanks for a 120-year-old apostolic constitution that virtually no one remembers—but that is re-asserting its relevance in this troubled Catholic moment. For centuries, the popes exercised sovereignty over a large swath of central Italy known as the Papal States. Among the many ways in which this arrangement impeded the Catholic Church’s evangelical mission, the fact that the pope was a temporal sovereign with lands to defend inevitably enmeshed the Church in European power politics. This untoward entanglement led to the ius exclusivae (right of exclusion), by which the Catholic monarchs of Spain, France, and Austria claimed the right to veto a candidate for the papacy that this, that, or the other one disliked.  In January 1904, the new Pope Pius X abolished the ius exclusivae in the constitution Commissum Nobis, which decreed automatic excommunication for anyone interfering in a future conclave and warned that doing so would incur “the indignation of God Almighty and his Apostles, Sts. Peter and Paul.” Commissum Nobis may seem an anachronism today. But perhaps not. It has been recently suggested—and not just in the woolier regions of the Catholic commentariat—that the present papal administration is considering a “reform” of conclave procedure. Such a “reform,” it is speculated, would eliminate non-voting cardinals over eighty years old from any role in a papal interregnum, barring them from the General Congregations in which they currently have a voice. In their place would be substituted a mixture of lay men and women, clergy, and religious. Small groups, including both cardinal-electors and these others, would then meet, using Synod-2023’s facilitated “Conversation in the Spirit” methodology to “discern” what the Church needs in a new pope. Several grave problems come immediately to mind. For while there may not be, these days, Catholic monarchs interested in influencing a conclave by a veto, other worldly powers surely would try to exercise other forms of “veto.” Opening the pre-election discussions beyond the College of Cardinals would inevitably bring pressures to bear from the world media and social media, and those pressures would, just as inevitably, be agenda-driven. Governments hostile to the Church would doubtless want to get their oars into the conclave waters; China, Russia, Cuba, and Venezuela come readily to mind, and there could well be others. Then there are the billionaire philanthropists who understand that the Catholic Church is the last major global institution standing in the way of the rainbow agenda of world social transformation they have promoted for decades; these men and women have already seen fit to pour millions of dollars into abortion referenda in historically Catholic countries, and there is no reason to think they would cavil at trying to use their wealth to influence the pre-voting discussions during a papal interregnum, on the theory that shaping those discussions would have a decisive influence on the voting when the cardinal-electors are locked into conclave. These pressures would be present if the current conclave rules were not changed. But opening the pre-voting discussions to non-cardinals while muzzling the voices of some of the Church’s wisest elders makes it far more likely that those pressures would have a real effect. And that really should not happen.     George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington, D.C.’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

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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