TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 83 – Father Ben Kiely & Mary Rice Hasson Talk Potential Rollbacks That Threaten Religious Freedom
Given a presumptive Biden/Harris Administration, Dr. Grazie Christie speaks with Father Benedict Kiely of on the fate of persecuted Christians around the world as we enter a new wave of lockdowns. Mary Rice Hasson of the Ethics and Public Policy Center also joins with a look at the slate of pro-life women entering the House of Representatives and also what might be at stake with a White House intent upon codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law. Mary also discusses the real threats to our children within an even more progressive public school system. Her advice?… Get out now!
1. High Court Challenge Could Test Cuomo’s Pandemic Powers, By Jimmy Vielkind, The Wall Street Journal, November 23, 2020, Pg. A10A
Since New York’s first novel coronavirus case in March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued executive orders closing offices and restaurants, schools and fitness centers. And courts have backed him up almost every time.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected this week to say whether it will hear a challenge by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn to the restrictions that Mr. Cuomo placed on parts of the borough in October.
2. Americans should heed Justice Alito’s words about religious freedom, By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, The Washington Times, November 23, 2020, Pg. B2, Opinion
Religious freedom is one of the defining features of the United States. But it has been under assault for years and now it faces a new wave of threats. And it could evaporate before our eyes if it doesn’t have enough powerful defenders.

Is 21st-century America still “inclusive enough” to tolerate people with “unpopular religious beliefs?” We could be just about to find out.
Justice Alito and his colleagues on the Supreme Court are considering a case raising this very question. Earlier this month, it heard oral argument in Fulton v. Philadelphia. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia lost its decades-old foster care placement contract because of its sincerely held religious beliefs about what is best for children.They are willing to refer any same-sex couple that ever comes to them (none ever had) to one of the 29 other agencies working with the city.
Although city officials up to this point have been brazenly intolerant of the Catholic agency’s sincerely held beliefs, the First Amendment demands a more inclusive approach. (I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Judge Alito is busy drafting the court’s opinion directing the city to reinstate the agency’s contract.)
Religious freedom in America protects churches, religious schools and churchgoers from facing burdensome scrutiny and disparate regulation by the government, even during a pandemic. It allows religious organizations and people of faith to participate in society without having to leave their beliefs at the door.
And now, incredibly, we’re in danger of losing this precious legacy. At a time of immense social turmoil, America needs a champion of religious freedom. Fortunately, Justice Alito has answered the call and is urging the rest of America to join him.
Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is director of the Conscience Project, an organization advancing conscience rights through public education and amicus support in religious freedom cases.
3. Mother in McCarrick report has doubts, Decades later, her expectations for Vatican accountability are low, By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, November 22, 2020, Pg. C1
Decades before there was a bombshell Vatican report about ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, before there was the 2020 fall meeting of U.S. bishops discussing whether the best reaction to the report is more prayer or more focus on sin, there was a mother with a stack of letters, trembling hands and a secret.
The report, released last week, devotes 10 full pages to the woman it calls “Mother 1.” It describes what is apparently the first time a person tried to alert church authorities about a cleric who she had come to believe, when she sent her anonymous letters in the 1980s, was a danger to multiple boys in her family. Nothing came of the letters she said she sent to every U.S. cardinal and the Vatican’s D.C. ambassador about McCarrick, who would go on to become archbishop of Washington and a cardinal, despite persistent allegations of sexual misconduct that went all the way to three popes. It would take decades for the cleric who charmed presidents and celebrities to be accused of sexual mistreatment by nearly 20 boys and men, charges that would rock the church all the way to Rome.
4. Two secular lawsuits raise deeply ecclesiastical conundra, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, November 22, 2020, Opinion
Within the last few days, two completely separate lawsuits have been filed in two different countries that somehow involve the Vatican. In the United States, four alleged sex abuse victims of ex-cardinal and ex-priest Theodore McCarrick are suing the Vatican, while in Italy Cardinal Angelo Becciu has filed a $12 million defamation of character claim against a news magazine.
On the face of it, both actions are fairly straight-forward. The alleged victims want monetary compensation for their suffering, while Becciu wants to be paid for alleged injury to his reputation.
Yet in reality, each lawsuit, filed in completely secular courts, raises a classic ecclesiastical conundrum:
Is a Catholic bishop an “employee” of the Vatican?
Technicalities aside, do you actually have to be a cardinal to be elected pope?
Let’s begin with the McCarrick case.

This is hardly the first time the Vatican has been named in a sex abuse lawsuit in American courts, but on all previous occasions those suits have been dismissed, sooner or later, because of the Vatican’s sovereign immunity.

Yet in American civil law, the power to hire and fire is generally considered the litmus test of an employer/employee relationship, and of course, with respect to bishops, only the pope can do either.

As for Becciu, he’s the former papal chief of staff summarily shown the door in late September by Pope Francis.

To justify a claim for compensation, the lawsuit had to explain what damage Becciu has suffered. In part, it claimed that by depriving Becciu of his rights as a cardinal, including the ability to participate in the next conclave, he lost his chance to become the next pope.
The thing is, technically that’s not true. Church law does not require that the next pope be a cardinal, only a baptized male. However, the last time a non-cardinal was elected pope was in the 14th century, and one could probably make the case that de facto, if not de jure, the red hat is a sine qua non.
Here too, in other words, a secular judge (or judges) may be asked to respond to a question that Catholic insiders themselves have been debating for centuries.
5. Pope: Involve poor people in planning post-pandemic economy, By Associated Press, November 22, 2020
Pope Francis urged young economists, entrepreneurs and business leaders Saturday to promote post-pandemic development models that involve the poor.
Francis, in a videotaped message for a forum of young people in Assisi, Italy, said the worst reaction once the coronavirus pandemic ends would be to “fall even more deeply into feverish consumerism and forms of selfish self-protection.”
Instead, Francis said, the poor should be invited to participate in discussions about creating a “different economic narrative” that he thinks is urgently needed.
6. Amid travel break, pope cheers Lisbon youth jamboree plans, By Associated Press, November 22, 2020, 6:41 AM
With no papal travels abroad this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis is cheering efforts for a youth jamboree, traditionally attended by pontiffs, in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2023.
Francis on Sunday presided over a handover ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica involving young people gearing up for the next World Youth Day, which draws huge crowds of Catholics from around the globe.
When Francis attended the last such event in Panama in 2019, organizers announced that the next jamboree would be held in Lisbon in 2022. But pandemic concerns postponed the event to August 2023.
7. Mexican church decries Senate’s marijuana legalization vote, By Associated Press, November 22, 2020, 6:38 PM
Mexico’s Roman Catholic Church on Sunday criticized a vote in the Senate to legalize the possession, cultivation and use of small amounts of marijuana.
The bill adopted this past week must still go to the lower house of Congress for a vote.
It would legalize the possession of up to an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana by adults as long as they did not consume it in front of children. The bill also would authorize a person to grow up to six pot plants, and open the way for establishing a system of licensing for larger-scale production and sale.
The Mexican Bishops Council said in a statement Sunday that Chamber of Deputies should modify the bill “to emphasize health and public safety.”
8. Cardinal apologizes for abuse as English bishops overhaul safeguarding structures, By Charles Collins, Crux, November 21, 2020
England’s top prelate expressed his “profound sorrow and apologies” on Friday, after he was personally singled out in a scathing report on clerical sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, had been faulted for not acknowledging “any personal responsibility to lead or influence change” and not demonstrating “compassion towards victims” in a report issued Nov. 10 by the government-established Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
9. Religious freedom advocates: Will new administration continue support?, By Kurt Jensen, Catholic News Service, November 21, 2020
One of the most frequently expressed questions during an international religious freedom symposium Nov. 19 was whether the attention granted to religious freedom during the past four years would continue with the next administration.

The afternoon symposium, “Act in Time: Protecting Imperiled Christians in Ancient and Other Lands,” was held by the Anglosphere Society in collaboration with the Hudson Institute, the Knights of Columbus, the Institute For Ancient and Threatened Christianity and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
10. ‘American Catholic’ Review: Mother, Teacher or Both?., By Barton Swaim, The Wall Street Journal, November 21, 2020, Pg. C8, Book Review
The transformation of Catholic political thought, both within the church hierarchy and among Catholic intellectuals in the United States, is the story of D.G. Hart’s “American Catholic: The Politics of Faith During the Cold War.” Mr. Hart, who teaches history at Hillsdale College, writes perceptively and with a cold analytical eye; his narrative is free of ax-grinding and point-scoring. “American Catholic” is intellectual history of an excellent sort.

In December of 1965 the Second Vatican Council passed the “Declaration on Religious Freedom,” and subsequent popes, especially John Paul II, repeated the Church’s condemnation of communism and—implicitly at least—embraced democracy, pluralism and free markets. But of course a host of questions would remain unsettled, chief among them the place of socialism in Catholic teaching.

The spectacle of Pope Francis endorsing disgraced economic theories and suggesting the Church approve same-sex civil unions long after developed nations have embraced full-on marriage for same-sex couples is enough to make one question the whole premise that religious bodies have any special wisdom in the sphere of politics.
11. Court: Tennessee can enforce Down syndrome abortion ban, By Kimberlee Kruesi, Associated Press, November 20, 2020, 7:23 PM
A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Tennessee can begin outlawing abortions because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, as well as prohibit the procedure if it’s based on the race or gender of the fetus.
Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee enacted the so-called “reason bans” earlier this year as part of a sweeping anti-abortion measure. The law gained national attention because it banned abortion as early as six weeks — making it one of the strictest in the country — but it included several other anti-abortion components.
12. Some Roman Catholics sounding alarm about Biden administration, conflicts with moral teachings, The president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement about the ‘problems’ created by a Catholic president who supports certain progressive policies, By Sam Dorman, Fox News, November 20, 2020
Some Roman Catholic groups and leaders are warning that President-elect Biden would, despite being a member of the faith, enact harmful policies and create confusion about church teachings.
Just after the election, Archbishop Jose Gomez issued a statement congratulating Biden, saying “he joins the late President John F. Kennedy as the second United States president to profess the Catholic faith.”
However, Gomez, who serves as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), later announced a working group in preparation for Biden’s presidency, and issued a statement about the “problems” created by a Catholic president who supports certain progressive policies.

“He has also given us reason to believe that he will support policies that are against some fundamental values that we hold dear as Catholics. These policies include: the repeal of the Hyde Amendment and the preservation of Roe vs. Wade. Both of these policies undermine our preeminent priority of the elimination of abortion,” Gomez added.
He warned that supporting certain policies would create “confusion among the faithful about what the Church actually teaches on these questions.”
Catholic Vote, which launched an anti-Biden campaign before the election, and the Catholic Association both expressed support for Gomez after he made those statements.
“The Biden administration poses such a threat to Catholic values that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is setting up a preemptive working group in preparation,” read a Catholic Association post.

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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