TCA Podcast – “Conversations with Consequences”

Episode 29: Mary Hasson and Beth Pearce on the transgender identity crisis

This week on the podcast, your hosts Dr. Grazie Christie and Andrea Picciotti-Bayer interview distinguished guest Mary Hasson, who is the Kate O’Beirne Fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., and director the Catholic Women’s Forum.

The ladies are also joined by Beth Pearce, the mother of a transgender child, who has startling insight into how the transgender movement operates and thinks.

This week discussion points include: attempts to altar the legal definition of “sex;” gender stereotypes; mental health, anxiety and suicide rates among young people; Beth’s observance of her daughter getting hormone therapy at Planned Parenthood; the recent parental rights case involving a child in Texas; and more.

1. Christian centers turn to contraception, Pregnancy nonprofit hopes new model will draw more clients and funding — and help rebrand the antiabortion movement.

By Sarah Pulliam Bailey, The Washington Post, November 8, 2019, Pg. A1

But some Christians now see an opening for a third way to reach women — before they become pregnant — that also enables them to compete for federal money Planned Parenthood has decided to relinquish.

Eight independent Texas based pregnancy centers merged earlier this year to form a chain called The Source. With Christian women’s health centers in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Aus tin, the nonprofit organization plans to offer a full array of medical services, to include testing for sexually transmitted diseases, first-trimester prenatal care and contraception choices.

That model is similar to that of hundreds of Planned Parenthood clinics. About half of the organization’s 600 clinics provide abortion directly; the rest offer medical services but refer patients to outside providers for abortion.

Planned Parenthood announced in August its plans to forgo about $60 million in Title X family planning funds rather than comply with new Trump administration rules that ban participating clinics from referring patients for non-emergency abortions and require financial separation from facilities that provide abortions. Title X funds already could not be used to provide abortions.

2. Pence defends aid funneling to Christian groups.

By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, November 8, 2019, Pg. A8

Vice President Mike Pence is not backing down from criticism that his office improperly funneled federal aid to several Christian groups, particularly those in the religiously diverse Nineveh Plains of Iraq, saying it’s part of the Trump administration’s “vision” for helping victims of Islamic State genocide.

“The vice president is proud of the work the Trump administration and members of his team have done to assist victims of genocide in Iraq,” a spokesperson for Mr. Pence said.

ProPublica reported Wednesday that Mr. Pence and his aides over the last two years have intervened in decisions by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to award aid funds to Christian groups in the largely Muslim nation.

Over the last two years, the U.S. has provided $400 million in aid to areas populated by religious and ethnic minorities and more than $1.5 billion in aid to Iraq, populated mostly by Sunni and Shia Muslims.

In op-ed last year in The Wall Street Journal, former Reagan administration National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane and New Jersey Sen. Chris Smith noted that roughly 90% of Iraqi Christians — who numbered 1.3 million in 2003 — are gone. A 2018 report by Fox News also criticized USAID for not more fully supporting Iraqi Christians.

The 2018 CIA Factbook says at least 95% of Iraq is Muslim, an increase after the flight of Christians and Yazidi refugees with the rise of ISIS.

3. Georgetown initiative spotlights work that remains on abuse crisis.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, November 8, 2019

Notre Dame is back in action next week, hosting another big event Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 7:00 p.m. in the Dahnke Ballroom of the Duncan Student Center. It features the Vatican’s top sex abuse prosecutor and reformer, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, in conversation with ND students and the broader community. As with the earlier event, I’ll serve as moderator and emcee.

Not to be outdone, Georgetown University has also been sponsoring its own series of important initiatives related to the abuse crisis, one of which just reported on Monday.

Last June, an undertaking called “Lay Leadership for a Wounded Church,” engineered by the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown led by John Carr, a former senior advisor to the U.S. bishops.

On Monday, the results of the effort were presented at Georgetown. The guts of it can be expressed in terms of ten major strategic directions – none of which will seem surprising to anyone who’s been following the arc of the crisis for decades now, suggesting the problem isn’t so much in knowing what to do as in finding the will, and the consensus, to do it.

One could go on multiplying examples, but the siloization of Catholic life is all too often a reality. If the abuse crisis can jar the Church out of that dysfunctional pattern of behavior, perhaps it can produce some small deposit of good against the mountain of pain and disillusionment it’s already caused.

One hopes Church leaders and Catholic activists of all stripes ponder the Georgetown results carefully. They may not hear much that’s new, but they will be confronted again with the enormity of the task that remains.

4. Will Trump’s judicial appointments matter for abortion, religious freedom?

By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, November 7, 2019, 4:59 PM

US President Donald Trump has nominated more than one-fourth of federal circuit court judges – but what, if anything, might that entail for jurisprudence on abortion and religious freedom?

In his remarks marking the milestone of 150 judicial nominations on Wednesday at the White House East Room, Trump did not bring up the life issue, nor did he mention religious freedom.

He stated his goal of nominating judges who would “halt judicial activism,” most notably on immigration, where he said, “judges are prohibiting us from enforcing the plain letter of the law.”

Trump’s milestone was marked by the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, which celebrated the fact that one-fourth of appellate court judges are Trump appointees in a statement on Tuesday, while also noting the two Supreme Court justices selected by Trump, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

5. 2020 Democratic Front-Runners Downplay Religious Freedom, Promotion of ‘LGBT’ agendas takes precedence over protection of religious liberty.

By Lauretta Brown, National Catholic Register, November 7, 2019

Shortly before he exited the 2020 Democratic presidential field, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke asserted that churches and other faith-based organizations should lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex “marriage.”

His remark raised concerns for many about what this election could mean for people of faith and their freedoms, especially in light of the subsequent disregard his fellow candidates have shown for religious freedom when it comes to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone, or any institution, any organization in America, that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us,” O’Rourke commented at CNN’s “Equality in America” town hall last month.

When asked by an audience member about what she would say to someone who believes that marriage should only be between one man and one woman, Warren replied that she would assume a man holds that belief and she would tell him, “Then just marry one woman. I’m cool with that,’” adding that was “assuming you can find one.”

Her attack on that belief as being a fringe view — and one likely to be held only by a man — is out of line with recent polls by Pew and Gallup, which found that more than a third of Americans continue to believe in marriage as between one man and one woman. According to the Pew poll, there is no wide disparity in views between women and men on the issue, as 66% of women and 57% of men expressed support for same-sex “marriage.”

Warren and Buttigieg are not alone in dismissing concerns and past legal precedent on the issue of religious freedom.

Former Vice President Joseph Biden, a Catholic who supports same-sex “marriage” in defiance of Church teaching on the matter, commented at the CNN event last month that “the American people are better than we give them credit for, but we allow the homophobes to be able to control the agenda,” in reference to someone potentially losing their job over their sexual orientation. He did not clarify who he thought the “homophobes” were.

Biden and his fellow candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., voted for RFRA in 1993, although their views on religious freedom appear to have evolved dramatically based on their support for the “Equality Act,” proposed federal legislation that would largely nullify RFRA by removing the ability under RFRA to cite religious freedom as a defense against discrimination claims.

In June, Biden went so far as to declare the Equality Act his No. 1 legislative priority as president. Buttigieg and U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Warren and Sanders have also named the legislation a “top priority.” U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., have both backed the legislation, as well.

6. Saint John Henry Newman and Freedom of Conscience: Countering a Modern Apostasy.

By Thomas F. Farr, The Public Discourse, November 7, 2019

In the 130 years since John Henry Newman’s death, few concepts have been more misunderstood and distorted than “conscience.” The danger is greater today than when the great saint wrote. The distorted view of conscience that Newman described as oriented to self and not to God has penetrated Western culture and religion. For many, the obligation to follow one’s conscience has been embraced, but fidelity to truth has been set aside. This untethered and counterfeit “freedom of conscience” has led to a widespread subjectivism that Newman saw emerging within modern European society, even in his own day.

The errors of our age, far more pervasive than in the age of Newman, place a greater responsibility on the faithful, clergy and lay, to teach and witness these truths. We desperately need the clarity and winsomeness of truth itself, which is a man, Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. In his final sermon as an Anglican before entering the Roman Catholic Church, entitled “The Parting of Friends,” Newman asked his congregation to “remember such a one in time to come, though you hear him not, and pray for him, that in all things he may know God’s will, and at all times he may be ready to fulfill it.” Let us, with the great saint at our side, go forth to defend these truths anew, with hope, joy, courage, and true freedom of conscience.

This essay is adapted from remarks delivered at a conference at The Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome during the canonization events for Saint John Henry Newman.

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