TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 130 – Covid And The American Family & Vatican Round-Up With Edward Pentin

What impact has the pandemic had on marriage and the American family? Dr. Brad Wilcox joins Dr. Grazie Christie and Maureen Ferguson to discuss some of the findings in the newly released American Family Survey. Vatican guru Edward Pentin also joins with a look at the Synod on Synodality, the German synod, and how vaccine mandates are affecting life in the Eternal City. Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily to prepare us for this Sunday’s Gospel! Listen every Saturday at 7amET/5pm ET on EWTN radio!

1. Texas Abortion Law Stays In Effect, By Brent Kendall, The Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2021, Pg. A3

A federal appeals court on Thursday said Texas’s restrictive abortion law can remain in effect during ongoing litigation with the Justice Department, extending a previous temporary order that kept the law in place.

The order, from the New Orleans-based Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals came on a 2-1 vote and postpones the effect of an Oct. 6 ruling from an Austin federal judge. He said Texas had engaged in an unprecedented effort to deprive women of constitutionally protected abortion rights and keep its restrictions shielded from judicial review.

The new order Thursday could keep Judge Pitman’s decision on hold for many months while the case continues, unless the Supreme Court steps in. The Justice Department now has the option to seek emergency intervention from the high court.

2. Tsunami may be headed for prosecutors in Vatican ‘trial of the century’, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, October 15, 2021, Opinion

You don’t need special equipment, however, to detect warning signs right now of a legal tsunami that may be heading for the prosecution in the Vatican’s “trial of the century,” which pivots on a $400 million London real estate deal gone wrong, and, for the first time ever, features a cardinal in the dock.

At bottom, what may be playing out here may be the inevitable consequence of a couple of fundamental weaknesses in the prosecution case.

First, the core accusation regarding the London deal is that two Italian businessmen, Torzi and, before him, Raffaele Mincione, conspired with figures in and around the Vatican to overbill for commissions and fees, thus defrauding the Vatican to the tune of millions of Euro. The problem is that each of transactions in question were approved – in most cases explicitly and in writing – by Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, and by the sostituto, the number two official under Parolin.

In other words, this may have been a boneheaded investment but not a crime.

Second, it’s also possible that, at least in some cases, the wrong people have been charged.

While it’s impossible to predict the eventual outcome of the trial, what seems crystal clear by now is that it’s not going to be smooth sailing for the Vatican’s equivalent of the D.A. We’ll see if the case ends up capsized by the storm, or if prosecutors somehow can still right the ship.

3. U.S. bishops say 100 acts of anti-Catholic vandalism since May 2020, By John Lavenburg, Crux, October 15, 2021

An Oct. 10 vandalism of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Colorado, was the 100th incident of destruction to Catholic sites in the U.S. since the U.S. Bishops Conference began tracking the phenomenon in May 2020.

“These incidents of vandalism have ranged from tragic to the obscene, from the transparent to the inexplicable,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chair of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, chair of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development in a joint Oct 14 statement. “There remains much we do not know about this phenomenon, but at a minimum, they underscore that our society is in sore need of God’s grace.”

Dolan and Coakley added the nation’s leaders need to condemn the attacks.

4. Seal of confession a topic of debate after French abuse report, By Catholic News Service, October 15, 2021

Church and government leaders in France are at odds over whether priests should be required to report the abuse of minors if they learn about it in the sacrament of confession.

Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French bishops’ conference, and Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin met to discuss the issue Oct. 12, a week after the release of a report by an independent commission that estimated 330,000 children had been abused by Catholic priests or church employees in France since the 1950s.

At issue is whether French law takes precedence over the seal of confession, a sacred practice in which a confessor does not reveal what is told to him during a confession.

Darmanin told legislators Oct. 12 that he had reaffirmed “the primacy of French laws” during his meeting with the archbishop and said Catholic confessional secrecy could not be “used as a justification for not denouncing sexual crimes against children.”

“The secret of confession has operated for 200 years in our law and is recognized as a professional secret, as with doctors and lawyers — but there is an exception for crimes committed against children under age 15,” added the interior minister, who also heads the government’s department for religions.

In a note approved by Pope Francis and published by the Vatican in mid-2019, the Apostolic Penitentiary affirmed the absolute secrecy of everything said in confession and called on priests to defend it at all costs, even at the cost of their lives.

5. Judge bars United from putting unvaccinated workers on leave, By Associated Press, October 14, 2021

A federal judge has extended a ban on United Airlines putting employees on unpaid leave for seeking a medical or religious exemption from the airline’s requirement to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman in Fort Worth, Texas, granted a restraining order Tuesday in favor of employees who are suing the airline over the mandate.

Lawyers for the employees and the airline agreed last month that United wouldn’t put the workers on unpaid leave, but the judge wrote that the agreement will expire before he can rule on the merits of the matter. That would leave “hundreds of workers” at risk of being put on indefinite unpaid leave or forced to get a vaccination that violates their religious beliefs or medical restrictions.

6. Biden to meet with Pope Francis to discuss COVID-19, climate, By Alexandra Jaffe, Associated Press, October 14, 2021

President Joe Biden is set to meet Pope Francis when he visits the Vatican later this month as part of a five-day swing through Italy and the U.K. for global economic and climate change meetings.

Biden plans to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis and poverty during his meeting with the pope, according to the White House.

7. Study: Attendance hemorrhaging at small and midsize US congregations, By Yonat Shimron, Religion News Service, October 14, 2021, 5:56 PM

new survey of 15,278 religious congregations across the United States confirms trends sociologists have documented for several decades: Congregational life across the country is shrinking.

The most recent round of the Faith Communities Today survey, or FACT, found a median decline in attendance of 7% between 2015 and 2020.

The survey, fielded just before the coronavirus lockdown, finds that half of the country’s estimated 350,000 religious congregations had 65 or fewer people in attendance on any given weekend. That’s a drop of more than half from a median attendance level of 137 people in 2000, the first year the FACT survey gathered data.

It found that mainline Protestants suffered the greatest decline over the past five years (12.5%), with a median of 50 people attending worship in 2020. Evangelical congregations declined at a slower rate (5.4%) over the same five-year period and had a median attendance of 65 people at worship. Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches declined by 9%.

The only groups to boost attendance over the past five years were non-Christian congregations: Muslim, Baha’i and Jewish.

8. Other GOP states urge court to let Texas abortion law stand, By Paul J. Weber, Associated Press, October 14, 2021, 8:16 PM

Eighteen states threw new support behind Texas’ ban on most abortions as the Biden administration waited Thursday for a ruling to determine whether the nation’s most restrictive abortion law will be allowed to remain in place.

The rush to Texas’ defense by the mostly Southern and Midwestern attorneys general reflected the broader stakes and how other Republican-led states might pursue their own versions of Senate Bill 8, which bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around the sixth week of pregnancy. That is before some women know they are even pregnant.

Joining Indiana and signing on in agreement were the state attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia.

9. Pope to pharmacists: Do not become accessories to homicide of abortion, By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, October 14, 2021

All health care professionals have a right to conscientious objection, just as they have a right to denounce unjust harm inflicted on innocent and defenseless life, Pope Francis said.

When it comes to abortion, “I have been very clear — it is homicide and it is not licit to become complicit,” he told a group of pharmacists and other medical professionals.

The pope’s remarks came during an audience at the Vatican Oct. 14 with about 150 health care professionals attending a national congress sponsored by an Italian association of pharmacists working in hospitals or for the government health service.

10. Marching Christ Down Sixth Avenue, Our Eucharistic procession in the heart of Manhattan surprised many, By Tim Busch, The Wall Street Journal, October 14, 2021, 6:28 PM

The Big Apple saw two parades on Columbus Day—or rather, one parade and one procession. Hours after the more famous march, up Fifth Avenue, about 100 Catholics, myself included, trooped up Sixth Avenue and skirted Times Square. We were carrying Jesus Christ through the city’s heart.

Our event was a Eucharistic procession, which traces its roots to Roman times, and even further back to Jewish traditions. Early versions featured prayer and singing as the faithful either traveled to or circled around a holy site. In the Middle Ages, processions grew to include the Eucharist, bread that Catholics believe becomes the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, and that is normally consumed in Holy Communion. Eucharistic processions became a common means of responding to those who denied the Catholic understanding of Communion. They occur world-wide to this day.

Standing out was the point. We wanted people to ask what kind of craziness compelled us, and also to see a stark contrast with their normal lives.

What effect did our procession have? What difference did we make in the hearts and minds of those we passed? There’s no way we’ll ever know. But one thing’s certain: Christ shone bright on New York City’s streets. We’ll bring him back next year.

Mr. Busch is a co-founder of the Napa Institute, a Catholic lay organization.

11. Abortion supporters ask Oklahoma court to put 3 laws on hold, By Associated PressOctober 14, 2021, 5:41 PM

Reproductive rights supporters have filed an appeal asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to put three anti-abortion laws on hold, including restrictions on medication-induced abortions.

The appeal Wednesday comes after District Judge Cindy Truong said she would allow the laws to take effect Nov. 1, pending the outcome of a legal challenge, the Tulsa World reported.

The case in Oklahoma County District Court challenged five abortion laws that were enacted last Legislative session. Truong temporarily blocked two of the five laws from taking effect, including a measure similar to a Texas abortion law that effectively bans the procedure after about six weeks of pregnancy.

The other three would create new restrictions on medication-induced abortions and require all doctors who perform abortions to be board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology.

12. Vatican warns of use of cryptocurrency in migrant smuggling, By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, October 14, 2021

The Vatican urged the international community to regulate cryptocurrency, especially because of its growing use in the smuggling and exploitation of migrants and vulnerable persons.

In a statement Oct. 14, Msgr. Janusz Urbanczyk, the Vatican representative to U.N. agencies in Vienna, said the use of cash to avoid transparency “has shifted into the even less transparent world of digital payment and cryptocurrencies.”

13. US dioceses prepare to open synod process this month, By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency, October 14, 2021

Dioceses across the United States are preparing for the consultation process for the Synod on Synodality, a two-year, worldwide undertaking during which Catholics will be encouraged to submit feedback to their local diocese.

Most dioceses contacted by CNA said they are still in the process of determining how feedback will be collected from the faithful, and several dioceses are planning an opening Mass on Oct. 17.

One objective of the synod on synodality, according to the preparatory document, is to examine “how responsibility and power are lived in the Church as well as the structures by which they are managed, bringing to light and trying to convert prejudices and distorted practices that are not rooted in the Gospel.”

14. Prominent Anglican bishop received into Catholic Church, By Luke Coppen, Catholic News Agency, October 14, 2021

A prominent Anglican bishop once considered a potential future Archbishop of Canterbury has entered into full communion with the Catholic Church.

The Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester, England, has joined the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, The Spectator reported on Oct. 14.

The magazine said that Nazir-Ali could be ordained as a Catholic priest as early as the end of October within the ordinariate, a body created by Benedict XVI in 2011 for groups of former Anglicans wishing to preserve elements of their patrimony.

15. What Cincinnati’s consolidation plans say about the Church’s future, By Brendan Hodge and JD Flynn, The Pillar, October 14, 2021

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati announced this month a major restructuring initiative that could eventually close 70% of the 211 parishes in the archdiocese.

While headlines about parish closures and the declining number of priests in the U.S. are hardly new, the dramatic scope of Cincinnati’s plan is noteworthy — especially because it raises questions about the future of the Church across the U.S.

A quick look at the data shows why the archdiocese needed to take action.

In 2019, Cincinnati had 211 parishes but only 143 diocesan priests in active ministry, according to data collected by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). That situation, the archdiocese has said, is not sustainable. So its plan is to group parishes together, assign priests to share pastoral duties, and gradually see parishes formally merged together.

Such analysis assumes, of course, that all other factors impacting vocations and Catholic population will remain the same. Changes in fertility, immigration, faith formation, and the shifting culture will play out in ways that are harder to foresee. But the basic mission of the Church is to minister to all peoples. That means that as populations move, whether across town or across the continent, the Church will need to continue moving and adapting as well, if it is to bring Christ to the world.

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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