TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 180 – The Catholic Literary Imagination & Brad Wilcox On Protecting Teens From Big TechWith a rise in mental health issues including depression among our youth across the country, Brad Wilcox joins to discuss the dire need for regulating social media, offering 5 ways we can protect our teenagers from big tech. Professor Jessica Hooten-Wilson also joins talking ways to renew one’s imagination in the company of literary saints. Father Roger Landry offers an inspiring homily to prepare us for this Sunday’s Gospel. Catch the show every Saturday at 7amET/5pmET on EWTN radio! 1. Vatican sanctions Nobel laureate after Timor accusations, By Nicole Winfield, Gantry Meilana and Helena Alves, Associated Press, September 30, 2022, 12:20 AM The Catholic Church’s decades-long sex abuse scandal caught up with a Nobel Peace Prize winner Thursday, with the Vatican confirming that it had sanctioned the East Timor independence hero, Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, following allegations that he sexually abused boys there during the 1990s. The Vatican admission came a day after a Dutch magazine, De Groene Amsterdammer, exposed the claims against the revered Catholic bishop, citing two of Belo’s alleged victims and reporting there were others who hadn’t come forward in East Timor, where the church wields enormous influence. Spokesman Matteo Bruni said the Vatican office that handles sex abuse cases received allegations “concerning the bishop’s behavior” in 2019 and within a year had imposed the restrictions. They included limitations on Belo’s movements and his exercise of ministry, and prohibited him from having voluntary contact with minors or contact with East Timor.  The Vatican provided no explanation, however, for why St. John Paul II allowed Belo to resign as head of the church in East Timor two decades early in 2002, and why church authorities permitted him to be sent to Mozambique, where he worked with children. 2. Americans want middle ground on abortion. These voter initiatives are anything but., By Ingrid Jacques, USA Today, September 30, 2022, 7:00 AM, Opinion In my state of Michigan, the Planned Parenthood- and ACLU-backed Reproductive Freedom for All proposal, known as Proposal 3 on the ballot, promises to “ restore Roe in Michigan.” That’s extremely misleading. It would go much further than that. The battle over abortion rights in Michigan should serve as a warning in other states. If this amendment passed, it would severely restrict the state legislature from enacting any changes to abortion provisions, and it would likely overturn existing restrictions on abortion – ones that prevailed under Roe. Those regulations include a ban on abortions after fetal viability (unless the life of the mother is at risk), parental consent for a minor’s abortion, and health and safety standards for abortion clinics. While the initiative’s language pays lip service to allowing the state to set restrictions after viability, it also says the state could not prohibit any abortion if a “ health care professional” believes it’s necessary to “protect the life or physical or mental health” of the pregnant individual. That’s incredibly vague. Proponents are trying to paint this as a “ middle of the road ” measure, but that’s hardly what it is. Michigan could become a state that has much more lenient abortion laws than it did before the Supreme Court decision. 3. Out of the Ashes, a New Notre-Dame, By Tunku Varadarajan, The Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2022, Pg. A15, Opinion For many years, Philippe Villeneuve has worn above his heart a tattoo of a stained-glass rose window from Notre-Dame. Inked on his left arm are two more images from this, the most beloved of all Christian cathedrals. One is of the great organ, the other of its spire, which was destroyed by the nighttime fire that engulfed Notre-Dame on April 15, 2019. A heartbroken Mr. Villeneuve had these etched just days after. This display of bodily devotion is apt for a man who fell in love with the 13th-century Gothic cathedral 53 years ago, when he was 6, on a visit with his grandpa. Ten years later, he built a model of the sacred building out of balsa wood (over long days when his mother thought he was studying for exams). Today he is the chief architect in charge of restoring the charred edifice.  In the initial clamor to rebuild, outlandish ideas were put forth, including by President Emmanuel Macron, who favored a new spire of contemporary design. Others included a roof garden, as well as rebuilding with glass or steel, not wood. Mr. Villeneuve, an adamant originalist, threatened to quit if Notre-Dame wasn’t restored exactly the way it was before. The army general in charge of the works, a martinet appointed by Mr. Macron, told Mr. Villeneuve to “shut his mouth.” Sanity prevailed, and the French Parliament passed a law to ensure that the rebuilding was identical to the original. Mr. Varadarajan, a Journal contributor, is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and at Columbia University’s Center on Capitalism and Society. 4. Republicans press DOJ on pro-life cyberattack strategies, By Kerry Picket, The Washington Times, September 30, 2022, Pg. A4 House Republican lawmakers are pressing the Department of Justice to detail its actions to fight politically motivated cyberattacks against religious and conservative Americans. GOP members of the House Oversight Committee, including ranking member Rep. James Comer of Kentucky and Rep. Michael McCloud of Texas, the top Republican on the panel’s economic and consumer policy subcommittee, said they want a briefing from Attorney General Merrick Garland and Justice officials on what is being done about recent cyberattacks targeting Christian websites and charitable donation portals, as well as how the government can prevent future attacks. “We are concerned about recent cyberattacks against Christian websites and charitable donation portals carried out due to their support of conservative values and causes,” the Republican lawmakers wrote. “Direct attacks against religious people deserve no place in our society and undermine the ability of citizens to express their viewpoints without fear of harmful retribution.” 5. Baltimore archdiocese starts listening process after pandemic empties pews, By John Lavenburg, Crux, September 30, 2022 Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore hasn’t ruled out the possibility that some Baltimore parishes could close at the end of a new initiative to reimagine Catholic life in the city, but he has committed to a two-year synodal-based listening process before any decisions are made. Lori announced the new initiative, “Seek the City to Come” on Sept. 29.  62 of the archdiocese’s 147 parishes – 47 in Baltimore City and 15 outside city parishes – are involved in the initiative. According to archdiocesan data, pre-pandemic 20 percent of city pews were filled for Mass and now only about 9 percent are filled. There are also less than 5,000 registered Catholics in the city, down from about 30,000 in the 1990’s, the archdiocese’s data shows. 6. After Supreme Court backs praying coach, no sweeping changes, By Luis Andres Henao, Associated Press, September 29, 2022, 9:03 AM Across the ideological spectrum, there were predictions of dramatic consequences when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a public high school football coach’s right to pray on the field after games. Yet three months after the decision — and well into the football season — there’s no sign that large numbers of coaches have been newly inspired to follow Joseph Kennedy’s high-profile example.  A majority of U.S. adults approve of the Supreme Court’s decision, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The poll shows 54% of Americans approve of the ruling, while 22% disapprove and 23% hold neither opinion. The survey also shows that solid majorities think a coach leading a team in prayer (60%), a player leading a team in prayer (64%) and a coach praying on the field without asking the team to join in (71%) should all be allowed in public high school sports. 7. Nicaragua president calls church a dictatorship, bishops ‘murderers’, By David Agren, Associated Press, September 29, 2022 Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega blasted Catholic leaders as a “gang of murderers,” in comments amping up persecution of the church and scorning Pope Francis’ call for dialogue in the Central American country. In a fiery address, Ortega took aim at Nicaragua’s Catholic bishops for promoting democracy as an exit from the country’s political crisis, alleging without proof that they called on protesters to kill him during the 2018 protests — which his regime violently repressed. He called the bishops and Pope Francis “the perfect dictatorship,” then asked, accusatorially, “Who elected the bishops, the pope, the cardinals?” 8. Advocates list 100s of allegedly abusive California priests, By Haven Daley and Brian Melley, Associated Press, September 29, 2022 Advocates for victims of clergy sexual abuse delivered a list of more than 300 publicly accused abusers to the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco on Thursday as they urged him to release his “secret” files on credibly accused priests. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests took aim at Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for being one 15 U.S. bishops — representing fewer than 10% of all dioceses — not to publicly name abusive clerics. “Every bishop is his own king and they can do what they want with these lists. About 158 bishops in the United States have released lists over the past three or four years,” said Dan McNevin of SNAP, and a church abuse survivor. “But the archbishop of San Francisco will not publish a list. And so we think it’s really important to get this list out, to get it published, to update it, to provide information to victims and their families.” An archdiocese spokesperson declined to answer emailed questions about why the archbishop hasn’t released a list of priests or whether he would reconsider doing so. In a statement, the archdiocese said it reports sexual abuse allegations to authorities, an independent review board and parishes. Lawsuits are addressed in court. “Such allegations are treated very seriously to protect the victims and the vulnerable and to insure justice for all involved,” the statement said. “Other than allegations that are facially not credible, investigations are initiated for any claims received. Any priest under investigation is prohibited from exercising public ministry.” 9. A Line in the Sand, The Graham Bill is a welcome but modest piece of legislation that would protect some unborn babies and their mothers from the horrors of abortion., By Michael Warsaw, National Catholic Register, September 29, 2022, Opinion In a perfect world, every unborn child would have a chance to live outside the womb. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, has at the very least made it possible for the American people to legislate this into reality. The opening salvo in the national effort to protect the unborn is the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children From Late-Term Abortions Act, recently introduced by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. The media firestorm and invective coming from radical pro-abortion activists and politicians was swift, fierce — and entirely predictable. Reporters and pundits called this a national abortion ban. If only. What does the Graham Bill actually do? It prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, which is the point at which babies feel pain, and it provides for exceptions in the cases of rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother. What’s more, it would allow state laws to remain that go further to protect the unborn. Most data suggests that approximately 6% of abortions occur near or after 15 weeks, so the Graham Bill is a welcome but modest piece of legislation that would protect some unborn babies and their mothers from the horrors of abortion.  The Graham Bill is a line in the sand, and every politician who claims the pro-life label should not only sponsor the legislation but champion it in the midterm elections. Doing the right thing, which in this case is very popular with the American people, is not difficult. As states look at ways to protect women and unborn babies, the federal government and our elected officials have an obligation to do so as well. Anything less is an abdication of duty. 10. Cardinals Cupich, Dolan urge reconsideration of transgender mandate, By Carl Bunderson, Catholic News Agency, September 29, 2022, 5:00 PM The Biden administration’s proposal to force hospitals and doctors to perform gender-transition surgeries is “misguided” and should be reconsidered, two cardinals wrote Monday in an article published in America Magazine. “Under this new proposed rule, it would be considered discrimination for a health care facility or worker to object to performing gender transition procedures, regardless of whether that objection is a matter of sincerely held religious belief or clinical judgment,” Cardinals Blase Cupich of Chicago and Timothy Dolan of New York wrote in a Sept. 26 statement. “This is government coercion that intrudes on the religious freedom of faith-based health care facilities. Such a mandate threatens the conscience rights of all health care providers and workers who have discerned that participating in, or facilitating, gender transition procedures is contrary to their own beliefs.” The rule proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services would apply to any health care program or activity that receives federal funding. It would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the nondiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act, Section 1557. 11. Cardinal McCarrick and Bishop Belo — On sexual abuse, has anything really changed?, The Vatican’s handling of a bishop’s sexual abuse allegations raise familiar questions: Who knew what, when, and what did they do about it?, By JD Flynn, September 29, 2022, 7:31 PM The Vatican acknowledged Thursday that it imposed restrictions in 2020 on the ministry and residency of Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who is accused of sexually abusing teenage boys decades ago. But Vatican officials will almost certainly face more questions about those restrictions, and about the bishop’s past, as details of the allegations against Belos come into focus in the weeks to come.  The allegations are grave. The bishop is accused of raping young men in the 1980s and ‘90s, and of taking advantage of their poverty, and his power, to keep them silent.  He was instructed, in short, to keep a low profile, even while there was no public acknowledgment of the allegations he faced. The Vatican instructions bear some familiarity to the situation of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, before the allegations against him came to light in 2018, and he was formally laicized the next year. There are apparently some differences between the restrictions imposed on McCarrick and those Belos faced, but the most interesting one is timing: McCarrick faced Vatican restrictions in 2008, while Belos apparently received them in 2020. By then, everything was supposed to have changed. After the McCarrick scandal of 2018, Pope Francis convened a global abuse summit of bishops, ordered the American bishops to go on a retreat, and promulgated Vos estis lux mundi, which was supposed to signal that the Church would not again tolerate abuse or administrative negligence among malfeasant bishops. “Listen,” the pope urged at his February 2019 abuse summit, “to the cry of the children who ask for justice.” The pope’s own rhetorical commitment to addressing abuse began earlier than that. In 2016, ahead of the McCarrick scandal, Pope Francis told bishops to have “zero tolerance” for the sexual abuse of children. He reiterated that phrase in an interview this year. And last year, when Pope Francis promulgated a new code of penal law for the Church, he emphasized that the failure to address canonical crimes with canonical trials has compounded the abuse crisis. But there is no indication Belo has had any kind of canonical trial, or any formal process at all, pertaining to the rapes he’s accused of committing.  If the Holy See didn’t know about any allegations until 2019, it’s worth asking why the Vatican believed Belo had resigned 20 years prior, and why the pope was willing to accept that resignation. In short, Bishop Belo’s case raises the same questions that McCarrick’s did — who knew what, when, and what did they do about it?  Nor have Catholics gotten clear answers in the cases of Zanchetta, or Bishop Franz Josef Bode, or Bishop Rick Stika, or several others. And now that’s it become clear the Holy See has continued to discreetly handle accused bishops without public acknowledgement, Catholics will ask how many other bishops are under “restrictions” – and for their names.  And as the Holy See promises it’s listening to Catholics as part of the synod on synodality, Belo’s case points to one lingering, urgent, and uncomfortable question — apart from the talking points, has anything really changed for the Church’s abusive bishops?

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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