1. A Woman for All Seasons, Dear Rome: How about making Margaret More Roper a saint too?

By William McGurn, The Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2017, Pg. A13, Houses of Worship

Thomas More is a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. Why not his eldest daughter?

July 1 marks the anniversary of More’s 1535 show trial in Westminster Hall, at which Henry VIII’s onetime lord chancellor was found guilty of high treason for refusing to swear an oath recognizing the king as head of England’s church. On More’s walk back to his prison cell in the Tower of London, the condemned man’s daughter Margaret broke through the ring of soldiers, threw her arms around her father and wrapped him in her love. Five days later, the executioner’s ax dispatched Sir Thomas More to eternity.

More’s story remains well known today, not least because of popular treatments such as the 1966 film version of Robert Bolt’s “A Man for All Seasons.” But absent the determination of Margaret, who smuggled her father’s letters out of prison and collected his writings against the day that they might be published, the world would know far less about this extraordinary man. Theirs was an intellectual and spiritual family collaboration, at turns joyful and melancholy, which even death could not kill. 

Less appreciated is that Margaret More Roper—“dearest Meg,” “dearly beloved Meg” or “sweetest Meg” to her father—was herself an individual of singular virtue and accomplishment. In an age when illiteracy was the rule, and girls were thought to be not worth teaching, the classical education Margaret received placed her among the world’s most learned women. 

Thomas More’s “sweet Meg” would live fewer than 10 years after her father’s execution, dying in Chelsea at 39. On this anniversary of their farewell, perhaps it is time for the Catholic Church to acknowledge Margaret More Roper as someone for our season: a woman of strength and character who rose above the limitations of her age to demonstrate herself the equal of any man—in intellect, in courage, in wit. 

And in saintliness. 


2. Abuse case against cardinal a setback for Francis, Victims’ advocates say pope has failed to fully reckon with sexual assault scandal plaguing the church.

By Stefano Pitrelli, Michael Birnbaum and A. Odysseus Patrick, The Washington Post, June 30, 2017, Pg. A1

The Catholic Church’s child sexual abuse scandal ensnared one of Pope Francis’s top lieutenants on Thursday, underlining the halting progress the reformist pontiff has made in addressing decades of abuse by the clergy, even as Cardinal George Pell declared himself innocent of the charges against him. 

Pell, one of the most powerful officials in the Vatican, said he would return to his native Australia to fight multiple charges of sexual assault. He became the highest-ranking Vatican official to be formally accused by law enforcement when Australian police charged him Thursday.

Advocates for victims of child abuse said that allowing Pell to face charges in Australia, rather than keeping him inside the walls of Vatican City, was a major step for a church that might have shielded him in earlier years. But they also said that the cardinal’s ability to remain in his post until Thursday, despite controversy about his role in the Australian church’s years of abuse, was a sign that Francis had not fully reckoned with one of the most painful chapters in modern Catholic history.


3. Vatican Financial Overhaul Faces Setback After Sex-Abuse Charges.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2017, Pg. A7

Sex-abuse charges against the finance chief of the Vatican deal a major blow to already faltering efforts to overhaul its bureaucracy, according to Vatican observers.

Australian police on Thursday charged Cardinal George Pell with multiple counts of sexual abuse alleged to have occurred decades ago, though they gave few details of the allegations. The 76-year-old cardinal, the highest-level Vatican official to face charges in the sexual-abuse scandals that have hit the church, denied the allegations and said he would take a leave of absence with Pope Francis ’ permission to go back to his native Australia to clear his name.

When Cardinal Pell came to Rome three years ago to head the newly established Secretariat for the Economy, he was already the target of claims that he had mishandled cases of sex abuse by other priests. But Thursday’scharges nonetheless mark a dramatic turnaround from his arrival, when the high-ranking prelate was seen as the media-savvy, straight-talking solution to the Vatican’s chaotic finances.


4. Cardinal Pell’s situation may be unique, but there are plenty of parallels.

By Inés San Martín, Vatican Correspondent, Crux, June 30, 2017

Given news that Australian Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and a member of Pope Francis’s “C9” council of cardinal advisers, has been criminally charged with sexual abuse in his native Australia, the question naturally arises of whether such a situation is unprecedented.

Unsurprisingly for an institution with a history as long as the Catholic Church, the answer is “yes and no.”

In fact, no cardinal, and no sitting Vatican official, has ever before faced a criminal indictment for sexual abuse. On the other hand, several figures in both categories have faced criminal charges for a variety of other offenses, and other Catholic bishops around the world have faced abuse charges, which offers the possibility to compare and contrast with the Pell drama.

Pell has been called to appear in front of the judge in Australia on July 18. The cardinal has vowed to fly as soon as he has clearance from his doctors, but it’s unclear if he’ll be there 20 days from now. However, it’s worth pointing out that it’s possible Pell will show up at that court and the judge will rule there’s insufficient evidence to sustain the charges.

If that’s the case, the trial would be dismissed before it actually starts.


5. Unleashing the Gospel Anew.

By Fr. Roger J. Landry, The Anchor, June 30, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry is the National Chaplain of Catholic Voices USA.

For four decades, the Popes have been calling the Church to a “new evangelization” or “re-evangelization,” something that involves a mission not only to those who are not Catholic but to those who are baptized but for whatever reason have not been living according to their baptism, who have wandered from the practice of the faith, or who are just going through the motions.

Blessed Paul VI wrote on proclaiming the Gospel to the people of today in Evangelii Nuntiandi in 1975. Pope John Paul I, in his 33-day papacy, immediately took to the task in his much remembered catecheses. St. John Paul II wrote Redemptoris Missio in 1990, describing how all of us have a role in the ongoing mission Jesus entrusted to the Church. Pope Benedict preached his first homily on the need to repropose the faith to those who have stopped practicing and held a Synod in 2012 with bishops and experts from around the world to study the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith. And Pope Francis published Evangelii Gaudium eight months into his papacy, announcing his desire for a “missionary transformation” of the Church, so that everyone and every part of the Church might cooperate in sharing with others the “Joy of the Gospel.”

All of them have been seeking to actualize the essential purpose of the Second Vatican Council, to help the Church better proclaim and live the Gospel today. The fact that they have felt the need to build on each other’s efforts, however, is a sign that, in many places, their words and summons have for the most part fallen on hardened, rocky and thorny soil rather on the good and fruitful soil that produces abundant fruit. Their words have been examined and echoed in various books and programs, but have not had the transformative impact the Popes have intended. They have not become programmatic for the vast majority of Catholic lives, families, schools, parishes, and dioceses.


6. The Persecution of Cardinal George Pell.

By George Weigel, National Review Online, June 29, 2017 11:45 AM

Let’s get the “full disclosure” out of the way up front: Cardinal George Pell and I have been friends for 50 years, and collaborators in different projects for 25. 

The Victoria police in his native Australia have now announced that they are filing “multiple charges in respect to historic sexual offenses” against Pell. This has come as no surprise to those familiar with the fantastic campaign of false allegations of sexual abuse that has been conducted against the cardinal: allegations of which he has been consistently exonerated. But despite that fact — or perhaps because of it — the campaign has recently intensified Down Under, creating a thoroughly poisonous public climate exacerbated by poorly sourced but widely disseminated allegations, no respect for elementary fairness, and a curious relationship between elements of the Australian mediaand the Victoria police during the two years the investigation leading to the current changes has been underway. So it may be worthwhile, before offering a few of my own thoughts on another angle in this tawdry business, to note several recent comments from Australians who have not been caught up in an atmosphere of hysteria and persecution that inevitably invites comparison to Salem, Mass., in the 17th century.

However that plays out — and investigative reporters looking for a really good story should be digging into the possibility of an Italian–Australian connection or connections in this affair — George Pell will have his day in court. He will not be the only one on trial as he faces his accusers in a court of law, however. The reputation for fairness and probity of the Australian police and judicial systems will be on trial with him, as will the Australian media and those in Australian politics who have directly or indirectly encouraged — or at the very least failed to stand up against — the relentless and brutal attack that has been underway against one of Australia’s most accomplished sons for years. 

Cardinal Pell’s friends, among whom I am honored to be numbered, must hope that the persecution fever gripping Australia breaks; that the cardinal receives a fair trial; and that our belief in his innocence will be vindicated by a jury that takes the rules of evidence — meaning the lack thereof — more seriously than those who have been baying for George Pell’s blood.