1. Pope Pushes Against Antimigrant Sentiment.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2019, Pg. A6

Pope Francis ended his two-day visit to Morocco with strong words in defense of migrants, emphasizing one of the main themes of the trip as he pushed back against rising anti-immigration sentiment around the world.

The builders of walls, whether they are of razor-wire or brick, will be prisoners of the walls they build. That’s history,” the pope said on his return flight to Rome.

He was responding to a question about the fenced-off Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast, and about President Trump’s plans to extend a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Morocco is the biggest transit route for African and Middle Eastern migrants trying to reach Europe.


2. Pope: Presumed innocence for convicted bishop.

By Chico Harlan, The Washington Post, April 1, 2019, Pg. A10

Making rare remarks about a high-profile abuse case, Pope Francis on Sunday said it was “important” that a French cardinal who had been convicted of covering up abuse be presumed innocent while he appeals his case.

Maybe he is not innocent, but there is the presumption,” Francis told reporters during a news conference on a plane ride following his two-day trip to Morocco.

Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon and one of France’s leading Catholic figures, three weeks ago was convicted of failing to report abuse to authorities. The conviction forced Francis to make a choice. Barbarin, following his conviction, submitted his resignation. He met soon after with the pontiff in the Vatican. But Francis, in a surprise move, did not accept the resignation. Barbarin, in turn, chose to step away from his post for an unspecified period of time.


3. Md. law restricts abuse lawsuits, 2017 Provisions sought by church, Statute grants reprieve from decades-old cases.

By Erin Cox and Justin Wm. Moyer, The Washington Post, April 1, 2019, Pg. B1

Two years ago, Maryland lawmakers made it easier for adults sexually abused as children to sue institutions that harbored predators.

They may have also irreversibly granted some immunity to the Catholic Church.

A provision tucked into a 2017 law now stands in the way of Maryland joining anationwide effort to bring justice to victims who come to terms with childhood abuse when they reach middle age and, for decades, have had no recourse in civil courts.

The language was pushed by lobbyists for the Catholic Church two years ago as part of a compromise to extend Maryland’s civil statute of limitations from age 25 to 38. Because it forbids the state from raising the maximum age above 38, it effectively inoculates the church and other organizations from costly lawsuits that could reveal whether they sheltered abusers decades ago.

State lawmakers who heralded the 2017 compromise as a breakthrough for victims now say they were swindled.

The windows — opposed by the church, the insurance industry and the Boy Scouts of America, among others — have ushered in hundreds of lawsuits and more than $1 billion in legal bills for institutions that sometimes must defend people long dead, or in circumstances where no records or witnesses exist. Large payouts from the litigation have prompted archdioceses in Delaware, California and Minnesota to file for bankruptcy.


4. Kavanaugh pivots to grant execution stay to Buddhist, Justice sides with court’s liberals in case involving inmate’s clergy request.

By Robert Barnes, The Washington Post, April 1, 2019, Pg. A3

It’s difficult to say with certainty why the Supreme Court on Thursday night stopped the execution of a Buddhist inmate in Texas because he was not allowed a spiritual adviser by his side, when last month it approved the execution of a Muslim inmate in Alabama under almost the exact circumstances.

But the obvious place to start is new Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who seemed to have a change of heart.

Kavanaugh on Thursday was the only justice to spell out his reasoning: Texas could not execute Patrick Murphy without his Buddhist adviser in the room because it allows Christian and Muslim inmates to have religious leaders by their sides.

In my view, the Constitution prohibits such denominational discrimination,” Kavanaugh wrote.

[Supreme Court stops execution because of religious concerns, a contrast to last month]

But Kavanaugh was on the other side last month when Justice Elena Kagan and three other justices declared “profoundly wrong” Alabama’s decision to turn down Muslim Domineque Ray’s request for an imam to be at his execution, making available only a Christian chaplain.

That treatment goes against the Establishment Clause’s core principle of denominational neutrality,” Kagan wrote then.

Kavanaugh and the court’s other conservatives did not address Kagan’s argument, saying only that Ray had brought his challenge too late.


5. New state law requires clergy to report child abuse, neglect, ‘Mandatory reporters’ bills take effect in July.

By Corrine Fizer, The Associated Press, The Washington Times, April 1, 2019, Pg. A12

In response in part to the child sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, Virginia will have a new law on July 1 requiring priests, ministers, rabbis and other clergy members to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect.

Gov. Ralph Northam has signed into law two bills — HB 1659, sponsored by Delegate Karrie Delaney, Fairfax Democrat; and SB 1257, introduced by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, Fauquier Republican. The measures mandate that religious officials must report any suspected abuse to local law enforcement.

The bills passed unanimously in the House and the Senate last month.

Existing state law lists 18 categories of people who must report information to local authorities if they “have reason to suspect that a child is an abused or neglected child.” They include health care providers, police officers, athletic coaches and teachers.

Last month, the Diocese of Richmond released the names of 43 clergy members who “have a credible and substantiated allegation of sexual abuse involving a minor.” The Diocese of Arlington released the names of 16 such individuals.

The Virginia Catholic Conference, which represents the two dioceses on matters of public policy, supported the legislation introduced by Ms. Delaney and Ms. Vogel.


6. Justice Department backs congregation in Canton lawsuit, Village blocked effort to convert club into house of worship.

By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, April 1, 2019, Pg. A12

An evangelical Christian congregation is receiving support from the federal government in its efforts to convert a former gentlemen’s club into a church in a village in upstate New York.

The Justice Department announced last week that it has filed a statement of interest for the Christian Fellowship Center of New York in its lawsuit against Canton, a village in the northern part of the state whose zoning authorities denied a permit to use a three-story former tavern and club for religious assembly.

The congregation bought the building in January, paying $310,000 and $18,000 for unpaid taxes on it, according to court documents.

Canton officials have denied the congregation a permit for a church, noting it would be in a commercial zone that does not include religious establishments. The officials have argued that a church there could prevent the opening of a future tavern or eatery because the state bars alcohol-serving establishments from being located within 200 feet of a house of worship.

The Justice Department attorneys say that is religiousdiscrimination, in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).


7. Punishing Christians, Business owners who show evidence of faith risk being shut down.

By Everett Piper, The Washington Times, April 1, 2019, Pg. B1, Opinion

If there was any remaining doubt, this past week’s news puts it to rest. Christians are now being punished in America.

From San Francisco, California to San Antonio, Texas, the church is being persecuted. Faithful Christians — those who still believe in the Bible as their rule of faith and practice — are being harassed for simply holding to the millennia-old creeds of their faith. Devout Catholics are being blackballed from our nation’s courts. Evangelicals are being excluded from the public debate. Today, orthodox Christians are not only considered politically unpopular, but they are now dubbed morally unacceptable to even engage in local commerce.

If you’re a Christian business owner who dares give money to a charitable cause grounded in traditional morality, your company will be targeted, protested and shut down. Your restaurant will be shuttered. Your bakery will be shunned. Your flower shop will be attacked. Faithful and devout Christians are now officially considered a cultural embarrassment. They are a pariah that must be removed from the market square. They cannot be tolerated. They must be barred. Under the rainbow banner of “inclusion,” Christians are now excluded from speaking, buying or selling in the arena of public life.


8. Leaks cloud report on new D.C. cardinal, Conspiracy theories abound after news of Wuerl’s replacement.

By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, March 31, 2019, Pg. C1

The Catholic News Agency, citing anonymous sources, reported Thursday that Pope Francis is going to appoint Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory to replace embattled D.C. Cardinal Donald Wuerl — which would make Gregory the first black Catholic archbishop of the capital, one of the most high-profile posts in the nation. The news was quickly eclipsed by questions, doubts and conspiracy theories about the sources behind it.

The Catholic News Agency hedged, saying the “likely appointment could still be subject to change.”

Conservatives immediately responded on social media to the CNA with criticism about a possible pick of Gregory, who is associated with moderate bishops who have largely sidestepped the culture war.

Michael Sean Winters, a left-leaning columnist for the National Catholic Reporter, raved over a possible Gregory appointment because he thinks the church needs more moderation.

Gregory, 71, was praised by some for removing abusive priests from ministry when he was bishop of Belleville, Ill., even before the Boston Globe’s landmark exposure of abuse in the church in 2002. Some advocates say the removals were already in the works before he came.

When the Boston scandal broke, Gregory was president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and he led the bishops through their landmark 2002 meeting in Dallas addressing the crisis.

However, critics noted the charter didn’t address oversight for bishops — an omission that many activists in the church blame for today’s problems.


9. In Morocco, pope decries rise of anti-migrant politics and ‘fear of others’.

By Chico Harlan, The Washington Post, March 31, 2019, Pg. A22

Visiting a country used as a launch point for Africans and others trying to reach Europe, Pope Francis took aim Saturday at the world’s hardening anti-migrant sentiments and said problems could never be solved by “raising barriers” or “fomenting fear of others.”

Morocco has a minuscule Roman Catholic population, but the North African country — separated from Spain by a mere eightmile-wide strip of water — served as a fitting stage for Francis’s emphasis on migration.

For Francis, it has become a personal priority that has gained more urgency amid shut-the-door political movements in the United States and across Europe.

Francis also used the visit to highlight Morocco as a moderate example of Islam, and he made a case for Christian-Muslim cooperation just two weeks after hatefueled mosque shootings in New Zealand that claimed 50 lives.

Francis delivered the last of his two speeches Saturday at a Catholic charity that aids migrants. He met with several migrants from various African nations who typified some of the region’s mass migration trends: trying to make it to Europe and waiting for their chance. The migrants at the charity included five young children, who danced for Francis in a short performance.


10. Selling people the Vatican “gets it” on abuse a challenge right now.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, March 31, 2019

The “it” refers to the clerical sexual abuse crisis, and, more specifically, the gravity and depth of the situation as experienced by American Catholics over the last several months, and thus the perceived need for urgent and dramatic action.

Obviously, it would have been great if my answer could have been, “Yeah, absolutely, of course.” That would have been reassuring to the people we met, and also would have made the lives of the pastors, parish ministers and bishops we encountered infinitely easier.

Alas, recent experience dictates a more complicated response. To grasp why, let’s consider developments in just the last few days.

To begin, last week a Vatican-backed investigation commenced in the Argentine diocese of Oran regarding accusations of both sexual and financial misconduct against its former shepherd, Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, who’s now the number two official in the Vatican’s Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, meaning its main financial administration center.

The difficulty with such an optimistic spin, however, is that each of these three developments is ambivalent.

With Zanchetta, the key question is how much Francis knew when he brought him to Rome two years ago, followed closely by why he hasn’t been suspended now pending investigation. In Santiago, it’s legitimate to wonder about the sensitivity of picking an interim leader for such a traumatized place with his own troubled history. On the guidelines, well, nobody’s yet explained why in the world it took this long.

In other words, Francis can occasionally make it challenging to sell people on the idea that the Vatican really “gets it” – and his window to close that sale may not remain open much longer.


11. French prelate convicted of cover-up may be ‘not innocent’.

pope says, By Inés San Martín, Crux, March 31, 2019

In what amounts to his first public comments on the most senior Church official ever criminally convicted of the cover-up of child sexual abuse, as opposed to the crime itself, Pope Francis said Sunday it’s possible French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin “is not innocent.”

In early March, the 68-year-old Barbarin was found guilty in a French trial and sentenced to a six-month suspended sentence over one count of failure to report a charge of sexual abuse against one of his priests. Barbarin has vowed to appeal but also submitted his resignation to the pope.

Francis refused it, in what some observers in France took as a show of support for Barbarin, though the pontiff’s words Sunday suggest caution.

I cannot accept his resignation,” Francis said, arguing that judicially “there’s the right to the presumption of innocence.” However, he said, after the appeal process ends with a definitive ruling “we’ll see what happens.”

In international law, as long as the judicial cause is open, the pope insisted, the accused is presumed innocent.


12. Pope Francis Tightens Laws On Sex Abuse Within Vatican.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2019, Pg. A7

The Vatican issued new, tougher laws on Friday against the sexual abuse of minors within the city state, a largely symbolic move as part of the Catholic Church’s crackdown on sex abuse.

The new legislation, signed by Pope Francis, applies to residents of the 100-acre Vatican City, employees of the Catholic Church’s central bureaucracy in Rome and the Holy See’s diplomats posted around the world—a total of roughly 5,000 people. Very few children reside in the city state.

The Vatican’s editorial director, Andrea Tornielli, wrote that the new laws and accompanying guidelines exemplify the church’s rising standards for combating sex abuse around the world.

The measures are unlikely to satisfy the demands of victims and their advocates for more far-reaching changes in the wider Catholic Church, particularly to ensure the accountability of bishops who abuse or cover up abuse by priests under their authority.


13. Catholic Thought and the Challenges of Our Time.

By Ryan T. Anderson, Public Discourse, March 30, 2019

The two-thousand-year story of the Catholic Church’s cultural and intellectual growth is a story of challenges answered.

For the early Church, there were debates about who God is (and who is God). In response, the Church developed the wonderfully rich reflections of Trinitarian theology and Christology. In a sense, we have the early heresies to thank for this accomplishment. Arius’s errors gave us Athanasius’s refinements on Christology. Nestorius’s blunders gave us Cyril’s insights. In truth, of course, we have the Holy Spirit to thank for it all. He continually leads the Church to defend and deepen its understanding of the truth, against the peculiar errors of the age.

So, oversimplifying a bit, if you want to classify eras of the Church and challenges to the truth, you could think of it in terms of three periods. The early Church saw challenges to truths about God, the Reformation-era Church saw challenges to truths about the Church herself, and today’s Church is confronted by challenges to truths about man—the being made in the image and likeness of God whom the Church is tasked with protecting.

And that brings us full circle. A major theme throughout the most recent papacies has been the centrality of sound anthropology. Pope Francis warns us of what he calls “gender ideology” and the attempt of developed nations to impose this on the rest of the globe in a new form of what he calls “ideological colonization.” The four courses I’ll teach at UD all aim to equip students to rise to meet the challenges of our time. Just as previous generations of the Church rose to meet the challenges of their ages—challenges to truths about God and truths about the Church—so, too, does our generation need to rise to the occasion to defend truths about man. It has been a wonderful experience to get to work on these issues as a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and it is a true honor and privilege to begin working with students on these questions as the St. John Paul II Teaching Fellow at UD.


14. Archbishop Wilton Gregory asked to lead Washington archdiocese.

By Ed Condon and JD Flynn, Catholic News Agency, March 28, 2019, 1:29 PM

Pope Francis is expected to appoint Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta to serve as the next Archbishop of Washington, multiple sources have independently reported to CNA. Gregory would become the seventh Archbishop of Washington, succeeding Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

A formal announcement could come as early as next week, sources say, though it has not yet been confirmed that the archbishop has accepted the appointment. Sources in Rome and the United States told CNA that Gregory was informed of the appointment earlier this week.

Technically, there has been no Archbishop of Washington since Cardinal Wuerl’s resignation was accepted in October 2018, but Wuerl himself has served as interim leader of the archdiocese since that time.

The identity of Wuerl’s successor has been the subject of intense speculation over the last five months, and several prominent members of the American hierarchy were reportedly considered for the role.