1. Pope Says He Made ‘Grave Mistakes’ in Handling Accusations of Sex-Abuse Coverup in Chile: Pope Francis said he would meet in coming weeks with some witnesses interviewed by the Vatican and would ask their forgiveness in person. 

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2018, Pg. A9

Addressing one of the most divisive controversies of his pontificate, Pope Francis said he made “grave mistakes” in the case of a Chilean bishop accused of covering up clerical sexual abuse, whom the pontiff had long and vociferously defended, and asked “forgiveness of all those whom I offended,” including victims of the abuse.

The pope, in a letter published Wednesday, said he erred because he had been misinformed. He didn’t say if he would remove the bishop, postponing resolution of the matter until at least late May.

The controversy has led advocates of victims of sexual abuse to question the pope’s sensitivity and credibility on the issue, and to intensify criticism of his record. Last year, two papal advisers on child protection, both of them sex-abuse victims, resigned, voicing frustration over what they said was the Vatican’s inaction, including failure to establish a special court to try bishops accused of covering up abuse.


2. Trump signs ‘FOSTA’ bill targeting online sex trafficking, enables states and victims to pursue websites. 

By Tom Jackman, The Washington Post, April 12, 2018, Pg. A8

President Trump signed a bill Wednesday that gives federal and state prosecutors greater power to pursue websites that host sex-trafficking ads and enables victims and state attorneys general to file lawsuits against those sites.

Addressing the victims and family members in attendance, the president said, “I’m signing this bill in your honor. … You have endured what no person on Earth should ever have to endure.” Trump added, “This is a great piece of legislation, and it’s really going to make a difference.”

Standing next to Trump as he signed the legislation was Yvonne Ambrose of Chicago, whose 16-year-old daughter, Desiree Robinson, was slain after being prostituted on Backpage in 2016. “It means so much to our family,” Ambrose said of the bill. “Hopefully, there won’t be many more people who have to endure that pain.”

The bill, nicknamed “FOSTA” for its title, “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act,” goes into effect immediately, but its impact was already being seen around the Internet as sites shut down sex-related areas and stopped accepting sex-related advertising.

The bill amends parts of four federal laws, beginning with clarifying that the Communications Decency Act “was never intended to provide legal protection to websites that unlawfully promote and facilitate prostitution.” It adds a clause to the decency act that makes clear it has no effect on civil suits or state criminal cases related to federal sex-trafficking crimes. FOSTA amends the “Mann Act,” prohibiting interstate prostitution, by adding a new section prohibiting using a website to “promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person.”

The bill also amends the law on sex trafficking of children to clarify “participating in a venture” as “knowingly assisting, supporting or facilitating a violation” of the law. And FOSTA creates the ability for state attorneys general to bring civil suits against violators of federal prostitution laws. Anti-trafficking advocates had felt that federal authorities were sometimes slow to pursue violators, and state attorneys general have long denounced sites like Backpage without being able to take action.


3. Cupich, Gomez to headline summit on overcoming polarization. 

By Christopher White, Crux, April 12, 2018

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles, who at least on some matters, would be regarded stereotypically as representing “liberal” and “conservative” views, will headline together a major convening of Catholic leaders this June aimed at overcoming division, building relationships, and strengthening the Catholic community’s contribution to the common good.

“Through Many, One: Overcoming Polarization Through Catholic Social Thought,” will take place June 4-6 at Georgetown University and is a project of the university’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life in response to what its organizers have described as “the harmful divisions within our Church.”


4. Facebook CEO apologizes for ‘mistake’ of blocking Catholic content. 

By Courtney Grogan, Catholic News Agency, April 12, 2018

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced questions from lawmakers about his company’s censorship of Catholic content during his two-day congressional hearing following the revelation that millions of Facebook users’ personal data had been compromised.

Zuckerberg apologized and said that the company “made a mistake” in blocking a Catholic theology degree advertisement by Franciscan University of Steubenville, when asked about it by Washington state Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers on the second day of questioning.

The ad, which featured a crucifix, was rejected by Facebook over Easter on the grounds that its content was “excessively violent” and “sensational.” Facebook later apologized, saying that the ad had been blocked erroneously and did not violate terms of service.

Senator Ted Cruz (R.-Texas) confronted Zuckerberg about alleged bias and censorship of political and religious content on the technology platform, saying Facebook “has blocked over two dozen Catholic pages” as well as conservative content “after determining their content and brand were, quote, ‘unsafe to the community.’”

In July 2017, CNA reported that Facebook blocked 25 Catholic pages in English and Portuguese. Facebook later apologized, saying the error was due to a malfunction rather than malicious intent. Earlier this year, another Catholic group said it was experiencing critical delays in approval of its fundraising content in support of vocations during the Christmas season.

Cruz continued to grill Zuckerberg over whether any Planned Parenthood or MoveOn.org ads had been removed. The Facebook CEO said that he was not aware of this ever occurring.


5. Trump signs bill cracking down on websites that help sex traffickers. 

By Claire Chretien, Life Site, April 11, 2018, 4:15 PM

President Trump signed an anti-human trafficking bill into law today that cracks down on websites that enable prostitution and sex-trafficking.

The law is called “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act” (usually abbreviated as FOSTA). Anti-sexual exploitation groups, longtime advocates for this legislation, have received a handful of victories over the past two weeks.

“Through strong enforcement of FOSTA, we pray that not one more child be bought and sold for sex on the net,” said Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, Legal Advisor for The Catholic Association. “Child predators have lost their online safe haven.”


6. Federal lawsuit seeks to block Kentucky’s new abortion law. 

By Bruce Schreiner, Associated Press, April 11, 2018, 3:06 PM

Kentucky lawmakers and the American Civil Liberties Union are again locked in battle over abortion rights.

The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday shortly after Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed a new law banning a common second-trimester abortion procedure known as “dilation and evacuation.”

Kentucky’s GOP-led legislature passed the bill overwhelmingly. It is the second abortion law in as many years to draw a court challenge.


7. Pontifical Commission for Latin America proposes synod on women. 

By Junno Arocho Esteves, Crux, April 11, 2018

The Catholic Church in Latin America must recognize and appreciate the role of women and end the practice of using them solely as submissive laborers in the parish, said members of a pontifical commission.

In addition, at the end of their plenary meeting March 6-9 at the Vatican, members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America proposed that the church hold a Synod of Bishops “on the theme of the woman in the life and mission of the church.”

L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, reported April 11 that the theme of the four-day meeting, “The woman: pillar in building the church and society in Latin America,” was chosen by Pope Francis.

In addition to 17 cardinals and seven bishops who are members of the commission, the pope asked that some leading Latin American women also be invited; eight laywomen and six women religious participated in the four-day meeting and in drafting its pastoral recommendations, the newspaper said.