1. Nuns on the Civil War Battlefield, In a time of anti-Catholicism, they somehow became a unifying force.

By Nic Rowan, The Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2019, Pg. A13, Houses of Worship

During the 1863 Chattanooga campaign, nuns from the Sisters of Charity tended to wounded soldiers in a Nashville, Tenn., field hospital. As they prepared to move on to another site, the men cried out in protest. Nuns on the battlefield had become a great comforts to the dying, and the soldiers passed around a petition urging them to stay.

In one typical episode at a Kentucky hospital served by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, a Protestant chaplain witnessed a nun serve the sick without rest from daybreak until well past sunset. “It is as mystery to me, how those sisters can stand at their post without ever giving up,” he told a friend. Then, turning to the sister, he asked, “How do you account for it?” The nun only smiled at him and gestured to the rosary on her hip.

Mr. Rowan is a media analyst at the Washington Free Beacon.


2. Judge blocks added anti-abortion rules in use of federal funds.

By Fred Barbash, The Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2019, Pg. A8

A federal judge issued a nationwide injunction Thursday, temporarily blocking the Trump administration from imposing new antiabortion restrictions on the use of federal family planning funds designed to assist 4 million low-income women.

The rule, promulgated in March by the Department of Health and Human Services, would have barred programs receiving the money from saying or doing anything to advise or assist a patient about securing an abortion. Critics called it a “gag rule.” 


3. On Pope Benedict XVI and resistance to a world gone mad.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, April 26, 2019

Benedict, on the other hand, is one of the most celebrated theological minds in contemporary Catholicism, a figure who inspires intense devotion among a wide swath of the Catholic population.

Yet there’s a scarlet thread running through all four, because one of the cornerstones of Benedict’s thought over the years has been precisely a deep reflection on how such social evil is possible, and how the Church can best resist it. It’s a controversial diagnosis, and, for exactly that reason, it points to one of those deep tectonic fault lines in Catholicism that underlie a host of surface debates.

A key point of reference is a lecture then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger delivered in 1986 at St. Michael’s College in Toronto, while he was still the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and, in effect, the intellectual architect of the papacy of St. Pope John Paul II.

Nevertheless, Benedict’s query can’t be avoided: Is a church wobbly on its core convictions, lacking the internal cohesion to mount a unified front, truly capable of standing up to the pressures of this world?

While the answer may be elusive, the milestones we’ve marked lately – Columbine, the Nixon legacy, and Hitler and the shadow he casts to this day – all seem to illustrate that the question still packs a wallop. Certainly nothing about the last ten days, including last Sunday’s carnage in Sri Lanka, suggests its relevance is diminishing.


4. Secretariat of State looks to become even stronger in Vatican reforms.

By Charles Collins, Crux, April 26, 2019

After nearly 6 years of work, it looks like the new governing constitution of the Vatican should be published by the end of the summer.

On Saturday, the Spanish publication Nueva Vida will publish an article outlining some of the changes in the document, called Praedicate Evangelium, which Crux reported on earlier this week.

The big news is that the once-dominant Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) is being effectively demoted. A new “super-dicastery” for evangelization will be given pride of place in the new order, with another “super-dicastery” for charity also superseding the CDF in the new Vatican hierarchy.

The document also reveals that Pope Francis will be further amalgamating Vatican offices into single “dicasteries,” a process already begun with the creations of the Dicastery for Communication, Dicastery for Integral Human Development, and Dicastery for Laity Family and Life.

In his comments to Nueva Vida, Rodriguez Maradiaga said “the main point of the new Apostolic Constitution is that the mission of the Church is evangelization,” adding that “the bishops don’t have an ecclesiological position that puts them below those who work in the Roman Curia.”

What he didn’t say was that within the Roman Curia, everyone will now know who’s boss: The Cardinal Secretary of State.


5. Sri Lankan cardinal’s focus isn’t rebuilding churches but lives.

By Elise Harris, Crux, April 26, 2019

In the aftermath of the gruesome and tragic bombings in Sri Lanka Easter Sunday, much of the immediate response for the Catholic community has been raising funds to rebuild the churches and properties that were destroyed.

Yet for Cardinal Malcom Ranjith of Colombo, where Sunday’s attacks took place, his focus is not so much on rebuilding churches but lives.

Speaking of the many people who lost loved ones, or, in some cases, their whole families, Ranjith said, “We have to help these people by a series of counseling programs, because some of them are shattered.”

Though many who suffered loss are surrounded by family and friends offering their support, eventually they will leave, Ranjith said, and survivors “will be left alone to face the reality of loneliness, so we have to help them through programs of counseling.”