1. A week after deadly attacks, Sri Lankan Catholics celebrate Mass at home, Father, 2 brothers of mastermind reportedly killed in fight with police.

By Pamela Constable and Joanna Slater, The Washington Post, April 29, 2019, Pg. A16

Churches, mosques, shops and restaurants were empty in the Sri Lankan capital and elsewhere Sunday as thousands of security forces continued searches, raids and spot checks of vehicles and pedestrians. 

On the first Sunday since the attacks on three churches and on luxury hotels, Catholics watched Mass from home, as Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, broadcast services. He has suspended all Sunday Masses indefinitely in the wake of the Easter blasts.

“Our hearts are tested by the great destruction that took place last Sunday,” Ranjith said. “This is a time that questions such as does God truly love us, does He have compassion toward us can arise.”

Christians are a small minority in Sri Lanka’s multireligious society. 


2. Pope Francis donates $500,000 to help migrants in Mexico.

By The Associated Press, April 28, 2019, 6:46 AM

Pope Francis has donated 500,000 dollars to help migrants in Mexico, offering assistance to local projects that provide food, lodging and basic necessities.

The funds, from the Peter’s Pence collections, will be distributed among 27 projects promoted by 16 Mexican dioceses and religious congregations, Peter’s Pence said in a statement.


3. Pope appeals for evacuation of migrants from Libyan centers.

By The Associated Press, April 28, 2019, 8:08 AM

Pope Francis has appealed for the evacuation of women, children and sick migrants trapped in Libyan detention centers as soon as possible, through humanitarian corridors.

During his Regina Coeli prayer on Sunday, the pontiff said the refugees’ situation, “which is already very serious, has become even more dangerous due to the ongoing conflict.”

On Saturday, air strikes hit the Libyan capital as forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Hifter pursued a campaign to take Tripoli.


4. California bill targets Catholic priests first, but rights of all religions are at risk.

By Pius Pietrzyk, Opinion contributor, USA Today, April 28, 2019, 5:00 AM

California is considering a proposed law that is nothing less than an attempt to jail innocent priests. California Senate Bill 360 seeks to change its law to force a priest, when he hears of sins in the confessional regarding sexual abuse, to make a choice. He must choose to either maintain the confidentiality of the sacrament and face possible imprisonment or to betray that confidentiality and violate his deepest conscience and the laws of God and the Roman Catholic Church. No priest I know would choose the latter.

As the U.S. Supreme Court said in 1980: “The priest-penitent privilege recognizes the human need to disclose to a spiritual counselor, in total and absolute confidence, what are believed to be flawed acts or thoughts and to receive priestly consolation and guidance in return.” 

The Catholic Church holds that the information received by the priest in confession does not belong to him. It belongs to God alone. For that reason, a priest is absolutely — meaning there are no exceptions — forbidden from revealing the sins of a penitent. In fact, a priest who would dare do such a thing commits a grave mortal sin and is subject to excommunication by the Roman Catholic Church, which only the pope may lift.

I know priests all along the theological and ideological spectra, none of them would ever consider breaking the seal of the confessional. The state of California wants no less than to force a priest to choose between imprisonment and turning away from God and his Roman Catholic Church.

Fr. Pius Pietrzyk, a Dominican priest, currently serves as an assistant professor of canon law at St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park, California. He has his civil law degree from the University of Chicago and his doctorate in canon law from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. 


5. We’re free to accept the message of mercy, or feed our own weakness.

By Father Jeffrey F. Kirby, Crux, April 28, 2019

This weekend Christian believers conclude the eight-day celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection. Begun on Easter morning, the octave concludes today. And of all the things that the Church could highlight on this day, she turns her might and invites all men and women to reflect on God’s mercy and compassion.

Today, in response to the hurt and harm of our fallen world, the Church echoes the Lord’s summons to receive and to offer mercy.

For the believer, mercy is a consolation that turns quickly into a challenge. The mercy that is freely offered to all becomes a challenge to dispel the lies of fear and to trust in the ways of God.

In a world that at times seems paralyzed by uncertainty and fear, mercy breaks out and motions for us to follow it, to love ourselves and others, and to selflessly work for a civilization of love and goodness.

Mercy teaches us not to fear the disapproval, darkness, or criticism of those around us or the weaknesses and failures within us. It shows us our place and the role we can play in spreading God’s kingdom of reconciliation and peace in our world today.

On this Mercy Sunday, will this invitation be accepted? Will the charge take hold?


6. Anti-Christian Fury Rises in Egypt.

By Amira El-Fekki and Jared Malsin, The Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2019, Pg. A8

Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority is facing a surge in sectarian attacks, with increased instances of violence and threats from Muslim neighbors forcing churches to close and casting a pall over Orthodox Easter on Sunday.

In one recent incident that echoed many others, residents of central Egypt’s Sohag province were seen in a video recorded this month and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal beating their male Coptic Christian neighbors with sticks as women screamed, leading to the shutdown of a local church, according to Coptic groups and a human-rights organization that documented the incident.


7. State Court Blocks Ban on Abortion.

By Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2019, Pg. A2

Kansas’ highest court ruled Friday that the state constitution protects abortion rights and blocked a first-in-the-nation ban on a common second-trimester method for ending pregnancies.

The decision on the 2015 law clears the way for legal challenges to a string of abortion restrictions approved in recent years by state lawmakers. Across the U.S., Republican- led states this year have introduced hundreds of antiabortion bills at a rate abortion-rights advocates say is unprecedented.


8. Father Martin Corrects Cardinal Tobin.

By Robert P. George, First Things, April 27, 2019

In an April 17, 2019, interview on the Today Show, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the Archbishop of Newark, profoundly and damagingly misrepresented the teaching of the Catholic Church on a matter of the utmost sensitivity and importance. In reference to Catholic teaching, as set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, on the objectively disordered nature of homosexual inclinations, Cardinal Tobin said that the Church (to his regret) describes homosexual persons as “intrinsically disordered.” It does no such thing. It does not describe homosexual persons—or any persons—as intrinsically (or objectively) disordered. It is utterly alien to the Church’s anthropology and morality to identify persons with their inclinations and desires. To get this point wrong is to misunderstand—at the root—what Catholicism teaches about the nature and dignity of the human being as a person.

For that reason, it is almost unfathomable that someone of the stature of the Cardinal could make such an error. I hope that he simply misspoke. It’s easy for the tongue to slip, especially under the pressure of a television interview. I’ve had such experiences, so I do not want to condemn the Cardinal or vilify him. But it is important that he correct the error, since it is probable that several million people—Catholics and others—heard him say what he said and could be completely misled by it. It would be awful if devout Catholics thought they should believe that homosexual persons, as persons, are “disordered.” And, of course, for many people, the thought that the Church would teach such a thing would count as evidence that the Church is monstrous.

Fr. Martin set a fine example of correcting oneself when one has erred or misspoken, and he has provided a concise, accurate statement of what the Church teaches. I pray that Cardinal Tobin will follow that example. Happily, he doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. He can simply quote Fr. Martin. The Cardinal owes a correction to the Catholic faithful and, especially, to persons—Catholic and non-Catholic alike—who experience same-sex attraction and need accurate information about the Church’s teaching and Christ’s love for them.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, where he teaches constitutional interpretation and philosophy of law.


9. New York Archdiocese names 120 priests accused of sex abuse.

By Jenniger Peltz, The Associated Press, April 26, 2019

At least 120 priests accused of sexually abusing a child or having child pornography have worked in the Archdiocese of New York, the archdiocese said Friday in releasing a list of names that includes bishops, high school teachers, a scouting chaplain and a notorious cardinal.

The release, from the nation’s second-largest Roman Catholic archdiocese, follows more than 120 such disclosures from other dioceses around the country as the church reckons with demands for transparency about sex abuse by clergy.

In a letter to church members, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said he realizes “the shame that has come upon our church due to the sexual abuse of minors.” He asked forgiveness “for the failings of those clergy” who betrayed the trust invested in them to protect young people.


10. Drafting Women Could Diminish Combat Effectiveness, Vet Says.

By Patricia Kime, US Politics Online, April 25, 2019

At the seventh hearing of a federal commission studying the future of the American draft and public service writ large, several people testifying said that conscripting women would hurt military readiness and society in general, citing higher injury rates for women in the combat arms and the impact of an inclusive draft on the contributions women make as mothers and caregivers.

Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow with the Catholic Association and author of “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female,” said expanded draft registration would hurt women’s “unique freedom to make choices as to whether or not to prioritize their family or their career.”

She said drafting women for combat would be patently unfair because women’s physical limitations give them “an unequal chance of surviving” on the frontlines. It also would undermine “their contribution to family, society and to their country,” she said.

“Women’s vocation to motherhood is the thing I’m most concerned about. … The role women play as mothers is different than the role men play as fathers,” McGuire said.

The 11-member National Commission on Military, National and Public Service is conducting a three-year review of volunteerism and national service in America, with a particular focus on the need for a Selective Service System — the organization that maintains a database to support a potential draft — and whether women should be required to register.

 According to the Pew Research Center, of 191 countries in the world, 60 have some type of active conscription or draft program. The United States is one of 23 countries that has a system in place but does not actively engage in a draft. The remaining countries either have no legal provision for conscription or a standing military.

Countries that actively conscript men and women into their militaries include Israel, Venezuela, Bolivia, North Korea, Tunisia and Morocco. Sweden and Norway both have a requirement to serve but either offer an option besides military service or accept deferrals.