1. Pope’s Good Friday meditation to focus on human trafficking.

By The Associated Press, April 5, 2019, 7:04 AM

Pope Francis is dedicating this year’s Good Friday meditations to victims of human trafficking.

The Vatican said Friday that Francis had asked an Italian nun who rescues migrant women forced to work as prostitutes to compose the meditations. They will be read aloud at the torch-lit ritual re-enacting Christ’s crucifixion at Rome’s Colosseum on April 19, the Friday before Easter.

Earlier this week, the Vatican announced details of another Holy Week ritual, saying Francis would travel to a prison outside Rome to celebrate the Holy Thursday washing-of-the-feet with 12 inmates.


2. D.C. Catholic Church welcomes ‘our new shepherd’, Wilton Gregory is named leader of scandal-tainted archdiocese as community tries to turn the page.

By Michelle Boorstein and Chico Harlan, The Washington Post, April 5, 2019, Pg. B1

The sight from the podium inside the headquarters of D.C.’s Catholic Church on Thursday was striking: a black archbishop taking the helm — for the first time — of a major American diocese, a dramatic power shift resulting from two successive clergy sexual abuse scandals. 

Wilton Gregory, 71, who is beginning an unexpected final act of his career at the behest of Pope Francis, choked back tears as he answered a question familiar to many Catholics today: Amid fresh scandal consuming the church, how have you kept your faith?

Gregory cited the priests and nuns who nurtured him, before he became Catholic, when he was just a child in Chicago in the late 1950s, fleeing a poor public school system.

“I’ve stayed because of the images and the witness of those men and women I first met,” Gregory said, his voice catching as he responded to a reporter at the news conference. He said he thought of the same people in the early 2000s, when he was the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the first clergy sex abuse scandal erupted in the United States. 

The appointment of Gregory to replace Cardinal Donald Wuerl ranks among the most important leadership decisions of Pope Francis’s papacy. It positions Gregory, the only living African American U.S. archbishop, to become one of the most visible black voices in the U.S. capital. Given that D.C. archbishops are traditionally named cardinals, Gregory is on a path to become the first black American to receive the title, which would give him the right to vote for pope. 


3. Archbishop aims to regain Catholic trust, Gregory will lead Washington Archdiocese amid abuse scandal.

By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, April 5, 2019, Pg. A1

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory acknowledged Thursday that he and the Roman Catholic Church have obstacles to overcome in regaining the trust of parishioners, hours after Pope Francis named him as spiritual leader of the Archdiocese of Washington, which has become a focal point of the church’s ongoing clergy sex abuse scandal.

“This is obviously a moment fraught with challenges throughout our entire Catholic Church, certainly, but nowhere more so than in this local faith community,” Archbishop Gregory said during a news conference at the Washington Archdiocesan Pastoral Center in Hyattsville, Maryland.

The 71-year-old archbishop was introduced by his predecessor, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, who was forced to resign as archbishop of Washington in October over his role in dealing with predatory priests when he was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006.

Cardinal Wuerl, who succeeded now-defrocked former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick in the Archdiocese of Washington, praised Francis’ choice of Archbishop Gregory. “I join everyone who appreciates his pastoral abilities, his intellectual gifts and his leadership qualities,” Cardinal Wuerl said in his introduction of the next archbishop, who will be formally installed in May as the archdiocese’s seventh spiritual leader.

As president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2001 to 2004, he endorsed the group’s zero-tolerance policy on clergy sex abuse in 2002 in response to the growing scandal.


4. What Democrats talk about isn’t ‘infanticide’, It isn’t ‘live birth abortion,’ either. It’s murder.

By Scott Walker, The Washington Times, April 5, 2019, Pg. B1, Opinion

Defenders of abortion on demand did not like the example because anyone sending a sympathy card would have acknowledged that a human life was lost.

Which is why the current debate is so interesting.

Remember Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s horrific comments on Jan. 30? “The infant would be delivered; the infant would be kept comfortable; the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desire, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

If the same family took “the infant” home from the hospital and then decided to kill the child, they would be guilty of murder.

How is what the governor of Virginia described different?

Think about it: A baby is delivered. The baby is kept comfortable. Then the family gets to decide whether the baby lives or dies.

Mr. Northam is OK with that. What he’s talking about isn’t infanticide. It isn’t live-birth abortion. It’s murder.

Interestingly, the reaction isn’t what many in the media expected. A recent Marist Poll at Marist College shows an equal number of Americans (47 percent) identified themselves as pro-life as those who support abortion. An early poll showed those supporting abortion at 55 percent to 38 percent calling themselves pro-life.

Even more interesting was the movement in selfproclaimed Democrats and younger voters. The number of Democrats who identified as pro-life was up 20 percent from a poll in January. Young people went from 65 percent favoring abortion in the earlier poll and 28 percent pro-life to 48 percent and 47 percent, respectively.

 There is an entire industry that doesn’t want people to see images like the first baby photo taken by ultrasound. They don’t want people to feel the pain that an unborn child feels when her or his life is taken from an abortion. And they definitely don’t want people to hear the cries when an abortion is performed after a child has been born.

All the more reason we need to tell them.

Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. 


5. Protecting Our Humanity — And the Vulnerable.

By Fr. Roger Landry, The Anchor, April 5, 2019
Fr. Roger J. Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts and the National Chaplain of Catholic Voices USA.

Because of the times we are living in, Pope Francis has spoken out repeatedly about the dangers of “gender ideology,” a modern form of gnosticism that not only undermines our basic understanding of anthropology but also of reality.

He has made a distinction between the welcome, support, accompaniment, and loving pastoral care that we must offer to those who say they’re transgender — whose sexual self-understanding does not align with their biological sex — and pretending and teaching others that there really are men trapped in women’s bodies and women in men’s. While we must affirm their dignity of those who believe themselves to be transgender and defend their fundamental human rights to be free of violence and unjust discrimination, he says, we must also be clear about the danger that the ideology of gender poses to individuals and to society.

“We must protect our humanity,” Pope Francis stated in his exhortation on the family, “and this means, in the first place, accepting it and respecting it as it was created.” It is “one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality” (Amoris Laetitia 56). Our sex is a basic part of human nature, just like our genes, race, age and species. It’s an objective fact, not a subjective choice, mental state or feeling. To deny that is to deny our humanity. Gender ideology, he said in a 2015 General Audience, is therefore a “step backwards. The removal of [sexual] difference in fact creates a problem, not a solution,” a problem not just for those with gender dysphoria but for everyone.

And yet our culture is recklessly sprinting backwards.

The last group is everyone in society, as gender ideology seeks to compel us to suppress our common sense and knowledge of elementary biology and play along with the fiction. All of us will have to change our pronouns, or pay fines, or lose jobs. Individuals and institutions that fail to abide by the zeitgeistwill suffer severe consequences for civil rights violations. Medical professionals, despite their oath first to do no harm, will have to prescribe puberty blockers and opposite sex hormones and to perform surgeries. Women and girls will have to live with the new situation that treats trans-women and biological women as legally identical. Families that try to give their children adequate psychological care to treat underlying issues may be found guilty of civil rights abuses and lose their children. All of this will likely continue until children who have suffered all of the consequences of puberty blockers, cross sex hormones and amputations as minors grow up and begin to sue the medical establishment for the irreversible damage done to them.

These radical changes, however, are not inevitable. But if they’re going to be halted, those who see clearly, truthfully and charitably need to act now to protect our humanity and defend and help those who are vulnerable.


6. Vatican Removes Guam Archbishop After Conviction of Sexual Abuse.

By Reuters, April 4, 2019

The Catholic archbishop of the U.S. island territory of Guam has been definitively convicted of sexual abuse of minors and removed from office, the Vatican said on Thursday in a ruling that advocates for abuse victims condemned as weak.

Anthony Apuron, who was accused of abusing three young men decades ago, was first convicted by a Vatican tribunal a year ago and had appealed. He has denied wrongdoing.

The tribunal of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith upheld the first verdict, a statement said.

Apuron, 73 and a native of Guam, was removed from office and prohibited from living on the island, even temporarily, the Vatican said.


7. Texas bans clergy from executions after Supreme Court ruling.

By Jake Bleiberg, The Associated Press, April 4, 2019

Texas prisons will no longer allow clergy in the death chamber after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the scheduled execution of a man who argued his religious freedom would be violated if his Buddhist spiritual adviser couldn’t accompany him.

Effective immediately, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will only permit prison security staff into the execution chamber, a spokesman said Wednesday. The policy change comes in response to the high court’s ruling staying the execution of Patrick Murphy, a member of the “Texas 7” gang of escaped prisoners.

Texas previously allowed state-employed clergy to accompany inmates into the room where they’d be executed, but its prison staff included only Christian and Muslim clerics.

In light of this policy, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Texas couldn’t move forward with Murphy’s punishment unless his Buddhist adviser or another Buddhist reverend of the state’s choosing accompanied him.