1. Catholic Church In Japan Says It Plans Survey On Sex Abuse. 

By Makiko Inoue and Mike Ives, The New York Times, April 9, 2019, Pg. A4
Catholic bishops in Japan plan to conduct a nationwide survey on sexual abuse of children by members of the clergy, church officials said Monday.
Archbishop Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki, the leader of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, shared the plan on Sunday during a gathering in Tokyo where a man spoke of being abused as a young boy at the hands of a German priest.
“Japan’s Catholic Church is small, and we are not sure what we can do” about child sexual abuse, Archbishop Takami said by telephone on Monday. “But we think we have to pay attention to this issue.”
According to The Mainichi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, bishops from around the country agreed last week to carry out the survey in all 16 dioceses. The survey method has not yet been decided.
2. Anti-Abortion In Hollywood. 

By Reggie Ugwu, The New York Times, April 9, 2019, Pg. C1
Since March 29, similar scenes have played out across the country as faith-based groups and many others have gathered en masse to see “Unplanned,” a new movie that paints a scathing portrait of abortion rights in general, and Planned Parenthood in particular.

“Unplanned” has banked on its ability to draw such motivated crowds, despite what the filmmakers — Christian anti-abortion advocates hoping to make a dent in Hollywood — described in interviews as a torrent of adversity.
First, they said, came the denial letters from companies holding the rights to songs they had hoped to include on the film’s soundtrack. Then it was an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America, normally a kiss of death in evangelical, Mormon and other religious communities.

For now, the writer-directors Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon can console themselves with a hit. “Unplanned” exceeded box-office expectations on its opening weekend, earning more than $6 million — and recouping its budget — from just 1,100 screens. It expanded that figure this weekend, earning $3.2 million after spreading to 500 more theaters.
The movie comes as conservatives are feeling emboldened to roll back abortion rights, including potentially overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, after the confirmation last October of Justice Brett Kavanaugh solidified their majority on the Supreme Court. Another anti-abortion film, “Roe v. Wade,” starring the conservative actor Jon Voight, was promoted at the annual March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., in January, but has yet to announce a distribution partner or release date.

Ultimately, “Unplanned” may not need scientific consensus to be effective with its most critical base of support. At the sold-out AMC theater in New Jersey, several attendees, who identified as being against abortion rights, said they were moved by a film that addressed what they said was the deeper truth of a subject few are willing to face head on.
“This movie tells the truth, and a lot of times we don’t get an opportunity to see that,” said Cheryl A. Riley, director of the Respect Life office for the Archdiocese of Newark, who organized the viewing and works with women who have had abortions.
Describing herself, like Johnson, as formerly in favor of abortion rights, Riley choked up while recalling her own experience terminating a pregnancy at 19: “I know that story, and I know that pain.”
3. India Police Seek Charges Against Bishop for Alleged Rape. 

By Corinne Abrams, Rajesh Roy, and Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2019, Pg. A18
Indian police said that they will ask a court to charge a Catholic bishop with raping a nun in the southern state of Kerala, two months after Pope Francis acknowledged wider sexual exploitation of nuns within the Catholic Church.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal, of the Jalandhar Diocese, has been accused of confining a 42year-old nun to a convent in Kottayam, Kerala, and raping her multiple times between 2014 and 2016, several police officials said. The bishop has the accusation.
The charges sought against Bishop Mulakkal come two months after Pope Francis acknowledged for the first time that “priests and even bishops” had sexually abused nuns, telling reporters that “we’ve been working on this for some time.”
Abuse of nuns is one facet of the church’s long-running crisis over clerical sexual abuse, which has drawn renewed global scrutiny after major scandals over the past year in the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Australia.
4. Pondering the ‘if’ and the ‘who’ of the next American cardinal. 

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, April 9, 2019
Cardinal Edwin O’Brien celebrated his 80th birthday on Monday, still going strong as Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre following stints as the military archbishop in the U.S. and later as Archbishop of Baltimore.

In each of the past two conclaves, there were eleven American cardinals who cast ballots, the second largest national group after the Italians. (In 2005 the Italians had 20, and in 2013 a robust 28.) Were there to be a conclave tomorrow, American participation thus would be down two spots, roughly 18 percent, from the last couple of times.
In truth, there are several reasons why Pope Francis may well not see that as a problem.
5. Ending abuse means changing hearts, not just decrees, Chile leader says. 

By Inés San Martín, Crux, April 9, 2019
Acting as the interim replacement for a cardinal subpoenaed by civil prosecutors for alleged sex abuse cover-ups, and facing questions about his own record in responding to abuse charges, the new man in Santiago, Chile, says he’s got only one “pastoral proposal,” and it’s expressed in his motto as a bishop: “To serve and to love.”
“What worries us is not the money [that the archdiocese will have to pay to survivors of clerical abuse], but how can we help those victims heal, and above all, we want to guarantee that they, and everyone else, helps us build a different future where these things don’t happen again,” said Bishop Celestino Aos, named March 23 as the apostolic administrator of Santiago following the resignation of Cardinal Riccardo Ezzati.
“How could we let these things happen… things I didn’t even dream could happen, and that do,” Aos told reporters. “What can we do to guarantee that they don’t happen again?”
Aos’s nomination amounts to the latest twist in a long-running attempted cleanup of Church leadership in Chile, which Francis set in motion in May, when he summoned all the bishops to Rome.
In Rome, all the Chilean bishops handed in non-binding offers to step down to the pope. Among other things, the fact that they had no canonical status means that the pope wasn’t bound by the norm of having only three months to accept the resignations.
6. Religious leaders should step up on vaccinations.

By Elizabeth Bruenig, Opinion columnist, Washington Post Online, April 8, 2019, 9:25 PM
Last week saw a minor victory for vaccination advocates amid the United States’ ongoing measles outbreak: A Kentucky judge ruled against a lawsuit filed by 18-year-old Jerome Kunkel against the Northern Kentucky Health Department, claiming the department had discriminated against Kunkel by asking schools to exclude students not vaccinated for chicken pox from school and extracurricular activities. Kunkel argued that he had refused the vaccine on religious grounds because he is Catholic, and that the vaccine is derived from cells taken from the tissue of aborted human fetuses. The judge ruled the health department hadn’t discriminated against Kunkel.
But the greater blow to Catholic anti-vaccination sentiment certainly came during the case, from the Pontifical Academy for Life, a Vatican-linked society on biomedicine and law whose members are appointed by the pope. Last month, as the Kunkels’ suit gained news attention, the academy sent an updated consideration of the Catholic position on vaccination to the Catholic News Service, ruling unequivocally in favor of vaccination.

Thanks to the academy’s ruling, Catholics trying to make up their minds about vaccination will now have a definitive statement to refer to, and Catholics objecting to vaccination will have a far more difficult case to make. This won’t just benefit children who end up vaccinated and otherwise may not have: It will benefit their friends, neighbors and broader community, especially if more religious authorities make similar moves to air pro-vaccination religious reasoning. At this point, I’d argue that religious figures with public voices and an interest in their communities’ well-being are obligated to do so.