1. Child Sex Abuse: Why the Church and Other N.Y. Institutions Face a Reckoning, A new law has created a “look-back window,” during which claims that had passed the statute of limitations can be revived.

By Rick Rojas, New York Times Online, August 13, 2019

Major institutions across New York State, from the Catholic Church to the Boy Scouts of America to elite private schools, are bracing for a deluge of lawsuits now that adults who said they were sexually abused as children will be entitled to pursue formal legal action.

New York joined more than a dozen states this year in significantly extending statutes of limitations for filing lawsuits over sexual abuse. Previously, the state had required that such suits be filed before a victim’s 23rd birthday.

Under the new law in New York, the Child Victims Act, which was approved by the Legislature in January, accusers will be able to sue until they are 55.

The new law includes a one-year period, known as a look-back window, that revives cases that had expired, in many instances decades ago, under previous statutes of limitations.

A look-back window in California, in 2003, spurred more than 1,000 lawsuits, most against the church, and was a prelude to the Diocese of San Diego filing for bankruptcy protection.

Lawyers have cast a wide net in their search for cases, blanketing television programs, newspapers and Google with advertisements.

Some of the most prominent lawyers specializing in child sex abuse each have hundreds of cases to be filed as soon as the window opens, raising the prospect of overloading courts.


2. Meeting an ‘impalpable’ movement of history in my own Roman ‘hood.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, August 13, 2019

One chronic blind spot in Catholic conversation in the United States concerns the “new movements,” meaning a galaxy of largely lay groups that arose in the 20th century and exploded after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). The problem is, most Americans have never met any of these outfits and have only heard of the ones that make headlines.

Ironically, during the St. John Paul II years, the two groups that defined American impressions of the “movements” weren’t actually movements at all: The Legionaries of Christ, founded by the disgraced late Mexican Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, and Opus Dei, founded by Spanish St. Josemaría Escrivá. The Legionaries are a religious order (though they do have an affiliated lay movement, Regnum Christi), while Opus Dei is a “personal prelature” under church law.

Because both the Legion and Opus Dei are conventionally seen as “conservative,” they were often styled as John Paul’s shock troops and thus “the movements” became part of the broader left v. right ideological tensions of those years.

Today the ferment over the movements (the real ones especially, not groups mistakenly perceived that way) has died down, largely because neither Pope Benedict nor Pope Francis has promoted and touted them the way John Paul did. 

The lack of angst, however, doesn’t mean American awareness has improved to any great degree. In some ways, we’re a victim of our own success: Because parish life in the U.S. is remarkably healthy by global standards, the movements have never taken off in the States as they have in Europe or Latin America, and thus remain terra incognita for the typical American Catholic.

In Italy, however, you can’t take a walk without bumping into a new movement someplace, and that exposure teaches two great lessons:

First, most new movements aren’t political at all, and they tend to stay out of whatever the broader debates in the Church may be at any given moment.

Second, they often quietly fill critical gaps in the Church’s pastoral network due to shortages in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

Recently these truths have been brought home for me by getting to know a movement that’s literally in my own backyard: The Silenzosi Operai della Croce (“Silent Workers of the Cross”), a lay association that also includes priests and consecrated men and women founded by Blessed Luigi Novarese in 1950.

That transition speaks volumes about a quiet shifting of the plates in Catholicism today – a passing of the torch from religious communities to lay movements in many pastoral areas, without fanfare or political upheaval, but effectively saving the Church from having to abandon people it wants to serve.


3. Best-Selling ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Author J.D. Vance Becomes Catholic, “I became persuaded over time that Catholicism was true.”

By Joan Desmond, National Catholic Register, August 12, 2019

J.D. Vance, the conservative author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis, the well-timed 2016 memoir about a young white man’s rise from poverty to Yale Law School and career success, has become a Catholic.

The news will surely stir further interest in Vance’s ideas about reviving white rural communities hard-hit by the opioid crisis and rising suicide rates.

During an interview with Dreher, Vance said he was drawn to the Catholic faith by the example of Catholics he admired, and by Church social teaching.

The young author, then in his early thirties, became a thought leader as he explained the values, dreams and regrets of white working class America to U.S. elites, who had never given this community much thought—and still don’t. (Meanwhile, one 2019 study suggests that the recent focus at U.S universities on “white privilege” has actually made people less compassionate toward poor whites, while having no discernible impact on the status of white elites.)

Vance’s own family background highlights both the strengths and blind spots of white rural Americans who have struggled to keep pace with economic change.

After he graduates from law school, Vance joined a Silicon Valley venture capital group before moving back to Ohio to be closer to his family.

But his memoir does not present the author as a self-made American, but a man who understands that he has much to be grateful for — a man who stays humble, as he works with his wife to overcome behaviors learned in childhood.


4. As appeal verdict looms, Pell faces investigation over Twitter post.

By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency, August 12, 2019, 11:52 AM

The incarcerated Cardinal George Pell is facing an investigation by Australian prison authorities, after images of a letter he sent to supporters were posted on social media.

Pictures of the two-page letter were posted on Twitter Friday by the “Cardinal Pell Supporters” account. According to Australian prison regulations, inmates are not permitted to access social media, or to enjoin others to make social media posts on their behalf.

On Saturday, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Community Safety in the state of Victoria said the “activity” on the Cardinal Pell Supporters Twitter account would be “thoroughly investigated.”


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