1. Knights of Columbus leader urges church reforms after abuse.

By Dave Collins, Associated Press, August 23, 2018, 12:29 AM

The leader of the world’s largest Roman Catholic fraternal group is condemning clergy sex abuse and calling for reforms in the church, including a renewed commitment to celibacy by priests.

Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the New Haven, Connecticut-based Knights of Columbus, made the comments in what appeared to be an unusual letter to the group’s nearly 2 million members on Tuesday.

He also wrote, “The sexual acts — both criminal and non-criminal — highlight the need to recover a respect for and a renewed commitment to the priestly promises of celibacy. … . Moreover, priests and bishops who refuse to live according to their promises of celibacy should be removed from public ministry, not out of retribution, but for the protection of the faithful and to prevent future variations of the scandal we now suffer.”

Anderson called for reforms including an investigation of clergy sex abuse by an independent commission that includes laypeople, transparency by church leaders on all matters of criminal sexual misconduct and an independent ethics hotline for the reporting of misconduct.

Full text for Carl Anderson’s letter: https://www.kofc.org/en/resources/communications/supreme-knight-letter-to-chaplains.pdf


2. Sex Abuse to Cast Shadow Over Pope in Ireland, Pope Francis is under pressure to address a global crisis during weekend in a country scarred by mistreatment of minors.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2018, 5:30 AM

When Pope Francis lands in Ireland on Saturday, he will be visiting a once-devout Catholic society that is increasingly challenging the church’s authority—and where anger is running high over decades of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests.

The pope’s delicate two-day trip comes as clerical sexual abuse scandals unfold in other countries, including the U.S., and many Catholics are criticizing the pope’s response to the crisis as inadequate.

The topic is thus likely to dominate his visit, and his statements and gestures on the subject there will play out to a global audience.

By 2016, 78% of the Irish described themselves as Catholic, down from 93% in 1981. But according to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, even those diminished numbers overstate the church’s strength; younger Irish increasingly identify with no religion at all, he said.

The pope plans to meet with some abuse victims in Ireland, as he has done in the U.S. and Chile, and as his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI did regularly on foreign trips, the Vatican spokesman said. As on those occasions, no details will be provided in advance, and it will be up to the victims themselves to divulge any information about the meetings in the aftermath, the spokesman said.


3. Pope Francis Will Be Visiting a Changed Ireland, By Jason Horowitz.

The New York Times, August 23, 2018,

Ireland has had no shortage of changes over the last 40 years. The Irish church was once the bedrock of European Catholicism, exporting priests around the world, while shaping its home country’s national identity, laws and culture. In 1979, when John Paul II made the last papal visit here, divorce, homosexual acts and abortion were all illegal.

But in the intervening decades a clerical sexual abuse scandal, the tearing of children away from unwed mothers and other awful abuses against vulnerable Catholics have hastened a blooming of secular modernity and the evaporation of the church’s authority. Francis comes now to a country that was Europe’s first to legalize gay marriage by a popular vote, that has a gay prime minister, and that in May overwhelmingly voted to strip a ban on abortion from its Constitution.

The big question, then, is what difference, if any, Francis can make in a country that has become the bellwether of the church’s erosion in the West. Some within the church argue that the first pope from South America should not get bogged down on an island that appears to belong to the church’s past.

But other prelates and advocates of survivors of sexual abuse believe this visit, coinciding as it does with new and explosive revelations of sexual abuse and cover-ups in the United States, Chile and Ireland, presents Francis with a providential opportunity to acknowledge the systematic sins of the church hierarchy and Vatican bureaucracy in keeping abuses secret, and actually introduce measures to do something about it.

Ahead of the pope’s visit, Ireland’s leaders seemed to be applying pressure to make that happen.

4. Indiana Catholic priest assaulted in church by man who said ‘this is for all the little kids’.

By Meagan Flynn, The Washington Post, August 23, 2018, 3:28 AM

The Rev. Basil John Hutsko remembers that the attacker was wearing gloves.

It was Monday morning, about 9 a.m., and he had just finishing praying at the altar at St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church in Merrillville, Ind., as his longtime friend and fellow clergy member, the Rev. Thomas J. Loya, told The Washington Post. Hutsko stepped inside the sacristy, the little room near the altar where religious supplies are stored. He thought he was alone.

But then he felt the hands. They tightened around his neck from behind, according to Merrillville Police Chief Joseph Petruch. And then, the attacker threw the 64-year-old priest onto the ground and “immediately starting slamming his head against the floor,” Petruch told CBS Chicago.

Distinctly, Petruch said, before Hutsko blacked out, he remembered hearing: “This is for all the little kids.”

Petruch told CBS Chicago he had enough information to call the attack a hate crime and has alerted the FBI. As of late Wednesday, no suspect was in custody. Police or the FBI could not immediately be reached for further comment.

The assault comes in the wake of the sweeping Pennsylvania grand jury report released last week describing alleged sexual abuse by more than 300 Catholic priests that had been concealed by church officials for decades. Hutsko was not among the priests identified in the report, and multiple priests, including Loya, say that he has never been accused of any wrongdoing.


5. Appeals court rules against Alabama abortion restriction.

By Kim Chandler, Associated Press, August 22, 2018, 4:15 PM

A federal appeals court on Wednesday struck down an Alabama law that sought to ban the most commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure.

The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta affirmed a lower court’s decision that the 2016 ban on the procedure known as dilation and evacuation was an unconstitutional restriction on abortion access.

The ruling is the latest blow to efforts in some states to ban the second-trimester abortion procedure in which the fetus is removed in pieces with forceps. Courts have blocked similar laws in Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas. The American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the Alabama law, said it is the first time an appellate court has ruled on the constitutionality of a dilation and evacuation ban.

Alabama, with support from other conservative states, appealed the decision, leading to Wednesday’s ruling. Twenty-two states signed an amicus brief in support of Alabama, arguing the law is constitutional and the wrong legal standard was applied.


6. Austrian cardinal on accountability for cover-ups: ‘The truth will set you free’.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, August 23, 2018, Opinion

If one were to start ticking off the most important figures at the senior levels of the Catholic Church today, obviously the list would start with Pope Francis. After that might come Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State and a man many observers see as a potential successor to the pope he serves.

It wouldn’t take long, however, before the name of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, Austria would surface.

I asked Schönborn if the current round of abuse scandals threatens to drown out the World Meeting.

“It’s present, it’s real, it’s here,” he said. “That’s clear. I think the most important thing is to clarify what’s happened, and then to find the means for the future to avoid these things happening again.”

He argued there’s a direct link between the abuse crisis and the theme of the World Meeting.

“I think the most important solution is sound family life,” he said. “What happened with abuse in the family, and what happened with abuse in the Church by priests, is a call for healthy families. Where else can young people grow in a healthy relationship to their own sexuality?”

“Therefore, the World Meeting of Families comes at exactly the right time,” Schönborn said. “It’s good that it’s here in Ireland, where so much has happened, as in other parts of the world and the Church.”


After Pope Francis issued a letter to the People of God on Monday about the abuse crisis, much reaction from survivors’ groups has been critical, focusing on a lack of concrete detail about what steps might be taken to remedy the crisis. In particular, critics have focused on the absence of strong accountability measures to deal with not just the crime but also the cover-up.

I asked Schönborn if he believes that kind of accountability can be achieved.

“I think this is mainly a question of a change in culture,” he said. “I grew up in the 1950s and ’60s, and the attitude was widespread that the past must be covered up. It’s only been with difficulty, little by little, that we’ve learned what Jesus said: ‘The truth will set you free.’ This is real, it’s necessary.”

“I think we’re in a process in the Church, and in society,” he said.

Finally, we talked about Amoris Laetitia, the 2016 document from Francis on the family that triggered controversy due to its cautious opening to Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. I pointed out that there’s actually a group of Fatima devotees on hand here in Dublin praying a rosary every day at 11:00 a.m. in part that the “heresies” of Amoris will be dispelled.

I asked Schönborn if he felt the early debates about Amoris have run their course, and now the focus can shift to the rest of the document.

“That’s what we should have done from the very beginning,” he said. “It’s such a beautiful document. It’s complementary to John Paul II’s teaching on marriage and the family. It came at the right moment, for this time, as a very practical and deeply spiritually rooted teaching on marriage and family.”

“I think the critiques always exist,” he said. “They have to be looked at carefully, but not be the focus.”

Despite Schönborn’s long shelf life, at 73 he’s still within the window to be considered a possible successor to Francis, depending on how much longer the papacy goes on. Many observers would say that his unique profile as someone who’s both friendly with the Church’s conservative wing and yet also a major Francis booster could position him to be a consensus candidate.

Whatever his future as a papabile, however, Schönborn’s present certainly is as a major tone-setting force in the Church, not just in Austria and Europe but worldwide. As a result, no matter what one makes of his views, to ignore them would be a serious analytical mistake.