1. What Catholics Must Demand of Their Church.

By Ann Corkery, Ann Corkery is a lawyer in Washington, D.C., and a former delegate to U.N. Commission on the Status of Women., Real Clear Politics, August 24, 2018 , Opinion

The Pennsylvania grand jury report, detailing abuse, crimes, and coverups by Catholic priests over many years, provides plenty that sickens the stomach and soul:

Yes, I know the bulk of these violations occurred decades ago. Yes, I know that my Catholic Church has taken substantial steps over the last decade to make our places of worship and learning safe spaces for our boys and girls. On the heels of the Cardinal McCarrick disgrace and resignation, however, the Pennsylvania grand jury report makes plain that the church hierarchy has failed utterly their flock, the men and women, the boys and girls, the faithful families who have put their trust – wrongly, it turns out – in their shepherds.

Enough. It’s time for Catholic laity to step up and ensure that victims of clerical abuse and cover-ups have a second avenue of redress beyond the local bishop or chancellery office.

It’s hard to say what the solution looks like, precisely. But this much we know for sure:

First, the Catholic laity must be the key part of this reform. The U.S. bishops alone cannot be counted on to clean it up. Clericalism, careerism, and a misplaced sense of collegiality have contributed to this mess.  It will take Catholic lay leaders to rid the church of this rot.

Second, we should not use this hour to round up scapegoats or ride our ideological hobby horses. Some outside commentators – and some prominent Catholics — have focused on longstanding church theological debates between conservative and liberal Catholics. This festering issue has nothing to do with any of that. We need to put doctrinal disputes aside while we root felons and their enablers from our church – a goal every Catholic should share.

 In the aftermath of what he termed “the Archbishop McCarrick catastrophe,” Los Angeles-based Bishop Robert Barron put it this way:  

“Lots of commentators—left, center, and right—have chimed in to say that the real cause of the McCarrick disaster is, take your pick, the ignoring of Humanae Vitae, priestly celibacy, rampant homosexuality in the Church, the mistreatment of homosexuals, the sexual revolution, etc. Mind you, I’m not saying for a moment that these aren’t important considerations and that some of the suggestions might not have real merit. But I am saying that launching into a consideration of these matters that we have been debating for decades and that will certainly not admit of an easy adjudication amounts right now to a distraction.”

Third, mass and indiscriminate resignations or sackings are not enough. Although scapegoating is unjust and counterproductive, anyone whose abuse is demonstrated by credible evidence, or who has participated in a cover-up, should go – and go immediately. But we need to alter the culture of an institution that kept producing such predators. 

In the meantime, prayer and fasting in penance for what Pope Francis has called these “atrocities” is certainly called for. 

I know the Catholic laity will come alongside their leaders, but it’s critical at this moment that our leaders recognize the cankered locus of this problem. The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on Sept. 15 would seem a fitting day for the American Catholic clerics’ day of prayer and fasting. Before that, it would be equally fitting for Pope Francis to dedicate his pilgrimage to the Holy Island on Lough Derg to the reform of the church when he visits Ireland this week.

Catholics everywhere are sad, sickened, and yet also energized by this crisis. It’s time for us to double down on our Catholic Church. We have faced these problems before, and the Canticle of Mary offers a starting point amid the current ruins:

He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.


2. In Ireland, pope will face a nation scarred by abuse.

By Chico Harlan, The Washington Post, August 24, 2018, Pg. A1

The deep scars left by abuse trace across the empire of the Catholic Church, most recently detailed in Pennsylvania by a grand jury report tying more than 300 priests to abuses as far back as 1947.

But it is Ireland — where Pope Francis arrives Saturday — that provides perhaps the clearest evidence about how decades of pervasive church-linked crimes and coverup can weaken the church and engender a sense of betrayal and defiance on a national scale.

Francis is planning to meet with some abuse victims, and he is under pressure during his two-day trip to acknowledge the Vatican’s role — which could be a starting point for the church to recover some ground in a nation where Roman Catholic roots run deep. But many in Ireland say the Vatican already has waited too long to act meaningfully, even failing to cooperate with Ireland’s own investigations. Whatever Francis says in Ireland, far fewer are now interested in listening.


3. Religious Freedom and the Burqa, Banning Islamic veils goes too far—but some British schools now require them.

By Charlotte Allen, Ms. Allen is author of “The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus”, The Wall Street Journal, August 24, 2018, Pg. A13, Opinion

Former U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson recently generated outrage with comments about the burqa.

Mr. Johnson’s ham-handed humor obscured his actual argument: He opposes, on grounds of personal freedom, government-imposed restrictions on female veiling.

National bans of varying comprehensiveness have been passed in Denmark, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Some localities in Germany, Italy and Spain also have restrictions in place. Some African countries, including Chad, Cameroon and Niger, have restricted Islamic head-coverings too, often citing terrorism concerns.

Supporters of such prohibitions typically argue that requiring a woman to cover her face or hair, as many interpretations of Islamic law do, is simply “misogynistic,” as Farzana Hassan wrote in the Toronto Sun last year.

Opponents counter that restrictions on head-coverings reflect anti-Muslim prejudice, as the bans are often supported by the nationalist far right. They also argue that prohibition threatens everyone’s religious freedom. Bishop Michel Santier, the French Catholic Church’s top official for interreligious dialogue, declared in a 2010 statement opposing the anti-face-veil legislation: “If we want Christian minorities in Muslim majority countries to enjoy all their rights, we should in our country respect the rights of all believers to practice their faith.” He added: “The French, including the Catholics among them, should not let themselves be gripped by fear or a ‘clash of civilizations’ theory.”

Boris Johnson may believe in the “sweet air of freedom” that would allow a woman to wear a niqab on a public street if she likes. But most religious Muslims don’t share that Western tolerance, and they certainly don’t share in Westerners’ breast-beating over “white privilege.” … The problem of what to do right now about Islamic head-coverings will be solved in one unpleasant way or another.


4. Ireland Stays Faithful to a Catholic Education, Pope Francis arrives Saturday in a country where people are drifting from the Church but most children still attend parochial schools.

By Paul Hannon, The Wall Street Journal, August 24, 2018, 5:30 AM

As Ireland prepares to welcome its first papal visit in four decades when Pope Francis arrives Saturday, it is a much changed and less Catholic country. But in one key respect, the Ireland of 2018 is as it was in 1979: The vast majority of its children are educated in Catholic schools.

But growing numbers of Irish parents are now seeking an alternative to the Catholic system.

Ireland isn’t unique in allowing the teaching of a particular religion in its primary schools. What distinguishes it from the rest of Europe is that more than 90% of its schools are owned by the Catholic Church. The state pays most running costs, including teacher salaries, but ownership of the buildings and land gives the Church patronage, or the right to decide what the government terms a school’s “ethos.”

With demands growing for a more diverse system of education, the government launched its first effort to speed the handover of Catholic schools to other groups in 2012. The program made little progress, complicated by laws regarding ownership, and the government began a reboot of the effort in May.

The government’s goal is to have 400 multidenominational and nondenominational schools by 2030, or 13% of the total. The leading alternative system is run by a not-for-profit body called Educate Together. It now has 82 schools, and aims to add many more.


5. Inspiring care for Colombia’s poor.

By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is a legal advisor with The Catholic Association Foundation, The Washington Times, August 24, 2018, Pg. B3, Opinion

Forget Pablo Escobar. Colombia now has a native son it can take pride in.

No, not the country’s newly elected President Ivan Duque….No, I am talking about Daniel Moreno, recent college graduate who’s living in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, preparing for his next impressive act.

This unassuming 23-year-old from the country’s coffee-growing region inspires care for Colombia’s poor in a way that no political movement, left or right, has done in this struggling South American country.

Like many of Colombia’s affluent young, he went to study in Bogota, the country’s densely-populated and chaotic capital city. There, at the prestigious Universidad de los Andes, Moreno noticed that some classmates on full scholarship went without meals during the long days of study. He started visiting cafeteria and restaurant owners in the neighborhood surrounding Los Andes. … On Facebook and at campus rallies, Danny also encouraged his classmates to contribute to the effort. The result? Los Andes’ low-income students now receive free breakfasts and lunches at locales around campus.

Young Danny Moreno, it turns out, was just getting started.

After completing his senior thesis at the beginning of this summer, he arrived in Washington, D.C. to refine his English and soak up American culture. The region’s civic order and unlimited commerce astonished the young Colombian, but something commonplace got him thinking. He observed American moms passing on to their neighbors gently-worn clothing. Danny wrote to his friends back home and suggested they look in their closets for what could be shared with their neighbors in need.

From a living room in the suburbs of Washington, the idea of “el Gran Ropeton” (the Great Clothe-athon) was formed. Mr. Moreno sent out word via Whatsapp and interest grew.

And grew.

A week after sending his first text, a city-wide clothing drive kicked off in Mr. Moreno’s hometown of Manizales. The mayor learned of the drive, spread the news, and coordinated the collection effort with local police.

That day they distributed parcels filled with gently-used clothes to more than 400 families.

Mr. Moreno recently returned from Colombia to D.C. He plans to pursue an advanced degree here. It’s safe to say he won’t be focusing exclusively on his own professional development. If his short but already impressive history is any guide, Danny Moreno will be contemplating what else can be done to build a better life for needy Colombians.


6. Arkansas abortion pills restriction remains on hold.

By Andrew Demillo, Associated Press, August 23, 2018, 4:16 PM

A federal appeals court won’t allow Arkansas to enforce a law that critics say would make the state the first in the U.S. to effectively ban abortion pills.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday denied a request by the state to put on hold a judge’s order preventing Arkansas from enforcing the law, which says doctors who provide the pills must hold a contract with a physician with admitting privileges at a hospital who agrees to handle any complications.

Planned Parenthood has said its two facilities and another unaffiliated clinic in Little Rock have been unable to find a physician willing to contract with them.


7. Abortion opponents lose appeal in fetal tissue research case.

By Associated Press, August 23, 2018, 4:54 PM

Abortion rights opponents who challenged the University of Minnesota’s use of aborted fetal tissue for medical research have lost an appeal.

The ruling issued Monday by the state Court of Appeals says the lawsuit filed in 2016 by Pro-Life Action Ministries is moot because the Legislature clarified the law, allowing the research, while the case was pending

The lawsuit argued that the university was violating a decades-old law that said using aborted fetal remains was restricted to tests necessary for the health of a woman, her future children or a criminal investigation.


8. Senate easily defeats measure to defund Planned Parenthood.

By Erica Werner, The Washington Post, August 23, 2018, 6:55 PM

The Senate easily defeated an attempt by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Thursdayto strip money from Planned Parenthood, with Democrats holding together unanimously despite the prospect of election-year attacks from Republicans over the issue.

Those attacks arrived mere moments after the vote closed, with the National Republican Senate Committee blasting out releases attacking Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) for opposing Paul’s measure. The three are among the most endangered Democrats in the Senate.

The vote on Paul’s amendment was 45 “yeas” to 48 “nays,” with moderate Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joining Democrats in voting no. Sixty votes would have been required to pass the amendment, which would have ended federal funding for Planned Parenthood, even though the group is already prohibited from using federal funds for abortions.


9. Priest urges Vatican family conference to welcome gays.

By Nicole Winfield and Leo Enright, Associated Press, August 23, 2018, 12:48 PM

One of the Catholic Church’s leading advocates for gays told a Vatican-sponsored conference Thursday that LGBT Catholics deserve to be loved, listened to and welcomed by the church and not ostracized and condemned.

The Rev. James Martin received a standing ovation after his presentation on welcoming LGBT Catholics at the church’s World Meeting of Families, which Pope Francis will be closing out this weekend.

Martin told the audience that LGBT Catholics “have often been treated like lepers by the church” despite Christ’s example of welcoming and loving all those on the margins of society.


10. Prominent Catholics see larger role for laity in Church’s abuse response.

By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service, August 23, 2018

An independent lay-run board that would hold bishops accountable for their actions, a national day for Mass or prayers of reparation, and encouragement to parishioners to become more involved in their diocese are among steps suggested by prominent lay Catholics to right the U.S. Church as it deals with a new clergy sexual abuse scandal.

Those contacted by Catholic News Service said that it was time for laypeople to boost their profile within the Church and help begin to dismantle long-standing clericalism that has sought to preserve the reputation of offending clergy at the expense of the safety of children.

“Their credibility is gone and the trust of the faithful is gone,” Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board, said of the U.S. bishops as they worked to develop steps to promote greater accountability on abuse.

The National Review Board, established by the bishops in 2002, oversees compliance by dioceses with the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” It has no role in oversight of bishops.

Cesareo was not alone in calling for a separate body to be established to handle accusations of abuse involving bishops. While details varied, the basic premise envisions that such a board would review abuse allegations or complaints of improper handling of an abuse claim by any bishop.

Just such a body has been sought since 2002, when the abuse scandal arose in the Archdiocese of Boston, by the Church reform group Voice of the Faithful, said Donna Doucette, executive director.

Prior to Cesareo’s comments, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, called for laypeople to take a greater role in addressing the “moral catastrophe” of the latest abuse scandal.

F. DeKarlos Blackmon, secretariat director of life, charity and justice in the Diocese of Austin, Texas, urged laypeople to “step up and speak up” to address the catastrophe described by DiNardo.

Teresa Tomeo, host of a syndicated radio talk show, said it is the laity’s job to convince the bishops that more oversight of their actions is good for the Church.

By working together, laypeople can “help Church officials catch up with the laity” in addressing sexual abuse, said Elizabeth Scalia, who blogs at The Anchoress.

John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought at Georgetown University, recommended “a structure of accountability and responsibility and ways of collaboration” among the bishops and laity that advances the Church’s mission.


11. St. Louis archdiocese invites attorney general to review files.

By Catholic News Agency, August 23, 2018, 6:00 PM

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson has invited the Missouri attorney general’s office to conduct an inspection of its files related to allegations of sexual abuse and to produce an independent report.

In an Aug. 23 letter to Missouri Attorney General Joshua D. Hawley, Carlson said that he was aware of requests from members of the public for an investigation into the Catholic Church in the state.

“We have always cooperated with law enforcement in any investigation into these matters and will continue to do so,” Carlson said.

In Missouri, the state attorney general does not have the power to convene a grand jury such as the one which published an Aug. 14 report into the handling of sexual abuse allegation in six dioceses in Pennsylvania. That report identified allegations of sexual abuse involving 300 priests and more than 1,000 potential victims over 70 years.

Hawley, in a conference call with journalists, said that he was “heartened” by the offer of full cooperation from the archdiocese. He thanked the archbishop for the invitation in a letter issued today.