1. Envoy: Popes knew of abuses.

By Chico Harlan, Stefano Pitrelli, and Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, August 27, 2018, Pg. A1

A former Vatican ambassador to the United States has alleged in an 11-page letter that Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis — among other top Catholic Church officials — had been aware of sexual misconduct allegations against former D.C. archbishop Cardinal Theodore McCar­rick years before he resigned this summer.

Viganò is vague in the allegation against Wuerl. The letter says “obviously” Wuerl knew about Benedict’s restrictions on McCar­rick because the then-ambassador, Pietro Sambi, was “responsible, loyal and direct” and must have told him. Viganò says he brought up the subject himself with Wuerl, and he writes that Wuerl “was fully aware of it.”

Wuerl’s spokesman, Ed McFadden, denied the report.

“In spite of what Archbishop Viganò’s memo indicates, Cardinal Wuerl did not receive any documentation or information during his time in Washington regarding any actions taken against” McCarrick, he said Sunday.


2. Pope Knew of Abuse, Must Resign, Archbishop Says, The pope declined to respond to accusations by a former Vatican ambassador to the U.S.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2018, Pg. A1

A former Vatican ambassador to the U.S. accused Pope Francis of covering up misconduct by a prominent cardinal and called on him to resign, deepening a crisis over sexual abuse that is increasingly overshadowing his pontificate.

The pope said he wouldn’t respond. “I won’t say a word about it,” he told reporters aboard a flight from Dublin to Rome on Sunday night.

In a letter published on two Catholic websites, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a former senior Vatican official and diplomat, claimed the pope knew as early as 2013 about allegations that the former archbishop of Washington, ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, had been sexually active with seminarians and that Pope Benedict XVI had privately disciplined him over the charges. Archbishop Viganò alleged that Pope Francis had ignored then-Cardinal McCarrick’s record and rehabilitated him as a powerful figure in the U.S. church.

Whether Archbishop Viganò’s accusations are borne out or not, they are likely to increase pressure on the pope to accept the request of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for a full Vatican investigation of the McCarrick affair. Such an investigation could embarrass many highly placed American prelates if it reveals that church officials knew of any abuses by the former cardinal and did nothing.


3. Critic of Pope In Open Revolt Vs. the Vatican.

By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, August 27, 2018, Pg. A1

On the final day of Pope Francis’ mission to Ireland, as he issued wrenching apologies for clerical sex abuse scandals, a former top Vatican diplomat claimed in a letter published on Sunday that the pope himself had joined top Vatican officials in covering up the abuses and called for his resignation.

Its unsubstantiated allegations and personal attacks amounted to an extraordinary public declaration of war against Francis’ papacy at perhaps its most vulnerable moment, intended to unseat a pope whose predecessor, Benedict XVI, was the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years.


4. Pennsylvania Considers Allowing More Victims of Sexual Abuse to Sue, Pending bill would temporarily waive civil statute of limitations for child sexual-abuse claims.

By Jacob Gershman, The Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2018, 5:30 AM

The recent Pennsylvania grand-jury report detailing child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church could pave the way for granting adults who were victimized as children more opportunity to sue for damages.

Legislation pending in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives would temporarily waive the civil statute of limitations for child sexual-abuse claims, opening a two-year window for lawsuits that were previously time-barred. The House returns from vacation on Sept. 12 and it is expected to consider the measure.

Nine other states have enacted similar measures, giving plaintiffs with expired claims one or more additional years to sue, according to a child-advocacy group. Those laws gave life to thousands of lawsuits, prompted dioceses from Delaware to Minnesota to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and led to hundreds of millions of dollars in payouts. The grand-jury report urged Pennsylvania to join those states, saying the legal deadlines imposed on older victims were “a sham.”

In Pennsylvania, anyone sexually abused as a child has until the age of 30 to bring a civil action, under a 2002 law that wasn’t retroactive. The statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions is longer, expiring when the victim turns 50.


5. U.N. Team Condemns Myanmar’s Treatment of Rohingya as Genocide, Calls for Prosecutions, Country’s army chief and other top commanders should be prosecuted, the team says.

By James Hookway and Myo Myo, The Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2018, 7:10 AM

Myanmar’s army chief  and other top commanders should be prosecuted for genocide against the country’s ethnic-Rohingya Muslims, investigators working for the United Nations’ human rights agency said Monday.

In some of the sternest language used to condemn a yearlong campaign of violence, the three-member fact-finding mission estimated that 10,000 people were killed, a figure they labeled as “conservative.” They also recommended that the matter be referred to the International Criminal Court or another special tribunal.

U.N. officials and human-rights groups have said in recent months that there is growing evidence of genocide in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, bordering Bangladesh. It is a rarely used term and carries a precise legal definition that aims to establish the intent of the perpetrators.


6. Pope apologizes for ‘crimes’ against Irish women, babies.

By Nicole Winfield and Pietro De Cristofaro, Associated Press, August 26, 2018, 8:16 PM

Pope Francis issued a sweeping apology Sunday for the “crimes” of the Catholic Church in Ireland, saying church officials didn’t respond with compassion, truth or justice to the many children and women who were abused over generations.

Francis was interrupted by applause from the crowd of 300,000 as he read the apology out loud at the start of Mass in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, the largest gathering of his two-day trip. It was a response to the tens of thousands of Irish children sexually and physically abused at Catholic Churches, schools and workhouses, and the women who were forced to live and work in laundries and give up their children if they got pregnant out of wedlock.

“We ask forgiveness for those members of the hierarchy who didn’t take responsibility for this painful situation, and who kept silence,” Francis said. “May the Lord keep this state of shame and compunction and give us strength so this never happens again, and that there is justice.”


7. Former nunciature official: ‘Vigano said the truth’.

By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency, August 27, 2018

Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, the former first counsellor at the apostolic nunciature in Washington D.C., has said that the former nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, told “the truth” in his explosive statement released to the press on Aug. 25.

The 11-page document contains specific allegations that senior bishops and cardinals have been aware of the allegations of sexual abuse against former-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick for more than a decade. Viganò also states states that, in either 2009 or 2010, Pope Benedict XVI imposed sanctions on McCarrick “similar to those now imposed upon him by Pope Francis” and that McCarrick was forbidden from travelling and speaking in public.

In his statement, Viganò says that these were communicated to McCarrick in a stormy meeting at the nunciature in Washington D.C. by then-nuncio Pietro Sambi. Viganò directly cites Lantheaume as having told him about the encounter, following his arrival in D.C to replace Sambi as nuncio in 2011.

“Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, then first Counsellor of the Nunciature in Washington and Chargé d’Affaires ad interim after the unexpected death of Nuncio Sambi in Baltimore, told me when I arrived in Washington –  and he is ready to testify to it –  about a stormy conversation, lasting over an hour, that Nuncio Sambi had with Cardinal McCarrick whom he had summoned to the  Nunciature. Monsignor Lantheaume told me that ‘the Nuncio’s voice could be heard all the way out in the corridor.’”


8. Making sense of McCarrick cover-up charges against Pope Francis.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, August 27, 2018, Opinion

Yet as it turns out, the meteorological storms Francis faced paled in comparison to the metaphorical ones breaking on Sunday, in part related to his overall handling of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, but more specifically to an astonishing claim by a former papal ambassador in the U.S. that Francis had lifted restrictions imposed on Cardinal Theodore McCarrick under Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, despite being informed of misconduct concerns against McCarrick in June 2013.

Aboard the papal plane on Sunday, Francis basically challenged reporters to judge those accusations for themselves – the clear suggestion being that if they did so, the charges would crumble under their own weight.

Here’s my bottom line response: Take it seriously, but with a large grain of salt.

One certainly can’t dismiss the charge out of hand, if for no other reason than never before has a former papal ambassador accused a sitting pope of complicity in what would amount, if true, to a criminal cover-up.

To be clear, this isn’t some anonymous figure claiming to have sent the pope a letter. Viganò was the pope’s man in America for five years, and over that time he certainly had the means and opportunity to inform the pope of things if he wanted to.

Further, there’s a symbolic dimension to the situation. Francis has been charged with mishandling an abuse allegation, and if there isn’t a credible and transparent effort to get to the bottom of things, then the pontiff’s rhetoric in Ireland about being “firm and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice” might ring hollow.

On the other hand, there are at least four reasons why a large grain of salt is warranted.

To begin with, the 11-page statement Viganò released to reporters probably undercut his own credibility in key respects. The letter contains charges of some form of wrongdoing or questionable behavior against no fewer than 32 senior churchmen, and in most cases Viagnò himself acknowledges that his comments are based on no more than supposition and/or connecting the dots.

When anyone hurls around accusations quite so lightly, it’s difficult to know how seriously any one ought to be taken.

Second, Viganò has a history.

He was a key player in the “Vatileaks” scandal under Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, which pivoted on confidential documents being stolen and leaked to the press by a papal butler. Among them were two letters by Viganò to Benedict and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s then-Secretary of State, protesting his impending appointment as ambassador in the U.S. on the grounds that he wanted to remain in the Government of the Vatican City State and continue battling financial corruption.

Then as now, the letters contained a mix of factual detail with innuendo and conspiracy theories, and it proved arduous – in some cases, basically impossible – to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Third, Viganò arguably undercut his credibility by not dealing with his own record on the abuse issue.

Fourth, it may be difficult for many observers to escape the impression that all this was orchestrated with a political agenda in mind.

In the statement on McCarrick, Viganò clearly betrays a generally conservative political bias.

Time will tell what conclusions are indeed reached, but a sober point of departure right now probably would blend genuine curiosity with healthy skepticism.


9. After 95 years, NY rules end Catholic adoption and foster services in Buffalo.

By Catholic News Agency, August 27, 2018, 4:01 AM

Adoption and foster services through Catholic Charities of Buffalo are ending because state rules do not allow the agency to maintain its practice of only placing children in homes with a mother and a father.

“Because Catholic Charities cannot simultaneously comply with state regulations and conform to the teaching of the Catholic Church on the nature of marriage, Catholic Charities will discontinue foster care and adoption services,” Catholic Charities of Buffalo said Aug. 23.

The Catholic Charities affiliate said it cannot follow state requirements that require contracting agencies to allow same-sex couples to foster and adopt children. It cited Catholic teaching recognizing marriage as a union of a woman and a man.

Adoption services were one of the first services provided by Catholic Charities when it was founded almost 95 years ago.


10. Moscow, Kiev in Tug-Of-War Over Religious Future of Ukraine.

By Associated Press, August 27, 2018

As Kiev and Moscow clash on the battlefields of eastern Ukraine, a new front has opened up in the religious sphere.

Earlier this year Ukrainian’s president launched a campaign to persuade Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, seen by many as the first among equals of Eastern Orthodox leaders, to grant Ukrainian clerics full ecclesiastical independence from the Russian Orthodox Church to which they have been tied for hundreds of years.

Ukrainian politicians see such a declaration, known as a “Tomos of Autocephaly,” as a key step in consolidating their country’s national identity. Russian religious leaders see it as an attack on Christian Orthodox unity and are fighting to stop it.

It’s in the midst of this religious tussle that The Associated Press has discovered a Russian digital espionage campaign targeting Bartholomew’s top aides.


11. Pope Francis in Ireland: Call for Resignation Further Clouds Visit.

By The New York Times, August 26, 2018, 11:58 PM

On the second day of a difficult mission to win back the confidence of Irish Roman Catholics, Pope Francis awoke on Sunday to a bombshell accusation from within his own citadel.

A former top-ranking Vatican official released a 7,000-word letter asserting that the pontiff knew about the abuses of a now-disgraced American prelate, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, years before they became public.

The official, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a conservative critic of Francis and a former apostolic nuncio to the United States, claimed that the pope had failed to punish Cardinal McCarrick, who was suspended in June after allegations that he had coerced seminarians into sexual relationships. He was also found to have abused a teenage altar boy 47 years ago, when he was a priest in New York.

In the letter, published on Saturday in Italian by The National Catholic Registerand in English by LifeSiteNews, both critical of Francis, the archbishop called on the pope to resign.

“In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal Church,” the archbishop wrote, “he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set an example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign with all of them.”

The archbishop’s startling accusation will not come as a complete surprise to Vatican watchers, since he is part of a conservative camp that blames liberals, like the pope, for allowing homosexuality in the church. But it further complicates Francis’ efforts to convince Irish Catholics that the church is ready to confront its legacy of concealing sexual abuse.


12. Pope in Ireland decries abuse cover-up, meets with victims.

By Nicole Winfield and Maria Grazia Murru, Associated Press, August 25, 2018

Pope Francis faced a lukewarm reception and scattered protests Saturday on his trip to Ireland, with even his vow to rid the church of the “scourge” of sexual abuse and his outrage at those “repugnant crimes” dismissed as a disappointment by some of Ireland’s wounded victims.

But others who met with him in private left heartened that he would respond to their plight, including two of the thousands of children who were forcibly put up for adoption for the shame of having been born to unwed mothers. They said Francis described the corruption and cover-up in the church as “caca” — translated by the Vatican translator for the English speakers as “filth as one sees in the toilet.”

The abuse scandal — which has exploded anew in the U.S. but has convulsed Ireland since the 1990s with revelations of unfathomable violence and humiliation against women and children — took center stage on the first day of Francis’ two-day trip. The visit was originally intended to celebrate Catholic families.

Francis responded to the outcry by vowing to end sex abuse and cover-up during a speech to Irish government authorities at Dublin Castle.

“The failure of ecclesiastical authorities — bishops, religious superiors, priests and others — to adequately address these repugnant crimes has rightly given rise to outrage, and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community,” he told them. “I myself share these sentiments.”

Francis followed his promise with a 90-minute meeting with eight survivors of both clerical and institutional abuse and prayed quietly before a candle lit for victims in Dublin’s cathedral. But neither his words nor the meeting with victims is likely to assuage demands for heads to roll.


13. Wuerl denies he was informed of Vatican restrictions on McCarrick.

By JD Flynn, Catholic News Agency, August 25, 2018, 10:01 PM

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington has denied a report that he was informed about restrictions apparently placed by the Vatican upon his predecessor, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

“Cardinal Wuerl did not receive documentation or information from the Holy See specific to Cardinal McCarrick’s behavior or any of the prohibitions on his life and ministry suggested by Archbishop Vigano,” the cardinal’s spokesman, Ed McFadden, told CNA.

On Aug. 25, Archbishop Carlo Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016, released a “testimony,” alleging that in 2009 or 2010, after receiving reports of habitual sexual misconduct on the part of McCarrick, Pope Benedict XVI had ordered that “the Cardinal was to leave the seminary where he was living, he was forbidden to celebrate [Mass] in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance.”

Vigano wrote it was “absolutely unthinkable” that Archbishop Pietro Sambi, nuncio at the time the restrictions were imposed, would not have informed Wuerl about the restrictions placed upon McCarrick, who was, according to DC sources, living at that time in Washington’s Redemptoris Mater Seminary.


14. Illinois Attorney General to Meet Church Officials on Abuse.

By Associated Press, August 24, 2018

Illinois’ attorney general is planning to meet with Chicago Archdiocese officials to discuss seven priests with links to the state who were included in a scathing Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sex abuse.

“Since 2002, the Archdiocese of Chicago has reported all abuse allegations to the proper civil authorities,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “We also met with members of the office of the Cook County State’s Attorney and they reviewed our clergy files in 1992, 2002 and 2015.”


15. The State Should Stay Clear of the Confession Booth, Requiring priests to turn in people who confess to child abuse will backfire.

By Waleed Aly, Waleed Aly is a columnist and broadcaster and a politics lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne, The New York Times, August 24, 2018, Opinion

The details of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on the sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church are revolting. And to read it from Australia is to encounter something familiar: A royal commission released a horrific report last year examining how Australian institutions had mishandled child sex abuse for decades.

And yet the focus on the confession booth is not the answer, mainly because it’s unlikely that priests will comply and turn in confessors.

For a Catholic priest to violate the confessional seal and report a confessed abuser is to face the gravest spiritual penalty the church can muster: excommunication and eternal damnation. You don’t need to value Canon Law or Catholicism to recognize that is an extremely serious matter for someone who does. So serious, in fact, that the state has no way of outbidding it.

Accordingly, the commission’s said that “a priest can defer granting absolution until the act of satisfaction” has been carried out. For example, the report says, a confessed abuser would not be forgiven by a priest unless he reports himself to the police. Several priests told the commission that this is exactly what priests hearing confession should do.

This approach is far more likely to curtail reoffending than any attempt to compromise the institution of the confessional.

Whatever power the state possesses, it cannot simply rewrite Canon Law, and it cannot legislate away people’s religious convictions, however much it might want to. The best approach would operate within the confines of Catholic practice, and thus remain equally persuasive anywhere it was adopted, whether in Victoria or Pennsylvania.