1. Is It Time for Pope Francis to Resign?, If an archbishop’s explosive claims are vindicated, this papacy must end.

By Robert P. George, Mr. George is a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton and a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, The Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2018, Pg. A13, Opinion

The world recently learned that former Washington Archbishop Theodore McCarrick had sexually harassed and seduced seminarians and even abused minors. Stunned and angry Catholics demanded to know how church officials failed to stop his predations, which went on for decades. A purported answer came Saturday. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò issued a “testimony” accusing several senior Church officials—including Pope Francis—of allowing Archbishop McCarrick, who was also a cardinal, to enjoy influence despite knowing of his evil deeds. Archbishop Viganò, a former papal nuncio (or ambassador) to the U.S., urged the pope to resign.

Many Catholics agree that the pope should resign if the charges are true. But are the charges true? What did the pope know about the McCarrick affair and when did he know it?

I agree with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: The questions raised by Archbishop Viganò “deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence,” because “without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusation and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past.” Let’s consider what evidence is public already and ask how the rest can be brought to light.

Pope Francis told reporters on Sunday that he would not say a word about Archbishop Viganò’s claims. He added that they could decide for themselves. The only way this is possible is for the pope to order church officials in any office containing pertinent documents to release them. Then we will know the truth.


2. A Crisis—but Not of Faith, Catholics must not let scandals in the Church overshadow their trust in Christian teaching.

By  George Weigel, Mr. Weigel is distinguished senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies, The Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2018, 11:08 AM, Opinion

In the ancient creed recited at Mass on Sundays, Catholics affirm their belief in “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.” It’s not difficult to imagine hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Catholics in the U.S. choking on that second adjective over the past several months.

Grisly allegations of sexually abusive clergy in Chile, Honduras, Ireland, Great Britain, Australia and the U.S.; the former cardinal-archbishop of Washington unmasked as a serial sexual predator specializing in the degradation of seminarians under his authority; clueless and bureaucratic responses to these crimes from some bishops seemingly incapable of sharing the rage being expressed by their people; unprecedented charges of inattention to sexual abuse against a sitting pope, first leveled by furious lay Catholics in Chile and then by a retired Vatican diplomat; stonewalling in Rome; unhinged polemics across the spectrum of Catholic opinion: Where is the holiness of the Church in all of this?

But that doesn’t, or shouldn’t, make it a crisis of faith.

Yet much as I share the anger and disgust of my fellow Catholics over what has surfaced these past months, I’d suggest to those imagining themselves in a crisis of faith that they’re experiencing something different: a challenge to understanding what the Church really is. As the Second Vatican Council taught in the first sentence of its most important document, the Church, first and foremost, is about Jesus Christ, the “light of the nations.”

At the end of the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus has caused a furor among his first followers by declaring himself the “bread of life,” on which his friends and disciples must feed. Many found this a “hard saying,” left the itinerant rabbi from Nazareth and “returned to their former way of life.” Jesus then turns to his closest companions, the Twelve, and asks, “Do you also want to leave?” Peter answers in two sentences that every outraged or embittered Catholic today should pause and ponder: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

That conviction is the reason to be a Catholic, the reason to stay a Catholic and the reason to bend every effort to reform the Church as an institution, so that it can be a credible witness to the Lord who offers communion with God and words of eternal life.

Bishops who have failed in their responsibilities as teachers, shepherds and stewards have typically done so because they put institutional maintenance ahead of evangelical mission.

All that institutional-maintenance Catholicism must now end. There is little holiness there. Throughout the world today, the living parts of the Catholic Church are those where people have embraced Catholic teaching in full and have grasped that being a faithful Catholic means offering others the gift they have been given—friendship with Jesus Christ. These Catholics, who have been stirred to protest but have not been shaken in their faith, are those who will effect the reform the Church needs. They include those bishops, priests and lay men and women who have squarely faced the present wretchedness, who are determined to get answers to the questions that must be answered and who will not settle for that form of institutional maintenance called stonewalling—whether it comes from their local bishop in the U.S. or from Rome.

Happily, those Catholics exist in considerable numbers. This is their moment.


3. ‘We deserve answers now’: 5,000 Catholic women pen letter to pope.

By Catholic News Agency, August 30, 2018, 1:21 PM

A group of lay Catholic women have written an open letter to Pope Francis, demanding that he answer the questions raised by the recent allegations in the letter from former U.S. nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

Some prominent signers of the letter include Mary Rice Hasson, the Kate O’Beirne Fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center; Professor Janet E. Smith, the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary; Leah Darrow, a Catholic speaker, author and evangelist; Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow at The Catholic Association; Kathryn Jean Lopez with the National Review Institute; and Obianuju Ekeocha, the founder and president of Culture of Life Africa.

Other signers include professors and faculty from Catholic institutions including Notre Dame, The Catholic University of America, and the University of St. Thomas, as well as women who are mothers of seminarians, homeschooling mothers, business owners, philosophers and psychologists.


4. Letter to Pope Francis from Catholic Women.

By Various, Catholic Women’s Forum, August 30, 2018

You have said that you seek “a more incisive female presence in the Church,” and that “women are capable of seeing things with a different angle from [men], with a different eye. Women are able to pose questions that we men are not able to understand.”

We write to you, Holy Father, to pose questions that need answers.

To your hurting flock, Pope Francis, your words are inadequate. They sting, reminiscent of the clericalism you so recently condemned. We need leadership, truth, and transparency. We, your flock, deserve your answers now.

Specifically, we humbly implore you to answer the following questions, as the answers are surely known to you. Archbishop Viganò says that in June 2013 he conveyed to you this message (in essence) about then-Cardinal McCarrick:

“He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.”

Is this true? What did Archbishop Viganò convey to you in June 2013 about then-Cardinal McCarrick?

When did you learn of any allegations of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct with adults by then-Cardinal McCarrick?

When did you learn of Pope Benedict’s restrictions on then-Cardinal McCarrick? And did you release then-Cardinal McCarrick from any of Pope Benedict’s restrictions?

Holy Father, we are the “incisive presence” the Church needs, and we need your answers.

Sign the letter here: https://catholicwomensforum.org/letter-to-pope-francis/#sign


5. High court won’t hear foster fight.

By Robert Barnes, The Washington Post, August 31, 2018, Pg. A2

The Supreme Court on Thursday declined for now to enter a dispute between the city of Philadelphia and a Catholic agency that refuses to place foster children with gay couples.

Catholic Social Services had asked the justices to block the city’s decision to freeze placement of foster children with the agency, which said it could not certify same-sex couples who wanted to be foster parents.

The Catholic agency said the city’s policy violated its right to free exercise of religion. But a district court disagreed, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit turned down the agency’s request that it be allowed to remain in the city’s program while the case proceeded on appeal.

But the Catholic agency said the city was forfeiting homes for foster children with no good reason. “The city is closing Catholic’s foster care program over a hypothetical question: if a same-sex couple approached a Catholic agency seeking a written opinion on their family relationships, could the Catholic Church endorse their unions in writing?” it said. The agency said same-sex couples could work with other agencies that contract with the city.


6. Australian Bishops Reject Reporting Sexual Abuse Revealed in Confession, Mandatory reporting risks making children less safe, church argues; some priests say they would rather go to jail than break ‘seal of confession’.

By Rob Taylor, The Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2018, 4:16 AM

Catholic bishops here said they oppose laws requiring priests to break the “seal of confession” when told of possible sexual abuse.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, which represents the church’s senior leadership, said almost all the recommendations from a judicial inquiry into child sexual abuse in institutions including churches and schools are acceptable. But the bishops rejected weakening the seal, which bars priests from revealing anything they learn while hearing confessions.

The church holds the seal of confession to be inviolable, on pain of excommunication, and some Australian priests have said they would rather go to jail than break it. They argue that mandatory reporting risks making children less safe by discouraging abusers from admitting crimes in the confessional. It is also impractical, they say, because priests often don’t know the identity of those confessing.


7. The next archbishop of Washington should be a humble priest, Washington’s Catholics need a shepherd, not a prince.

By Timothy P. Carney, Timothy P. Carney is the commentary editor at the Washington Examiner and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Post, August 30, 2018, 3:56 PM, Opinion

As pressure mounts for Wuerl to resign, maybe it’s time to rethink how such leaders are chosen. If or when Pope Francis confronts the question of who should replace Wuerl, he shouldn’t look to find his new Washington archbishop among the other bishops in the country. He shouldn’t even look at high-ranking priests in the archdiocese of Washington.

He should instead look around this archdiocese and find a simple, austere — but most of all holy — man who is respected and competent.

If Wuerl does step down, or if Pope Francis pushes him out, “The next Archbishop of Washington will be expected, fairly or not, to lead the charge in addressing” Church sex scandals, wrote Catholic journalist J.D. Flynn.

That makes turning away from the usual high-powered political bishops all the more important.

Rome should look first around the parishes of D.C. and suburban and southern Maryland. Which parishes have long lines for confession? Where is the parish school bursting at the seams? Where are volunteers launching new ministries?

Wherever you see such signs of life, you’re apt to find a holy, hard-working, inspiring pastor who sees his job as bringing souls to God.

If not in a parish, Pope Francis could look for true leaders among the various institutions inside the Church. The Dominican order operates in D.C. a house of studies and a priory, along with other institutions. Perhaps among their ranks is a humble friar whose obvious virtue and piety have made him a respected leader among his men.

It’s dizzying and disheartening to think of my Church as being as full of maneuvering and jockeying and cliques and factions as the politics I cover day to day. As the faithful of Washington try to shore up our rattled faith, we need a shepherd who doesn’t play that game. We need someone who would look and feel out of place sitting with senators at a black-tie gala in the Washington Hilton. We probably need an archbishop who has never striven to become a bishop.

The faithful of Washington don’t need a polished and connected prince. We need a good shepherd. We need an archbishop who smells like his sheep.


8. Americans divided, but bishops elsewhere back Pope on cover-up charge.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, August 31, 2018

Though American bishops appear divided in reaction to the sensational accusation by a former papal ambassador in the U.S. that Pope Francis ignored sexual misconduct warnings about ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, prelates in other parts of the world, especially in Latin cultures, appear to be showing strong support for the pontiff.

Recent statements along those lines have been heard from Portugal, Peru, Spain and the pontiff’s own Argentina.

From Portugal, a defense against “ultra-conservatives”

“It’s a campaign organized by ultra-conservatives to mortally wound the pope,” said Cardinal António dos Santos Marto, of Fatima, Portugal, speaking to Portuguese media Obsevador about the tempest set loose by the Viganò charge.

From the pope’s Argentina, “we share your pain”

“[Both] pastors and faithful, we want to show you our fraternal and filial closeness at this moment in which you suffer a ruthless attack in which different and narrow worldly interests come together,” said the statement released by the Argentine bishops on Thursday.

From Peru, “closeness”

In a letter addressed to the pope and made public by the Peruvian bishops’ conference, the prelates expressed their “closeness” to Francis amidst “attempts to destabilize the Church and your ministry.”

From Spain, “you’re not alone”

On Wednesday, Cardinal Ricardo Blázquez, Archbishop of Valladolid and president of the Spanish bishops’ conference, sent a letter to the pope from the city of Medellin, Colombia, where he was participating in an event msrking the 50th anniversary of the conference of the Latin American bishops (CELAM) in the city.

The letter was partially shared on the website of the Spanish bishops. In it, Blázquez told the pope “you’re not alone, the Church is praying for you as, in at another time, it did for Peter.”