1. The Pope Makes a Fatal Error, He says the death penalty is ‘inadmissible,’ though not intrinsically evil. He doesn’t note it saves lives. 

By Joseph M. Bessette, Mr. Bessette is a professor of government and ethics at Claremont McKenna College. He served as acting director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the Reagan administration, The Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2018, Pg. A15

When Pope Francis last week declared the death penalty “inadmissible,” politicians pounced. “The death penalty is a stain on our conscience,” tweeted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who proclaimed that he stood “in solidarity with Pope Francis” in “advancing legislation to remove the death penalty from NY law once and for all.”

But the pope’s declaration, which contradicts two millennia of Catholic teaching, allies the church with a public policy that would undermine justice and cost innocent lives.

There is also a deeper kind of deterrence, largely overlooked in discussions of the death penalty, which doesn’t require rational calculation. When society imposes the ultimate punishment for the most heinous murders, it powerfully teaches that murder is a great wrong. Children growing up in such a society internalize this message, with the result that most people wouldn’t even consider killing another human being.

Here the principle of justice, which demands that malefactors receive a punishment proportionate to their offense, and deterrence of this deeper sort meet. If we abolish the death penalty for even the most heinous and coldblooded murderers, we fatally undermine the idea of justice as the cornerstone of our criminal-justice system. Over time justice will be replaced by a therapeutic or technocratic model that treats human beings as cases to be managed and socially engineered rather than as morally responsible persons.

Unless the death penalty is intrinsically evil—and the pope has made no such claim—then its advisability is a matter for citizens and legitimate public authority. This is what the church has always taught. By falsely claiming that the principles of Catholicism call for rejecting the death penalty in all circumstances, the pope undermines the authority of the Magisterium, pre-empts the proper authority of public officials, and jeopardizes public safety and the common good.


2. Showdown in Argentina over the broad legalization of abortion.

By Max Radwin and Anthony Faiola, The Washington Post, August 8, 2018, 7:01 AM

Argentina on Wednesday prepared for a pivotal showdown over a bid to broadly legalize abortion, turning the country into South America’s latest battleground over the long-taboo procedures.

Currently, Argentine law permits abortion only in the case of rape, when the mother is mentally disabled, or there is serious risk to her health. Seeking one for any other reason can land a woman in prison for as long as four years. Health professionals involved in the operation can also go to prison for as long as six.

The new bill — which passed the lower house in June, setting up a vote in the Senate slated for Wednesday — would allow girls as young as 13 to terminate a pregnancy for any reason within the first 14 weeks of term. The new bill would also require abortions be carried out within five days of the mother’s request.

An Ipsos poll taken in July showed that 49 percent of the population opposes abortion legalization, while 41 percent approve. Another 11 percent don’t know.


3. WYD-1993: The Turning Point. 

By George Weigel, George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington, D.C.’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies, August 8, 2018, Opinion

WYD 1993 was not just a triumph for John Paul II, and for now-Cardinal Stafford and his team; it was a turning point in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States, and its effects are still being felt on this silver jubilee. Before WYD 1993, too much of Catholicism in America was in a defensive crouch, like too much of the Church in Western Europe today. After WYD 1993, the New Evangelization in the United States got going in earnest, as Catholics who had participated in it brought home the word that the Gospel was still the most transformative force in the world. Before WYD 1993, U.S. Catholicism was largely an institutional-maintenance Church. With WYD 1993, Catholicism in America discovered the adventure of the New Evangelization, and the living parts of the Church in the U.S. today are the parts that have embraced that evangelical way of being Catholic.

That crucial turning point on the road to a Catholicism of missionary disciples should be remembered with gratitude.


4. Knights’ donations, volunteer hours and members keep growing, CEO says.

By Catholic News Service, August 8, 2018

In an opening address Aug. 7 at the 136th annual Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention, the organizations’ CEO, Carl Anderson, spoke of the charitable works of the Knights, their ongoing pro-life commitment and pledge to support persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria.

He told the Knights at the annual gathering that they gave more than $185 million dollars to charity last year, an $8 million increase from the previous year and one of the largest yearly increases in the organization’s history.

The Knights also donated more than 75.6 million volunteer hours.

He said they particularly came to the aid of hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico raising $4.2 million dollars for disaster relief.

He also stressed that the Knights continue to defend the culture of life from conception to natural death. One way they do this is through donating ultrasound machines, so parents can choose life over abortion when they recognize the life they created.

“I’m pleased to announce that we have already placed more than 950 ultrasound machines and that we will meet our goal of 1,000 later this year,” he said.

He added that the Knights will remain at the forefront of the annual March for Life in Washington along with supporting other pro-life marches around the country.

Anderson pointed out that since 2014 the Knights have committed more than $20 million to aid Christians and those of other religions in their care. This money has provided food, shelter and clothing to those who lost everything in Iraq and Syria “because they refused to give up their love of Christ.”

Closer to home, the Knights distributed more than 105,000 new coats to children and provided nearly 4 million pounds of food and nearly $2 million through our Food for Families program. They also donated 7,649 wheelchairs through our partnership with the Global Wheelchair Mission.

The Knights also donated more than $3.8 million to 6,348 seminarians and postulants through our Refund Support Vocations Program.

On the business side, he said the group sold $8.8 billion in new life insurance last year in its 17th consecutive year of growth. Its assets are more than $24 billion and income before dividends was more than $305 million.

He also said recently Standard & Poor’s listed the Knights of Columbus as one of the six strongest life insurance companies in North America.

Numbers also are up for the Knights; its membership now totals 1,967,585 members.


5. Truth Is Needed to Free the Church From Sacrilege of Clergy Scandal, Now is the time to cooperate — and cooperate fully — with God’s cleansing fire for his Church.

By Father Roger J. Landry, Father Roger J. Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, National Catholic Register, August 7, 2018, Opinion

The sad revelations about the sins of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, involving the sexual abuse of both male minors and seminarians, have brought the Church in the U.S. and beyond to a second recent phase in the necessary purification of the clergy of the Church. The first phase happened in 2002, after the disclosure that more than 4,000 (out of 110,000) priests had been accused in the U.S. of sexual abuse of minors in the previous half-century.

The U.S. bishops convened in Dallas and adopted what has overall been a heralded systemic response to root out those who have abused minors from the priesthood, protect children and care for survivors.

But there were several major problems with Dallas, however.

First, the phrase “credible accusations” was exceedingly vague and could encompass even accusations that were immediately demonstrably false.

Second, bishops exempted themselves from the policy.

Third, they didn’t have the courage to address what the data clearly showed was the main part of the crisis: It wasn’t pedophilia, or the sexual abuse of pre-pubescent girls and boys; rather, it was ephebophilia, the same-sex molestation of post-pubescent boys, encompassing more than four out of five accusations.

Fourth, they did not focus adequately on the corrupt culture that permitted such wide-scale abuse and the lack of determination to eradicate it: the practical toleration in many dioceses of priests living double lives, cheating on their vocations with men and women. As Father Thomas Berg recently wrote, “We can’t prevent the sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable adults by clergy while habitual and widespread failures in celibacy are left unchecked.”

The accusations against Archbishop McCarrick have exposed these last three lacunae in disgusting fashion. Several bishops, most notably Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have put out firm statements indicating that bishops must no longer be exempt, that all sexual abuse and harassment by clergy of anyone must be addressed — and all sexual activity by clergy is abusive, even if consensual, because it is spiritually incestuous — and that the Church must address the cancerous prevalence of an unchaste same-sex subculture in the clergy.

These are not easy issues to talk or write about. They sicken and justly scandalize believers.

Light, however, is a great sanitizer. Just as the revelations of the thousands of cases of clerical sexual abuse of minors in 2002 was not the problem, but the abuse itself that had remained hidden for decades was, so the disclosures against Archbishop McCarrick and others in recent weeks, although nauseating and infuriating, are a necessary part of the healing process. The truth is needed in order to set the Church free of these sacrileges, which devastate individual victims and wound the whole Church.

Is there hope that the situation will get better? Yes. In many ways, it already has, because of various reforms in the last few decades. But there are issues that must be confronted candidly. There is a strain in the Church that basically has no problem with sexual immorality among the faithful or clergy, who want to reduce this crisis to one of the “abuse of power.” This strain, in general, wants to use this second phase of this crisis like they did the first one, to pretend that “chaste celibacy” is the problem, as if allowing priests to have wives will eliminate the problem of same-sex molestation of post-pubescent boys or same-sex sexual infidelity.

Chastity, however, isn’t the problem; unchastity is. Abuse of power isn’t the main issue, but, rather, the sexual abuse that that power was used to commit and keep hushed. That’s why we need more than revised “codes of conduct” that state the obvious; the Ten Commandments, and the Church’s moral theology, are pretty clear, after all.

Fidelity is the only adequate response to infidelity, and holiness to sin and corruption. Just as there should be no room in the priesthood or episcopacy for those who would harm the young, so there should be no room for those who are determined to live corrupt double lives.

God always seeks to draw good out of evil, and throughout Church history has shown this time and again. Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. Now is the time to cooperate — and cooperate fully — with his cleansing fire.