1. Cardinal O’Malley statement on the death of Cardinal Bernard Law.

By Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, Archdiocese of Boston, Crux, December 20, 2017

Cardinal Bernard F. Law, my predecessor as Archbishop of Boston, has passed away at the age of 86 following a prolonged illness.

I recognize that Cardinal Law’s passing brings forth a wide range of emotions on the part of many people. I am particularly cognizant of all who experienced the trauma of sexual abuse by clergy, whose lives were so seriously impacted by those crimes, and their families and loved ones. To those men and women, I offer my sincere apologies for the harm they suffered, my continued prayers and my promise that the Archdiocese will support them in their effort to achieve healing. 

As Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law served at a time when the Church failed seriously in its responsibilities to provide pastoral care for her people, and with tragic outcomes failed to care for the children of our parish communities. I deeply regret that reality and its consequences. Since the day I arrived in the Archdiocese of Boston, my primary objective has been to work for healing and reconciliation among survivors, their families and the wider community of Catholics for whom the abuse crisis was a devastating experience and a great test of faith. 

It is a sad reality that for many Cardinal Law’s life and ministry is identified with one overwhelming reality, the crisis of sexual abuse by priests. This fact carries a note of sadness because his pastoral legacy has many other dimensions. Early in his priesthood in Mississippi Cardinal Law was deeply engaged in the civil rights struggle in our country. Later, he served in the Archdiocese and nationally as a leader in the ecumenical and interfaith movement following the Second Vatican Council, developing strong collaborative relationships with the Greek Orthodox and Jewish communities in Boston. He was well known for visiting the sick, the dying and the bereaved at all hours of the night and day, a ministry that extended to the rich and poor, the young and elderly, and people of all faiths. He also held the care for immigrants and their families in a special place in his ministry.

In the Catholic tradition, the Mass of Christian Burial is the moment in which we all recognize our mortality, when we acknowledge that we all strive for holiness in a journey which can be marked by failures large and small. Cardinal Law will be buried in Rome where he completed his last assignment. I offer prayers for him and his loved ones as well as for all the people of the Archdiocese.


2. 32 Planned Parenthood centers shut down in 2017: Pro-life activists see hope for ‘the end’.

By Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, December 20, 2017, Pg. A1

The Planned Parenthood Express Clinic in Parker, Colorado, is one of the 32 Planned Parenthood centers that shut down this year, according to a study released this month by the pro-life American Life League.

Jim Sedlak, executive director of the American Life League, said there is “mounting evidence of Planned Parenthood’s decline” and “renewed optimism that the end of the organization may happen sooner than our most optimistic estimates just two years ago.”

The number of Planned Parenthood facilities sits at 597, the American Life League report found, down from a peak of 938 clinics in 1995.

Other abortion facilities have also struggled to make ends meet.

A report released Tuesday by the pro-life Operation Rescue found that 49 abortion facilities closed or halted abortion services this year. The number of abortion clinics decreased by 27 compared with 2016 totals.

Wyoming lost its only Planned Parenthood when the Casper Health Center closed shop over the summer — joining North Dakota as the only states where Planned Parenthood does not operate. There are five jurisdictions with only one Planned Parenthood center: the District of Columbia, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Dakota and West Virginia.

The decline in facilities has corresponded with fewer patients seen and services performed.

According to Planned Parenthood’s latest annual report, 2.4 million patients visited the abortion giant in fiscal year 2015, down from 3 million in fiscal 2012.

Planned Parenthood also reported a one-year decline in the performance of health services — such as testing for sexually transmitted infections, contraception services and cancer screenings — of 11 percent.

Abortions, however, have remained steady.

Planned Parenthood performed 328,348 abortions in fiscal 2015, up from 323,999 the previous year. The number of abortions also outpaced the number of breast exams (321,700) and pap tests (293,799) that Planned Parenthood said it performed.

Although Planned Parenthood operates in fewer facilities, sees fewer patients and performs fewer services, the nation’s largest abortion provider reported a year-to-year increase in federal funding of more than $25 million.


3. Vatican envoy: Unilateral moves on Jerusalem threaten peace. 

By Associated Press, December 20, 2017, 4:50 AM

The top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land says the status of Jerusalem should not be altered by “unilateral decisions,” amid protests over the U.S. recognition of the contested city as Israel’s capital.

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa said in a statement Wednesday that “unilateral decisions will not bring peace, but rather will distance it. Jerusalem is a treasure of all humanity. Any exclusive claim — be it political or religious — is contrary to the city’s own logic.”


4. Cardinal Bernard Law, Disgraced in Sex-Abuse Scandal, Dies at 86: The scandal prompted U.S. bishops to adopt stricter policies on the protection of children but left a lasting taint on the church’s image.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, December 20, 2017, Pg. A3

Cardinal Bernard Law, a leading figure of the Catholic Church in the U.S. until he fell from grace for mishandling instances of clerical sex abuse, has died. He was 86.

As archbishop of Boston, where he oversaw one of the oldest and largest Catholic archdioceses in the U.S. from 1984 to 2002, Cardinal Law was among the country’s most prominent prelates. But his career ended under a cloud when he resigned in fallout from the sex-abuse scandal that shook the American church beginning in 2002.

He was ordained a priest in 1961 in the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson, Miss., where Catholics represented less than 4% of the population.

He embraced the rising civil-rights movement there, cooperating with Protestant clergy and the black community, and using the diocesan newspaper as an outlet for the cause—a stance that made him the target of death threats.

He was also an ardent campaigner against abortion.

Along with Cardinal John O’Connor of New York, he carried out Pope John Paul II’s agenda of evangelical outreach and conservative retrenchment following the cultural turbulence of the late 1960s and 1970s, through a combination of bridge-building and the strong assertion of traditional moral teaching. The naming of the two archbishops in 1984 instantly inspired a popular quip in Catholic circles: “It’s Law in Boston and order in New York.”

In December 2002, the cardinal resigned, four years before he would have reached the standard retirement age for bishops of 75.

Until 2011, when he reached the age of 80 and became ineligible to vote in a papal conclave or hold Vatican offices, Cardinal Law also served on several Vatican committees, including an especially powerful one advising the pope on the selection of bishops.