1. Bishop, Accused Of Abuse Coverup, Resigns.

By Ian Lovett and Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2019, Pg. A6

The Catholic bishop of Buffalo, N.Y., resigned following accusations he covered up clergy sex abuse of children.

In keeping with its standard practice, the Vatican didn’t give a reason when it announced on Wednesday that Pope Francis had accepted Bishop Richard Malone’s resignation. But the office of the Vatican’s envoy to the U.S., Archbishop Christophe Pierre, said in a statement that the bishop had asked the pope last month “to grant him an early retirement” following a church investigation of the charges against him.

In his own statement, Bishop Malone said the results of that investigation, which haven’t been made public, were a factor in his decision to step down. But he said he had made his decision freely and voluntarily because of “divisions and wounds that I am unable to heal” in Buffalo.


2. China decries House-passed bill on detention of Uighurs.

By Gerry Shih, The Washington Post, December 5, 2019, Pg. A10

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill late Tuesday that would impose sanctions on senior Chinese officials involved in the country’s mass detention of its Muslim Uighur minority, setting up another clash between Washington and Beijing at a time of broadening disputes between the two powers.

The Uighur Act cleared the House by a vote of 407 to 1 a week after President Trump signed legislation that would impose sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials involved in human rights abuses in the protest-racked financial hub.

Nury Turkel, chair of the Uighur Human Rights Project advocacy group in Washington, called the House passage “historic” and urged Congress to reconcile the two versions of the bill this month. “The scope and scale of the crisis in the Uighur region demands urgent action in Congress to send this bill to President Trump’s desk for his signature,” he said. The Senate version passed in September.

China has angrily denounced both the Uighur and Hong Kong measures and said Wednesday that it would respond to the House’s passage of the Uighur Act.


3. Renewed Legal Attack on Abortion Reveals a Rift Among Conservatives.

By Timothy Williams, The New York Times, December 5, 2019, Pg. A25

Months after state lawmakers around the country approved some of the most restrictive limits on abortion seen in decades, some states want to push still further.

Leading the way is Ohio, where Republicans are contemplating banning nearly all abortions from the time of conception, with no exceptions for rape or incest, and the highly unusual step of allowing women who have abortions to be prosecuted for murder.

Yet the tactics employed by some states have also opened an unexpected rift among abortion opponents over whether the new laws will actually harm efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.

In fact, some longstanding anti-abortion groups say they believe that the Supreme Court is more likely to take up cases involving laws that seek tempered changes in abortion access, not outright bans that directly challenge Roe.


4. Refugees, migrants given safe haven by Vatican weep with gratitude.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, December 5, 2019

The pope walked his own talk by having his “charitable right arm,” Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, bring 33 migrants from Afghanistan, Cameroon and Togo who had been stranded on the Greek island of Lesbos, back to Rome under Vatican patronage.

Ten more asylum seekers will arrive in Italy before the end of the year.

This is the second time, at the pontiff’s request, that the Vatican has helped relocate migrants and refugees from Lesbos to Italy. In 2016, 12 refugees flew with him back to Rome when he visited the Greek island with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to raise awareness of what’s happening in a place that for many, is the entry door to Europe.


5. Catholic theology loses a giant with a sense of humor in Metz.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, December 5, 2019

Catholic theology lost a giant Monday with the death of German Father Johann Baptist Metz, a disciple of famed Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner and the father of what was known as “new political theology,” at the age of 91.

Like Rahner, Metz regarded Gaudium et Spes as the summit of Vatican II’s teaching: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.” He applied that thrust in the realm of politics, insisting that a Christianity not politically engaged on the side of the poor was inauthentic.

It perhaps wasn’t his fault that he was developing those ideas in the context of 1968, the Cold War, and the emergence of a modern politics of identity, in which it was far too easy for the “option for the poor” to be read in an ideological key. One could also argue that Metz, again like his mentor Rahner, was overly optimistic about what politics could achieve, insufficiently cognizant of sin – Hans Urs von Balthasar once actually accused Rahner of negating the necessity of the crucifixion.

Yet anyone who ever spoke with Metz understood that for him, faith came first and politics second, however indispensable he may have regarded politics to be. He also never took himself or his work excessively seriously, trusting that over time things would sort themselves out as they should.

That’s probably about the best epitaph one can provide for a theologian’s life, so requiescat in pace, Johann Baptist Metz, and know that you will be missed.


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