1. Myanmar Persecutes Christians, Too.

By Hollie McKay, The Wall Street Journal December 7, 2018, Pg. A15, Opinion, Houses of Worship

The international community has rightly called out the horrific ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Rakhine state. But the Buddhist-dominated Burmese military has systematically attacked other religious minorities too, including Christians. After a recent lull in the mayhem, the country’s Christians now fear more violence and persecution. 

“The Burma Army has already moved in hundreds of troops, dozens of heavy weapon systems and multiple mechanized vehicles in what appears to be in preparation for an imminent onslaught against the Karen people,” Ephraim Mattos, East Asia operations manager at the Nazerene Fund, told me. The four million Christians in Myanmar—previously known as Burma—make up about 8.2% of the mostly Buddhist population. They largely reside in the country’s peripheries and belong to ethnic minority groups such as the Karen, Kachin, Chin, Karenni, Lahu and Naga. 

The brutality against Kachin people has been especially gruesome. Some 130,000 Kachin, more than 90% of whom are Christian, have been displaced within their state over the past six months. “There has been the destruction of our churches, the desecration of our sanctuaries, the looting of our offerings, and violence including rape inside church property,” lamented Gum San Nsang, president of the U.S.-based Kachin Alliance. The monsoon season stopped the violence for several months, but its looming end has caused alarm.

If the ultimate goal in the campaign against Christians is to eradicate them, it’s backfiring. The number of Christians in Myanmar is believed to be rising modestly: In 2016 the U.N. Population Fund estimated that since 1973 the number of Christians has grown by at least 1.6%. Mr. Nsang offers an explanation: “More Burmese are converting to Christianity due to the story of salvation and penchant desire to break this cycle of misery.”


2. Priest Wins Sex-Abuse Coverup Case.

By Rob Taylor, The Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2018, Pg. A9

A senior Catholic official convicted of concealing child sex abuse has successfully appealed his case and will walk free, in a blow to the global campaign alleging pedophilia coverups in the church. 

Former Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson, 68, in May became the first Roman Catholic archbishop to be found guilty of concealing child sex abuse. A court had ruled he failed to alert police about the abuse of altar boys in the 1970s by another priest, James Patrick Fletcher, who died in prison in 2006.

In July, Pope Francis accepted Mr. Wilson’s resignation following pressure from Australia’s then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Mr. Wilson later lodged an appeal against his conviction and sentence of home detention.

In a judgment Thursday at a court in Newcastle, an appeal judge said it couldn’t be proven beyond doubt that Mr. Wilson had been explicitly told of the abuse, given the passage of time, his age and diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. He also discounted testimony from witnesses, saying Mr. Wilson’s evidence laid out a “strong platform for him to be an honest witness.”


3. U.S. priest accused of abusing Philippine altar boys.

By Associated Press, The Washington Post, December 7, 2018, Pg. A8

Philippine authorities have arrested an American Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting altar boys. A Philippine Bureau of Immigration spokeswoman said the Rev. Kenneth Bernard Hendricks, 77, who has been indicted in Ohio on suspicion of illicit sexual conduct in the Philippines, was arrested in a church in the island province of Biliran. An Ohio court had issued a warrant for the arrest. The U.S. case against Hendricks, who has been living in the Philippines for 37 years, stemmed from complaints from minors allegedly victimized in the Philippines.


4. Free and Legal Abortion Clears Legislative Hurdle in Ireland.

By Ed O’Loughlin, The New York Times, December 7, 2018, Pg. A7

Fighting off last-ditch resistance, Irish lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a bill introducing free and legal abortion to a nation that was long a bastion of staunchly conservative Catholicism, seven months after voters repealed a constitutional ban on abortion.

An often heated session of the Parliament’s lower house on Wednesday had to be extended several times, as a small number of members — mainly independent conservatives — talked at length on dozens of amendments, almost all of which were voted down by large majorities. The bill’s opponents attempted to prolong the debate even further, which could have derailed the government’s plan to make abortion available in January.

Ultimately, the house approved the bill just before midnight Wednesday by a vote of 90 to 15, with 12 abstentions, and it moved on Thursday to the upper house. Ivana Bacik, a Labour Party lawmaker in the upper house, said she thought it very likely that the bill would pass and become law before the holiday recess the week after next.

The bill would allow a woman to seek abortion for any reason up to the 12th week of pregnancy, and later in a case of fatal fetal abnormality or serious risk to a woman’s life or health. It includes a mandatory three-day waiting period after first consulting a doctor.


5. Vatican investigates Chilean order after nuns report abuse.

By The Associated Press, December 7, 2018 8:50 AM

The Vatican has launched an investigation into a small Chilean religious order of nuns after some sisters denounced sexual abuse at the hands of priests and mistreatment by their superiors.

In the report, a half-dozen current and former nuns said sisters were thrown out of the order after they denounced the abuse to their superiors.


6. Dozens more California priests accused of child sex abuse.

By The Associated Press, December 6, 2018, 8:28 PM

Dozens more Catholic priests who served in Southern California have been accused of sexually abusing children, according to two reports issued Thursday.

Advocates for survivors of child sex abuse compiled a list of 72 priests they say served in the Diocese of Orange and have been accused of abuse. That’s many more than the 14 such clerics listed by the diocese in 2016.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles on Thursday updated its tally of accused priests for the first time in a decade, adding 54 more for a total of 323 clerics accused in such incidents.


7. Church names 29 men accused of misconduct in south Alabama.

By The Associated Press, December 6, 2018, 12:14 PM

Almost 30 priests, deacons and other men have been “credibly accused” of sexual misconduct in south Alabama dating back to 1950, the Roman Catholic Church said Thursday as it released their names.

Statements released along with a letter from Archbishop Thomas Rodi Jr. show that of 29 men suspected of wrongdoing, 17 are dead and 12 others are prohibited from ministry.

The names on the lists include those of priests, deacons and members of religious orders. Names of suspected abusers have been shared with state and local prosecutors, said Rodi’s letter, and no one credibly accused of misconduct is currently ministering in the region.


8. Pope revamps Vatican City State structures, laws to boost oversight.

By Carol Glatz and Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service, December 6, 2018, 12:05 PM

Pope Francis approved a new set of laws concerning the structure and governance of Vatican City State in an effort to simplify the many offices and activities of the world’s smallest nation and to boost oversight, transparency and budgetary controls.

The measures, issued “motu proprio,” on the pope’s own accord, were published Dec. 6.

In his letter, the pope said the reorganization was necessary to make it “suitable to current needs” while ensuring its mission to serve the pope and the specific aims of the departments and activities within Vatican City State.

He said the time was right to “proceed with a systematic legislative reform enlightened by the principles of rationalization, cost-effectiveness and simplification as well as pursuing the criteria of functionality, transparency, regulatory consistency and organizational flexibility.”