1. Tex. dioceses identify accused priests.

By Associated Press, The Washington Post, February 1, 2019, Pg. A3

Catholic leaders in Texas on Thursday identified 286 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children, a number that represents one of the largest collections of names to be released since an explosive grand jury report last year in Pennsylvania. 

Fourteen dioceses in Texas named those credibly accused of abuse. The only diocese not to provide names, Fort Worth, did so more than a decade ago and then provided an updated accounting in October.

There are only a handful of states where every diocese has released names and most of them have only one or two Catholic districts. Arkansas, for instance, is covered by the Diocese of Little Rock, which in September provided a preliminary list of 12 former priests, deacons and others. Oklahoma has two districts: The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City is scheduled to publicly identify accused priests on Feb. 28 and the Diocese of Tulsa previously named two former priests accused of predatory behavior.

The head of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, also is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and is expected to attend a February summit called by Pope Francis to sensitize church leaders around the globe to the pain of victims, instruct them how to investigate cases and develop general protocols for church hierarchy to use.

DiNardo said in a statement Thursday that, “The Bishops of Texas have decided to release the names of these priests at this time because it is right and just and to offer healing and hope to those who have suffered. On behalf of all who have failed in this regard, I offer my sincerest apology.”


2. Abortion case provides an unexpected quick test for Supreme Court conservatives. 

By Robert Barnes, The Washington Post, February 1, 2019, Pg. A7

Abortion providers in Louisiana have asked the Supreme Court for an emergency stay of a state law they say would leave only one doctor eligible to perform the procedure, an unexpectedly quick test on the issue for the court’s strengthened conservative majority.

The Louisiana law — passed in 2014 but never allowed to go into effect — requires any physician providing abortion services to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the procedure.

Even Louisiana acknowledges that the requirement is virtually identical to a Texas law that the Supreme Court voted 5 to 3 to strike down in 2016. The court said the admitting privilege requirement, along with additional standards for clinics, “provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.”

But a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the Louisiana law in a 2-to-1 vote, finding factual distinctions between how the restriction played out in Texas and Louisiana. The full court, considered one of the most conservative of the regional appeals courts, voted not to reconsider that decision.

The case is June Medical Services v. Gee.


3. What to Do With Empty Churches. 

By Karl Zinsmeister, The Wall Street Journal, February 1, 2019, Pg. A13, Houses of Worship

Wander any large U.S. city and you’ll spot a serious mismatch. Majestic old houses of worship have only vestigial congregations. Without their endowments these cathedrals, chapels and synagogues couldn’t keep the lights on.

Meanwhile, those same cities have booming evangelical fellowships, traditional Catholic gatherings, Korean congregations, Spanish-language flocks and swelling numbers of Lubavitch Jews. These and other rising groups are too young to enjoy the inherited resources of shrunken assemblies. Instead they meet in auditoriums, theaters or strip malls. Some worship on Saturdays or at night, in sanctuaries rented from mainline churches.

Older houses of worship are often grand architectural, cultural and social assets for a city. Yet when a church becomes a burden on a dwindling fellowship, moldering deterioration and demolition often result. Other fading parishes sell once-beautiful churches to be remade into condos, restaurants, theaters, even bars. 

Once a church is lost, that neighborhood seldom regains a public space offering services like day care, schools and free or below-market space for local groups, arts events, Boy Scout troops and sports teams, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and more. The University of Pennsylvania’s Ram Cnaan has found large social and economic benefits from church operations. His 2016 study of older urban churches found that 89% of total visits to these institutions were to take part in something other than worship. Nearly 90% of beneficiaries weren’t church members.

Everyone gains from the humanitarian behaviors of religious people. Yet the proportion of adults who attend religious services weekly is now down to 36%, according to the Pew Research Center. Young people in particular are falling away. In 2016 nearly 4 out of 10 American adults under 30 said they have no religious affiliation. This will have serious societal consequences.

With assistance from philanthropic Americans, institutions of faith in pivotal cities can be helped to grow, improve and better serve residents. This would have immediate positive effects on surrounding areas. And it could help slow the tumble in religious participation that is now weakening community cohesion, generosity and other healthy behaviors. Believers and nonbelievers alike should find reason to keep urban churches in busy use.

Mr. Zinsmeister is an executive at the Philanthropy Roundtable and a former White House chief domestic policy adviser. This is adapted from the Winter 2019 issue of Philanthropy magazine.


4. Virginia’s ‘Governor Gosnell’ exposes pro-choice deception.

By Larry O’Connor, The Washington Times, February 1, 2019, Pg. A4

In one fateful radio interview, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has burned down four decades of political spin and media complacency on behalf of the pro-abortion movement in America. By accurately describing the abortion procedure he and his Democratic Party would make legal in his state, Mr. Northam unwittingly shed the light of truth on the big lie that the abortion debate boiled down to a woman’s right to choose.

“So in this particular example if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” Mr. Northam, a pediatricianturned- politician clinically told WTOP in Washington. “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

Well, there it is. The abortion debate is not a libertarian, civil rights discussion over a woman’s right to make medical decisions about her body. Nor has it ever been. Thank you, Mr. Northam. Now maybe we can have a real and honest debate about this critically important issue.

Most Americans are repulsed by the notion that a newborn infant delivered from her mother could be allowed to die on the delivery table if a doctor says it’s OK. Mass murderer Kermit Gosnell is spending the rest of his life in prison for doing exactly what Mr. Northam and his party advocates: Killing a just-delivered infant is a bridge too far even for those who oppose a ban on abortion.

Science supports the pro-life argument. The infant — whether delivered from her mother or still in the womb — has distinct DNA, different fingerprints, often even a different blood type from her mother.

To reduce the debate to a woman’s choice over what she can do with her body is inaccurate at best and baldfaced deception at worst. There are two bodies here, by any real definition. One cannot argue that an abortion does not have a negative impact on another human life. Unless one purposely ignores science for one’s own political agenda.


5. Voters are repulsed by no holds barred abortion legislation.

By Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie and Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, Opinion Contributors, The Hill Online, January 31, 2019, 4:20 PM
Grazie Pozo Christie M.D. is a policy advisor for The Catholic Association and Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is legal advisor for The Catholic Association Foundation.

Virginia, Rhode Island and Massachusetts legislators are all rushing to follow New York’s passage of the Reproductive Health Act by proposing similar bills — ones that would legalize abortion right up to birth. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) expressed his support of the Virginia abortion proposal and unpacked exactly what it would allow.

He said, “So in this particular example if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen, the infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

Although Northam called the withholding of medical assistance “comfort care”, it would be anything but comfortable for the infant. The child could be struggling for breath, turning blue and crying feebly as he or she dies. And though Northam deflected criticism by saying he was referring only to non-viable or severely deformed “fetuses” the fact that he is describing a born alive infant is clear — otherwise there would be no discussion of resuscitation.

The New York legislators who cheered as Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed the Reproductive Health Act may soon find themselves explaining why they’re letting babies die. So, could politicians in other states who are attempting to follow suit. They will certainly be asked why they felt it was proper to refuse to protect the rights of viable infants, as these bills all legalize abortion into the 40th week of pregnancy.

Legislators attempting to pass these radical abortion bills may also expect tough questions about why the proposed laws eliminate common sense regulations around the procedure which are in place to protect the mother’s health.

No one would think of going to a nurse practitioner for a tonsillectomy, but in New York an abortion can now be done by nurses and technicians without the benefit of a medical degree. This hands-off approach will only increase the risk of more abortionists operating like Kermit Gosnell did.


6. As Pope heads to Gulf States, issues from Islam to immigration loom.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, February 1, 2019

After more than 2,000 years it’s hard to believe there are many “firsts” left for the Catholic Church, but the first-ever pope from the global south will notch yet another one on Sunday, when he becomes the first pope in history to set foot in the Gulf States with a Feb. 3-5 visit to United Arab Emirates.

While Pope Francis is harvesting seeds planted by his predecessors, including the pontificate of Benedict XVI when diplomatic ties between the Holy See and UAE were formalized, the visit comes at a key moment when many believe Christianity is at risk of disappearing from the Middle East.

With no native bishops and only a handful of native Catholics, UAE is nevertheless home to close to a million immigrant faithful for whom 30 priests hailing from India, the Philippines, Lebanon, Switzerland, Italy, Brazil, the USA, Sudan, Tanzania, Korea, Kenya, Germany and France say Mass in nine churches. 

The first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula comes a year after his trip to Egypt and a month before his trip to Morocco, scheduled for March. All are key countries in the Muslim world, and in all three Christians benefit from relative freedom, even if such basic rights as liberty to convert or liberty of worship in public are far from a reality.


7. The tragedy of ‘gender-affirmative therapy’.

By Grazie Pozo Christie, Angelus News, January 31, 2019
Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie specializes in radiology in the Miami area and serves on the advisory board for The Catholic Association.

Long after the medical arts were (supposedly) made rigorous through application of the scientific method and a firm reliance on empiricism, doctors jumping on the latest therapeutic bandwagon continued to perform little-scrutinized and fashionable “remedies” that remedied nothing but caused significant harm to their patients. 

Today we feel a great pity for the hapless patients of the past, but the doctor who popularized lobotomies received the Nobel Prize and was widely hailed. It took many years and many tragedies for lobotomies to slowly fall out of favor. 

Currently, young patients who feel uncomfortable with their biological sex will receive “gender-affirmative therapy,” in which their understanding of themselves as being the opposite sex is supported, not challenged. 

These interventions are being done at increasingly younger ages, even to the point of blocking normal puberty of 11- and 12-year-olds so that characteristics like breasts and facial hair will not develop. Cross-sex hormones follow soon after, causing permanent alteration of bone structure and height, as well as lifelong infertility. 

The incidence of gender dysphoria in children is rising sharply, and early hormonal “affirming” interventions are generally the only therapy made available to parents. This is so even though its advocates have not proven that they are safe, prudent, or efficacious through scientific studies and empirical evidence.  

Instead, support is based on the subjective judgments of therapists and doctors. These are, in fact, experimental treatments, performed on patients who can’t consent, and in an unsystematic and haphazard manner.

We look back now and pity those who suffered in the past out of ignorance and obliviousness.  But it would be more useful to look around us today. Fashionable treatments are resulting in tragedies all around us, and their victims are children.    

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie specializes in radiology in the Miami area and serves on the advisory board for The Catholic Association.


8. Venezuela’s End Game: Pope and Bishops Take Different Paths.
By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, January 31, 2019

During a Jan. 28 inflight press conference on his return from World Youth Day in Panama, Pope Francis was asked to offer explicit support to Venezuelan protesters calling for their country’s embattled President Nicolás Maduro to step down.

But the Pope replied that taking sides in the escalating confrontation between the Maduro regime and its opponents “would be a pastoral imprudence” and do “damage.”

“I suffer for what is happening in Venezuela right now,” said Francis, who repeated his call for a “just and peaceful solution.”

The Holy Father’s language frustrated human-rights advocates and others who see a fresh opportunity for democratic change in Venezuela and want world leaders — the Pope included — to pressure Maduro to abandon his fight to retrain power.

“Francis is right to be very careful about what he says,” said Bradley Lewis, a political philosopher at The Catholic University of America.

The Vatican and the bishops in Venezuela “could well play a role in this, but they must proceed very carefully.”