1. Member of Pope’s anti-abuse panel insists, ‘The Church is not failing’. 

By John L. Allen Jr. and Ines San Martin, Crux, February 23, 2018

After a former member of Pope Francis’s key advisory body on the fight against sexual abuse charged that letters from victims are not answered, a new member of the same panel and a former staffer responded that it’s “meticulous in responding to all correspondence from victims.”

French child psychiatrist Catherine Bonnet made the charge in an interview with French news outlet L’Express, in which she suggested that Pope Francis needs to make the anti-abuse effort “a priority now.”

A failure to respond to victims’ correspondence was also a key element in Bonnet’s indictment.

“When [abuse victims] send letters, we do not answer them! Marie Collins found this point particularly unbearable,” Bonnet said, adding that in her 35 years of experience working in this field, the testimonies of survivors are essential.

Teresa Kettelkamp, who was hired by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in January 2016 to assist in its Rome office in the development of anti-abuse guidelines around the world, says that in terms of responding to victims, while not commenting on the practice in other Vatican departments, responding to victims is actually a high priority for the commission.

“The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors is meticulous in responding to all correspondence from victims,” she said. “In fact, [projects manager and media coordinator] Emer [McCarthy] worked tirelessly with [former commission member] Marie Collins to develop a strong correspondence protocol, which was followed.”


2. Billy Graham, the Ecumenical Evangelist: He had an ability to reach across denominational lines and ‘speak to the common believing heart.’

By Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2018, 7:04 PM

This is what Billy Graham looked like: “His remarkably tall blond hair fluttered on the summit of a remarkably tall head, which in turn topped a remarkably tall body. He had a direct gaze” and “a southern sway in his voice.” 

This is what he hid: He was wearing out. 

We talk about the “friend of presidents” who “moved among the powerful,” but he was a man who wanted to help you save your soul whoever you were, in whatever circumstance. And there would have been millions.

Here I want to say: I think there was something different and special going on between Catholics and Billy Graham. They saw, as Louis Zamperini, raised Catholic, saw, his earnestness, his confidence in his message. They saw him swimming against the modern tide, as they often felt they were. And maybe they looked and imagined the cost.

I asked the archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, if he saw this also. He emailed back: “When I was growing up, back in the 1950s, relations between Catholics and Protestants were still wary.” But Catholic families “felt that Billy Graham was the Protestant preacher they could feel a real kinship with. He had the ability to reach across all the fractures in Christianity and speak to the common believing heart.” Archbishop Chaput compared him to C.S. Lewis. “In a sense, he spoke the same kind of ‘mere’ Christianity that Lewis did so well, but with an American accent.”

As the big thing to be desired now is that we hold together as a nation and not split apart, Graham’s ecumenical force should be noted among his achievements.


3. German Bishops Allow Holy Communion for Protestant Spouses in ‘Some Cases’: Cardinal Reinhard Marx says a new ‘guide’ allowing some Protestant spouses to receive Holy Communion under certain circumstances is a ‘positive step;’ some theologians have strongly warned against such a move. 

By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, February 22, 2018

German bishops have voted “overwhelmingly” in favour of producing a “guide” for Protestant spouses on reception of Holy Communion under certain conditions.

At their spring conference in Ingolstadt, the German bishops’ conference agreed that a Protestant partner of a Catholic can receive the Eucharist after having made a “serious examination” of conscience with a priest or another person with pastoral responsibilities, “affirms the faith of the Catholic Church,” wishes to end “serious spiritual distress,” and has a “longing to satisfy a hunger for the Eucharist.” 

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference, said Thursday that such a guide was a “positive step.” He said there had been an “intense debate” during which “serious concerns” had been raised, according to Katholisch.de, the website of the German bishops’ conference.

He added the bishops were not giving general approval but that the guide pertained to individual decisions. He said the bishops wanted to continue with this issue “in a high profile way,” but that the guide would merely be a “pastoral handout” and that “we don’t want to change any doctrine.”

Cardinal Marx rejected the idea that such a step would amount to a path that would call Protestants to conversion, otherwise known as an “ecumenism of return or conversion.” In other words, he stressed that the document does not mention that Protestants may receive Holy Communion only if they convert. He also said much would be left to the discretion of the local bishop, and consequences he might draw from the guide. He said only the bishop himself may establish new laws in this area.


4. Former papal adviser says Francis needs to make sex abuse a priority.

By Claire Giangravè, Crux, February 22, 2018

A former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has charged that Pope Francis is not making the fight against sexual abuse a priority, and expressed her frustration with the procedures and limitations of the group, which she said led her to hand in her resignation last year.

The commission is an advisory body to the pope on the issue of safeguarding minors and vulnerable adults from sexual abuse. Its first three-year mandate concluded in December 2017, and appointments of new members, along with the confirmation of some previous members, came earlier this month.

French child psychiatrist Catherine Bonnet said she tendered her resignation letter in June to Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, a member of the C9 group that advises the pope and the president of the commission, after she failed to convince the majority of its members to enact changes she perceived as necessary.


5. Pope to young people: Take the World Youth Day challenge. 

By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, February 22, 2018

It’s time to break free from fear, fake online personas and looking at the world through a digital screen display, Pope Francis told young people.

“Do not allow the spark of youth to be extinguished in the darkness of a closed room in which the only window to the outside world is a computer and smartphone,” the pope told young people in his annual message for local celebrations of World Youth Day.

“Open wide the doors of your life! May your time and space be filled with meaningful relationships, real people with whom to share your authentic and concrete experiences of daily life,” he said in the message, published Feb. 22 at the Vatican.

In preparation for the next international celebration of World Youth Day – which will be held in Panama Jan. 22-27, 2019 – many dioceses will have their own celebrations Palm Sunday, March 25.

The Catholic Church’s annual gathering of World Youth Day “is for the courageous! Not for young people who are searching only for comfort and who withdraw whenever difficulties arise,” the pope said. “Do you accept the challenge?”


6. Change your heart, change your abortion votes, Bishop Paprocki tells Sen Durbin.

By Catholic News Agency, February 22, 2018, 2:42 PM

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois has reiterated that U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin should not receive Holy Communion due to the Catholic lawmaker’s support for abortion, including a recent procedural vote against a bill that would bar abortion after 20 weeks into pregnancy.

“Sen. Durbin was once pro-life. I sincerely pray that he will repent and return to being pro-life,” Bishop Paprocki said Thursday. “Because his voting record in support of abortion over many years constitutes ‘obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin,’ the determination continues that Sen. Durbin is not to be admitted to Holy Communion until he repents of this sin. This provision is intended not to punish, but to bring about a change of heart.”

Paprocki’s statement cited the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities chairman Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who said it was “appalling” that the Senate failed to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act.

Durbin was one of the 14 self-identified Catholic senators who on Jan. 29 voted against cloture for the bill, which was needed to prevent a filibuster.


7. Chaput: Increased government due to collapse of civil society in America. 

By Christopher White, Crux, February 22, 2018

Archbishop Charles Chaput offered a critical assessment of the increased role of government in response to the collapse of civil society during a speech at Villanova University on Thursday. The archbishop of Philadelphia said that he believes the United States of America is more divided and conflicted at present than at any other moment since the 1960s.

Chaput’s remarks on “Things to Come: Faith, State and Society in a New World,” were delivered during the inaugural Religion and Public Life Lecture for the Matthew J. Ryan Center and served as a wide-ranging probe of modern American life.

“There’s no healing without a good diagnosis,” said Chaput. “If we claim that we need the Church as a source of healing and hope, then we need to show what our culture’s illness is, and why.”

Chaput praised capitalism for improving standards of living and lifting millions out of poverty, but warned that a consumer market economy “tends to commodify everything and recast all relationships as transactional.”

He went on to note that in recent decades civil society has fractured and that consequently, “more government will intrude to keep order and fill in the cracks.”

He went on to cite data showing the rise in Americans who identify as an atheist or agnostic and said “the Obama presidency embodied the same, more secular spirit,” evidenced by what he described as a lack of respect for religious liberty.

In a nod to recent internal ecclesial debates over whether there can be paradigm shifts within the Church – a phrase that has been hotly contested after Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, described Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s 2016 apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family, as a paradigm shift in the Church’s understanding of family life – Chaput said no.

“There are no new paradigms; no new hermeneutical principles; no revolutions in thought; and no possible concordats with the world and its alibis, that can the erase the radicalism and liberating beauty of Christian anthropology,” he maintained.