1. Pope Acknowledges Nuns Were Abused by Priests.

By Nicolas Parasie in Dubai and Francis X. Rocca in Rome, The Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2019, Pg. A9

Pope Francis said that “priests and even bishops” had sexually abused nuns, acknowledging the issue for the first time in response to a reporter’s question.

“It’s true, it’s a problem,” the pope said Tuesday to reporters accompanying him on a flight back to Rome from the United Arab Emirates. “We’ve been working on this for some time.”

The pope’s comments came a few days after the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano published an article in its monthly women’s supplement referring to the sexual exploitation of nuns by clergy.

The article said that nuns sometimes feared retaliation if they reported sexual “bullying” by priests, and that some nuns had been compelled to have abortions or bear children unacknowledged by the priests who fathered them.

Pope Francis noted that his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI had “had the courage” to dissolve an order of nuns whose founder had reduced some of them to “sexual slavery,” an apparent reference to the French-based Community of St. Jean.

The pope ended a historic three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates—the first ever by a pontiff to the Arabian peninsula, the birthplace of Islam—by declaring friendship between Christians and Muslims to be vital to world peace.


2. Pope Confirms Abuse of Nuns By Clergymen.

By Jason Horowitz and Elizabeth Dias, The New York Times, February 6, 2019, Pg. A1

Pope Francis said on Tuesday that the Roman Catholic Church had faced a persistent problem of sexual abuse of nuns by priests and even bishops, the first time he has publicly acknowledged the issue.

Catholic nuns have accused clerics of sexual abuse in recent years in India, Africa, Latin America and in Italy, and a Vatican magazine last week mentioned nuns having abortions or giving birth to the children of priests. But Francis has never raised the issue until he was asked to comment during a news conference aboard the papal plane returning to Rome from his trip to the United Arab Emirates.

“It’s true,” Francis said. “There are priests and bishops who have done that.”

In November, the organization representing the world’s Catholic women’s religious orders, the International Union of Superiors General, publicly denounced the “culture of silence and secrecy” that contributed to abuse, and urged nuns to report abuse to law enforcement.

Francis recalled that his predecessor, Benedict XVI, had been “a strong man” who he said had sought to remove priests who committed sexual abuse and even “sexual slavery.”

The next major event on the pope’s schedule is a meeting with presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences at the end of February in Rome to focus on a response to the global sex abuse crisis that is threatening the pope’s legacy and the moral capital that is the currency of his pontificate.


3. Francis confirms clergy abuse of nuns.

By Max J. Rosenthal and Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, February 6, 2019, Pg. A14

Pope Francis has acknowledged that members of the Catholic clergy abused nuns, adding to a string of recent allegations about widespread sexual abuse by priests and coverups by the church hierarchy.

“It’s not that everyone does this, but there have been priests and bishops who have,” Francis told reporters aboard the papal plane on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. The wire service and other outlets had reported on allegations of nun abuse over the past year, but the pontiff had not previously confirmed that such abuse took place.

Francis is due to host a gathering of bishops and cardinals in two weeks to address the broader global issue of clergy sexual abuse – including, largely for the first time, of adult victims and accountability for those at the top of the church who mismanage and cover it up.


4. Vatican clarifies pope on issue of ‘sexual slavery’ of nuns. 

By The Associated Press, February 6, 2019, 7:28 AM

The Vatican on Wednesday clarified comments by Pope Francis about a case of what he called “sexual slavery” within a French congregation of nuns, saying he was referring to an abuse of power that was reflected in instances of sexual abuse.

Francis cited the case when responding to a question about the sexual abuse of nuns by clergy during a press conference Tuesday returning home from the United Arab Emirates. It was the pope’s first-ever public acknowledgment of the problem of priests and bishops sexually abusing nuns. He stressed that the Vatican had been confronting the issue for some time and vowed to do more.

Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said Wednesday Francis “spoke of ‘sexual slavery’ to mean ‘manipulation’ or a type of abuse of power that is reflected in a sexual abuse.”


5. The Moral Depravity of Andrew Cuomo & Friends. 

By George Weigel, First Things, February 6, 2019

Writing recently on women seeking the presidency and the “likability” factor in our politics, Peggy Noonan made a tart observation: “There are a lot of male candidates with likability problems. Some, such as Andrew Cuomo, a three-term governor of a large state, are so unlikable they aren’t even mentioned as contenders.”

Without contesting Miss Noonan’s point, I’d like to offer an addendum: Andrew Cuomo is too morally depraved to be the President of the United States—or the governor of New York, for that matter.

Of all the obscenities surrounding Governor Cuomo’s January 22 signing of a bill whose title (“The Reproductive Health Act”) would make George Orwell gag, the most cringe-inducing was the signing ceremony itself. You can watch it on YouTube, if you’ve the stomach for it. The ceremony is replete with the self-congratulatory political blather to which many of us have become inured. What is truly sickening is the unholy glee with which Cuomo signed this sordid bill—a demonic mirth shared by the other miscreants on the platform with him. 

Just what are these people celebrating? 

The New York RHA declares abortion on demand, at any moment in a pregnancy, up to birth, a fundamental right. A healthy infant born in New York State today could have been legally killed yesterday, according to the RHA. And the killing would not be pretty. For third-trimester abortions involve either poisoning the unborn child or collapsing its skull by the grotesque procedure known as “dilation and extraction”; the mother then gives “birth” to a dead baby who’s been executed in a manner that would revolt anyone with an iota of feeling, were similar violence perpetrated on a dog or cat. 

Moral depravity stalks the land. Calling it such is deemed “extremist” by United States senators. We all have work to do. And we all must summon the courage to do it. 


6. If religious freedom’s a process, why not name the elephant in the room? 

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, February 6, 2019

One way to measure the real nature of struggles over religious freedom in the Islamic world is by the kind of person who would show up in the United Arab Emirates over the last three days, joining Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Egypt for a massive interreligious paean to peace, love and tolerance.

There were more than 700 religious leaders on hand, and Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, a well-known Muslim cleric from Pakistan, is a good example of the kind of crowd the event drew.

All that is encouraging, offering a classic example of the “other face” of Islam.

Yet even such an enlightened cleric as Ashrafi defended his nation’s notorious blasphemy laws, which envisions death sentences for perceived outrages against religious figures, texts and beliefs – and what’s most telling is why.

“Because of the blasphemy laws, thousands of people have been saved,” Ashrafi insisted. “If the law weren’t there, I tell you, it’s possible that I speak blasphemy you’ll kill me, or if you do it I’ll kill you.”


7. State AGs double down on objections to Church’s handling of sex abuse. 

By Christopher White, Crux, February 6, 2019

Two state attorneys general that have issued reports on the Catholic Church’s handling of clerical sexual abuse cases doubled-down on Monday, defending their efforts and saying the Church cannot be responsible for policing itself.

Former Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Josh Shapiro, Attorney General of Pennsylvania, took part in a panel discussion at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, where Madigan said the Church “failed to react properly, they haven’t put in place the policies, they haven’t put in place procedures, they haven’t admitted what has happened,” when it came to its handling of clerical abuse.

In December, Madigan released a report saying that the state’s six dioceses had not released the names of more than 500 priests accused of abuse. The report was a preliminary look into Illinois’ handling of sex abuse cases that is now being carried on by her successor, Kwame Raoul.


8. States ask US Supreme Court to hear Alabama abortion case. 

By The Associated Press, February 5, 2019, 12:39 PM

Twenty-one states are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to let Alabama ban a commonly used second trimester abortion procedure.

The states filed a brief with the high court Monday asking justices to review the constitutionality of the Alabama law that was blocked by lower courts. Justices haven’t said if they’ll hear the case.

The 2016 law banned the procedure known as dilation and evacuation abortions, in which the fetus is removed in pieces with forceps. State politicians used the nonmedical term “dismemberment abortion” to describe the procedure.

A federal judge ruled the procedure ban was an unconstitutional restriction on abortion access. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision.


9. The New Supreme Court May Be on the Verge of Its First Important Abortion Ruling. 

By David French, National Review Online, February 5, 2019, 3:18 PM

A boring, low-stress Supreme Court term just got substantially more interesting. Within two short days, we may learn a great deal about Justice Kavanaugh’s approach to abortion rights and about the willingness of the Court to roll back recent, abortion-friendly jurisprudence.

Here’s what happened. Last fall, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuitunexpectedly upheld Louisiana’s so-called “admitting privileges” law. The state requires that doctors performing abortions “[h]ave active admitting privileges at a hospital that is located not further than thirty miles from the location at which the abortion is performed or induced and that provides obstetrical or gynecological health care services.”

I say “unexpectedly” because abortion-rights advocates believed that the Louisiana law was clearly invalid under Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a 5–3 2016 decision where Justice Kennedy joined with the court’s four progressive justices (the decision came after Justice Scalia’s death) to strike down a Texas statute that also required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals located within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. The majority ruled that the admitting-privileges requirement imposed an “undue burden on a woman’s right to choose.” Under the facts of the case, the Court found that the law placed a “substantial obstacle” in front of women seeking an abortion while finding “no significant health-related problem for the new law to cure.”

In other words, don’t look for Roe v. Wade or Planned Parenthood v. Casey to fall on Thursday. But that doesn’t mean that the Court’s order won’t be significant. Every Supreme Court order regarding abortion is worth watching, and some potential rulings would be considerably more significant than others. So let’s break down the possibilities.