1. Wuerl knew of McCarrick abuse allegations, according to Catholic offcials, A Pittsburgh Diocese file says he took the accusation to the Vatican.

By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, January 11, 2019, Pg. B1

Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl knew of sexual misconduct allegations against ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick and reported them to the Vatican in 2004, church officials confirmed Thursday evening, despite portraying himself since last summer as unaware of any complaints surrounding McCarrick.

Robert Ciolek, a former priest who reached a settlement with the church in 2005 after accusing clerics including McCarrick, told The Post he recently learned that the Pittsburgh Diocese has a file that shows that Wuerl was aware of his allegations against McCarrick. The file includes documentation that Wuerl, who was bishop of Pittsburgh at the time, shared the information with then-Vatican ambassador Gabriel Montalvo.

The content of the document, which Ciolek told The Post he saw in December, clashes sharply with Wuerl’s public statements about McCarrick since the older cleric was suspended in June due to a complaint that he groped an altar boy decades ago.


2. Priest faced no limit on ministry, Chicago Archdiocese disputes Opus Dei’s claims on McCloskey.

By Julie Zauzmer and Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, January 11, 2019, Pg. B3

On Wednesday night, two days after Opus Dei publicly acknowledged the huge settlement for the first time, the Archdiocese of Chicago said that at least on paper, McCloskey was in fact allowed to minister with no restrictions for years afterward.

The archdiocese disputed some of the account provided by Opus Dei this week about how the conservative Catholic community handled McCloskey, and provided a 2005 letter from an Opus Dei leader that shows the leader vouched for McCloskey even though he knew about the settlement.

What emerges, from conflicting accounts, is a picture of Catholic leadership in both the archdiocese and Opus Dei who told the woman they would restrict McCloskey’s actions — and then left a paper trail describing him as having an unblemished record.


3. Is Sisi Good for Egypt’s Christians?

By Marlo Safi, The Wall Street Journal, January 11, 2019, Pg. A13, Houses of Worship

On Thursday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the recently opened Coptic Cathedral of the Nativity, not far from Cairo. “It is a very special thing to have this in the heart of the Middle East, this enormous cathedral where people can come worship in Egypt,” he told the press. “It’s a land of religious freedom and opportunity. It’s remarkable.” But many Coptic Christians feel the new house of worship means little given the persecution they face.

Copts make up only about 10% of the Muslim-majority country. But they trace their church back to the visit of the Apostle Mark, the first pope of Alexandria, to Egypt in the year 50. These Christians have faced tough times for nearly 2,000 years, but their recent history is especially disheartening.

On Jan. 1, 2011, Islamists bombed a Coptic church in Alexandria, killing 23 and injuring 97. Nermien Riad, executive director of the nonprofit Coptic Orphans, tells me the attack was a catalyst. She says the bombing, which inspired countless Copts to take to the streets, was one of many factors that sparked the larger protests against Egypt’s government that year. Dictator Hosni Mubarak was overthrown, but the persecution of Copts has grown worse.

Egyptians have rioted and protested against approved churches. In 2016, after Copts in the village of Manshiet El-Naghamish applied to build a church, locals organized and attacked the Christians. Egyptians looted and burned Coptic properties and assaulted Copts. This was only one attack in a string of many, which are often incited before a church is even built.

By all means, the U.S. should celebrate progress on religious freedom wherever it occurs. A new cathedral is nice. Yet it doesn’t mean much when the people who worship there are treated as inferior as soon as they step outside its doors.


4. New York to expand state abortion law, ‘Health of mother’ exception added.

By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, January 11, 2019, Pg. A6

New York state is on the precipice of enacting one of the more liberal abortion laws in the country, one that would allow certain late-term procedures and erase the practice from the penal code.

The Reproductive Health Act appears to be on the fast track for approval in the Democrat-controlled state Senate, which in recent history has been a pro-life bulwark against the more liberal state Assembly.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to be sign it into law on Jan. 22, the 45th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

“Republicans said, ‘You don’t need a state law codifying Roe v. Wade. No administration would ever roll back Roe v. Wade.’ So help me God, this was the conversation, you remember,” Mr. Cuomo said Monday, flanked by Democratic figures, including former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.


5. Pope to visit Romania in spring during busy 2019 travel.

By The Associated Press, January 11, 2019, 5:38 AM

Pope Francis is adding another trip to his busy 2019 travel schedule with a three-day visit to Romania May 31-June 2.

The Vatican press office announced Friday Francis would visit the capital, Bucharest, Iasi in northeastern Romania known for its Orthodox churches and monasteries, and Blaj, the seat of the Catholic Church. Also on the itinerary is a visit to the Marian shrine at Sumuleu Ciuc.

The last time a pope visited Romania was St. John Paul II in 1999, the first papal visit to an Orthodox country since the 1054 Great Schism. Already, Francis has trips planned to Panama, United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Bulgaria and Macedonia in the first half of the year. In the second half he is rumored to be considering trips to Madagascar and Japan.


6. Pope Francis builds on odd-couple match between the Vatican and the UN. 

By Elise Harris, Crux, January 11, 2019

When Pope Francis delivered an impassioned plea for multilateralism in his annual speech to diplomats on Jan. 7, it was also a clear, if indirect, appeal for respect and participation in the United Nations, which is the planet’s leading forum for multilateral diplomacy.

The speech marked the latest chapter of the odd-couple relationship between the Vatican and the UN, alternating between strong basic support and occasionally titanic battles.

Francis himself captures that dynamic in miniature. The Argentine pontiff has often criticized what he calls an “ideological colonization” on the part of some UN bodies pushing the use of contraception or gender ideology. Yet his frequent engagement with the UN on key issues such as migration and climate change is also an example of Francis’s keen interest in building bridges, seeing the UN as both a partner and a platform for that effort.

The Catholic Church was global long before anyone thought to coin the term “globalization,” and has always seen national differences relative and subordinate to the common good and a shared humanity.

Given the global platform offered by the UN, it’s understandable why popes have consistently engaged with it as a tool to get their message across to a worldwide audience and to put their agenda on the international radar.

And if Francis’s tenure is any indication, the match, however troubled at times, isn’t likely to end anytime soon.


7. Pope Francis’ Letter to the U.S. Bishops.

By Fr. Roger J. Landry, The Anchor, January 11, 2019
Fr. Roger J. Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts and the National Chaplain of Catholic Voices USA.

On January 1, Pope Francis wrote an extraordinary eight-page letter to the bishops of the United States as they were preparing to convene at Mundelein Seminary north of Chicago for a retreat with the preacher to the papal household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa. The retreat was suggested by Pope Francis to the leaders of the U.S. Bishops Conference when they met with him in Rome in September about steps to respond to the sexual abuse crisis plaguing the Church in our country.

The pope revealed at the beginning of the missive that his original intention was to accompany the bishops “personally” for several days of the retreat, but that, for logistical reasons, he was unable to fulfill that desire. Instead, he wrote the letter “to make up for that journey that could not take place” and in order to be “one with you during these days of spiritual retreat.” Both the original desire and the length of the letter show that what is happening in the U.S. is not peripheral to the Holy Father’s concerns, but something he considers a priority.

In the letter, he shared some of his own prayerful discernment as to the nature of the crisis and about the proper way to remedy it, hoping that the bishops would bring it to their prayer during retreat. For someone who has routinely and humbly declared, both before and after his election, that his “first discernment” is often erroneous, the letter was surely not meant to end conversation but to begin and nourish it. This is a prayerful conversation — with the Lord and with other members of the Church — that every American Catholic and all those interested in the reform of the Church should similarly enter.


8. Wuerl knew McCarrick abuse allegations in 2004.

By Ed Condon and JD Flynn, Catholic News Agency, January 10, 2019, 05:13 PM

An allegation of misconduct against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick was reported to Cardinal Donald Wuerl in 2004, despite Wuerl’s insistence he knew nothing about McCarrick’s alleged sexual misconduct until 2018.

Wuerl forwarded the report to the apostolic nuncio in Washington, DC, the Diocese of Pittsburgh said Thursday.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington confirmed to CNA that an allegation against McCarrick was presented to Wuerl while he served as Bishop of Pittsburgh, as part of a complaint made by laicized priest Robert Ciolek.

In a statement, the Diocese of Pittsburgh said Jan. 10 that laicized priest Robert Ciolek appeared in November 2004 before its diocesan review board to discuss an allegation of abuse Ciolek had made against a Pittsburgh priest.

During that meeting, “Mr. Ciolek also spoke of his abuse by then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. This was the first time the Diocese of Pittsburgh learned of this allegation,” the statement said.


9. Catholics Will ‘Play Defense’ on Pro-Life, Religious-Freedom Issues in New Congress.

By Lauretta Brown, National Catholic Register, January 10, 2019

Many Catholic groups expressed concern about the extreme pro-abortion shift that the Democratic majority in the House has demonstrated so early on in their leadership.

Maureen Ferguson, senior policy adviser for the Catholic Association, told the Register that the inclusion of abortion language in the funding bill is a “pretty strong signal” from the Democratic House of where their priorities lie.

She warned that this was “just the beginning,” anticipating continued attacks on appropriations riders that prevent taxpayer funds from being used for abortion.

“They’re making this one of their conditions to reopen the government, which is a pretty extreme position to say, ‘We’re going to force funding, U.S. taxpayer dollars, to promote abortion overseas as part of our foreign policy,’” she said.

Ferguson pointed out that the Trump administration cited the attempted expansion of abortion funding in their statement, promising to veto the Democrats’ funding bill last week, and she predicted that the administration will stand firm on the issue along with the pro-life leadership in the Senate.

However, she emphasized that “because these funding bills originate in the House and the pro-life majority is pretty slim in the Senate, we’re still on defense.”

Ferguson called the scrutiny of the Knights of Columbus “outrageous.” She pointed out that the senators’ line of questioning clearly centered on the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion and support of traditional marriage.

“It really shows how captive they are to the ideological left, and it’s just because it’s a Catholic organization; and as such, they support Catholic teaching on life and marriage,” she said.

“This is a charitable organization with 2 million members. They gave $185 million to charity last year, donated millions and millions of hours of service — philanthropic service,” she said.

Ferguson added that for people of faith, the “best hope to protect our religious liberties are all of these judicial nominees that the president is nominating and that the Senate is confirming.”

“What’s just incredibly important is having constitutionalist judges who recognize our basic, First Amendment freedoms,” she said, praising Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for “brilliantly navigating” the judicial nominees thus far through “a closely divided Senate.”