1. Lies in America, silence from the Vatican, Mr. Wuerl knew about Mr. McCarrick.

The Washington Post, January 14, 2019, Editorial, Pg. A12

When allegations came to light last year of sexual abuse and inappropriate conduct involving children and seminarians by Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who succeeded Mr. McCarrick as leader of the Washington archdiocese, expressed shock and denied prior knowledge. Now it turns out Mr. Wuerl was presented in 2004 with an account of Mr. McCarrick’s alleged misconduct, which he relayed to the Vatican. Then: nothing.

Pope Francis himself has displayed a gaping blind spot on the issue of clergy sex abuse, at times condemning it and taking resolute action, at other times directing contempt and lip service at victims. He has convened a meeting of top bishops in Rome next month. Actions and policies, not ringing declarations, will be the measure of the church’s success in grappling with a scandal that has shamed it.


2. Judge blocks Trump birth control coverage rules in 13 states.

By Sudhin Thanawala, The Associated Press, January 14, 2019, 3:43 AM

A U.S. judge in California on Sunday blocked Trump administration rules, which would allow more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control, from taking effect in 13 states and Washington, D.C.

The changes would allow more employers, including publicly traded companies, to opt out of providing no-cost contraceptive coverage to women by claiming religious objections. Some private employers could also object on moral grounds.

The ruling affects California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.


3. Legacy of ‘Our Pope’ Forms One More Battle Line in a Divided Poland.

By Marc Santora, The New York Times, January 13, 2019, Pg. A9

In a nation increasingly divided, one figure can still inspire solidarity among Poles: The man born Karol Jozef Wojtyla, who, in 1978, became John Paul II, the first non-Italian pontiff in 455 years.

The nation’s favorite son, he still looms large in Polish life more than 40 years after he was named Bishop of Rome.

From a towering 45-foot-tall statue depicting the pope with outstretched hands that overlooks the city of Czestochowa, to the relics distributed to churches throughout the country — including drops of his blood in more than 100 parishes — Poland is awash in tributes to the man commonly referred to as “Our Pope.”

But at a moment when the country finds itself torn by political conflicts that are cast by all sides as an existential battle for the nation’s soul, the legacy of John Paul II — a champion for both Poland and an integrated Europe — is the subject of dispute.

“For everyone, he remains a positive point of reference,” said Michal Luczewski, the program director for the Center on the Thought of John Paul II in Warsaw. “But there is a struggle over his legacy, with each side wanting to claim him as their own.”

For those on the political right, the pope is an inspiration in their battle against an increasingly secular Europe, Mr. Luczewski said.

But on the other side, Poles who believe the Law and Justice party is doing great damage to the nation’s democratic institutions — including undermining the judiciary system and controlling the state news media — find forceful rebukes to the creeping authoritarianism in the life and teachings of John Paul II.


4. Pope to parents: It’s OK to fight, just not in front of kids.

By The Associated Press, January 13, 2019, 4:53 AM

Pope Francis is offering new parents a bit of advice, telling them it’s perfectly normal to fight but just not in front of their children because of the “anguish” it causes.

Francis asked permission Sunday to give his counsel during a ceremony to baptize 27 newborns, an annual tradition that fills the frescoed Sistine Chapel with newborns, their parents and godparents.

Amid coos and wails, Francis told parents that they had taken on an important new job of transmitting the faith to their children — a job he said begins at home.

Francis then offered some off-the-cuff advice.

He says “it’s normal for spouses to fight … it’d be strange if they didn’t. Do it, but so that the children don’t hear it or see it.”


5. The deep meaning of Rome’s ‘Three Coins in the Fountain’ contretemps.

by John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, January 13, 2019

Anyone who’s ever been to Rome on holiday – for that matter, anyone who’s ever seen movies such as “Three Coins in the Fountain” – knows what you’re supposed to do at the city’s famed Trevi Fountain. You toss in a coin and make a wish, hoping that good fortune will be yours.

Last year, roughly $1.7 million worth of coins was tossed into the fountain. What people performing that traditional act may not have known is that since 2001, the proceeds have gone to fund the Catholic Church’s charitable activity in the city, through an arrangement among the city government, the power company ACEA that administers the fountain, and Caritas, the Church’s charitable arm.

Caritas uses the money for direct service to the city’s poor, including soup kitchens, temporary shelters and housing for impoverished families. The amount accounts for roughly 15 percent of Caritas’s annual charitable budget.

As of April 1, however, that will no longer be the case.

Rome’s current city government led by the left-wing populist “Five Star” movement under Mayor Virginia Raggi has decided to take back the funds, using them to pay ACEA’s bill to maintain the fountain as well as “social projects” and “routine maintenance of cultural patrimony.”

the loss of popular support means that even in traditionally stalwart Catholic nations such as Italy, the Church will be increasingly unable to count on public financing for its activities. It will have to learn to make do with fewer resources, with a greater share generated by voluntary private contributions.

In other words, it will have to rely to a greater degree on its rank-and-file membership – which perhaps suggests that attention to the concerns and grievances of that membership won’t just be a pastoral imperative going forward, but more and more a financial one as well.


6. Priest Gets to Up to 14 Years in Prison.

By Kris Maher, The Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2019, Pg. A5

A Pennsylvania judge sentenced a Catholic priest on Friday to between 2½ and 14 years in prison, after the cleric had pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two boys.

David Lee Poulson, 65 years old, was one of two priests to face criminal charges following a scathing statewide grand-jury report released in August. The report found that church officials covered up abuse by 300 priests of more than 1,000 victims in six dioceses over seven decades.

“Poulson weaponized his faith and used the tools of his priesthood to abuse children,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Friday at a news conference.

The Pennsylvania report has helped spur similar investigations in 14 other states, as well as a nationwide Justice Department probe of sexual abuse by clergymen. Mr. Shapiro said he believed Friday’s sentencing would send a broader message. “There is a reckoning going on in this country,” he said.


7. McCarrick accuser cooperates with NYC prosecutors on abuse. 

By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, January 12, 2019, 2:12 PM

The key accuser in the sex abuse case against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has met with New York City prosecutors, evidence that the scandal that has convulsed the papacy is now part of the broader U.S. law enforcement investigation into sex abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church.

James Grein gave testimony last month to Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Sara Sullivan, who is investigating a broad range of issues related to clergy abuse and the systematic cover-up by church superiors, Grein’s attorney, Patrick Noaker, told The Associated Press.

The development is significant, given that the Vatican investigation against McCarrick has already created a credibility crisis for the Catholic hierarchy including Pope Francis, since it was apparently an open secret that McCarrick slept with adult seminarians. Grein’s testimony, however, includes allegations that McCarrick, a former family friend, also groomed and abused him starting when he was 11.


8. Standing Strong for the Unborn: January 2019 Pro-Life Marches Around the Country, Major U.S. cities will host events this month.

By Jim Graves, National Catholic Register, January 12, 2019

Peaceful pro-life marches protesting the 46th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Jan. 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade decision striking down the nation’s anti-abortion laws will be held in major U.S. cities across the country — both begun by and largely populated by Catholic marchers.

The March for Life in Washington (MarchforLife.org) is the biggest and oldest of the marches, dating back to 1974. It was begun by the late Catholic convert Nellie Gray. The march will be held Jan. 18, with a noon rally on the National Mall, followed by a 1pm march up Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court Building. Featured speakers include Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee who has since become pro-life and converted to Catholicism, and political pundit Ben Shapiro, who is an Orthodox Jew.

There will be a variety of companion events before and after the march. At 3pm on Jan. 18, for example, there will be “Silent No More” testimonies on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court: Those adversely affected by abortion will share their experiences. The day before the march there will be a March for Life Conference and Expo at the Renaissance Washington D.C. Downtown Hotel, with featured speaker David Daleiden. Daleiden made the national news for his undercover videos of Planned Parenthood staff.

March organizers expect a turnout of 100,000 marchers or more. Katrina Gallic, a spokeswoman for the march, noted this year’s theme is “Unique From Day One: Pro-Life Is Pro Science” “because we want to emphasize that science indicates that life begins at conception. 


9. Charlotte Diocese Undecided About Naming Accused Priests. 

By The Associated Press, January 11, 2019

As dozens of Catholic dioceses across the country have released lists of priests who have been credibly accused of child sex abuse, the Charlotte diocese remains undecided about whether to join what its spokesman calls the “stampede.”

But North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein tells The Charlotte Observer the Charlotte diocese should follow the lead of others, for transparency’s sake. The Raleigh diocese published its list in October.

Charlotte diocese spokesman David Hains says publishing a list might further harm victims. David Clohessy with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called that claim “baloney.”

Stein doesn’t have the same powers as attorney generals in states like Pennsylvania where investigations of the Catholic Church are underway. He hopes to convince the legislature to broaden the investigative grand jury statute.


10. Poll: Faith in Clergy’s Honesty Drops Among US Catholics. 

By The Associated Press, January 11, 2019

Fewer than a third of U.S. Catholics rate the honesty and ethical standards of clergy as “very high” or “high,” the latest evidence of the hierarchy’s diminished credibility as a result of the clergy sex abuse scandal, according to a Gallup poll released Friday.

The record-low 31 percent honesty rating marked an 18-percentage-point drop from 2017, a large fall after years of steady decline that followed a new global explosion of the scandal and revelations of high-ranking cover-up.

Catholics aren’t alone in the crisis, however. The Gallup survey also found that while the Protestants’ 48 percent positive rating for clergy is higher than Catholics’, 2018 marked the first time that fewer than half of surveyed Protestants had high marks for clerical honesty.

The poll of 1,025 adults was conducted Dec. 3-12 and had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. For results based on the total sample of 210 Catholics, the margin was plus or minus eight percentage points.

Mass attendance has also been on a steady decline and hit a new low last year, with 36 percent of Catholics reporting they had attended Mass in the past week.

Nevertheless, Gallup found that a majority of Catholics still view religion as “very important” in their lives. And the survey noted that the percentage of Americans who self-identify as Catholic has remained stable, thanks in large part to the growing Hispanic population in the U.S.


11. Are Democrats Testing a Future Strategy against Amy Coney Barrett,

By Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review Online, January 11, 2019, 12:54 PM

One way to understand the Democratic opposition to the judicial nomination of Brian Buescher over his membership in the Catholic group the Knights of Columbus is as a test run in preventing their worst nightmare: the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Democratic senators Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) targeted Buescher during his confirmation hearing and in written questions late last year, suggesting that his Catholic beliefs would lead him to rule against abortion rights, as well as that his membership in the Knights could be enough to disqualify him from serving as a judge at all. Hirono went so far as to demand that he drop his membership and recuse himself from any case on which the organization has taken a position.

At the simplest level, this is rank bigotry against American Catholics. Buescher’s opponents have pointed to no “extremist” positions that the Knights of Columbus takes, other than positions that it takes precisely because those are the positions of the Catholic Church. Opposing Buescher on these grounds implies that every Catholic who adheres to the Church’s moral teaching should be held in intense suspicion and might even be unfit for public service, especially on U.S. courts.

This is a dangerous precedent, and one with implications that the Democrats may not like. Feinstein, Harris, and Hirono are proposing that if a judicial nominee belongs to a civil institution that holds differing views from our legal status quo, he or she is necessarily incapable of upholding the law. Such a standard would prevent members of any religious faith, not only Catholics, from serving as judges, as well as cast in suspicion members of political advocacy groups whose positions differ from established law or jurisprudence.

This standard is as incoherent as it is untenable. And, ultimately, it betrays the radical way that an increasing number of Democrats view the courts. They are concerned that a faithful Catholic will use his or her position as a judge to impose private preferences stemming from religion — and they don’t want any judge on the bench who holds different private preferences than their own — because they have ceased to view judges as neutral arbiters of the law and of the Constitution.