1. Pope Apologizes to Abuse Victims, but Then Again Doubts Claims.

By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, January 23, 2018, Pg. A4

On his flight back to Rome, Francis issued a rare apology for what he called a “slap in the face” to victims. He was referring to the crisis he had created in Chile when he said that he had seen no “proof” that a bishop covered up abuse.

“Here I have to apologize because the word ‘proof’ hurt them,” he said on the plane. “It hurt a lot of abused people.” He added: “I know how much they suffer. And to hear that the pope told them to their face that they need to bring a letter with proof?”

On one side are those who believe a policy of “zero tolerance” and accountability remain vital for the church’s credibility and the protection of minors. On the other are those who feel that the church has already done enough on the issue, and that the problem is behind them and has become a cudgel used by enemies of the church.


2. Why the Pro-Life Movement Will Live Long, and Prosper.

By Mary Eberstadt, First Things, January 23, 2018

We’re asked today to reflect on the future of the pro-life movement in an increasingly secular age. A few years ago, I wrote a book called How the West Really Lost God, about the phenomenon called “secularization” and the various hypotheses about its roots. The book advanced the theory that, contrary to conventional accounts, the weakening of Christianity is due above all to the fact of the sexual revolution, and its catastrophic impact on the essential transmission belt for religion itself: the family. 

To sort through the empirical evidence, as happened in the course of my writing the book, is to find many reasons for concern over secularization—including, for starters, the unhappy fact that the rise of “nones” will reduce charitable donations to good causes. As social scientist Arthur Brooks has documented, religious people give far more to all manner of do-gooding than do secular people. There’s also the steady rise in ideologically driven attacks, by legal and other means, on Christian schools, colleges, clubs, and charities, including and especially crisis pregnancy centers. And that’s just the beginning of the obstacles to come, as more and more Western individuals opt out of religious literacy and practice.


3. Francis’s defense of Barros may not satisfy victims, but it’s the right thing to do.

By Austen Ivereigh, Crux, January 22, 2018

Pope Francis’s defense of his actions over the Chilean Bishop Juan Barros on the flight from Lima will not be enough to satisfy victims there and their supporters elsewhere, but it is wholly consistent with everything he has said and done so far.

But that raises another question: Whether his stance – appointing and keeping in place a bishop accused of the cover-up of abuse – is consistent with a policy designed to prevent abuse and deal properly with failures to act against perpetrators.

Although it was packed with many important moments and addresses, the biggest news of Francis’s Jan. 15-18 visit to Chile, in both national and international media, turned on precisely these apparently self-contradicting messages on clerical sex abuse.

Not only did the visit fail to resolve that contradiction, but appeared to sharpen it on the final day after Francis described cover-up allegations against a Chilean bishop as a “calumny,” triggering a furious reaction from victims’ groups.


4. ‘Forgiveness science’ founder can’t prove it, but suspects a ‘Francis effect’.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, January 22, 2018

Scientific study of the world has been around for a while now, so it’s rare these days to meet the founder of an entirely new branch of science. That, however, is what you’ve got in full living color in the person of Robert Enright, a Catholic who teaches at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and who pioneered what’s today known as “forgiveness science.”

In essence, it’s a scientific attempt to answer two questions:

First, how does forgiveness actually work?

Second, what are the consequences of forgiving someone for the one who does the forgiving?
Enright has spent the last thirty-plus years developing hard, empirical answers, including a four-phase, twenty-step process to lead patients to forgive. He insists data prove it has positive effects, including tangible reductions in anxiety, anger and psychological depression, and gains in self-esteem and optimism about the future.

He sat down with Crux the day before the Santa Croce gathering to talk through the results of his work, including his impressions of Francis, the “Pope of Mercy,” and whether there’s a “Francis effect” in making the world a more forgiving place.


5. Full text of Pope Francis’ in-flight press conference from Peru.

Catholic News Agency, January 22, 2018, 10:57 AM

In a conversation with journalists on his return flight from Peru to Rome on Sunday, Pope Francis discussed the people of Peru and Chile, clerical sexual abuse, his recent in-flight marriage celebration, and the Amazon region, among other topics.

Here is CNA’s full transcript of the Pope’s in-flight press conference:

Greg Burke: Holy Father, thank you after a long and intense journey, at times warm, where you touched people’s hearts, the holy people faithful to God, with a message of peace and hope, but also faced the challenges of the Church in Chile, the Church in Peru and also the two societies, with a special intention for the human dignity of the indigenous peoples and for the Amazon. Thank you for the opportunity to follow it closely and now let’s try to delve a bit further into the themes of the trip.

Pope Francis: Good evening and thanks for your work. It was a trip… I don’t know how you say in Italian, but in Spanish you say “pasteurized,” as you do with milk. You don’t pass from cold to hot, from hot to cold. And we passed from the south of Chile, a fresh, beautiful landscape, to the desert, the forests of Maldonado, then to Trujillo, the sea, and then to Lima. All the temperatures and all the climes. And this is tiring. Thanks so much! Now, the questions.