1. Catholics Against Columbus, In covering a mural, Notre Dame gives in to the far left’s assault on Western history.

By Alejandro Bermudez, The Wall Street Journal, January 25, 2019, Pg. A13, Houses of Worship

Father John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, announced Sunday that the school would cover a dozen murals depicting the life of Christopher Columbus. “The murals’ depiction of Columbus as beneficent explorer and friend of the native peoples hides from view the darker side of this story,” he asserted in a letter. While this decision may give the university a brief respite from its critics, it will never be enough. Columbus may be the momentary object of hatred, but the real target is the Catholic faith itself. 

What exactly is the dark side of the Columbus story? The facts do not add up to rash charges of genocide and murder made by his critics. If anything, they reveal a man who was not perfect but still ahead of his time.

The colonial experience was often traumatic and certainly had its faults. But as a Peruvian-American of color, I still believe there is much to celebrate in how the Americas have changed in the past 500 years. As a Catholic, I particularly value Columbus for bringing the first of many missionaries who showed millions of people the path to salvation.

Any reasonable analysis also must acknowledge that the indigenous world was not perfect either. Take one example.

Human sacrifice was not unusual in my home country, as in much of the Americas. In what is now Peru, children were sacrificed by the Incas in a practice known as Capacocha. Should any positive depictions of the Incas be covered up, in light of this heinous practice? Of course not. And those who hate Columbus and his legacy still must acknowledge that this indigenous practice vanished thanks to the advent of Christianity in our hemisphere.

The notion that indigenous life was perfect and Western culture is the locus of all evil is as absurd as white supremacy.

As Catholic universities across the U.S. have become more secular, many hoped that they would at least remain safe for Catholic ideas. But this incident raises a troubling question: If murals that portray Columbus bringing the faith to this hemisphere are not welcome at a Catholic university, what part of Catholic identity is?

Mr. Bermudez is executive director of ACI Prensa, a Spanish-language Catholic news service. 


2. In Panama, Pope Speaks Up for Migrants, Pope Francis takes up favored theme in trip to Central America, as caravans vex Trump.

By Santiago Pérez, José de Córdoba, and Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, January 25, 2019, Pg. A6

Pope Francis defended migrants at the start of his four-day trip to Central America on Thursday, taking up a fraught issue at the heart of the U.S. government shutdown as new caravans of thousands fleeing poverty and violence take form in the region. 

The pope’s visit to Panama, which began the day before, highlights the crucial role the church has played in aiding thousands in the region on their trek northward to the U.S. border. 


3. Catholics want New York’s Gov. Cuomo to be excommunicated for his abortion policy.

By JD Flynn, Washington Post Online, January 25, 2019, 7:00 AM

After New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law Tuesday one of the most expansive abortion rights bills in U.S. history, some prominent Catholics have urged Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York to declare Cuomo excommunicated.

It is clear that the governor’s work to pass New York’s Reproductive Health Act is at odds with the Catholic Church’s well-known opposition to abortion, rooted in the belief that the unborn child is a person deserving of protection.

Still, despite mounting pressure from Catholics, Dolan probably won’t excommunicate Cuomo (D).

It is not clear that Cuomo’s action, offensive as it is to Catholic teaching and sensibilities, fits the bill for excommunication. One excommunicable offense does deal with abortion, but it applies only if a Catholic is directly involved in an abortion. Some experts have argued that a long history of advocacy for abortion rights demonstrates Cuomo’s implicit heresy, another canonical crime for which he might be excommunicated. But the path to formally declaring Cuomo a heretic is complicated, and Dolan probably would not pursue it.

Catholics calling for Cuomo’s excommunication seem mostly to be looking for an affirmation from bishops that a Catholic in good standing cannot support or facilitate legal protections for abortion. Many want to see action, not just rhetoric, in response to New York’s new law, and Cuomo’s excommunication would seem like a step in that direction. And some hope Cuomo will be rebuked for his own sake, as a call to conversion — a reminder that from the Catholic perspective, the governor’s final judge won’t be Dolan or the pope, but God.

To respond to all those concerns, Dolan doesn’t need to use excommunication.

Instead, he can declare that Cuomo’s ongoing and open support for legalized abortion constitutes “obstinate perseverance” in grave sin and that, as a consequence, Cuomo cannot receive Communion in the Archdiocese of New York, where he lives. Bishops have made similar moves before, albeit rarely, and the Vatican has encouraged bishops to make such declarations.

Though Pope Francis is often perceived as a social liberal, he has not altered the church’s course on opposition to abortion. During his 2015 address to Congress, the pope exhorted lawmakers to “protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.” The pope has called abortion “genocide” and compared it to “hiring a hit man to resolve a problem.”

Dolan will not excommunicate Andrew Cuomo, but he does face pressure to act with authority, and very soon.

JD Flynn is editor in chief of the Catholic News Agency and a canon lawyer.


4. Indonesia frees Christian politician held for 2 years on blasphemy charges.

By Stanley Widianto, The Washington Post, January 25, 2019, Pg. A12

Former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known by his nickname Ahok, was released from prison Thursday morning after serving almost two years on charges of blasphemy against Islam.

The conviction and detention of an ethnic Chinese Christian governor after a popular campaign against him was widely seen as a sign of the growing power of political Islam in Muslim-majority Indonesia, which has positioned itself as a moderate, secular and pluralist country.


5. Courage in the Christian and Priestly Life.

By Fr. Roger J. Landry, The Anchor, January 25, 2019
Fr. Roger J. Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts and the National Chaplain of Catholic Voices USA.

Two weeks ago I had the joy to preach the annual five-day retreat for Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where 25 years ago this year I began my formation for the priesthood. It was an opportunity to express my thanks to the 150 men preparing there for the priesthood there for their courageous witness in faithfully following God’s call and to encourage them to persevere.

Since the 1960s, to follow a priestly vocation is to be not only a sign of contradiction but an object of derision. While some support you, many oppose, often including family members and fellow Catholics. When I told peers in high school and college I was considering the priesthood, many retorted with jokes wondering whether I was gay. Today, after the revelation of the sexual abuse scandals, many are greeted with snide questions about whether they “like little boys.” Seminarians today have the faith and guts to suffer such indignities for Christ.

But at the same time greater courage still is needed. We’re living at a time when one of the big issues in priestly (and episcopal) leadership is conflict aversion. Pastoral problems are often ducked rather than addressed. Neuralgic and unpopular teachings are neglected rather than named. Not hurting another’s feelings or offending another’s sensibilities, rather than charity in truth, is the operative moral praxis.

Greater courage is needed, moreover, because we’re living in an age in which popular culture routinely mocks Christian teaching and attacks Christians. We’re treated as bigots for upholding Christ’s teaching on marriage, as misogynists for defending the sanctity of every life, as traitors for treating immigrants the way we would treat Christ. We’re being sued for not baking cakes or renting halls or compromising our consciences in favor of the culturally-correct zeitgeist. Membership in the Knights of Columbus is being treated by some U.S. Senators in 2019 as communist party membership in the 1950s. Catholic high school students from Covington are crucified by social media mobs, before even facts are known, for their pro-life convictions and support for the President.

we ruminated on the courage need to remain faithful to the end. We live in an age in which many people give up: on prayer, fighting sin, suffering, Mass, Confession, marriage, religious vows, priestly vocations, jobs, hope, even life itself. We need courage never to give up, never to stop running the race, fighting the good fight, keeping the faith and growing in it.

God who knows we need courage in all of these ways and gives us all we need to live boldly — by giving himself, to embolden us from within. That’s the way we are able to live, as Christians, priests and future priests, unafraid.


6. Pope’s anti-abuse summit needs to hear from ‘designated survivors’. 

By Charles Collins, Crux, January 25, 2019

When over 180 bishops’ conference presidents and other Church leaders descend on Rome next month for a global summit on clerical sexual abuse, they will hear from some of the victims themselves. Yet a Jan. 16 Vatican communique making this announcement did not mention the names of those who would be giving the presentations.

Likewise, when the organizing committee for the Feb. 21-24 summit was named in November, the statement mentioned that “some victims of abuse by members of the clergy” would be involved in the preparations. When Crux asked who they would be, we were told they might be named at a later date – so far, they haven’t been.

When Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins resigned from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2017 – following English survivor Peter Saunders’ exit the previous year – the commission’s president, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, told Crux: “Perhaps having survivors who were known as survivors was part of the reason they got so much attention.”

Most importantly, they were able to be a voice for other survivors, not only within the deliberations of the commission, but also to the world, where a non-anonymous abuse survivor is a visible sign of the Church’s efforts to safeguard children.

In this situation, a survivor without a name is a survivor without a voice. And the Church will need that voice in February.


7. Be close to people’s suffering, Francis tells Central American bishops. 

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, January 24, 2019, 10:37 AM

At World Youth Day Thursday, Pope Francis told the bishops of Central America to be close to the people, and to let their wounds and suffering be the drive behind the bishops’ actions and priorities.

“It is important, brothers, that we not be afraid to draw near and touch the wounds of our people, which are our wounds too, and to do this in the same way that the Lord himself does,” the pope said Jan. 24.

“A pastor cannot stand aloof from the sufferings of his people; we can even say that the heart of a pastor is measured by his ability to be moved by the many lives that are hurting or threatened.”

Pope Francis addressed the bishops of Central America during his first full day in Panama City for World Youth Day 2019. The international gathering of young people will culminate in a prayer vigil and Mass with the pope Jan. 26-27.