1. Kamala Harris’s Dark Knights, Does the Senator think Al Smith and JFK were extremists?

The Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2018, Editorial

We’re still a year from the 2020 presidential primaries, but Senator Kamala Harris is already showing America how far the Democratic Party has strayed from its roots.

Sen. Harris also criticized the “all-male society” and anti-abortion statements made by the leader of the Knights, Carl Anderson. Mr. Buescher said in response he would as a judge uphold precedent by both the Supreme Court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, including Roe v. Wade. But the grilling makes clear these Democrats regard membership in the Catholic organization as disqualifying. 

For the record, the Knights take the same position as the Catholic Church. JFK was himself a Knight. If Mr. Buescher is unfit to serve as a federal judge because of his Knights membership, then so is every other Catholic American who doesn’t publicly repudiate the church’s moral teaching. 

By the way, the Knights do extraordinary charitable work. The local D.C. chapter puckishly responded by assuring the Senators they are not extremists—and inviting both to join them for the annual Polar Plunge in February, when folks jump in cold water to raise money for the Special Olympics. 

Ms. Harris’s embrace of religious intolerance is especially significant because in two years she could be the next U.S. President. What does it say about today’s Democrats that no one in the party of Al Smith and JFK sees fit to rebuke her?


2. Naming names: A reckoning is underway in US Catholic Church. 

By Claudia Lauer, The Associated Press, January 3, 2018, 5:47 AM

Over the past four months, Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. have released the names of more than 1,000 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children in an unprecedented public reckoning spurred at least in part by a shocking grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania, an Associated Press review has found.

Nevertheless, advocates say exposing molesters nearly two decades after the scandal first erupted in Boston in 2002 is an encouraging step, in part because it gives some victims a sense of vindication after decades of official silence or denials. Also, it could increase pressure on dioceses to set up victims’ compensation funds, as the church has done in Pennsylvania already. And it could result in the removal of molesters from positions outside the church that give them access to children.

In the 16 years between the Boston scandal and the Pennsylvania investigation, only about 30 dioceses around the country had released lists of priests they deemed credibly accused of abuse. Most of those dioceses came clean because they were forced to do so by lawsuits or bankruptcy filings. Some dioceses declined to name any deceased priests, since they could not defend themselves, and some would not identify any clergy members at all.

Now, 13 dioceses have hired outside consultants including FBI agents and former judges to review their files, and dioceses that had previously been secretive are coordinating to release statewide lists in such places as Texas and New Jersey.

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of the Little Rock Diocese in Arkansas disclosed the names of 12 priests in September and announced the hiring of a consultant to review diocesan files.


3. Two losses drain just a bit of color from the Vatican scene.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, January 3, 2018

Although the Vatican may be a major global institution, the lived experience of the place is that it often feels more like a small village. Everyone involved in the day-to-day life of the place pretty much knows everybody else, so that the absence of one or two of those personalities is always keenly felt.

Recent days have brought several such losses, including a death and a departure, and both deserve their moment in the sun.

First, news broke this week that Alexei Bukalov, the legendary Russian Vatican journalist, died in Rome at the age of 78. He’s been a friend and colleague of everyone who’s ever covered the Vatican, and his passing leaves a gaping hole in that world.

Another figure who’s stepping away from the Vatican scene, though he’s still very much among the living, is Giovanni Maria Vian, the former editor of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s daily newspaper.

Vian, a church historian and expert on patristics, took over as editor of L’Osservatore in 2007. The paper was born more than 150 years ago amid the Vatican crisis of its day: The collapse of the Papal States. When Rome fell nine years after the paper was born, L’Osservatore became the voice of popes who declared themselves “prisoners of the Vatican.”

No matter what happens, the Vatican will continue to be a fascinating place full of colorful figures. Yet with the loss of Bukalov and the exit of Vian, the cast of characters that makes this place so unique, nevertheless, just won’t be the same.


4. Pope Francis: Prayer is about God’s love, not wordiness. 

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, January 2, 2018

When praying, remember the words of Jesus when he taught the ‘Our Father,’ Pope Francis said Wednesday, meeting God as his beloved child and speaking from the heart.

Some think that to pray is to use many words. “I too think of many Christians who believe that praying is to talk to God like a parrot, no! Praying is done from the heart, from inside,” the pope said Jan. 2.

“He does not need anything, our God: in prayer he asks only that we keep open a channel of communication with him to always discover ourselves [to be] his beloved children and [that] he loves us so much.”

In his first general audience of 2019, Pope Francis continued his teaching on the ‘Our Father’ by reflecting on the context in which Jesus taught the prayer to his followers. 

The pope emphasized that a Christian is not someone who is concerned with being better than everyone else – Christians know that they are also sinners – but with the revelation of the ‘Our Father,’ they also know themselves to be children of God.

Calling him ‘Father,’ he stated, Christians let themselves be renewed by his power “to reflect a ray of his goodness for this world so thirsty for good, so in expectation of good news.”