1. Charlie Gard’s parents end fight over treatment for their terminally-ill son.

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr., The Washington Post, July 24, 2017, 10:01 AM

Charlie Gard’s parents have decided to end their legal fight over the treatment of the terminally-ill child.

Attorney Grant Armstrong said the boy’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, are withdrawing their appeal to court orders that say Charlie’s treatment should end, according to the Associated Press.

Yates and Gard cried in court as their lawyer said time had run out for the 11-month-old.

Britain’s High Court was scheduled to consider new evidence in the case during a two-day hearing.

Charlie has mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, a rare genetic condition that has robbed him of the ability to see, hear, move or breathe on his own.


2. Questions multiply by the day in latest Vatican money scandal.

By Crux, July 24, 2017

A Vatican trial focusing on a financial scandal involving a papally-sponsored hospital, and featuring a powerful cardinal at the heart of the affair, may be on hiatus until early September, but that doesn’t mean questions surrounding the case are taking a vacation.

Instead, they seem to be multiplying almost by the day.

Just in the past week, there have been conflicting reports about whether that cardinal, Italian Tarcisio Bertone, the former Secretary of State under Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, did or didn’t provide a previously unknown memo to investigators last November, offering a chronology of his actions in the affair and rejecting any suggestion of involvement in fraud.

Some are also asking question why Bertone was never even a subject of the Vatican investigation, despite long-standing ties to the Italian businessman who benefited from it.

Finally, there are also question marks about how the situation reflects on the broader project of Vatican reform under Pope Francis, at a time when his hand-picked auditor general, Italian Libero Milone, has departed under mysterious circumstances, and his pick to head the new Secretariat for the Economy, Cardinal George Pell, is home in Australia facing sexual abuse charges.

What’s not stated in the indictment, but which has fueled wide speculation in the Italian media, is that the main beneficiary of the arrangement was another Italian businessman, Gianantonio Bandera, whose construction company was awarded the contract. According to Vatican investigators, it was Bertone originally who recommended Bandera’s company for the project.

Bertone himself faces no charges in the Vatican trial, and early on a Vatican spokesman said that Bertone was never a target of the investigation. Bandera, meanwhile, has been inscribed among the witnesses called in the case, but also does not face charges. (As an Italian citizen who’s never held a Vatican position, it’s also not clear if a Vatican tribunal could assert jurisdiction over him.)

Investigators reportedly have established that Bandera apparently was paid twice for the same project, by two different Vatican departments. In the meantime, his construction company failed and is now bankrupt, and the work it was performing on Bertone’s apartment was initially suspended and then never completed.

Even the timing has raised questions, with many Italian commentators suggesting that by scheduling the trial when the pope will be out of town, the Vatican is attempting to deflect attention from it.


3. Vatican article says ‘main obstacle’ for Pope Francis is bishops, priests.

By Crux, July 23, 2017

On the heels of one controversial Vatican article alleging an “ecumenism of hate” between conservative Evangelicals and Catholics in America, another potential eyebrow-raiser emerged Saturday claiming that the “main obstacle” to implementing Pope Francis’s vision is “closure, if not hostility” from “a good part of the clergy, at levels both high and low.”

The term “high and low” suggests the author had in mind clergy ranging from senior bishops to ordinary parish priests.

“The clergy is holding the people back, who should instead be accompanied in this extraordinary moment,” said the article by Italian Father Giulio Cirignano, a native of Florence and a longtime Scripture scholar at the Theological Faculty of Central Italy.


4. Pope calls for “moderation” after Jerusalem shrine violence.

By Associated Press, July 23, 2017

Pope Francis has appealed for moderation after recent killings at a Jerusalem holy site.

Francis told faithful Sunday in St. Peter’s Square that he was following “with trepidation the grave tensions and violence” unleashed at a contested shrine. Last week Arab gunmen, shooting from the shrine, killed two Israeli policemen, three Palestinians were killed in street clashes and a Palestinian fatally stabbed three members of an Israeli family.

Francis said: “I feel the need to express a distressed appeal for moderation and dialogue.” He invited others to pray with him so people would aim for reconciliation and peace.


5. “Did You Ever Think You’d Known a Saint?”.

By Mary Eberstadt, Senior Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute, The Catholic Thing, July 22, 2017

This morning, the funeral Mass for a priest named Fr. Arne Panula will be offered by Cardinal Donald Wuerl and others at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in downtown Washington, D.C. A former head of Opus Dei, U.S.A. who died of cancer earlier this week, and long one of the most influential spiritual figures inside the nation’s capital and out, this “Fr. Arne,” as he’s been known to many friends and admirers, was a priest in full. His is not – yet – a household name. But it would shock no one who knew him if that relative obscurity were someday to change.

There is, for starters, his extraordinary story, including the fact that seeming paradoxes of his life resolved one by one in favor of beauty and holiness. A math and science wunderkind, he nevertheless graduated from college an English major with a lifelong devotion to Shakespeare and Keats; the resulting sharp feel for language would prove to be one of the surgical tools in his conversion kit. Educated at Harvard and other secular venues, and surrounded by worldly friends, he nonetheless and cheerily threw his life at God, being ordained in 1973. Strikingly handsome, and bearing an uncanny resemblance to the young Karol Wojtyla, he would go on to witness to many people – especially young people – that their souls depended on what was beautiful inside, not out.

Or consider Fr. Arne’s missionary work in what might seem to be one of the least promising spiritual territories on earth: the nation’s capital. There, in a business district packed with lawyers and lobbyists, he presided with infectious elan over the blandly named Catholic Information Center – a social, spiritual, and intellectual powerhouse like no other, set squarely on DC’s notoriously louche K Street.

One must also reckon with another rarity: the grace with which Fr. Arne handled life as the sands ran out. Following months during which he continued work at the CIC, the doctors finally dispatched him home with hospice care in winter 2017 – right before Lent. Then Providence threw another curveball. Contrary to forecasts, Fr. Arne ended up living not days or weeks, but months longer than medical algorithms predicted.

Just as his failing to succumb on schedule seemed to defy explanation, so did his vigor. “I’m dying,” he laughed a few weeks ago, “And I’m enjoying some of the best hours of my life.” Until the fifty-ninth minute of the eleventh hour, he radiated a vitality hard to square with the knowledge that death cells had detonated all over inside. “He’s teaching us how to die,” one friend observed. “He’s acting like a saint,” said others.

A few weeks ago, I asked Fr. Arne to share his recollections of St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, whom he’d known in Spain before becoming a priest. “All my friends and others wanted to know the same thing when Josemaria was canonized,” Fr. Arne said casually. “Everyone asked the exact same question of me: ‘Did you ever think you’d known a saint?’”

Witnessing just some of the unexplained facts of the matter – the parade of converts, the unmistakable joy of a dying man all the way to the finish line, the contagious faith in a God who provides whatever his unknowing children need, and other earthly oddities – one can understand why at least some of us left down here are now asking the same thing.