1. U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick Resigns Amid Sexual-Abuse Allegations, Archbishop had been removed from public ministry pending an investigation into allegations dating back nearly half a century. 

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2018, Pg. A3

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, taking an extraordinary disciplinary measure against a senior member of the Catholic hierarchy after several allegations of sexual abuse.

In recent weeks, commentators in the U.S. had increasingly called on Pope Francis to discipline one of the highest-ranking churchmen to be accused of sex abuse, who had risen to prominence despite widespread rumors of inappropriate conduct with seminarians and priests.

The pope has been under heavy criticism for his handling of clerical sex abuse, especially for his prolonged defense of a Chilean bishop accused of covering up abuse by another priest.


2. Catholic Church vs. Italy’s hard-liners. 

By Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, The Washington Post, July 30, 2018, Pg. A10

As Italy’s migration politics swing to the right, the Catholic Church is responding with an oppositional roar.

Pope Francis, during the five years of his papacy, has spoken about the humanity and rights of migrants, cautioning about the anti-immigrant sentiment taking hold in parts of the developed world. But those warnings only recently turned into a clarion in the very backyard of the Roman Catholic Church, where one of the world’s most Catholic nations has ushered in a populist government that pledges to “stop the invasion” and narrow its doors.

In recent weeks, church leaders of all kinds — figures close to Francis and priests speaking on quiet Sundays — have struck back against what they describe as a xenophobic and fear-driven response to the wave of refugees and economic migrants who have reached Italian shores. Their voices have stood in relief against a political landscape where few others, even in Italian opposition parties, are delivering that message.

The dominant figure in Italy’s new government is Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who swears by the Gospel, sometimes brandishes rosary beads and describes undocumented immigrants as a “tide of delinquents” whom he wants to send home.

“With all possible respect for the pastor of souls, instead of helping Africa’s poor come to Europe, my duty in the government is to first think of the millions of Italian poor,” Salvini recently wrote on Facebook, in a post responding to the archbishop’s speech in Palermo. “Am I wrong?”


3. McCarrick resigns amid sex abuse accusations.

By Julie Zauzmer and Chico Harlan, The Washington Post, July 29, 2018, Pg. A1

The former archbishop of Washington, accused of sexually abusing adults and minors for decades, resigned from the College of Cardinals on Saturday, becoming the first cardinal in history to step down due to sexual abuse allegations and magnifying the abuse crisis that Pope Francis is grappling with around the globe.

The Vatican said McCarrick will face a canonical trial, though it did not provide details about when the trial would be conducted. Kurt Martens, a professor of canon law at Catholic University, noted that the Catholic church has typically punished people by ordering them to conduct a life of “prayer and penance.” In McCarrick’s case, the Vatican has imposed that penalty before the trial has even started — raising pressure on the church to find a stronger form of punishment.

“Because you’re running out of options if you want to impose a further penalty,” Martens said. “I would not be surprised if he gets dismissed from the clerical state.” That would mean that after spending most of his life as a church leader, McCarrick would be defrocked entirely — becoming a lay person, not a Catholic priest.


4. Pope decries human trafficking for forced labor, sex trade. 

By Associated Press, July 29, 2018

Pope Francis is urging everyone to combat the “shameful crime” of human trafficking, noting that it’s often linked to migrant smuggling.

In remarks Sunday to the public in St. Peter’s Square, Francis decried that many adults and children are trafficked into slavery for forced labor, sex businesses, organ trafficking, begging rackets and other criminal activities.


5. No question, Pope Francis made history Saturday on McCarrick. 

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, July 29, 2018, Opinion

It’s really not that often one can say with certainty that we witnessed history being made at a specific moment, but Saturday brought such an occasion with a Vatican announcement that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from the College of Cardinals.

It’s an unprecedented move in the United States, the first time an American cardinal has ever renounced his red hat, and it’s the first time anywhere in the world has exited the college altogether facing accusations of sexual abuse. It is, therefore, the most tangible confirmation to date from Francis that when he says “zero tolerance,” he means everybody.

The statement also confirms that a suspension of McCarrick from public ministry imposed in June remains in force pending the outcome of a Church trial.

Though the full meaning of Saturday’s turning point will be unpacked for some time to come, here are three quick take-aways about what it means.

First, although the Vatican statement also refers to allowing a Church trial of McCarrick to play out, it’s a safe bet that such dramatic action would not have been taken if there were much serious doubt about the eventual verdict. It’s not quite a finding of guilt, but it’s a strong suggestion that such a finding isn’t that far away.

Second, there’s no question that the pope’s handling of the McCarrick case represents an important breakthrough in the push for greater accountability for clerical sexual abuse.

Third, while the pope has now proved his credentials at one level of accountability, there’s another shoe waiting to drop – what happens when the charge against a cardinal isn’t the crime, but the cover-up?

Right now, for instance, both Cardinals Riccardo Ezzati and Francisco Errazuriz in Chile face multiple accusations of having known about cases of sexual abuse, as well as abuses of power and conscience, and failed to act – in some cases, actively attempting to shelter the clergy involved.

As a final note, while Francis may have made an important contribution to his own reputation on the abuse scandals on Saturday, he hasn’t quite gotten the U.S. bishops off the hook.

Whatever happens to McCarrick personally, the question remains of how rumors of his behavior could have gone unaddressed for so long. Recently, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat suggested the bishops appoint a “special prosecutor” to get to the bottom of who knew about the allegations against McCarrick and failed to report them, hinting the list of culpable parties may not be short.

It’s not clear how the bishops plan to respond to such clamor, but it is seemingly clear that “duck and cover” won’t work. All that makes the bishops’ Nov. 12-15general assembly, and what happens between now and then, a potentially fascinating stretch of time.


6. McCarrick accuser hopes victims can now heal. 

By Associated Press, July 28, 2018, 9:10 PM

A Virginia man who says he was sexually abused for decades by Theodore McCarrick said Saturday that he’s pleased by news that Pope Francis accepted the cardinal’s resignation.

The man, who agreed to be identified only by his first name, James, said the abuse began when he was just 11 years old and continued into adulthood. He tells The Associated Press that he hopes McCarrick’s resignation would help other victims “become free.”


7. Pope accepts resignation of McCarrick after sex abuse claims. 

By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, July 28, 2018, 8:21 PM

In a move seen as unprecedented, Pope Francis has effectively stripped U.S. prelate Theodore McCarrick of his cardinal’s title following allegations of sexual abuse, including one involving an 11-year-old boy. The Vatican announced Saturday that Francis ordered McCarrick to conduct a “life of prayer and penance” before a church trial is held.

Breaking with past practice, Francis decided to act swiftly on the resignation offered by the emeritus archbishop of Washington, D.C., even before the accusations are investigated by church officials. McCarrick was previously one of the highest, most visible Catholic church officials in the United States and was heavily involved in the church’s yearslong response to allegations of priestly abuse there.

The pope then ordered McCarrick’s “suspension from the exercise of any public ministry, together with the obligation to remain in a house yet to be indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial,” the Vatican said.

The McCarrick case posed a test of the pontiff’s recently declared resolve to battle what he called a “culture of cover-up” of similar abuses in the Catholic church’s hierarchy.


8. Vatican meets #MeToo: Nuns denounce their abuse by priests.

By Nicole Winfield and Rodney Muhumuza, Associated Press, July 28, 2018, 12:43 PM

An examination by the AP shows that cases of abused nuns have emerged in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia, demonstrating that the problem is global and pervasive, thanks to the sisters’ second-class status in the church and their ingrained subservience to the men who run it.

Yet some nuns are now finding their voices, buoyed by the #MeToo movement and the growing recognition that even adults can be victims of sexual abuse when there is an imbalance of power in a relationship. The sisters are going public in part to denounce years of inaction by church leaders, even after major studies on the problem in Africa were reported to the Vatican in the 1990s.

The extent of the abuse of nuns is unclear, at least outside the Vatican. However, this week, about half a dozen sisters in a small religious congregation in Chile went public on national television with their stories of abuse by priests and other nuns — and how their superiors did nothing to stop it.

The Vatican declined to comment on what measures, if any, it has taken to assess the scope of the problem globally, or to punish offenders and care for victims. A Vatican official said it is up to local church leaders to sanction priests who sexually abuse sisters.


9. Brownback sees ‘Iron Curtain moment’ looming on religious freedom. 

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, July 28, 2018

Exuding rare optimism in a world in which widespread disregard for religious freedom usually seems just par for the course, U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback on Friday insisted that he sees an “Iron Curtain moment” right around the corner.

Fueling that rosy view was a first-ever Ministerial Summit on Religious Freedom, hosted July 24-26 by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and drawing high-level representatives from 82 nations around the world, as well as an all-star turnout from the Trump administration including Vice President Mike Pence, Pompeo, Trump’s son-in-law and key adviser Jared Kushner, and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.

Among other initiatives, Pence and Pompeo announced a new program at the event dedicated to rehabilitating victims of persecution, along with new money for severely affected regions. In particular, Pence announced establishment of the Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response Program, saying it’s intended “to rapidly deliver aid to persecuted communities, beginning with Iraq.”

Pence also used the summit to suggest the U.S. may be willing to put teeth behind all the lofty talk about religious freedom, calling on Turkey to release U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson and threatening the country with sanctions if it doesn’t.

All in all, the summit was described as the “Super Bowl” of religious freedom events by one Trump adviser, and Washington during the week did have something of that feel, with scores of smaller satellite events taking place around the edges of the big show.


10. Massachusetts 1st to repeal long-dormant ban on abortion. 

By Bob Salsberg, Associated Press, July 27, 2018

Massachusetts on Friday became the first state since President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court to abolish from its books an abortion ban that predates the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

Abortion rights proponents fear Kavanaugh, whose nomination to replace Anthony Kennedy on the high court is pending before the U.S. Senate, could if confirmed tilt the court toward undoing abortion protections in place since Roe v. Wade, thereby potentially triggering old state laws that haven’t been enforced in decades.

Seventeen states already have laws that could be used to restrict the legal status of abortions if Roe was overturned or severely limited. Of those, Massachusetts was among 10 states that still had pre-Roe abortion bans on the books, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a national research group that supports abortion rights.

Nine states have laws specifically protecting abortion rights, the institute said.