1. When the Cardinal Sins, McCarrick is like the friar who helped set off the Reformation by selling indulgences. 

By William McGurn, Columnist, The Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2018, Pg. A15, Opinion

Theodore McCarrick isn’t the first prince of the Catholic church to have lived a private life scandalously at odds with the red hat he wore.

Yet the McCarrick affair may ultimately prove something far more than another disgusting case of sexual abuse, if only because the scandal breaks at a moment of tremendous cultural transition.

Think of it as akin to the Reformation, except here it will not be Protestant Christianity but some materialist orthodoxy that will likely move in after the church takes this latest hit. For rising generations weaned on the absolutes of science and safe sex, Archbishop McCarrick offers the perfect meme for a corrupt and hypocritical church out of touch with reality.

Still, it’s hard not to feel the suspicion among the American Catholic laity that this isn’t over, that Archbishop McCarrick is our Harvey Weinstein —abetted by fellow bishops who now live in fear they might be the next person outed in the church’s own #MeToo moment.

The classic rejoinder is that we are all sinners and the Catholic Church will survive the McCarrick scandal as it has survived so many scandals over its 2,000 years.

But the Reformation left a cleavage that persists to this day. And it is foolish to think the exposure of one of America’s highest-profile prelates nearly two decades after we were told the abuse problem had been dealt with can be treated as just another case of sexual misbehavior.


2. Catholic University of America strips Theodore McCarrick of honorary degree. 

By Sarah Larimer, The Washington Post, July 31, 2018, 6:00 AM

The Catholic University of America announced Monday it had rescinded an honorary degree given to Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, the former cardinal accused of sexually abusing adults and minors for decades.

Catholic University awarded the honor to McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, in 2006, according to the institution. It marks the first time the school has rescinded an honorary degree.

McCarrick had deep ties to Catholic University. He attended the institution as a student and served as assistant chaplain, dean of students and director of development, according to the school. He spent time on the Board of Trustees and was chancellor of the university when he was D.C. archbishop.


3. As rumors of sexual misdeeds swirled, Cardinal McCarrick became a powerful fundraiser for the Vatican. 

By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, July 31, 2018, 7:00 AM

When Theodore McCarrick arrived in D.C. in 2001 to be the region’s Catholic archbishop, it was clear right away that he was something very rare: a celebrity priest.

McCarrick’s gilded resume stood in striking contrast to his public demeanor, that of a self-effacing do-gooder who, in a city full of egos and polish, wore rumpled clothes and exhibited a voracious drive to help others.

The accusations have shocked and devastated McCarrick’s many fans, leaving some to conclude that their hero apparently lived a double life. But to others who worked closely with him over the decades, the cardinal was always a more complex figure than his saintly public reputation conveyed. He was a man of enormous personal ambition, a skillful politician and, at times, shrewdly calculating, according to interviews with Catholic officials and others who knew and worked with him.

McCarrick’s popularity and his enormous stature as an emissary for the church and as a prolific fundraiser for Catholic causes may have helped protect him over the years as other, whispered words were added to his reputation: harasser, groper, violator of his vows of celibacy.

He was raising many millions for needy causes, from persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East to aid for immigrants to low-cost housing. He helped groups from right to left, from the Knights of Columbus to Catholic Relief Services. Although he also raised money for conservative causes, he was often viewed as left-leaning, primarily because he focused on causes such as alleviating poverty and supporting immigration rather than efforts against abortion and in support of Catholic views on sexuality.

He was also unusually public in the early 2000s in speaking out for survivors of clerical sex abuse; he was involved in the church’s efforts to write policies aimed at preventing abuse and was an early advocate for zero-tolerance for priests who abuse.


4. Sessions forms religious liberty task force, Attorney general offered few specifics on how it would operate. 

By Jeff Mordock, The Washington Times July 31, 2018, Pg. A3

The Justice Department on Monday announced the formation of a Religious Liberty Task Force aimed at ensuring religious groups’ protections when their beliefs conflict with government regulations.

In October, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a directive outlining a broad interpretation of religious freedom protections. It provided support for employers making hiring decisions based on their faith or objecting to providing health insurance for birth control.

The task force will follow up on that directive, Mr. Sessions said Monday. It will facilitate Justice Department compliance with the memo; facilitate coordination with it across government agencies; and reach out to religious organizations for feedback and develop new policies and strategies to protect religious freedoms.

If necessary, the task force will also review new lawsuits to protect religious freedoms, Mr. Sessions said.


5. ‘Humanae Vitae” milestone a refresher on Catholicism and law. 

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, July 31, 2018

Today, while some Catholics think of Humanae Vitae as basically a dead letter, there’s also a vibrant minority determined to recover its broader vision of the meaning and purpose of human sexuality and to put it into practice. Those reactions are largely a matter of differing outlooks and opinions, but one point that’s reasonably objective about the encyclical is the way it brought home – or, at least, should have brought home – the distinctively Catholic understanding of law.

It’s a point that’s frequently misunderstood in Anglo-Saxon cultures, including the United States, and in many ways it forms the heart of a well-known “cultural gap” between Main Street USA and Rome.

To this day, polls continue to show that a wide majority of Catholics in the West reject the teaching of Humanae Vitae. A 2016 poll by the Pew Research Forum, for instance, found only 13 percent of American Catholics who go to Mass every week think contraception is morally wrong. At the pastoral level, most priests will tell you that rank-and-file Catholics long ago made their peace with the use of birth control and don’t bother confessing it anymore.

For many Anglo-Saxons, that’s just an intolerable disjunction between behavior and law, because we’re accustomed to thinking of law as a lowest common denominator of civil society. That is, we expect laws to be obeyed, and when they’re not, we recognize only two possibilities – either there has to be a crackdown, or the law has to be changed.

It undercuts the credibility of the entire system, our culture teaches us to think, if a law is on the books but practically unenforced and widely disregarded. That, however, is simply not how law is understood in the Mediterranean cultures which are the crucible of Catholicism, above all Italy.

[Italians] don’t accept the idea that a ban is a ban, or that a red light is a red light. Our reaction is “Let’s talk about it.”

That, in a nutshell, has always been the Catholic instinct when it comes to law – “let’s talk about it.” The Vatican forever issues decrees that can seem sweeping, draconian, and inflexible, but that’s because it’s trying to issue law that transcends space (a global church of 1.3 billion souls, spread across wildly different cultures in every nook and cranny of the planet) and time (a tradition that stretches over two millennia.)

Always, there’s a common-sense understanding encoded in the law that pastors will make reasonable judgments about how the law applies in their concrete circumstances. That’s not seen as “disobedience,” but rather good pastoral practice.

In a sense, that’s part of what made Pope Francis’s Amoris Laetitia so incomprehensible for a wide swath of American Catholicism. When the pontiff insisted he was making no change in the law, while at the same time opening a cautious door for its application to differ in a specific set of circumstances, Americans sensed a contradiction – Italians, on the other hand, saw business as usual.


6. US nuns demand action to end ‘culture of silence’ on abuse. 

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, July 31, 2018

The largest association of Roman Catholic nuns in the United States urged its members Monday to report any sexual abuse of religious sisters by clergy and demanded that church authorities “take action to end a culture of silence, hold abusers accountable and provide support to those abused.”

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents about 80 percent of Catholic sisters in the U.S., issued a statement Monday in response to an Associated Press report about several sisters coming forward recently to denounce assaults by priests and bishops.

The LCWR said it didn’t have data on incidents in the U.S., but thanked the sisters for speaking out.


7. Religious liberty ‘rooted in dignity of human person,’ says archbishop. 

By Steve Larkin, Catholic News Service, July 31, 2018

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, gave three reasons why religious freedom is important to the Catholic Church in a speech July 30 at a conference on the issue at the Justice Department in Washington.

“We are called by Jesus Christ to inspire a culture, religious freedom gives us a space to serve, and we can solve social problems better when all of us work together to find a solution,” said the archbishop, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Religious Liberty.

He began by describing the teachings that lead the Catholic Church to support religious freedom: “The Catholic Church teaches that religious liberty is rooted in the dignity of the human person. The human person has dignity because we are made in the image of God, and so each of us has the capacity to seek the truth about God.”

This vision of the human person, he said, is essential to healthy politics.

Leading into his second point, he said that the vision of human flourishing the church proposes includes the ability for the Catholic Church to have “the space to serve with integrity.”

The archbishop expressed concerns about a number of threats to the church’s ability to fulfill its mission.

“When activists try to force Christian ministries to violate their consciences, they force Christians into a bind. Service is in our DNA, but so is the truth about the human person,” he said.

He said that the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate imposed on all employers, including religious employers with a moral objection to it, was one example of an attempt to force Christians to violate their consciences.

Although the Trump administration removed the mandate, Kurtz expressed concern about the state of Catholic child welfare organizations.

“One of our biggest concerns is the ability of our child welfare organizations to place the foster children with families consistent with our teaching.”

In addition, Kurtz said that “we should look to have all hands on deck when it comes to tackling the greatest needs of our day.”

“We’re very grateful for all the service done by people of faith every day both in our country and around the world. Religious freedom is vital to the common good.”


8. Faith-based foster care should not be abandoned. 

By Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie is a policy advisor for The Catholic Association, The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 30, 2018, 5:00 AM, Opinion

Child welfare advocates across the country are right to be concerned after a recent court order allowed Philadelphia to suspend its contract with Catholic Social Services, a faith-based foster care agency. It is yet another example of the growing trend in America of excluding religious organizations with long and proven track records in the field, all in the name of ideological conformity. You don’t have to be a grateful adoptive parent like I am to feel alarmed by laws that put successful agencies out of action at a time when the growing number of children needing families calls for an all-hands-on-deck approach.

Despite decades of successfully partnering with Catholic Social Services, Philadelphia city officials told the agency in March that they would stop referring children to them unless they endorsed foster placement with same-sex couples. This demand was made even though not a single same-sex couple had ever approached the agency seeking to become foster parents. And city officials persisted despite Catholic Social Services’ suggestion that they would refer these couples to another agency, something agencies do for any number of reasons.

The city was unrelenting.


9. Sessions: US culture ‘less hospitable to people of faith’. 

By Eric Tucker, Associated Press, July 30, 2018, 6:24 PM

American culture has become “less hospitable to people of faith,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday in vowing that the Justice Department would protect people’s religious freedom and convictions.

Sessions spoke at a Justice Department summit on religious tolerance at a time when courts have been asked how to balance anti-discrimination laws against the First Amendment’s religious freedom guarantees. He also announced the creation of a “religious liberty task force” to implement Justice Department guidance on respecting and accommodating religious beliefs, including those of department employees.

Conservative groups immediately praised Sessions for promising to protect deeply held religious convictions.

“Let’s be frank: A dangerous movement, undetected by many but real, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt. It’s no little matter. It must be confronted intellectually and politically and defeated,” Sessions said. “This election, this past election, and much that has flowed from it, gives us a rare opportunity to arrest these trends and to confront them.

“Such a reversal will not just be done with electoral victories, however, but by intellectual victories,” he added.