1. U.S. rebukes China over religious persecution, By Carol Morello, The Washington Post, June 11, 2020, Pg. A17

A State Department official singled out China on Wednesday as one of the world’s worst offenders of religious freedom, saying it backslid the most last year as thousands more people of faith were subjected to imprisonment and forced labor.

The accusation by Sam Brownback, the ambassador of international religious freedom, represented the latest salvo in an exchange of recriminations between Washington and Beijing.


2. Four new members named to National Review Board, By Catholic News Service, June 11, 2020

The National Review Board, the all-lay group that monitors dioceses’ performance in dealing with sexually abusive clergy and creating a safe environment for children throughout the church, has four new members.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, announced the appointments June 10.

The new members are:

– Vivian M. Akel, a retired clinical social worker; she volunteers as safe environment coordinator for the Maronite Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, New York.

– James Bogner, retired senior executive special agent for the FBI; he also serves on the Archdiocesan Advisory Review Board and Ministerial Conducts Board for the Archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska.

– Steven Jubera, assistant district attorney for Mississippi’s 17th Judicial District; he also serves on the Review Board for the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi.

– Thomas M. Mengler, president of St. Mary’s University in San Antonio; he previously served on the board of directors of Catholic Charities of San Antonio and was co-chairman of the Lay Commission on Clergy Sexual Abuse of Minors in the Archdiocese of San Antonio.


3. Trump praises Italian archbishop who urges him to fight ‘deep state’ protests, By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, June 10, 2020, 8:38 PM

President Trump on Wednesday praised what he called an “incredible” letter to the president from a controversial Italian archbishop [Archbishop Carlo Vigano] that said Black Lives Matter protests and the coronavirus quarantine are part of an orchestrated campaign by “the children of darkness” against “the children of light.”

Later in the letter, he wrote that “it is quite clear that the use of street protests is instrumental to the purposes of those who would like to see someone elected in the upcoming presidential elections who embodies the goals of the deep state.”


4. President Trump Tweets Thanks to Archbishop Vigano: The former nuncio to the United States wrote a letter June 7 praising the president’s resolve in response to the recent protests, By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, June 10, 2020

President Donald Trump has responded to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s open letter to him published on Sunday.

“So honored by Archbishop Viganò’s incredible letter to me,” President Trump tweeted on Wednesday evening. “I hope everyone, religious or not, reads it!”

In his June 7 letter, Archbishop Viganò, who served as apostolic nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016, praised President Trump’s leadership as he faced criticism for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the protests over the death of George Floyd.

In his letter, Archbishop Viganò wrote of the formation in recent months of “two opposing sides” made up of “children of light and the children of darkness,” the latter of whom he said wish to “demolish the family and the nation.”

He equated the children of darkness with the “deep state” whom he praised Trump for “wisely” opposing. Such children of darkness conceal their “true intentions,” he said, and he blamed them for provoking the riots that followed the death of George Floyd, a black man, by Minneapolis police, not only in the U.S. but in Europe “in perfect synchrony.”

Without referring explicitly to Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who criticized Trump’s shrine visit, Archbishop Viganò said it was “disconcerting” that some bishops “prove” through their words “that they are aligned on the opposing side.” In a separate letter published earlier last week, however, Archbishop Viganò directly criticized the Washington archbishop as a “false shepherd.”


5. State Department warns governments could exploit coronavirus to close churches, By Catholic News Agency, June 10, 2020, 12:10 PM

The U.S. ambassador for religious freedom warned on Wednesday that some governments might close houses of worship for good after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

Addressing the closure of churches, mosques, synagogues, and other houses of worship around the world in order to prevent the spread of the virus through religious gatherings, Sam Brownback—the U.S. Ambassador at-Large for International Religious Freedom—acknowledged that governments in some regions would try to keep them closed beyond the current public health emergency, in order to crack down on religious minorities.


6. Vatican halts German diocesan plan to turn 800 parishes into 35, By Catholic News Agency, June 10, 2020, 2:25 PM

The Vatican has intervened to halt a controversial plan to reorganize a German diocese.

Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier met with the heads of the Congregation for Clergy and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts in Rome June 5 to discuss the diocesan plans to restructure several hundred parishes into 35 “XXL parishes.”

The diocese said that the concerns were “in particular as regards the role of the pastor in the leadership team of the parish, the service of other priests, the conception of the parish bodies, the size of the future parishes and the speed of implementation.”

The plans included the merger of all of the diocese’s 887 parishes into 35 larger parishes, led by “pastoral teams” of laypeople and priest. Under the plans, a local lay group said, “the specific transmission of the preaching, especially the homily, to volunteers/lay people will lose the specific nature of the priestly office.” Other concerns included the centralization of parishes, meaning Catholics in some parts of the diocese would have to travel up to 50 miles for Mass.


78. Analysis: Archbishop Gregory promised the truth. Has he told it?, By JD Flynn, Catholic News Agency, June 10, 2020, 1:11 PM, Opinion

At the press conference announcing his appointment as Washington’s new shepherd, Archbishop Wilton Gregory made a pledge: “I will always tell you the truth as I understand it.”

A year after the archbishop’s installation in Washington, the credibility of that promise has come under scrutiny, during a moment of profound difficulty for the entire country.

On June 2, Gregory issued a statement critiquing a visit of President Donald Trump to the National Shrine of St. John Paul II, which is located in D.C.

The archbishop called it “baffling and reprehensible” that the shrine was hosting Trump, and said the shrine had been “egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles.”

Gregory’s June 2 statement made headlines in major news outlets around the world. And a few days later, Gregory doubled down on his criticism of the visit.

Gregory did not say when he had learned of the event. But many Catholics speculated, given the force of the archbishop’s statement, that he must have been caught by surprise, perhaps learning of it only when the White House had announced it the night before.

But later on June 7, the White House told CNA that Gregory had been invited to the event the week prior, and declined the invitation.

There is no reason to suspect that Gregory could not offer reasonable responses to the questions he’s been asked. It is not clear why he has not yet done so.

In the calculus of Catholic morality, there are sins of commission, and sins of omission. Gregory has not committed an on-record act of dishonesty. But some Catholics who took his pledge seriously seem now to expect that an archbishop will not fail to omit details from public statements, or at least that he will clarify competing accounts, and will answer questions on significant and controversial issues.


8. Alleged Theodore McCarrick victim says he is helping fact-check abuse dossier, By Catholic News Agency, June10, 2020, 3:30 PM

An anonymous alleged sexual abuse victim of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick says he and other alleged victims have been working with the Vatican to fact-check the comprehensive dossier on McCarrick’s misdeeds.

The alleged victim, writing under the name Nathan Doe, says he was one of several minors that McCarrick abused, and that he had previously collaborated with Church authorities to provide evidence during the canonical penal administrative process which resulted in McCarrick’s 2019 laicization.

He says early in 2020, “persons tasked by the Holy See with investigating McCarrick’s career” reached out to him and several other alleged victims to ask if they would be willing to provide facts and information to ensure the report’s accuracy.

“Time will tell, but nothing in my experience thus far indicates any type of cover-up or attempt to minimize anything by anyone involved in the Holy See’s investigation,” Doe writes in a June 5 blog post.


9. Protesting on Both Knees: Catholics should be on the front lines of the fight for justice, beginning in the front pews, protesting devoutly before God., By Father Roger J. Landry, National Catholic Register, June 10, 2020, Opinion

On June 4, I was returning from early morning Mass for religious sisters across Midtown Manhattan when, on 48th Street, I entered the pedestrian protective tunnel of a construction site.

There was an African American construction worker on the other side of the tunnel who, as I approached, asked at high volume, presumably for his fellow workers to hear, “Are you heading out to protest, Father?”

Because of the mask he was wearing, I couldn’t really be sure of his tone, but it seemed like a friendly query.

“Are you a Christian?” I asked him, figuring that if he used the term “Father,” the odds were good.

“Yes,” he replied with pride.

“Well, as a Christian,” I smiled and said, “I protest on both knees.”

He looked at me quizzically, seeming to request elaboration.

“Our first protest against evil is not to drop to one knee, like football players, but to drop to both knees in prayer, crying out to God for forgiveness for the evil of racism, for the wicked killing of George Floyd and other victims, for the sinister rampage of destruction and looting that have harmed so many businesses and led most others to have to board up their windows. We drop to our knees and beg God for help to fight against and repair these evils.”

He paused as he processed what I was saying and then nodded his covered chin in agreement.

“So would you like to march with me to church,” I asked amicably, “where we can protest together before the Lord?”

He replied with a laugh, “I have to work!”

“Then I guess I’ll march for both of us!” I concluded and gave him a hearty socially-distanced wave goodbye that he reciprocated with “Thanks!”

I have been doing a lot of double-kneed protesting over the last couple of weeks.

To protest means, according to its Latin roots, to “give witness” (testari) “on behalf of” or “in front of” (pro) others.

I have been regularly going before the Lord in reparation for the indefensible slaying of George Floyd; for the history of racial injustice that blacks have suffered in the U.S. all the way back to the evil of slavery at our national origin; for police officers who have become corrupted and for those who attack the good ones because of the bad; for the decades of inadequate responses, tokenism and political exploitation blacks continue to suffer from various leaders; and for the need of a movement to help convince others of what should be both obvious and culturally and legally ensured, that black lives matter.

I have also been building up knee calluses in response to the evil I’ve seen in New York City by those using the protests as a cover for anarchic destruction, organized crime and brazen robbery.

Last Monday morning, walking back after celebrating Mass at a different convent down by City Hall, I passed through Chinatown and Little Italy, making my way north. I normally don’t read the news before Mass and so I was unaware of the severity of what had happened the previous night.

Turning left from Mulberry Street onto Bleeker, ahead of me on the sidewalk, I saw thousands of tiny shards of glass. As I drew closer I could see that all of the windows of the store had been shattered. Turning the corner onto Lafayette Street, I saw that many establishments had met the same fate, cars on the road had had their windshields and windows smashed, and graffiti was everywhere. I saw stunned store owners trying to contain themselves, sweaty construction workers putting up boards to cover the windows, and people scrubbing walls to clean the graffiti.

As I walked on farther, every block or two, a store had been singled out for destruction, looting or graffiti and random cars for gratuitous damage. This continued most of my way home, including an attack on the doors and display windows of an eyeglass store a few blocks from home.

And those weren’t even the worst sections, where cars and buildings had been set on fire.

Then on Thursday, traversing the city westward for confessions and Mass at 6am, I felt like I was crossing a lumber yard. Construction workers were already hard at work — not building new skyscrapers, but cutting plywood and hammering it into windows and doors as protection. All of the iconic stores of New York, national media studios, restaurants, banks, hotels, museums — and basically everything else not made out of stone — was being boarded up.

This was a result of a lack of trust in the protesters’ goodwill and in New York’s leadership to protect the city’s citizens and businesses, not to mention enforce its curfew or the most basic COVID-19 social-distancing regulations.

Police officers told me they felt basically powerless to fight the vandals and pillagers effectively, because local and state leadership, under the guise of “justice reform,” had recently passed laws and orders that prevent law enforcement from holding overnight in jail those arrested for most crimes.

To see almost all of Midtown boarded up was like the collective raising of a white flag of surrender to the mobs, something that saddened me almost as much as witnessing the destruction a few days earlier.

It returned me to my ongoing protest before the Blessed Sacrament.

While similar upheavals have been taking place in Minneapolis, Washington, Los Angeles and other major cities, there’s something particularly painful about seeing it happen here in New York, a symbol of American resilience after 9/11.

After the 2001 terrorist attacks, the city defiantly, courageously, inspiringly rose again, spurred on by true leadership at various levels. This time, discouraged by leadership at most levels, and enfeebled by three months of fear of the coronavirus, the only defense it seemed capable of mustering against riots was to build plywood walls.

Most residents and store owners had understood that if, after months of enforced social distancing with apocalyptic messages about how deadly COVID-19 was, state and municipal leaders allowed crowds of thousands of people to convene to march, rally and mourn, then they were simply not serious about enforcing laws and executive orders. Those wishing to take advantage of lawlessness were also paying attention.

Some argued that the importance of the cause justified such an exception. The cause is indisputably important. But when authorities shut down Jewish funerals with 50 people in the streets and pretend as if Catholics would violate love of neighbor if 10 people were at Mass across a vast cathedral, yet nevertheless permit thousands to agglutinate for any other reason, it communicates that there is one set of rules for the protesters and another for everyone else.

The fight against inequality will never be won, however, by other forms of inequality. Injustice before the law will never be rectified by other forms of injustice. New double standards won’t eliminate, but, through fomenting resentment, likely perpetuate, the contemptible double standards against which multitudes are marching. Justice, equality and peace will come only through assiduously treating people equally according to their equal dignity.

Catholics should be on the front lines of the fight for justice. But we should always remember two things.

Marchers should begin in the front pews, protesting devoutly before God. “Unless God build the house, in vain do the builders labor” (Psalm 127:1). The first thing Catholics should always do in response to any need or crisis is unite themselves to God in prayer.

And when they take to the streets, they should head toward the One who never ceases to say, “Follow me.”

Christ perpetually asks us to march with him, and the pilgrimage of the Church in time is a march for love and against sin. Marches guided by different principles or different destinations will not deliver the justice and peace they seek.

Father Roger Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts. He is based in New York City, where he works for the Church at the United Nations.


TCA Media Monitoring provides a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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