1. Viganò may have made it harder to get to the truth on McCarrick.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, March 12, 2019

Presumably, when Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò released his now-infamous statement last August claiming that Pope Francis was in on the cover-up of misconduct by ex-cardinal, and now ex-priest Theodore McCarrick, it was because he wanted to shock the system into getting to the truth.

Under the law of unintended consequences, however, it’s becoming steadily clearer that Viganò’s bombshell actually may have made it harder, not easier, to establish exactly what the Vatican knew, and when, in the McCarrick saga.

In a nutshell, there are bishops out there – and I know this, because I’ve spoken to several – who support a thorough investigation of the McCarrick case, especially on the Vatican end, but who now hesitate to say so publicly for fear of being associated with Viganò and what’s seen as the ideological crusade against Francis he represents.

Carlo Maria Viganò, who’s aspired for more than a decade to be the great Vatican whistleblower – first during his tenure at the government of the Vatican City state about alleged financial irregularities, and later about Francis and McCarrick – actually may have done more than virtually anyone else to ensure that whistles bishops might otherwise be blowing, especially in the U.S., remain silent.


2. Cardinal Pell’s Legacy in Australia: Catholic Church’s Bank Is Full, but Pews Are Empty.

By Damien Cave and Livia Albeck-Ripka, New York Times Online, March 12, 2019

Despite a series of sexual abuse scandals stretching back decades, Australia’s Roman Catholic Church displays a veneer of strength.

Across Australia, more Catholic parishes have stayed open than in other countries that have weathered abuse scandals, and Catholic schools are still filled with children — owing largely to the financial and legal savvy of Australia’s most prominent cleric, Cardinal George Pell.

But it’s not the bank accounts that are empty in the Australian church; it’s the pews.

Even compared with other countries facing long-running abuse scandals, Australia’s decline in church attendance is remarkable: In the 1950s, 74 percent of Catholics in Australia attended Mass weekly. In 2011, only 12 percent of the country’s 5.3 million Catholics went to Mass periodically (not even weekly), and that is expected to fall again when new data is published this year.

The exodus in Australia is a far more dramatic defection than in the United States, where 39 percent of Catholics say they attend church at least once a week, according to a Gallup poll last year, or Ireland, where weekly attendance has fallen to 44 percent.


3. Sex abuse convictions of Australia cardinal prove polarizing.

By Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press, March 12, 2019

The most senior Catholic to be convicted of child sex abuse will be sentenced to prison in Australia on Wednesday in a landmark case that has polarized observers. Some described the prosecution as proof the church is no longer above the law, while others suspect Cardinal George Pell has been made a scapegoat for the church’s sins.

Pell’s sentence will also reflect court standards of two decades ago, when his crimes were committed. In those days, judges placed less weight on the damage done to children by sexual abuse.

In an unusual move for an Australian court that acknowledges intense international interest in the case, the judge will allow his sentencing remarks to be broadcast on live television.


4. What Makes the Christian Worldview Different from the Rest.

By Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., Crisis Magazine, March 12, 2019

One cannot live without developing opinions about the nature of reality, so every well-defined culture and faith naturally introduces its members to a way of seeing the world. While we can easily name many different worldviews, perhaps the five most important ones are: 1) the Chinese, 2) Indian, 3) Muslim, 4) secular humanist, and 5) the Christian view. These views are usually shared by many nation-states and are civilizational in nature.

Standing Apart: China and India
The classical Chinese view is that the Middle Kingdom, by its dignified, virtuous ways, draws all the nations to itself. Human life is confined to this world. Man should be about the ethical ordering of this life. Careful, even meticulous, attention is paid to scholarship, work, family, customs, and, today, technology and social control that best satisfy man’s earthly lot. Man’s dignity relates to where he and his ancestors are located in the ethical and social order. Generations and dynasties come and go—even imposed Marxist ones—but the ordered way of life remains much the same.

Unraveling Dignity
Humanity was classically said to have a given, normative nature. As a result, man’s finite life pointed to God as its origin. Man’s life was sealed and ultimately judged after death in the transcendent order according to what he individually did in actual families, states, and societies. Once man takes control and becomes the sole maker of his own nature, however, his abandonment of the good in himself will lead to a systematic unraveling of the man/woman creation we read about in Genesis and again in the New Testament.

Christianity and Nature
This background brings us to the Christian worldview, with roots in Israel. God and the world are separated. God had no need of a cosmos; creation itself was the result of a free plan to create something besides his Trinitarian life. Within this plan, God’s purpose was to associate in his inner, eternal life, not by creating other “gods,” but spiritual and intelligent corporeal beings. The physical cosmos was designed to support this intention. Man, as a race of rational, free beings, was given dominion over the earth.

The turmoil, suffering, and sins of mankind that permeate his entire earthly history are primarily due to each individual’s willful rejection of the order of nature and grace. This supernatural destiny was freely offered to him by God who desires each person, including the aborted, to gain eternal life. But because God respects the freedom given man to accept or reject the divine invitation, he allowing each person to determine his own fate.

Here, I have traced briefly the five worldviews that contend with each other to guide human life and action. We do not often, perhaps, think of ourselves locked in a struggle to define what we are. To see the alternatives is to understand what is open to us and to clarify how we see ourselves and our purpose in life.


5. Bishops Bransfield, Bennett restricted from exercising ministry.

Catholic News Agency, March 11, 2019, 10:40 AM

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore announced on Monday restrictions on the ministry of both retired West Virginia Bishop Michael Bransfield and retired Bishop Gordon Bennett, S.J.

The restrictions against Bransfield are the result of a months-long preliminary investigation conducted by Lori, into allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, as well as financial improprieties.

“Pending the assessment of the findings of the Holy See, as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, I have directed that Bishop Bransfield is not authorized to exercise any priestly or episcopal ministry either within the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston or within the Archdiocese of Baltimore,” Lori said in a March 11 press release