1. Sex-Abuse Case Against Vatican Finance Chief Faces Court Test: Cardinal George Pell’s lawyer questioned the police investigation, asking if there had been a presumption of guilt. 

By Robb M. Stewart, The Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2018, 3:11 AM

Hearings began Monday to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial of Cardinal George Pell, one of the Vatican’s most senior officials, who has been charged with historical sexual offenses.

During the four-week pretrial hearing, the defense will be able to cross-examine dozens of witnesses named by the prosecution. The court will be closed to the public when witnesses give testimony and are questioned.

The number and nature of the charges, which involve multiple complainants and are alleged to have occurred in Australia decades ago, haven’t been disclosed. Mr. Pell, the highest-level Vatican official to face charges in sexual-abuse scandals that have beset the Catholic Church globally, has denied any wrongdoing.


2. Cardinal George Pell Appears in Court Over ‘Historical’ Sexual Abuse. 

By Adam Baidawi and Damien Cave, The New York Times, March 4, 2018, Pg. A15

Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s third-highest-ranking official, arrived at a Melbourne court on Monday for the start of several weeks of hearings to determine whether he will face trial on charges of “historical sexual offenses.”

Police officers formed a human wall either side of the sidewalk, as a large contingent of the local and international news media and members of the public watched the cardinal enter the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.


3. U.S. Catholics wonder what bishops are doing for persecuted Christians. 

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, March 4, 2018

A new nationwide poll on American Catholic attitudes towards the persecution of Christians around the world reveals a relatively strong grasp of the situation, a mixed response in terms of how big a priority it ought to be, and either confusion or dissatisfaction about how Church leaders are responding.

Of course, there are ways to explain the perceived lack of clear leadership at the diocesan and local levels other than mere neglect.

For one thing, we live in a time when leaders at the top of any system draw far more attention than those in the middle or at the bottom – most Americans could correctly identify their president, for instance, but not necessarily their member of congress or city council representative.

Similarly, anything Francis says or does will generate far more buzz than a diocesan bishop, no matter how much of a dynamo he may be.

Further, a general lack of media interest in anti-Christian persecution may account at least as much, if not more, for the fact that U.S. Catholics report not being as concerned about it as other issues they’re hearing from the pulpit on Sundays.

On the other hand, the survey may nevertheless be a useful reminder that if the Catholic population in America is going to be roused to engage the suffering of their brothers and sisters in faith around the world, they’ll likely need to hear that message loudly, clearly and repeatedly from their leaders – and, at least to date, evidence would suggest that’s not always happening.


4. Ex-Vatican Bank President Indicted for Embezzlement, Money Laundering: Prosecutors to charge Angelo Caloia and his lawyer for generating losses of more than $60 million. 

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, March 3, 2018, 12:02 PM

Vatican prosecutors have indicted a former president of the Vatican bank and his lawyer for embezzlement and money laundering, the latest move in a long-term cleanup of the historically scandal-plagued institution.

The Vatican said that its prosecutors would charge Angelo Caloia and his lawyer, Gabriele Liuzzo, for generating losses of more than €50 million ($61.6 million) for the bank, officially known as the Institute for the Works of Religion.

Mr. Caloia and his lawyer will go on trial before a Vatican court starting March 15, for alleged crimes related to the sale of Vatican real estate between 2001 and 2008.

A larger effort to reform Vatican finances under Pope Francis has largely stalled on account of infighting among top officials. Plans for an external audit supported by the Vatican’s finance chief, Australian Cardinal George Pell, were dropped amid high-level opposition in 2016. Last summer, Cardinal Pell left the Vatican to face charges of child sex abuse in his home country. He is officially on a leave of absence and hasn’t been replaced.


5. Pope declares new feast day devoted to the Virgin Mary. 

By Associated Press, March 3, 2018

Pope Francis has made the devotion to the Virgin Mary a new fixed celebration in the Roman Catholic calendar.

The Vatican published a decree Saturday in which Francis declared that the Mary “Mother of the Church” feast would be celebrated on the Mondayfollowing Pentecost. This year, it falls on May 21.


6. Washington archdiocese issues Amoris Laetitia marriage plan. 

By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency, March 3, 2018, 3:00 PM

The Archdiocese of Washington has released a pastoral plan aiming to implement Amoris Laetitia within the archdiocese.

Amoris Laetitia is the post-synodal apostolic exhortation published by Pope Francis in April of 2016 following two episcopal synods on the family.

The Archdiocesan pastoral plan focuses primarily on encouraging marriages are open to life; the ministry of accompaniment; building welcoming parish communities; and combating challenges posed by modern culture.

This, Catholic University of America professor Dr. Chad Pecknold told CNA, is a “breath of fresh air.”

Pecknold praised Cardinal Donald Wuerl for his clarity in maintaining that Church teaching has not changed, and that objective truth exists.

Wuerl’s pastoral plan includes a subsection emphasizing that Amoris Laetitia did not change what the Church teaches on any topic. While Catholics should use their own consciences to make decisions, Wuerl states plainly that, “Prudential judgments of individuals about their own situation do not set aside the objective moral order.”