1. Pope meets Jewish group, decries “depraved” antisemitism.

The Associated Press, March 8, 2019

Pope Francis is denouncing the “depraved hatred” behind a wave of anti-Semitic attacks in parts of the world and says interfaith dialogue can help counter it.

Francis made the comments during a Friday audience with a delegation of the American Jewish Committee.

He lamented that their meeting was taking place amid the spread of a “climate of wickedness and fury, in which an excessive and depraved hatred is taking root.” And he warned that for Christians, any form of anti-Semitism is “a rejection of one’s own origins, a complete contradiction.”


2. GOP state lawmakers approve ‘heartbeat’ abortion bans.

By Ben Nadler, Kimberlee Kruesi and Sanya Mansoor, The Associated Press, March 8, 2019, 6:45 AM

Georgia and Tennessee joined a string of states moving to enact tough abortion restrictions when Republican House lawmakers passed bans on most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

Abortion opponents across the country are hopeful the U.S. Supreme Court — with new Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — will either reverse Roe v. Wade, or uphold specific state laws that could undermine the court’s 1973 ruling establishing the right of women to abort a fetus that can’t survive outside the womb.

[Georgia] Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who pledged as a candidate to sign the toughest abortion laws in the country, endorsed the proposal in a news conference after its passage in the House, but said there is more work to be done in the Senate.

“I value life and I proudly support this legislation, which protects the right of the unborn at the heartbeat,” Kemp said.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee has said he would sign the Tennessee bill, downplaying constitutional concerns as an issue for the courts, not his office.


3. French cardinal convicted of not reporting allegations of child sexual abuse.

By James McAuley, The Washington Post, March 8, 2019, Pg. A8

A French cardinal said he would offer his resignation after a French judge convicted him on Thursday of failing to inform local authorities of accusations that a priest in his diocese had sexually abused children. 

The case of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin represented the latest in a series of abuse scandals involving high-ranking Catholic Church officials who either covered up allegations of abuse by priests or carried out abuse themselves. The French court’s decision comes two weeks after Pope Francis hosted bishops from around the world for a summit on clerical abuse. 

Barbarin, who had faced up to three years in prison and a fine of more than $50,000, was given a six-month suspended sentence. He said he would meet with Pope Francis to offer his resignation “in a few days.” His lawyers said he would appeal the court ruling.


4. Bill on assisted death advances, Passes Md. House in Emotional Debate, Measure goes to Senate, and an uncertain future.

By Ovetta Wiggins, The Washington Post, March 8, 2019, Pg. B1

One lawmaker told her colleagues of the excruciating pain she endured during breast cancer treatments. Another talked about a former state senator, alive and well 15 years after he was comatose and given a 1 percent chance of survival. A third spoke tearfully of his mother’s unsuccessful attempt to take her own life while battling terminal cancer. 

The stories provided an emotional backdrop for a historic vote Thursday in the Maryland House of Delegates on whether to allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients who want to end their lives. 

Opponents say the bill undermines the sanctity of life. The Maryland Catholic Conference calls the legislation “dangerously flawed.”


5. Pope laments ‘pain, unbearable suffering’ of clerical abuse scandals.

By Claire Giangravè, Crux, March 8, 2019

On the same day that a French Cardinal became the latest churchman to be convicted for covering up clerical sexual abuse, Pope Francis on Thursday acknowledged “the pain and unbearable suffering” recent scandals have brought during a yearly Lenten speech to Roman clergy.

“Sin perverts us, and we painfully experience it when we ourselves or one of our brother priests or bishops falls in the bottomless chasm of vice, of corruption, or even worse of crime that destroys the life of others,” the pope said March 7 in off-the-cuff remarks during a closed-door meeting at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.

Later in the day, the Vatican released an official transcript of the pope’s comments.

Francis’s remarks took place after French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin was found guilty by civil courts of failing to report cases of sexual abuse by clergy and given a six-month suspended sentence. 


6. After the Vatican Summit on the Protection of Minors in the Church.

By Fr. Roger Landry, The Anchor, March 8, 2019
Fr. Roger J. Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts and the National Chaplain of Catholic Voices USA.

After Pope Francis announced last September 12 that he was convening a meeting in Rome of the presidents of the bishops conferences across the world, together with leaders of Eastern Catholic Churches, religious superiors general, prefects of Vatican dicasteries and other experts, I predicted that Rome 2019 would be a global Dallas 2002.

17 years ago in Dallas, the U.S. bishops came together in crisis — in response to the ongoing disclosures that more than 4,000 priests had been accused in the US of sexual abuse of minors in the previous half-century — to adopt a Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People with its accompanying Essential Norms. The bishops committed the Church in the United States systemically to protect children, care for survivors and eradicate from the priesthood those who have abused minors. The strict measures they adopted have been widely heralded for dramatically reducing the incidents of sexual abuse of minors since.

In Rome two weeks ago, bishops from around the world came together in crisis — in response to ongoing disclosures of clerical sexual abuse of minors and adults in the United States, Chile, Australia, Honduras, Germany, the Vatican and elsewhere — to catalyze the development, fine-tuning and implementation of national and global wide norms to try to eliminate the sexual abuse of minors anywhere in the Church, hold bishops to the highest standard in terms of responsibility, accountability and transparency, and show survivors and the whole Church that behavior Jesus said was worthy of death by millstone won’t be tolerated.

So what are we going to do about it? What is the way forward? It’s to learn from Dallas rather than repeat its mistakes. Even though some prefer to ignore the obvious connections, we cannot let the facts be forgotten or ideologically explained away. The Church did so in 2002 and we eventually got McCarrick, who became the personification of the connection between sexual sins with and against majors and the abuse of minors. If the Church as a whole repeats that mistake now and evades the deeper issues, the future will be unforgiving.

Those who love the Church, those who really want to protect victims, those who long for a holy clergy to help sanctify the Church, can’t let that happen.


7. Delegates approve assisted suicide legislation, Opponents fear for vulnerable elderly patients; others struggle with decision.

By Brian Witte, The Associated Press, March 7, 2019

The Maryland House of Delegates on Thursday approved a measure to allow the terminally ill to end their lives with a doctor’s help.

The House voted 74-66 for the bill, with 73 Democrats and one Republican voting for the measure, and 25 Democrats and 41 Republicans voting against it.

The measure would allow adults to obtain a prescription for life-ending drugs if a doctor finds they have six months or less to live. The physician must certify that the person has the capacity to make the decision, and the prescription can be only self-administered.

Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, has said it’s an issue that “I really wrestle with from a personal basis.” Mr. Hogan told reporters last month that he would take a close look at the measure if lawmakers send the bill to his desk.


8. U.S. Envoy for Religious Freedom Slams China During Hong Kong Visit.

By Reuters, March 7, 2019

The U.S. ambassador for religious freedom, Sam Brownback, on Friday called on Beijing to end religious persecution in China, while requesting a visit to the country’s mass internment camps in the western region of Xinjiang.

In a strongly worded speech during a visit to Hong Kong, Brownback said Beijing was waging a “war with faith” and that it needed to respect the fundamental and “sacred right” of people to worship.

Turning to the issue of Catholics in China, where there exists an underground church loyal to the Pope and a state-sanctioned church, Brownback said a reported landmark deal for China to allow the Vatican a say over the appointment of new bishops in the mainland hadn’t led to improved freedoms.

“Since this provisional deal was announced last year the Chinese government’s abuse of members of the Catholic community has continued. We see no signs that will change in the near future.”