1. Vatican’s investigator goes when pope calls, Archbishop wins praise for empathy in tackling major abuse scandals.

By Chico Harlan, The Washington Post, May 13, 2019, Pg. A1

His missions begin with a phone call from the pope. “Do me a favor,” Francis tends to say, and then Archbishop Charles Scicluna steels himself, packs his bags and books a flight to another country where something terrible has happened.

Within a church besieged by clerical abuse cases, Scicluna, 59, has become the Vatican’s emergency investigator — a priest-lawyerturned-sex-crimes-specialist who is dispatched to scandal zones.

“Nothing prepares you for the wounds,” Scicluna said. “You don’t get used to it.”

He is sent to places where cardinals or bishops are accused of committing abuse; where officials are suspected of burying evidence or ignoring victims; where the church has profoundly failed and squandered trust. Over the past decade and a half, he has led at least four major investigations on four continents, interviewing hundreds of victims, during feverish days he likens to an “ant working in summer.” 

As the Roman Catholic Church attempts to prove that it can credibly police itself, it is presenting Scicluna as an example of how rigorous and caring it can be. 


2. 1st Sunday Mass since attacks is celebrated.

By Associated Press, The Washington Post, May 13, 2019, Pg. A10

The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka celebrated the first regular Sunday Mass since the Easter suicide bombings of churches and hotels killed more than 250 people.

Military forces and police armed with assault rifles patrolled the streets leading to churches and stood guard outside the compounds. Everyone entering was required to produce identity cards and was body-searched. 


3. Gunmen Kill At Least Six At a Church On Sunday.

By Reuters, The New York Times, May 13, 2019, Pg. A7

Gunmen killed a pastor and five congregants at a Roman Catholic church in northern Burkina Faso on Sunday, the authorities said, in the second attack on Christians in two weeks in a nation increasingly overrun by jihadists.

Congregants were leaving the church around 9 a.m. local time in the town of Dablo, about 124 miles from the capital, Ouagadougou, when about 20 men circled them and opened fire, leaving at least six dead, according to a government statement.

“These terrorist groups are now attacking religion with the macabre aim of dividing us,” the statement said.


4. Vermonters pursue ‘fundamental right’ to end pregnancies.

By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, May 13, 2019, Pg. A1

On its way to Vermont Gov. Phil Scott’s desk is an abortion rights bill that makes late-term legislation in New York and Virginia look conservative by comparison.

The Democrat-controlled state legislature gave final approval Friday to H. 57, which would create a “fundamental right” to abortion and prohibit government entities from interfering with or restricting access to abortion, ensuring that any pregnancy may be terminated for any reason at any time.

Three days earlier, the legislature passed Proposal 5, an amendment that would make Vermont the first state to enshrine the right to “personal reproductive liberty” in its constitution.

Proposal 5 would need to be approved again by the 2021-22 Vermont General Assembly and go before voters in November 2022 before it is added to the state constitution. H. 57 would take effect immediately upon the governor’s signature.

Meanwhile, the pro-life side has racked up historic victories. Three red states have passed fetal heartbeat bills, and at least two other states are expected to follow. The Alabama House last month passed an outright abortion ban, aimed at forcing the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.

Planned Parenthood suffered a painful defeat in March when eight Democratic state senators crossed party lines in New Mexico to defeat a bill that would expand abortion access championed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat.

In North Carolina, Democratic legislators helped defeat an infanticide bill last month and override the governor’s veto in the state Senate.

A similar legislative drama is playing out in Montana, where Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, vetoed a bill last week that would have required medical care for babies born alive after botched abortions.

Ambitious pro-choice bills are still on the move in Illinois, Nevada and Rhode Island but are no longer viewed as slam-dunks, even though Democrats control all three state legislatures.


5. Barron urges Catholics not to quit over scandals, but stay and fight.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, May 13, 2019

Well, one measure is this: Arguably the most prominent Catholic bishop in America, and by consensus the most talented natural communicator and evangelist among the current crop of U.S. prelates, felt compelled to bring out a new book today in which he urges, almost begs, rank-and-file Catholics not to just walk away.

“I have written this book for my fellow Catholics who feel, understandably, demoralized, scandalized, angry beyond words, and ready to quit,” writes Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles, known to millions of Catholics in America and around the world through his Word on Fire ministry and his “Catholicism” TV series.

“What I finally urge my brothers and sisters in the Church to do is to stay and fight-and to do so on behalf of themselves and their families, but especially on behalf of those who have suffered so grievously at the hands of wicked men,” Barron writes.


6. New rules on clergy sex abuse, Pope Francis’s decree is not enough to rid the church of its scourge.

The Washington Post, May 12, 2019, Pg. A20, Editorial

Now Pope Francis, grappling with successive waves of scandals and revelations, has decreed elaborate new policies and procedures designed to beat back a scourge that has partly defined his papacy.

Unfortunately, as with so much the pope has said and done to contain the crisis, the laws he handed down, saying that sexual abuse must “never happen again,” are half-measures. 

The new protocols are not toothless — among other things, they apply retroactively, meaning priests and nuns will be expected to report old cases of abuse.

There will be no ironclad requirement that church authorities alert police and prosecutors when allegations of abuse arise. 

The Vatican maintains that mandating reporting to civilian authorities would imperil Catholics in some countries where they already face oppression. In fact, the pope could have made exceptions for those countries while imposing tough protocols elsewhere.


7. Pope Gives Church 19 New Priests.

By Frances D’Emilio, The Associated Press, May 12, 2019, 8:23 AM

Pope Francis has given the church 19 new priests, ordaining the men in a ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica, as the credibility of the Vatican and many of its clergy is threatened by scandals of pedophile priests and systematic efforts at cover-ups.

During his homily, Pope Francis instructed them to never “tire of being merciful” toward the faithful who confess sins.


8. Thoughts on populism, liability and unfinished business on abuse norms.

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

Now that the dust has settled a bit on Vos Estis Lux Mundi, a new set of papal norms governing both reporting and investigation into accusations of clerical sexual abuse and its cover-up released by the Vatican on Thursday, the overall reaction seems reasonably clear.

For most people, it can be expressed this way: So far as they go, these rules seem promising, but we need to see them applied in practice – because experience has shown that in the Catholic Church, as in virtually any other context, a law’s only as important as the will to enforce it.

Since that’s an “only time will tell” situation, here are three other quick thoughts on Vos Estis to chew on while the jury remains out.


9. Argentine bishops rue ‘continuous attacks’ on pope due to abuse crisis.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, May 12, 2019

A group of Argentine bishops currently in Rome to meet their countryman Pope Francis have acknowledged that “abuses of power as well as sexual abuses” have caused distrust in the Church, but also expressed concern over what they called the “continuous attacks on the pope” associated with the abuse crisis.

The bishops also said that the terms of a national debate over the legalization of abortion “did us Argentines a lot of wrong,” expressing surprise at the level of anger they encountered.

The words belong to Bishop Oscar Ojea, president of the Argentine bishops’ conference, and they were expressed in a letter the bishops of the Buenos Aires region gave to Francis on Friday during their ad limina visit to Rome.

Ojea wrote that with the passing of the years, it’s become evident to the bishops that they still have a “long way to go” to be able to live up to the responsibility of being a conference to which the pope once belonged, and which he once led.


10. Secret Science Made Gene-Edited Babies, Driven to help sick parents and make history, Dr. He ignored his peers’ warnings.

By Preetika Rana, The Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2019, Pg. A1

Two sisters entered the world prematurely one October night last year by emergency caesarean section. Staff at the Chinese hospital swaddled them in white, laying them in incubators.

The twins had a secret almost no one at the hospital knew. One man who did know was there, waiting—a U.S.-educated researcher, Dr. He Jiankui, who had flown in to see them.

The twins were his creations, the world’s first known gene-edited human babies. He had worked toward this for two years, altering their genes as embryos to try making them resistant to their father’s HIV infection.

It is illegal to implant a genetically- modified human embryo in much of the Western world.


TCA has a brand-new podcast. Subscribe today!
“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.