1. Black Catholics hungry for Gregory’s leadership, In District, archbishop will find a community full of needs and hopes.

By Julie Zauzmer, The Washington Post, May 21, 2019, Pg. B1

As the longtime cleric officially assumes his appointment by Pope Francis to one of the most prominent leadership roles in the American Catholic Church on Tuesday, Washington’s black Catholics are watching his first steps with pride and excitement — and with hope that Gregory can address the needs of their community.

Black Catholics are a small segment of the Catholic population nationwide, about 3 percent. But in Washington, the community has always been significantly larger (15 percent, by the Pew Research Center’s count in 2014) and a wellspring of civic involvement. When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops published a list of the nation’s historically black parishes, it included more in the Archdiocese of Washington than any other diocese in the country except Lafayette, La.

The District’s four most recent mayors — Muriel E. Bowser, Vincent C. Gray, Adrian M. Fenty and Anthony A. Williams — are all African American Catholics or were educated in Catholic schools. 


2. On press freedom, this pope might be infallible.

By Jason Rezaian, Washington Post Online, May 21, 2019, 6:00 AM, Global Opinions

Over the weekend Pope Francis delivered a speech about the importance of free expression and press freedom, underscoring the growing threats that people around the world face from disinformation campaigns and the injustice of drowning out the voices of the oppressed.

Addressing members of the Foreign Press Association of Italy at the Vatican, the pope urged journalists “to work according to truth and justice, so that communication is truly an instrument for building, not for destroying; for meeting, not for clashing; for dialoguing, not for monologuing; for orienting, not for disorienting; for understanding, not for misunderstanding; for walking in peace, not for sowing hatred; for giving a voice to those who have no voice, not for being a megaphone to those who shout louder.”

His comments didn’t receive wide attention outside Catholic media. But the pope’s words are an important and refreshing reminder that there are still leaders with massive followings — an estimated 1.3 billion people identify as Catholic — who are willing and able to speak out, with moral clarity, about pressing issues facing the world today.


3. Abortion Laws Reverberate for Democrats.

By Tarini Parti, The Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2019. Pg. A4

In the days since this state’s Republican- controlled Legislature approved a near-total ban on abortion, the debate over abortion rights has taken a central role in the 2020 presidential race. Several Democratic presidential hopefuls have made abortion a central issue in the past week on the campaign trail, in policy platforms, cable television interviews, targeted digital ads, fundraising and outreach to supporters in a way that appears to be energizing the Democratic primary base.


4. Waiting for a Diocese To Name the Accused.

By Rick Rojas, The New York Times, May 21, 2019, Pg. A18

But the Rockville Centre diocese — one of the largest in the country with an estimated 1.5 million Catholics — has resisted publishing the names of priests credibly accused of abuse. It is the only diocese in New York that has not released a list. Miami, San Francisco and St. Louis are among the others nationwide.

Church leaders in many dioceses have hailed the release of lists of accused priests as a move toward transparency that will help quell tensions with followers.

But the dioceses that have declined to name priests are calling into question the church’s broader efforts to make amends for the abuse scandals, stirring a growing backlash from victims and their supporters.

They argue that the lack of disclosure creates another impediment toward understanding the church’s handling of the sex abuse epidemic across the nation and makes it more difficult to hold its leaders accountable.


5. Pro-life community debate prudence of new anti-abortion laws.

By Christopher White, Crux, May 21, 2019

Following a wave of new state laws significantly restricting abortion, Catholic pro-life advocates and legal experts are divided over whether such bills offer a winning strategy for the eventual overturn of Roe v. Wade or if they threaten decades-long strategies to gradually prohibit abortion.

An Alabama bill, which was signed into law last week and is now the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, has become a flashpoint – provoking widespread rage among abortion rights activists and dividing pro-lifers, some of whom prefer an incrementalist approach that chips away at abortion access, while others seek a head on challenge to the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion at any point during a pregnancy.

Along with Alabama, states such as Missouri, Ohio, and Georgia have passed similar legislation that bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as the sixth week of pregnancy. According to Catholic legal experts, such laws are likely to face significant legal hurdles and whether or not they will manage to secure greater legal protections to human life remains an open question.

Schleppenbach agreed, saying that in addition to legal and legislative initiatives, the USCCB pro-life office is also spending time urging states to reconsider their policies to better support vulnerable women and children, alongside their efforts to provide greater legal protections to the unborn.


6. LA Archbishop says amended confession bill still targets priests, Catholic employees.

By Pablo Kay, Crux, May 21, 2019

Catholic officials are urging Catholics to continue to oppose a California bill that would force priests to disclose information about child sexual abuse that they hear in the sacrament of confession is advancing in the state legislature.

Current California law requires clergy to report suspected abuse or neglect unless the information about the abuse was obtained during confession.

Senate Bill 360, authored by Bay-area Democrat, Sen. Jerry Hill, seeks to eliminate this so-called “exemption” for “penitential communication.”

As amended, the bill, now protects the seal of the confessional – except in cases where a priest is hearing another priest’s confession or in cases where a priest is hearing the confession of a co-worker.

In a statement, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles said the bill remains “an unacceptable violation of our religious freedoms that will do nothing to protect children.”


7. Defusing a Culture of Contempt: Arthur Brooks on How to ‘Disagree Better’.

By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, May 20, 2019

Arthur Brooks is the best-selling author, most recently, of Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America From the Culture of Contempt.

A social scientist and the president of the American Enterprise Institute, a leading policy research organization in Washington, D.C., Brooks is featured in The Pursuit, a new documentary from the institute that examines the transformative impact of free-market capitalism on declining global poverty rates. Brooks is the Catholic father of three children, and in an exchange with Register Senior Editor Joan Frawley Desmond, he shared his ideas for defusing what he calls a “culture of contempt” poisoning U.S. politics and even personal friendships.


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