1. Gregory takes helm at D.C. archdiocese, For Catholic populace, leader serves as beacon of hope in abuse crisis.

By Julie Zauzmer and Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, May 22, 2019, Pg. A1

Wilton Gregory, a longtime Catholic cleric who has been a leader in the church’s efforts to address its sexual abuse crisis for more than two decades, was installed Tuesday as Washington’s first African American archbishop. 

Gregory takes the helm of one of the most prominent Catholic dioceses at a time when the church is once again under siege. The new archbishop of Washington must reassure local Catholics stunned by the misdeeds of the previous two archbishops, while the Vatican seeks more effective approaches to preventing abuse and as disillusioned American members leave the church.

Under the grand dome of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, North America’s largest Catholic church, Gregory was loudly cheered by eight red-robed cardinals, almost 50 bishops and thousands of Catholic faithful, as he held out the paper scroll proclaiming him the Washington archbishop. For many, he represents a beacon of hope that a new leader can set right a stricken community.


2. Democratic-led states sue over Trump administration’s ‘conscience’ rule.

By Amy Goldstein, The Washington Post, May 22, 2019, Pg. A4

A group of mostly Democratic states filed lawsuits against the Trump administration on Tuesday, challenging a new federal rule that gives health-care providers, insurers and employers greater latitude to refuse to provide or pay for medical services that they say violate their religious or moral beliefs.

A lawsuit by a coalition of nearly two dozen states and cities, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, alleges that the rule illegally favors the personal views of health-care workers over the needs of patients — “at a dangerous price” of hobbling the ability of state-run health-care facilities to provide effective care.

The “conscience protections,” as their advocates call them, are among actions taken by the Department of Health and Human Services that appeal to Christian conservatives, a constituency that is part of Trump’s political base. The rule is due to take effect in late July. 


3. U.S. judge: Legislators defied abortion ruling.

By Associated Press, The Washington Post, May 22, 2019, Pg. A3

A federal judge who struck down Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban last year said during a court hearing Tuesday that the state’s legislators defied his ruling by passing a new law that sets the ban even earlier.

The new law — which is not yet in effect — would prohibit most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, at about six weeks, when many women may not know they are pregnant.

Mississippi is one of several states enacting abortion restrictions this year in hopes that the U.S. Supreme Court, with new conservative justices, will reevaluate and maybe overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. 


4. Infecting People Isn’t a Religious Right.

The New York Times, May 22, 2019, Pg. A20, Editorial

It’s no coincidence that measles is spreading across the United States after a decade in which the number of parents claiming exemption for their children from vaccination has grown. The outbreak has been most intense in New York, particularly in deeply insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and upstate that have been vulnerable to misinformation and resistant to vaccination.

To halt the spread of the disease, bills in the State Senate and Assembly would prevent parents from claiming that their religious beliefs exempt them from legal requirements that their children be vaccinated before going to school. The American Academy of Pediatrics has made the elimination of such nonmedical exemptions its top priority this year.

And while Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he opposes religious exemptions for vaccines, last month he hedged that stance, also expressing concern for First Amendment protections.

Religious freedom is important to protect, but the courts have ruled it doesn’t apply here. In upholding a California law that removed religious exemptions, a federal appeals court last year noted an earlier ruling that, “The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death.”


5. Pope urges China’s Catholics to unify after bishop deal.

By The Associated Press, May 22, 2019, 4:48 AM

Pope Francis is urging China’s divided Catholic community to come together in communion, as he seeks to heal decades of estrangement following a landmark deal with Beijing over bishop nominations.

Francis made a special appeal at the end of his weekly audience Wednesday, noting that May 24 is a feast day in China dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Francis praised China’s Catholics, “who among daily difficulties and effort, continue to believe, hope and love.” He urged them to be witnesses of charity and fraternity “always remaining united in the communion of the universal church.”


6. Pope Francis prays for China invoking Mary Help of Christians.

By Courtney Grogan, Catholic News Agency, May 22, 2019, 3:56 AM

Pope Francis Wednesday asked Our Lady Help of Christians to intercede for Chinese Catholics, whom he said continue to believe and hope amid trials.

“Dear faithful in China, our Heavenly Mother will help you all to be witnesses of charity and fraternity, keeping you always united in the communion of the universal Church,” Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s Square May 22 following his weekly Wednesday audience.

The pope expressed his closeness and affection for all Catholics in China ahead of Friday’s feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, a Marian devotion particularly venerated in Shanghai’s Shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan.


7. Iraqi Christian leaders plead with US, Iran to sort things out.

By Elise Harris, Crux, May 22, 2019

Leaders of Iraq’s Christian community have appealed to both Iran and the United States to sort out their problems in ways that don’t further harm minorities in the region, already devastated by the fallout of a 2003 American invasion and its aftermath.

“As tension is increasing in the region, due to our national and ecclesiastical responsibility, we are pleading for the decision-makers of the Islamic Republic of Iran (our neighboring country) and the United States of America to adopt wisdom and appeasement in containing the current conflict,” Sako said in a May 20 statement, sent to both U.S. and Iranian embassies in Baghdad.

Iraq and surrounding areas, ravaged by years of conflict, most recently at the hands of ISIS, “cannot tolerate another catastrophic war in which everyone is the ‘loser,’ especially the innocent and poor,” Sako said, insisting that dialogue is the most effective way to promote “the actual needs of the region,” including peaceful coexistence, mutual respect and good relations among different communities.


8. The Pell Case: Developments Down Under.

By George Weigel, First Things, May 22, 2019

In three weeks, a panel of senior judges will hear Cardinal George Pell’s appeal of the unjust verdict rendered against him at his retrial in March, when he was convicted of “historical sexual abuse.” That conviction did not come close to meeting the criterion of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is fundamental to criminal law in any rightly-ordered society. The prosecution offered no corroborating evidence sustaining the complainant’s charge. The defense demolished the prosecution’s case, as witness after witness testified that the alleged abuse simply could not have happened under the circumstances charged—in a busy cathedral after Mass, in a secured space.

Yet the jury, which may have ignored instructions from the trial judge as to how evidence should be construed, returned a unanimous verdict of guilty. At the cardinal’s sentencing, the trial judge never once said that he agreed with the jury’s verdict; he did say, multiple times, that he was simply doing what the law required him to do. Cardinal Pell’s appeal will be just as devastating to the prosecution’s case as was his defense at both his first trial (which ended with a hung jury, believed to have favored acquittal) and the retrial. What friends of the cardinal, friends of Australia, and friends of justice must hope is that the appellate judges will get right what the retrial jury manifestly got wrong. 

An “unsafe” verdict in Australia is one a jury could not rationally have reached. Friends of truth must hope that the appellate judges, tuning out the mob, will begin to restore safety and rationality to public life Down Under in June.  


9. New D.C. Archbishop Wilton Gregory Addresses Abuse Scandal, Pledges Honesty.

By Lauretta Brown, National Catholic Register, May 21, 2019

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory was installed as the seventh archbishop of Washington Tuesday in a ceremony that comes at a turbulent time for the local Church under the cloud of his predecessors’ sexual abuse and cover-up scandals.

The newly-installed archbishop addressed the issue head-on in his homily, promising those gathered that he would be committed to transparency about his failings.

“I want to be a welcoming shepherd who laughs with you whenever we can, who cries with you whenever we must, and who honestly confesses his faults and failings before you when I commit them, not when they are revealed,” he said to loud applause from those gathered.

Archbishop Gregory centered his homily on the Gospel account from Mark of Christ calming the stormy sea.


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