1. Pope Elevates a New Saint, Conservatives had opposed canonization of El Salvador’s slain Archbishop Romero.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2018, pg. A9

Pope Francis declared the late Archbishop Oscar Romero a saint, bestowing Catholicism’s highest honor on a hero to many Latin Americans and progressive members of the church, following years of resistance from influential conservatives.

Sunday’s canonization epitomizes the agenda of the first Latin American pope, whose preaching emphasizes the need for social and economic justice, especially in the developing world.

Best known among the other new saints is Pope Paul VI, who led most of the Second Vatican Council, from 1963 to 1965, and ushered in many of the subsequent modernizing changes to the church, in areas including worship and relations with other religions.

Pope Paul’s single most controversial act was issuing the 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” which reaffirmed the church’s traditional ban on artificial birth control.

But Pope Francis, who has played down church teaching on sexual and medical ethics and indicated a degree of tolerance for contraception, characteristically did not mention the encyclical on Sunday, choosing to emphasize his predecessor’s role as an innovator and advocate for the needy.


2. Pope Defrocks Chilean Bishops Accused of Sex Abuse, In the past month, the pope has defrocked four prominent Chilean priests.

By Francis X. Rocca and Ryan Dube, The Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2018, pg. A9

ROME—Pope Francis defrocked two retired Chilean bishops accused of sexual abuse of minors, in his latest effort to address abuse scandals that have shaken the traditionally Catholic South American country and the church around the world.

Over the past month, the pope has defrocked four prominent Chilean priests accused of sex abuse, with the Catholic Church mired in a global scandal of clerical abuse and sharp criticism over the pope’s handling of the cases.


3. Pope makes Paul VI, Romero saints.

By Nicole Winfield and Marcos Aleman, Associated Press, The Washington Post, October 15, 2018, Pg. A12

Pope Francis on Sunday praised two towering figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church as prophets who shunned wealth and looked out for the poor as he made saints of Pope Paul VI and martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Francis canonized two men at a Mass in St. Peter’s Square before some 70,000 faithful, a handful of presidents and 5,000 Salvadoran pilgrims who traveled to Rome to honor a man considered a hero to many Latin Americans.

Tens of thousands more Salvadorans stayed up all night at home to watch the Mass on giant TV screens outside the San Salvador cathedral where Romero’s remains are entombed.

Paul VI, for his part, is best known for having presided over the final sessions of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 church meetings that opened up the Catholic Church to the world. Under his auspices, the church agreed to allow liturgy to be celebrated in the vernacular rather than in Latin and called for greater roles for the laity and improved relations with people of other faiths.


4. Fast track to sainthood, Pope Paul VI will become the third pontiff canonized in four years even as the church struggles with its leaders’ legacies.

By Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, The Washington Post, October 14, 2018, Pg. A24

But recent years have seen a rapid surge in papal saint-making, with the Vatican canonizing its former leaders in massive ceremonies in St. Peter’s Square — sometimes before history has rendered a final judgment on their papacies.

When Paul VI is canonized Sunday, along with martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero, he will be the third pope to be canonized in four years.

Paul VI’s successor, John Paul I, who held the position for just 33 days until his death, is also in the pipeline, meaning the Vatican office responsible for saints is looking into his case.

Some of the cases that have erupted this year into public view have raised questions about inattention to abuse during the papacy of John Paul II.

“The question becomes: Why the rush?” said Christopher Bellitto, a history professor at Kean University, who suggested instead a mandatory 50- or 75-year waiting period on canonization after a pope’s death. “Papacies are complicated things, and we learn more about them after the pope has died.”


5. The Pope Ignores the Damage.

The New York Times, October 14, 2018, Pg. SR8, Editorial

In his letter on Friday accepting the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Catholic archbishop of Washington, Pope Francis praised the departing prelate for his “nobility” in not trying to defend “mistakes” in his handling of sexual-abuse allegations.

The pope misses the point. 

The archbishop may not be as culpable as other bishops who more systematically covered up sexual predation, and in at least one case he took action that was initially thwarted by the Vatican.

But a devastatingly detailed grand jury report on widespread child sex abuse in Pennsylvania churches showed that Cardinal Wuerl, as bishop of Pittsburgh, was immersed in a clerical culture that hid pedophilic crimes behind euphemisms, conducted unprofessional investigations and evaluations of accused priests, kept acknowledged cases of sex abuse secret from parish communities and avoided reporting the abuse to police.

But if the church is to make amends for the scars it has inflicted on thousands of its members, the pope must do a far better job of demonstrating at every opportunity that there is no “nobility” whatsoever in the way sexual predation was allowed to spread through the church, that he will not tolerate the slightest of “mistakes” in the handling of such abuse and that he will upend a rotten Vatican culture that let it all happen.


6. Washington Cardinal Quits Amid Scandal.

By Francis X. Rocca, Ian Lovett, and Andrew Duehren, The Wall Street Journal, October 13/14, 2018, Pg. A1

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a U.S. cardinal under fire for his handling of clerical sex abuse, but the pope used the occasion to laud him for his leadership, angering some Catholics. 
In a highly unusual step, as the pope accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, he also wrote a letter praising Cardinal Wuerl’s “nobility” in choosing to step down rather than defend his record. 

Though the letter released Friday ended months of speculation about the cardinal’s future, it further angered critics of the church’s response to sexual abuse, who have said the pontiff fails to appreciate the gravity of the crisis.

The cardinal has faced protests at his appearances in churches around the archdiocese since August, when a report documenting the sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children in Pennsylvania by Catholic clergy was released. Cardinal Wuerl, who was bishop of Pittsburgh for 18 years before coming to Washington in 2006, isn’t accused of sexual misconduct himself, but many Catholics say he didn’t do enough to root out abuse.

Both Cardinal Tobin and Bishop McElroy, who are close allies of Pope Francis, are seen as political and theological liberals who have been outspoken in criticizing the Trump administration’s stance on immigration.


7. On Romero and Paul VI, and their surprising affinity for Opus Dei.

By John L. Allen Jr, Editor, Crux, October 14, 2018

Without any doubt, the superstars among the seven people being canonized by Pope Francis today are Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, and in some ways the two may seem very different kinds of saints.

Paul VI was a consummate Vatican insider, very much a man of the system; Romero, on the other hand, was a man of the people slain for his advocacy of the poor.

Yet there are many things that link them, beginning with the fact that it was Paul VI who actually made Romero a bishop and later transferred him to San Salvador, setting the stage for the rest of his dramatic life and death.

Aside from such obvious matters, here’s one that’s more obscure, and it actually says something important about the Catholic Church: Both men were also admirers, in their own ways, of Opus Dei.


8. Vatican accepts Wuerl’s resignation, But pope lets embattled archbishop continue some duties for now.

By Michelle Boorstein, Chico Harlan, and Julie Zauzmer, The Washington Post, October 13, 2018, Pg. A1

Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation of Washington’s archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, a trusted papal ally who became a symbol among many Catholics for what they regard as the church’s defensive and weak response to clerical sex abuse.

But even as Wuerl becomes one of the highest-profile prelates to step down in a year of prominent abuse scandals, Pope Francis offered the cardinal a gentle landing, praising him in a letter and allowing him to stay on as the day-to-day administrator of the Washington archdiocese until a successor is found.

In his letter, Francis said that Wuerl’s “nobility” had prompted him to step down, even though he had “sufficient elements” to justify his actions.

“Of this, I am proud and thank you,” Francis wrote.

“I am sorry and ask for healing for all of those who were so deeply wounded at the hands of the Church’s ministers,” Wuerl wrote. “I also beg forgiveness on behalf of Church leadership from the victims who were again wounded when they saw these priests and bishops both moved and promoted.”


9. Cardinal sin, Mr. Wuerl, Washington’s archbishop, is exiting, but with a pontifical pat on the back.

The Washington Post, October 13, 2018, Pg. A18, Editorial

In wrestling with the scourge of pedophile priests, Pope Francis has attacked clericalism — the deference accorded to the Catholic Church’s hierarchy at the expense of the faithful — while leaving himself vulnerable to the very same charge. So it was on Friday regarding Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, who was implicated in covering up clergy sex abuse when he was the bishop of Pittsburgh. The pope accepted the cardinal’s resignation but at the same time lauded his “nobility” and protected much of his standing and influence within the church.

That mixed message on sexual abuse of minors has been a hallmark of Francis’s papacy. With practically each move he makes to contain the erosion of the church’s authority, he subverts his own purpose, and by extension the institution itself, by his ambivalence.

As the Vatican drags its feet — Mr. Wuerl will retain his influence as a member of the body that chooses bishops — the ground is shifting under the church across the United States.

Much of the impulse for reform is coming from the laity, who are demanding the accountability that is coming too slowly from Rome. 

Pope Francis is summoning top bishops from all over the world to the Vatican in February to discuss the “protection of minors.” That may be his last chance to clarify his murky record on the issue.


10. Pope Applauds Cleric Resigning Post Under Fire.

By Jason Horowitz, Elizabeth Dias and Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times, October 13, 2018, Pg. A1

Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, a moment many victims of clerical sexual abuse had hoped would demonstrate his commitment to holding accountable bishops who have mismanaged cases of sexual misconduct.

But instead of making an example of Cardinal Wuerl, who was named in a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report that accused church leaders of covering up abuse, Francis held him up as a model for the future unity of the Roman Catholic Church. The pope cited Cardinal Wuerl’s “nobility” and announced that the 77-year-old prelate would stay on as the archdiocese’s caretaker until the appointment of his successor.

In an interview, Cardinal Wuerl said that he would continue to live in Washington and that he expected to keep his position in Vatican offices that exert great influence, including one that advises the pope on the appointment of bishops.

Cardinal Wuerl had a reputation as a reformer before the Pennsylvania grand jury report in August detailed widespread clerical abuse over many decades. The report included accounts of Cardinal Wuerl’s poor handling of accusations against priests when he was the bishop of Pittsburgh, mentioning his name more than 200 times.