1. ‘Gosnell,’ Like Its Namesake, Faces a Media Blackout, By Jason L. Riley, The Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2018, Pg. A17, Opinion

Nick Searcy directed the film, based on a book of the same title by a married couple of investigative journalists from Ireland, Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer. In an essay last month, Mr. Searcy explained why he was drawn to the subject. “It is nearly impossible to find an adult person who does not have an opinion on the issue of abortion,” he wrote in National Review, “and yet how little we all know about it—how it is done, what the laws are surrounding it, how it is regulated, legislated, and practiced. I wanted to share that knowledge.”

Dr. Gosnell’s story may not change a single mind about abortion, yet the movie and book make an important contribution to a debate that continues to rage 45 years after Roe v. Wade. They offer a better understanding of what “abortion rights” mean in practice and a renewed appreciation of the tragic consequences that can result when politicians, public-health officials and the media put blind ideology ahead of basic human decency.

Ultimately, social media shamed the press into covering the trial, and you won’t be shocked to find out that interest in the story hasn’t lasted. Some outlets have refused to run ads for the film, and almost all major publications have declined to review it. Which also helps explain why I had so little company on Friday.


2. Suit Alleges Priest Abuse in Two States, By Corinne Ramey, The Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2018, Pg. A10A

The lawsuit is an unusual attempt to hold accountable a diocese in New York, which has some of the most restrictive statute-of-limitations laws in the country. Filed in federal court in Florida, the suit uses extensive correspondence to argue that because the Diocese of Rockville Centre sent a priest known to have molested boys to Florida, that diocese is responsible for that abuse.

Florida has what is known as a delayed-discovery doctrine, meaning a victim of alleged abuse can file a claim four years from when he recovered memories of abuse or connected the abuse to other problems, said Mr. Cattell’s lawyer, Jeff Herman.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre and Diocese of St. Petersburg didn’t respond to requests for comment. The Diocese of Rockville Centre previously has said it has long cooperated with law-enforcement authorities in reporting and investigating child sexual abuse.

It was in Florida that Mr. Cattell claims the priest molested him.


3. Catholics’ worst fears realized in list of D.C.’s accused priests, By Julie Zauzmer and Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, October 17, 2018, Pg. B1

Some of these clergy’s crimes were widely known. Eighteen of them were eventually arrested for their behavior, and at least five more turned up on lists of accused clergy in publicly searchable databases. But the crimes allegedly committed by others were kept secret for decades. Only on Monday did their former parishioners learn their priest had ever been accused of abuse.

The list of clergy — which included 30 priests, one of them a bishop, and one deacon — does not include those deemed not credibly accused or accused of other sexual misconduct. Among the names on the list are R. Joseph Dooley, chaplain of the DC police and fire departments from the 60s through the 80s. He died in 2002. The list also names Edward Hartel, who lived until 2013 as a retired priest, saying Mass at home alone in Chevy Chase, a friend of his told the Post in 2010. He was accused of, and denied, groping a boy in the 1970s. Among the more notorious on the list is Robert Petrella, who was accused by at least 25 men of molestation and was convicted twice of abuse. He later went off the grid, eking out a living crabbing and selling groceries on the Eastern Shore. His whereabouts aren’t known.


4. The pope at a loss for words, Pope Francis must acknowledge that he presides over a Catholic Church in a time of unparalleled crisis, By R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr, The Washington Times, October 17, 2018, Pg. B1, Opinion

In accepting Cardinal Wuerl’s resignation Friday, the pope said the former archbishop’s admission to “mistakes” made in his handling of sexually abusive priests demonstrated his “nobility.” Is this really the pope’s spin on what has to be one of the Roman Catholic Church’s most serious scandals in centuries? Is that all that he is going to say? His continued silence is characteristic of the pope and typical of the Vatican. He has still said very little about the predatory behavior of an astonishingly large number of American Catholic priests.

The hierarchy has charge of the church in doctrinal matters and even in administrative matters. The laity, however, controls the purse strings. We are not living in the late Middle Ages. There has sprung up a middle class over the past 500 to 600 years that has changed things radically for the Catholic hierarchy. It controls a huge amount of the church’s assets. Moreover, the hierarchy controls very little wealth. Its vast land holdings have vanished. The bishops and cardinals ought to adjust their arrogance to these realities. Already American Catholics, rich and not-so-rich, are calling for the faithful to pull back on their donations. It will set back the bishops’ budgets very rapidly.

Donations are already down. I am told that parishes are experiencing as much a 50 percent decline in their weekly collections

There is no denying the fact that the behavior of a few has weakened the church of all the faithful. It is time for Pope Francis to acknowledge that he has presided over the Catholic Church in a time of unparalleled crisis. He has to stop speaking in the euphemisms of a political spin-meister and serve as spiritual leader. Either that or he should vacate the Vatican, as Archbishop Vigano has suggested.


5. South Korean Leader in Rome, Praises Pope’s Peace Message, By The Associated Press, October 17, 2018

South Korea’s president is in Italy for a series of meetings that will culminate with an audience with Pope Francis at which he’s expected to extend an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit.

President Moon Jae-in meets with Italian leaders Wednesday and is due to attend an evening “Mass for Peace” in St. Peter’s Basilica along with the pope’s top diplomat, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state.

Moon signed a broad agreement with Kim last month meant to reduce military tensions on the peninsula. Moon’s office has reported that during the summit, Kim said the pope would be “enthusiastically” welcomed in North Korea.

In an article in Wednesday’s Vatican newspaper, the Catholic Moon praised Francis for his peace message and promotion of dialogue.


6. John Paul II, Youth Minister, By George Weigel, First Things, October 17, 2018

Pole that he was, Karol Wojtyła had a well developed sense of historical irony. So from his present position in the Communion of Saints, he might be struck by the ironic fact that the Synod on “Youth, Faith, and Vocational Discernment,” currently underway in Rome, coincides with the fortieth anniversary of his election as Pope John Paul II on October 16, 1978. What’s the irony? The irony is that the most successful papal youth minister in modern history, and perhaps all history, was largely ignored in Synod-2018’s working document. And the Synod leadership under Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri seems strangely reluctant to invoke either his teaching or his example.

But let’s get beyond irony. What are some lessons the Synod might draw from John Paul II on this ruby anniversary of his election?

1. The big questions remain the same.
To tell today’s young adults that they’re completely different is pandering, and it’s a form of disrespect. To help maturing adults ask the big questions and wrestle with the permanent things is to pay them the compliment of taking them seriously. Wojtyła knew that, and so should the bishops of Synod-2018.

That challenge—that confidence that young adults really yearn to live with an undivided heart—began a renaissance in young adult and campus ministry in the living parts of the world Church. Synod-2018 should ponder this experience and take it very, very seriously.


7. Letters From the Synod-2018: #11, Reports and Commentary, from Rome and Elsewhere, on the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Edited By Xavier Rynne II, First Things, October 17, 2018

Synods are unique bodies, but the Synod fathers can learn things from the experience of other international gatherings, including the United Nations. This is especially true of Synod-2018, where a lot of agendas are at play within and beneath the formal synodal theme of “Youth, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.”

On this fiftieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae, and with the sexual revolution assuming various new forms even as its proponents become more aggressive at the national and international levels, it’s not surprising that one of the agendas at Synod-2018 involves the effort by some to get various neologisms and euphemisms, all supportive of a “liquid” concept of human sexuality, into the Synod’s final report. In dealing with those efforts, Synod fathers who take their cues from a classic Catholic anthropology of the human person and from St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, rather than from the ambient public culture of the West, will want to remember (or learn from) the debate to redefine the family and human sexuality that’s been underway for a long time at the U.N. and in its various affiliated organizations.  That history is not as well-known as it should be; neither is the fact that the Vatican has been a leader in contesting the abuse of language for ideological ends.


8. Catholic Clergy Should Elect Its Own Bishops, The clergymen of the U.S. can show our fellow Americans that the Roman Catholic Church is much more than the Roman Curia, By Daniel E. Burns, New York Times Online, October 16, 2018

To Catholics, our American clergy is an essential link in a living chain of witnesses stretching back to the Apostles. Nearly all of us have had our faith shaped by at least one priest or deacon who showed us what it means to live the Gospel. Today we are experiencing a crisis of trust in our bishops. It is not, as far as I can see, a crisis of trust in the majority of our clergymen.

The clergy is therefore in a position to restore our trust in the bishops. But first it would have to have a say in who those bishops are.

Today the pope, acting through the Roman Curia, has exclusive authority to choose American bishops. The Curia often imports a bishop unknown to the local clergy. For his next post, he may be shuffled around again to another distant diocese. It has not always been this way. Centuries of saints would be shocked to see local churches so passive in the selection of their own bishops.

Our American priests and deacons should be picking their own bishops. If they think so, too, then they should tell our current bishops, who can regain some credibility by demanding this of Rome. When each incumbent bishop reaches retirement, his own clergy can elect his successor. West Virginia and Washington, D.C., would be great places to begin immediately.

Rome will of course always retain the right to veto our clergy’s choice. But the American laity deserve to know who that choice was. And if Rome does veto, we will want to know why.

This change should transcend all the unfortunate liberal-conservative divisions in American Catholicism. The bywords of Francis’s papacy have been synodality, decentralization, accompaniment, pastoral care. And it was Joseph Ratzinger who, in 1970 and again in 2000, openly criticized the excessive Roman centralization of the bishop-selection process and called for the diocesan church to recover its communal agency in that process.

These calls for reform in church governance structures have gone unheard in our country. Now the time is ripe and the reform is overdue. It will happen only when the clergy and laity alike demand it. If bishops should be pastors, let pastors choose our bishops.


9. A Christian Man Receives Justice, By David French, National Review Online, October 16, 2018 3:47 PM

A good man’s legal ordeal is at an end. Yesterday, my friends and former colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom announced that former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran had reached a $1.2 million settlement, ending a case he brought after the city fired him for writing — and distributing to a select few city employees — a self-published book that articulated an entirely orthodox Christian view of sex and marriage.

One employee did show the few pages of the book that dealt with sexuality to an openly gay Atlanta City Council member. Suddenly, it was as if Cochran had kicked up a hornet’s nest. Within days, Cochran was suspended without pay. Atlanta’s mayor openly condemned Cochran’s religious beliefs, and on January 6, 2015, the city fired him — without providing him the due process required by city rules or providing him any meaningful opportunity to contest the claims against him. In fact, the city fired him without finding evidence that he’d discriminated against anyone.

So, he sued, and in December 2017, an Obama-appointed judge ruled that key city policies were unconstitutional, including policies that the city claimed he violated.

Yesterday’s settlement represents an important moment in the fight for religious liberty. First, and most important, it represents individual justice for Cochran. His claims are vindicated, and while nothing can truly compensate him for the lost career and the heartache of a multi-year legal battle, he’s been made financially whole for an egregious act of anti-Christian bigotry.

Second, the size of the settlement matters. Talk to any religious-liberty attorney and they’ll tell you that, while states and cities will comply with injunctions and declaratory judgments, monetary damages have a greater deterrent effect on discrimination and misconduct.