1. Trump aide ‘disagrees’ with Iraqi cardinal over US help for Christians, By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, October 18, 2018

After an Iraqi cardinal said Tuesday that the U.S. government has “done nothing” to aid beleaguered Christians in his country, a Trump administration official on Wednesday insisted that “the U.S. is helping a tremendous amount, by any measure.”

“We have mobilized a massive amount of resources,” said Mark Green, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, one day after the American State Department released data showing $178 million has been allocated as aid to Iraq’s Christians.

That data also asserted that the U.S. government has worked with 36 faith-based organizations, 11 local faith organizations, and 27 international organizations to provide aid, including the Knights of Columbus, of which Green is a former member.

In general, Green said the criticism from Sako should be a wake-up call.

“It’s a reminder that it’s not only important to execute and deliver results, but to be able to constantly stay in touch and make people aware of what we’re doing and involve them in guiding it, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.


2. Want to address priest sexual abuse? The Catholic Church needs to overhaul its seminaries, By Rev. Thomas V. Berg, Washington Post Online, October 18, 2018, 6:00 AM

Many Catholics share a heightened, even unprecedented, level of concern for the well-being of Catholic seminarians. They rightly wonder, as well, whether our seminaries can not only screen out potential sexual predators, but also rise to the challenge of preparing for life and ministry men who are emotionally mature, and psychologically and sexually healthy. This requires training for contemporary American society.

The convergence of these concerns invites a long-needed conversation about reform in American seminaries.

Many of us who have labored in seminary formation for years find 2018 to be a watershed moment, in fact, to insist on long overdue adjustments and enhancements to seminary training. In retrospect, many of our institutions have too often failed miserably in preparing men for ministry, and many still fall far short of the goal of forming happy, healthy, holy priests. The church urgently needs new approaches to preparing men for priestly ministry given today’s sexualized, secularized culture and the personal challenges facing seminarians.

Young men who feel called to priesthood, though well intentioned, often have enormous gaps in their prior formation and upbringing. Many lack interpersonal communication skills. Many need basic formation in Catholic teaching. Not infrequently, they need counseling to discover and deal with trauma: “father wounds,” bullying, parental divorce, porn addiction, or even sexual abuse. Added to that, they must acquire a series of qualities and pastoral skills before ordination.

Bishops, rectors and seminary formation personnel can too easily believe that the way we’re doing formation today is just fine. But if we’re honest, we know that in many cases it’s not.


3. Letters From the Synod-2018: #12, Edited By Xavier Rynne II, First Things, October 18, 2018

On October 16, the Synod’s language-based discussion groups issued their reports on the second part of Synod-2018’s Instrumentum Laboris (IL), or working document. LETTERS FROM THE SYNOD shared the reports with a range of Catholics engaged in scholarship and in pastoral work. A selection of their immediate responses follows. XRII

Finally, from a young religious:

I believe it was Pascal, writing to Jesuits, who said what is now commonly rendered as, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I hadn’t the time.” Engorged prose (like that of the Instrumentum Laboris) in an ecclesiastical setting, subsequently discussed by small groups, typically signals one of two things: obfuscation or banality. If the reports from some language groups are any indication, then the Synod (or at least some of its parts) is afflicted with both. Obfuscation, in the sense that no one really knows what the working document is supposed to be saying; and banality, in the sense that whatever the text is supposed to be saying, it says it in a such a featureless and uninspiring way as to be unusable.

Had there been a shorter, more concise, therefore clearer, statement guiding the Synod’s work, then the small groups might have gotten their feet on the ground and moved toward a proclamation of evangelical boldness. That’s the obfuscatory effect of the Instrumentum Laboris, and thus the Synod’s work results too frequently in banal recitations of platitudes about vocation, discernment, accompaniment, young people, etc. The circles seem to be building toward a final document that says very little, and in saying very little, risks allowing the drafters of a subsequent apostolic exhortation or similar official statement to say whatever they want. That should give everyone pause.

The discussion group reports may be read in full here.

The following intervention, reflecting on the last sections of Synod-2018’s Instrumentum Laboris, was delivered to the general assembly of the Synod by Archbishop José H. Gómez of Los Angeles on October 16:

Sadly, young people today do not know how to live authentic human lives because the adults of our secular society have not shown them the way.

The vision for life offered to young people in Western societies does not call them to goodness or beauty or truth. Instead, what is offered are various life “styles” and alternatives for self-creation rooted in the restless consumption of material comforts, virtual entertainments, and passing pleasures.

Our mission requires that we boldly proclaim and confidently live the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Church as the one true path that will lead us to virtue and holiness and the happiness that God created us for.

Our mission requires that we model for young people how to pray as a conversation with God and how to contemplate the face of Christ in the pages of the gospel and in the mysteries of the Rosary.

We need to help young people to encounter and serve Jesus Christ in performing works of mercy for the poor. We need to help them to meet the risen Lord in the Eucharist and Confession.
We must cultivate in them a sacramental and liturgical life and a loving devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, as their mother and the mother of the Church.

Most importantly, we need to show young people what holiness looks like, by living the gospel we preach, proclaiming Jesus Christ by the way we live. We need to call young people to be saints—and we need to be saints ourselves.


4. Chaput: The terrain and challenge U.S. Christians face, Interview with Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, Catholic News Agency, October 17, 2018, 5:33 PM

KRUK: What is the reason for the decrease of faith in the Western world? What can the Church do about it?

ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT: There’s no single reason for the decline. Many different factors shaped the problem.

The two World Wars, the rise of murder ideologies like Communism and National Socialism, the immense savagery and loss of life starting in1914 – all these traumas deeply wounded the Western psyche. The pride of the early the 20th century produced the despair we have in the early 21st. We hide that despair under a blanket of noise and distraction and consumer appetites. But it’s very real. The idea of a loving God seems implausible today for many people not because of something wicked God has done, but because of the evil we ourselves have done without God stopping us.


5. The Vatican has failed to give answers on cardinal’s disgrace, By Sohrab Ahmari, New York Post Online, October 17, 2018, 7:39 PM, Opinion

The Catholic Church hierarchy has descended on Rome this month, and the theme of the gathering is youth. Pope Francis wants his bishops to figure out how to “help the church better accompany all young people in a joyful life.” That’s a worthy goal, but documents drafted by the bishops in the dense jargon of “Vaticanese” are unlikely to achieve it.

Not so long as a certain disgraced prelate casts a shadow across the Catholic world.

I’m speaking of Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington who resigned his cardinal’s hat this summer after church authorities determined that he stood credibly accused of abusing underage boys decades earlier.

But buried amid all the vituperation was a startling allusion to “what I mentioned to you verbally about [McCarrick’s] situation as Bishop emeritus and certain conditions and restrictions that he had to follow on account of some rumors about his past conduct.”

Viganò, then, still stands unrefuted. There were sanctions against McCarrick, and the hierarchs implicated by Viganò still need to answer for how the predator-prelate seemingly got around them, particularly after Pope Francis ascended Saint Peter’s throne. Otherwise, their calls on young Catholics to live lives of “responsibility” will ring hollow.


6. The Red Hat Report: Should Laypeople Investigate Cardinals?, By Judy Roberts, National Catholic Register, October 16, 2018

When Philip Nielsen set out as a concerned Catholic layman to respond to what he saw as a lack of transparency in Church governance, he knew he could expect opposition.

Indeed, he has faced plenty since word got out that he was organizing Better Church Governance, a group that plans to investigate the Church’s cardinals and publish its findings in what it calls the “Red Hat Report.”

Opus Dei Father Robert Gahl, an associate professor of ethics at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, takes issue with Better Church’s Governance’s characterization of itself as an independent watchdog that will investigate abuse and corruption in the hierarchy by producing dossiers on cardinals.

“The Church sorely needs transparency and accountability and professional lay involvement,” he said, “but not at the expense of the hierarchical structure and surely not in the adversarial guise of a watchdog.”

Father Gahl said the reform the Church needs has been enunciated by Pope Francis and consists in a “renewed, joyful spirit of evangelization, with the laity and families at the forefront as protagonists.” This, he continued, will overcome “the dual clericalist tendencies of, first, abuse of power by clerics and, second, by the false attempt to promote the laity by giving them clerical tasks that remove them from their role in the world to sanctify all things in Christ.”

Under the Church’s divinely designed hierarchical structure, Father Gahl added, priests, especially bishops, are responsible for governance because of their sacramental ordination. Although the laity by baptism share in the royal priesthood of the faithful, they are to responsibly support the Church, and the ordained ministers in turn are accountable to them.