1. Clergy abuse in Pa. spurs subpoenas in federal probe.

By Devlin Barrett, Julie Zauzmer and Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, October 19, 2018, Pg. A1

The Justice Department has launched an investigation into alleged sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy across the state of Pennsylvania — a major escalation of government scrutiny of the church long sought by victims of pedophile priests.

The decision to launch such a probe, even one limited to a single state, is noteworthy because the federal government has long shied away from tackling allegations that the church spent decades hiding the extent of the sexual abuse problem among its priests and that it allowed pedophiles to continue to work and live undetected in communities.

The decision to launch the federal investigation was made by prosecutors in Philadelphia, not senior Justice Department officials in Washington, according to the person familiar with the matter.


2. Will Pakistan Execute a 53-Year-Old Woman for Being Christian?

By Sadanand Dhume, The Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2018, Pg. A17, Opinion

Does Pakistan’s Supreme Court have the courage to free Asia Bibi, an illiterate 53-year-old Christian woman on death row since 2010 for “blasphemy,” while thousands of Islamic extremists across the country bay for her blood?

If the court releases Ms. Bibi, the best-known victim of a cruel blasphemy law often used to target religious minorities, it will represent a rare victory in the Islamic republic for compassion over religious passion. Should the judges uphold the death sentence against her, it will mark another victory for Pakistan’s strident antiblasphemy agitators and another setback for both non-Muslims and moderate Muslims.

Either way, the harrowing tale of Asia Bibi has a moral: Giving in to Islamists’ demands does not sate their appetite for repression. It whets it.


3. Church Faces Federal Inquiry Into Sex Abuse.

By Campbell Robertson and Elizabeth Dias, The New York Times, October 19, 2018, Pg. A1

The Justice Department has opened an investigation into Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania accused of covering up sex abuse for decades, a significant escalation in scrutiny of the church.

The inquiry is believed to be the first statewide investigation by the federal government of the church’s sex abuse problems. And it comes two months after the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office released an explosive grand jury report charging that bishops and other church leaders had covered up the abuse of more than 1,000 people over a period of more than 70 years.


4. South Korea’s President Relays Invitation to Pope to Visit the North.

By Gaia Pianigiani and Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times, October 19, 2018, Pg. A12

Pope Francis received an invitation on Thursday to visit North Korea, a message relayed to him in a private audience at the Vatican with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea.

Mr. Moon, who is Roman Catholic, passed along the oral invitation from North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. South Korean officials said the pope had suggested that he would consider a visit if he received an official invitation.

The Vatican did not comment on Francis’ reaction to the offer.

The South Korean president was in Rome as part of a weeklong European trip to reassure Western leaders of Mr. Kim’s commitment to the peace process. The Vatican’s support could help broaden collaboration within the international community in that process.


5. Feds get involved in Catholic Church sexual abuse cases, Seek documents from dioceses.

By Jeff Mordock, The Washington Times, October 19, 2018, Pg. A1

The Justice Department has opened an investigation into decades of alleged sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania, the first time victim advocates say federal prosecutors have conducted a major examination into the nationwide scandal.

Federal prosecutors subpoenaed all eight Catholic dioceses in the state seeking years of documents for crimes ranging from child pornography possession to transporting children across state lines and reassigning predator priests to other states to conceal their conduct, said a source with knowledge of the investigation.

“The diocese will cooperate fully with the request, just as it cooperated fully with the information requests related to the statewide grand jury,” said Matthew Kerr, a spokesman for the Diocese of Allentown. “The diocese sees itself as a partner with law enforcement in its goal to eliminate the abuse of minors where it may occur.”

The federal probe comes on the heels of the 18-month investigation by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro that led to the grand jury report. The report identified more than 1,000 child sexual abuse victims, but the grand jury concluded that there were likely thousands more.


6. McCaskill wants Project Veritas video investigated, Calls on rival Hawley to launch probe.

By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, October 19, 2018, Pg. A4

Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, has called for her Senate opponent, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, to launch an investigation into Project Veritas after her campaign was targeted this week in hidden-camera videos.

McCaskill campaign manager David Kirby called for Mr. Hawley to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the footage, which shows young campaign staffers discussing how the Democrat’s support for Planned Parenthood and gun control is kept quiet.

Mr. Hawley, her Republican rival, swung back Wednesday by advising the McCaskill campaign either to come forward with evidence of a crime or drop the matter.

“Senator, accusing people of crimes is a serious thing. If you have evidence of a crime, please come forward with it immediately. Otherwise, please stop politicizing the legal process for your reelection,” he tweeted.

Ms. McCaskill also accused Mr. Hawley of working with Project Veritas, telling KOLR10 that it was “startling that Josh Hawley would be part of fraudulently embedding somebody in my campaign,” which the Republican dismissed as “absurd.”


7. Film about abortionist an unlikely success, ‘Gosnell’ producers used crowdfunding.

By Christian Toto, The Washington Times, October 19, 2018, Pg. A1

It was a movie destined for failure — relying on crowdfunding for its shoestring budget, garnering little to no attention among liberal media outlets and opening in only 673 theaters around the country.

Still, “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer” succeeded in its opening weekend at the box office, becoming the No. 12 film release last week. Its $1.16 million in ticket sales placed the film just behind “A Simple Favor” ($1.3 million) and just ahead of “Crazy Rich Asians” ($1 million), according to the Box Office Mojo website.

What’s more, “Gosnell” enjoys a 67 percent “fresh” rating among critics and a 99 percent audience “like” rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

Mr. Meadows understands the role movies can play in the marketplace of ideas. He isn’t convinced that politically charged celebrities can move the needle where it counts — at the ballot box.

“Voters are smart, and they know to listen to actors when they talk about acting but to be cautious when they weigh in on other matters,” he said. “I think voters are incredibly sophisticated, and they tune out the diatribes of liberal actors and ignore them when they go to the voting booth.”


8. In China’s Catholic Heartland, Vatican Deal Brings Communist Party Closer.

By Reuters, October 19, 2018

Last month’s secretive deal with the Vatican, which gives the Holy See a long-sought and decisive say over the appointment of new bishops, sets the stage for Beijing to recognize some underground congregations. Details of how and when this process might happen have not been released.

Interviews with five underground priests and two dozen believers in Hebei suggest previously stark divisions between underground Catholics loyal to the Vatican and churches officially registered with the Chinese authorities have blurred in recent years.

The coming together reflects growing, if grudging, acceptance of government oversight by the faithful, as the Vatican pushes for a reconciliation with Beijing and many of the older generation that had expressed staunch opposition to the party are either silenced or dead.

Still, Cardinal Joseph Zen, 86, the outspoken former archbishop of Hong Kong, has led an international chorus of conservative critics who say the deal is a sellout to the Communist Party and an insult to those who had suffered under oppression.   

He and other opponents of the secretive deal warn the expected gradual folding of unofficial churches into a government system of control risks abandoning a group of “loyalist” bishops and priests, who for decades resisted joining the Catholic Patriotic Association, as the state-backed church is known, and have been punished as a result.

The deal between Beijing and the Vatican was struck without resolution of some long-held Church concerns over clerics in detention, Catholic Church sources familiar with the substance of the deal have told Reuters.

As part of the deal, the Vatican approved seven excommunicated Patriotic Association bishops ordained without church approval, meaning all Beijing-approved Bishops have now been accepted by the Holy See.

It is unclear what, if any, immediate change the deal made for Beijing’s attitude toward China’s approximately 30 underground bishops, whose uncertain fate could still scupper the accord, said Yang Fenggang, a professor at Purdue University in the United States specializing in religion in China.


9. Kermit Gosnell was just the beginning — gruesome abortion doctors operate with impunity around the country.

By Maureen Ferguson, Washington Examiner Online, October 19, 2019, Opinion

Maureen Ferguson is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. She is a senior policy adviser for The Catholic Association.

One of the top 10 movie openings last weekend has been met with a mediablackout. The film is a gripping courtroom drama reminiscent of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” — only this is a true story, and the special victims are the hundreds, if not thousands, of late-term babies that real life Dr. Kermit Gosnell delivered alive and killed in his filthy abortion clinic in Philadelphia. 

The movie, “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer,” is meticulously documented and based on actual court transcripts and the grand jury’s report. Mercifully, the screenwriters masterfully convey this grisly tale without actually showing any graphic or gory visuals. The movie closes with dialogue between the detective, played by Dean Cain, and a young reporter that seems to be a sharp challenge from the filmmakers to the media: Don’t ignore this story (and others like it) due to bias on abortion politics. 

A similar bias allowed Gosnell to operate with impunity for 30 years with virtually no inspections from the state health department. The grand jury reportdescribed Gosnell as a “butcher of women” stating that he “didn’t just kill babies. He was also a deadly threat to mothers.” 

Tragically, there are other Gosnell-type abortionists operating today with impunity. Much of what Gosnell did illegally is being done legally in other states that do not have Pennsylvania’s 24-week abortion limit. Abortion doctors in Maryland and New Mexico openly advertise late second- and even third-trimester abortions online, and this ugly truth is mostly, inexplicably, ignored by the media.


10. Kasper sees no ‘substantial difference’ between Benedict and Francis.

By Christopher White, Crux, October 19, 2018

As one of the major protagonists of the Francis papacy – and arguably of the Catholic Church since Vatican II – German Cardinal Walter Kasper argues, “there is no real substantial difference between Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.”

“They are different personalities of course, different backgrounds,” said Kasper. “One is European, the other comes from Latin America. [But] if you read exactly what they write, it’s the same line and substance.”

Kasper’s comments came in an interview with Cruxfollowing an award ceremony in which he received the “Civitas Dei” medal from Villanova University on Thursday.

Thursday’s event took place in the middle of the Vatican’s month-long Synod of Bishops on “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.”

Kasper became a leading figure during the 2014 and 2015 Synods on the Family, and is widely viewed as the architect of the final document’s cautious opening to communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.

As for his hopes for this current synod, he believes the best outcome is a Church that is better prepared to listen to young people to better understand them.
“The important thing is to listen to the younger generation of young people,” he told Crux. “We cannot agree with everything, it’s not possible, but we have to listen to their desires.”

While his speech drew on Augustine, he pointed to another popular saint when speaking about the Church’s response to young people.

“Saint Benedict, in his rule, said the abbot has to listen to the youngest of monks,” he recalled.  “It’s a reminder that the Holy Spirit can speak to all of the Church.”


11. Letters From the Synod-2018: #13.

Edited By Xavier Rynne II, First Things, October 19, 2018

LETTERS FROM THE SYNOD continues to interview Catholics whose work should be of interest to Synod-2018 and who, in a better-ordered synodal process, would be in Rome working with the Synod fathers.

Today’s interview is with Jason Simon, Executive Director of The Evangelical Catholic, a national ministry equipping Catholics to launch movements of evangelization. With a Master of Divinity degree from the University of Notre Dame and over twenty years of experience working in parish and campus ministry, he oversees The Evangelical Catholic’s expanding programs, 

The Evangelical Catholic (EC) is a lay apostolate based in Madison, and currently serves 60 parishes, 22 campus ministries, and 5 U.S. military installations around the world. Under The EC’s direction, local coordinators at these ministries have launched evangelical movements to train over 1500 lay leaders, and this fall, these leaders are reaching over 5000 people with the gospel, leading them in a personalized apprenticeship of robust discipleship.

The Evangelical Catholic was founded in 1998 by a married lay couple who longed for lay Catholics to experience the joy of being united in fellowship through evangelical mission and fervent discipleship.  They began by leading an evangelization small group at their parish that gave birth to other small groups.  These groups continued to multiply as members of small groups felt called to reach more people by leading their own group.  Soon, a movement of evangelization was in motion, drawing more and more people into discipleship and joyful community.  

LETTERS FROM THE SYNOD: As you survey the American cultural scene, what are the biggest obstacles to the effective evangelization and catechesis of young adults?

JASON SIMON: Pluralism and individualism have radically reduced the power of cultural identity to pass down Christian identity and give people time to experience Jesus as Catholics.  Previous generations had more time to eventually experience Jesus in the birth of their kids, struggles as parents, death of loved ones, etc.  Now, teens and young adults are choosing much earlier to leave the religion of their childhood—if they have never experienced it in a personal way.  Parents have not adjusted to this new reality and still think that occasional vocal prayers before meals and at bedtime—as well as periodic Mass attendance will be enough to keep their kids Catholic (if they even care).  Without a personal encounter with Jesus, most young adults will not continue in their Catholic faith.

LETTERS FROM THE SYNOD: Can you offer some examples of your evangelizing work that others might find useful in their own attempts to bring the gospel to young adults?

JASON SIMON: The Holy Spirit is faithful to reveal Jesus in new ways to people in the context of environments of friendship through his word, connected to his sacraments.  When we gather young adults on a weekly basis to experience Jesus together and grow in deep friendship, just as the early Jesuits gathered regularly around St. Ignatius of Loyola in Paris, the Holy Spirit causes hearts to burn with fire for the gospel.  This group will commit to daily mental prayer, study and memorization of the scriptures, frequent participation in the Church’s sacramental life, and an outward posture of prayer for their friends, neighbors, and relatives.

After a period of time in this formation, each of these group members will be challenged to ask the Lord to lead them to someone they know whom they could apprentice more deeply in discipleship on a one-on-one basis.

This initial training group eventually splits up to go lead their own groups—to reach more people by forming trusting communities of friendship, studying the scriptures, and striving to fulfill our highest purpose in this life.  These groups produce more leaders of new groups and a movement spreads and a culture of discipleship becomes normative. 


12. World Mission Sunday and the Reform of the Church.

By Fr. Roger Landry, The Anchor, October 19, 2018,

Fr. Roger J. Landry is the National Chaplain of Catholic Voices USA

Among the harmful consequences of the multidimensional clergy sexual abuse crisis is the way that it disfigures the face of the Church and impedes the Church’s mission.

In the best of times, many Catholics are timid in spreading the faith and inviting people to consider becoming Catholic. The shame and disgust that understandably follow the revelation of sexual abuse by a Cardinal Archbishop and hundreds of priests in the State of Pennsylvania, the lack of horror and adequate action on the part of some leaders in the Church to stop it, the lack of transparency on the part of some to own up to their responsibility, and the open divisions that have formed over what to do about to it today, all make it much more challenging to perceive Christ and his holiness operating in the Church. They render our message about God, the Church, and faith and morals in general, less credible because of the failure of so many messengers to practice what the Church preaches.

Yet, as St. Paul insists, where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (Rom 5:20). God always seeks to bring good out of evil. Paradoxically, at times like this, when the Church has suffered a gut punch that has knocked the wind out of the Mystical Body, when she limps into the public square with a self-inflicted black eye, God is still mysteriously at work opening people up to the life of grace.


13. Activists Demand HHS End Involvement in Late-Term Abortion, Pro-lifers call on agency to drop $13.8 million contract for aborted baby body parts.

By Bill McMorris, Washington Free Beacon, October 18, 2018, 3:50 PM

Pro-life activist David Daleiden said the Department of Health and Human Services was promoting late-term abortion by agreeing to a multimillion-dollar contract for mice injected with cells obtained from aborted babies.

On Wednesday evening CNS News revealed the agency had agreed to a $13 million contract with the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) to obtain 90 so-called humanized mice each month. Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress and undercover videographer, said fulfilling the contract would require at least two late-term babies to be aborted each month. The taxpayer-funded enterprise made the agency “complicit” in abortion.

Daleiden was in the Rayburn Building to participate in a March for Life panel about the 2019 march. Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, said this year’s march would focus on the link between science and pro-life activism. The panel, which included Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a Miami radiologist and policy adviser at the Catholic Association, said that scientific consensus firmly established that life begins at conception. The UCSF and HHS researchers, however, had perverted the field of medicine.

Pozo Christie said advances in imaging technology, especially improvements in magnetic resonance imaging for pregnant women could soon clarify the debate even more. She credits the widespread adoption of sonograms with helping to convince previous generations of the humanity of an unborn child. She expects the MRI, which presents an even clearer picture of the child developing in the womb, to persuade abortion supporters in the future. That is the type of research HHS should be funding, the pro-life activists said.


14. Many Key Issues to Be Decided in State-Level Elections, Abortion, religious freedom and marijuana legalization are among the matters voters will consider.

By Stephen Beale, National Catholic Register, October 18, 2018

The elections for Congress may be dominating headlines, but a number of issues of critical importance to Catholics — ranging from abortion to school choice — will be decided in state-level elections across the country Nov. 6.

“It’s so important that people engage on the state level because a lot of the national issues are those that grab the news headlines, but what happens on the state level is incredibly important,” said Maureen Ferguson, the senior policy adviser for The Catholic Association.

One such national issue that reaches to the state level is abortion. Ferguson said she expects that the current Supreme Court will give states more leeway to protect unborn children and their mothers. In that case, it would be up to state legislatures to pass pro-life legislation, making elections for local state representatives and state senators that much more important.