1. Destroying Brett Kavanaugh.

By William McGurn, The Wall Street Journal, October 2, 2018, Pg. A17, Opinion

As malignant as were the campaigns against Supreme Court nominees Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, even they didn’t face accusations as vile and unrelenting as the unsubstantiated charges against Brett Kavanaugh. Adding to the injustice is that the frenzy surrounding his nomination isn’t really about him.

It’s about Roe v. Wade. The 1973 Supreme Court decision upended the laws of all 50 states on behalf of a constitutional right to abortion the Constitution somehow neglects to mention. Since then, the advocates of a living Constitution posit that while our Founding document is infinitely malleable, this one ruling is fixed and sacred.

Judge Kavanaugh’s great misfortune is to have been nominated at a moment when the party in opposition frets this fixed and sacred ruling could be overturned.

Never mind that Chief Justice John Roberts is unlikely to acquiesce to a move that would bring down the furies on his court. Or that it’s not clear Judge Kavanaugh would be any different, having assured senators that he regards Roe as “settled” and “an important precedent” whose central holding had been reaffirmed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). Or that overturning Roe still wouldn’t make abortion illegal.

Many assume the Roman Catholic jurist’s dissent was rooted in his personal opposition to abortion. But Scalia never spoke of his own views. And his Casey dissent is something to which even the most robustly pro-choice Americans could sign their names.

Brett Kavanaugh is a decent man with a lovely wife and two sweet daughters. He is also what the Democrats fear most on the courts: an honest judge. Which is why he and his innocent family are being destroyed before our very eyes.


2. Cloud of sex abuse scandal hangs over Vatican youth meeting.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, October 2, 2018, 5:09 AM

Pope Francis opens a monthlong meeting of bishops Wednesday on engaging young Catholics as his church is again under fire for the way it covered up for priests who raped and molested young people.

The synod is bringing together 266 bishops from five continents for talks on helping young people find their vocations in life — be it lay or religious — at a time when church marriages and religious vocations are plummeting in much of the West.

It’s a follow-on synod to the meetings Francis organized in 2014 and 2015 on family life that inspired his controversial opening to letting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion.


3. Vatican’s handling of sexual misconduct complaints about ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick reveals a lot about the Catholic Church.

By Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post Online, October 1, 2018, 4:03 PM

Through dozens of interviews, documents and published blog posts from the time, The Post has pieced together an account detailing the origin and nature of complaints to the Vatican about McCarrick. The story behind the complaints, at least three of which occurred in 2000 or later, also illustrates the great value placed on deference to hierarchy within the Catholic Church, the silence and secrecy around the topic of priest sexual activity and the extreme opaqueness of the Vatican bureaucracy — factors that contributed to the allegations against McCarrick remaining hidden for so long.

In the 1990s, according to documents obtained by The Post, a priest in his early 30s from the Diocese of Metuchen (N.J) reported to his superiors and mental health professionals that he had in the past been sexually harassed and victimized, in the seminary and by “his bishop.” While the documents don’t name McCarrick, a source who is very familiar with the man’s case confirms that it was McCarrick.

Those stories came out through counseling after the priest self-reported to his superiors that he had been sexually involved with two male minors. Counselors through the 1990s determined the priest had been victimized himself several times in his life, was not a pedophile and could be returned to ministry.

In the mid-2000s, the priest reached a negotiated settlement with the dioceses in Trenton, Metuchen and Newark, and details of it leaked.

But the dioceses now say they reported it all to the Vatican.

The McCarrick case reveals, among other things, the unspoken contradictions between the image of priests as completely celibate and the reality of men struggling at times with their sexuality. Some experts and clerics compared priests’ celibacy vows to those of married couples who become unfaithful. In other words, physical or sexual contact between priests happens. But it’s unclear how frequently it occurs and how often it is nonconsensual.

In McCarrick’s case, there are allegations of ongoing, abusive behavior. But in past decades, harassment or sexual behavior between adults did not prompt nearly as much alarm compared with priest abuse of minors.

Even so, the sexuality of priests has been largely a third rail in the church, with little open acknowledgment of the issue.


4. The Kavanaugh Battle, Viewed from Rome.

By George Weigel, National Review Online, October 1, 2018, 6:30 AM

As Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI insisted, faith unpurified by reason risks becoming mere superstition. And as Daniel Henninger pointed out in a fine op-ed column in the Journal the morning the Kavanaugh hearings recommenced, the assault on Brett Kavanaugh’s integrity mounted by the likes of Senator Dianne Feinstein was not a matter of evidence and corroboration but of belief: “I believe” Christine Blasey Ford being the mantra on the minority side of the rostrum in the Senate Judiciary Committee. No matter that the complainant could not identity where the alleged offense had taken place, or how she got there, or how she left the scene; no matter that the other persons alleged to have been present all contradicted her account of the evening. “I believe” — which is not a standard of evidence but in this case a tacit confession of a lack of evidence — trumps not only the rules by which American politics and legal affairs have been conducted but reason itself.

The precise theological term for this mindlessness is “fideism”: a faith, or belief, that is impervious to reason and is indeed contemptuous of reason. That means it’s superstition, not faith. And if Senators Feinstein, Durbin, Hirono, Klobuchar, and the rest of the superstitionist Democrats cannot see in themselves the image of the judges who hanged putative witches in 17th-century Massachusetts, they should look in the mirror again — or perhaps have a look at Arthur Miller’s dramatic recreation of that abomination, The Crucible.

Then there is the fideism sustaining the irrationality of the defenders of Roe v. Wade, which is one of the bottom lines in this particular Supreme Court succession battle. For in American abortion politics, as in American sexual-revolution politics more generally, “I believe” trumped “I think” a long time ago. No supporter of the abortion license has ever managed to defend rationally the proposition that the product of human conception is something other than a human being at a certain developmental stage. Nor have the diehard defenders of Roe been able to articulate a rational counter to the first principle of justice, which teaches us that innocent human life deserves the protection of the laws. Nor have Roe’s proponents managed a rational response to the withering criticism that Harry Blackmun’s 1973 decision got from even liberal constitutional theorists. In “pro-choice” America, it’s all fideism, all the time.


5. The Holy Spirit can guide, heal nation, justices hear at DC Red Mass.

By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency, October 1, 2018, 4:42 PM

Americans should call on the Holy Spirit to guide and heal the Church and nation, Msgr. Peter J. Vaghi said to attendees at Sunday’s annual Red Mass, celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC.

Vaghi, who is chaplain of the John Carroll Society as well as pastor at the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Md., spoke at the Sept. 30 Mass of the Holy Spirit, which traditionally marks the beginning of the judicial year. The US Supreme Court’s 2018-2019 session opened Oct. 1.

The name Red Mass is taken from the red vestments worn to symbolize the tongues of fire of the Holy Spirit.

The Red Mass is celebrated each year prior to the start of the Supreme Court’s new term, and stems from a tradition in the Middle Ages. It is meant for all members of the legal profession, including lawyers, judges, law students, and government officials, Catholic or otherwise. The Red Mass has been celebrated in D.C. for the past 66 years.

This year three Supreme Court Justices, Stephen Breyer, John Roberts, and Clarence Thomas, attended the Mass, along with newly-retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was also in attendance. Notably not present at the Mass was Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who is currently in the midst of a heated confirmation process for the Supreme Court.


6. Synod aims to renew the church to help young Catholics, cardinal says.

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, October 1, 2018, 10:11 AM

To strengthen and support young people in the faith, members of the Synod of Bishops will need to listen to their real-life stories, interpret what they hear in the light of the Gospel and make decisions that will lead to an authentic renewal of the Catholic Church, said Brazilian Cardinal Sergio da Rocha.

“Often we hear voices that blame young people for moving away from the church. But many of them have lived in situations that lead them to affirm that it was the church that moved away from them,” said Cardinal da Rocha, archbishop of Brasilia and relator general of the Synod of Bishops 2018.

The Brazilian cardinal will introduce the work of the synod Oct. 3 and, midway through the gathering, will summarize the speeches individual bishops have made in the synod hall.
The synod will meet Oct. 3-28 to discuss “young people, the faith and vocational discernment.”