1. China and Vatican to Sign Landmark Deal Over Bishops, Under agreement, Beijing would recognize pope as head of China’s Catholics in return for Vatican recognition of excommunicated Chinese bishops.

By Francis X. Rocca and Eva Dou, The Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2018, 8:57 AM

The Vatican and China are set to sign a landmark agreement later this month intended to bring together China’s state-backed and unauthorized Catholic communities, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The controversial deal would mean the first official recognition by China’s government of the pope as the head of the Catholic Church in China. In return, Pope Francis would formally recognize seven excommunicated Chinese bishops who were appointed by the Communist government without Vatican approval.

The agreement could still fall through or be delayed due to unforeseen events, one of the people said.

Such a deal would come even though the Beijing government has recently stepped up a crackdown on Christians and people of other religions, involving church closures and removals of religious symbols.

Beijing is eager for the publicity boost that mending ties with the Vatican would bring, even as the Communist Party prosecutes a systematic campaign to bring Catholicism and all other religions more firmly under its control.

A new agreement would allow the pope to veto nominees for bishops proposed by the Chinese government. Beijing’s major condition for signing has been that the pope recognize the seven Chinese bishops excommunicated by Rome over the years.

That recognition will require two bishops who have shunned government control, in the dioceses of Shantou and Mindong, to step aside in favor of government-appointed bishops. They are the first “underground” bishops who have been asked to do so by the Vatican.


2. West Virginia Bishop Resigns Amid Abuse Claims.

By Scott Calvert and Francis X. Rocca, September 14, 2018, Pg. A3

Pope Francis has ordered an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of adults against West Virginia Bishop Michael Bransfield and has accepted his resignation, church officials said Thursday.

The pope instructed Baltimore Archbishop William Lori to conduct an investigation into Bishop Bransfield and appointed him as the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia. The archbishop will perform both roles until a new bishop is appointed and in place.

The news release didn’t detail the allegations against 75-year-old Bishop Bransfield who became the eighth bishop of Wheeling-Charleston in 2005. Before that, he held several positions at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., from 1980 through the 1990s.

The announcement came as Pope Francis met with leading U.S. Catholic bishops Thursday in Rome to discuss sex-abuse scandals in the U.S. church. The allegations have drawn in the pope himself, following accusations that he rehabilitated a former archbishop of Washington who had been sanctioned for sexual misconduct.


3. The Catholic Church’s Unholy Stain.

By The New York Times, September 14, 2018, Pg. A30, Editorial

Pope Francis has summoned senior bishops from around the world for the first global gathering of Roman Catholic leaders to address the crisis of clerical pedophilia. The action is long overdue, and the outcome cannot be yet more apologies and pledges of better behavior. The unending revelations of clerical sexual abuse and cover-ups demand radical, public, convincing systemic change.

To be meaningful, any further response must include openly addressing allegations that the pope was himself party to a cover-up.

This is not some flaw to be healed through spiritual renewal. This is a pattern of widespread and gross violations of the power a man of God has over a child, and of cover-ups stretching from Pennsylvania and Boston to every corner of the United States and the world.

How have so many pedophiles been allowed into the priesthood? How could so many bishops have so consistently looked the other way or worse, paid off victims or foisted predatory priests on unsuspecting parishes elsewhere? Many explanations have been offered: the all-male priesthood and the celibacy imposed on Catholic priests; the elitism, careerism and clericalism of the church hierarchy; the lack of transparency or accountability among bishops.

Critically, the bishops have listed “substantial leadership by laity” as one of their goals.

That is essential. Pope Francis has made strides in changing the culture of the papacy and in making the Catholic Church more inclusive, and he seems now to have grasped the gravity of the sickness afflicting the church. But for what is sure to be a defining struggle of his papacy, he will need to look beyond the cardinals, prelates and priests — indeed beyond himself — for answers and solutions.

Any credible effort at reforming the clerical culture of the church, restoring trust, instituting accountability and eradicating the cancer of sexual abuse will require the full participation of experts, prosecutors, victims and many others outside the clergy and the church — women as well as men. If that runs against tradition and practice, so be it.


4. Kurtz: U.S. society ‘much richer’ when church, government work together.

By Kurt Jensen, Catholic News Service, September 14, 2018

The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty told a Washington audience Sept. 12 he is concerned about a “steady movement” in the U.S. away from religious institutions and an erosion in the view that religious liberty must be valued.

The public-private partnership of the government and the church is necessary to serve all people’s needs, said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky.

He reviewed a number of current challenges to religious liberty, including an effort to exclude Catholic agencies from providing adoption and foster care services over the issue of same-sex couples.

Before his main address at the Catholic Information Center, Kurtz commented on the current abuse scandal in the church, in particular the credible allegations of child sexual abuse committed by ex-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Washington. He also has been accused of sexual misconduct with seminarians.

Religious liberty, he said, “is captured in the dignity of the individual person.”


5. DA clears Indiana bishop of misconduct, says claim has harmed prelate.

By Catholic News Service, September 14, 2018

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend welcomed findings by a Pennsylvania district attorney that cleared Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of wrongdoing after an allegation of misconduct was made against him.

District Attorney Fran Chardo of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, announced Sept. 13 that “a full investigation” by his office found no evidence that Rhoades ever engaged in “a criminal or otherwise improper relationship” with a now-deceased man.

Chardo said that he believed the original report was the result of an honest, mistaken recollection, the news website PennLive reported. But the DA also said the claim has brought “significant” harm to the bishop.

The investigation of Rhoades, the former bishop of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, began after diocesan officials forwarded a recent allegation of misconduct to Chardo’s office.

Rhoades, who has headed the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese since 2010, “adamantly” denied the allegation Sept. 6 in a statement from his diocese.

After Chardo’s announcement, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend said that “while it is important that allegations be brought forward, it’s equally important for due process to take place.”


6. Nearly 300 to be compensated for clergy abuse on Long Island.

By Associated Press, September 14, 2018, 8:13 AM

Nearly 300 people will be compensated by the Roman Catholic diocese on New York’s Long Island for sexual abuse at the hands of priests.

Newsday reports that the Diocese of Rockville Centre has received 293 claims since it established a special compensation program last fall.

The program’s co-administrator, Camille Biros, says 221 victims have been offered financial settlements so far and the others will receive offers within a few months.


7. ‘Elitist, clericalist’ Church allows abuse to thrive, Pope says.

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, September 13, 2018

Sexual and physical abuse by priests and religious and the scandal of its cover-up by Church authorities thrive in countries where the Catholic Church is “elitist and clericalist,” Pope Francis told Jesuits in Ireland in August.

“There is something I have understood with great clarity: this drama of abuse, especially when it is widespread and gives great scandal – think of Chile, here in Ireland or in the United States – has behind it a Church that is elitist and clericalist, an inability to be near to the people of God,” the pope told the Jesuits during a meeting Aug. 25 in Dublin.


8. Cardinal Dolan says it’s not about Viganò v. Francis but right v. wrong.

By Christopher White, Crux, September 13, 2018

Recent revelations and accusations related to clerical sexual abuse have been “a disaster, one crisis after another” for the Catholic Church, according to Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, and have  jeopardized its moral authority to speak on other issues such as the sanctity of human life, immigration and the environment.

In an interview on Thursday with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, the archbishop of New York said the latest rounds of abuse scandals have been “nauseating” and “diabolical,” although he hopes they can ultimately be a “cause for healing.”

The cardinal said that he takes the account of the former papal envoy “seriously,” and that he trusts Francis to respond appropriately.

Among the claims in the Viganò missive, in which he names more than 30 senior churchmen as being complicit in sexual abuse cover-up, is that Francis was protecting a “homosexual current” within the Church.

Dolan told Amanpour that gay clergy are not the “sole root” of the crisis.

“It’s not about gay or straight, liberal or conservative, Viganò or Pope Francis,” he maintained. “It’s about right and wrong.”


9. After meeting Pope, cardinal says he’s hopeful about addressing crisis.

By Greg Erlandson, Catholic News Service, September 13, 2018

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston struck a determinedly hopeful tone after his long-awaited meeting with Pope Francis to discuss the growing sexual abuse crisis in the United States.

“I myself am filled with hope,” he said, “but I also realize all these things might take purpose and time.”

The cardinal spoke following a noon meeting Sept. 13 at the Vatican. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was joined in his meeting with the pope by: Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors; Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the USCCB; and Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary of the conference.

“The Holy Father is the important figure for us in this,” DiNardo said. “He sees the problem all over the Church and throughout the world.”

While the cardinal did not want to discuss the specifics of the private meeting beyond a statement released by the U.S. bishops, he did describe the encounter as “very, very fruitful.”


10. Pope urges Irish church to make reparations over mass grave.

By Associated Press, September 13, 2018, 1:45 PM

Pope Francis has urged the Irish church to make reparations for its role in the scandal of a Catholic-run orphanage where a mass grave containing the remains of hundreds of children was discovered.

Francis made the appeal while meeting with Jesuits during his Aug. 25-26 visit to Ireland. A transcript of his remarks was released Thursday by the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica.

Francis recalled he had met with and received a memo from Ireland’s minister for youth affairs about the grave at the Tuam mother and baby home. The memo called for the church to “accept its responsibilities and make reparation” for its role.


11. Chile authorities raid 4 dioceses in clerical abuse probe.

By Eva Vergara, Associated Press, September 13, 2018, 1:39 PM

Chilean authorities raided four dioceses on Thursday as part of an investigation into clerical sex abuse of minors and alleged cover-ups by bishops.

Prosecutors said the surprise raids took place at the dioceses of Valparaiso, Chillan, Osorno and Concepcion. Images published by local media showed authorities walking out from the buildings after seizing documents.

The raids come as the Catholic Church tries to recover from its poor handling of the sex abuse scandal in the Chilean church, triggered earlier this year when Pope Francis repeatedly discredited victims of a notorious predator priest.