1. Wuerl’s action kept some as priests.

By Shawn Boburg and Aaron C. Davis, The Washington Post, September 19, 2018, Pg. A1

While Wuerl built a reputation as an early advocate for removing pedophile priests from parishes, a Post examination found that at times he allowed accused clerics to continue as priests in less visible roles without alerting authorities or other officials. The review focused on the 25 priests whose cases, according to the grand jury, Wuerl handled directly.

Six accused priests were permitted to return to clerical roles after receiving psychiatric treatment at church-backed facilities only to be removed after the church’s sex abuse scandal erupted in Boston in 2002, records show. Three others were allowed to take leave or to remain on leave, staving off disciplinary proceedings and allowing them to present themselves as priests in good standing when they moved to Ohio, California and Florida.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Pittsburgh Diocese defended Wuerl, saying he went to great lengths to move accused priests out of parishes even though the church’s rules at the time limited his authority to remove them entirely. “He used any available channels to remove offenders from ministry and, if that was not possible, to remove them from parish ministry,” spokeswoman Ann Rodgers said.

A spokesman for the Washington Archdiocese acknowledged that Wuerl’s efforts “in a small number of cases may have been imperfect, but the goal was always to remove the priests from ministry involving children,” said Edward McFadden. He also said Wuerl relied on medical advice when he returned priests to ministry.

By the time Wuerl left Pittsburgh in 2006, McFadden said, all priests who had been “credibly accused of child sexual abuse” during Wuerl’s tenure had been removed from ministry involving minors.


2. Vatican reps will travel to China to finalize agreement, newspaper reports.

By Catholic News Agency, September 19, 2018

A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to China “in late September” for a final round of talks before an agreement on the appointment of bishops is signed.

Citing unnamed “sources familiar with the matter,” the Global Times, an English-language newspaper that reflects the position of Chinese authorities, said that “there are no ‘disputes on issues of principle’ between the two sides, and since the meeting between the two sides was previously held at the Vatican, the Vatican delegation will come to China this time for a meeting in late September, and if the meeting goes well, the agreement would be signed.”

“A Vatican source also confirmed with the Global Times last week that a prominent figure from the Holy See would probably come to China in late September,” the newspaper reported.


3. Brooklyn Diocese Reaches Accord on Child Abuse.

By Corinne Ramey, The Wall Street Journal, September 19, 2018, Pg. A2

Four men who said they were abused by a church worker as children will receive a total of $27.5 million as part of a settlement with the Diocese of Brooklyn, in what the victims’ lawyers say is among the largest U.S. awards paid to individual victims of Catholic Church-related abuse.

The men each will receive $6.875 million, said lawyers Peter Saghir and Ben Rubinowitz, who represented the unidentified men. The money will be paid by the diocese and an unnamed after-school program, the lawyers said.

“The thing that is atrocious about this is the signs that were missed by his supervisors,” Mr. Saghir said. “There were clear warning signs.”

A spokeswoman for the diocese said it “highly contested its role in the sexual abuse of four preadolescents.” The spokeswoman noted the man implicated in the case was a volunteer, not clergy or an employee of the diocese or parish.


4. Colombian prelate tells UN delegates peace is possible.

By Christopher White, Crux, September 19, 2018

One year after Pope Francis’ visit to Colombia, where he urged forgiveness and reconciliation in a nation seeking to end its 50-year civil war, U.N. delegates attending an annual prayer vigil for the opening of the General Assembly were reminded that peace, while challenging, is achievable.

“Real peace cannot be imposed by force,” Archbishop Luis Castro Quiroga told attendees Monday evening. “Peace begins to come alive and to take shape at the negotiating table with a sincere and truthful dialogue.”

Castro Quiroga leads the archdiocese of Tunja, Colombia, and as former head of the nation’s bishops’ conference, he spoke with firsthand experience from his work on the Colombia peace deal, which was signed in 2016 between the government and the armed guerilla forces with critical support of the local Church.


5. Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church.

By Zita Ballinger Fletcher, Catholic News Service, September 19, 2018

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops’ conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church’s handling of sex abuse of minors and said he anticipates change in the church.

Speaking out for the first time Sept. 16 regarding the contents of a leaked document on church sexual abuse in Germany, Marx attributed the abuse to the church “lacking attentiveness, lacking sensitivity, through the absence of love.”

“God suffers about what we overlooked, where we looked away, what we did not want to believe as true,” the cardinal said during his homily at a Mass in Schoenstatt, Germany.

The leaked document contained the findings of a confidential study, sponsored by the German bishops’ conference, revealing that an estimated 3,700 minors were abused in Germany from 1946 to 2014. The bishops’ conference did not disclose the findings to the public.


6. Pope role in study of Argentine sex abuse case in spotlight.

By Luis Andres Henao and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, September 18, 2018, 1:51 PM

Pope Francis’ role in Argentina’s most famous case of priestly sex abuse is coming under renewed scrutiny as he faces the greatest crisis of his papacy over the Catholic Church’s troubled legacy of cover-up and allegations he himself sided with the accused.

Francis, who at the time was still Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, in 2010 commissioned a four-volume, 2,000-plus page forensic study of the legal case against a convicted priest that concluded he was innocent, that his victims were lying and that the case never should have gone to trial.

Under Bergoglio’s presidency, Argentina’s bishops conference in 2010 enlisted a leading Argentine criminal defense attorney, Marcelo Sancinetti, to research a counter-inquiry into the prosecutors’ case against Gabriel and two other former residents of Grassi’s Happy Children homes whose cases were thrown out in the initial trial.

In the study, Sancinetti concluded that not only weren’t the accusations against Grassi sufficiently proven, “the falsity of each one of the accusations is objectively verifiable.”

In the four tomes, which were produced at an annual clip from 2010-2013, Sancinetti accused Gabriel of changing his story and trying to extort Grassi.


7. Pope Francis’s popularity is plummeting in the U.S. after sexual abuse scandals.

By Emily Guskin, The Washington Post, September 18, 2018, 12:24 PM

Pope Francis’s once overwhelming popularity in the United States has taken a major hit since a new report on sexual abuse was released in August, according to two new polls.

A Gallup poll released Tuesday found that 53 percent of Americans said they had a favorable opinion of the pontiff, down from 66 percent in August, when respondents were questioned just before the release of a sweeping Pennsylvania grand jury report listing hundreds of Catholic clergy accused of sexual abuse and misconduct over 70 years in the state. Francis’s popularity has fallen 23 percentage points from a 2014 high of 76 percent in Gallup polls.

Francis continues to be far more liked than disliked, with about one-quarter of the public saying they have an unfavorable impression of him, and a sizable share holding no opinion. But the drop-off is notable from earlier in his papacy, when his messages about acceptance toward gay people and other groups received widespread positive media attention, fueling his popularity.

There were significant drops in favorability among both Democrats (down from 79 percent to 57 percent) and Republicans (down from an already lower 54 percent to 36 percent).


8. Campaigns crank up to press lawmakers on abuse lawsuits bill.

By Associated Press, September 18, 2018, 5:59 PM

Pennsylvania’s attorney general and several lawmakers began ramping up efforts to apply public pressure Tuesday ahead of a debate in the state Legislature over giving victims of decades-old child sexual abuse another chance to file civil lawsuits.

Tuesday’s events at opposite ends of Pennsylvania, in Pittsburgh and suburban Philadelphia, were designed to marshal lawmakers’ support to enact recommendations in last month’s landmark grand jury report on child sexual abuse in Roman Catholic dioceses.

One of the grand jury’s recommendations is to create a two-year window for now-adult victims of child sexual abuse, including those abused by clergy, to file civil lawsuits after the statute of limitations on their cases ran out.

It is supported by Gov. Tom Wolf, Shapiro and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, all Democrats. House Speaker Mike Turzai, a Republican, has said he expects his GOP-controlled chamber will approve a two-year window when it returns to session next week. Victims of child sexual abuse who are speaking out since the grand jury’s report also broadly support it.

But Catholic dioceses have long opposed giving adult victims another chance to sue. Some senators say they believe it is unconstitutional and its support in the Senate is uncertain.

Pennsylvania lawmakers have broadly agreed to eliminate the statute of limitations in criminal prosecutions of child sexual abuse, which currently goes up to a victim’s age of 50. They also have agreed to raise the time limit, from the victim’s age of 30 to 50, for a victim to sue an institution, such as a diocese or a school.


9. Judge to consider suspending Idaho’s abortion reporting law.

By Associated Press, September 18, 2018, 6:01 PM

Lawyers are asking a U.S. judge to issue a preliminary injunction blocking a new Idaho law requiring doctors to report extensive personal information to the state about women who have had abortions.

The law, which took effect July 1, requires health care providers to disclose information about patients who had one of several “complications” listed in the law, the Idaho Press reported . A preliminary injunction means the law would not be enforced while the matter is being discussed in court.

The information includes a patient’s age, race, number of previous pregnancies, live births and previous abortions.

The reports will not be made public and providers are not instructed to include the “patient’s name, Social Security number and other common identifiers and information that would make it possible to identify her,” the attorneys wrote.


10. Pope: Sex is a gift from god, not taboo, between couples.

By Associated Press, September 18, 2018, 1:30 PM

Pope Francis has told French young people that sex is a “great” gift from God, not a taboo, and should be lived as a lifelong, passionate love between man and woman.

Francis urged the group of young Catholics from the Grenoble diocese to protect their sexuality from pornography and other temptations that separate sex from love.

He acknowledged people “fall” and commit sin — but said “this isn’t the sexuality of love.”

He said: “Sex is a gift of God. Not a taboo” and has two aims: to show love, and create life.


11. Richmond prelate vows to release abusers’ names for accountability.

By Brian T. Olszewski, Catholic News Service, September 18, 2018

In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond’s first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized to victims of clergy sexually abuse, likening church leadership to Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees.

“Leadership was not listening to the cries of those who had suffered this abuse, who were blind to it, and who were often like Jesus’ own condemnation of the Pharisees as whitewashed sepulchers – clean on the outside, but full of a dead man’s bones within,” he said.

During the Mass attended by more than 300 people in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Knestout said the church must confess its sins and express contrition for what it has done and failed to do.

“I am sorry for those who have suffered abuse. I am sorry to your families, who have had to carry that with you,” he said. “I am sorry to this church of Richmond, the people of God who see the church torn apart, that we failed so miserably and are shamed before the whole world because we were called to so much more, but we fell short, so far short, of what we should have done.”

The bishop said that if healing is to occur, reparation is required of the church. Referring to what he stated in his first pastoral letter, “From Tragedy to Hope,” issued earlier that day, Knestout said he would make public the names of clergy “credibly accused” of abuse because victims “need to see that someone is being held to account for the damage they have done in order for the victims to move forward.”


12. Indiana diocese releases names of credibly accused clerics.

By Catholic News Agency, September 18, 2018, 3:22 PM

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend published Tuesday the names of the 18 priests and deacons who have served in the diocese and have been credibly accused of at least one act of sexual abuse of a minor.

“It is my hope that by releasing these names, the innocent victims of these horrific and heartbreaking crimes can finally begin the process of healing,” Bishop Kevin Rhoades said ahead of the Sept. 18 release.

The list of those credibly accused as developed with the help of the Diocesan Review Board, which is largely composed of laity.


13. Spiritual Paternity, Anger, Lying and Vulnerable Adults, Church renewal must include the renewal of spiritual fatherhood among the clergy — and an intolerance for bishops who tell lies.

By Fr. Roger Landry, National Catholic Register, September 18, 2018, 4:44 PM

What does the phrase “vulnerable adults” mean and is this a step in the right direction?

The phrase doesn’t exist in canon law or in the U.S. Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Young People, but does exist in the sexual abuse policies in various dioceses. It refers to those with physical or mental impairments who are incapable of defending themselves, giving consent or reporting abuse suffered. It’s a phrase that encompasses, for example, those with Down syndrome, patients in a coma, dementia patients in group facilities, etc.

To use the phrase is an acknowledgement that the sexual abuse crisis does not concern merely attacks against minors. This is obviously a step in the right direction. But it’s a very small one. There are at least three concerns with the phrase.

First, it limits the “vulnerable” to a very small segment of adults.

Second, by circumscribing the term “vulnerable adults” to those who are incapacitated, there’s a shift of responsibility toward victims who are not impaired.

Third, the reason for the restriction to “vulnerable adults” seems designed to evade discussion of the much larger problem of unchastity among the clergy with men or women. Some in the Church evidently want to avoid that topic at all costs.

One reason is because it would admit what the facts show: The vast majority of cases of the sexual abuse of minors concern homosexual attacks on teenage boys, and, as we see clearly in the case of former Cardinal McCarrick, such abuse often and unsurprisingly is found together with same-sex sinning with adults.

Why do so many leaders in the Church seem not to be angry?

A friend of mine told me last week, “What makes me most angry is that some bishops don’t seem angry at all!” He named various Church leaders and said that they appear to be making statements written by lawyers and public relations consultations that they deliver without any evident conviction behind the words. They express “shame,” “regret” and “sorrow,” but few express the holy anger that would engender confidence that they’re going to persevere in fighting to eradicate the problem.

The lack of anger flows, I think, from a lack of sufficient horror at what has been done against the victims, their families, God and the Church. This lack of horror comes in turn, I believe, from having been so accustomed to sin that they are longer shocked at the destruction sin wreaks.

What’s so black and white to most dads and moms is somehow, inexplicably complicated for some prelates. I think the fundamental reason is that many are tempted to look at the world as CEOs who say their prayers rather than as true spiritual dads.

I also think that this is the reason why there is a crisis of unchastity among many clergy.

Aren’t bishops lying?

At a conversation with journalist friends, a few brought up how dispirited they are that some very prominent bishops seem to have been lying about what they knew or didn’t know. Bishops who have a reputation for being uber-competent, highly-connected, micromanagers seemed to be the only priests in their dioceses unaware of the rumors, for example, against former Cardinal McCarrick. If these bishops had, in their denials, admitted minimally that they absolutely should have known what they apparently didn’t know, if they had given shown that they felt stupid, naive and betrayed, their denials, my friends said, may have been credible. But their denials feature none of that, they said, but seemed to mimic the implausible disavowals of politicians caught in scandal.

“My teenage son lies better about his dog-eaten homework,” one said. “They can’t even lie with conviction,” another added.

Christ calls his Church to be truthful, to say “Yes” when we mean “Yes” and “No” when we mean “No,” telling us everything else comes from the devil (Matthew 5:37).

Lying is not a sin of weakness, but calculation. It can happen to men of the cloth when some get so used to “mental reservations” that partially obscure truth that those mental reservations can expand until there’s basically no truth left.

It’s incalculably destructive when men of God get the reputation for speaking like the “father of lies” (John 8:44). The suspicion that some bishops aren’t telling the truth is clearly a principal cause in the lack of trust the Church is now facing.

This is one of the reasons why for the future of the Church bishops and priests demonstrate total transparency and verifiable truthfulness. To be icons of Christ the Truth incarnate. Otherwise no one will believe anything clergy say, including the Gospel.