1. Stirred by Pain, States Take On Catholic Church, By Sharon Otterman and Laurie Goodstein.

The New York Times, September 7, 2018, Pg. A1

Attorneys general across the United States are taking a newly aggressive stance in investigating sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, opening investigations into malfeasance and issuing subpoenas for documents.

On Thursday alone, the New York State attorney general issued subpoenas to all eight Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a sweeping civil investigation into whether institutions covered up allegations of sexual abuse of children, officials said. The attorney general in New Jersey announced a criminal investigation.

In the three weeks since the release of the Pennsylvania report, the attorneys general of Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and New Mexico have also said they will investigate sex abuse by Catholic priests in their states and have asked local dioceses for records. Most bishops have been saying they will cooperate.


2. Sex Abuse Looms Over Planned Vatican Meeting.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, September 7, 2018, Pg. A3

The sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church is already casting a shadow over an international meeting of bishops that will take place at the Vatican next month.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said last week that he had written to Pope Francis asking him to call off the synod on young people, arguing that the “bishops would have absolutely no credibility in addressing this topic.”

Archbishop Chaput is an elected member of the synod’s governing council and one of five U.S. bishops designated to attend next month’s gathering.

The Vatican hasn’t responded publicly to the bishop’s letter.

The published agenda for next month’s synod, which is scheduled to run from Oct. 3 to 28, makes only passing reference to clerical sex abuse. The meeting is supposed to explore how the church can better engage young Catholics and help them find roles in the church, whether as clergy or lay members.


3. New York and New Jersey Probe Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Catholic Priests, Subpoenas issued to all eight Catholic dioceses in New York; New Jersey attorney general forms task force.

By Corinne Ramey and Joseph De Avila, The Wall Street Journal, September 7, 2018, Pg. A3

The New York attorney general’s office has issued subpoenas to all eight Roman Catholic dioceses in the state as part of its civil investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter. And New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Thursday the formation of a task force to investigate sexual-abuse allegations by clergy members in the Catholic dioceses of his state.

New Jersey’s Mr. Grewal appointed Robert Laurino, a veteran sex-crimes prosecutor and former acting county prosecutor in Essex County, to head the team.

The task force will review agreements signed in 2002 between all the Catholic dioceses of New Jersey and state law-enforcement agencies. The agreements required each diocese to lay out policies to make sure their leaders and employees report potential sexual-abuse cases and cooperate with criminal investigations. It will also examine whether the dioceses complied with the agreements.

“We welcome the attorney general’s investigation and will cooperate fully,” said Patrick Brannigan, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference. “We believe cooperating with law enforcement is essential to restoring faith and trust.”

Meanwhile, an organization of Catholic business leaders sent a letter to its members on Thursday saying it would be placing its annual tithe in escrow for now, rather than sending it to Rome. About $820,000 will be placed in escrow, according to an official from the group, Legatus: Ambassadors for Christ in the Marketplace.

“In light of recent revelations and questions, we believe it appropriate to respectfully request clarification regarding the specific use of these funds,” Thomas S. Monaghan, the chairman of Legatus, wrote in the letter.


4. Chile prosecutors question bishop in clerical abuse scandal.

By Associated Press, September 7, 2018, 12:10 AM

Prosecutors questioned Roman Catholic bishop emeritus Juan Barros as part of an investigation into sex abuse allegations against a former Chilean military chaplain.

Barros, who has been accused of covering up the abuses of notorious predator priest Fernando Karadima, arrived on foot at the police sex crimes division in the capital Thursday to be questioned on the case involving a different cleric — former chaplain Pedro Quiroz.

Quiroz was part of the military bishops’ office headed by Barros between 2004 and 2015. According to statement from the office in late August, there were several complaints against Quiroz from between 1997 and 2000. The document said investigators didn’t get the victims’ statements necessary to determine responsibility in the cases.


5. McCarrick whistleblower calls for laicization, investigation.

By Elise Harris, Crux, September 7, 2018

Father Boniface Ramsey, the man who nearly 20 years ago first raised flags about the sexual misdeeds of ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, has said the Church, though finally taking action, has not gone far enough.

If the pope and bishops are to have any credibility on the issue of sexual abuse and misconduct among the clergy, McCarrick, he said, ought to be laicized and undergo a full ecclesial trial.

In a phone interview with Crux, Ramsey said “a good thing would be to laicize McCarrick. That seems to me like such an important way to show that the pope and everyone else is serious. That would be such a formidable symbol of the seriousness with which they’re taking this.”


6. Catholic Business Leaders Hold Back Donation to Vatican Amid Church Crisis, Decision reflects the frustration many Catholics in the U.S. are feeling after a summer plagued by scandals.

By Ian Lovett, The Wall Street Journal, September 6, 2018, 4:12 PM

The crisis in the Roman Catholic Church is hitting the Vatican’s bank account.

Legatus: Ambassadors for Christ in the Marketplace, an organization of Catholic business leaders, sent a letter to members Thursday saying it would be placing its annual tithe in escrow for now, rather than sending it to Rome. About $820,000 will be placed in escrow, according to a Legatus official.

Legatus isn’t the first major Catholic nonprofit to question the Vatican’s financial oversight. Earlier this year, the Vatican asked the Papal Foundation, a Pennsylvania-based foundation that supports charitable activities designated by the Holy See, for $25 million to fund a Catholic dermatologic hospital in Rome with a history of financial scandals. Donors to the foundation balked, and later the grant was cut down to $13 million.


7. US cardinal, critic of pope, still waiting for answers.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, September 6, 2018, 9:15 AM

One of Pope Francis’ leading critics said Thursday he was “deeply shaken” by accusations of a sex abuse cover-up against the pontiff and wants an investigation, but is still pressing Francis to respond to an earlier set of questions about his views on marriage.

American Cardinal Raymond Burke denied Thursday he had any prior knowledge of the accusation penned by the former Vatican ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. The two are like-minded conservatives and have shared the podium at traditionalist conferences before.

But he said more importantly, Francis needs to respond to a set of questions that he and three other conservative cardinals posed over a year ago about Francis’ opening to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics — questions he said are at the heart of the Christian faith.


8. Couples Therapy for the Catholic Church, A betrayal by the clergy is much like that of an adulterous spouse.

By Arthur C. Brooks, Mr. Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute, The New York Times, September 6, 2018

I have counterintuitive advice for the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, who feel battered and besieged: Welcome the anger of the laity.

To an outsider, this might seem like a crisis involving sexuality and celibacy. It’s not. From the predation to the cover-up, this is a crisis of betrayal, much like that between spouses — an apt and common metaphor to describe the relationship between the clergy and laity.

When people are betrayed, they begin to question everything.

Anger is normal and healthy — in fact, necessary — when there is betrayal. And it is not necessarily dangerous. To extend the metaphor of a marriage, anger is not correlated with separation and divorce, according to the relationship expert John Gottman, a professor at the University of Washington. Anger says, “I care about this and want to fix it.”

Anger is hazardous only when it is suppressed.

The key word here is disgust, a feeling of revulsion that creeps in behind unremediated anger — disgust with the people and institutions that not only have failed to care for the vulnerable and follow their own teachings to behave morally, but also do not care enough to hear and absorb the anger of the laity.

The sociologist Warren TenHouten observes that when disgust is added to anger, it creates a particularly deadly psychological compound: contempt. Contempt is, in the words of the 19th-century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, “the unsullied conviction of the worthlessness of another.”

Professor Gottman says that contempt is the best predictor of permanent separation; indeed, it is signs of contempt — sarcasm, mockery, eye-rolling, hostile humor — that he looks for in couples on the way to divorce court.

Contempt presents an existential crisis for the church today. Imagine a cheating husband telling his wife, “Let’s pray for all of the people who have been hurt by my philandering, including me.” If the reaction to righteous wrath is defensiveness, opacity and anodyne platitudes, today’s anger will become mockery and derisive jokes by ex-parishioners tomorrow.

The bishops should open themselves sincerely to confrontation, and gratefully embrace the results. These will certainly include a full investigation with lay oversight and swift, remorseless consequences for perpetrators and their enablers, no matter how famous and powerful.

Anything less is to invite the greatest threat to the love of the laity for their church.