In a speech to the Curia, Pope Francis issues strong words against those in the Church involved in the sexual abuses scandals, in preparation for the universal meeting in February on the same topic: “Let it be clear that before these abominations, the Church will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice whosoever has commited such crimes. The Church will never seek to hush up or not take seriously any case. It is undeniable that some in the past, out of irresponsibility, disbelief, lack of training, inexperience, or spiritual and human short-sightedness, treated many cases without the seriousness and promptness that was due. That must never happen again. This is the choice and the decision of the whole Church. This coming February, the Church will restate her firm resolve to pursue unstintingly a path of purification. She will question, with the help of experts, how best to protect children, to avoid these tragedies, to bring healing and restoration to the victims, and to improve the training impared in seminaries.”
In the same speech, Francis urges abusers to submit to human justice and prepare for divine justice.
Also on the topic of the sexual abuse scandal, Church Life publishes an excellent historical revision of this scourge in the 20th century American Church. A must-read, since this article also emphasizes: 1) How this scandal is related to clericalism, as the Pope correctly diagnosed; 2) How Viganò’s inconsistent and agenda-driven testimony must be separated from actual credible cases that must be addressed; 3) How the laity must be involved in this process, without falling into the opposite error of viewing laity involvement as a panacea (especially, it brings our attention to the danger of biased lay amateur “investigations“, more akin to mob lynchings than rule of law); 4) How the laity must preservere in prayer and also adjust their expectations, since the implementation of successful and reasonable policies will probably not be instantaneous: “In pursuing reform in the justifiably heated context surrounding these efforts, we should also keep close to our hearts the words of Cardinal Avery Dulles regarding true and false reform, in which he noted that “a reform that is Catholic in spirit will seek to maintain communion with the whole body of the Church and will avoid anything savoring of schism or factionalism.”
Many papal critics constantly bring up Francis’ supposed betrayal of the Chinese clandestine Church as another argument to be hurled up at the pontiff. But, beyond the appropriation of their supposed offense by Western armchair commentators with ulterior agendas, what do these Chinese Catholics actually think of the Pope? Unsurprisingly, the clandestine bishops have gladly stepped down when such was asked of them, moved by the same fidelity and obedience that had prompted them to be a part of the clandestine Church in the first place: communion with the successor of Peter.
“Bp. Jin Lugang interview was published on February 24th, and his interview talks can also be summarized as the following two points: 1) The suffering we endured in the past was for and with Jesus, no regrets whatsoever! 2) We endured all the difficulties “so as not to hide our communion with the Pope. And now, if there is an understanding between the Pope and the government, how can we not be happy about it? How can we not follow him?.”
In related news, the Vatican’s diplomatic efforts has bore fruits in a neighboring country with a similar situation: Vietnam. See the story here.
Pope Francis reaffirms his call for the abolition of the death penalty and vigorously restates the arguments underlying his Catechism revision on this topic: “The reform of the text of the Catechism in the point dedicated to the death penalty does not imply any contradiction with the teaching of the past, because the Church has always defended the dignity of human life. However, the harmonious development of doctrine imposes the need to reflect in the Catechism that, notwihstanding the gravity of the crime commited, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that the death penalty is always inadmissible because it counters the inviolability and the dignity of the person.“
On the same topic, Prof. John Finnis produces a scholarly reply to notable pro-death penalty counter-apologist Edward Feser, explaining the seamless harmony of this doctrinal development.
Also unacceptable for Pope Francis are political discourses scapegoating migrants: “political addresses that tend to blame every evil on migrants and to deprive the poor of hope are unacceptable.”
The Catholic Thing publishes an essay showing the Protestant roots of a certain “Catholic” mindset in the American Church. Even if the author applies his reasoning mainly to liberal Catholics who dissent from doctrine on sexual matters, it is undeniable that Amoris Laetitia dissenters should also extract lessons from this article: “Catholics, he [Cardinal Newman] said, are docile. They receive the doctrines of the Church as true, without reserving the right to judge these doctrines; without reserving the right to decide for themselves whether or not these doctrines are true. This is not to say that Catholics exercise no judgment. No, they have to decide for themselves whether or not the Catholic Church (that is, the Roman Church headed by the pope) is the true Church originally created nearly two millennia ago by Jesus Christ. But once they decide, as Newman himself decided when he was in his mid-forties, that the Church of Rome is the true Church, they renounce any right to judge the doctrines of the Church. From that point on, they listen and receive. Protestants, on the other hand, believe they have the right to judge the doctrines of Christianity; the right to decide if these doctrines are true or false. This is the famous Protestant principle of Private Judgment, a principle that appeared in the Christian world at the time of the Reformation.”
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Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.