Elizabeth Scalia

Thinking about 'Uncle Ted' McCarrick and whether Pope Francis will back #BishopsToo

Thinking about 'Uncle Ted' McCarrick and whether Pope Francis will back #BishopsToo

Surely GetReligion readers are not surprised that the think piece(s) for this weekend are linked to the saga of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and the horrifying three-level scandal of clergy sexual abuse of children, teens and seminarians.

Archbishop McCarrick? Bishop McCarrick? Father McCarrick? Mr. McCarrick? I'm not sure that's the proper Associated Press style at the moment.

But "Uncle Ted" is no longer a member of the College of Cardinals. That's the latest news -- with this announcement from Rome, care of the team at Crux:

ROME / NEW YORK -- After a month of mounting allegations of sexual abuse against American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Pope Francis has accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals.

The 88-year-old retired archbishop of Washington -- who was one of the most prominent faces in the American Catholic hierarchy -- has been ordered to remain in a house “to be indicated” until the accusations against him are examined.

“Yesterday evening the Holy Father received the letter in which Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington (U.S.A.), presented his resignation as a member of the College of Cardinals,” said a statement released on Saturday by the Vatican’s press office.

The statement continued to say that Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the cardinalate and “has ordered his suspension from the exercise of any public ministry, together with the obligation to remain in a house yet to be indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial.”

Ah, there is the crucial phrase -- "accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial."

In other words, this scandal is about McCarrick and McCarrick alone?

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Would Americans be interested? Eyewitnesses describe the murder of Father Jacques Hamel

Would Americans be interested? Eyewitnesses describe the murder of Father Jacques Hamel

Here is my question for the day: Would news consumers here in America be interested in the ongoing story of Father Jacques Hamel if offered a chance to follow it?

There has been quite a bit of recent news about Hamel, the French priest murdered in July while celebrating Mass at the parish of St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray -- a Catholic church named in honor of the first New Testament martyr St. Stephen. You can follow these developments by reading news reports produced on the other side of the Atlantic or in Catholic publications. Click here for previous GetReligion posts on earlier coverage.

I realize that this drama is unfolding in Europe. Thus, American editors and producers may assume that it is not a story that would interest readers here. Frankly, I think the details are so gripping that this has become a story that, at the very least, all Catholics would want to follow -- along with other readers who are concerned about acts of terrorism by jihadists.

So what are the new developments? The first is rather obvious, as reported by The Guardian:

Pope Francis has authorised the French church to start the preliminary sainthood investigation for the Reverend Jean Hamel, whose throat was slit by Islamist militants as he celebrated Mass in July.
Francis told reporters ... he had authorized the gathering of witness testimony to determine if a beatification cause is warranted. Usually the Vatican requires a five-year waiting period before such investigations can begin, but Francis said he authorised the start of the investigation now since witnesses might die or forget over time.
Hamel was killed on 26 July in his parish church in Normandy. Police killed the assailants, and the Isis group claimed responsibility. In honoring Hamel as a martyr last month, Francis urged all to display the same courage Hamel had and denounced such slayings in the name of God as “satanic”.

This announcement came on the same day that the sanctuary in which Hamel was killed was open for the first time, following purification rites because of the bloodshed at the altar.

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Yo, journalists: Mother Teresa would be quick to explain that she cannot perform miracles

Yo, journalists: Mother Teresa would be quick to explain that she cannot perform miracles

Now it's on the calendar. The "saint of the gutters" will, on Sept. 4 -- the eve of the anniversary of her death in 1997 -- become a Catholic saint. The tiny nun who millions hailed as "a living saint" will officially become St. Mother Teresa.

Obviously, this announcement by the pope required journalists to describe the somewhat complicated process that led to this moment. Thus, this assignment -- trigger warning! -- required descriptions of complicated doctrinal concepts such as "prayers" and "miracles."

The key word you are looking for, as you scan the mainstream media coverage, is "intercede."

However, if you want to see a perfect example of HOW NOT to describe this process, note this passage from USA Today:

She was beatified in 2003 by Pope John Paul II after being attributed to a first miracle, answering an Indian woman's prayers to cure her brain tumor, according to the Vatican. One miracle is needed for beatification -- described by the Catholic Church as recognition of a person's entrance into heaven -- while sainthood requires two.
Francis officially cleared Mother Teresa for sainthood on Dec. 17, 2015, recognizing her "miraculous healing" of a Brazilian man with multiple brain abscesses, the Vatican said.

Note that we are dealing with paraphrased quotes. Did an official at the Vatican actually say that Mother Teresa, on her own, "healed" these two people? Or did the Vatican say that they were healed by God after believers asked Mother Teresa to pray for them, to "intercede" with God on their behalf?

Here is the key doctrinal fact that journalists need to grasp in order to get this story right: Saints pray. God heals.

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