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« Reply #270 on: Aug 20, 2014, 05:01 AM »

Three relatives of Pope Francis killed in Argentina traffic accident

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 8:57 EDT

Three relatives of Pope Francis, two great nephews and their mother, have been killed in a traffic accident in Argentina, police said Tuesday.

The dead include a baby of eight months and a two-year-old toddler, police commissioner Carina Ferreyra said. Their father, the pope’s nephew Horacio Bergoglio, is in serious condition, she told AFP.

The accident happened after midnight in the central province of Cordoba when the family was traveling on a highway.

For reasons that are under investigation the car hit a truck from behind.

The pope’s nephew has been hospitalized with multiple injuries. Official details of his condition have not been released.

He is the son of Alberto, the pope’s late brother.

The accident happened some 550 kilometers (340 miles) northwest of the capital Buenos Aires near the city of James Craik.
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« Reply #271 on: Aug 20, 2014, 05:37 AM »


For Pope Francis to talk about mortality and retirement is entirely in character

As the pope contemplates his future, the big question is how much of the excellent work he has done will survive him

• Pope Francis says he expects to live two or three more years

Andrew Brown   
theguardian.com, Wednesday 20 August 2014 09.30 BST          

When Pope Francis tells journalists that he may be dead in three years’ time or – better yet – retired, the first thing to consider is that he’s telling the truth. He is 77 and has only one lung. He’s doing a job that would strain someone of any age and killed one of his recent predecessors within six weeks. And he has taken on a huge agenda of internal reform as well as what might be called his figureheading duties, such as the trip round South Korea from which he has just returned.

The shock, then, lies not in what he said but that he said it at all. The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI came like a thunderclap, not least because such a profound traditionalist did something that no pope had done for 600 years. There had of course been a swirl of rumours saying he was past it and sick of the job, but poisonous mutterings swirl around the Vatican like malarial mosquitoes, although they’re harder to eradicate.

Before Benedict, Pope John Paul had been through a prolonged and agonising battle with Parkinson’s disease, which the official machinery denied and hushed up at every turn even though it was obvious to anyone who saw him. So for Francis to talk openly, and with colloquial realism, about his health is both a breach of recent practice and entirely in character. It will immediately invite speculation about his successor – almost all of it uninformed. After three non-Italian popes, two of whom were unexpected, we can safely say that no one understands the College of Cardinals.

What is worth asking is how much he has accomplished already and how much of that will survive him. Underneath the excellent job he has done to restore the image of the church there has been another agenda – to clean up the Vatican and reform its bureaucracy. Some of this has already borne fruit. The Vatican bank has been thoroughly purged, as has its customer list. Five thousand accounts have been closed one way or another and €44m (around £35m) has been withdrawn from its deposits in the process. This started under his predecessor, but Francis drove it through.

Much less is known about the progress of his “counter curia”, a commission of eight cardinals from around the world, ideologically disparate but united by administrative competence and hostility to the central bureaucracy of the Vatican. On their efforts depend his chances of making the curia more responsive and less Italian. In the long term, this will matter as much as anything else he has undertaken.

Over the next two years the big domestic problem facing him will be the church’s fractious and sluggish attempts to come to terms with the prevalence of divorce among ordinary and otherwise faithful Catholics in the developed world. Contraception doesn’t matter, since no one takes any notice of the official teaching. Homosexuality is much too divisive globally for any pope to touch for a while. Married clergy, while an obvious and necessary reform, are on hold for the moment. But accepting some remarried Catholics to communion is necessary if they are to transmit the faith to their children. At the same time, it is meeting some fairly hysterical resistance from reactionaries, who claim, truthfully, that Jesus was sternly opposed to divorce.

Two church councils, or synods, will consider the question this autumn and next. If they can solve it without splitting the church, Francis can retire in the consciousness that he has done an excellent job – and, by retiring, set another precedent the church will need.


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« Reply #272 on: Aug 24, 2014, 10:09 AM »


Vatican envoy accused of sexual abuse of minors evaded prosecution in Dominican Republic

The case of Józef Wesolowski is the first time that a top Vatican ambassador, or nuncio — who serves as a personal envoy of the pope — has been accused of sexual abuse of minors.

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
The New York Times
08/24/2014

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — He was a familiar figure to the skinny shoeshine boys who work along the oceanfront promenade here. Wearing black track pants and a baseball cap pulled low over his balding head, they say, he would stroll along in the late afternoon and bring one of them down to the rocky shoreline or to a deserted monument for a local Catholic hero.

The boys say he gave them money to perform sexual acts. They called him “the Italian” because he spoke Spanish with an Italian accent.

It was only after he was suddenly spirited out of the country, the boys say, his picture splashed all over the news media, that they learned his identity: Archbishop Józef Wesolowski, the Vatican’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

“He definitely seduced me with money,” said Francis Aquino Aneury, who says he was 14 when the man he met shining shoes began offering him increasingly larger sums for sexual acts. “I felt very bad. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do, but I needed the money.”

The case is the first time that a top Vatican ambassador, or nuncio — who serves as a personal envoy of the pope — has been accused of sexual abuse of minors. It has sent shock waves through the Vatican and two predominantly Roman Catholic countries that have only begun to deal with clergy sexual abuse: the Dominican Republic and Poland, where Wesolowski was ordained by the Polish prelate who later became Pope John Paul II.

It has also created a test for Pope Francis, who has called child-sexual abuse “such an ugly crime” and pledged to move the Roman Catholic Church into an era of “zero tolerance.” For priests and bishops who have violated children, he said in May, “There are no privileges.”

Wesolowski has already faced the harshest penalty possible under the church’s canon law, short of excommunication: On June 27, he was defrocked by the Vatican, reducing him to the status of a layman.

The Vatican, which as a city state has its own judicial system, has also said it intends to try Wesolowski on criminal charges, the first time the Vatican has held a criminal trial for sexual abuse.

But far from settling the matter, the Vatican has stirred an outcry because it helped Wesolowski avoid criminal prosecution and a possible jail sentence in the Dominican Republic.

Acting against its own guidelines for handling abuse cases, the church failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome last year before he could be investigated and then invoked diplomatic immunity for Wesolowski so he could not face trial in the Dominican Republic.

The Vatican’s handling of the case illustrates both the changes the church has made in dealing with sexual abuse and what many critics call its failures. When it comes to removing pedophiles from the priesthood, the Vatican is moving more assertively and swiftly than before.

But as Wesolowski’s case suggests, the church continues to be reluctant to report people suspected of abuse to the local authorities and allow them to face justice in secular courts.

Used a decoy

Wesolowski, 66, was ordained at 23 in Krakow by Archbishop Karol Józef Wojtyla, who later became Pope John Paul II. In 1999, he was appointed papal nuncio to Bolivia, and in 2002, he was reassigned to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

In 2008, he was sent to the Dominican Republic, where he served as a ceremonial dean of the international diplomatic corps. The posting came with a stately residence and access to a beach house.

On the waterfront, Wesolowski attempted to disguise his rank, the boys say. He drove a small SUV, they recalled, and parked it near the monument in the colonial zone, where several streets are named for archbishops.

One day last year, Nuria Piera, a prominent television journalist, received a tip that the papal nuncio drank beer many afternoons at a waterfront restaurant and then went off with boys.

Piera sent a video crew to surreptitiously film the nuncio, she said in an interview at CDN, where she is general director. The crew shot some video of Wesolowski drinking alone and walking the promenade, Piera said, but he noticed their presence (though not the camera), walked over, smacked his hand against their car and asked why they were following him.

After that, Piera said, he disappeared from the waterfront. Her tipster never saw him there again.

Wesolowski began sending a young Dominican church deacon to procure children for him, law-enforcement authorities in the Dominican Republic say.

The deacon, Francisco Javier Occi Reyes, was arrested by the police on June 24, 2013, accused of solicitation of minors and taken to jail. No one came to bail him out, and the deacon sent an anguished letter dated July 2 to Wesolowski.

“We have offended God” and the church, the letter said, by sexually abusing children and adolescents “for crumbs of money.”

“Hopefully you will consider asking for God to help you to walk away from this evil disease of continuing to sexually abuse innocent children,” the letter said.

The deacon sent copies of the letter to Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus López Rodriguez, head of the church in the Dominican Republic, and to a Dominican bishop, Gregorio Nicanor Peña Rodríguez.

The cardinal then carried the evidence to the Vatican, where he met with the pope, according to interviews with Dominican authorities. On Aug. 21 last year, Wesolowski was secretly recalled to Rome.

Six days later, the cardinal called the papal nuncio “a great friend and promoter of peace.”

Violated policy

Neither the cardinal, nor other church officials, reported the accusations to the local authorities, Dominican officials say. Vatican guidelines say criminal sexual-abuse accusations should be reported in countries where reporting is required.

The country’s attorney general, Francisco Domínguez Brito, and the district attorney of Santo Domingo, Yeni Berenice Reynoso Gómez, said in interviews that they first learned about the accusations against Wesolowski from Piera’s television reports, which were broadcast in early September and included a child asserting that he had been abused.

Reynoso said that her investigators had identified four children between 12 and 17 with whom the nuncio had sexual contact but that there were likely others.

The 17-year-old had epilepsy, and the nuncio gave him medicine for his condition in exchange for sexual acts, starting from when the boy was 13, the district attorney said. She said she had “no doubt” about the credibility of the youngsters’ testimony because it was corroborated by other evidence.

“This is the most terrible case that I have ever seen,” said Reynoso. “He was abusing kids who were living in extreme poverty, in exchange for pills for a boy’s illness. It’s very perverse.”

There are indications from Rome that the pope is concerned about the Wesolowski case. A Dominican bishop, Fausto Ramón Mejía, said in an interview that when he was part of a delegation visiting the Vatican late last year, Francis’ smile vanished on hearing what country he was from.

“He became very serious,” Mejía said. “He stopped and he said to me, very sincerely, ‘I feel as though my heart was crossed by a dagger from what took place in the Dominican Republic.’ ”

The case has shaken this stalwart Catholic nation. “The people used to say, ‘I want my child to go to a Catholic church,’” said the Rev. Rogelio Cruz, a priest here. “Now they say, ‘No child of mine is ever going to a Catholic church.’ ”


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« Reply #273 on: Aug 26, 2014, 06:36 AM »

Ex-Diplomat for the Vatican Could Be Tried

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
AUG. 25, 2014
IHT

The Vatican’s former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who has been accused of paying underage boys there to engage in sexual acts, has lost his diplomatic immunity and could ultimately face prosecution in criminal courts outside of the Vatican, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church announced on Monday.

The former ambassador, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, has already been defrocked by the Vatican, the harshest penalty under the church’s canon law short of excommunication. Beyond that, the Vatican has also said that it intends to try Mr. Wesolowski on criminal charges — the first time it will hold a criminal trial for sexual abuse.

But the Vatican has also caused an uproar in the Dominican Republic because it abruptly recalled Mr. Wesolowski last year before he could face a criminal inquiry and possible prosecution there. Acting against its own guidelines for handling abuse cases, the church failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome, and then invoked diplomatic immunity.

The Vatican has said in the past that because Mr. Wesolowski was a member of its diplomatic corps and a citizen of the Holy See, the case would be handled in Rome.

The announcement on Monday came a day after a New York Times article detailed the allegations against Mr. Wesolowski and the Vatican’s handling of the case. In the Vatican’s statement on Monday, the church said that it took the proper steps to make sure that the allegations against Mr. Wesolowski were dealt with seriously.

“The authorities of the Holy See, from the very first moments that this case was made known to them, moved without delay and correctly in light of the fact that former nuncio Wesolowski held the position of a diplomatic representative of the Holy See,” said the statement, by the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman.

It added: “Far from any intention of a cover-up, this action demonstrates the full and direct undertaking of the Holy See’s responsibility even in such a serious and delicate case, about which Pope Francis is duly and carefully informed and one which the pope wishes to address justly and rigorously.”

Mr. Wesolowski has appealed the Vatican’s decision to remove him from the priesthood, a process that will be decided over the coming weeks, most likely in October, the Vatican said. The criminal proceedings in the Vatican will take place after that, the statement said.

Yet the Vatican also said that Mr. Wesolowski could be subject to prosecution in another country though it was unclear if he would ultimately be sent to that country.

Many Dominicans were outraged by the Vatican’s decision to secretly recall Mr. Wesolowski before the authorities there had even learned of the allegations against him. The case has also reverberated in Poland, where prosecutors have sought to extradite Mr. Wesolowski, who holds both Vatican and Polish citizenship.


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