Catholic Church, pope in hot water
Even as Pope Francis apologized for his failures in connection with Chile’s most famous case of clerical sex abuse, the pope and the deeply discredited Catholic Church are under pressure to address an even bigger problem. The blooming sex abuse scandal of the Marist Brothers, a congregation dedicated to education, has not yet drawn great attention worldwide — unlike allegations a bishop covered up the crimes of pedophile priest Rev. Fernando Karadima. Francis recently spoke with three of Karadima’s victims; this week, he meets with Chile’s bishops to address the crisis that has implicated several church leaders and religious orders. In the Marist case, the accusations of abuse at schools or on spiritual retreats are many. Victims’ attorney Juan Pablo Hermosilla told the AP that "it’s a situation of systematic abuse" and there at least 20 cases of abuse. Marists are religious brothers, not priests; they operate in dozens of countries. That scandal came to light in August, when the group revealed 14 minors were abused from the 1970s until 2008 by Abel Perez. Then, it acknowledged another Marist sexually abused five students. The Marists opened a canonical investigation and launched legal action against Perez. Many Chileans were outraged when the order then admitted Perez had confessed in 2010. The first priest appointed to conduct a preliminary investigation was removed after media reported he had been accused of sexual misdeeds. Now, victims have filed a criminal complaint against three Catholic priests, a Capuchin brother and six Marists. The scandals have been a debacle for the pope, who apologized for discrediting victims in January. On Saturday, the Vatican accused the Chilean hierarchy of cover-ups and of "grave omissions" in caring for victims.
Minister apologizes after police interrupt meeting on Karl Marx
Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski apologized Monday after police entered a Friday academic conference devoted to Karl Marx to check if anyone was propagating "totalitarianism" or engaging in "anti-national activity." A conference organizer, Tymoteusz Kochan, said three officers acting on prosecutors’ orders questioned organizers and photographed scholarly publications at the University of Szczecin in western Poland. Prosecutors confirmed they ordered the police check. Kochan, a doctoral candidate in philosophy, said the incident left participants shaken. He said he believed it was an attempt by right-wing authorities to intimidate them. Marx was a 19th-century socialist whose views guided the development of communist theory. Poland’s current government is staunchly anti-communist.
Women want better sex abuse bill
France’s lower house of parliament on Monday started debating a law to fight sexual and gender-based violence — a proposed bill that comes in the wake of the #MeToo movement. The government says the law aims to better protect children under 15 by introducing new provision that rape and sexual assault can result from an "abuse of vulnerability" of the victim. But women’s groups insist the text doesn’t go far enough. They want an explicit declaration that anyone under 15 cannot consent to sex with an adult. They say the current version of the law would minimize the rapes of younger victims. Two recent cases prompted outrage after courts refused to prosecute men for the rapes of 11-year-old girls because authorities couldn’t prove coercion. French law doesn’t set a legal age of consent for sex. Women’s groups planned to protest at the National Assembly today. The bill also extends the statute of limitations on sex crimes, allowing prosecution for 30 years after a purported victim turns 18, rather than the current 20, and imposes fines of about $108 for gender-based public harassment on streets or public transportation.
Markle’s dad to miss royal wedding: Thomas Markle will reportedly not attend Saturday’s wedding so as not to "embarrass" daughter Meghan Markle after it was revealed he staged paparazzi photos. Prince Harry’s office said the couple asked for understanding from the public. Markle, 73, told TMZ that he was set to walk Meghan down the aisle — even checking himself out of the hospital after a heart attack — but backed out. The Daily Mail had revealed the March photos of Markle preparing for the wedding had been sold to the media for over $100,000 and were cooked up by a paparazzi agency, that approached him, to improve his image.
German man held Syrian in headlock, set dogs on him: Police say a 23-year-old German man is being investigated for racially abusing a Syrian man in a Magdeburg park. The assailant put a 29-year-old Syrian in a headlock and let loose two attack dogs. Police have seized the suspect’s dogs. Racist attacks in Germany have increased since 2015 as hundreds of thousands of refugees seek help. — tbt* wires