Reuters blog archive
The New York Times has unearthed a startling paper trail of 25 letters and memos documenting the way a U.S. priest known to have abused up to 200 deaf boys from about 1952 to 1974 was quietly moved to another diocese and the Vatican resisted attempts to defrock him. Their story on the case of Rev. Lawrence Murphy is here, the paper trail here and our story on the Vatican reaction here. Here's another story from our Rome bureau on victims demanding that Benedict open all Vatican files on sex abuse cases and defrock all predator priests.
The official Vatican reaction (here in English) is interesting for what it doesn't say. This is a response to a query from the Times about their story and we don't know what the questions were. The answers, though, are very narrowly focused. Nowhere is there any reference to the most interesting of the many revelations in the paper trail, i.e. that Pope Benedict, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger heading the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), got at least one letter about this case from the priest's bishop but apparently didn't answer it.
His CDF deputy Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, now the Cardinal Secretary of State (so once again Benedict's deputy), first advised a secret trial for Murphy but later relented after the priest wrote directly to Ratzinger asking for clemency because he was old, ill and had already repented for his sins.
from Tales from the Trail:
The protests against healthcare reform took an ugly turn on Saturday. Black congressmen told reporters that demonstrators called them the N-word and one representative said he was spat upon.
"This is not the first time the congressman has been called the N-word and certainly not the worst assault he has endured in his years fighting for equal rights for all Americans," said a statement from the office of Democratic Representative Emanuel Cleaver.
from Russell Boyce:
With the same ghoulish intrigue that children pull the wings off a fly, the legs off spiders or as motorists slow to look at a scene of a bad accident, I waited to see the pictures from last night's demonstration in Thailand. The "red shirt" wearing supporters of ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra promised the world the sight of a million cubic centimetres of blood being drawn from the arms of his supporters and then thrown over Government House to demand that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva call an immediate election. A million is a bold figure that I tried to picture; a thousand cubic centimetres, one litre, so one thousand litre cartons of milk. A more compact notion of the volume would be to visualise a cubic metre of blood; or in more practical terms in the UK the average bath size is 140 litres, so that is just over seven baths filled with blood.
A supporter of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra donates blood during a gathering in Bangkok March 16, 2010. Anti-government protesters will collect one million cubic centimetres of blood to pour outside the Government House in Bangkok, in a symbolic move to denounce the government as part of their demonstration to call for fresh elections. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang
from Oddly Enough Blog:
Blog Guy, I want to teach my family to cut back on the water we use. Do you have any figures on how much water it takes to, say, have a shower.
Sure. A shower takes two gallons of water a minute, so you should make it a quick one.
I had a rare opportunity to talk with Israel's mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat on Sunday about how he spent most of his first year in office trying to find a political homeostasis in the city holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. The main news that came out of it was his call for the European Union on Monday to reject any future division of the city (read that story here).
We sat together for about an hour in his office on the top floor of the city hall. He has a large balcony that overlooks the modern part of the city from one side, where cranes and crews are hard at work building and developing. The other side overlooks the walled Old City, a view that has highlighted the hilly Jerusalem landscape for centuries.
from Mario Di Simine:
It was 29 years ago today that a lone gunman assassinated John Lennon and the anniversary was the spur behind a youth "bed in" at the COP15 conference center.
Socres of young folks from around the world used the day to remember Lennon's famous bed-in protest of the Vietnam War and to put their own spin on it. They pulled on their P.J.s, pulled out their pillows and protest signs and got in "bed" together to perform a rendition of Lennon's iconic Give Peace a Chance, remaking the lyrics to reflect their climate concerns.
More than two million Muslims gather this week for the annual haj pilgrimage to Islam's holy city of Mecca, where Saudi authorities hope to minimize spread of the H1N1 virus and prevent any political demonstration. (Photo: Saudi security official at a checkpoint between Jeddah and Mecca, 21 Nov 2009/Caren Firouz)
The haj, one of the world's biggest displays of mass religious devotion and a duty for Muslims who can perform it, has been marred in the past by fires, hotel collapses, police clashes with protesters and deadly stampedes.
from Oddly Enough Blog:
Blog Guy, you must be familiar with the works of the prophetic writer Nostradamus. What was the three-word phrase which he predicted would trigger the end of life as we know it?
You know very well what the phrase is.
Yeah, but I want to see it in your blog.
Fine. It's "turd-shaped balloon." Are you happy?
The only reason I'm willing to use it is that it showed up in a photo caption this week, so the cosmic chain of events has now begun. We are told in this actual caption that folks in a protest march are carrying a "turd-shaped balloon."
Anniversaries are a time to look back at how the world was before the historic event being commemorated. During a recent trip to Berlin in advance of today's 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's fall, I asked the former East German theologian and politician Richard Schröder for his recollections of the life as a Protestant pastor before the country fell apart. He zeroed in on a fascinating aspect of the Communists' anti-religion policy I'd never heard about before. (Photo: Richard Schröder, 21 Oct 2009/Tom Heneghan)
"The Communists who took over in 1945 were trained in Russia," he told me at his home in a southern suburb of Berlin. "Their model was the Russian Orthodox Church, which focuses heavily on the liturgy. By contrast, Protestant churches have always been a wide field that included Bible study and other discussion groups. All the charity work of the Protestant churches, like their hospitals, were started by what you might call grass roots movements of congregation members. They were not started by the churches themselves. But the Communists always tried to handle us as if we were Russian Orthodox."
Afghan police fired into the air on Sunday to break up a protest by thousands of people who had gathered in the capital, Kabul, to protest against what they said was the desecration of a copy of the Koran by foreign troops.
Protesters, claiming foreign forces had burned a copy of Islam's holiest book during a raid in Maidan Wardak province last week, blocked traffic in Kabul for more than an hour. A spokeswoman for U.S. and NATO-led forces in Afghanistan said none of their troops were involved in the incident and blamed the Taliban for spreading a false rumor that a copy of the Koran had been burned.