Yesterday Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was elected to replace Pope Benedict XVI.
After two days of discussion, the conclave announced that they had selected Cardinal Bergoglio to lead the Catholic Church and assume the name Pope Francis. He is the first Latin American pope, as well as the first Pope selected from outside Europe in more than a millennium.
Despite being lauded as a champion for social justice and the poor, Pope Francis shares the very conservative social views of his predecessor. Vocal in his opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, and the ordination of women, Pope Francis frequently came into conflict with the Argentine government. During the debate to legalize same-sex marriage in Argentina, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner criticized the then-Cardinal, "It's worrisome to hear phrases such as 'war of God' and 'projects of the devil,' which are things that send us back to medieval times and the Inquisition."
Pope Francis takes the helm of the church amid scandal of the previous Pope's involvement in cases of priest pedophilia and corruption within the Vatican. During his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI came under scrutiny for the Vatican's handling of sexual abuse by priests in the United States and throughout Europe. In 2011, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Survivor Network of Those Abused By Priests (SNAP) filed a case against the pontiff in the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity in a cover up by Vatican leadership in cases of sexual abuse of children by priests. In addition, the Vatican came under financial scrutiny in 2012 when the Pope's personal butler released private documents of the pontiff in an attempt to expose the corruption of the church.
Media Resources: New York Times 3/13/2013; Washington Post 3/13/2013; Feminist Newswire 2/12/2013, 7/15/2010
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .