Cardinal Roger Mahony forced as many as a dozen priests suspected in cases of sex abuse in the Los Angeles Archdiocese to retire or to suspend their duties. While Mahony has publicly stated that it is the policy of the Archdiocese to “cooperate fully with civil reporting procedures governing sexual abuse,” the LA Times reports that the names of the priests ordered to leave their duties have not been disclosed to law enforcement or to the Los Angeles Country District Attorney. Further, priests over the age of 62 received generous severance packages when they were asked to retire because of their involvement in incidents of sexual abuse.
Over the last five years, there have been at least 50 incidents of sexual misconduct in the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Last year, the Archdiocese along with the Orange, California settled a molestation lawsuit for $5.2 million. As part of the settlement, the Archdiocese is required to fire priests engaging in molestation. It is unclear why the recently ousted priests were not forced out before this time. All of the priests had participated in psychological counseling, but experts have repeatedly warned that priests who have abused children in the past are at high risk for continuing their abusive behavior.
Following the actions taken by the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Tod Brown, Bishop of the Orange Diocese, removed Michael Pecharich from his duties as priest yesterday. Pecharich has been accused of child molestation. Brown, like Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law, has hired a public relations specialist to help administer damage control. Nationwide, however, the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church is suffering an enormous blow. Allegations of sexual abuse by priests have surfaced in Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Tucson, Manchester (NH), Worcester (MA), and Portland (ME). The scandal also costs in the millions. For example, the Archdiocese in Boston is expected to pay more than $40 million to settle close to 150 pending sexual molestation claims, and the Diocese of Dallas recently settled a molestation suit for $23 million – a jury had previously awarded $119 million to the 11 victims, former altar boys.
Media Resources: LA Times, 3/5/02 & 3/4/02; Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Pastoral Statement, Cardinal Roger Mahony, 2/21/02; Boston Globe, 3/3/02 & 1/6/02
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. . . .