Priest Scandal Extends Worldwide; Catholic Heartland of Ireland Reels With Revelations
After years of sexually abusing young boys while leaders of the Catholic church looked the other way, a prominent Irish priest was arraigned on 29 charges of sodomy, indecent assault and gross indecency – showing that the scandal that has rocked the church in the US extends even as far as the devoutly Catholic stronghold of Ireland. The Washington Post reports in a front page article that the case of Reverend Sean Fortune, who is reported to have raped young boys even before his ordination in 1979 (a fact the church knew about but allowed him to become a priest anyway), is one of many incidents involving pedophile priests continuing to surface in Ireland.
Fortune committed suicide 11 days after he was arraigned on these charges in 1999. However, it wasn’t until British Broadcasting Company (BBC) television documentary recounting Fortune’s decade of abuse was aired four months ago that the church was impelled to launch two internal investigations and reexamine complaints going back several decades. Just after the broadcast, Bishop Brendan Comiskey – who transferred Fortune from parish to parish and at one point applauded his “enthusiasm, zeal and love” despite receiving scores of complaints about the priest – was forced to resign. In addition, the Irish government launched its own inquiry – a confidential report was reportedly turned in last week.
The Catholic Church in Ireland has lost so many cases that it has agreed to pay $110 million in compensation to victims of abuse in church-run but publicly-funded vocational schools alone, according to the Post. Overall, monetary settlements have been so extensive that the Irish parliament has had to bail out the church to pay them. “Considering Ireland has a population of close to 4 million people the sums of money are staggering,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “Given the inability of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to deal with this widespread problem, can you imagine what the future claims would be in the US if we were to go to a church-run public voucher system?”
Media Resources: Washington Post 8/13/02; Feminist Majority Foundation 8/13/02
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. . . .