NH Diocese Facing Criminal Indictment, First to Settle
Faced with criminal violations, carrying fines as high as $20,000, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester on Tuesday admitted it failed to protect children from pedophilic priests. Bishop John B. McCormack signed an agreement with New Hampshire state prosecutors, acknowledging “evidence likely to sustain a conviction of charge… against the diocese,” reported the Boston Globe. Under terms of the settlement, the Manchester diocese must abide by state child abuse reporting laws and immediately notify authorities of all suspicions, including incidents where the victim is no longer a minor, according to the Associated Press. In addition, the diocese is required to release internal documents collected during the investigation, undergo yearly compliance audits, and step up personnel training and education programs. State attorney general Philip T. McLaughlin said, “The agreement closes the door on an era of secrecy in the handling of allegations of sexual abuse lodged against priests, and it opens a new door to diocesan accountability and greater protection for children,” according to the Boston Globe.
Meanwhile, Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, continued to deny that other dioceses committed any wrongdoing. In a press release issued after the Manchester settlement, he stated, “The errors of specific persons, at specific times and places, which may have endangered children, cannot be attributed to the ‘church’ as a whole without overlooking the lives of integrity and good works of ministers of the church in our country throughout history.”
Last week, the Boston Archdiocese—under court order—publicly released over 2,000 of 11,000 internal documents detailing an undeniable, chronic problem with priest pedophilia over the last three decades. The files revealed a disturbing pattern of prioritizing the church’s reputation over the protection and safety of those vulnerable to priest pedophilia. This past Monday, 58 Boston-region clerics submitted a letter urging Cardinal Bernard Law’s resignation. The letter stated, “The events of recent months and, in particular, of these last few days, make it clear to us that your position as our bishop is so compromised that it is no longer possible for you to exercise the spiritual leadership required for the church of Boston,” reported the Associated Press. Since Sunday, Law has been meeting with the Vatican—the purpose of his meeting has yet to be disclosed. Yesterday, Law resigned as chair of Catholic University’s Board of Trustees.
Media Resources: Associated Press 12/11/02, 12/10/02; Boston Globe 12/11/02; Reuters 12/10/02; Feminist Daily News Wire
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. . . .