O'Malley Takes Helm at Boston Archdiocese, Vatican Protests Gay Unions
Earlier this week, Bishop Sean Patrick O'Malley was installed as the new archbishop of Boston, filling the position vacated by Cardinal Bernard Law last December. O'Malley, 59, one of two high-ranking Franciscan Capuchin friars serving in the US, has a strong history of service for the poor and needy. He is credited with implementing reforms at two Florida dioceses, also plagued by the priest sex abuse scandal, reported the Boston Globe. On Wednesday, O'Malley apologized for the church's failure to protect sex abuse victims from predatory priests. In addition, he promised reforms and expressed hope for reconciliation with disenchanted Catholics.
In a significant step forward, O'Malley yesterday replaced longtime archdiocese attorney Wilson Rogers Jr. with Thomas H. Hannigan Jr., who assisted him in settling sex abuse claims against the Diocese of Fall River in Massachusetts. "It is my hope that Attorney Hannigan's expertise in facilitating settlements in matters such as this will move the process toward a just and timely resolution, " O'Malley stated in a news release, according to the Boston Globe. The Boston Archdiocese currently faces about 500 civil lawsuits alleging priest sex abuse.
Meanwhile, the Vatican yesterday re-launched its campaign opposing gay marriage. Releasing a guidance document entitled, "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons," the Vatican stressed the "moral duty" of Catholic lawmakers to oppose gay unions as well as the adoption of children by gay couples, the Associated Press reported.
Since the Supreme Court's ruling in June overturning a Texas law that criminalized same-sex sodomy, religious conservatives have reinforced calls for a constitutional amendment and state laws prohibiting gay marriage. President Bush this week addressed the issue, stating "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and I believe we ought to codify that one way or the other and we have lawyers looking at the best way to do that," the New York Times reported.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .