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Pennsylvania Report Details Decades Of Sexual Abuse By Priests

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Pennsylvania Report Details Decades Of Sexual Abuse By Priests

Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania sexually abused thousands of children over a 70-year period and silenced victims through “the weaponization of faith” and a systematic cover-up campaign by their bishops, the state attorney general said on Tuesday.

An 884-page report made public by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro after a two-year investigation contained graphic examples of children being groomed and sexually abused by clergymen. It was largely based on documents from secret archives kept by the dioceses, including handwritten confessions by priests, he said.

“It was child sexual abuse, including rape, committed by grown men – priests – against children,” Shapiro told a press conference.

Representatives of the six Pennsylvania dioceses included in the report could not be reached for comment.

The attorney general said it was the most comprehensive report on Catholic clergy sex abuse in American history, nearly two decades after an expose of widespread abuse and cover-up in Boston that rocked the Roman Catholic church.

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Several of the dioceses issued statements apologizing to victims and saying they were taking steps to ensure any criminal behavior was stopped. “The grand jury has challenged us as a Catholic diocese to put victims first and to continue to improve ways to protect children and youth,” Bishop Lawrence Persico of the Erie Diocese said in a statement.

As accusers wept behind him, Shapiro described alleged abuse by priests in six of the state’s eight dioceses, including a group of Pittsburgh clergymen accused of ordering an altar boy to strip naked and pose as Christ on the cross while they photographed him.

“The pattern was abuse, deny and cover up,” Shapiro said, adding that church officials sought to keep abuse allegations quiet long enough so they could no longer be prosecuted under Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations.

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“Priests were raping little boys and girls,” Shapiro said. “They hid it all for decades.”

The report cited 301 priests, some of whom have died. Only two of the priests are still subject to prosecution.

A few of the clergymen accused in the report succeeded in having their names redacted, and Shapiro said he would argue at a Sept. 26 court hearing for making all the names public.

He said the grand jury identified about a thousand victims, but believed there may be many more.

Shapiro said that one priest had molested five sisters in one family, he said. The diocese settled with the family after requiring a confidentiality agreement, he said.

The attorney general said that Catholic bishops covered up child sexual abuse by priests and reassigned them repeatedly to different parishes. “They allowed priests to remain active for as long as 40 years,” he said.

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Describing the “weaponization of faith” to silence victims, Shapiro cited several examples including one priest who allegedly told children “how Mary had to lick Jesus clean after he was born” to groom them for oral sex.

“Children were taught that this abuse was not only normal but that it was holy,” Shapiro said.

Since the Boston abuse scandal erupted in the 1990s, accusations involving American clerics have sporadically surfaced.

Theodore McCarrick, a former archbishop of Washington, resigned as a cardinal last month after accusations resurfaced that he abused a 16-year-old boy decades ago.

In recent months, Pope Francis accepted a number of resignations from Chilean bishops in a sex abuse scandal that has rocked that country.

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Brexit Deal: Britain And EU Edging Closer To Compromise

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Brexit Deal: Britain And EU Edging Closer To Compromise

Britain and the European Union are playing down the chances of clinching an immediate Brexit divorce deal, but diplomats say they were edging closer to a legal compromise that Prime Minister Theresa May hopes will win over the British parliament.

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May is trying to get changes to the divorce package before putting it to another vote in parliament.  If that fails, may will have to decide whether to delay Brexit or endanger the world’s fifth largest economy by leaving without a deal in slightly more than a month.

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May’s biggest problem is the so-called Irish backstop, an insurance policy to keep the border open between the British province of Northern Ireland, and EU member Ireland if a future trade deal falls short after Brexit.

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Why the Irish backstop deal is so important is that many Brexit-supporting members of the Prime Minister’s party fear it could lock Britain into E.U. rules indefinitely.

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Venezuela’s Maduro Closes Border With Brazil

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Venezuela’s Maduro Closes Border With Brazil

Venezuela’s embattled president Nicolas Maduro has closed the country’s border with Brazil to block aid entry as a showdown looms over Brazil’s declaration it would help get emergency food and medicine aid into the country.  Maduro says this is part of a U.S. Coup plot against him.

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Amid the mounting tensions, opposition leader Juan Guaido, the self declared president of Venezuela has set off in a cross country caravan for the border with Colombia where much of the U.S. supplied aid is warehoused.

He has also called on thousands of ordinary Venezuelans to assembly on Saturday to help take the items across.

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A group of lawmakers who had headed to the Colombian border was stopped a few hours outside of Caracas by national guardsmen who had blocked the highway with a trailer truck.

Not only has Maduro blocked the vast jungle border with Brazil, he has also blocked air and sea travel between Venezuela and Dutch Caribbean Island of Curacao where the first cargo of relief supplies had arrived on Thursday from Venezuelan exile community in Miami, Florida.

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UK, US To Reconsider Blocking ISIS Brides From Returning Home

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UK, US Block ISIS Brides From Returning Home

A London teenager who joined ISIS in Syria has appealed to British authorities on Thursday to reconsider their decision to revoke her citizenship.  She wants them to re-evaluate her case with quote: “mercy in their heart.” End quote.

Nineteen-year-old Shamima Begum was fifteen when she ran away to join ISIS with two school friends from East London in 2015.  She married a Dutch ISIS fighter and gave birth to a son in a refugee camp last weekend.  She now wants to go home.

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In a Sky television interview, Begum said she had lost two children and would not want anything bad to happen to her third child.  Asked if she could change or be rehabilitated, she replied that she would be willing to change.

In a similar case, the father of an American woman, Hoda Muthana, who had been denied re-entry into the United States, for leaving home to join the Islamic State in Syria, has filed a lawsuit against the american government asking U.S. Leaders to make good faith efforts to return his daughter, and her eighteen month old son, to the United States.

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Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday twenty-four-year-old Muthana is not an American citizen, and president Trump had also tweeted on Wednesday about instructing Pompeo not to allow her back into the country.  But CNN had obtained her birth certificate which shows she was born in Bergen county, in the state of new jersey.

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Muthana joined the Islamic State after becoming radicalized in November 2014.  She recently expressed her regrets for aligning herself with the terrorist organization and wants to return to the United States with her son.

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