WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (March 15-21, 2010)



Vatican Rejects Pope Role In Sex Abuse Cover-Up.” All Things Considered. National Public Radio. March 16, 2010. The Vatican is responding strongly to accusations that Pope Benedict tried to cover up the sexual abuse of children by priests. The Holy Sees’ official prosecutor called those accusations false and calumnious. The charges stem from a number of abuse cases in Germany when the pope was the Munich Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger. The priest at the center of the sex abuse scandal in Germany has now been named, Peter Hullerman. He was suspended yesterday but the accusations against him go back decades. In the late ’70s, there were accusations that he had sexually abused some young men in that diocese. As was the practice of the church at the time, he was sent away for therapy. In this case, into the Archdiocese of Munich, which at the time was led then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict 16th. church officials in Munich have said that that decision to put him back into the field was made without Cardinal Ratzinger’s knowledge. That is, the man who is now pope didnt know anything about it. In any event, the bottom line is that whatever Cardinal Ratzinger knew at the time, this decision to restore the priest to active ministry was made on his watch. Thats obviously why this is so embarrassing and potentially damaging for the Pope and for the Vatican.

Vatican Official Says Rising Number of Sexual Abuse Cases Could Overload Staff.” By Rachel Donadio. New York Times. March 16, 2010. As hundreds of new allegations of sexual abuse surface in the German church alone, a top Vatican official acknowledged Tuesday that, with only 10 people handling such cases, his office might not be adequate for the task. But the official, Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, who is effectively the Vatican’s internal prosecutor, said the church was working to bring more “transparency” to the delicate and emotional process of settling allegations of abuse by priests that have severely damaged the church’s moral standing. His comments, rare for an official in the famously reticent Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, were part of a broader Vatican defense against a rising abuse scandal in Germany, including a case that happened on the watch of Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

The Catholic church will hold its nerve as usual; The papacy normally gets away with things far more lightly than our secular leaders do – and the record suggests it will also recover from the latest revelations.” Badge politics blog. Guardian (UK). March 18, 2010. Good to see the pope in the media dock over the Catholic hierarchy’s conspiratorial role in child abuse by its priesthood. It was the lead story in the Guardian this morning, though the Daily Mail – usually a better barometer of public opinion, I fear – attaches more importance to the high court victory of a Catholic care agency keen to resist gay adoption. Hey, ho, it’s a funny old world: gays bad, paedophiles not so bad.

An inquiry is vital, but the church’s moral authority is lost for ever; The suppression of truth at the heart of the abuse scandal will bewilder the Catholic faithful. And it could spell wider tragedy.” By Madeleine Bunting. Guardian (UK). March 19, 2010. There is only one conceivable reaction to the fast-spreading crisis in the Catholic church: horror. Only the most virulent anti-papist could ever have quite envisaged the scale of child abuse and the doggedness of the church’s desire to stifle scandal. The rest of us are astonished and appalled. Quite rightly, Angela Merkel saw fit to intervene. After decades – perhaps we should rather be referring to centuries – of obfuscation, the Catholic church has to be called to account for what has happened.

Pope tries to stem tide of sex abuse allegations.” By Michael Day. Independent (UK). March 20, 2010. Pope Benedict XVI will today make a desperate attempt to draw a line under the Catholic Church’s sex-abuse scandal with the publication of a long-awaited pastoral letter demanding that urgent steps be taken to bring the crisis to an end. Although addressed to the bishops of Ireland, it could just as easily be addressed to his entire flock after reports of shocking abuse have piled up from Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy and even in the Pope’s own former diocese in Germany in recent weeks. Senior Vatican figures have told Italian newspapers that they are desperate for the pastoral letter to mark a turning-point in the scandal, which some fear could damage the Church’s standing beyond repair.


Quotas planned for uni students.” By Heath Gilmore. Sydney Morning Herald. March 19, 2010. THE importance of HSC results will be downgraded at one of Australia’s most prestigious universities under plans to recruit undergraduates for their leadership qualities and general academic aptitude. The University of Sydney wants to introduce US-style quota systems with set targets to increase the number of disadvantaged and regional students, and make greater use of aptitude tests, references and general interviews when admitting students. In a green paper on its future, the university says it is considering ”radical reform” of its undergraduate recruitment program. Other possible changes include awarding students from designated disadvantaged schools a five-point bonus to their Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank for entry into undergraduate courses. A higher education diploma to provide an alternative route to degree-level study for promising students from disadvantaged backgrounds would also be investigated. Yesterday, the body representing leading private schools expressed fears that the university would implement programs that disadvantaged their students.

Single plan in primary school funding.” By Anna Patty. Sydney Morning Herald. March 19, 2010. Primary school principals across the country are asking for a single national model of school funding allocated according to the need of each student regardless of whether he or she is in the private or public sector. The principals from government, Catholic and independent schools have called for the new funding model to replace the existing system, which is ”failing students”. The Australian Primary Principals Association, representing all education sectors, yesterday proposed a new model to override disjointed state and federal funding arrangements. They suggest combining money from state and federal governments for distribution to all schools regardless of whether they are public or private. Under the existing system, public schools are primarily funded by the states, while private schools receive federal assistance. The association’s president, Leonie Trimper, described the collaboration as groundbreaking. ”For the first time, all three education sectors have come together in support of a funding model that operates transparently and on the basis of need,” she said.

Power saga contorts a community’s face.” By Deborah Snow. Sydney Morning Herald. March 20, 2010. At first glance, it seemed to be just one more tale of woe flung up by the global financial crisis. A property developer borrows too much, gets pincered by the credit crunch, falls out with a business rival, makes a contentious move to get out of trouble, ends up in court and is slapped with a contempt of court conviction which he’s now appealing. But this case had a significant twist. The developer in question, 42-year-old Vincent Pang, presides over Sydney’s prestige Chinese community group, the Australian Chinese Community Association. The affair has had the knock-on effect of unleashing a bitter power struggle within the organisation, threatening its stability and its standing. The association is at the very heart of Chinese-Australian life, distributing more than $2 million in state and federal aid each year. Those in its upper echelons enjoy a measure of honour plus unparalleled networking opportunities. It is a mark of how desperate affairs have got that the matter is seeping beyond Sydney’s Chinese community, where normally the preservation of ”face” is paramount. As one insider ruefully told the Herald, ”in our culture, we like to solve differences quietly”.

Hackers hit charity donation site.” By Paul Bibby. Sydney Morning Herald. March 20, 2010. The internet services of two autism support organisations have been crashed by computer hackers and a third may also have fallen victim, raising fears of a targeted attack to coincide with autism month. Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT), the country’s autism service provider, is losing hundreds of dollars in online donations each day after its website was hit by hackers early on Sunday. The first two attacks were traced to IP addresses in the United States and experts said they appeared to be deliberate.


Ex-Vienna Boys’ Choir members allege abuse; Famed institution says men range in age from about 40 to over 70.” MSNBC/Associated Press. March 17, 2010. The Vienna Boys’ Choir said Wednesday it has heard from eight possible abuse victims following an initial report of allegations last week.The famed institution said the men range in age from about 40 to over 70 and contacted the choir through a confidential hot line set up Friday after a local newspaper reported that two former members, both now adults, said they were sexually abused. The choir said on its Web site that it was taking the allegations very seriously. In an open letter to parents, choir members and alumni dated March 12 it said that “this kind of abuse, even if it took place in the past, constitutes an injustice that we deeply regret and that must and want to face.”The allegations coincide with a string of abuse claims against members of Austria’s Catholic church.


China: Film Star Responds to Accusations on Quake Charity.” By Edward Wong. New York Times. March 16, 2010. Zhang Ziyi, a star of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and the best-known Chinese actress internationally, has denied accusations that she committed fraud while trying to raise money for victims of the devastating earthquake that hit Sichuan Province and surrounding areas in 2008. Ms. Zhang’s statements, published Tuesday in The China Daily, were the first by her on a scandal that has riveted many Chinese in the last few months. Chinese Internet users, after scouring public records, have accused Ms. Zhang, who also starred in “Memoirs of a Geisha,” of failing to fully donate $146,000 of her own money that she had pledged to the Chinese Red Cross. They also say she has never handed over $1 million that she said she hoped to raise from foreign donors. Ms. Zhang, above, said in the interview that a “communication glitch” led to her donating only $123,000 of her own money, and she asserted that she had donated the rest since the shortfall came to light.


Arrest Brings New Chill In U.S.-Cuba Relations.” By Nick Miroff. All Things Considered. National Public Radio. March 16, 2010. In Cuba, a U.S. government contractor has been held in prison, without formal charges, for more than three months. Cuban authorities say they think he is a spy, but American officials say he was just doing development work. The incident has soured the Obama administration’s cautious outreach to Cuba and left a trail of questions about the contractor and the program he worked for. Gross entered Cuba on a tourist visa, but he was in the country to do a job. His employer, Development Alternatives Inc., was under contract from the U.S. Agency for International Development to help Cuban dissident groups and promote democratic values. The Cuban government says Gross was handing out prohibited communications equipment. His company says it was meant to help members of the island’s Jewish community connect to the Internet. Meanwhile, USAID’s Cuba program is now under review. Experts have asked why Gross was sent on such a risky mission — entering Cuba on a tourist visa and allegedly distributing equipment that is illegal there — while working for a U.S. government program that operates openly.


Workers’ jihad at Islamic website: Staff at IslamOnline have gone on strike. But is it about workers’ rights, religious principles or national rivalries?” By Jack Shenker. Guardian (UK). March 16, 2010. Islamic advice websites aren’t the first thing that spring to mind when talking of strikes, sit-ins and workers’ occupations, but if there’s any proof needed that Egypt’s extraordinary wave of industrial action is reaching every corner of the nation, then today’s drama at IslamOnline.net fits the bill. With more than 120,000 hits a day and a global reach that extends through several languages, IslamOnline is one of the biggest and most influential Muslim websites in the world. From Baghdad to Basildon, Muslims use it as a key source of scholarly advice on everything from impotency to the insurgency in Iraq. So the question of who owns and controls the site is a vitally important one. And that’s the question being wrestled over today, after hundreds of staff walked out in protest over what they say is an attempt by conservatives in the Gulf to hijack the site and force it to pursue a more traditional and hardline agenda. Tension had been simmering for months between the website’s Cairo-based editorial offices and the managers in Doha, whose plan this week to fire many of the 350 employees in Egypt led to an all-night occupation of the company’s offices, which was still continuing at the time of writing.


German Catholics urge pope to speak on sex scandals.” By Christopher Lawton. Washington Post/Reuters. March 15, 2010. German Catholic politicians and lay activists urged Pope Benedict on Monday to speak out about sexual abuse cases by priests that have shocked the country and led to questions about his management of the crisis. The calls came amid widespread criticism in the media that the Bavarian-born pontiff made no statement after getting a briefing on the scandals at the Vatican on Friday from the leader of the Church in Germany, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch. In Bavaria, a convicted abuser priest whose transfer to Munich in 1980 while Pope Benedict was archbishop there threatened to draw the pontiff into the scandal, was suspended from his post in a spa town, the Munich archdiocese announced. “The Holy Father needs to say something about this,” Dirk Taenzler, head of the Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ), told the Berliner Zeitung daily.
Related Stories:
Germany Abuse: Diocese Suspends Convicted Sex Abuser.” Huffington Post. March 15, 2010.
Germany and Ireland call on Catholic church to hold child sex abuse inquiries; Angela Merkel becomes most senior politician to speak out over abuse by priests as pope to release pastoral letter on subject.” Guardian (UK). March 17, 2010.
German Catholics Push Pope To Speak Out On Abuse.” All Things Considered. National Public Radio. March 17, 2010.
“Pope Faces New Pressure On Priest Scandal; German Chancellor Calls for Examination of Sex Abuse Cases, Revisiting Statutes of Limitation, Victims’ Compensation/” Wall Street Journal. March 18, 2010.
Church Was Warned About Priest, Doctor Says.New York Times. March 18, 2010.
Pope’s Former Diocese Faces ‘Tsunami’ Of Abuse Allegations.” Huffington Post. March 19, 2010.


Foreign university bill gets Cabinet nod.” No by-line. Times of India. March 15, 2010. Government on Monday approved a bill to allow foreign education providers set up campuses in India and offer degrees. The Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010, was cleared by the Union Cabinet presided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. This paves way for its introduction in Parliament. The bill seeks to regulate the entry and operation of foreign institutions, which will set up centre and offer degrees in India.
Related Story:
No threat from foreign universities entering India: IITs, IIMs.” Times of India. March 16, 2010.
No immediate plans to set up campuses in India: British universities.” Times of India. March 17, 2010.

Karnataka legislature passes Azim Premji University bill.” No by-line. Times of India. March 18, 2010. Amid dissent and a walkout by opposition members, the Karnataka legislative council on Thursday passed the Azim Premji University Bill, 2010, paving the way for the first private varsity to come up in the state. Opposition members belonging to the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) voiced concern over the private university’s functioning without regulatory mechanism, government control over its fee structure, and guidelines to supervise it. “In accordance with the provisions of the bill, the state governor has the authority to seek any file from the private university and the state government can intervene in the event of any malpractice or dispute,” Limbavali told the lawmakers. Assuring the house that the proposed university promoted by Wipro chief Azim Premji would reserve 25 percent of seats for students and teaching faculty from the state, Limbavali said the institution would provide training in conformity with global standards. The government studied the functioning of 58 private universities across the country before drafting the bill.


Priest’s victims forced into vow of silence; Victim groups say that Cardinal Brady has lost all credibility.” By David Sharrock. Times of London. March 15, 2010. The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland resisted calls for his resignation yesterday, despite admitting that he took part in meetings where the victims of a paedophile priest were forced to take a vow of silence. Cardinal Sean Brady, the Primate of All Ireland, has confirmed he was present at a closed canonical tribunal in 1975 when two child victims of Father Brendan Smyth were ordered to sign agreements under oath that they would not discuss what happened to them with anybody other than an approved priest. There were immediate calls for Cardinal Brady’s resignation.
Related Stories:
Scandal-Hit Catholic Church Still Integral To Irish.” Morning Edition. National Public Radio. March 16, 2010.
Sean Brady: Catholic Leader Won’t Quit For Serial Rape Coverup.” Huffington Post. March 16, 2010.
Why Cardinal Brady must go; Cardinal Brady played only a small part in a great injustice. But justice demands he pay the price.” Badge Andrew Brown Blog. Guardian (UK). March 16, 2010.
Brady ashamed of abuse ‘failings’.” BBC News. March 17, 2010.


“Pope hopes letter to Irish Catholics on abuse scandal helps healing.” USA Today. March 17, 2010.
Renewed call for Cardinal Sean Brady to resign over abuse scandal.” Times of London. March 17, 2010.
Pope: Irish church ‘severely shaken’ by abuse; Benedict to send ‘healing’ letter to Ireland; remains silent on his homeland.” MSNBC.Associated Press. March 17, 2010.
Q&A: Catholic church sex abuse; Irish apology is the latest development in a scandal that has ensnared the Vatican and Pope Benedict.Guardian (UK). March 17, 2010.
Irish Cardinal ‘Ashamed’ of Handling of ’75 Abuse.” By John F. Burns and Rachel Donadio. New York Times. March 17, 2010.
New allegations against Catholic Church of mishandling child abuse.” By Dr Seamus Hegarty. Times of London. March 18, 2010.
‘I was a victim of abuse. This is what the Pope must do to stop it’.” By Colm O’Gorman. Independent (UK). March 20, 2010.
Pope blasts Irish bishops, orders Vatican probe.” March 20, 2010.


“Papal letter fails to calm anger over Irish abuses.” USA Today. March 21, 2010.


Catholic Officials Defend Benedict XVI; Vatican Says Pope Is ‘Vigilant Shepherd’ as a Sex-Abuse Scandal Surrounding His Former Archdiocese Roils Germany.” By David Crawford and Stacy Meichtry. Wall Street Journal. March 15, 2010. Roman Catholic officials defended Pope Benedict XVI amid a growing sex-abuse scandal that recently reached his former archdiocese in Germany. An article published Sunday in the Vatican’s official newspaper, the Osservatore Romano, said Benedict XVI’s track record in fighting abuse showed he is a “vigilant shepherd of his flock, contrary to the false image of [him] as a scholar dedicated to writing books who delegates to others the job of governing the Church.” It also noted remarks Benedict XVI delivered before his election as pope in 2005, denouncing the “filth” inside Church ranks. The article, by Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi, a professor of canon law and psychology at Rome’s Gregorian University, didn’t specifically address Friday’s disclosure by the pope’s former Munich-Freising archdiocese that a priest known to the church as a sex abuser had been returned to pastoral work there while Benedict XVI was the presiding archbishop in 1980.


NGOs Demand Transparency, Reforms in IDB.” By Emilio Godoy. IPSNews.net. March 17, 2010. Dozens of civil society organisations in the Americas are demanding greater transparency and accountability as well as structural reforms in the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), ahead of the multilateral lender’s annual meeting of governors that starts Friday in the Mexican resort of Cancún. “We want the IDB to commit to evaluating financing based on the assessment of its projects and to demonstrate that civil society input is taken into account,” Valeria Enríquez, a Mexican researcher with the non-governmental Centre for Analysis and Research (FUNDAR), told IPS. “We are also calling for a greater commitment to fighting climate change.” FUNDAR is one of the main organisations behind a February letter sent to the Washington-based IDB by more than 100 organisations from 18 countries. Civil society representatives will meet with IDB head Luís Alberto Moreno and a group of Bank managers in charge of designing the new institutional strategy of the international lender, which has 48 members: 26 borrowing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and 22 lending member countries – Canada, China, Israel, Japan, South Korea, the United States and 16 European countries. The United States is the single largest shareholder, with approximately 30 percent of the voting power, while the Latin American and Caribbean borrowing countries control 50.02 percent of the IDB’s shares. “The different civil society initiatives play a complementary role towards the same aim: to keep a bank that has been an accomplice to 50 years of inequality and poverty in Latin America – and which has not yet set forth a different vision – from continuing to do business as usual,” Vince McElhinny of the Bank Information Centre (BIC), a Washington-based NGO, remarked to IPS.


Civil society is leading the way on societal reform. Let it. During the recent financial, political and environmental crises social enterprises and civil society organisations have come up trumps time and time again.” By Geoff Mulgan. Badge Joe Public blog. Guardian (UK) . March 15, 2010. During this election year there has been more talk about civil society than I can ever remember. The main parties have competed with each other to prove their enthusiasm for social enterprises and cooperatives, citizen empowerment and community activism. Yet it’s less than a year since Jeremy Paxman, on national television, expressed astonishment at the idea that an enterprise could be social. And within the public sector, there is often a weary cynicism that the rhetoric rarely adds up to much. When the financial crisis hit 18 months ago, the view that civil society is bound to be marginal to the big issues looked accurate. As governments around the world rushed to prop up failing industries and banks, civil society was nowhere to be seen. But the three crises that have dominated the headlines over the last year suggest that we could be on the verge of a fundamental shift. The financial crisis has opened up a debate about whether a resilient economy needs to include plenty of mutuals, cooperatives and social enterprises: after all, the privatised building societies effectively went bankrupt, while the ones that remained mutuals didn’t.

Parents ‘should not feel guilt over private education’.” By Richard Garner. Independent (UK). March 16, 2010. An end to the culture whereby parents are made to feel guilty if they pay for their children to go to private schools was demanded by Britain’s leading independent schools today. The call came in the first-ever “manifesto for education” produced by the Independent Schools Council to coincide with the impending general election campaign. Many parents made significant sacrifices to scrimp and save to pay fees because they believed they were buying a better education, the ISC manifesto argued today. “In exercising their freedom of choice in this way parents should not have to fear the imposition of artificial barriers or discrimination or be made to feel guilty,” it added.
Related Story:
Don’t feel guilty if you pay school fees, says head; Society puts moral pressure on parents to send their children to state schools, says chair of private schools association.” Guardian (UK). March 16, 2010.

No university places for 50,000 with good grades; An employee in the Ucas clearing house call centre answers enquiries as she prepares to assist A-level students ahead of results day.” No by-line. Times of London. March 17, 2010. head of Ucas has warned, as analysis shows that at least 50,000 more sixth-formers with good grades will fail to get on a course this autumn compared with last year. In her first interview in the post, Mary Curnock Cook advised school-leavers to consider going to university later in life. “I can’t wave a magic wand and pretend that they are going to have to do anything other than reappraise their aspirations,” she said. Ucas applications are already up by 23 per cent — or 106,389— this year, but the number of places has been cut by 6,000. Last year, 30,000 good students failed to get into university. Ms Curnock Cook would not put a figure on how many would miss out, but said: “We have got a rise in the number of applicants. Clearly entrance becomes more competitive.”

Open warfare at Royal Institution as coup threatens to reinstate ousted baroness.” By Hannah Devlin and Mark Henderson. Times of London. March 17, 2010. Baroness Greenfield could make a sensational return to the Royal Institution next month after supporters called a vote of no confidence in its ruling council. The scientific institution’s decision to make Lady Greenfield redundant and abolish the post of director has triggered a rebellion by some members, who have called a special general meeting at which they hope to replace its entire board of trustees. The institution’s 2,400 members were sent a letter yesterday informing them of the special meeting. The 21-page document also contains a detailed “unanimous recommendation to members to vote against the resolution”, warning that if successful the coup could further destabilise the 211-year-old organisation, which is already in financial crisis.

More than half of A-level exams sat at private schools are graded A.” By Greg Hurst and Nicola Woolcock. Times of London. March 17, 2010. More than half of A-level examinations sat at independent schools are graded A, new figures indicate. They also show the extent to which fee-paying and selective schools dominate the best grades at A level, and the extent to which intensive coaching can help students to achieve top marks. The figures, from Cambridge Assessment, one of the main examination boards, were released as a survey showed that pupils from independent schools were expected to do exceptionally well in achieving the new A* grade at A level this summer. A survey of A-level marks at 20 schools, conducted by the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference of leading independent schools, found that between almost a third and two thirds of students were expected to achieve A* grades. The figures suggest students from leading independent schools will continue to win disproportionate numbers of places at the most selective universities.

Catholic adoption society wins exemption from using gay parents; Catholic Care wins high court appeal not to adhere to sexual orientation regulations to use homosexual parents.” By Maev Kennedy. Guardian (UK). March 17, 2010. A Catholic adoption society today won the right in the high court not to consider homosexual couples as parents. Mr Justice Briggs, sitting in London, has allowed the society’s appeal for an exemption from the sexual orientation regulations – opposed by the Charity Commission – which means the society can continue operating as it has always done. Catholic Care, serving the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough and Hallam in South Yorkshire, warned it would give up its work of finding homes for children, as many Catholic adoption societies have already done, rather than comply with the legislation, which would have barred it from refusing to consider same sex couples. The verdict was welcomed by the society and by the Catholic church authorities, but provoked dismay among gay rights campaigners.

Community scheme was ‘mismanaged’.” No by-line. BBC News. March 17, 2010. An audit investigation into the Plas Madoc regeneration partnership in Wrexham has found evidence of alleged financial mismanagement. The Communities First scheme had “fundamental weaknesses of management”, the Wales Audit Office report said. It found a car had been bought from petty cash, and more than £3,000 was spent on driving lessons for staff. Social Justice Minister Carl Sargeant said the matter has been referred to North Wales Police for investigation.

Charities Q&A: Employing overseas workers.” By Philip Trott. Guardian (UK). March 19, 2010. In the latest in a series of pieces giving legal advice to the voluntary sector, Philip Trott, a partner and head of the immigration department at Bates Wells and Braithwaite solicitors, answers questions on employing workers from overseas.

2 Responses to “WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (March 15-21, 2010)”

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