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Vatican's legal procedures for handling sex abuse, explained

For centuries, the Vatican's canon law system busied itself with banning books and dispensing punishments that included burnings at the stake for heretics.

These days, the Vatican office that eventually replaced the Roman Catholic Inquisition is knee-deep in processing clergy sex abuse cases. The procedures of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will be on display this week as high-ranking bishops summoned by Pope Francis attend an unprecedented four-day tutorial on preventing sex abuse and prosecuting pedophile priests

Here is a primer on the Catholic Church's regulations for investigating both priests accused of molesting children and superiors who have been accused of covering up those crimes.



In countries where clergy are required to report child abuse, bishops and superiors of religious orders are supposed to notify police when someone alleges that a priest molested a child and they are supposed to cooperate with any investigations.

However, the policy is nonbinding and only was articulated publicly in 2010 when the Vatican posted it on its website. Prior to that, the Vatican long sought to prevent public law enforcement agencies from learning about abusers in the clergy.

Irish bishops who considered adopting a mandatory reporting policy in 1997 received a letter from the Vatican warning that their in-house church investigations could be compromised if they referred cases to Irish police.

Nowadays, the Vatican justifies not having a binding policy that requires all sex crimes to be reported to police by arguing that accused clergy could be unfairly persecuted in places where Catholics are a threatened minority.



Once a bishop or superior receives an allegation of abuse by one of his priests, he is supposed to conduct a preliminary investigation. If the claim has a "semblance of truth" he sends the case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for review.

The superior often will remove the priest from public ministry pending the outcome of the investigation.

The CDF, as the congregation is known, has a staff of 17 canon lawyers who process the cases. There has long been a case backlog, however, and at one point Francis acknowledged it had topped 2,000, with cases taking years to reach a verdict.

Usually, the CDF sends the case back to the bishop to investigate more fully, either through a full canonical trial or via an expedited administrative process. If the evidence is overwhelming and serious, the CDF can send the case straight to the pope to decide the priest's fate.



Penalties can range from the mild — a temporary suspension from publicly celebrating the sacraments or exercising ministry — to the more serious, such as defrocking, which is removing a cleric from the priesthood.

Elderly priest abusers often have been spared defrockings, even for heinous crimes. Instead, they were given a lifetime of "penance and prayer."

Just last week, though, Francis defrocked 88-year-old Theodore McCarrick, the once-prominent American cardinal who was convicted by the Vatican's canon law tribunal of sexually abusing minors and adults.



The Vatican told a United Nations committee that 848 priests had been defrocked and another 2,572 given lesser sanctions from 2004-2014.

Since then, the Vatican has not released any more data on defrockings, evidence that such transparency was not universally welcomed in the Holy See.

There is a fierce debate within the Catholic hierarchy about whether priests should be defrocked for sex abuse or given lesser sanctions. Many powerful cardinals close to Francis, aghast at the thinning of clerical ranks from so many defrockings, favor a more "merciful" approach.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna, who enforced a tough line on abusers when he was the Vatican's lead sex crimes prosecutor from 2002-2012, has recently returned to a position of power at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He said this week he would support releasing new defrocking statistics.



While the Vatican under Pope Benedict XVI cracked down on abusive priests, the bishops who shielded them largely got a pass.

In 2015, with demands for accountability growing, Francis agreed to create a tribunal section within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to handle cases accusing bishops of negligence. But a year later, he scrapped the plan.

Instead, the pope outlined procedures to investigate bishops and punish them, making clear they could be removed from office if they were found to have been negligent in handling abuse cases of their clergy.

In addition, the Vatican office that vets new bishops, in soliciting comments about potential candidates, now includes an "explicit question on how the candidate has dealt with sexual abuse issues and whether he has been criticized for not doing the right thing," Scicluna said.


More AP coverage of clergy sex abuse at https://www.apnews.com/Sexualabusebyclergy

Source: Fox News World

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Mercedes Schlapp: 'Strong Legal Grounds' for Border Declaration

President Donald Trump and his administration believe there are "strong legal grounds" behind the decision to declare the border situation a national emergency and that Trump had the presidential authority to take the action, White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp said Monday.

"Congress has the statutes and it has been used before over 50 times since 1976," Schlapp told Fox News' "America's Newsroom." "What we're seeing right now at the border is an emergency."

In addition, Border Patrol agents are having difficulty having enough operational support to secure the border, said Schlapp.

Schlapp also commented on Trump's statement at the Rose Garden Friday that he didn't "have to" go the route of a national emergency, saying that he didn't want to choose the route he took.

"He wanted to see if Congress would negotiate a better deal," said Schlapp. "They, of course, fell short with pushing forward $1.375 billion toward the physical barrier. That is better than the zero or less than $1 Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi was willing to offer."

There also are several pots of money the president can start using even while legal challenges mount to his declaration, including from the departments of Treasury and Defense.

"This is an opportunity to really be able to build these physical barriers in much-needed areas," she said. "We can start building immediately and start working with our contractors. The president met last week with the generals from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get the process going. The president wants to move fast."

Source: NewsMax Politics

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Breaking: Chicago Police Say Jessie Smollett A Suspect For Filing False Report

Actor Jussie Smollett is officially a suspect for filing a false police report regarding his alleged assault by white Trump supporters, Chicago police confirmed.

“Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony),” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted Wednesday.

“Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury.”

The announcement comes after surveillance footage surfaced showing two Nigerian brothers connected to Smollet through the TV show “Empire” purchasing ski masks and red hats likened to President Trump’s iconic Make America Great Again hats.

CNN reported Saturday that Smollett staged the attack where he claimed two white Trump supporters in MAGA hats punched him, tied a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him while hurling racial slurs, after the Nigerian brother confessed to authorities that Smollett paid them $3,500 each to stage a racial attack to demonize Trump supporters.

The brothers also confessed that Smollett staged the hate crime hoax after sending a letter with a white substance to the Empire studio.

According to local reports, an indictment against Smollett could be coming in “hours.”

Falsifying a police report is a Class 4 felony in Chicago, and if found guilty Smollett could face up to 3 years in prison.

“If it is determined that a person lied to police about a crime that was committed, they could be charged with a Class 4 Felony ‘Disorderly conduct,'” former prosecutor Andrew Weisberg said Wednesday.

The Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax has become a rosetta stone for other hoaxes in America today. Alex Jones calls in from the road to join Owen in a discussion about the current state of the Democrats.

Source: InfoWars

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Rediscovering America: A Presidents Day Quiz On U.S. Presidents

Presidents Day, which became an official holiday in 1971 after an executive order by then President Richard Nixon, is February 18.

The quiz below, from the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio, provides an opportunity for you to test your knowledge of the American presidency and its place in the constitutional order.

1. President Thomas Jefferson delivered the president’s annual message to Congress — what we now call the State of the Union Address — in writing, starting a precedent that was followed until this president delivered the message in person to Congress, a practice that continues today.

A: Abraham Lincoln

B: Theodore Roosevelt

C: Woodrow Wilson

D: Franklin D. Roosevelt

2. Which of the three branches of government did early Americans consider to be the most powerful and therefore the “most dangerous”?

A: The legislative branch

B: The executive branch

C: The judicial branch

D: All of the above

3. Which president demonstrated the power of the president to determine foreign policy by declaring that the United States was neutral in the war between France and England?

A: George Washington

B. John Adams

C. Thomas Jefferson

D. James Madison

4. The U.S. Constitution states that the president is “Commander in Chief,” yet gives Congress the power to “declare war.” Which president has argued that the president has the constitutional authority to send American troops to use military force abroad without first getting approval from Congress?

A: Harry Truman

B: George H.W. Bush

C: Barack Obama

D: All of the above

5. Which document is most responsible for laying out the process by which we nominate presidential candidates today?

A: Article II of the U.S. Constitution

B: The Brownlow Committee Report of 1937

C: The 22nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

D: The McGovern-Fraser Commission Report of 1971

6. Who was the first vice president to become president by virtue of the death of the elected president?

A: Martin Van Buren

B: John Tyler

C: Andrew Johnson

D: Theodore Roosevelt

7. Who is the only president to have been formally censured by a chamber of Congress?

A: James Madison

B: Andrew Jackson

C: Richard Nixon

D: Bill Clinton

8. Which president was impeached for removing the Secretary of War?

A: John Adams

B: Andrew Jackson

C: Andrew Johnson

D: Grover Cleveland

9. Which Supreme Court case has settled the question of whether the president may initiate a war with another nation?

A: United States vs. Curtiss Wright (1936)

B: Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. vs. Sawyer (1952)

C: Boumediene v. Bush (2008)

D: None of the above because this has not been settled by the Supreme Court

10: Which president suspended habeas corpus?

A: Abraham Lincoln

B: Franklin D. Roosevelt

C: George W. Bush

D: All of the above

* * *

Answers: 1-C, 2-A, 3-A, 4-D, 5-D, 6-B, 7-B, 8-C, 9-D, 10-A

President Trump has tweeted he believes there was a “planned illegal act” against him.

Source: InfoWars

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Source: The Daily Caller

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McCabe says Rosenstein was 'absolutely serious' about secretly recording Trump

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said in an interview broadcast Sunday that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "was not joking" when he suggested secretly recording President Donald Trump in the Oval Office following the May 2017 dismissal of FBI Director James Comey.

McCabe, speaking to CBS News' "60 Minutes," recounted a conversation soon after Comey's firing about the ongoing Russia investigation in which he said Rosenstein told him: "I never get searched when I go into the White House. I could easily wear a recording device. They wouldn't know it was there."

"Now, he was not joking," McCabe said of Rosenstein's comments. "He was absolutely serious. And in fact, he brought it up in the next meeting we had."

McCabe told "60 Minutes" that he "never actually considered taking [Rosenstein] up on the offer," but said he did discuss the matter with the FBI's then-general counsel, James A. Baker. Last fall, Baker told lawmakers during a closed-door deposition that McCabe and FBI lawyer Lisa Page came to Baker "contemporaneously" and told him details of the meeting where Rosenstein made the comments. Baker told congressional investigators he took the word of McCabe and Page "seriously."


McCabe told CBS News that "I think the general counsel had a heart attack" when he told him of Rosenstein's plan.

"And when he got up off the floor, he said, 'I, I, that's a bridge too far. We're not there yet,'" McCabe added. Days later, Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the bureau's investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Rosenstein repeatedly has denied he "pursued or authorized recording the president" and also has denied McCabe's suggestion that the deputy attorney general had broached the idea of invoking the Constitution's 25th Amendment, which allows Cabinet members to seek the removal of a president if they conclude that he or she is mentally unfit. The Justice Department echoed both denials in a statement released last week, saying Rosenstein "was not in a position to consider invoking the 25th Amendment."

"Rod raised the [25th Amendment] issue and discussed it with me in the context of thinking about how many other cabinet officials might support such an effort," McCabe told interviewer Scott Pelley, adding that he believed Rosenstein was "counting votes or possible votes" to remove Trump from office.

"What seemed to be coursing through the mind of the deputy attorney general was getting rid of the president of the United States one way or another," Pelley suggested.

"I can't confirm that," McCabe answered. "But what I can say is, the deputy attorney general was definitely very concerned about the president, about his capacity and about his intent at that point in time."


According to McCabe, Rosenstein was affected by what McCabe called an "incredibly turbulent, incredibly stressful" time after Comey's firing. The former FBI deputy director claimed Trump had instructed Rosenstein to cite the Russia investigation in a memo Rosenstein wrote justifying Comey's dismissal.

"[Trump was] saying things like, 'Make sure you put Russia in your memo.' That concerned Rod in the same way that it concerned me and the FBI investigators on the Russia case," said McCabe, who added that Rosenstein "explained to the president that he did not need Russia in his memo. And the president responded, 'I understand that. I am asking you to put Russia in the memo anyway.'"

During his interview, McCabe criticized Trump for what he called an "unwillingness to learn the true state of affairs that he has to deal with every day." He cited an account by an anonymous FBI official who met with the president only to be met with "several unrelated diatribes by Trump."


"One of those was commenting on the recent missile launches by the government of North Korea," McCabe said. "And, essentially, the president said he did not believe that the North Koreans had the capability to hit us here with ballistic missiles in the United States. And he did not believe that because [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin had told him they did not. President Putin had told him that the North Koreans don't actually have those missiles."

When intelligence officials allegedly told Trump that their information did not match what the Russian leader had told him, Trump allegedly said, "I don't care. I believe Putin."

McCabe was dismissed from the FBI in March 2018 after the Justice Department's internal watchdog concluded he approved leaking information to a Wall Street Journal reporter in order to cast himself in a positive light, then lied under oath about it. In the interview broadcast Sunday, McCabe denied intentionally misleading the DOJ's internal investigators, saying: "There's absolutely no reason for anyone and certainly not for me to misrepresent what happened ... Did I ever intentionally mislead the people I spoke to? I did not. I had no reason to. And I did not."

He added, "I believe I was fired because I opened a case against the president of the United States."


In the White House response to McCabe's claims, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders noted that "Andrew McCabe was fired in total disgrace from the FBI because he lied to investigators on multiple occasions, including under oath. His selfish and destructive agenda drove him to open a completely baseless investigation into the President. His actions were so shameful that he was referred to federal prosecutors.

"Andrew McCabe has no credibility and is an embarrassment to the men and women of the FBI and our great country."

Source: Fox News Politics

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French far-right EU candidate says his party equals progress

The top French far-right candidate in European parliamentary elections says that his party epitomizes progress with its return to an emphasis on protectionism.

Jordan Bardella, 23, hopes to be the youngest lawmaker in the EU parliament after elections in May. Along with Marine Le Pen, leader of his anti-immigration National Rally party, formerly National Front, he has already hit the campaign trail.

Bardella said in an interview Wednesday that President Emmanuel Macron, the defender of a strong EU, is "square" not progressive.

He said that Macron "often opposed nationalists to progressives" — but progress today "is called localizing ... defending borders ... protectionism."

Most opponents haven't announced candidates in the EU parliament elections.

Source: Fox News World

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