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Archive for December 21st, 2010

Pope Benedict: Ratzinger Blames Child Abuse ‘Scandal’ On Society

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December 21, 2010: AP Editors / Associated Press via CBS News.com – December 20, 2010

(AP)  Pope Benedict XVI told Vatican officials Monday that they must reflect on the church’s culpability in its child sex-abuse scandal, but he also blamed a secular society in which he said the mistreatment of children was frighteningly common.

In his traditional, end-of-the-year speech to Vatican cardinals and bishops, Benedict said revelations of abuse in 2010 reached “an unimaginable dimension” that required the church to accept the “humiliation” as a call for renewal.

“We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen,” the pope said.

Benedict also said, however, that the scandal must be seen in a broader social context, in which child pornography is seemingly considered normal by society and drug use and sexual tourism are on the rise.

“The psychological destruction of children, in which human persons are reduced to articles of merchandise, is a terrifying sign of the times,” Benedict said.

He said that as recently as the 1970s, pedophilia wasn’t considered an absolute evil but rather part of a spectrum of behaviors that people refused to judge in the name of tolerance and relativism.

As an avalanche of cases of pedophile priests came to light, church officials frequently defended their previous practice of putting abusers in therapy, not jail, by saying that was the norm in society at the time. Only this year did the Vatican post on its website unofficial guidelines for bishops to report pedophile priests to police if local laws require it.

“In the 1970s, pedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children,” the pope said. “It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a ‘better than’ and a ‘worse than.’ Nothing is good or bad in itself.”…”The effects of such theories are evident today,” he said.

The traditional Christmas speech to Vatican cardinals and bishops is an eagerly anticipated address that Benedict uses to focus the church hierarchy on key issues.

Benedict has previously acknowledged that the scandal was the result of sin that the church must repent for, and make amends with victims. He repeated Monday that the church must do a better job of screening out abusers and helping victims heal.

“It is fundamentally disturbing to watch a brilliant man so conveniently misdiagnose a horrific scandal,” said Barbara Blaine, president of the main U.S. victims’ group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

She said the scandal wasn’t caused by the 1970s but rather by the church’s culture of secrecy and fixation with self-preservation in which predator priests and the bishops who moved them around rather than turn them in were rarely disciplined.

“Whenever the pope tires of talking about abuse and starts acting on abuse, he should focus on taking immediate, pratical steps to oust those who commit, ignore and conceal clergy sex crimes first,” Blaine said.

The sex abuse scandal, which first exploded in the U.S. in 2002, erupted on a global scale this year with revelations of thousands of victims in Europe and beyond, of bishops who covered up for pedophile priests and of Vatican officials who turned a blind eye to the crimes for decades.

Questions were raised about how Benedict himself handled cases both as archbishop in Munich and as head of the Vatican office that handled abuse cases.

Recently, the Vatican released documentation showing that as early as 1988 then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sought to find quicker ways to permanently remove priests who raped and molested children in a bid to get around church law that made it difficult to defrock priests against their will.

While Ratzinger was unsuccessful then, Vatican rules now allow for fast-track defrocking. But victims advocates say the Vatican still has a long way to go in terms of requiring bishops to report sex crimes to police and release information and documentation about known pedophiles.

The Pope Visits Britian Amid Child Abuse Scandal: September 2010

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Matthew 18:6 KJV

Link to original article below…

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/12/20/world/main7168168.shtml

South Korea Fires Into ‘Disputed Waters’ Despite North’s Warnings

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December 21, 2010: Jonathan Watts / The Guardian [guardian.co.uk] – December 20, 2010

Looks like China and North Korea decided not to take the bait and be reeled into a world war, at least on this particular occasion, and in turn have now proven to demonstrate an incredible restraint– SJH

The South Korean military today fired shells into disputed waters in the Yellow Sea in a live-fire drill that risked inflaming tensions with North Korea that have led to two deadly clashes this year.

Prior to the action, South Korea scrambled F15-K fighter jets, put Aegis warships on alert and evacuated residents of the nearby Yeonpyeong island into air raid shelters amid North Korean warnings of “catastrophe” if the exercise went ahead.

However, North Korea’s military said today it “was not worth reacting” to the military drill, suggesting last-minute diplomatic calls for restraint had paid off. “We felt it was not worth reacting one by one to military provocations,” the North’s state news agency, KCNA, quoted the North Korean People’s Army supreme command as saying.

Two civilians and two marines were killed on Yeonpyeong island last month when North Korea responded to a similar drill with a military barrage. Pyongyang considers the island, seven miles from its western shore, to be part of its territory.

The live-fire exercise lasted 94 minutes, South Korean government officials said. It involved K-9 self-propelled guns and other weapons firing about 2,000 shells away from the North Korean shoreline, the South’s defence ministry spokesman, Kim Min-seok, told reporters.

After the drill, the South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, ordered troops to remain on alert, highlighting concerns that the North could be biding its time. Tensions on the peninsula are at a pitch rarely seen since the cessation of the Korean war in 1953, but the international community remains divided about how to respond.

China, North Korea’s key ally, said it was “unambiguously opposed” to any acts that could worsen tensions. The Chinese foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, called for restraint from all parties concerned to avoid escalation,

The UN security council met yesterday to discuss the situation, but was unable to agree on a statement. The US ambassador, Susan Rice, said the US and other council members demanded that the council condemn North Korea for the two deadly attacks this year, but diplomats said China had strongly objected.

After eight hours of consultations, Russia’s UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin – who called the emergency council meeting – told reporters: “We were not successful in bridging all the bridges.” However, hopes have been raised by reports that North Korea has agreed to allow UN nuclear inspectors back into the country.

The conciliatory move was promised to the New Mexico governor, Bill Richardson, a frequent unofficial envoy to North Korea and a former US ambassador to the UN, who returned from Pyongyang today after a series of emergency talks with senior officials. Richardson has described the situation as a “tinderbox.”

South Korea remains sceptical about its neighbour’s motives. The government said the offer to readmit inspectors could be a tactical move because North Korea has frequently broken pledges in the past.

North Korea’s Workers party called on its people to unite in a campaign “to oppose war and uphold peace”. The Rodong Sinmun, the party’s paper, warned that the situation on the peninsula was “running toward the brink of war”.

South Korea Drill Ends Without Return Fire From North

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: China and Russia are well aware of what Israel and the US are attempting to ignite, and apparently have decided that sacrificing a pawn is worth saving the knight in order to prevent an attack on Iran, and at least for now, prevent WWIII. That’s savvy chess on the board of geo-politics– SJH

Link to original article below…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/20/south-korea-fires-artillery-disputed-waters