More than 44,000 Catholic women have signed a letter pressing Pope Francis to explain exactly when and how he found out about sexual abuse and misconduct allegations against a high-ranking former cardinal.
“Our hearts are broken, our faith tested, by the escalating crisis engulfing our beloved Church,” states the passionately worded letter organized by the Catholic Women’s Forum. “We are angry, betrayed and disillusioned.”
“We, your flock, deserve your answers now.”
For the past two weeks, Francis’ papacy has been thrown into crisis by claims that U.S. cardinals and Vatican officials covered up for then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Even though the Vatican has known about his allegedly abusive behavior with seminarians since at least 2000, McCarrick received clerical promotions and continued publicly representing the church, The Associated Press reports.
The accusations against Francis himself were brought up by the Vatican’s former U.S. ambassador, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. The archbishop, who has long been a critic of the Argentine pontiff, claims Francis rehabilitated McCarrick, lifting canonical sanctions imposed by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.
Francis officially removed McCarrick from ministry in June after a church investigation determined that he had sexually abused an altar boy in 1971. McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals the following month.
Soon after Vigano’s allegations came to light, Francis told reporters that he would “not say a single word” on the subject and suggested that journalists read Vigano’s claims and make up their own minds.
The thousands of signatures on the letter to Pope Francis are evidence of how deeply this crisis has affected Catholic women, who see themselves as the backbone of the church.
The letter from the Catholic Women’s Forum, an international network that seeks to amplify the voices of faithful Catholic women, has continued to gather signatures since it was first published on Aug. 30. Signers include prominent female American Catholic theologians, professors, business executives, writers and speakers.
Mary Rice Hasson, the forum’s director, told HuffPost that the group’s web team is working hard to delete duplicate signatures. They are also deleting any signatures from men, who are being asked to sign a separate online letter.
The women’s letter has already been sent to the pope twice ― through personal channels and through the apostolic nuncio in Washington, D.C. Hasson said via email that as long as the number of signatures continues to swell, the organization will continue to send it to Francis weekly.
Hasson added that she’s not surprised by the surge of signatures, given the “depth of feeling” around this issue. Although the number of abuse cases involving priests dropped sharply after the Catholic Church adopted reforms in 2002, she said the church is still falling short in holding the hierarchy accountable and acknowledging sexual misconduct by bishops and cardinals.
“These women love our Church, and they are heartbroken and appalled, not only at the underlying abuse, but also by an ecclesial culture that looked the other way in the face of egregious sexual abuse and misconduct,” Hasson wrote.
The letter to the pope specifically states that the women want to know when Francis learned about McCarrick’s alleged sexual misconduct and abuse, and whether Francis released the former cardinal from any restrictions imposed by Benedict.
In the letter, the Catholic Women’s Forum also takes the opportunity to remind Francis how important women are to the church.
Fifty-four percent of American Catholics are women, according to the Pew Research Center. Catholic women are more likely than men to say they attend Mass at least once a week (43 percent vs. 35 percent) and more likely to say they pray every day (67 percent vs. 49 percent).
“We are not second-class Catholics to be brushed off while bishops and cardinals handle matters privately,” the letter states. “We are the hands, the feet, and the heart of the Church. In short, we are the Church, every bit as much as the cardinals and bishops around you.”
Hasson said she was heartened by reports that the Vatican is preparing a response to Vigano’s allegations, describing it as simply “the right thing to do.”
“Our Church leaders need to realize that we cannot go back to ‘business as usual,’ absent significant efforts to address the situation,” Hasson said.
The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee by a unanimous voice vote on Tuesday confirmed veteran diplomat William Burns to become President Joe Biden's Central Intelligence Agency director, Senator Mark Warner, the Democratic committee chair, said. "The overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in Ambassador Burns’ favor is a testament to the nominee’s unquestioned qualifications for the role, long experience in matters of national security, and laudable commitment to public service," Warner said in a statement. Warner said he hoped the full Senate now "will move to confirm Ambassador Burns without any unnecessary delay."
Joe Exotic of “Tiger King" fame has found new attorneys who say they plan to file a motion for a new trial in a matter of months. Joe Exotic, whose real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in federal prison for violating federal wildlife laws and for his role in a failed murder-for-hire plot targeting his chief rival, Carole Baskin, who runs a rescue sanctuary for big cats in Florida. Baskin was not harmed.
An Israeli military court has sentenced a prominent Palestinian lawmaker to two years in prison in a plea bargain that convicted her of belonging to an outlawed group. Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, has been held without charge since October 2019. Israel, along with the U.S. and other Western allies, considers the PFLP a terror group.
The Supreme Court appeared ready Tuesday to uphold voting restrictions in Arizona in a key case that could make it harder to challenge a raft of other voting measures Republicans have proposed following last year's elections. All six conservative justices, appointed by Republican presidents, suggested they would throw out an appellate ruling that struck down the restrictions as racially discriminatory under the landmark Voting Rights Act. Less clear is what standard the court might set for how to prove discrimination under the law, first enacted in 1965.
Three women who worked for a local radio and TV station in eastern Afghanistan were gunned down Tuesday in separate attacks, the news editor of the privately owned station said. Shokrullah Pasoon, of Enikass Radio and TV in Jalalabad, said one of the women, Mursal Wahidi, was walking home when gunmen opened fire, according to eyewitnesses. Afghanistan is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for media workers.
A Polish court on Tuesday acquitted three activists who had been accused of desecration and offending religious feelings for producing and distributing images of a revered Roman Catholic icon altered to include the LGBT rainbow. The posters, which they distributed in the city of Plock in 2019, used rainbows as halos in an image of the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus.
Authorities in Myanmar have charged Associated Press journalist Thein Zaw and five other members of the media with violating a public order law that could see them imprisoned for up to three years, a lawyer said Tuesday. The six were arrested while covering protests against the Feb. 1 military coup in Myanmar that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The group includes journalists for Myanmar Now, Myanmar Photo Agency, 7Day News, Zee Kwet online news and a freelancer.
Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via ReutersA criminal case against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and others in the Saudi hierarchy has been filed in a German court for the brutal 2018 murder, dismemberment, and disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite the kingdom’s denial of MBS’ direct involvement and the Biden administration’s flaccid response to the killing.The 500-page complaint filed by the press-freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is the first time a criminal case has been lodged outside of what was largely considered a show trial in Saudi Arabia. That trial saw the conviction of eight people who were later pardoned after members of the Khashoggi family were said to have forgiven them.Saudi’s Crown Prince Is a Killer. So Why Is Biden Just Shrugging?On Monday, the Saudi ambassador to the United Nations disputed a four-page CIA report released last week that pointed to MBS’ involvement, tweeting, “Let us all move forward to tackle the serious business of world issues!!”Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi called the American report, which has been widely criticized as weak, as being “based on could’ve, should’ve and would’ve and does not rise to anywhere close to proving the accusation beyond reasonable doubt.”The report, which was held back by the Trump administration and released last week by Biden, does not directly accuse MBS of ordering the hit on Khashoggi but does say he had “absolute control” over all activities carried out by the kingdom’s intelligence service. Al-Mouallimi argued in a Twitter tirade that “the Prince courageously accepted moral responsibility, presented the accused to the justice system, and pledged to reform the intelligence organizations. Case closed!”Khashoggi was ambushed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a 15-member hit squad that includes a bone-saw-wielding surgeon and seven members of MBS’ elite personal security team in October 2018. The journalist’s body has never been found.The complaint in Germany was filed Monday with public prosecutors in the city of Karlsruhe, according to an RSF statement. The dossier outlines the arbitrary detention of 34 journalists and the brutal murder of Khashoggi to underscore what it calls the kingdom’s “widespread and systematic” persecution of the press.“These journalists are the victims of unlawful killing, torture, sexual violence, and coercion and forced disappearance,” Christophe Deloire, RSF secretary-general, said at a press conference Tuesday morning. “Those responsible for the persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia, including the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, must be held accountable for their crimes.”The RSF statement names MBS and four other suspects: Saud Al-Qahtani, a close adviser to the crown prince who they allege took direct part in the planning and execution of the murder as well as in the implementation of the policy of persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia; Ahmad Mohammed Asiri, the former deputy head of intelligence, who is suspected of personally supervising Khashoggi’s murder; Mohammad Al-Otaibi, the consul general in Istanbul at the time of the murder; and Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, an intelligence officer who led the team that “tortured, killed, and forceably disappeared Jamal Khashoggi.”The complaint was filed in Germany because laws there can extend “universal jurisdiction” to some serious international crimes, even when the victims are not German. The case is bolstered by the recent conviction in a German court of a Syrian secret-service officer for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity for the torture of protesters at one of Bashar al-Assad’s prisons, according to The Guardian.“The official opening of a criminal investigation in Germany into the crimes against humanity in Saudi Arabia would be a world first,” RSF’s Germany director Christian Mihr said. “We ask the public prosecutor general to open a situation analysis, with a view to formally launching a prosecutorial investigation and issuing arrest warrants.”RSF ranks Saudi Arabia 170th out of 180 countries in its press-freedom index. “Saudi Arabia permits no independent media,” the RSF rationale states. “Despite his talk of reform, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has intensified the repression since his appointment as crown prince in June 2017. The number of journalists and citizen-journalists in detention has tripled since the start of 2017.”The German court has not yet accepted the claim and no court date has been set.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
The latest World Golf Championship event has gone to nine venues with five title names since it began in 1999. Trevor Simsby took that to another level last week at the Workday Championship. A member of the Asian Tour, the 28-year-old Californian had not played on any recognized tour in a full year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions to punish Russia for what it described as Moscow's attempt to poison opposition leader Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent last year, in President Joe Biden's most direct challenge yet to the Kremlin. The sanctions against seven senior Russian officials, among them the head of its FSB security service, and on 14 entities marked a sharp departure from former President Donald Trump's reluctance to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin.
ATTILA KISBENEDEKBack when he was still running Russia’s FSB, Nikolai Patrushev, a longtime Putin crony who now heads the Russian Security Council, famously referred to himself and his colleagues as representatives of the “new nobility.”Nepotism is now breeding a new generation of Russian “nobles,” who are poised to take over the Kremlin upon the retirement of their fathers. These princelings—some of whom already occupy exalted positions in the government and the corporate world—are accused of benefiting from their parents’ money, mostly stolen from the state, via offshore accounts. They also travel abroad and educate their children in America and Europe, while paying homage to the Kremlin leadership, which portrays the West as an enemy.Anti-corruption campaigners claim that the children of the officials and oligarchs who enable Putin’s repressive kleptocracy are effectively being used to evade Western sanctions, and must be targeted themselves in order to deter the Kremlin from future criminal behavior.European Union foreign ministers met in Brussels last week and reportedly decided to add four Russian officials responsible for the incarceration of Russian democrat Alexei Navalny to a list of six Russians already sanctioned in connection with Navalny’s August 2020 poisoning.The Daily Beast reported in January that the Biden administration was also considering imposing a fresh round of sanctions as part of its own response to the treatment of the opposition leader. On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that, in coordination with the EU's measures, it would be imposing sanctions on seven top Russian government officials, including FSB Director Aleksandr Bortnikov, Presidential Policy Directorate Chief Andrei Yarin, and the Presidential Executive Office's First Deputy Chief of Staff, Sergei Kiriyenko.Team Biden Weighs Fresh Sanctions on Russia for Poisoning and Jailing NavalnyBut Navalny and his team are advocating for sanctions to be imposed on an even wider range of Russian oligarchs, who form the backbone of Putin's regime, as well on the sons of Putin’s henchmen. Sanction-related travel bans and asset freezes for Putin’s siloviki—strongmen—have proved inconvenient but some appear happy to stay in Russia and sunbathe on the Black Sea instead of the Mediterranean so long as they can evade financial restrictions by transferring their assets to their adult children.After the West imposed sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Crimea, Navalny said: “If the meaning of the sanctions is to exert real pressure on the mafia that has seized power (and this is precisely what is declared), then their sons would be included… These little sons are calmly cruising on their yachts and eating crème brulée in cafes on the streets of European cities.”Navalny and Vladimir Ashurkov, the executive director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, have included two princelings on a suggested sanctions list that accompanied a letter Ashurkov sent to President Biden earlier this year: Denis Bortnikov, son of FSB chief Aleksandr Bortnikov, and Dmitry Patrushev, son of Bortnikov’s predecessor, Nikolai Patrushev, who now heads Putin’s National Security Council. The document claims that both sons act as “wallets” for their fathers’ “ill-gotten gains.”Ashurkov told the Daily Beast that these two men are deeply corrupt and senior enough within the government structure to be sanctioned in their own right. He insisted it was not his role to tell Western governments what to do but said it would be appropriate to widen the sanctions on further offspring of the siloviki. “I think it is logical that the immediate family of people involved in human rights abuses and corruption are also banned from Western countries,” he said.There is a precedent in Washington for sanctioning the sons of Putin’s enablers: Roman Rotenberg, son of Russian billionaire Boris Rotenberg, and Roman’s cousin Igor Rotenberg, son of Arkady Rotenberg, have both been sanctioned because of their financial ties to their fathers. In late 2017, the U.S. Treasury added Artem Chaika, son of Russian Prosecutor-General Yuri Chaika, to those sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act. And in April 2018, the Treasury designated Kirill Shamalov, Putin's former son-in-law, for sanctions. But these four represent only a fraction of the new generation of Russian elite that reaps the rewards of the corruption and repressive Putin regime.Retired U.S. diplomat Steven Pifer, currently a fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin, thinks it’s a finely balanced calculation. “While I'm not fully comfortable with targeting family members, perhaps it is time to sanction spouses and children along with the primary individual,” he told The Daily Beast. “If a Russian oligarch can’t travel, that’s one thing. If his spouse can’t make her shopping trips to London and kids can’t get to their colleges in the West, that would be a different degree of pressure.”There is no shortage of potential targets among Russia’s princeling class. Not surprisingly, both of Nikolai Patrushev's sons graduated from the FSB Academy, which trains its students to become spies against the West. Dmitry Patrushev, 43, is on the list of targets suggested by Navalny’s organization. He was appointed Minister of Agriculture in 2018 after heading the Russian Agricultural Bank and bringing it deeply and scandalously into debt (close to a billion dollars in 2016). (Despite, or maybe because of, Dmitry's much-publicized failures at the bank, that same year Putin personally awarded him the Order of Honor and the Association of Russian Bankers named him Banker of the Year.)Dmitry's brother, Andrei Patrushev, aged 39, worked for the FSB before becoming an advisor to Rosneft chairman Igor Sechin (one of Putin's oldest KGB buddies) in 2006, at age 25. The next year President Putin awarded him the coveted Order of Honor “for the achieved labor success and many years of conscientious work.” Later Andrei became a top official at Gazprom Neft. He now co-owns a marine geology firm, which in 2019 had an annual gross revenue of $155 million, and is on the board of the prestigious Russian Association of Arctic Explorers. Both Patrushev sons have large seaside vacation homes near Putin's infamous palace at Gelendzhik.Viktor Zolotov, who was already on the U.S. sanctions list, has known Putin for years and is said to enjoy the Russian president's deepest trust. Zolotov heads the powerful 300,000-person Russian National Guard, which is used to brutally suppress street protests. (In 2018, after Alexei Navalny exposed illegalities in procurement contracts for the National Guard, Zolotov published a video message in which he challenged Navalny to a duel and promised to make “good, juicy mincemeat” of him.) Zolotov’s son-in-law, Yuri Chechikhin, 44, is a business partner of the oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who gave him a stake in his construction business, which earns several billion rubles a year, including through lucrative government contracts.Zolotov’s son Roman Zolotov, age 40, was educated at the FSB academy and worked at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), where his dad served as deputy minister, for a number of years. He is co-owner of a Russian company called Quantum Technologies and serves on the boards of various state-owned companies. Roman, who has a vacation home in Gelendzhik along with the Patrushevs, is also deputy head of the Moscow Department of Sports and Tourism, an actor and a film producer. While Roman was still earning a modest salary at the MVD, he and his brother-in-law Yuri produced several low-grade Russian movies, one of which featured Roman in the cast. Both men own mansions outside Moscow that are valued at over $10 million each.Yuri Chaika, currently Russian representative to the Caucasus Region, was Russian prosecutor-general from 2006 to 2020 and presided over the Kremlin’s sustained campaign of persecution of civil society. During Chaika’s tenure as prosecutor-general, his sons, 45-year-old Artem Chaika and 33-year-old Igor Chaika, created huge business empires. A January 2020 article in Forbes Russia, drawing on an earlier, explosive investigation by Navalny, describes how the two Chaika brothers, beginning with Artem’s illegal seizure of a large shipping enterprise in 2002, each achieved staggering wealth. They accumulated countless companies—construction, shipping, refuse collection, property development, industrial products and food export—and through rigged auctions, massive government subsidies and uncompetitive state contracts made them profitable. All the while, their father prevented legal challenges to their dubious business practices.An investigation by Navalny’s FBK revealed that Artem Chaika bought a $3 million home near Lake Geneva in 2013 and has Swiss residence.The brothers Arkady and Boris Rotenberg are Putin's friends from childhood and former judo sparring partners of the Russian president. (Arkady recently to came to Putin’s rescue by claiming, unconvincingly, that he was the owner of “Putin’s palace,” exposed by Navalny.)Putin Says He Doesn’t Know Anything about the Billion-Dollar Palace Russia Built HimSince Putin became president in 2000, the pair have become billionaires, supplying pipelines to the state-controlled energy corporation Gazprom and landing exclusive contracts for the Sochi Olympics. In 2014 the EU and U.S. sanctioned both brothers as a result of the Crimea invasion. A 2020 U.S. Senate report accused the Rotenbergs of circumventing financial sanctions by buying expensive art through Barclays Bank, as well as by handing over assets to their sons.Roman Rotenberg, 39, is the son of Boris Rotenberg. He studied international business in London, is a British citizen and owns a £3.3 million home in London’s exclusive Belgravia district. Roman, who is first vice-president of the Russian Hockey Federation, is also the formal owner of many of his father’s companies, including those in Finland, where he and his father Boris have citizenship. Arkady’s son Igor Rotenberg, 47, has held numerous positions in the Putin government and also is on the boards of several gas and power companies. His net worth was recently estimated at $1.1 billion.These names represent the tip of a large iceberg. Anti-corruption campaigners believe Russia’s princelings are not only destined to continue the Kremlin's anti-democratic and corrupt governing practices; they also are likely to ensure that the huge gap between the haves and the have-nots in Russia continues to grow. In 2019, 10 percent of Russians owned 83 percent of the country’s wealth. Among the world’s leading economies, Russia is the country with the most striking material inequality.In a speech at the State Department on Feb. 4, President Biden urged the Kremlin to release Navalny from prison and emphasized that “we will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia.” Biden also said that he told President Putin in a telephone call that “the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions—interfering with our elections, cyberattacks, poisoning its citizens—are over.” So perhaps the U.S. will consider the recommendations of Navalny’s team and include Russian oligarchs—and maybe some princelings—on its sanctions list.Before last week’s meeting in Brussels Russia warned that it would be “ready to react” to any new sanctions by the EU. But in fact there is not much Russia can do, beyond expelling a few more diplomats from Moscow or sanctioning specific Western officials, which would have little impact. In 2014, after being blacklisted by Russia in retaliation for U.S. sanctions, the late Senator John McCain joked: “I guess this means my spring break in Siberia is off, my Gazprom stock is lost, and my secret bank account in Moscow is frozen.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
The Philippine president has dismissed his former ambassador to Brazil after she was seen on video physically abusing a Filipino member of her household staff. President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday night he had approved a recommendation to fire Marichu Mauro, revoke her retirement benefits and disqualify her from public office for life. The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said at the time that the unidentified victim had returned to Philippines and that it was trying to reach her amid an investigation.