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10 Oct

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

Recommended:

Irish Examiner>>

France 24>>

Spiegel>>

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The Catholic Church’s grim history of ignoring priestly pedophilia – and silencing would-be whistleblowers

Brian Clites, Case Western Reserve University

Widespread public shock followed the recent release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report that identified more than 1,000 child victims of clergy sexual abuse. In fact, as I know through my research, the Vatican and its American bishops have known about the problem of priestly pedophilia since at least the 1950s. And the Church has consistently silenced would-be whistleblowers from within its own ranks.

In the memory of many Americans, the only comparable scandal was in Massachusetts, where, in 2002, the Boston Globe published more than 600 articles about abuses under the administration of Cardinal Bernard Law. That investigation was immortalized in the 2015 award-winning film, “Spotlight.”

What many Americans don’t remember, however, are other similar scandals, some even more dramatic and national in scope.

The Vatican has known about priestly pedophilia for many decades. AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

While the problem of priestly pedophilia might be centuries old, the modern paper trail began only after World War II, when “treatment centers” appeared for rehabilitating abusive priests. Instead of increased transparency, bishops, at the same time, developed methods for denying and hiding allegations of child sexual abuse.

During the 1950s and 1960s, bishops from around the U.S. began referring abusive priests to church-run medical centers, so that they could receive evaluation and care without disclosing their crimes to independent clinicians.

Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, who began his ministry in Boston and Quebec, was among those who advocated prayer over medicine. In 1947, Fitzgerald moved to New Mexico and founded the Servants of the Paraclete, a new order of Catholic priests devoted to healing deviant clergy. His belief in faith healing reflected a vocal minority of Catholic leaders who still viewed psychology as a threat to Christian faith.

Fitzgerald based the Paracletes in New Mexico. From 1947 to 1995, the state became a dumping ground for pedophile priests. As Kathleen Holscher, chair of Roman Catholic studies at the University of New Mexico, has observed, this practice forced New Mexico’s parishes to absorb, in effect, abusive priests from across the country.

Other priests sent to the Paracletes were returned back into ministry in their home diocese, reassigned to new parishes that had no way of knowing about their abusive past.

This system was sustained, in part, by the fact that few diocesan personnel files recorded past accusations by children and parents. As Richard Sipe, a psychologist who worked at a similar Catholic treatment center later revealed, bishops generally masked past accusations by instead recording code words like “tickling,” “wrestling” or “entangled friendship” in personnel files.

By 1956, Fitzgerald became convinced that pedophilia could not be treated, even as he continued to believe that prayers could cure other illnesses, such as alcoholism. He petitioned U.S. bishops to stop sending him their child abusers, advocating instead for firing abusive priests and permanently removing them from ministry.

Fitzgerald eventually appealed directly to the Vatican, and met with Pope Paul VI to discuss the problem in 1963.

Hush money

It is unclear when the Church began using hush settlements to silence victims. The practice, however, was so widespread by the 1980s that the Vatican assigned church lawyers to adjust their insurance policies in order to minimize additional liabilities.

These included Fr. Thomas Doyle, a nonparish priest who specialized in Roman Catholicism’s internal laws; Fr. Michael Petersen, a trained psychiatrist who believed that priests with abusive disorders should be treated medically; and Roy Mouton, a civil attorney who represented one of the church’s most notorious pedophile priests.

Together, they authored a 92-page report and submitted it for presentation at the 1985 meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Church’s apparatus for controlling and governing American priests.

The document estimated that American bishops should plan to be sued for at least US$1 billion, and up to $10 billion, over the following decades.

Several of the nation’s most powerful cardinals buried the report.

In response, Doyle mailed all 92 pages, along with an executive summary, to every diocese in the United States. Yet there is no evidence that any bishops headed the report’s warnings.

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Research in Taiwan has show a link between very high levels of air pollution and oral cancer

Pollution in central London

Pollution in central London is double the World Health Organisation maximum recommended levels, though lower than those in the Taiwanese study. Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP

High levels of air pollution are linked to an increased risk of mouth cancer, new research has revealed.

Scientists have previously linked high air pollution to a host of health problems, from an increased risk of dementia to asthma and even changes in the structure of the heart, with recent research suggesting there is no “safe level” of air pollution.

Now researchers say that at very high levels of air pollution, the risk of developing mouth cancer appears to rise.

Writing in the Journal of Investigative Medicine, researchers in Taiwan describe how they discovered the association by looking at air pollution data from 66 air quality monitoring stations around the country collected in 2009, and combing this with data from the health records of more than 480,000 men aged 40 and over from 2012/13. In total, there were 1,1617 cases of mouth cancer among participants.

The team focused on tiny particulates of pollution known as PM2.5s, and took the men’s exposure to this air pollution as being based on where they lived. They then sorted the participants into four groups, from lowest to highest levels of exposure.

After taking into account factors including age, exposure to ozone, levels of other particulates, age, smoking status and whether the men chewed betel quid – a mixture of ingredients that includes areca nut and betel leaf and is known to increase the risk of mouth cancer – the researchers found that men exposed to the highest levels of PM2.5s had an increased risk of mouth cancer.

Air pollution has previously been linked with several types of cancer

Prof Frank Kelly, King’s College London

Compared with men exposed to average annual PM2.5 levels of 26.74 micrograms (?g) per cubic metre (m3) of air, those exposed to concentrations of 40.37 ?g/m3 or higher had 43% greater odds of developing the disease.

“The mechanism through which this occurs is not clearly understood, hence further investigations are required,” the researchers write.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has previously said average annual levels of PM2.5s should not exceed 10 ?g/m3. While in central London the average annual figures have been found to be double this, they are still far lower than the highest levels seen in the Taiwanese study.

However, many other cities around the world have extremely high levels of air pollution. According to figures from the WHO, the average annual level of PM2.5s in Kabul is 86 ?g/m3, while in Beijing it is 85 ?g/m3 and in Delhi it has been recorded at 122 ?g/m3.

But the study has limitations, including that it is does not consider the men’s previous exposure to air pollution over their lifetime – which may have been higher or lower than their recent exposure.

Prof Frank Kelly, chair in environmental health at King’s College London, who was not involved in the study, said it would be useful to explore whether a link between mouth cancer and air pollution is seen in other countries.

“Air pollution has previously been linked with several types of cancer, including breast, liver, lung and pancreatic cancer. It is therefore not surprising that this new study in Taiwan has made a possible link with mouth cancer,” he said. “However, given that air pollution concentrations and smoking incidence are much lower in the UK and we don’t chew betel all suggest that the increased risk of developing mouth cancer may be unique to Taiwan.”

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