World News: Vatican, Turkey, India


Staff & Wire Reports



Pope Francis, flanked by Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke, listens to a journalist's question during a press conference aboard of the flight to Rome at the end of his two-day visit to Ireland, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, Pool)

Pope Francis, flanked by Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke, listens to a journalist's question during a press conference aboard of the flight to Rome at the end of his two-day visit to Ireland, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, Pool)


FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2015 file photo, Pope Francis reaches out to hug Cardinal Archbishop emeritus Theodore McCarrick after the Midday Prayer of the Divine with more than 300 U.S. Bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Seton Hall University has begun an investigation into potential sexual abuse at two seminaries it hosts following misconduct allegations against ex-Cardinal McCarrick and other priests. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via AP, Pool, File)


FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2011 file photo, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick prays during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' annual fall assembly in Baltimore. Seton Hall University has begun an investigation into potential sexual abuse at two seminaries it hosts following misconduct allegations against ex-Cardinal McCarrick and other priests. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)


Pope on McCarrick claims: “I won’t say a word about it.”

By NICOLE WINFIELD

Associated Press

Monday, August 27

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis declined Sunday to confirm or deny claims by the Vatican’s retired ambassador to the United States that he knew in 2013 about sexual misconduct allegations against the former archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, but rehabilitated him anyway.

Francis said the 11-page text by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, which reads in part like a homophobic attack on Francis and his allies, “speaks for itself” and that he wouldn’t comment on it.

Francis was asked by a U.S. reporter during an airborne press conference Sunday if Vigano’s claims that the two discussed the McCarrick allegations in 2013 were true. Francis was also asked about Vigano’s claims that McCarrick was already under sanction at the time, but that Francis rehabilitated him.

Francis said he had read Vigano’s document and trusted journalists to judge for themselves.

“It’s an act of trust,” he said. “I won’t say a word about it.”

The National Catholic Register and another conservative site, LifeSiteNews, published Vigano’s text Sunday as the pope wrapped up a two-day visit to Ireland dominated by the clerical sex abuse scandal.

Vigano, 77, a conservative whose hardline anti-gay views are well known, urged the reformist pope to resign over what he called Francis’ own culpability in covering up McCarrick’s crimes.

Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation as cardinal last month, after a U.S. church investigation determined that an accusation he had sexually abused a minor was credible.

Since then, another man has come forward to say McCarrick began molesting him starting when he was 11, and several former seminarians have said McCarrick abused and harassed them when they were in seminary. The accusations have created a crisis of confidence in the U.S. and Vatican hierarchy, because it was apparently an open secret that McCarrick regularly invited seminarians to his New Jersey beach house, and into his bed.

Coupled with the devastating allegations of sex abuse and cover-up in a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report — which found that 300 priests had abused more than 1,000 children over 70 years in six dioceses — the scandal has led to calls for heads to roll and for a full Vatican investigation into who knew what and when about McCarrick.

Vigano apparently sought to answer some of those questions. His letter identifies by name the Vatican cardinals and U.S. archbishops who were informed about the McCarrick affair, an unthinkable expose for a Vatican diplomat to make. He said documents backing up his version of events are in Vatican archives.

The Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S. from 2011 to 2016, Vigano said his two immediate predecessors “did not fail” to inform the Holy See about accusations against McCarrick, starting in 2000. Vigano said he himself sent at least two memos on him.

He said Pope Benedict XVI eventually sanctioned McCarrick in 2009 or 2010 to a lifetime of penance and prayer, and to no longer celebrate Mass in public or travel.

He said Francis asked him about McCarrick when they met on June 23, 2013, at the Vatican’s Santa Marta hotel where the pope lives, three months after Francis was elected pope.

Vigano wrote that he told Francis: “Holy Father, I don’t know if you know Cardinal McCarrick, but if you ask the Congregation of Bishops, there is a dossier this thick about him. He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests, and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.”

Soon thereafter, Vigano wrote, he was surprised to find that McCarrick had started traveling on missions on behalf of the church, including to China. McCarrick was also one of the Vatican’s intermediaries in the U.S.-Cuba talks in 2014.

Vigano’s claim that McCarrick had been ordered by Benedict to stay out of public ministry and retire to a lifetime of prayer is somewhat disputed, given that McCarrick enjoyed a fairly public retirement. But Vigano insisted the sanctions had been imposed, and said a former counselor in the embassy at the time was “prepared to testify” about the “stormy” meeting when McCarrick was informed of them.

Barry Coburn, McCarrick’s civil attorney, said the allegations in the Vigano letter are “serious.”

“Archbishop McCarrick, like any other person, has a right to due process. He looks forward to invoking that right at the appropriate time,” he said in a statement.

The letter also contains a lengthy diatribe about homosexuals and liberals in the Catholic church. It often reads like an ideological manifesto, naming all of Francis’ known supporters in the U.S. hierarchy as being complicit in a cover-up of McCarrick’s misdeeds.

“Now that the corruption has reached the very top of the church’s hierarchy, my conscience dictates that I reveal those truths regarding the heart-breaking case of the archbishop emeritus of Washington,” Vigano wrote.

Vigano, however, also has had his own problems with allegations of cover-up, and he and Francis had a major dust-up during Francis’ 2015 visit to the U.S., which Vigano organized.

In that incident, a leading U.S. opponent of gay marriage, Kim Davis, was among those invited to meet with the pope at Vigano’s Washington residence. Francis was so enraged that Davis’ supporters had leaked word of the meeting that the Vatican subsequently insisted he only held one private audience while there: with one of his former students, a gay man and his partner.

The cover-up accusation, which Vigano denied, concerned allegations that he tried to quash an investigation into the former archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota, John Nienstedt, who was accused of misconduct with adult seminarians.

In 2016, the National Catholic Reporter said Vigano allegedly ordered the investigation wrapped up and a piece of evidence destroyed. The report cited a 2014 memo from a diocesan official that was unsealed following the conclusion of a criminal investigation into the archdiocese. No charges were filed.

In a statement provided to the AP Sunday about the Nienstedt case, Vigano said a Vatican investigation of the allegation found no wrongdoing on his part.

He said the allegation that he destroyed evidence was false and that his efforts to have the archdiocese correct the record have been met with silence.

Nienstedt was forced to resign in 2015 over complaints about his handling of sex abuse cases.

Vigano’s name also made headlines during the 2012 “Vatileaks” scandal, when some of his letters were published. In them, he begged not to be transferred to the Vatican embassy in Washington from the administration of the Vatican City State.

He claimed he was being punished for having exposed corruption in the Vatican. The letters showed a clash with Benedict’s No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is also a target of his McCarrick missive.

The document’s authenticity was confirmed to The Associated Press by an Italian journalist, Marco Tosatti, who said he was with Vigano when the archbishop wrote it Wednesday.

“He was very emotional and upset at the end the effort,” Tosatti told AP, adding that Vigano left Tosatti’s home afterward without saying where he was going.

The Conversation

Turkish currency isn’t the real problem for Erdoğan, it’s democracy

August 27, 2018

Gary M. Grossman

Associate Director, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Arizona State University

Disclosure statement

Gary M. Grossman receives no funds from the Turkish government. He previously received World Bank and United Nations funding through the Turkish government for project work in various government ministries. This series of research projects ran from 1990-2001. He has received no such funding since and no funds at any time from the current government.

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Arizona State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is presiding over the damaging loss of value of the Turkish currency, the lira, against foreign currencies. It’s the most severe economic crisis the country has faced since he assumed power.

Erdoğan has been the dominant figure in Turkish politics for almost two decades. Can he and his party maintain political control through this moment?

As an American scholar, I began my engagement in Turkey in 1990, working with various government ministries, which allowed me to witness the linkages there between politics and policy.

My work in Turkey depended on finding clarity in the confusion of Turkish politics. For example, it used to be that party identification in Turkey would provide everything one needed to know about a person’s level of education, social class, religiosity and financial destiny.

But the predictable political verities have been shattered over the past 16 years, largely through the emergence of Erdoğan and his political party, known as the AKP, or the Justice and Development Party. And a crisis that today looks like an economic challenge is, in fact, a symptom of a much larger problem for Erdoğan and Turkey.

Erdoğan at the polls

Turkey at the end of the 20th century was a political, social and economic mess. The economy struggled throughout the period, most dramatically with a 50 percent fall in the Turkish lira’s value relative to the U.S. dollar one night in 2001.

In the dozen years before Erdoğan was elected, Turkey had 12 separate governments under nine different prime ministers and three presidents. Government corruption was rampant.

The Turkish parliamentary elections of November 2002 sent a shock wave through the nation’s political and military establishment.

Since the founding of the secular Turkish Republic in 1923, a constitutional pillar of government in Turkey has been the separation of religion and state. This was interpreted by the military to be absolute and was part of the expressed rationale for the military interventions of the past.

But this separation was also a growing source of conflict, given the strong religious allegiance of many of Turkey’s citizens.

In 2002 Erdogan’s party, the AKP, was a coalition of sorts, centered on the former Islamist Welfare Party. Opponents accused the AKP of having a radical Islamist agenda, which its members denied. Parliamentary candidates from the established center-right parties joined AKP to help it appear less religious and more mainstream, though much of the party’s appeal was to a conservative electorate that felt its religiosity had long been denied by the fervently secular Turkish government.

The AKP was wildly successful in the 2002 election and defeated 17 other parties, most of which were well-established. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit’s party did not even get 1 percent of the vote.

Erdoğan was under a legal ban on holding office but the AKP-led Parliament cleared him of all charges and he became prime minister four months later.

The elections of 2007 and 2011 further solidified AKP’s political dominance and the centrality of Erdoğan – referred to by his supporters as “Büyük Usta,” the Great Master – to Turkey’s politics.

Erdoğan’s heavy hand

Over the years, Erdogan engaged in increasingly repressive acts, including blocking access to social media sites and exercising growing control of the country’s economic institutions, including Turkey’s central bank.

Since 2003, Erdoğan has consolidated his power, including purging former political allies.

Erdoğan proposed a far-reaching new constitution in 2017 that changed the previously ceremonial office of president to serve as the head of both government and state. It was approved overwhelmingly by voters.

Erdogan also supported increasing Islamicization in Turkey, proposing to raise a “pious generation” of children in an expansion of the country’s religious schools.

An abortive coup in 2016 aimed to oust Erdoğan. In the aftermath, Erdoğan imposed emergency rule, which meant that even those freedoms guaranteed by the Turkish Constitution could be abridged without recourse to the courts.

Thousands were jailed, many thousands more lost their posts in government, academia and the press for the mere appearance of opposing Erdoğan.

So even after the Turkish electorate had voted to give Erdoğan an unprecedented degree of power, these anti-democratic actions – many of which were highly unpopular – had the potential of causing Erdogan’s downfall.

Challenging Erdoğan and democracy

Turkey’s June presidential election represented both a threat to Erdoğan’s power over the electorate as well as a test of the viability of Turkey’s democratic institutions.

Coalitions were formed among political parties, diminishing the number of possible candidates. This provided a clearer voter choice between those embracing Erdoğan’s “New Turkey” – a more religious and conservative Turkey – and the more secular, liberal voters actively resisting Erdoğan’s rule.

Left and right joined together in a “People’s Alliance” and most of the alliance coalesced around Muharrem Ince of CHP, who drew crowds of hundreds of thousands to his rallies.

Erdoğan nevertheless collected 52.5 percent of the vote, 20 points beyond Ince’s total and far exceeding the other two major candidates.

However, Erdoğan’s party, the AKP, failed for the first time to gain a majority in Parliament.

During the election campaign, Erdoğan used every means to temporarily stabilize the lira, maintaining pressure on the Central Bank to keep interest rates artificially low and use foreign reserves to prevent the lira’s devaluation.

That caused the lira to weaken further and faster after the election, provoking a serious threat of rampant inflation now. Despite a recent small rally, the financial crisis is not over. The Turkish lira stands to lose potentially 70 percent of its buying power since the beginning of the year.

Can democracy cure authoritarian rule?

The lira crisis is not the problem, it is a symptom of what’s wrong in Turkey. It was brought about by Erdoğan’s iron grip on the country’s institutions and his desire to goose the economy to cement his rule.

Behind the financial crisis is the undemocratic concentration of power in Turkey’s presidency and Erdoğan’s unchecked mismanagement.

But if Erdoğan’s goal has been autocratic rule, his use of democratic means to achieve it may well be his undoing.

That is the central irony of the past 16 years.

In the past, the military suppressed the vote by prohibiting some parties from participation in Turkish elections. But the elections of 2002-2018 were the most democratic in Turkey’s history, open to the participation of the entire electorate.

While Erdoğan cleverly used democracy to gain absolute power, in the words of Ersin Şenel, a noted Turkish political scientist, “It can’t last.”

Turkey has four active and viable parties in Parliament. Erdoğan ended emergency rule after the campaign. Muharrem Ince remains an enormously popular political figure in Turkey.

The financial crisis provoked by the lira’s fall masks the true drama in Turkey today: The democratic means exist to defeat Erdoğan. What will Turkey’s voters – with their economy and livelihoods hurt by Erdoğan’s mismanagement – do with their power now?

India has a sexual assault problem that only women can fix

August 27, 2018

Nisha Bellinger

Assistant Professor of Political Science, Boise State University

Disclosure statement

Nisha Bellinger does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Boise State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

India is the most dangerous country for sexual violence against women, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation 2018 survey.

The survey, which measures sexual and non-sexual violence, discrimination, cultural traditions, health care and human trafficking, has been criticized for reflecting more perception than data.

But India barely fares better in other studies that rank its treatment of women. It placed 131st of 152 countries in the Georgetown Institute’s global ranking of women’s inclusion and well-being.

India’s National Crime Records Bureau reported 338,954 crimes against women – including 38,947 rapes – in 2016, the most recent government data available. That’s up from 309,546 reported incidents of violence against women in 2013.

High-profile attacks on Indian women have shocked this nation of 1.3 billion in recent years. The 2012 gang rape of a 23-year-old student in Delhi who died from her injuries caused public outrage. The incident helped spur an amendment to India’s criminal law, which broadened the definition of sexual crimes against women to include stalking, acid attacks and voyeurism.

This year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued an executive order allowing the death penalty as a punishment for people convicted of sexually assaulting a child under 12.

But stricter laws apparently did little to prevent 34 girls from being tortured and raped at government-funded shelters in India’s Bihar state earlier this year.

Women’s representation in India

My research on diversity in government suggests that one of the reasons India has not been able to effectively address crimes against women is the lack of women in national political office.

That’s because, research shows, having women in government can lead to more and better laws that safeguard women’s well-being.

India’s population is 48 percent female. But women hold just under 12 percent of seats in the national legislature.

That falls well below the 30 percent “critical mass” that the United Nations Equal Opportunity Commission believes is necessary for women lawmakers to be influential in policy making.

Local governments in India actually have a quota system that ensures women hold one-third of seats in rural and city councils. But female representation in India’s far more powerful national government remains comparable to countries like the Republic of Congo and Mauritius, where women hold about 11 percent of legislative seats.

Rwanda, where 61 percent of legislators are female, has the most women in government of any nation in the world, followed by Cuba, with 53 percent.

These are not necessarily the safest places in the world for women. According to the Georgetown Institute’s ranking of women’s well-being, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Slovenia and Spain are some of the safest – all countries where women hold over 30 percent of legislative seats.

Political representation does not translate precisely, directly or immediately into physical security for a given population. But it’s a start.

Women help women

Research demonstrates that governments that include representatives from across society – that is, of different political parties, races, classes, genders, geographies and religions – produce better quality of life for citizens than less inclusive governments.

My latest book shows that countries with a vibrant political party system enable diverse groups to influence decision-making. Because they are a product of deliberation and cooperation between politicians with divergent ideologies, policies formulated in such societies are more likely to reflect the needs of diverse groups.

Scholarship likewise indicates that women in office may prioritize different kinds of policies than men – including those that address the needs of women and children.

In New Zealand, where women hold 38 percent of parliamentary seats and the prime minister is a woman, lawmakers recently guaranteed paid leave for victims of domestic violence. That gives victims time to relocate, protecting themselves and their children from their abusers.

Women in the United States Congress have also proactively addressed sexual harassment inside government.

In March, female senators from both parties – who make up 22 percent of the U.S. Senate – pushed Senate leadership to call a vote on legislation that would give legal representation to women who complain of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill and reduce barriers to filing a formal complaint. The bill passed in May, and is currently being reconciled with the House’s version of a similar bill.

And it was the late chief minister of India’s Tamil Nadu state, J. Jayalalithaa, who in 2010 announced a 13-point action plan for the state to better protect sexual violence survivors. Her provisions, which have since been partially implemented, included state-paid medical expenses after abuse, female investigating officers and fast-track courts for sexual violence cases.

India’s 2013 national legislation on sexual violence ignores many of these victims’ rights issues, as the human rights organizations Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have pointed out.

Getting women at the table

India has contemplated the need for more women in public office.

In 2010, the upper house of its legislature voted on a bill that would have designated one-third of seats in national and state legislative assemblies for women. Then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described it as a “historic step forward toward emancipation of Indian womanhood.”

But the lower house never voted on the bill. And though Prime Minister Modi has expressed support for a gender quota in Indian government, he has made little effort to work with parliament to get the legislation passed.

Putting Indian women in positions of political power won’t solve a longstanding, pervasive and entrenched social issue like violence against women.

But evidence suggests that an Indian government with more women in it could better protect Indian women by passing comprehensive laws that defend women from abuse and help victims recover.

Pope Francis, flanked by Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke, listens to a journalist’s question during a press conference aboard of the flight to Rome at the end of his two-day visit to Ireland, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, Pool)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/08/web1_121235919-58768d7ada4641e396d84ae72fceccc9.jpgPope Francis, flanked by Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke, listens to a journalist’s question during a press conference aboard of the flight to Rome at the end of his two-day visit to Ireland, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, Pool)

FILE – In this Sept. 23, 2015 file photo, Pope Francis reaches out to hug Cardinal Archbishop emeritus Theodore McCarrick after the Midday Prayer of the Divine with more than 300 U.S. Bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Seton Hall University has begun an investigation into potential sexual abuse at two seminaries it hosts following misconduct allegations against ex-Cardinal McCarrick and other priests. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via AP, Pool, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/08/web1_121235919-f54cd88054b04e45bd36fd1d413b0484.jpgFILE – In this Sept. 23, 2015 file photo, Pope Francis reaches out to hug Cardinal Archbishop emeritus Theodore McCarrick after the Midday Prayer of the Divine with more than 300 U.S. Bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Seton Hall University has begun an investigation into potential sexual abuse at two seminaries it hosts following misconduct allegations against ex-Cardinal McCarrick and other priests. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via AP, Pool, File)

FILE – In this Nov. 14, 2011 file photo, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick prays during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual fall assembly in Baltimore. Seton Hall University has begun an investigation into potential sexual abuse at two seminaries it hosts following misconduct allegations against ex-Cardinal McCarrick and other priests. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/08/web1_121235919-2d68c780d2464ab2a0a297053bd5e289.jpgFILE – In this Nov. 14, 2011 file photo, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick prays during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual fall assembly in Baltimore. Seton Hall University has begun an investigation into potential sexual abuse at two seminaries it hosts following misconduct allegations against ex-Cardinal McCarrick and other priests. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Staff & Wire Reports