Pope: Priestly abuse scandals driving Catholic faithful away
By NICOLE WINFIELD and JARI TANNER
Tuesday, September 25
TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Pope Francis conceded Tuesday that priestly sex abuse scandals are outraging the Catholic faithful and driving them away, and said the church must change its ways if it wants to keep future generations.
Francis referred directly to the crisis convulsing his papacy on the fourth and final day of his Baltic pilgrimage, which coincided with the release of a devastating new report into decades of sex abuse and cover-ups in Germany.
Francis told young people in Estonia, considered one of the least religious countries in the world, that he knew many felt the church had nothing to offer them and simply doesn’t understand the problems of young adults today.
“They are outraged by sexual and economic scandals that do not meet with clear condemnation, by our unpreparedness to really appreciate the lives and sensibilities of the young, and simply by the passive role we assign them,” he told Catholic, Lutheran and Orthodox young people in the Kaarli Lutheran Church in the Estonian capital of Tallinn.
The pope said the Catholic Church wants to respond to those complaints transparently and honestly.
“We ourselves need to be converted,” he said. “We have to realize that, in order to stand by your side, we need to change many situations that, in the end, put you off.”
It was a very public admission of the impact of the church’s failures in confronting sex abuse scandals, which have roared back to the headlines recently with revelations of abuses and cover-ups in the U.S., Chilean and now German churches.
On Tuesday, the German bishops conference released a report which found that some 3,677 people — more than half of them 13 or younger and nearly a third of them altar boys — were abused by clergy between 1946 and 2014.
The report, compiled by university researchers, found evidence that some files were manipulated or destroyed, many cases were not brought to justice and that sometimes abusers were simply moved to other dioceses without congregations being informed about their past.
The abuse scandal, which erupted in Ireland in the 1990s and subsequently in Australia and the U.S., now threatens Francis’ own papacy since his record as cardinal and pope has proven uneven. A former Vatican ambassador has also accused Francis of rehabilitating an American cardinal who slept with seminarians.
Francis has declined to respond to the accusations, and on Tuesday didn’t allow a reporter to finish asking a question about them during his in-flight news conference coming home from Tallinn. The Vatican is expected to respond formally soon.
Francis did, however, suggest that it was unfair to apply contemporary moral standards on the church’s past cover-up since everyone did it at the time.
“You also covered them up at home: When the uncle raped the niece, when the father raped his children. It was covered because it was so shameful,” he said.
He said he wasn’t excusing the church’s cover-up, which he said was evidence of the “corruption” that has so scandalized the faithful. But he said the church has made great strides in fighting abuse.
And Francis said it’s unfair to judge the cover-up with today’s standards in the same way it’s unfair to judge the forced conversion of indigenous peoples during the colonial era or even the use of the death penalty, which the pope has recently decreed cannot be condoned under any circumstance.
Francis’ visit to Tallinn marked the last stop in a four-day pilgrimage that also took him to Lithuania and Latvia. The trip aimed to encourage the Christian faith in the Baltics, which saw five decades of Soviet-imposed religious repression and state-sponsored atheism, as well as the World War II-era occupation by Nazi Germany.
Francis was warmly welcomed in the region, even if Catholics are only a majority in Lithuania. Estonia only has 6,000 Catholics nationwide, but residents still seemed to welcome Francis’ inclusive message. About 10,000 people flocked to his final Mass in a chilly but sun-soaked Freedom Square near Tallinn’s charming medieval center. It was a blustery day and the wind blew off the pope’s skullcap several times.
“For me, it’s in my heart what I believe, and I think Francis is this kind of ‘papa’ who wants to change,” said Marko Tubli, a Tallinn resident. “A church is not like ‘You must be this way and this way.’ It is more open.”
Upon arriving Tuesday, Francis praised Estonia’s social and economic transformation in the quarter century since the 1991 Soviet collapse. But he warned that a certain “existential ennui” can set in when societies lose their cultural roots and put their faith in technological progress alone.
“One of the evident effects of technocratic societies is a loss of meaning in life and the joy of living,” he said. Interpersonal and intergenerational bonds can be lost, depriving young generations of foundations to build a common future, he said.
Estonia is considered both one of the most tech-advanced countries in Europe and one of the least religious societies in the world. More than half of Estonia’s 1.3 million people profess no religious affiliation. The Lutheran and Russian Orthodox churches count the most followers of those who do.
In her welcoming speech, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid acknowledged that rapid changes taking place amid robust economic growth — something particularly visible in the Baltic nations — shouldn’t mean the “vulnerable among us” are neglected.
She presented Francis with a digital ID card giving foreigners access to dozens of digital services in the Baltic country, ranging from medical services to signing legal contracts and filing taxes. The government says over 37,000 people from dozens of countries have been registered as “e-residents” in Estonia.
A previous version of this story corrected the spelling of the Lutheran church mentioned to Kaarli, not Karli.
Associated Press videojournalist Helena Alves in Tallinn and AP writer Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report.
Refugees from Venezuela are fleeing to Latin American cities, not refugee camps
September 25, 2018
Associate Lecturer, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio)
As co-founder of the Igarapé Institute and SecDev Group, Robert Muggah receives funding from a range a international foundations and bilateral partners. Supporters include the Omidyar Foundation, Open Society Foundation and Canadian government. Robert Muggah is also a fellow at the Chicago Council for Global Affairs and the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, affiliated with the World Economic Forum and is faculty at Singularity University.
More than 2.3 million Venezuelans – roughly 7 percent of the entire population – have fled the country’s political and economic crisis since 2014, the largest human displacement in Latin America’s history.
Earlier this year as many as 5,000 Venezuelans crossed the border every day, most of them seeking safety in poor cities and towns in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
Impromptu refugee camps are springing up in towns across South America, fueling anxieties that tent cities may become permanent ghettos.
Latin America is not the only region where cities are struggling to cope with mass migration – populations that would previously have landed in rural refugee camps.
Migrants prefer cities to camps
Urban refugees are a growing phenomenon.
According to a recent World Refugee Council report, which I co-authored, hundreds of cities worldwide are overwhelmed by an influx of people fleeing conflict in Syria, Myanmar, Sudan and beyond.
Ever since the mass global displacement of the World War II – and particularly after Nigeria’s 1967 Biafra civil war – international aid organizations have primarily housed refugees in rural camps, where they are provided food, shelter, legal processing, education and medical care.
If given the option, however, refugees typically prefer to resettle in cities. There, they stand a better chance at rebuilding their lives.
But when too many refugees arrive at once, they can create a host of challenges for city officials. Refugees often arrive with little more than the clothing on their backs urgently needing housing, food, education and skills training.
Yet neither the United Nation’s 1951 Convention on Refugees nor its 1967 supplementary protocol even references urban refugees, much less defines the specific roles and responsibilities of city officials in dealing with migrants.
Though the current strategic plan of the UN’s refugee agency acknowledges that more refugees are moving to cities, it offers few recommendations for helping cities better serve them.
Today, about 17.5 million people – about 70 percent of all refugees worldwide, live in urban areas, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Political barriers to integrating refugees
The UN’s refugee agency issued its first official policy statement on urban refugees in 1997. Concerned that increasing municipal migrant services might pull refugees away from remote camps and into cities, it promoted a model of “self-reliance” to keep them at bay.
In practice, that means urban refugees and other migrants mostly fend for themselves. Some can afford to rent apartments. Others stay with family and friends. Many end up homeless and destitute.
Their undocumented status makes self-reliance difficult. Millions of refugees and asylum-seekers living in cities across Thailand, Jordan and Kenya are denied work permits, pushing them into poorly paid, black market jobs. Few can access formal education or health services.
Some cities have taken a more active approach to refugee and migrant services – though not always successfully.
In Calais, France, thousands of Middle Eastern and North African migrants and refugees were directed to a camp located on a former landfill, where they were served by local charities and aid organizations.
But the “Calais Jungle,” as the squalid camp was known, lacked proper sanitation, and disease spread quickly. More than 6,400 residents were evacuated in 2016.
The patchwork response to new arrivals – and the high visibility of migrants who are “campified” on the streets – is fueling public discontent from residents who view refugees as a drain on already scarce city resources.
Cities take the lead
Politics is one reason that the UN has been slow to address the urban refugee crisis. It has faced immense pressure from member countries to continue building and administering rural camps rather than help refugees integrate and resettle in cities.
Right-wing politicians everywhere from Uganda and Nepal to the United States and Colombia portray displaced people as a national security threat.
But things may be starting to change.
In 2015, following a rush of refugees from the Mideast and North Africa, a network of foundations and 50 European cities – including Barcelona, Frankfurt and Rotterdam – established “Solidarity Cities.” They are working together to deliver housing and other immediate services to new arrivals and, over time, integrate them into city life.
Last year, the International Organization for Migration and the umbrella group United Cities and Local Governments organized 150 cities around the globe to sign a declaration on the rights of urban refugees.
Asserting that refugees can “bring significant social, economic and cultural contributions to urban development,” they called on international organizations and national governments to politically and financially support cities in caring for migrant populations.
In the U.S., many cities have responded to President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown by publicly declaring themselves “welcoming cities” for refugees and asylum-seekers.
Another 500 American cities – including Chicago, Los Angeles and New York have gone further – establishing themselves as “sanctuaries” where undocumented migrants and refugees may seek protection from federal immigration authorities.
Backlash in Brazil
So far, Venezuelan migrants have experienced no such welcome in South America.
In Brazil, which has received roughly 56,000 Venezuelan migrants and asylum seekers since 2015, cities have proven grievously unprepared to receive them.
Only a few hundred Venezuelans have sought asylum in São Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city. Yet this wealthy metropolis of 21 million is struggling to provide them with basic services like employment, food and other amenities.
In smaller Brazilian border towns, the influx is overwhelming. Officials have appealed to the military and international aid groups to set up emergency migrant shelters.
Boa Vista, which lies 125 miles from Venezuela, normally has 266,000 residents. Venezuelans have swelled its population by 10 percent.
According to Roraima state authorities, check-ups at public clinics increased 6,500 percent last year as Venezuelans made use of Brazil’s public health system. Many asylum-seekers arrive needing treatment for dehydration, malnutrition and disease.
Crime is also up in Roraima, 132 percent since 2015, an increase officials have attributed to migrants.
Anti-migrant sentiment on the Brazilian frontier is growing.
Local officials in some border cities now require passports and special permits to access government services. Others have set up separate migrant-only bathrooms.
An angry mob of Brazilians chased 50 Venezuelans out of nearby Mucajai in March.
In August, Roraima state closed its border with Venezuela, though Brazil’s Supreme Court ordered it reopened 15 hours later.
That month, a Venezuelan migrant accused of robbery was killed in the Brazilian city of Paracaima. Another Venezuelan was stabbed and shot to death in Rorainópolis, a town in Roraima state.
The Brazilian military was even deployed to the border to keep the peace.
Cities have a comparative advantage
Despite these challenges, I see cities as comparatively well positioned to assist refugees.
City officials operate in the practical realm: They collect garbage, provide drinking water, manage public health care, create housing and builds roads – precisely the kinds of services migrants need.
But poorer cities like those in South America will need both national and international economic support to meet the needs of their newest residents.
Cities cannot change national laws to make refugees more welcome. But with a little help – and a lot less hindrance – they can better provide the basic protection that migrants need.
Hiring highly educated immigrants leads to more innovation and better products
September 26, 2018
Assistant Professor of Economics, University of California San Diego
Assistant Professor of Economics, University of California San Diego
Gaurav Khanna has received funding from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Center for Global Transformation (UCSD). He is a Non-resident Fellow at the Center for Global Development, Washington DC.
Munseob Lee receives funding from the Center for Global Transformation (UCSD).
University of California provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
Much of the current debate over immigration is about what kind of impact immigrants have on jobs and wages for workers born in the United States.
Seldom does anyone talk about how immigration leads to a wider variety of better products for the American consumer. We recently conducted a study to shine more light on the matter.
We are economists with a keen interest in growth and innovation and how immigration affects the economy.
What we found is that the more companies hire certain highly skilled and mostly college-educated foreign workers, the more those businesses create new products. In fact, we found that hiring high-skill immigrants has a stronger association with innovation than spending money on research and development.
In other words, more highly educated immigrant workers means more and better products – such as more efficient laptops, TVs and other electronics – on the American marketplace.
The creation of newer, better products
We discovered this by taking a closer look at “product reallocation.”
Economists have long regarded product reallocation as a primary indicator of how innovation affects economic growth. Product reallocation is simply the entry of newer products and exit of older products. For instance, innovation will lead to incremental changes to electronic products like laptops and TVs, which will make them more efficient. When these changes are made, a new model of the product is introduced in the market, and the older, obsolete model is phased out. The Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter referred to this type of innovation as “creative destruction.”
Creative destruction, like other forms of innovation, drives companies to grow and increases the productivity of the economy as a whole. In addition, other work has shown that immigration is also strongly associated with patenting.
While patenting is a useful measure of innovation, it captures a very specific type of innovation. This is because some industries are more likely to get their innovations patented than others, depending on changes that may take place as a result of court rulings, new policies and the tax code. Consequently, many important innovations never get patented, and many things that get patented rarely get used.
The advantage of product reallocation – our measure of innovation – is that it captures incremental innovations that are usually not patented and thereby missed by previous research on the impact of immigration.
The connection between migration and production
There happens to be a good way to figure out which firms are hiring high-skill foreign workers.
To hire such a worker, companies must file a labor certification application to obtain an H-1B visa for the employee. H-1B visas allow U.S. companies to temporarily hire foreign workers in jobs that require the “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent,” according to the federal agency that oversees the program.
We obtained data on all labor certification applications for every company that filed at least one from 2001 to 2015. This data shows the employer name and location, details about the work start and end dates, the occupation and job title.
We combined this dataset with product details by looking at barcodes generated from point-of-sale systems, like the cash registers or payment terminals, from about 35,000 stores across the country. The first few digits of a barcode on products actually identify which company produced these products. This allows us to create measures of product entry and exit – that is, reallocation – at the company level.
Our research looks at level of innovation, or reallocation rates, by four different types of business: those that hire H-1B workers, those that don’t, those that spend a lot on research and development and those that have different combinations of both.
If anything is clear from our study, it is that companies that hire more H-1B workers, regardless of how much they spend on research and development, have higher rates of product reallocation.
One of the main reasons we’re confident in our conclusion is the timing of the effects. Hiring an H-1B employee today was clearly associated with innovation gains in subsequent years. Specifically, a 10 percent increase in the share of H-1B workers is associated with a 2 percent increase in product reallocation – a rather meaningful increase in innovation.
In short, H-1B hiring seems to have a stronger association with reallocation rates than research and development, often seen as a wellspring for innovation.
Economic growth and consumer welfare
The U.S. has the advantage of being a profitable hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. It can attract the best and the brightest minds from around the world, offering not just commensurate compensation but also the chance to interact with other innovators and entrepreneurs.
Given the rapidly increasing number of college graduates from populous countries like India and China, especially those specializing in science and engineering degrees, there is a growing pool of potential workers that U.S. employers can choose from.
An added perk: Foreign workers may bring a slightly different set of skills, which in combination with the skill-set of U.S.-born workers, can help produce new and more efficient products. As faster laptops, more effective pharmaceuticals, better cellphones and other higher quality electronics are introduced into the market, we reap their benefits as consumers.
Innovation also helps drive growth and raises productivity across sectors of the economy. For instance, many industries – from car manufacturers to bankers – use software and electronics in their production processes.
To that end, more efficient electronics not only benefit consumers, but also raise the productivity of all sectors that use such products, fueling growth for the economy as a whole.