Abe mum on Trump’s claim of nomination for Nobel Peace Prize
By HARUKA NUGA
Monday, February 18
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kept quiet Monday over President Donald Trump’s claim that he had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, but praised him and emphasized he did not deny doing so.
Trump’s assertion Friday that Abe had nominated him for the honor and sent him a copy of the letter has raised questions and criticism in Japan.
Questioned in parliament, Abe praised Trump for his dealings with North Korea but said, “In light of the Nobel committee’s policy of not disclosing recommenders and nominees for 50 years, I decline to comment.”
Neither the prime minister nor his spokesman denied Trump’s comment.
“I never said I didn’t” nominate him, Abe said in response to a follow-up question by Yuichiro Tamaki, a lawmaker for the opposition Democratic Party for the People.
Tamaki said in a tweet Monday that he was concerned such a nomination would “send the wrong message to North Korea and the rest of international society.”
Junya Ogawa, another opposition lawmaker, cited various policies and actions by Trump that he said ran contrary to the spirit of the peace prize, calling the nomination “an embarrassment for Japan.”
In responding to Tamaki’s questions in parliament, Abe lauded Trump for meeting with Kim and working to resolve the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear program and missile tests. Trump had also addressed Japan’s concerns over past abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea, Abe said, adding “he and the entire White House also actively cooperated in resolving the issue.”
“I highly praise President Trump’s leadership,” Abe said.
Trump’s claim that Abe had sent him a “beautiful copy” of a letter sent to the Nobel committee could not be immediately verified. Nor could a report Sunday by the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, citing unidentified government sources, that Abe had nominated Trump at the U.S. president’s request.
The government’s top spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, echoed Abe’s remarks in refusing further comment.
The situation is awkward for Abe at a time when his government is under fire for allegedly manipulating data on wages to suggest his economic policies were yielding better results than was actually the case.
“Being Trump’s closest friend among world leaders has not worked out too well for Abe,” said Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University Japan. “He’s not making Abe look very good.”
The U.S. is Japan’s ally and anchor for national defense and Abe has assiduously cultivated cordial ties with Trump. He was the first foreign leader to meet with Trump after he won the 2016 presidential election. The two share a love for golf and have teed off together both in Japan and the U.S.
The halt to North Korean nuclear and missile tests since early last year has been a relief for Japan, which sits well within the range of its missiles and has sometimes had test rockets land in its territorial waters.
Abe has been keen to claim progress in resolving the abduction dispute with North Korea, an important issue for his nationalist political base.
The deadline each year for Nobel Peace Prize nominations is midnight, Jan. 31. The Nobel committee’s website says there are 304 candidates for the 2019 prize, 219 individuals and 85 organizations.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, his first year in office, for laying out a U.S. commitment to “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
Trump complained Friday that Obama was there “for about 15 seconds” before he was awarded the prize.
Trump’s landmark June 2018 summit with Kim in Singapore was replete with pomp but thin on substance. The two leaders are due to meet later this month in Hanoi, Vietnam. The president’s comments Friday drew speculation that South Korean President Moon Jae-in might have been the one who nominated the president, but his spokesman said he had not.
Kim Eui-kyeom, Moon’s spokesman, said Moon believed Trump “has sufficient qualifications to win the Nobel Peace Prize” for his work toward peace between North and South Korea, which have yet to sign a peace treaty after their 1950-53 war.
The Nobel committee chooses the recipient of the prize in early October by a majority vote. The prize is awarded on Dec. 10, in Oslo, Norway.
Associated Press writers Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Elaine Kurtenbach in Bangkok contributed to this report.
A brief history of presidential lethargy
February 15, 2019
Author: Stacy A. Cordery, Professor of History, Iowa State University
Disclosure statement: Stacy A. Cordery 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.
Partners: Iowa State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
No one doubts the job of president of the United States is stressful and demanding. The chief executive deserves downtime.
But how much is enough, and when is it too much?
These questions came into focus after Axios’ release of President Donald Trump’s schedule. The hours blocked off for nebulous “executive time” seem, to many critics, disproportionate to the number of scheduled working hours.
While Trump’s workdays may ultimately prove to be shorter than those of past presidents, he’s not the first to face criticism. For every president praised for his work ethic, there’s one disparaged for sleeping on the job.
Teddy Roosevelt, locomotive president
Before Theodore Roosevelt ascended to the presidency in 1901, the question of how hard a president toiled was of little concern to Americans.
Except in times of national crisis, his predecessors neither labored under the same expectations, nor faced the same level of popular scrutiny. Since the country’s founding, Congress had been the main engine for identifying national problems and outlining legislative solutions. Congressmen were generally more accessible to journalists than the president was.
But when Roosevelt shifted the balance of power from Congress to the White House, he created the expectation that an activist president, consumed by affairs of state, would work endlessly in the best interests of the people.
Roosevelt, whom Sen. Joseph Foraker called a “steam engine in trousers,” personified the hard-working chief executive. He filled his days with official functions and unofficial gatherings. He asserted his personality on policy and stamped the presidency firmly on the nation’s consciousness.
Taft had a tough act to follow
His successor, William Howard Taft, suffered by comparison. While it’s fair to observe that nearly anyone would have looked like a slacker compared with Roosevelt, it didn’t help that Taft weighed 300 pounds, which his contemporaries equated with laziness.
Taft helped neither his cause nor his image when he snored through meetings, at evening entertainments and, as author Jeffrey Rosen noted, “even while standing at public events.” Watching Taft’s eyelids close, Sen. James Watson said to him, “Mr. President, you are the largest audience I ever put entirely to sleep.”
An early biographer called Taft “slow-moving, easy-going if not lazy” with “a placid nature.” Others have suggested that Taft’s obesity caused sleep apnea and daytime drowsiness, a finding not inconsistent with historian Lewis L. Gould’s conclusion that Taft was capable of work “at an intense pace” and “a high rate of efficiency.”
It seems that Taft could work quickly, but in short bursts.
Coolidge the snoozer
Other presidents were more intentional about their daytime sleeping. Calvin Coolidge’s penchant for hourlong naps after lunch earned him amused scorn from contemporaries. But when he missed his nap, he fell asleep at afternoon meetings. He even napped on vacation. Tourists stared in amazement as the president, blissfully unaware, swayed in a hammock on his front porch in Vermont.
This, for many Republicans, wasn’t a problem: The Republican Party of the 1920s was averse to an activist federal government, so the fact that Coolidge wasn’t seen as a hard-charging, incessantly busy president was fine.
Biographer Amity Shlaes wrote that “Coolidge made a virtue of inaction” while simultaneously exhibiting “a ferocious discipline in work.” Political scientist Robert Gilbert argued that after Coolidge’s son died during his first year as president, Coolidge’s “affinity for sleep became more extreme.” Grief, according to Gilbert, explained his growing penchant for slumbering, which expanded into a pre-lunch nap, a two- to four-hour post-lunch snooze and 11 hours of shut-eye nightly.
For Reagan, the jury’s out
Ronald Reagan may have had a tendency to nod off.
“I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of a national emergency – even if I’m in a cabinet meeting,” he joked. Word got out that he napped daily, and historian Michael Schaller wrote in 1994 that Reagan’s staff “released a false daily schedule that showed him working long hours,” labeling his afternoon nap “personal staff time.” But some family members denied that he napped in the White House.
Journalists were divided. Some found him “lazy, passive, stupid or even senile” and “intellectually lazy … without a constant curiosity,” while others claimed he was “a hard worker,” who put in long days and worked over lunch. Perhaps age played a role in Reagan’s naps – if they happened at all.
Clinton crams in the hours
One president not prone to napping was Bill Clinton. Frustrated that he could not find time to think, Clinton ordered a formal study of how he spent his days. His ideal was four hours in the afternoon “to talk to people, to read, to do whatever.” Sometimes he got half that much.
Two years later, a second study found that, during Clinton’s 50-hour workweek, “regularly scheduled meetings” took up 29 percent of his time, “public events, etc.” made up 36 percent of his workday, while “thinking time – phone & office work” constituted 35 percent of his day. Unlike presidents whose somnolence drew sneers, Clinton was disparaged for working too much and driving his staff to exhaustion with all-nighters.
Partisanship at the heart of criticism?
The work of being president of the United States never ends. There is always more to be done. Personal time may be a myth, as whatever the president reads, watches or does can almost certainly be applied to some aspect of the job.
Trump’s “executive time” could be a rational response to the demands of the job or life circumstances. Trump, for example, only seems to get four or five hours of sleep a night, which seems to suggest that he has more time to tackle his daily duties than the rest of us.
But, like his predecessors, the appearance of taking time away from running the country will garner criticism. Though they can sometimes catch 40 winks, presidents can seldom catch a break.
Renée Bagslint, logged in via Google: I could never understand the fuss about Reagan’s afternoon naps. Many people find a brief nap after lunch refreshing, and he was 70 when he took office. Do we really want the person with the finger on the nuclear button to be cranky and wooly-headed in an emergency, or refreshed and alert?
But more importantly, Presidents have staff. They have deputies, assistant, emergency cover and so forth. After all, they have to sleep sometime. I would be more worried if a President did not have a staff they could trust implicitly in an emrgency than if they felt the need for forty winks after lunch.
Stacy A. Cordery, Professor of History, Iowa State University, In reply to Renée Bagslint: Renée–thanks for reading and for your comment. In researching for this article, the most interesting thing about Pres. Reagan for me was the fact that whether or not he took afternoon naps was up for debate. Sen. Hayakawa, for example, said Reagan never napped. Others actually saw him fall asleep at Cabinet meetings (and once, with the Pope). I think the distinction is between someone who makes a habit of napping–as Coolidge did–and someone who naps occasionally.
Certainly there are scads of studies out there that note the beneficial nature of naps. I don’t think it’s the napping, per se, that upsets some Americans. Excessive napping, or falling asleep when one should be awake seemed to call down the most criticism at the time. Your last point about presidential staff is certainly a good one.
From the Editors of E – The Environmental Magazine
Dear EarthTalk: There’s a lot of talk about overfishing and pollution wreaking havoc in marine ecosystems, but has anyone actually studied if there is less wildlife in the oceans these days?
— Melissa Cassidy, Raleigh, NC
Environmental advocates do spend a lot of time harping about threats to our oceans, but sadly for all of us the facts bear out the concern. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), population numbers for the majority of marine wildlife species have declined by half since 1970, with many species down as much as 75 percent. Furthermore, a third of all fish stocks are overfished and one in four species of cartilaginous fish (sharks, rays and skates) are living on the brink of extinction. “Driving all these trends are human actions: from overfishing and resource depletion, to coastal development and pollution, to the greenhouse gas emissions causing ocean acidification and warming,” says WWF’s Senior VP for Oceans Brad Ack.
Another recent study by University of British Columbia researchers corroborates WWF’s findings, concluding that the biomass of predatory fish in the world’s oceans has declined by some two-thirds over the last 100 years, and the decline is accelerating, with 54 percent of it occurring in the last 40 years.
No doubt these changes are happening partly as a result of overfishing. According to the United Nation’s Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), nearly 90 percent of the world’s marine fish stocks are either fully exploited, overexploited or depleted.
Efforts to rein in the industry in the U.S. and elsewhere have led to more sustainable practices, but bad actors still ply deep sea waters with destructive trawlers and other gear which not only collect more fish than is sustainable but also inadvertently kill many other marine wildlife in the process.
There is some hope. Early results of efforts to essentially rope off certain parts of the ocean as “marine protected areas” (MPAs) to let marine wildlife recover are showing promise. A Center for Biological Diversity analysis of 31 marine wildlife populations found that habitat and other protections afforded them under the Endangered Species Act helped them rebound significantly, with three-quarters of endangered marine mammal and sea turtle species increasing population sizes accordingly.
“The Endangered Species Act not only saved whales, sea turtles, sea otters and manatees from extinction, it dramatically increased their population numbers, putting them solidly on the road to full recovery,” says the Center for Biological Diversity’s Shaye Wolf. “Humans often destroy marine ecosystems, but our study shows that with strong laws and careful stewardship, we can also restore them, causing wildlife numbers to surge.”
Another way to stop or slow the overexploitation of marine resources would be to end the approximately $20 billion in yearly subsidies for harmful fisheries that encourage destructive practices. The World Trade Organization has pledged to set new targets by mid-2019 that would require member nations to reroute any such subsidies toward investments in sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and coastal community development to reduce pressure on fish stocks. But even if such a drastic restructuring of the fisheries economy takes place, environmental leaders worry it may be too little too late.
CONTACTS: “A century of fish biomass decline in the ocean,” www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v512/p155-166/; “Marine mammals and sea turtles listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act are recovering,” journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0210164; FAO, www.fao.org/fisheries/en/.
EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss for the 501(c)3 nonprofit EarthTalk. To donate, visit www.earthtalk.org. Send questions to: email@example.com.
French judge refuses to block Catholic sex scandal movie
By SAMUEL PETREQUIN
Monday, February 18
PARIS (AP) — A French judge refused Monday to block the release this week in French cinemas of a movie based on a Catholic sex scandal.
French director Francois Ozon’s film “Grace a Dieu” (“By the Grace of God”) won the Berlin Film Festival’s jury grand prize on Saturday. The movie, which opens Wednesday, portrays French priest Bernard Preynat, who has been accused of molesting dozens of boys during the 1980s and ’90s.
Preynat’s lawyers said the picture depicted allegations against their client as facts and should have been blocked because it does not respect the presumption of innocence. Preynat has been handed preliminary charges of sexual assaults on minors and prosecutors are determining whether he will be brought to trial.
Preynat has confessed to abusing Boy Scouts and his victims say church hierarchy covered up for him for years, allowing him to work with children right up until his 2015 retirement.
His lawyer, Emmanuel Mercinier, told The Associated Press the judge ruled Monday that messages in the film noting that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty were enough to guarantee Preynat’s rights.
“I’m bitterly ruing this decision. To depict a man as guilty for two hours, while he has not been convicted, infringes the presumption of innocence. That can’t obviously be erased by writing the opposite for two seconds,” Mercinier said.
Preynat could go on trial in for sexual violence against multiple children. So far, 13 victims are involved in that case, but he is accused of having abused as many as 70 children. Preynat hasn’t publicly spoken about the allegations but he has written letters to some families confessing to abuse.
The victims have accused Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who became archbishop of Lyon in 2002, of having allowed Preynat to continue serving as a priest and having contact with children despite years of rumors about his actions.
Barbarin, 68, went on trial last month and testified that he was unjustly accused. Because of lack of proof, or the statute of limitations that has had expired on charges of failing to help a person in danger, even the prosecutor has argued against convicting him and other church officials, saying there were no grounds to prove legal wrongdoing. A verdict is expected on March 7.
Ozon’s movie title comes from a press conference in Lourdes in 2016 when Barbarin, asked about the abuses by Preynat, said “most of the facts, by the grace of God, fell outside the statute of limitations.”
The survivors of clergy sexual abuse who finally pushed the Vatican to recognize the problem
February 17, 2019
Author: Brian Clites, Instructor and Associate Director, Case Western Reserve University
Disclosure statement: Brian Clites 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.
Partners: Case Western Reserve University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
The Vatican’s decision to defrock Cardinal Theodore McCarrick comes just days before the world’s leading bishops gather in Rome for a summit on the clergy sexual abuse crisis.
The bishops were instructed to meet with victims in their home countries, and some survivors are also slated to speak at the summit.
Survivors have long fought for recognition from the bishops.
The first survivor movements
As a scholar, I have been working with survivors since 2011, and I wrote my dissertation on the history of Catholic survivor organizations. The Catholic survivor movement in the United States was founded by two women: Jeanne Miller and Marilyn Steffel.
Miller got involved after learning that her son was abused by their priest at St. Edna’s Parish in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Illinois. At the time, Steffel was the director of religious education at St. Edna’s.
According to Miller, Steffel was the only parishioner who stood by her family after they came forward in 1982.
As Miller told me in 2015, she asked the Archdiocese of Chicago to remove their son’s abuser from ministry. Miller also requested a meeting with the archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. Initially, Bernardin delegated the task to other bishops, but in 1985 he met with Miller and her son.
As a result of publicly challenging the church, the Miller family suffered years of trauma. As Miller said in media interviews, friends and neighbors turned a cold shoulder to them. Their son too was known to be bullied in school. And the archdiocese threatened Miller and Steffel with excommunication for speaking openly about the abuse.
This experience led the two to set up the first survivor nonprofit in the United States. Miller and Steffel called the organization Victims of Clergy Abuse Linkup, or VOCAL. Later, it came to be known simply as Linkup.
Linkup began modestly, first as a local support group and then as a national telephone hotline for survivors. It went on to reach survivors of clergy sexual abuse globally. In 1992, Miller and Steffel organized the world’s first mass gathering of Catholic abuse victims. The event, called “Breaking the Silence,” brought together nearly 500 victims from 11 countries.
The goal was to help attendees heal by showing them that they were not alone. Cardinal Bernardin initially accepted Miller’s invitation to deliver the keynote address, but he backed out at the last minute.
Linkup later chose to be under the leadership of Tom Economus, an independent Catholic priest. Independent priests come from a number of Catholic denominations not subject to the “Roman” authority of the Vatican. Under this spiritual guidance, Linkup developed a vision of restorative justice, with some victims reaching out to their perpetrators to initiate conversations that would help them both come to terms with the suffering of childhood sexual abuse.
More survivors speak up
In 1989, Linkup member Barbara Blaine founded her own group for clergy abuse victims, called the Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests, referred to as SNAP. Blaine alleged she was abused for five years as a young adolescent in the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio. Her alleged abuser was removed from ministry in 1992, and in 2005 the bishop of Toledo apologized.
Blaine was already trained as a Catholic organizer because she had spent the past decade as an anti-nuclear and peace activist, and volunteered full-time as a Catholic Worker running two of the Workers’ Chicago Houses of Hospitality, which minister to the homeless and sick.
As Blaine described to me, she believed that many victims carried a profound sense of misplaced shame. As she explained in the National Catholic Reporter, Blaine’s goal was to recognize that they were actually survivors of attacks that were not their fault.
She structured SNAP meetings around a model of speaking about one’s abuse and naming one’s abuser. Blaine would often foreground her own feelings of shame when explaining why other survivors should tell their stories publicly.
Founding of New England chapter
A SNAP member, Phil Saviano, helped the Boston Globe unravel systemic patterns of abuse and cover-up in the Archdiocese of Boston. Saviano had gone public with his story in 1992, when he also founded SNAP’s New England chapter.
According to Saviano, the Globe ignored his tips about clergy sexual abuse for several years. Spotlight reporter Michael Rezendes recalled with fondness the extensive research Saviano shared with their team.
The Boston Globe’s reporting showed survivors across the country that they were not alone. The coverage also spurred an unprecedented wave of support from nonvictims. A group of resourceful parishioners in Wellesley, Massachusetts began to hold listening sessions, and soon formed a new nonprofit called Voice of the Faithful.
Their leadership included authors, doctors, lawyers and professors. Many of these accomplished parishioners already had extensive experience in nonprofit activism, such as James Muller, a recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for co-founding the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.
The goal of the sessions was to make space for survivors to share their pain and betrayal with the broader community. According to the group, they grew from just 30 parishioners to more than 700 local Catholics. By the end of 2002, Voice of the Faithful had swelled to more than 25,000 survivor-advocates from across the United States.
This group also devoted itself to reform issues including celibacy, homosexuality and female ordination in the church. Several additional nonprofits grew out of this group. The most enduring is Bishop-Accountability.org, whose first goal is that bishops acknowledge their responsibility in the clergy sexual abuse crisis and hold one another accountable – including by forcing offending priests and bishops to resign from their posts.
American bishops have usually been reluctant to meet directly with survivors. This has forced many victims to place their hope in courtrooms and grand juries.
Today, many bishops insist that survivors can speak to them only when both parties’ attorneys are present. Yet many survivors continue to hold hope for a more pastoral response from the church. Many survivors want to be included in the church’s conversations about how to minister to them and protect future generations.
Prior to this week’s meeting, Pope Francis’s most significant effort to engage survivors had been the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
But in May 2017, the last survivor on the commission, Marie Collins, resigned in protest. In explaining her resignation, Collins cited the church’s unwillingness to acknowledge victims’ pain and suffering.
Over the next few days, Catholics will be scrutinizing press releases from the summit to discern whether the church will finally shift its policies to adopt a more conversational, less legalistic approach.
Meanwhile, survivors will also be watching closely to see if former cardinal Theodore McCarrick is charged with any crimes in the United States. To date, no American bishops have been convicted in connection with the clergy sexual abuse crisis.
Sex abuse survivors to meet with Vatican summit organizers
By NICOLE WINFIELD
Monday, February 18
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The organizers of Pope Francis’ summit on preventing clergy sex abuse will meet this week with a dozen abuse victims who have descended on Rome to protest the Catholic Church’s response to the crisis and demand an end to decades of cover-up by church leaders, officials said Monday.
These abuse survivors will not be addressing the summit of church leaders itself. Rather, they will meet Wednesday with the four-member organizing committee to convey their complaints.
The larger summit of some 190 presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world, plus key Vatican officials, begins Thursday.
At a press conference Monday, organizers called the summit a “turning point” in the church’s approach to clergy sex abuse. The Catholic Church has long been criticized for its failure to hold bishops accountable when they covered up for priests who raped and molested children.
They said the summit would focus on three key aspects of dealing with the crisis: making bishops aware of their own responsibilities to protect their flocks, the consequences of shirking those responsibilities, and the need for transparency.
Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s leading sex crimes investigator and an organizer of the meeting, said transparency was key, since the church’s knee-jerk response of denial and silence in the past had only exacerbated the problem.
“Whether it’s criminal or malicious complicity and a code of silence, or whether it’s denial or trauma in its very primitive state, we need to get away from that,” he told reporters. “We have to face the facts.”
Chilean abuse victim Juan Carlos Cruz, who is coordinating the survivor meeting, told The Associated Press he hopes for a “constructive and open dialogue” and for summit members to convey survivors’ demand that bishops stop pleading ignorance about abuse.
“Raping a child or a vulnerable person and abusing them has been wrong since the 1st century, the Middle Ages, and now,” he said.
Francis called the summit in September after he himself discredited Cruz and other Chilean victims of a notorious predator priest. Francis was subsequently implicated in the cover-up of Theodore McCarrick, the onetime powerful American cardinal who just last week was defrocked for sexually abusing minors as well as adults.
Francis has urged participants to meet with abuse victims before they came to Rome, to both familiarize themselves with victims’ pain and trauma and debunk the widely held idea that clergy sex abuse only happens in some parts of the world.
Survivors will be represented at the summit itself, but only in a few key moments of prayer.
Summit moderator the Rev. Federico Lombardi said he would gladly receive any written messages from other survivors, expressing an openness to hear from a broad cross-section of victims.
Cruz said the key message for the bishops to take away from the summit is that they must enforce true “zero tolerance” or face the consequences.
“There are enforceable laws in the church to punish not only those who commit the abuse but those who cover it up,” he told the AP. “No matter what rank they have in the church, they should pay.”
Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, another conference organizer, agreed.
“There is going to be every effort to close whatever loopholes there are, to make sure that people understand on an individual basis as bishops what their responsibilities are,” he said. “Because they are going to be held accountable.”
Notre Dame rescinds McCarrick’s 2008 honorary degree
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The University of Notre Dame has issued a statement saying that it is rescinding an honorary degree that it conferred more than a decade ago to now-defrocked former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
The university made the announcement Saturday morning, saying the honorary degree was revoked in response to the Vatican defrocking McCarrick and finding him guilty of sex abuse. The South Bend Tribune reports that Notre Dame gave McCarrick the honorary doctor of laws degree in 2008 when he gave the school’s commencement speech.
The 88-year-old McCarrick is the former archbishop of Washington, D.C. He is the highest-ranking churchman and the first cardinal to be punished by dismissal from the clerical state. He was notified Friday of the decision, which was upheld upon his appeal and approved by Pope Francis.
Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com
Pope Francis lifts suspension on Nicaraguan priest, poet
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — The Vatican’s ambassador to Nicaragua says Pope Francis has lifted the suspension imposed in 1983 on Nicaraguan priest and poet Ernesto Cardenal.
A statement from nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag Monday says Francis removed the canonical censures imposed on Cardenal. It says the decision came after the 94-year-old Cardenal recently made the request through the nuncio.
Pope John Paul II suspended Cardenal from his priestly duties because he had become culture minister in the leftist Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega after the rebels toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza. John Paul II said that priests could not assume political posts.
Monday’s statement noted that Cardenal had respected the suspension for 35 years and long ago abandoned politics.
Cardenal’s personal assistant Luz Marina Acosta says Sommertag celebrated Mass with the ailing Cardenal on Sunday.