Jan 3, 2019

Pope criticizes U.S. bishops' handling of sex abuse crisis

Pope Francis. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

In a lengthy and highly unusual letter to U.S. bishops on Thursday, Pope Francis wrote that the mounting child sex abuse crisis has jeopardized the Catholic Church's credibility. He lambasted church leaders for focusing "more on pointing fingers than on seeking paths of reconciliation.”

“This has led to a growing sense of uncertainty, distrust and vulnerability among the faithful. As we know, the mentality that would cover things up, far from helping to resolve conflicts, enabled them to fester and cause even greater harm to the network of relationships that today we are called to heal and restore."
— Pope Francis in the letter to U.S. bishops

Details: The 8-page letter comes as American bishops gather in Illinois for a retreat ordered by the Pope. It has a mix of spiritual inspiration and blunt criticism. Francis, who has himself faced criticism over his handling of some cases, did not issue any specific proposals.

He wrote that there’s an urgent demand for a "renewed and decisive approach to resolving conflicts," but said it "cannot be regained by issuing stern decrees or by simply creating new committees or improving flow charts, as if we were in charge of a department of human resources."

"Let us be clear: many of those things are necessary yet insufficient, since they cannot grasp and deal with reality in its complexity; ultimately, they risk reducing everything to an organizational problem."

What's next: AP reports that about 50 dioceses across the U.S. have released the names of more than 1,000 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children in the wake of August's shocking revelations from Pennsylvania. Over the next few months, 55 more are set to follow suit.

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Federal court temporarily halts "Remain in Mexico" program

Migrant wearing a cap with U.S. flagin front of the border between Guatemala and Mexico. Photo: Jair Cabrera Torres/picture alliance via Getty Image

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's earlier injunction on Friday, temporarily stopping the Trump administration from enforcing the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — known as the "Remain in Mexico" policy.

Why it matters: Tens of thousands of migrants seeking asylum have been forced to wait out their U.S. immigration court cases across the border in Mexico under the policy. The Trump administration has long credited this program for the decline in border crossings following record highs last summer.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus updates: WHO raises global threat level to "very high"

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The World Health Organization raised its global risk assessment for the novel coronavirus to "very high" Friday, its highest risk level as countries struggle to contain it. Meanwhile, National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow this morning tried to reassure the markets, which continued to correct amid growing fears of a U.S. recession.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,860 people and infected about 83,800 others in almost 60 countries and territories outside the epicenter in mainland China. The number of new cases reported outside China now exceed those inside the country.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health

Bernie's plan to hike taxes on some startup employees

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced legislation that would tax nonqualified stock options at vesting, rather than at exercise, for employees making at least $130,000 per year.

The big picture: Select employees at private companies would be taxed on monies that they hadn't yet banked.