May 9, 2019

Pope Francis issues sweeping new law for sexual abuse reporting

Photo: Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pope Francis issued a sweeping new Vatican law Thursday that requires all priests and nuns worldwide to report sexual abuse and subsequent coverups to Catholic Church authorities, the AP reports.

Why it matters: This is the Church's latest attempt to salvage its reputation and to curb mounting criticisms of its institutional negligence toward sexual abuse victims.

The big picture: The system makes the Church's priests and nuns worldwide "mandated reporters" of sexual abuse and assault — similar to the system in place for university employees in the U.S. It also guarantees them whistleblower protections and outlines procedures when the accused is a religious superior, like a bishop or cardinal.

  • The new laws require dioceses worldwide to implement systems that allow confidential reporting. It also makes no distinction about past cases, meaning that systems could see a flood of retroactive reports of abuse from long ago.
  • The laws include no punishment for priests and nuns who choose not to report cases of abuse — and has no sanctions in place for diocese that choose not to implement reporting systems.
  • Victims who report sexual abuse must be offered mental and spiritual assistance, but the law includes no form of financial reparations.

Go deeper: Former Pope blames the sexual revolution, secularism for abuse in Catholic Church

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Stocks fall 4% as sell-off worsens

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Stocks fell more than 4% on Thursday, extending the market’s worst week since the financial crisis in 2008 following a spike in coronavirus cases around the world.

The big picture: All three indices closed in correction territory on Thursday, down over 10% from their recent record-highs amid a global market rout.

Coronavirus updates: California monitors 8,400 potential cases

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.

33 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, and health officials are monitoring 8,400 people who have recently returned from "points of concern," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Watchdog opens probe into VA secretary over handling of sexual assault claim

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Fox Business Network’s "The Evening Edit" on Jan. 7. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael Missal said Thursday he had opened an investigation into VA Secretary Robert Wilkie after lawmakers demanded an inquiry into his handling of a sexual misconduct report, the Washington Post reports.

Context: Wilkie allegedly "worked to discredit" the credibility of Democratic aide and veteran Andrea Goldstein after she reported last fall "that a man groped and propositioned her in the main lobby of the agency's D.C. Medical Center," a senior VA official told the Post.