Daily Archives: April 15, 2008

Pope says he is ‘deeply ashamed’ of clergy abuse scandal

Pedophilia is “incompatible with the priesthood,” says Benedict.

Associated Press | Apr 15, 2008

By VICTOR L. SIMPSON

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE – Pope Benedict XVI said Tuesday he was “deeply ashamed” of the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church and will work to keep pedophiles out of the priesthood, addressing the toughest issue facing the American church as he began his first papal trip to the United States.

Benedict spoke in English on a special Alitalia flight from Rome to Washington, answering questions submitted by reporters in advance.

“It is a great suffering for the Church in the United States and for the church in general and for me personally that this could happen,” Benedict said. “It is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betray in this way their mission … to these children.”

“I am deeply ashamed and we will do what is possible so this cannot happen again in the future,” the pope said.

Benedict pledged that pedophiles would not be priests in the Catholic Church.

“We will absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry,” Benedict said. “It is more important to have good priests than many priests. We will do everything possible to heal this wound.”

Benedict’s pilgrimage was the first trip by a pontiff to the United States since the scandal involving priests sexually abusing young people rocked U.S. dioceses. The church has paid out more than $2 billion in abuse costs since 1950, the majority of it since 2002. Six U.S. dioceses have declared bankruptcy in recent years because of the financial toll of the scandal.

Pedophilia is “absolutely incompatible” with the priesthood,” Benedict said.

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Pope ‘led cover-up of child abuse by priests’

Vatican officials selected four questions to be read by the journalists to the pontiff aboard the plane.

Benedict described his pilgrimage as a journey to meet a “great people and a great church.” He spoke about the American model of religious values within a system of separation of church and state.

From a presidential welcome, to two Masses at baseball stadiums, to a stop for prayer at ground zero in New York, Benedict will get a heavy dose of the American experience.

President Bush planned to make the unusual gesture of greeting him at Andrews Air Force Base — the first time the president has greeted a foreign leader there.

The pope said he will discuss immigration with Bush, including the difficulties of families who are separated by immigration.

While the pope and Bush differ on such major issues on the Iraq war, capital punishment and the U.S. embargo against Cuba, they do find common ground in opposing abortion, gay marriage and embryonic stem cell research.

White House press secretary Dana Perino, asked about the pope’s comments regarding the clergy sex abuse scandal, said she wouldn’t rule out that the topic would come up in conversation between the pope and the president.

But she added that “I don’t think it’s necessarily on the president’s top priorities” for his agenda in talking with the pope.

Perino said the two leaders would likely discuss human rights, religious tolerance and the fight against violent extremism.

As for the war in Iraq, Perino said, “Obviously, there were differences years back.” She downplayed those, emphasizing instead a strong bond between Bush and the pope.

Abuse victims’ advocates said Benedict’s comments on the scandal did not go far enough.

Peter Isely, a board member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the establish child protection policies for the worldwide church, and there should be penalties for church leaders who fail to discipline predatory priests.

“It’s easy and tempting to continually focus on the pedophile priests themselves,” Isely said. “It’s harder but crucial to focus on the broader problem — complicity in the rest of the church hierarchy.”

Jason Berry, a New Orleans writer who first drew national attention to clergy sex abuse in the 1980s, said the root of the problem is that the Vatican doesn’t punish bishops who shelter offenders. “Until the church creates a genuine system of justice to redress these wrongs the abuse crisis will continue,” said Berry, who produced a new documentary called “Vows of Silence,” which is critical of the Vatican’s justice system.

Although a few bishops accused of molestation have stepped down, no bishop has been disciplined for failing to keep abusive clergy away from children. Cardinal Bernard Law resigned as archbishop of Boston in 2002 after church files were made public showing he and other church leaders had allowed accused clergy to continue in public ministry.

Benedict will give a speech at the United Nations during the second, New York leg of his six-day trip.

A crowd of up to 12,000, larger than the gathering for Queen Elizabeth II, is expected at the White House Wednesday to greet Benedict on his 81st birthday. Aides say he is in good health.

After making little headway in his efforts to rekindle the faith in his native Europe, the German-born Benedict will be visiting a country where many of the 65 million Catholics are eager to hear what he says.

A poll released Sunday by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University found eight in 10 Catholics are somewhat or very satisfied with his leadership.

Benedict is expected to stress the importance of moral values and take on what he sees are the dangers of moral relativism — that is, that there are no absolute rights and wrongs.

He also will celebrate Mass at Nationals Park in Washington and Yankee Stadium in New York, his last major event of the trip.

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Hundreds of FLDS children detained in sports arena

flds children

The hand of a child, a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is seen up against the window of a bus members of tje group arrive at the San Angelo Coliseum after being relocated their from Fort Concho National Historic Landmark in San Angelo, Texas, Monday April 14, 2008. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Mothers of all but those 4 and younger were told they would no longer be allowed to stay with their children

USA Today | Apr 14, 2008

FLDS children moved to sports arena

By William M. Welch, USA TODAY

Hundreds of children in state care following removal from a West Texas polygamy compound were moved Monday to a sports arena, and some were separated from their mothers, for their own safety, a state official said.

The relocation by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services came as a state court grappled with the complexities of one of the nation’s largest child custody cases.

An estimated 416 children were removed last week from the Yearning for Zion Ranch, a 1,691-acre farm and residential community near Eldorado, Texas, and home to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).

Until Monday, 139 mothers had been permitted to voluntarily remain with their children in state protective custody at Fort Concho in San Angelo, Texas, about 45 miles from the ranch.

But to relieve crowding, approximately 170 of the children and accompanying mothers were moved to another building, said Marleigh Meisner, spokesman for the state’s Child Protective Services.

When the San Angelo Coliseum became available Monday, children still at the fort were moved to the larger arena, she said.

Mothers of all but those 4 and younger were told they would no longer be allowed to stay with their children, she said. Meisner said some chose to return to their ranch and others accepted the state’s offer of “a safe place” elsewhere.

“Once we moved to the coliseum this afternoon, we notified the mothers who had children 5 years and older that they no longer would be able to stay with their children,” she said.

She said the moves were made for “the safety of the children” and in consultation with the court, mental health professionals and lawyers for some of the children.

Gerald Goldstein, attorney for the FLDS church, did not return a call seeking comment.

The children are being held in state protective custody pending a hearing Thursday in district court. On Monday, Texas District Court Judge Barbara Walther consulted with dozens of lawyers representing or hoping to represent children and other involved parties and said she was still trying to figure out how to manage a case involving perhaps hundreds of lawyers.

Texas officials have accused the sect of physically and sexually abusing children and arranging marriages of adult males with underage girls.

Law enforcement and child-welfare officers moved in on the ranch last week under court orders after a 16-year-old mother telephoned a crisis hotline and described abuse.

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Sect mothers lament lost children

Bay Area officials and residents rally to oppose aerial spraying

spraying

Official map shows areas around the San Francisco Bay to use aerial spraying

Bay City News Service | Apr 14, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO – Dozens of Bay Area residents of all ages gathered at the steps of San Francisco City Hall this afternoon to demonstrate their support for a resolution that opposes a state plan to conduct aerial chemical spraying to eradicate the invasive light brown apple moth.

The resolution, introduced by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, opposes the spraying by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and will go before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Amidst concerns of both short-term and long-term health affects that may be caused by the spraying, Mirkarimi said at today’s gathering that ‘the state needs to go back to the drawing board.”

“We do not want to see another DDT,” he said, referring to Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane, a synthetic pesticide. ‘We do not want to see another Agent Orange.”

Bonnie Kirkland, of the California Alliance to Stop the Spray, San Francisco Chapter, said that other counties have suffered the consequences of the spraying and that San Francisco needs to take a strong stance to protect the health of its citizens.

After aerial spraying last year in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, hundreds of residents reported respiratory and other problems ranging from mild to severe.

Paulina Borsook, a Santa Cruz resident, said that she was affected by the spraying and that many of her neighbors and other area residents ‘have not felt right since the spraying.”

“I know no one in Santa Cruz who wants to go through this again,” Borsook said.

Opponents of the program claim that spraying may cause respiratory problems, skin rashes, headaches and other health issues, and that pregnant women, children and elderly are thought to be those most susceptible. Several attendees at today’s rally held children in their laps while some held signs reading “Keep Your Spray Off My Baby.”

However, State Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura issued a statement in response to today’s event, contending that the ‘program’s success is critical to our economy, our environment and public health.”

Kawamura has said that the pheromone products have been “fully reviewed and approved by state and federal environmental officials, who have not found any reason for concern in more than a decade of use.” He denied they contributed to any of the health problems.

The light brown apple moth, native to Australia, has been found recently in parts of the Central Coast and the Bay Area, including San Francisco, and is considered a serious threat to plants and agricultural crops.

Federal and state agriculture officials claim that if the moth is allowed to spread throughout the state, it could cause between $160 million and $640 million in crop damage each year.

Though the plan also includes placing “twist ties” containing the pheromone on trees, shrubs and fence posts in infested areas, and the release of millions of tiny, stinger-less wasps that target the moth’s eggs, the department considers aerial spraying its main option.

The Department of Food and Agriculture plans to continue aerial spraying to eradicate the pests beginning June 1 in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, and Aug. 1 in San Francisco and parts of Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa and San Mateo counties.

Those opposed to the spraying claim that the eradication program has not been proven to be safe, effective or necessary.

James Carey, an entomologist from the University of California, Davis, has contended that the moth is already too widespread and that it would be ‘virtually impossible” to eradicate, and that the method has never been effective.

Frances Hsieh, a representative for state Sen. Carole Migden, said today that Migden supports the San Francisco resolution and that the city will be joining other cities throughout the Bay Area to take a stance in telling the state that Bay Area residents do not want to be ‘guinea pigs.”

A resolution proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom and supervisors Bevin Dufty and Tom Ammiano supports state Sen. Carole Migden’s pending legislation to bring a moratorium on light brown apple moth aerial spraying and will also go before the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

Mirkarimi’s resolution calls for the state to conduct a long-term study of health and environmental impacts of the aerial spraying that has already taken place in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, and for state legislation requiring the consent of residents before any aerial spraying.

“I remain committed to continuing an open, transparent process and will continue to encourage public dialogue and dissemination of factual information about this important eradication program,” said Kawamura in the statement issued today.

More lethal pesticide could be sprayed on public

poison spray

A poison sign is posted at Soquel Nursery Growers outside of a building that keeps pesticides that kill moth infestation at this nursery in Soquel, Calif., Friday, April 4, 2008. If the larvae keep hatching, state officials warn the invasive moth could chomp through up to $640 million worth of crops this year alone that is plaguing California’s central coast.

State warns more lethal pesticide may be needed to fight moth

Mercury News | Apr 15, 2008

Genevieve Bookwalter – Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ — State agriculture leaders issued a warning to the city and county Monday that if plans are delayed to spray pheromone over the county by plane to fight the light brown apple moth, another, more potent insecticide could be dropped instead.

“The risk of greater conventional pesticide is out there,” said Steve Lyle, spokesman for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, elaborating on a position outlined in a legal brief released Monday.

The document was filed in response to a city and county lawsuit that demands an environmental review before more of the synthetic pheromone CheckMate LBAM-F is sprayed over the county. Some residents were furious last fall when airplanes hired by the state flew over the city and parts of the county dropping the pheromone, which confuses male moths and stops them from mating.
The state initiated the spraying last November after Santa Cruz County reported the state’s highest infestation of light brown apple moth, an invasive pest from Australia. If left unchecked, state officials argue, the moth could wreak havoc on California agriculture. Others argue the threat is overblown.

The state argued in its brief that a delay in spraying the pheromone to fight the moth would allow more of the winged creatures to reproduce. To kill them all, a stronger insecticide would be required. In addition, state attorneys wrote, residents would likely pick up pesticides themselves to fight the pest in their gardens.

The pesticide at issue is bacillus thuringiensus, or Bt, which the brief describes as “an insecticide that is a lethal agent and is not species specific.”
While Bt is approved for use by organic farmers, it is deadly to most moth and butterfly caterpillars that ingest it, said Arthur Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis.

The San Francisco Bay Area has one of the largest populations of endangered and threatened moths and butterflies in the country, if not the world, Shapiro said. As a result, state leaders would have to be very careful about where they dropped the pesticide.

Santa Cruz Councilman Tony Madrigal accused state leaders of employing scare tactics to push their spraying agenda.

“They’re proposing a choice to the people between bad and worse,” Madrigal said.

To stop the moth in time, state leaders said, an environmental review of the decision to spray would not be possible.

City and county leaders disagreed and sued the state. The case is scheduled to be heard April 24 in Santa Cruz Superior Court.

Contact Genevieve Bookwalter at gbookwalter@santacruzsentinel.com.