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Pope Francis approves tribunal to probe bishops over sexual abuse

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Vatican City: Pope Francis on Wednesday approved a proposal to create a tribunal within the Vatican for bishops who cover up alleged paedophile priests, as part of his reform of the city-state’s Curia or governing body.

The new tribunal will be part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, which already has the power to judge priests accused of abusing minors.

The remit of the newly-formed body will cover bishops, judging them “with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors,” the Vatican said.

The tribunal was recommended by a 17-member commission set up by Francis to crack down on sexually abusive clergy, more than a decade after the scandal first emerged in the US, sullying the image of the Catholic Church.

Francis also approved “adequate resources” so bishops can report priests who abuse children and the disabled for abuse of office, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

Three different bodies would be authorized to make such reports, the Congregation of bishops, the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

Sex abuse victims said they feared the move was just the latest in a series of administrative reforms undertaken by the Vatican to stonewall secular authorities, leading to very few prosecutions.

Despite his virtually unlimited power, Francis is yet to sack any bishops for complicity in child sex abuse, nor has he demoted, disciplined or denounced any complicit church official, according to victims. (IANS)

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Pope Urges End to Carnage in Syria, Calls for Reconciliation in Middle East

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Pope Francis delivers the Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world) blessing at the end of the Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Apr. 1, 2018. VOA

In his Easter message, Pope Francis called for peace in a world marked by war and conflict. Addressing tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square from the central balcony of the basilica, the pope called for an end to “carnage” in the long-suffering land of Syria and “reconciliation” in the Middle East.

Francis’ appeal for peace came in his Urbi et Orbi message after having celebrated Easter mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica. He said the message of the resurrection offers hope in a world “marked by so many acts of injustice and violence”.

The pope begged for peace for “the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria, whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war.”

“This Easter,” the pope said, “may the light of the risen Christ illuminate the consciences of all political and military leaders, so that a swift end may be brought to the carnage”.

Francis demanded that aid be delivered to the needy in the war-torn country and called for “fitting conditions for the return of the displaced.”

ALSO READ: Pope Visiting Myanmar and Bangladesh to Proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ

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Pope Francis acknowledges pilgrims while delivering the Urbi et Orbi blessing at the end of the Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, April 1, 2018. VOA

The pope also urged reconciliation in Israel, a place “experiencing in these days the wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenseless.” His words followed the Friday deaths of 15 Palestinian protesters on the Israeli-Gaza border two days before Easter Sunday.

ALSO READ: Bangladesh gets its first Catholic Cardinal: Pope Francis names 17 Archbishops as new Cardinals

Turning his thoughts to Africa, the pope also called for peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Let us not forget the victims of that conflict”, the pope said, “especially the children! May there be no lack of solidarity with all those forced to abandon their native lands and lacking the bare essentials for living.”
The world’s first Latin American pope also urged international assistance for Venezuela, so that more people would not have to abandon their homeland because of the economic and political crisis.

Finally, Francis also expressed the hope that the “fruits of dialogue” would advance peace and harmony on the Korean peninsula, where the two sides are set to hold their first summit in more than a decade on April 27.

Easter is Christianity’s “moveable feast,” falling on a different date each year. Western Christian churches celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox.

This year, Eastern Orthodox Churches, which include Jewish Passover in their calculation of Easter dates, celebrate the holiday next Sunday, April 8. VOA

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