Day: February 16, 2019

Vatican defrocks former US cardinal over sex abuse

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has defrocked former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick after Vatican officials found him guilty of soliciting for sex while hearing confession and of sexual crimes against minors and adults, the Holy See said Saturday.

McCarrick, 88, is the highest-ranking Catholic churchman to be laicized, as the process is called. It means he can no longer celebrate Mass or other sacraments, wear clerical vestments or be addressed by any religious title. He is the first churchman who reached the rank of cardinal to be defrocked in the church’s sex abuse scandals.

The punishment for the once-powerful prelate, who had served as the archbishop of Washington, spent years in New Jersey dioceses and had been an influential fundraiser for the church, was announced five days before Francis leads an extraordinary gathering of bishops from around the world to help the church grapple with the crisis of sex abuse by clergy and the systematic coverups by church hierarchy. The decades-long scandals have shaken the faith of many Catholics and threaten Francis’ papacy.

The scandal swirling around McCarrick was particularly damning to the church’s reputation because it apparently was an open secret in some church circles that he slept with adult seminarians. Francis removed McCarrick as a cardinal in July after a U.S. church investigation determined that an allegation he fondled a teenage altar boy in the 1970s was credible.

The Vatican’s press office said the Holy See’s doctrinal watchdog office, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, found McCarrick on Jan. 11 guilty of “solicitation in the sacrament of confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.” The commandment forbids adultery.

The officials “imposed on him the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state.” It considered his appeal on Wednesday and upheld its ruling, telling McCarrick Friday of that decision, the Vatican said.

Decades of abuse

McCarrick, when he was ordained a priest in his native New York City in 1958, took a vow of celibacy in accordance with church rules on priests.

The pope “has recognized the definitive nature of this decision made in accordance with (church) law, rendering it as ‘res iudicata,’” the Vatican said, using the Latin phrase for admitting no further recourse.

One victim, James Grein, the son of a family friend of McCarrick’s, had testified to church officials that, among other abuses, McCarrick had repeatedly groped him during confession. He said the abuse, which went on for decades, began when he was 11.

“Today I am happy that the pope believed me,” Grein said in a statement issued through his lawyer.

Grein also expressed hope that McCarrick “will no longer be able to use the power of Jesus’ church to manipulate families and sexually abuse children.”

Adding that it’s “time for us to cleanse the church,” Grein said pressure needs to be put on state attorney generals and senators to change the statute of limitations for abuse cases.

“Hundreds of priests, bishops and cardinals are hiding behind man-made law,” he said.

McCarrick’s civil lawyer, Barry Coburn, told The Associated Press that for the time being his client had no comment on the defrocking. Coburn also declined to say if McCarrick was still residing at the Kansas friary where he had moved to when Francis ordered him to live in penance and prayer while the investigation continued.

The archdiocese of Washington, D.C., where McCarrick was posted at the pinnacle of his clerical career, from 2001-2006, said in a statement it hoped that the Vatican decision “serves to help the healing process for survivors of abuse, as well as those who have experienced disappointment or disillusionment because of what former Archbishop McCarrick has done.”

Complaints were also made about McCarrick’s conduct in the New Jersey dioceses of Newark and Metuchen, where he previously served.

Francis’ move marks a remarkable downfall for the globe-trotting powerbroker and influential church fundraiser who mingled with presidents and popes but preferred to be called “Uncle Ted” by the young men he courted.

Bishops to discuss sex abuse, coverups

The Vatican summit, which starts Thursday and runs through Feb. 24, will draw church leaders from around the world to talk about preventing sex abuse. It was called in part to respond to the McCarrick scandal as well as to the explosion of the abuse crisis in Chile and its escalation in the United States last year.

Despite the apparent common knowledge in church circles of his sexual behaviour, McCarrick rose to the heights of church power. He even acted as the spokesman for U.S. bishops when they enacted a “zero tolerance” policy against sexually abusive priests in 2002.

That apparent hypocrisy, coupled with allegations in the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing decades of abuse and coverup in six dioceses, outraged many among the rank-and-file faithful who had trusted church leaders to reform how they handled sex abuse after 2002.

The allegation regarding the altar boy was the first known against McCarrick to involve a minor — a far more serious offence than sleeping with adult seminarians.

Francis himself became implicated in the decade-long McCarrick coverup after a former Vatican ambassador to the U.S. accused the pope of rehabilitating the cardinal from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI despite being told of his penchant for young men.

Francis hasn’t responded to those claims. But he has ordered a limited Vatican investigation. The Vatican has acknowledged the outcome may produce evidence that mistakes were made, but said Francis would “follow the path of truth, wherever it may lead.”

An advocate for church accountability in the sex abuse crisis demanded Saturday that Francis “tell the truth about what he knew and when he knew it” about McCarrick. Anne Barrett Doyle of BishopAccountability.org says also demanded that the pope use immediately laicize other abusive bishops.

In a statement, she said of the 101 accused bishops her group has tracked, McCarrick is only the seventh to be laicized. She said the other 94 either still hold the title of bishop or did so until they died.

Vatican watchers have compared the McCarrick coverup scandal to that of the Rev. Marcial Maciel, perhaps the 20th-century Catholic Church’s most notorious pedophile. Maciel’s sex crimes against children were ignored for decades by a Vatican bureaucracy impressed by his ability to bring in donations and vocations. Among Maciel’s staunchest admirers was Pope John Paul II, who later became a saint.

Like Maciel, McCarrick was a powerful, popular prelate who funneled millions in donations to the Vatican. He apparently got a calculated pass for what many in the church hierarchy would have either discounted as ideological-fueled rumour or brushed off as a mere “moral lapse” in sleeping with adult men.

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source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/02/16/vatican-defrocks-former-us-cardinal-over-sex-abuse/

By The Wall of Law February 16, 2019 Off

021619-MUSIC_Avril_Lavigne_20180907

021619-MUSIC_Avril_Lavigne_20180907

Avril Lavigne celebrated a year of love with her new boyfriend on Valentine’s Day.

The Girlfriend hitmaker, who is rumoured to be dating billionaire heir Phillip Sarofim, has reluctantly revealed her new loved-up status without confirming her man’s identity.

“I’ve dated a couple people over the last few years, but obviously I don’t really wanna talk about it,” she told USA Today of her new beau. “Actually, it’s our one-year anniversary (on) Valentine’s Day.”

The 34-year-old Canadian divorcee has been married twice, calling it quits with Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley in 2010 and separating from her second spouse, Nickelback rocker Chad Kroeger, in 2015.

Although she is now happily coupled up in a new relationship, Lavigne is still on good terms with her exes and considers them family.

“They’re just good people,” she says of Whibley and Kroeger. “We had marriages, we lived together, I knew their families, they knew mine, we just stayed close and there’s a mutual respect.”

Lavigne even teamed up with Kroeger for her new album, Head Above Water.

“Chad, in particular, we’re actually really close, because that was a more recent relationship,” she explains. “He was with me through a lot and is a really protective person in my life. He’s still like family. I didn’t know that it would be that way, and I’m really glad it is because we were friends and we made music together. We’ve just kept the friendship and continued having a working relationship, as well.”

Lavigne wrote Head Above Water while she was battling lyme disease and Chad became a major supporter for the record by offering up sessions at his recording studio, as well as lending his vocals to the title track.

“He was a really great soundboard,” she shares. “I would call him and send him songs to get his opinion, and if I was ever stuck on something, he’d help me out, which is super cool … I’d play him songs on FaceTime and he’d be like, ‘I’m so proud of you, you did such a good job’. So he just cares about me and wants to see me do well, which is really nice.”

Lavigne’s sixth studio album Head Above Water was released in the U.S. on Friday.

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source https://canoe.com/entertainment/celebrity/avril-lavigne-celebrates-love-with-new-beau

By The Wall of Law February 16, 2019 Off

021619-MUSIC_Avril_Lavigne_20180907

021619-MUSIC_Avril_Lavigne_20180907

Avril Lavigne celebrated a year of love with her new boyfriend on Valentine’s Day.

The Girlfriend hitmaker, who is rumoured to be dating billionaire heir Phillip Sarofim, has reluctantly revealed her new loved-up status without confirming her man’s identity.

“I’ve dated a couple people over the last few years, but obviously I don’t really wanna talk about it,” she told USA Today of her new beau. “Actually, it’s our one-year anniversary (on) Valentine’s Day.”

The 34-year-old Canadian divorcee has been married twice, calling it quits with Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley in 2010 and separating from her second spouse, Nickelback rocker Chad Kroeger, in 2015.

Although she is now happily coupled up in a new relationship, Lavigne is still on good terms with her exes and considers them family.

“They’re just good people,” she says of Whibley and Kroeger. “We had marriages, we lived together, I knew their families, they knew mine, we just stayed close and there’s a mutual respect.”

Lavigne even teamed up with Kroeger for her new album, Head Above Water.

“Chad, in particular, we’re actually really close, because that was a more recent relationship,” she explains. “He was with me through a lot and is a really protective person in my life. He’s still like family. I didn’t know that it would be that way, and I’m really glad it is because we were friends and we made music together. We’ve just kept the friendship and continued having a working relationship, as well.”

Lavigne wrote Head Above Water while she was battling lyme disease and Chad became a major supporter for the record by offering up sessions at his recording studio, as well as lending his vocals to the title track.

“He was a really great soundboard,” she shares. “I would call him and send him songs to get his opinion, and if I was ever stuck on something, he’d help me out, which is super cool … I’d play him songs on FaceTime and he’d be like, ‘I’m so proud of you, you did such a good job’. So he just cares about me and wants to see me do well, which is really nice.”

Lavigne’s sixth studio album Head Above Water was released in the U.S. on Friday.

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source https://canoe.com/entertainment/celebrity/avril-lavigne-celebrates-love-with-new-beau

By The Wall of Law February 16, 2019 Off

Donald Trump, builder of great walls and greater delusions

President Donald J. Trump declared that a national emergency exists at America’s hole-y southern border on Friday, clawing cash from across his government to complete his beloved Huge Wall of Mexico.

The good news from Trump’s perspective was that his declaration could accrue as much as US$8 billion for the building and barbed-wiring of a fence designed to repel repugnant (i.e., brown-skinned) desperados and their dying infant children from the Pacific strand to the Texas tidewater by re-routing monies already budgeted for drug interdiction and military construction projects elsewhere on this tired, warming globe.

The bad news for Trump was that, when the wall is completed, the Democratic Party still will be on his side of it.

“We will have a national emergency, and we will then be sued, and they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit, even though it shouldn’t be there,” the president sing-songed to reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House, predicting that a Democratic challenge to his latest FOX News-baited, anti-foreigner fiat will meet the same fate as his 2017 ban on migrants from a half-dozen Muslim terror-nests; namely, victory at the nation’s right-tilting bench of final appeal.

“We will possibly get a bad ruling,” Trump foresaw. “And then we’ll get another bad ruling, and then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court and hopefully we’ll get a fair shake and win in the Supreme Court.”

RELATED: Trump’s cruelty toward migrants is shown up by this touching act of mercy

With the next presidential election only 89 ½ weeks away, outraged opposition by the twenty-odd Democrats who are seeking (or pretending not to be seeking) the nomination to oppose the cumbrous, 243-pound incumbent is certain. But the confirmation of Justice Brett “I Like Beer” Kavanaugh last fall makes it likely that whatever The Donald wants, jurisprudentially speaking, The Donald will get.

“If we had the wall, we wouldn’t need the military, because we’d have the wall,” Trump reasoned, circularly. “It’s a great thing to do,” he said of his proclamation, blaming himself for making the U.S. economy so red-hot that all the sh–hole countries of the world were emptying their huddled masses in favour of caravanning to the Rio Grande.

“What happens,” Trump explained, “is that more people want to come.” As he spoke, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 370 points, triggering even more evacuations from Tegucigalpa, Huehuetenango, and beyond.

“Republicans should have some dismay about the door they are opening,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi had warned on Thursday when the president’s intentions were announced on the floor of Congress by the shrugging Republican leader, Mitch “There Is Little Education In the Second Kick Of The Mule” McConnell, who had counselled the president not to go the emergency route. Ms. Pelosi suggested that the president wield the same terrible swift sword to try to prevent the nation’s daily hecatomb of schoolhouse shootings and workplace massacres. “THAT’S a national emergency,” she said. “Why don’t you declare that emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would.”

By mid-afternoon Friday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, fresh from halting an army of Amazonians at the East River lest they pollute the Borough of Queens with billions of capitalist dollars, announced her plan to introduce legislation annulling the declaration, vowing on Instagram that she and her comrades “aren’t going to let the President declare a fake national emergency without a fight.”

RELATED: Trump’s speech shows what’s really dividing Americans: their president

“California will see you in court,” echoed the governor of the Golden State.

But the White House pushed back, declaring that Trump’s proclamation rests on “solid legal ground” and noting that sachems from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama used similar measures to promote agricultural exports, halt a postal strike and wage the undeclared Korean war. When a bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress granted Trump US$1.375 billion for wall-building on Thursday, the administration argued, it certified such erections as a legitimate action. (Shadow president Sean Hannity of FOX called it “a garbage deal.”) All the president was doing with his executive order, then, was gilding the legislative lily.

“When the president acts pursuant to an express or implied authorization of Congress, his authority is at its maximum,” the White House deposed, citing a 1952 case in which President Harry Truman nationalized the American steel industry. “For it includes all that he possesses in his own right plus all that Congress can delegate. In these circumstances, and in these only, may he be said (for what it may be worth) to personify the federal sovereignty.”

“I’m not doing it because it was a campaign promise,” Trump whoppered Friday, having vowed to rid the land of Latino rapists and murderers in every single public speech he has made for the past four years. “I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it faster. I want to get it done faster, that’s all.”

But fulfilling his rallying cry comes with a price—what will the most bestial bellowers of the president’s base have to chant about now?

RELATED: The story behind the ‘little girl’ photo that’s turning the world against Trump’s border policy

It was a self-satisfied Trump whom we saw Friday in the Rose Garden, where wine-headed finches were trilling the first burbling songs of spring in the budding magnolias, having somehow eluded the Border Patrol on their migration north from Oaxaca. In addition to his declaration on border-wall financing, the King of Debt shrugged off his country’s collective $22-trillion mortgage, and praised himself effusively for a good day on Wall Street, a Chinese economy collapsing under the weight of his tariffs, and his outreach to the cuddlesome Kims of North Korea.

Before Trump were arrayed the top brass of his frontier cavalry and a half-dozen “Angel Moms” whose spouses and children had been murdered by illegal border-crossers—familiar, willing props in Trump’s crusade to seal the southern frontier against the brown-skinned strivers who break in daily waves against it, fuelled by Central American poverty and the insatiable craving to get wasted on pills and poison that spans all strata of American society.

“What about the demand?” cried a reporter from Playboy, high on logic, but this plaint was ignored. By this time, Donald J. Trump already was waxing wistful about why his name, and not Barack Obama’s, should be inscribed forever in the book of history as a man of charity, love and peace.

“They gave it to Obama.  He didn’t even know what he got it for. He was there for about 15 seconds and he got the Nobel Prize,”  Trump griped of the statesman who came before. “He said, ‘Oh, what did I get it for?’

“With me, I probably will never get it,” the great wall-builder sighed.

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Father accused in death of daughter charged with first-degree murder, police say

Police have charged a father with first-degree murder after his 11-year-old daughter, who has been described as a “sparkle” and high-achiever by her school, was found dead at a Brampton home.

Riya Rajkumar was supposed to be celebrating her birthday with her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, on Thursday evening, but when she wasn’t returned to her mother on time, concerns about her wellbeing grew.

Her mother contacted police at around 7 p.m., authorities said, after Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, allegedly made alarming comments to her about plans to harm both himself and his child.

“She (the mother) came in already fully concerned saying, ‘This is what he was saying to me, I am concerned for the wellbeing of my daughter and I need some help,” Peel regional police Const. Danny Marttini said.

Riya became the subject of an Amber Alert at around 11:30 p.m.

An hour later, the alert was cancelled, after police found the young girl dead in the basement of a Brampton duplex where her father lived.

Roopesh Rajkumar was arrested about 130 kilometres away, near Orillia, Ont., by Ontario Provincial Police in what’s been described as a “high-risk takedown.” He was transferred into the custody of Peel Regional Police on Friday morning and formally charged with first-degree murder in the afternoon.

Police said Rajkumar was located as “a direct result” of someone receiving the Amber Alert.

Police said the suspect’s health delayed that process.

“When we did take custody of the individual earlier this morning, our officers at that time did notice that there was a medical concern. They were concerned about his wellbeing,” Const. Danny Marttini said at an afternoon news conference.

Rajkumar was taken to a local hospital for treatment and eventually transferred to a Toronto-area trauma centre for additional care. He was charged over the phone and remains in the hospital.

It’s not known what Rajkumar is being treated for in hospital or the severity of his condition.

“All I know is that there was a medical issue,” she said. “We will standby until he is medically cleared.”

Riya remembered by her classmates and community

Riya’s peers and teachers arrived at Meadowvale Village Public School in Mississauga on Friday morning to a memorial table assembled in the Grade 5 student’s honour.

Principal Stacey Service said Riya’s death is being felt “deeply by everyone at the school.”

Grief counsellors have been made available at the school for those struggling with the news of her death. Teachers were also provided with a “script” to deliver to students about the situation.

Students and staff have been encouraged to visit the memorial in the school library and leave messages of condolence or memories of the young girl.

“What I understand from the staff in the building is that Riya was a sparkle,” Carla Pereira, the communications director for Peel District School Board said.

“She was a firecracker. She was very well liked. She achieved very well, she was successful in school. She had lots of friends and was very popular.”

Condolences for the young girl have poured in since the news of her passing. Outside the Brampton home where her body was found, mourners placed flower bouquets against a tree near the property.

“It’s just an innocent child,” said one woman. “I have children of my own. I could never imagine.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was among those who expressed their sympathies on Twitter.

“As a father of four daughters, I’m truly at a loss for words. 11 years old. My heart is broken for Riya’s mom who is living every parent’s worst nightmare,” Ford said. “Karla and I are keeping Riya’s family and community at Meadowvale Village PS in our prayers.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the mourners as well, offering credit to the Amber Alert system.

“Amber Alerts like the one so many of us received last night are critically important to helping police when a child’s life is on the line,” he wrote. “My deepest condolences to everyone mourning young Riya today.”

Timeline of the investigation

From the moment they received the complaint from Riya’s mother, Marttini said, police started to feed detailed information about the girl, her father and their vehicle to officers on patrol.

Some officers were tasked with ground searches, including checking on places the pair frequented.

Marttini said officers did a “door knock” at the Brampton home where Riya was later found, but at that time, did not have sufficient information to force entry.

“If nobody answers, that’s sort of as far as we go. The vehicle wasn’t there. We didn’t have anything else to go on,” she said. “As the investigation unfolded, they did receive information that they did believe she was in the residence. As soon as they had that information, they proceeded with that.”

“If they felt the circumstances were there. They would have proceeded.”

Peel police then requested OPP issue an Amber Alert. The alert was issued at around 11:30 p.m. but Riya was found dead approximately 30 minutes prior.

Marttini wouldn’t speculate on the outcome had the alert been issued earlier.

“There is a process, like anything. There’s a procedure for everything and it must be followed,” she said.

“The reality is that it’s a very difficult situation. The investigating officers did everything they felt they could do during the entire process. It is a very unfortunate outcome and everyone has to deal with that.”

Since the discovery overnight, forensic teams have descended on the Brampton home near Queen Street and Highway 410, where they continue to comb for evidence.

The home is completely taped off by police and several cruisers remain parked nearby.

Marttini described it as an “active scene.”

“They will be taking photographs, they will be collecting pieces of evidence… Everything we need to make sure we have all the information about what occurred inside the residence,” she said.

Riya did not live with her father on a full-time basis, according to police. She was reportedly dropped off at a gas station in Mississauga at around 3 p.m. on Thursday, where her father picked her up to take her out for her birthday.

She would not say how the girl died, noting that an autopsy will be performed.

“They were celebrating a joint birthday,” Marttini said of Riya and her mother.

“It’s very heart wrenching. We have to remember, this is a family, and she’s now moving on without her daughter. It’s very traumatic.

Nancy Ali, the aunt of Roopesh Rajkumar, told reporters Friday afternoon that their family is “speechless.”

“I know he is a very good guy, hardworking,” she said. “I saw him just the other day when he said he was coming to pick up his daughter for her birthday.”

Ali said that the family was at a wedding in Florida last month and everyone seemed happy.

“So tragic,” she said. “We were all shocked, from here to New York to Guyana. We were all shocked.”

Reaction to Amber Alert activation

The activation of the Amber Alert System for Riya Rajkumar was heard and seen on mobile devices across Ontario.

Peel police said the fact someone spotted Roopesh Rajkumar after reading the alert proves that “the system works.”

Despite this, the police service reported receiving numerous 911 calls from people complaining about the alert and the time it was issued. Police called the reaction “unfortunate” and urged people to consider the gravity of the situation they were being notified of.

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By The Wall of Law February 16, 2019 Off