A secret trial was revealed convicting one of the most powerful men in the Roman Catholic Church with historical sexual offense charges last December.
The existence of the sexual abuse trial of Cardinal George Pell, Vatican Treasurer and a close adviser to Pope Francis, only surfaced Tuesday because of a ban from the court to disclose the details of the trial to the media; Chief Judge Peter Kidd lifted the coverage ban that started in November 2018.
Cardinal Pell was convicted with sexual penetration of a child and four counts of an indecent act with or in the presence of a Child for the incidents that happened in the 1990s. Pell is the most senior Vatican official to be convicted of sexual abuse.
The revelation of the trial and conviction of Cardinal Pell came days after the Vatican held an unprecedented summit to address the sexual abuse committed by clergy called upon by Pope Francis last February 20-24, 2019.
According to court documents, the assault happened to the victim and another boy in Melbourne’s historic St. Patrick Cathedral, when the Cardinal forced one choirboy to do oral sex on him. He also performed several other indecent activities to other choir boys, who he caught drinking wine in his sacristy, a small room at the back of the Church.
One of the victims later died of a drug overdose, while the other lived to tell his story that has caused him to experience ‘shame, loneliness, (and) depression.’
The victim was not identified in the court documents following an Australian law governing sexual abuse victims. Another Australian legislation allowed the judge to order a ban from media coverage to not influence future juries.
The ban was lifted after the prosecutors of the case withdraw other charges of sexual assault and indecent acts against Pell following the conviction.
In December 2018, the Cardinal was removed from his post in the Vatican for ‘reasons of advancing age.’
‘TOO SHOCKED AND SCARED’
The case against Pell is strongly banked on testimony by one who accused the priest of performing oral sex with him and groping another boy’s genitalia after one Sunday mass at Melbourne’s St. Patrick Cathedral.
For nearly 20 years, the accuser said that he carried the burden and the trauma of what happened because he was ‘too shocked and scared’ to disclose what happened.
According to the testimony through a video link to the court, the attack span across six minutes after a Sunday mass and while parishioners are gathered outside the church.
The victim said that the Cardinal caught him and another choir boy drinking wine in the sacristy. Pell then pulled his robe aside and shown his genitalia to the boys forcing the victim to put it in his mouth. The priest then instructed another boy to take off his pants as the priest touch his private parts while he masturbated.
One month later, the victim alleged that the then-Archbishop of Melbourne pushed him to a wall and touched his genitalia.
“I didn’t tell anyone at the time because I didn’t want to jeopardize anything. I didn’t want to rock the boat with my family, my schooling, my life … I had no intention back then of telling anyone ever,” said the victim’s testimony as the Crown prosecutor Gibson read it to the court.
‘PRODUCT OF A FANTASY’
The Cardinal has ever since denied the allegations against him and his lawyer, Richter, has strongly argued against the testimony of the victim saying that it is ‘an embellishment on a fantasy.’
Richter dismissed the testimony of the victim, arguing that the Robe of the Cardinal cannot be loosened in a way described in the affidavit. He further added that the crime was ‘impossible to happen’ in a manner the victim described because the boys could just run off and that Pell was outside the church talking to the parishioners during the time the crime was said to have been committed.
Cardinal George Pell did not take the stand for his defense, but instead, a video of his meeting with the investigators in 2016 was played in the court.
In the video, Pell said the charges were “the products of fantasy.” When asked whether he’d forced a boy to perform oral sex he said it was a “deranged falsehood.”
“What a load of absolute and disgraceful rubbish. Completely false. Madness,” he told detectives.
Pell was ‘shocked’ of the guilty verdict after it was reached only after three and a half days of deliberation.
Pell is scheduled for a sentencing hearing in a separate date in March. /apr
South Korea Labor Force Shrinks, Blaming Economic Problems And Increasing Number Of Celibates
According to the research conducted by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHSA), a growing number of South Koreans are declining to get married and are not even interested in dating. One of the possible reasons is because dating is expensive and dangerous.
The Korea Herald reported that last 2015, 90 percent of men and 77 percent of women between the ages of 25 to 29 are celibates. Most South Koreans decided to be single by choice because of economic problems, dating problems, and social issues.
The nation’s overall unemployment rate is 3.4 percent, the highest record yet for 17 years. For the country’s youth between ages 15 to 29, the unemployment rate is 10.8%. The job market in the country is famed to be very competitive. Most individuals spend their free time in schools to improve their professional skills and get certificates, which can help them land their dream jobs.
CNN‘s Sophie Jeong recently interviewed a 24-year-old male student named Kim Joon-Hyup to get to a better idea about the issue and get to know the views/opinions of the country’s younger generation.
Kim is studying full time at Sejong University. But every weekday evening, he also attends another institution to study game design. Kim doesn’t have time to date. If he was in a relationship, he will be sorry for her since he wouldn’t be able to invest time.
For South Korean couples, dating and marriage are both expensive. Duo, a matchmaking industry, estimated that the usual cost per date is 63,494 won (around $55). Individuals who live with minimum-wage paychecks have to work more hours to afford a single date.
Meanwhile, to get married, couples spend an average of $90,000 for the overall wedding expenses, a 2013 survey reported. There is also a wedding tradition in South Korea, which they call “trading wealth.” For example, if a female marries a doctor, her family needs to pay a considerable amount to the groom’s family in exchange for an elite social status.
Dating in South Korea is not only expensive but can also be dangerous too. One of the major societal issues of the nation is sex crimes, illegal recording of sexual acts or voyeurism, and gender discrimination.
The National Police Agency reported a massive increase in sexual violence crimes. Data received from the 2008 sex crime survey revealed that there are 16,000 cases, and in 2017, the number of cases doubled. In most cases, the assault comes from the victims’ lover or date.
Furthermore, dating does not end up in physical abuse. Last 2017, there have been more than 6,400 cases of unauthorized recording. Recently, a viral scandal involving famous K-Pop Star Jung Joon-young circulated on the internet. He was arrested last March and accused of taking videos of women during sex without their consent. Worst case scenario, he shares the said videos on the internet explicitly.
Another possible reason why most South Koreans prefer to be single is that they have a culture which values work and study over relationships. Last 2017 OECD stated that an average South Korean works almost 250 hours more compared to their United States counterpart.
South Korea is known to have the lowest birth rate in the world. Last December, it dropped to 0.95, which means that for every 100 women, only 95 children are born. For the nation to have a steady workforce, the birth rate should be 2.1.
This fact can result in a community mostly composed of older people in the future. Lee Jong-wha, an economist from the Korea University, predicted that by 2030 almost one-third of the South Korean population would be age 65 or older.
South Korean government is aware and have created programs to solve this upcoming labor force problem. Starting in 2005, it allocated 36 trillion won (US$32.1 billion) to lessen the financial burden to families. They offered monthly childcare subsidies and other incentives to young families.
Also, universities in South Korea are offer dating classes. For example, Sejong University offers a gender and culture course which covers topics related to choosing a suitable marriage partner and how to deal with breakups. This move also aims to teach students the idea that dating does not necessarily need to be expensive if one knows how to think creatively.
Nevertheless, to some critics, there are still a lot of things that should be done to make a significant impact to motivate the country.
Michael Cohen: President Trump’s Loyal Lawyer and ‘Fixer’ to Serve a Three-year Sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York.
President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen has now checked into the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York, for a three-year sentence.
The ex-lawyer arranged hush payments for the two women who claimed to have sexual encounters with President Donald Trump. He also had been lying in Congress and had done several financial crimes.
Cohen, serving as Trump’s fixer, said that he still has more secrets to reveal about Trump as reporters outside his residence in Manhattan were ambushing him before being driven to Otisville. There is still much to be brought into the light and the right time will come for all these hidden truths are to be revealed to the world, he added.
According to surveys, Otisville is included in America’s top 10 “cushiest” prisons as it is known to cater to Jewish offenders with a touch of services of a rabbi and a kosher kitchen. This reality that Cohen will be taking for the next three years of his life will be a total change of lifestyle from the limelight that he used to have from following and being the president’s backbone in Congress and his career. But unlike any other person who gets into prison, there shall be no special treatment for the ex-lawyer.
Some former celebrities also share cells in the Federal Correctional Institution. He might be seeing Michael Sorrentino who is currently in an eight-month sentence for tax fraud, Billy McFarland who is serving a six-year sentence because of a $26 million fraud, Darren Sharper who is sentenced for drugging and raping women and is now serving for 20 years. And lastly, Dean Skelos, former New York Senate Majority Leader jailed for four years for corruption.
Serving prison is an irony to Cohen’s profession, but as for him, it is the only way that the truth may be out and justice will be served. He is sold out to clear his name as he also blames himself for helping the United States in compromise. As time went by, his loyalty to the president has blinded him from the core truth of why he was in the position to serve the country. He said in an interview that it had led him to choose the “path of darkness over light.”
He emphasized that this country is full of injustice and lies, fear of hatred from foreigners or strangers or what he calls the president has—xenophobia. He hopes that after his three-year sentence, he will be reunited with his family and friends in this country that is actually “united” rather than doing things just for the show will all the pretentions and lies.
As they say, the government along with politics will always be a dirty game, a messy place, and a messy life to protect the people and to make a nation “clean” (on the outside) for foreign countries. For Cohen, he has come to a point in his life where he has found the fine line of compromising and fighting for truth and justice for his fellowmen.
He has admitted that he was under the direction and coordination of the president to silence women who have been longing for justice from spilling the tea with his power and payments which he was found and pleaded guilty. He is also admitted to making falsification to Congress and lying about some details concerning the Trump Tower.
In February, Cohen publicly testified before the House Oversight Committee bringing with him evidences to implicate Trump, reimbursement check copies that he used signed by the president and his son, Donald Trump Jr. that were for the hush money.
He was in great dilemma of whether to serve the Trumps in loyalty as it was his duty to stand for them or to serve as a lawyer for who he pledged to be. Nevertheless, Cohen takes full responsibility for all the misconduct that he had done. It is now about telling the truth and that there is no turning back for him. If serving three years is the only solution to lift his mistakes, then he is more than ready and willing to do so.
Priest Slammed And Fined For Burning Harry Potter Books In Poland
A Catholic organization lead by priests was under fire after a set of photos of them burning things after a mass in the Polish town of Gdansk, Sunday. The post originated from a Facebook page that belongs to the “SMS from Heaven,” a Catholic Evangelical foundation set up to spread the Christian doctrine through mobile phone text messages.
In the post with the caption “We obey the Word,” the group was seen burning items that they deemed to violate the Christian faith which includes Harry Potter books, a Hello Kitty umbrella, some Hindu figurine, and an African mask.
The group responsible for the burning justified their actions by stating quotations from the Bible, specifically from the book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament. The priests and other religious individuals in the burning event cited the passage that exhorts believers to destroy the enemies of God, including the passage “burn their idols in the fire.”
The viral photographs show priests carrying out a box of items as they parade towards the burning pit outside the church. The priests were also photographed as they say prayers at the hole as the said items were being burned.
The founder of the infamous organization is Father Rafal Jaroseiwicz. Fr. Jarosweiwicz said in a press statement that “that fact of burning books and other objects was unfortunate, but it was not irreverent to any social group or religion, nor was it aimed at the books as such or culture. If anyone took my action in this way, I would like to welcome him in this place to apologize.”
As if it justifies the action, the priest also said that his foundation has been distributing hundreds of thousands of books for free. He also noted that it was “unfortunate” that the burning was taken out of context because the participants of the retreat voluntarily brought the objects burned at the event.
“Unfortunate” and “shocking”
The Primate of Poland, Roman Catholic Church’s highest official in the country, condemned the act saying that it was “unfortunate” and “shocking.” He also said that books are not supposed to be burned but to be read and their contents should be discussed.
“The burning books reveals the illusory belief that removing in a spectacular way the bad or harmful spiritual contents, which – in the opinion of the organizers of the event – contain burned books or objects, at the same time will free their readers from infecting with harmful content,” the Church official added.
The Metropolitan of Gniezo also explains that “the road to freeing from what harms people is not destroying these or other books containing harmful spiritual content, but on the basis to lead, through critical thinking and openness to the grace of God, which certainly it was the content of retreats to reject what is harmful.”
The church leaders also warn that conversation will never be achieved by burning books. They said that the priests should show the faithfulness as the basis for a “critical assessment of what they read.”
It appears that the event did not just upset the heads of Church but also the Polish government following the apparent irresponsible burning of objects to get rid of everything that “brings bad power.” On April 3, the priests who took part in the burning event were fined by the municipal guards for violation of environmental laws.
“The person suspected of having committed the offense was asked by us to appear at the guard’s office and provide explanations. They presented themselves, made an explanation, admitted their guilt, and was fined,” explained Wojciech Siolkowski, a spokesperson from the City Guard of Gdansk.
However, many activists said that the punishment should not end at fining the priests involved in the event.
According to Zdzislaw Kuczma from Rybnicki Smog Alert, the burnt object has ink and plastic which causes the smoke to emit carcinogenic substances. They also said that they are not interested in the political context of the event, but only in the environmental implications of burning plastic and ink.
“The impulse was, as we saw in the pictures, children are near the campfire. Their health could have been compromised. In our opinion, a simple mandate is not enough […] It doesn’t matter if you are a priest or a construction worker,” he adds.
The environmental organization has sent the prosecutors office a notification regarding their suspicion of committing a crime against environmental protection through the event. Grazyna Wawryniuk from the District Prosecutor’s Office in Gdansk confirms that their office received the complaint on Tuesday.
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