WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18
The Vatican has ruled that priests can no longer cite papal secrecy in abuse cases, the latest move by Pope Francis to combat silence surrounding paedophilia in the Roman Catholic church.
The Church has been hit by thousands of reports of sexual abuse around the world by priests, and accusations of cover-ups by senior clergy.
The Vatican also announced that it was raising the age at which sexual images of a person were deemed child pornography from 14 to 18.
Francis’ latest instructions regarding Vatican law on sexual abuse say that the pontifical secret no longer applies “to accusations, trials and decisions” involving such cases.
Pontifical secrecy is a rule of confidentiality designed to protect sensitive information related to Church governance, such as diplomatic correspondence, personnel issues and alleged crimes.
Critics say the secrecy laws have prevented priests and victims from reporting abuse, as well as hindered national justice systems prosecuting cases.
In May, the pope passed a landmark measure to oblige those who know about sex abuse to report it to their superiors, a move expected to bring even more cases to light.
In Tuesday’s statement, issued on the Argentine pontiff’s 83rd birthday, Francis spelt out the new obligations.
“The person who files the report, the person who alleges to have been harmed and the witnesses shall not be bound by any obligation of silence with regard to matters involving the case,” he wrote.
Archbishop of Malta Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s chief sex crime investigator, called Francis’ move an “epochal decision that removes obstacles and impediments.”
A 25 year old English woman has become the first female to win a match at the PDC World Darts Championship, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd in London after beating compatriot Ted Evetts 3-2.
Fallon Sherrock trailed 2-1 but hit back to seal the historic first-round victory, landing six 180s with a 91.12 average.
When her dart landed in the double 18 to finish, the typically festive Alexandra Palace crowd produced the biggest roar of the tournament so far.
“I have proved that we can play the men and can beat them,” the 2,000-1 title shot said after her win.
“I feel really happy because I have made something for women’s darts.
“I can’t believe it. To do that on the biggest stage, wow. I am so happy that I can continue.”
Sherrock was one of two women to secure a place among the 96-person field at the championships.
The other woman, Mikuru Suzuki, lost to James Richardson at the weekend.
Sherrock faces Austrian Mensur Suljovic in the second round.
Estonia’s president Kersti Kaljulaid has issued an apology to Finland 34-year old Prime Minister Sanna Marin after Estonia’s Interior Minister Mart Helme mocked the young Finnish leader about her background.
Ms Kaljulaid phoned her Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto, offering a public apology on behalf of Estonia and Mr Helme to Ms Marin and her government.
She said she was “embarrassed” by the comments of Mr Helme, who leads the populist far-right party Ekre.
The 70-year-old Mr Helme made his controversial remarks on his party’s radio talk-show.
“Now we see how one sales girl has become a prime minister and how some other street activists and non-educated people have also joined the cabinet,” Mr Helme said.
Mr Helme, Estonia’s former ambassador to Russia, also mocked Ms Marin’s ruling “red” Social Democratic Party, saying it was out to “liquidate” Finland with its policies.
Mr Helme’s remarks triggered a vote of confidence to be called against him in Estonia, with MPs voting 44 to 42 to remove him from his post. However, the motion failed to pass because it did not achieve an absolute majority of 51.
Mr Helme is widely known in Estonia for his political gaffes and sexist comments about women, including personal attacks on Ms Kaljulaid, Estonia’s first female president, whom he called earlier this year “an emotionally heated woman”.
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