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Vatican struggles against Pope’s connection to child sex scandals

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VATICAN CITY (AFP) – – The Vatican fought attempts to link Pope Benedict XVI to child sex abuse in a counteroffensive on Saturday against widening paedophilia scandals.

“It is clearly evident that in the past few days there are some who have sought — with a dogged focus on Regensburg and Munich — elements to personally implicate the Holy Father in questions of abuse,” spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

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“It is clear that these efforts have failed,” he said on Radio Vatican.

On Friday, the pope’s former diocese of Munich confirmed a report that, as an archbishop in 1980, the pontiff approved housing for a priest who had been accused of forcing an 11-year-old boy to perform oral sex.

Six years later, the priest was given a suspended prison sentence for child sex offences. The archdiocese said he still works in Bavaria, with no known repeat violations.

The disclosure added to a growing scandal in Germany that had already come close to Pope Benedict’s brother Georg Ratzinger, a former choirmaster.

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The first revelations emerged in January when an elite Jesuit school in Berlin admitted systematic sexual abuse of pupils by two priests in the 1970s and 1980s.

Among other boarding schools since implicated is one attached to the Domspatzen (“Cathedral Sparrows”), Regensburg cathedral’s thousand-year-old choir which was run for 30 years by the pope’s older brother.

Ratzinger, 86, said on Tuesday that the alleged sexual abuse in the 1950s and 1960s — before his time — was “never discussed”.

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In an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel a former choirboy Thomas Mayer said he was raped by older boys at a time when Ratzinger ran the choir.

He also said Ratzinger had violent fits of outrage during rehearsals.

“Ratzinger, I saw him extremely angry and irascible during rehearsals,” Mayer said. “Several times I saw him throw a chair at the male voices, which I was part of.” Once he was so angry that he spat his dentures out.

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Ratzinger recently acknowledged that he had “given slaps” at the beginning of his tenure and that he had always had a “bad conscience” about it and felt “relieved” when a law banning corporal punishment was made in the early 1980s.

A proliferation of abuse scandals across Europe has prompted deep soul-searching among church leaders, not least in Germany where 19 of the 27 dioceses have been implicated in allegations. Facts: Main abuse scandals facing the Church

Vatican spokesman Lombardi said on Saturday that the pope “encouraged” “recognising the truth and helping victims” in cases of abuse, adding that the line of the Church was not “to cover up these offences but … to judge and adequately punish” offenders.

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Most of the priests concerned are not expected to face criminal charges because the alleged crimes took place too long ago. But there have been growing calls for a change in the law and for the church to pay compensation.

Writing in the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano, the Bishop of Alessandria in northern Italy, Giuseppe Versaldi, criticised the attacks on the Church and said the pope had fought hard to tackle the problem of sex abuse.

“It is thanks to the pope’s increased rigour that different episcopal conferences have shone light on cases of sexual abuse and worked with civil authorities to achieve justice for the victims,” the bishop wrote in a front-page article.

A senior Vatican official sought to downplay the child sex abuse scandals in an interview with a newspaper.

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Charles Scicluna told Italian newspaper Avennire, which is close to the Vatican, that 300 “cases of priests accused of paedophilia” had been counted between 2001 and 2010 out of 400,000 priests and other clergy overall.

“Of course it’s too much, but it has to be acknowledged that the phenomenon is not as widespread as is being made out,” he said.BVa


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Brian Williams compares Corey Lewandowski’s opening statement to the North Korean news lady

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MSNBC host Brian Williams on Tuesday noted the similarities between former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and North Korean news anchor Ri Chun Hee.

"Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager who is now considering a Senate run in New Hampshire, testified before the House Judiciary Committee today," Williams reported. "It is likely his North Korean anchorwoman-quality opening remarks were meant were one viewer (Donald Trump)."

Ri, who has earned the nickname "Pink Lady," is known for her enthusiastic reading of government-approved news.

Watch the video below from MSNBC.

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‘Train-wreck of a witness’: Analysts nail ‘obstructive’ Corey Lewandowski for proving the Democrats’ case

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Political commentator Catherine Rampell disagreed with New York Times columnist Frank Bruni that the Democrats faltered during the hearing with Corey Lewandowski Tuesday. Former state and federal prosecutor Elie Honig called Lewandowski a "train-wreck of a witness."

She explained that Democrats had an extremely low bar: they had to prove Trump obstructed justice and that Corey Lewandowski gave one of the examples of such obstructions. In that sense, Rampell said they accomplished their goals.

"I don’t think this was a great day for Corey Lewandowski," she began. "This is a guy who went on TV and announced to the world -- apparently at the same time he is also trying to fundraise for Senate -- that he lies most of the time. Except when he's under oath."

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WATCH: Ana Navarro keeps shouting down Trump booster — even as CNN host cuts to commercial

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President Donald Trump cheered on his top Hispanic advisor Steve Cortes, who appeared before a New Mexico audience. Trump asked Cortes which he loved more, Hispanics or America, which prompted CNN's Ana Navarro to blast the president for racism. Meanwhile, Trump's latest CNN shill cried "political correctness."

"Look, I suspect he didn't want to offend Steve Cortes and I suspect Steve Cortes was not offended," Navarro said. "But really what a stupid thing to say. Right? To somehow ask the question about whether you love the country more than you love Hispanics -- they are one and the same."

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