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New York’s Catholic Church seeks $100 million loan to pay priest victims

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The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York is seeking permission for a $100 million mortgage on some of its valuable Manhattan property to fund its compensation program for people sexually abused by its priests, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

The archdiocese said last October it would compensate people who had accused priests of abusing them as children, including those prevented by statutes of limitations from filing civil lawsuits. It said at the time it would seek loans to fund the payouts, which are being decided by two independent arbitrators.

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On Monday, the archdiocese filed a petition in New York state court in Manhattan seeking approval for a one-year mortgage from JPMorgan Chase on land it owns behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral; the Lotte New York Palace hotel is located on the site. The petition was necessary under a New York law governing the use of church property, Joseph Zwilling, an archdiocese spokesman, said in a telephone interview.

“Because we have begun the process of paying out the compensation to victims, the archdiocese has taken this short-term loan to cover the payments,” Zwilling said.

The archdiocese is accepting new applications from victims who had not previously come forward, and it will take out a longer-term loan once it has a clearer idea of the total compensation amount later this year, Zwilling said.

Under the first phase of the compensation program, 144 people who had previously complained of abuse filed claims. The archdiocese has made 64 offers of compensation so far, of which 44 have been accepted, Zwilling said. He said the archdiocese would not discuss the size of the payouts until the program was completed.

Most cases of abuse happened two or three decades ago. All of the accused priests are either dead or have been removed from ministry after an internal board reviewed the accusations, Zwilling said.

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The archdiocese is asking victims who had not previously come forward to make claims under the second phase of the program. Those victims must also make their accusations to police, Zwilling said. If any priests end up being accused for the first time, they will also be scrutinized by the internal review board, he said.

The Catholic Church has grappled for years with complaints from around the world that some of its clergy sexually abused children. On Wednesday, the last remaining survivor of abuse serving on the Vatican’s three-year-old Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors quit her position, blaming “shameful” resistance from church officials.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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GOP senator admits she’s hoping Trump’s Ukraine scheme successfully sinks Biden

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In a press conference with reporters on Monday, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) gave the game away by implying she hopes that President Donald Trump's scheme to dig up foreign dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden successfully sinks his candidacy and causes him to lose the Democratic caucuses in her state.

"Iowa caucuses are this next Monday evening. And I'm really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters, those Democratic caucus goers. Will they be supporting Vice President Biden at this point?"

The remarks came after White House lawyers spent hours trying to change the subject from Trump's attempts to extort the president of Ukraine with military aid, to the conspiracy theory surrounding Biden's son's work in Ukraine that he had been demanding they pursue.

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Republicans defended ‘a vile scoundrel’ who is ‘racist’ and ‘a petty tyrant’ — and it wasn’t Donald Trump

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President Donald Trump's defense attorneys were blasted for their defense of a different president on Tuesday.

"I mean, of course Trump's lawyers are defending Andrew Johnson. Of course," noted MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes.

"Johnson was a vile scoundrel and a drunk and a racist and a petty tyrant whose presidency brought blood and shame upon this nation," Hayes continued. "That's the kindest characterization I could muster."

The host linked to a 2019 piece on Johnson that he wrote for The New York Times as a book review of "The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation by Brenda Wineapple.

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Trump lawyer cites former GOP senator to discredit impeachment — but leaves out he supports convicting the president

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During the Senate impeachment trial on Monday, White House lawyer Robert Ray attempted to contrast the impeachment of President Donald Trump with that of President Richard Nixon, by arguing that unlike in the former case, Republicans came together with Democrats to call for removing Nixon. As part of the comparison, he brought up then-Rep. William Cohen, who went on to become a U.S. senator from Maine and Secretary of Defense for President Bill Clinton.

"Together these six Republicans made history," said Ray. "They did so with no sense of triumph and no fist bumps."

What Ray chose not to mention, however, is that Cohen has specifically weighed in on the Trump case, and said that he should be impeached and removed over the Ukraine scheme.

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