Monday, July 29, 2013

"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" Francis asked.

pope francis news conference transcript - GS

» Pope Signals Openness to Gay Priests
30/07/13 04:53 from World News
Pope Francis opened the door to greater acceptance of gay priests inside the ranks of Roman Catholicism as he flew to the Vatican.

  • The Wall Street Journal

Pope Signals Openness to Gay Priests

Pontiff's Comments Suggest Greater Acceptance of Homosexuality Among Clerics

[image]Luca Zennaro/Associated Press
Pope Francis speaks aboard the flight that landed in Rome on Monday.
ROME—When Pope Francis said he wouldn't judge gay priests, he opened the door to a new era of reconciliation within the Roman Catholic Church, which has struggled for decades to confront the presence of homosexuality in its ministry.
Pope Francis opened the door Sunday to greater acceptance of gay priests inside the ranks of Roman Catholicism as he flew home to the Vatican from his maiden trip overseas. Fordham University Professor of Catholic theology Terrence Tilley discusses the implications. Photo: Getty Images.
The pontiff was traveling aboard a turbulent overnight flight to Rome from his first overseas trip—a journey marked by his plain-spoken appeals to Catholics to reground the church in grass-roots ministry—when he broached the delicate issue of how the Catholic hierarchy should respond to clerics who are gay, though not sexually active. In doing so, he departed from the posture that has long shaped papal thinking on gay priests.
Luca Zennaro/Press Pool
The pontiff met with reporters for 80 minutes on the flight from Brazil.
Pope Francis, left, and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone step off a plane at Ciampino Airport outside Rome after returning from their trip to Brazil Monday.
"Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?" the pontiff told a news conference in response to a question. "You can't marginalize these people."
Pope Francis reaffirmed church teaching by referring to homosexual acts as a sin. But he wielded his formidable bully pulpit to shift the tone of how the church regards homosexual orientation at its highest ranks.
The pope returned to the Vatican from a weeklong visit to Brazil, where he was given a rock-star reception as an estimated three million people flocked to a Sunday Mass on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach.
Analysts said that show of support is likely to strengthen his hand as he confronts myriad challenges, including alleged corruption at the Vatican bank and the sexual-abuse crisis.
The pontiff said women couldn't be ordained as priests, because the issue had been definitively settled by Pope John Paul II. However, he said he wanted to develop a "theology of the woman," in order to expand and deepen their involvement in the life of the church.
Pope Francis wrapped up a historic trip to South America on Sunday with a Mass on Copacabana beach that drew a reported three million people. Photo: Associated Press.
Never before had a pope spoken out in defense of gay priests in the Catholic ministry, said Vatican analysts, and past popes have traditionally treated homosexuality as an obstacle to priestly celibacy. In 1986, the Vatican defined homosexuality as an "objective disorder," and in 2005 Pope Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, formally barred men deemed to have "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" from entering the priesthood.
Pope Francis "is showing a deep respect for the human condition as it is, instead of approaching things in a doctrinal way," said Alberto Melloni, a church historian.
"This isn't a change in the church's teaching," said Rev. James Bretzke, a theology professor at Boston College. "What's important is the change in style and emphasis."
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York echoed the pope on Monday, saying a priest's homosexuality "wouldn't matter to me as long as one is leading a virtuous and chaste life." But, he added, "My worry is that we're buying into the vocabulary that one's person is one's sexual identity and I don't buy that and neither does the church."
Stephen White, a fellow in the Catholic Studies Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., said the pope "cut through a great deal of distrust between the church and people of same-sex attraction," adding that he doesn't anticipate that the pontiff's comments will cause a rift within the church.
The pope's remarks drew cautious praise from gay-rights groups, who welcomed his change in tone.
"This could be the opening of a door or a window," Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Boston-based DignityUSA, an organization of gay and transsexual Catholics.
Ross Murray, director of news and faith initiatives at GLAAD, an advocacy organization, said while the pope's words are helpful, he remained skeptical of what will happen in practice.

Pope Francis in Brazil

Luca Zennaro/Reuters
Pope Francis celebrated the final Mass of his Brazil trip at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro Sunday.
Pope Francis met with reporters on the plane for 80 minutes, and he mused at length on one scandal that erupted on his predecessor's watch: a secret Vatican report leaked to the Italian media purporting that homosexual Vatican clerics had formed a "gay lobby" that was secretly pulling the strings inside the Holy See.
Pope Francis paid tribute to the thousands of volunteers who helped organize the World Youth Festival that concluded Sunday in Brazil. Photo: Associated Press.
The Argentine pontiff said he had discussed the findings of the internal Vatican report with Pope Benedict, who resigned in early February. The German pope emeritus, Pope Francis said, had given him documentation and testimony from the internal report prepared by three cardinals before he stepped down.
The pope carefully drew a distinction between the possibility of pressure groups existing inside the Vatican—which he defined as a "problem"—and the potential presence of gay priests within Vatican ranks.
"You have to distinguish between the fact of a person being gay, and the fact of a lobby," the pope said. "The problem isn't having this orientation. The problem is making a lobby."
The comments cut to the core of one of the most challenging issues facing the Catholic priesthood. Data measuring the prevalence of homosexuality in the priesthood is limited. A poll of Roman Catholic priests across the U.S. the Los Angeles Times conducted in 2002 found that 15% of priests described themselves as homosexual or leaning toward homosexuality.
Bishops who run local dioceses have long been divided over whether to accept gay priests who are chaste. While some bishops are tolerant of homosexuality, the Vatican's ban on gay men entering the priesthood has forced many clerics to keep their sexuality hidden from superiors. For bishops, the issue boils down to if "you got a priest you know is gay but isn't active is that a problem for you or not?" said John L. Allen of the National Catholic Reporter. "For this pope the answer is 'no.' "
In Africa, one of Catholicism's fastest-growing regions, church officials expressed doubts that openly gay priests would be welcomed by their flocks. "Here the issue is a taboo," said Ben Assorow, director of communications for the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.
The pope's remarks on homosexuality were prompted by a reporter who asked the pontiff to comment on a report in an Italian magazine alleging Battista Ricca, a Vatican monsignor promoted by Pope Francis, engaged in gay sexual relationships years ago when he was posted overseas at a Vatican embassy in Latin America. The monsignor, who has never publicly commented, remains in good standing with the pope, said a senior Vatican official.

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In one of his first moves as pope, the pontiff appointed Msgr. Ricca as interim overseer of the Vatican's bank while a special commission weighs its future. For years, the bank has faced allegations from Italian prosecutors and regulators that its internal controls weren't strong enough to guard against money laundering. On Sunday, Pope Francis suggested he was keeping all options on the table, from transforming the bank into a charitable fund to shutting it down entirely.
"I don't know how this story is going to end," the pope said.
Msgr. Ricca is tasked with acting as Pope Francis' eyes and ears at the Vatican's bank while the commission forges ahead. The pope said he ordered a preliminary investigation of the monsignor after rumors began to swirl about the cleric's purported sex life. The inquiry "found nothing," the pope said, without elaborating on the investigation or its findings.
The pope, who said he was too tired to take questions on his way to Brazil, appeared indefatigable during the trip home. He dispensed reading tips—advising reporters to "read and reread" Fyodor Dostoyevsky—and discussed his plans to visit Jerusalem on his next overseas trip.
Through it all, he maintained a Zen-like state of calm, even as the plane hit turbulence and the seat-belt lights flashed.
—Sophia Hollander
in New York
and Caroline Porter in Chicago
contributed to this article.
Corrections & Amplifications
The photo caption on an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the pope left Rio de Janiero Monday. The flight left Sunday.
Write to Stacy Meichtry at
A version of this article appeared July 30, 2013, on page A1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Pope Marks a Shift in Tone With Defense of Gay Priests.

Pope Says He Will Not Judge Gay Priests
New York Times (blog)
ROME — Striking a breathtakingly conciliatory approach to a hot-button issue that has divided Catholics, Pope Francis on Monday said that he would not judge priests for their sexual orientation. “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good ...
Pope Francis says he won't 'judge' gay priestsUSA TODAY
Pope Francis says gays should not be judgedLos Angeles Times
Pope Francis reaches out to gays, says he won't judge gay priestsWashington Post
CBS News -BBC News
all 83 news articles »

AP Top Headlines At 6:43 a.m. EDT

BBC News

Pope Francis: Who am I to judge gay people?
BBC News
Speaking to reporters on a flight back from Brazil, he said: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?" The Pope's remarks are being seen as much more conciliatory than his predecessor's position on the issue. Turning to the ...

Pope says he won't judge gay priests By NICOLE WINFIELD
AP Top Headlines At 6:43 a.m. EDT
Pope says he won't judge gay priests
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ABOARD THE PAPAL AIRCRAFT (AP) -- Pope Francis reached out to gays on Monday, saying he wouldn't judge priests for their sexual orientation in a remarkably open and wide-ranging news conference as he returned from his first foreign trip....

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Edward Snowden jumps the shark in Moscow

Edward Snowden jumps the shark in Moscow

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Edward Snowden on a TV screen in Hong Kong (Kin Cheung/AP)
Edward Snowden on a TV screen in Hong Kong (Kin Cheung/AP)
Last month, I pleaded for an end to the breathless comparisons between Edward Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg. News that the present-day intelligence leaker has asked the Russians for asylumshould put it to rest. Sure, Snowden made the same request of other nations. But flirting with Moscow is a credibility killer.
I’m all for whistleblowers revealing what government is doing, especially if it stretches the bounds of legality or if it’s flat-out illegal. What we know of what Snowden has released of interest to the American public has been known for a while. But what has stuck in my craw from the outset was Snowden fleeing the country.
Snowden earned side eyes from me with his decision to hightail it to Hong Kong (read, China). Then he bolted for Moscow. For a man trying to win public opinion against what he called the vast and illegal overreach of the National Security Agency, heading to Russia wasn’t exactly a smart P.R. move. That nation and Russian President Vladimir Putin aren’t exactly this nation’s best friend. Heck, they barely rise to the level of “frenemy.”
Just in his comments today, Putin said of Snowden, “If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: He has to stop his work aimed at damaging our U.S. partners, no matter how strange this sounds coming from me.” But when it came to President Obama’s entreaties that Snowden be extradited, Putin said, “Russia never extradites anyone anywhere and is not going to extradite anyone.” Great.
The man-without-a-country international thicket in which Snowden finds himself was totally avoided by Ellsberg. Ellsberg photocopied all 7,000 pages of the Pentagon Papers, which he described as “a continuous record of governmental deception and fatally unwise decision-making, cloaked by secrecy, under four presidents.” Unlike Snowden, Ellsberg went to senior members of Congress with his concerns. He went to the press when it looked like Congress would do nothing. For two weeks, Ellsberg and his wife hid out in Cambridge. But the man who wanted the American people to know what their government was doing in their name turned himself in at the federal courthouse in Boston.
All this is detailed in a 2010 PBS documentary called “The Most Dangerous Man in America.” The key phrase being “in America.” Would that Snowden had the courage of his convictions to stay in the United States to be held accountable for his actions rather than flee to nations that would love to have the sensitive information he has (and to embarrass the United States in the process).
Read the whole story
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Barring of Bolivian Plane Infuriates Latin America as Snowden Case Widens

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Helmut Fohringer/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, speaking to reporters at an airport near Vienna. France and Portugal had blocked his plane.
CARACAS, Venezuela — The geopolitical storm churned up by Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive American intelligence contractor, continued to spread on Wednesday as Latin American leaders roundly condemned the refusal to let Bolivia’s president fly over several European nations, rallying to his side after Bolivian officials said the president’s plane had been thwarted because of suspicions that Mr. Snowden was on board.
Calling it a grave offense to their entire region, Latin American officials said they would hold an emergency meeting of the Union of South American Nations on Thursday.
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina said the episode had “vestiges of a colonialism that we thought was completely overcome,” describing it as a humiliating act that affected all of South America.
President Rafael Correa of Ecuador said in a post on Twitter that the situation was “extremely serious” and called it an “affront to all America,” referring to Latin America.
The diplomatic and political tempest over Mr. Snowden and his revelations of far-reaching American espionage programs has swept up adversaries and allies from across the globe.
Tensions emerged right away between the United States and the two major powers Mr. Snowden has fled to, China and Russia, over their refusal to detain him and turn him over to the American authorities.
The discord soon spread to some of America’s closest allies in Europe. After newspaper reportsbased on documents Mr. Showden compiled as a contractor for the National Security Agency showed that the United States had been spying on an array of embassies and diplomatic missions, including the European Union’s offices in Washington, Brussels and New York, the outrage rattled prospects for a trans-Atlantic free-trade agreement.
The United States and Europe have emphasized the importance of the trade talks, saying they would create the world’s largest free trade zone and stimulate growth. But on Wednesday, France said it would be wise for the talks to be suspended for two weeks to give Washington time to supply information about its spying program.
Hours later, José Manuel Barroso, the head of the union’s governing commission, announced a compromise in which trade talks could start as planned, but only if the United States opened talks at the same time on its intelligence operations.
Seeking to keep the trade talks on track, President Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany later responded with an agreement that security officials from their countries would hold a “high-level meeting” in coming days, Ms. Merkel’s spokesman said in a statement.
In a telephone call to President Obama on Wednesday evening, the chancellor noted that a visit to Washington by senior officials from the German government and its intelligence services offered the chance for an “intensive discussion” of concerns over the scope of American intelligence activities, data protection and privacy, the statement said.
But French officials, speaking to reporters, made it clear that they would still favor delaying trade talks if there was no movement from the Americans on the espionage by next week.
And now, the uproar has encompassed Latin America as well.
“In some sense, it parallels ironically what the N.S.A. is doing,” said Faiza Patel, a co-director of the liberty and national security program of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, a research and advocacy organization. “The N.S.A. is reaching its tentacles aross the world.”
Mr. Snowden and his disclosures have touched different chords in each region. In Europe, Ms. Patel noted, they have provoked memories of the police states created by fascism and communism, with their heavy-handed surveillance of their own people. In Latin America, she said, they have touched on a wellspring of resentment over the legacy of colonialism and American power, as well as the region’s own history of secretive dictatorships.
Read the whole story
· · · ·

Snowden still in Moscow despite Bolivian plane drama

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VIENNA/GENEVA (Reuters) - Bolivia accused the United States on Wednesday of trying to "kidnap" its president, Evo Morales, after his plane was denied permission to fly over some European countries on suspicion he was taking fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden to Latin America.

Steve Bell on Bolivia and Evo Morales – cartoon 

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US refuses to comment on Morales plane but admits contact with other nations over potential Snowden flights

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Editorial Board: Plugging the leaks in the Edward Snowden case 

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THE COSTS of the Edward Snowden affair continue to mount for the Obama administration — though so far the visible damage is primarily political, rather than national security-related. On Monday,President Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry struggled to respond to new allegations, leaked by Mr. Snowden to the German magazine Der Spiegel, that the National Security Agency (NSA) has bugged European Union offices in Washington and New York. If true — and Mr. Obama did not offer a denial — the revelation could complicate the incipient U.S.-E.U. free-trade talks and further sour Europeans’ once-soaring regard for Mr. Obama. Governments and their intelligence services, aware that allies often spy on each other, may be less perturbed.
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Police seize 30 metric tons of drugs in Central America, Caribbean

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AMSTERDAM | Wed Jul 3, 2013 6:58am EDT
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - About 30 metric tons of cocaine, heroin and marijuana with a street value of $822 million was seized in Central America and the Caribbean last month in one of the biggest international drug hauls, pan-European police force Europol said.
It said Operation Lionfish, which targeted the maritime trafficking of drugs and illicit firearms by organized crime groups across Central America and the Caribbean, yielded the arrest of 142 people and seizure of 15 vessels as well as guns, cash, and eight metric tons of chemical precursors.
The international operation was carried out from May 27 to June 10, a Europol spokesman said, and an investigation into the source of the drugs was under way. No details were released of the nationalities of those arrested.
More than 30 countries and territories were involved in the operation, led by Interpol and supported by Europol.
"The operation was coordinated in response to growing evidence of the organized crime in the trafficking of drugs and firearms in the Central America and Caribbean regions due to its strategic location," Europol said in a statement.
(Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; editing by Mark Heinrich)
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