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Pope digs deeper into roots of Chile sex abuse scandal

Published: Saturday, June 02, 2018 @ 11:30 AM
Updated: Saturday, June 02, 2018 @ 11:29 AM


            Pope Francis meets with members of an Italian association fighting muscular dystrophy at the Vatican, Saturday, June 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis meets with members of an Italian association fighting muscular dystrophy at the Vatican, Saturday, June 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Francis dug deeper into the roots of Chile's sex abuse scandal by meeting Saturday with a group of priests who were trained in a cult-like Catholic community and suffered psychological and sexual abuse there.

Francis celebrated Mass with priests trained by the Rev. Fernando Karadima, a powerful preacher in Chile who was sentenced by the Vatican in 2011 to a lifetime of penance and prayer for having sexually and spiritually abused young parishioners through an abuse of power.

The Vatican said the Mass and subsequent weekend meetings would help Francis better understand life inside Karadima's El Bosque community, which catered to the rich and powerful of Santiago society during and after the Pinochet dictatorship.

A Vatican statement said Francis hopes to help heal the divisions that the El Bosque scandal has created in Chile's church and help rebuild healthy relationships between priests and their flock "once they become conscious of their own wounds."

El Bosque generated some 30 priests and four bishops before Karadima was removed from ministry and a priestly society affiliated with El Bosque was closed. The recent eruption of the scandal has focused on one of the four bishops, Juan Barros, after Francis strongly defended him only to then admit he had made grave errors in judgment.

But the scandal has spread far beyond El Bosque and has implicated the Chilean hierarchy, which has sought to place the blame on the church's dramatic loss of moral authority on the Karadima scandal alone.

Francis' meetings this weekend with priests trained by Karadima, as well as some other members of El Bosque, suggest he is trying to better understand the dynamics of a cult-like religious community where the abuse of power and spiritual abuse left lasting damage on victims even if they were not sexually molested.

The Rev. Eugenio de la Fuente, one of former El Bosque priests who has spoken publicly of the abuse of his conscience that he endured, told reporters late Saturday that Francis far exceeded his expectations by listening and consoling the group for over four hours.

The pope, he said, "was admirably empathetic and suffered with my pain." De la Fuente said he left hopeful that the Chilean church could be reformed because "I see he has a complete and profound understanding of the problem and has truly clear ideas for going forward."

The El Bosque scandal is similar to others that have recently roiled the Latin American church, including the Mexico-based Legion of Christ and the Peru-based Sodalitium. All three involved a closed, secretive religious community where a cult of personality grew around a charismatic leader whose demand for obedience and silence enabled him to sexually and psychological abuse his followers.

In a letter this week to Chile's Catholic community, Francis became the first pope to publicly refer to a "culture of abuse and cover-up" in the Catholic Church, suggesting that he is coming around to the view of victims and their advocates that the clerical culture itself is a big part of the problem.

The Rev. Francisco Astaburuaga, who has provided spiritual support to several of Karadima's victims and was part of the meeting Saturday, said he agreed with Francis' assessment in the letter.

"He asked forgiveness in the name of the church," Astaburuaga told reporters. "It was very comforting, and a great sign of humility on the part of the Holy Father to once again ask forgiveness."

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Birdie traffic selfie: Cockatoo inspects traffic camera, wins the web

Published: Friday, June 01, 2018 @ 8:46 AM

VIDEO: Bird Inspects Highway Cam, Goes Viral

A cockatoo is winning the animal internet contest Friday, if there really was such a thing.

Traffic on a road in Cairns, Australia was going smoothly so there was nothing to see, except for the curious cockatoo that was checking out a traffic camera, 9 News reported.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads posted the video to Facebook where it is closing in on a million views within nine hours of being uploaded. 

It may not have been the camera itself that piqued the interest of the cockatoo. 

A bird expert said that it could have actually been looking at itself.

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“If it’s seeing its reflection it may be communicating in some way. They are very social creatures, and they recognize individuals. A lot of them have friendship groups like we do,” Dr. Adrian Gallagher told ABC.net.

And the bird knows where to look for his reflection. Officials told ABC that this specific bird has visited the camera before. 

“Our traffic management operators sometimes have to give the camera a jiggle to make him fly away when he chews on the camera and cables,” a spokesperson told ABC.

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Parking fail: Valet drives Porsche under SUV

Published: Thursday, May 31, 2018 @ 7:47 AM

Valet Crashes Porsche In Front of Hotel

No normal bad day of work will compare to a valet’s bad day in Sydney, Australia.

Imagine being in charge of parking a Porsche Carrera and ending up with this:

The Porsche is the crushed car, wedged under the orange SUV. 

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An eyewitness described what happened, CNN reported

“I saw the valet hit the car in from of a parked position,” Jonathan Bouzaid said. “He must have panicked and hit the accelerator causing the Porsche to go further under the orange car and pushing the white car in to the bollards.”

Bouzaid surmised that the valet didn’t realize how powerful a Porsche can be.

CNN reported that the car can go from 0 to 62 in less than five seconds.

The valet had to be cut from the soft-top luxury sports car, Time reported.

He was physically OK, but the Hyatt hotel’s sales and marketing director said the driver was embarrassed and in shock.

The Porsche had damage to the hood and front bumper and was towed from the scene, Time reported.

Some witnesses said they thought the crash was part of a stunt, 9 News in Australia reported.

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Father of child rescued by ‘Spider-Man’ was shopping, playing Pokémon Go at time of accident

Published: Tuesday, May 29, 2018 @ 11:42 AM

Real-Life “Spider-Man” Rescues Child Dangling From Paris Balcony

Where were the parents of a child who needed rescuing and was saved by a quick-thinking man, now dubbed “Spider-Man”?

French prosecutor Francois Molins says the boy’s father was caring for the 4-year-old while the child’s mother lived on Reunion Island. The boy’s father had gone out shopping Saturday, leaving the child home alone, and ended up playing Pokémon Go after leaving the store, CNN reported.

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Mamoudou Gassama, a migrant from Mali, scaled the outside of the apartment building, climbing up four stories to save the boy who was dangling from the balcony.

Molins told BFM that the father could face two years in prison for abandoning his parental responsibilities. The prosecutor said the man “is devastated by the consequences of his actions.” He also faces a 30,000 Euro fine, which translates to nearly $35,000.

The father will be in court in September, BFM reported.

Meanwhile, Gassama has been honored by French President Emmanuel Macron who met with the now-famous hero.

Avec M. GASSAMA qui a sauvé samedi la vie d’un enfant en escaladant 4 étages à mains nues. Je lui ai annoncé qu’en reconnaissance de cet acte héroïque il allait être régularisé dans les plus brefs délais, et que la brigade des sapeurs-pompiers de Paris était prête à l’accueillir. Je l’ai également invité à déposer une demande de naturalisation. Car la France est une volonté, et M. GASSAMA a démontré avec engagement qu’il l’avait ! - With Mr Gassama who saved a child’s life on Saturday by climbing 4 floors with his bare hands. I told him that in recognition of his heroic act he would have his papers in order as quickly as possible and that the Paris fire brigade would be keen to welcome him to their ranks. I also invited him to submit a naturalization request because France is built on desire and Mr Gassama’s commitment clearly showed that he has that desire!

A post shared by Emmanuel Macron (@emmanuelmacron) on

Macron offered French citizenship to Gassama, who has also been offered a job by the Paris fire brigade, CNN reported.

During the meeting Gassama told Macron about the rescue, “I didn’t think about it. I climbed up and God helped me.”

Gassama has also been contacted by the mayor of Paris, who thanked him for his bravery, CNN reported.

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Could DNA finally prove, disprove Loch Ness Monster’s existence?

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 9:56 AM

Loch Ness Monster: Fact or Fiction?

A scientist from New Zealand may have a way to prove that the Loch Ness Monster is real. 

Neil Gemmell is leading a team that will start testing the body of water for genetic material left behind by the animals that live in the ecosystem, the BBC reported.

His team will be at the site in a few weeks, working to collect small pieces of skin and scales from the lake.

While Gemmell himself doesn’t believe in Nessie’s existence, he said there could be creatures that still haven’t been discovered, the BBC reported.

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“There’s absolutely no doubt that we will find new stuff. And that’s very exciting,” Gemmell told the BBC

“While the prospect of looking for evidence of the Loch Ness monster is the hook to this project, there is an extraordinary amount of new knowledge that we will gain from the work about organisms that inhabit Loch Ness - the UK’s largest freshwater body,” Gemmell explained.

The technique is called eDNA and has been used for tracking marine life, Reuters reported.

The myth of Nessie dates back to the 6th century when Irish monk St. Columba banished a “water beast” to the River Ness, Reuters reported. In 1934, the famous photo dubbed the “surgeon’s photo” was taken. The photo was found to be a hoax six decades later when it was discovered that the creature was, in fact, a toy submarine with a sea monster model attacked.

In 2003, the BBC financed a research project that mapped the entire lake using 600 sonar beams, Reuters reported.

The results of the latest study are expected to be released in January.

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