Opinion & Community

‘Rescue operation’ for Maute parents not farfetched — BJMP

By Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star)

 

Photo: BJMP Director Serafin Barretto Jr. confirmed the threat of a possible “rescue operation” for Cayamora Maute and his first wife Ominta Romato, alias Farhana, who are under BJMP custody in Taguig City. File

MANILA, Philippines - The Maute terror group may spring from detention the parents of its leaders Omar and Abdullah Maute, who led the Marawi City siege on May 23, the Bureau of Jail Management of Penology (BJMP) disclosed yesterday.

BJMP Director Serafin Barretto Jr. confirmed the threat of a possible “rescue operation” for Cayamora Maute and his first wife Ominta Romato, alias Farhana, who are under BJMP custody in Taguig City.

Barretto did not provide details for security reasons.

He assured the public that the BJMP is capable of thwarting attempts to get the Maute couple out of jail.

Baretto said the couple is being treated humanely despite being the parents of bandits who caused massive damage in Marawi.

“Mas masuwerte pa nga sila kasi nandun sila sa isang lugar na maluwag at bago (They are even luckier because they are in a spacious and new place),” the BJMP chief said.

“Actually, BJMP is only in charge of safekeeping and of course we will protect them while under our custody (and monitor) especially their health and I believe, I would like to give everyone an assurance, especially their relatives that they are safe,” Barretto said.

On June 6, the Maute patriarch was apprehended at a checkpoint in Sirawan, Toril, Davao City while on board a Toyota Grandia van.

Arresting officers said they stopped the van when they noticed one of them was wearing a surgical mask and bore a resemblance to Cayamora, who was with his driver, Aljon Ismael, his other wife Kongan Alfonso Balawag, their daughter Norjannah, who was with her husband, Benzarali Tingao.

On June 9, Farhana was apprehended in the town of Masiu in Lanao del Sur, along with two other wounded family members and seven other unidentified females.

After their arrest, authorities brought the couple one after the other from Mindanao to the BJMP facility in Taguig City.

Farhana was spotted in Marawi on the first day of the clashes between government troops and Islamic State-inspired bandits, prompting authorities to include her among those facing rebellion charges.

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‘Marawi siege derailed deadline to defeat terror groups’

By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star)

Photo: The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) admitted the fighting in Marawi had upset its timetable in the campaign against terrorism. AP/Aaron Favila, File

MANILA, Philippines - The fighting in Marawi City derailed the goal of the military to defeat the Abu Sayyaf and other terror groups by June 30.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) admitted the fighting in Marawi had upset its timetable in the campaign against terrorism.

However, the AFP said the battle will be won and significant accomplishments during the last six months showed it is on the right track in the fight against terror groups.

“We have neutralized 519 terrorists (including 178 Abu Sayyaf and 317 Maute) since Jan. 1 until June 30, 2017,” AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año said.

Año said the AFP also recovered a total of 548 firearms, which reflects a significant reduction of the enemy’s strength and capabilities, and prevented or minimized piracy and kidnappings.

“The desperation of Maute-ASG to claim recognition as an ISIS state prompted them to stage the rebellion and occupy Marawi City. These acts have derailed our objective to defeat them based on our timeline,” Año said.

Año though emphasized that while the Marawi siege is catastrophic, painstaking and destructive, the AFP will prevail in the end.

He said the military would not be pressured nor bound by timelines or deadlines, adding President Duterte has given orders to finish off the Maute group and clear Marawi of terrorists to pave the way for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the war-torn city.

“We will do this with highest dignity and code of conduct of the professional soldier; and respect to human rights for our country, for the people and for our soldier heroes who ultimately gave their lives for this cause,” Año assured. – With Ben Serrano

 

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Pain in Brisbane

By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star)

Photo: Manny Pacquiao trades blows with Jeff Horn during their title fight in Brisbane, Australia yesterday. AFP

Horn stuns Pacman; retirement or rematch mulled

BRISBANE – Australian challenger Jeff Horn turned “Sunday Bloody Sunday” into one of boxing’s greatest upsets as he shocked Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao to win the WBO welterweight belt before over 50,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium here.

All three judges had Horn winning the bout, the biggest in Australian boxing history, 117-111, 115-113, 115-113. In the eyes of the judges, it was unanimous.

Pacquiao climbed the ring as the heavy favorite, and sought to score his first knockout win in nearly eight years. Instead, he took a loss, his seventh against 59 wins and two draws.

It was his fourth defeat in his last nine fights. And it’s one that should remain at the back of his mind, and raise questions on whether or not it’s time to call it a day.

Unless there’s a change of plan, Pacquiao will fly home to General Santos City today.

Neither boxer went down, and while Pacquiao was rocked a few times by Horn’s uppercuts and big rights, it was Horn who seemed on the verge of going down in the ninth.

Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, had told reporters here a few days ago that if Pacquiao won the fight but struggled, he may have to ask his favorite boxer if it’s time to step down.

Michael Koncz, ring adviser, said if Pacquiao failed to be impressive against Horn or was unable to score a knockout, they would have to talk about retirement.

Everything is now up in the air.

Nothing is definite as of Sunday here in cold Brisbane although inside the ring, just moments after the bloody war, there were early talks of a rematch.

It was stipulated in the contract that if Horn won, Pacquiao would get a rematch.

“Yeah, that’s fine,” said Horn, his voice filling the entire stadium that had never seen a crowd this big.

“Absolutely. No problem,” said Pacquiao, the smaller fighter.

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Roach says Manny was short-changed

By Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star)

 

Photo: Pacquiao and Roach in the dugout after the fight. Joaquin Henson

BRISBANE – Hall of Fame boxing coach Freddie Roach said Manny Pacquiao was short-changed by the judges and referee Mark Nelson failed to keep order in the ring as Jeff Horn brawled his way to a unanimous 12-round decision in wresting the WBO welterweight crown at the Suncorp Stadium here yesterday.

Roach was particularly critical of judges Waleska Roldan, Chris Flores and Ramon Cerdan who scored the ninth round, 10-9 for Pacquiao despite dominating Horn and nearly prompting a stoppage. Roach said that should’ve been 10-8 even without a knockdown. The beating that Pacquiao administered was so severe that Nelson told Horn before the start of the next round, he would stop the fight unless the Australian showed signs of recovery.

Roach said “something’s wrong” when in nearly every round, Horn clamped a headlock on Pacquiao when they got close without receiving a single warning. He also wondered why Nelson never reprimanded Horn for elbowing, hitting during the break and brushing the back side of his glove on Pacquiao’s face. Under the rules, a fighter who resorts to dirty tricks is warned or slapped a point deduction or even disqualified for malicious intent with dire consequence. Pacquiao was butted twice on both sides of his head, spewing crimson that smeared his face.

Despite Horn’s roughhousing tactics, he was never warned, much less given a deduction. Roach said Nelson had no control of the fight. Horn’s strategy was to closet Pacquiao and restrict his movement so he wouldn’t be able to use his speed and lateral movement. If Horn was restrained by Nelson as he should’ve been, Pacquiao would’ve had an easy time picking his shots.

Roach said it’s hard to score a fight from the corner. “I’m too close to what’s happening so I don’t get a wide view of the action but I think Manny won the fight by two or three rounds,” he said. “Give credit to Horn for being a durable fighter. He did what he had to do to try to win. Horn came to fight and why not? It was his big chance to win the world title in front of his countrymen.”

Roach said after Pacquiao almost knocked out Horn in the ninth, he asked for another dominant round to seal it. “I told Manny to use distance and combinations,” he said. “In the ninth, he rocked Horn with combinations. You won’t take him out with one punch. I wanted another round like that. Somehow, Manny couldn’t do it again. I don’t think he ran out of gas. It’s just that the other guy wouldn’t slow down.”

Sportshub ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Pacquiao’s conditioning coach Justin Fortune called Nelson an “idiot” for not doing his job. “I don’t even know who he is and where those judges came from,” he said. “I knew it would be tough winning in Australia over an Australian. You’ve got to beat the hell of a guy to win. I thought Manny won the fight but I would’ve been happy with a draw.”

Fortune, who is Australian, said he’ll fly to Los Angeles today to be with his wife Tamara who expects to deliver twins on Aug. 4 and he can’t wait. They’ve been together for five years. “Our first kids,” he said. “I’ll fly my mum over from Australia when Tamara gives birth.”

As for Roach, he’s also headed back to Los Angeles today. Initially, Roach planned to fly to Los Angeles then relieve chief assistant Marvin Somodio in working WBA cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev’s title defense against Australian Mark Flanagan in Ekaterinburg, Russia, this weekend. Roach said Somodio will stay with Lebedev for the fight while he starts training Miguel Cotto who reports to the Wild Card Gym today for his first day of camp. Cotto is getting ready to face Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamega for the vacant WBO superwelterweight belt at the StubHub Center in Carson City, California, on Aug. 26. Roach said he assigned one of his trainers Ernie Zavala to take care of Cotto while he’s in transit.

Roach said he’ll sit down with Pacquiao soon, review the fight with Horn then decide whether or not to continue boxing. “Retiring is an option,” he said. “It will depend on how we review the fight. If Manny decides to do a rematch, we’ll do it. Maybe, in a place like New Zealand. Now that Manny’s in the Senate, the work is more demanding and he’s very hands-on. The work he’s doing is very important not just to him but also to the country. If he decides to continue fighting, he’ll need to free up some time for his training.”

DEAD ON ARRIVAL | Cops use hospitals to hide drug war killings

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Davao traders back Lacson’s call to scrap peace talks with Reds

By Lilybeth G. Ison, Philippine News Agency


Photo: The Lapanday Foods Corp. box plant in Mandug, Davao City burning after an attack by the NPA. (file photo from Kilab Multimedia)

MANILA, Philippines — Davao traders are backing Senator Panfilo Lacson’s call to put off peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines until the insurgents prove their sincerity.

Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. president Ronald Go and Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association president Alexander Valoria, in a joint statement on Friday, appealed to the government to heed Lacson’s call and take into account the damage inflicted by the rebels on Mindanao’s businesses.

“We agree with Senator Lacson and join his call for the government to scrap its peace negotiations with the NDF. Unless the NDF and its armed group on the ground can show that it is sincere in pursuing genuine peace, it would be useless and futile to keep on talking,” said Valoria.

“Treachery and betrayal have no place on the peace table,” Go said. “The continuing atrocities of the NPA prove that there is no central communist leadership that is capable of pursuing genuine peace with the government.”

“If that is the case then Senator Lacson is right to advise the government to hold off negotiations with the NDF,” he added.

Lacson made his suggestion following the June 18 NPA raid on the police station of Massin town in Iloilo, from which rebels seized several firearms without firing a shot.

The raid happened as the government and NDFP issued statements on their willingness to observe a truce in Mindanao to allow the military to focus on ending the crisis in Marawi City.

While the NPA raid did not happen was not in Mindanao, Malacanang described it as “opportunistic in nature.”

Valoria also asked government to review a recent directive for security agencies to surrender their high-powered firearms to the Philippine National Police.

“We are respectfully appealing to authorities to review this recent directive as we are left at the mercy of the NPA and other lawless elements which, in most cases, are now able to carry out their attacks using high-powered guns,” he said.

Valoria said PBGEA members operate banana and pineapple farms in areas that are infested with NPA insurgents “and it is precisely the presence of our high powered firearms that deter the NPA from attacking us.”

“This has been proven in the past. The NPA will laugh at our shotguns and pistols as they can now easily overrun our facilities. Without a chance to defend ourselves, many may see that there is no other choice but to pay the NPAs revolutionary tax,” he lamented.

He also welcomed other government initiatives such as the training of militia units to augment security forces.

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Germany set for snap gay marriage vote

 

 

 

 

Photo: A balloon chain in rainbow colours is seen in front of the Reichstag building housing the German parliament as activists of the LGBT movement demonstrate against homophobia. Photo: 17 May 2017Image copyrightDPA

The reform would give gay men and lesbians full marital rights
German MPs are expected to vote to legalise same-sex marriage, days after Chancellor Angela Merkel dropped her opposition to the idea.
The reform would give gay men and lesbians full marital rights, and allow them to adopt children.
At present, German same-sex couples are limited to civil unions.
On Monday Mrs Merkel, who previously opposed a vote on gay marriage, said she would allow MPs from her CDU party to "follow their conscience".
How did Merkel prompt the vote?
During her 2013 election campaign, Angela Merkel argued against gay marriage on the grounds of "children's welfare," and admitted that she had a "hard time" with the issue.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: 29 June 2017Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

 


Mrs Merkel says she had a "life-changing experience" when she met a lesbian couple who cared for eight foster children
But at an event hosted by the women's magazine "Brigitte" on 26 June, she shocked the German media by announcing on stage that she had noted other parties' support for it, and would allow a free vote in the future.
The usually-cautious chancellor said she had had a "life-changing experience" in her home constituency, where she had dinner with a lesbian couple who cared for eight foster children together.
As the news spread on Twitter, supporters rallied under the hashtag #EheFuerAlle (MarriageForAll) - and started calling for a vote as soon as possible.
Will the vote pass?
Yes, with strong cross-party support it is expected to.
A recent survey by the government's anti-discrimination agency found that 83% of Germans are in favour of marriage equality.
The day after the Republic of Ireland voted to legalise gay marriage in May 2015, almost every German newspaper splashed a rainbow across its front page.
"It's time, Mrs Merkel" Green party leader Katrin Goering-Eckhart exclaimed then. "The Merkel faction cannot just sit out the debate on marriage for everyone."
Why is this happening now?
Because of an upcoming general election.
Germans go to the polls on 24 September, and the sudden Merkel turnaround will deprive her opponents of a campaign issue.
The Greens, the far-left Linke, and the pro-business Free Democrats all back same-sex marriage. In fact, they have refused to enter a future coalition deal unless reform is agreed on.
Mrs Merkel's current coalition partners - the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) - have done the same.
The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) is now the only party to oppose same-sex marriage.
Conservatives within Mrs Merkel's party, the Christian Democrats (CDU), are against a change in the law, however.
They have argued that a gay marriage bill would require a change to the constitution, and that marriage between a man and a woman should enjoy special protection.
The CDU's Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), has also expressed opposition.
Its members champion "traditional" families - and pragmatist Mrs Merkel needs their votes in the September election.
Commentators say this partly explains why she has rejected a vote on marriage equality until now.
How did Merkel's opponents react?
Amid a groundswell of public support for a vote, Mrs Merkel's rivals have moved to capitalise politically.
A day after her comments, the SDP's candidate for the chancellorship Martin Schulz declared - "we will take her at her word," and called for an immediate vote.
The Greens and Linke promptly backed the prospect.
The CDU responded by condemning the SDP, its coalition partner, for its "breach of trust" after four years of joint rule.
The angry exchange came just days after Mr Schulz angered conservatives by accusing Mrs Merkel of an "attack on democracy", saying she was deliberately making politics boring so that opposition supporters wouldn't bother to vote.
Has the vote been politicised?
On Wednesday, Mrs Merkel branded the political dispute "totally unnecessary" in an interview with business weekly Wirtschafts Woche (in German)..
"This isn't about some legislative footnote, but... a decision that touches on people's deepest convictions and on marriage, a cornerstone of our society", she said.
Die Welt, a German national daily agreed.
"This could have been a great moment for Germany's parliament. But the CDU/CSU have been forced into a corner and all the joy has been drained," it wrote.
Where else in Europe has same-sex marriage?
A host of European countries have beaten Germany to a same-sex marriage law.
Civil marriages are legally recognised in Norway, Sweden, Denmark (excluding the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, France, the UK (except Northern Ireland and Jersey), and the Republic of Ireland.
But in Austria and Italy - as in Germany - gay couples are restricted to civil partnerships.-BBC

Duterte’s quotable year as Philippine president

Agence France-Presse 


Photo: President Rodrigo Duterte speaks to the Filipino community in Singapore on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016.AP FILE PHOTO

With abusive tirades against critics and light-hearted comments about rape, Rodrigo Duterte cemented himself as one of the world’s most outspoken leaders during his first year as Philippine president.

As Duterte marks one year in office on Friday, here are some of his more memorable remarks:

Hitler

 

“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

Duterte in full roar over his quest to end illegal drugs in society. His crackdown led to police and unknown assailants killing thousands of alleged drug users and addicts. Rights groups warned he may be overseeing a crime against humanity.

After criticism from Jewish groups, Duterte apologized for referring to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler but said he was “emphatic” about wanting to kill millions of addicts.

READ: Duterte ‘Hitler’ talk reaps international censure

Respect

“You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. You son of a whore, I will curse you at that forum.”

Duterte warns then-US president Barack Obama not to criticize his drug war at a regional summit in Laos that they were about to attend.

America has lost

“In this shifting of political and cultural thing, America has lost it. I mean, I realigned myself in your (China’s) ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia.”

On a trip to Beijing, Duterte articulates his disdain for the United States — the Philippines’ mutual defense partner — and fondness for China and Russia.

READ: Duterte announces military, economic split with US

Bad karma

“It is your karma when your churches got destroyed. You know why God destroys the churches? To show you that you are not deserving of his mercy.”

Referring to centuries-old Catholic churches in the central Philippines that were damaged in a powerful earthquake in 2013. It was one of many attacks by Duterte on the dominant Roman Catholic Church, which openly criticized the drug war killings.

More bad karma

“Look how they slant it! I don’t know how but someday, I am not trying to frighten you but someday, karma will come for you.”

Duterte threatens the owners of a major newspaper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which had critically reported on his anti-drug campaign.

READ: Inquirer reacts to Duterte’s accusation of ‘slanted’ reports

Before becoming president, Duterte said some corrupt journalists deserved to die.

I’ll eat your liver

“Give me vinegar and salt and I’ll eat you. It’s true. Make me angry, give me a terrorist, give me salt and vinegar and I’ll eat your liver.”

Duterte warns Islamist militants that he can exceed them in savagery.

Rape

“Leave it to me. I will be imprisoned for you. If you rape three (women), I will say I did it.”

Part of a speech to soldiers to boost their morale after imposing martial law across the southern third of the Philippines in an effort to contain rampaging Islamic militants.

Duterte later said his rape remark was “sarcasm”, not a joke.

How do you feel?

“When your father, the president of the United States, was screwing Lewinsky and the girls in the White House, how did you feel? Did you slam your father?”

Duterte responds to Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former US president Bill Clinton after she criticized his rape remark. Duterte made his reference to Clinton’s acknowledged affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, during a nationally televised speech to naval officers and their children.

 

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Vatican Sex Abuse Scandal Reveals Blind Spot for Francis

By JASON HOROWITZ and LAURIE GOODSTEIN/NY TIMES


Photo: Cardinal George Pell, at the Vatican on Thursday, said he would return to Australia to defend himself. Credit Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis came to power promising not only to create a more inclusive church and to clean up an ossified Vatican bureaucracy, but also to remove the stain of child sex abuse.

A global pedophilia scandal plagued his two immediate processors. With Francis’s election in 2013, many expected progress. Francis talked about powerful committees to safeguard children, tribunals to try bishops and a “zero tolerance” policy for offending priests.

It hasn’t exactly worked out that way.

On Thursday, the Vatican announced that Francis had granted a leave of absence to Cardinal George Pell, now the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate to be formally charged with sexual offenses, and one the pope had brought into his inner circle even as a cloud of allegations swirled over the cardinal in Australia.

“We talked about my need to take leave to clear my name,” Cardinal Pell, 76, stone-faced in simple black cleric’s clothes, said as he sat next to the Vatican’s spokesman and reiterated his innocence. “So I’m very grateful to the Holy Father for giving me this leave to return to Australia.”

 

It was unusual and jarring, bad news for a pontificate that has mostly bathed in global adoration and done wonders to improve the public image of the church.

But for all of Francis’s good works, good will and popularity, disappointed critics saw Cardinal Pell’s removal as only the latest evidence that a pope who has focused the world’s attention on issues from climate change to peace on earth has his own blind spot when it comes to sex abuse in his ranks.

“What happened today clearly demonstrates that the revolution of Francis in the church, when it comes to the issue of sex abuse, is in name only, and not in deeds,” said Emiliano Fittipaldi, an Italian journalist and the author of “Lust,” a book published this year about sex abuse in the Vatican that begins with a chapter about Cardinal Pell.

He said that despite the pope’s talk, “the fight against pedophilia is not a priority for Francis.”

Some have long questioned why Francis brought Cardinal Pell to Rome in 2014 in the first place, charging that he had offered the prelate an escape hatch just as the Australian Royal Commission examining institutional responses to child sexual abuse had begun its work in earnest.

At the very least, the choice seemed to demonstrate that the pope’s determination to dismantle the power hierarchies of the Roman Curia, which he had hoped Cardinal Pell could help him with, was a greater priority and had led him to overlook warning signs.

Despite serious ideological differences, Francis handpicked the arch-conservative Cardinal Pell to lead his Secretariat for the Economy, bringing him to Rome to use his well regarded financial acumen to clean up the church’s muddied finances. Right away, Cardinal Pell acknowledged that “hundreds of millions of euros” had been “tucked away” off the Vatican’s books.

Pope Francis then brought Cardinal Pell onto his powerful Council of Cardinals, a nine-person group that wields enormous power in the Curia. The Australian’s brashness made him enemies among entrenched Vatican officials who took his calls for financial transparency as a threat to their power.

Even as Cardinal Pell struggled to improve one aspect of the church’s image, he came with a separate cloud of scandal. The Australian Royal Commission found more than four thousand people who alleged they had been sexually abused in the church as children.

Cardinal Pell testified that he had made “enormous mistakes” in failing to remove priests accused of abuse when he served as archbishop of Melbourne, and then Sydney.

But if the Pope was displeased with Cardinal Pell, it was not publicly evident.

When allegations that Cardinal Pell had been an abuser himself began leaking into the Australian press, and when he testified for hours to the Royal Commission in February 2016 via video link from a Rome hotel, the cardinal insisted that he had “the full backing of the pope.”

Victims rights groups generally see the pontificate of John Paul II as a disaster with respect to sex abuse in the church, as he presided over vast cover-ups and a period of little accountability.

His successor, Pope Benedict, who read many of the ghastly reports during his time as the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, made key policy changes to protect children and hold priests accountable for abuse. But he largely left bishops untouched.

Francis initially raised expectations that he would be more serious than his predecessors about rooting out abusers and demanding accountability.

Nine months after he became pope, he created a commission of outside experts to advise the church on how to protect children and prevent abuse.

Skeptics pointed out that the commission was announced in the midst of hearings by a United Nations panel in Geneva that subjected the Vatican to blistering criticism over the handling of sexual abuse cases.

The commission initially included two survivors of sexual abuse who had been openly critical of the church. Since then, one was forced out and the other left, with both saying the Vatican had failed to follow through on its promises.

Pope Francis acted on the commission’s proposal to create a tribunal to discipline bishops who covered up abuse — but then dispensed with the tribunal when it hit resistance within the Vatican.

The pope later issued an edict, titled “As a Loving Mother,” saying that the Vatican already had all the offices necessary to investigate and discipline negligent bishops, and would do so. But no discipline or sanctions have ever been announced.

“Pope Francis has a lot of explaining to do,” said the Rev. James E. Connell, a priest in Milwaukee, a canon lawyer, and a founding member of Catholic Whistleblowers, a group of priests, nuns and others who advocate for victims. “He sets up these things and then kills them and doesn’t follow through. And these are all matters of justice.”

Father Connell said the group had sent files of documents to Pope Francis and the Vatican on three American bishops the group accused of particularly egregious cover-ups of child abuse, and heard nothing back.

Pope Francis’ focus on mercy as a central teaching may also be a blind spot, Father Connell said. “We hear a lot from the pope about mercy, and fine, we hope the Lord is merciful. But at the same time, justice must be rendered,” he said.

Marie Collins, one of the two survivors who served on the commission that Francis created, said in a blog post on Thursday that it was already clear that Cardinal Pell was guilty of the “appalling mishandling” of priests who abused children while he served as a bishop.

She said Cardinal Pell should have stepped down from his Vatican position long ago, even before he faced charges of sexual offenses.

“He should never have been allowed to hide out in the Vatican to avoid having to face those in his home country who needed answers,” she wrote, adding that Cardinal Pell’s case has shown “how little reliance we can put on assurances from the Catholic Church that bishops and religious superiors will face sanctions if they mishandle abuse cases.”

Francis also provoked outrage when he appointed as bishop Juan Barros, an acolyte of Chile’s most infamous serial abuser connected to the church — the Rev. Fernando Karadima. Bishop Barros stood by Father Karadima, who was tried and found guilty by the Vatican and was forced to retire.

Then Francis stood firmly by Bishop Barros when priests and parishioners disrupted his installation ceremony and wrote letters pleading with the pope to rescind the appointment. Francis was later caught on videotape in Rome calling the Chileans who objected to the bishop “stupid” and “leftists.”

Advocates of sex abuse victims were affronted once again in February when, in keeping with his vision for a more merciful church, he reduced sanctions against some priests convicted of pedophilia. The Vatican has also been criticized as retreating into a bunker mentality when accusations were made against its own.

“It is important to recall that Cardinal Pell has openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable acts of abuse committed against minors,” the Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke, said on Thursday after Cardinal Pell read his statement.

He added, “the Holy Father, who has appreciated Cardinal Pell’s honesty during his three years at work in the Roman Curia, is grateful for his collaboration.”

Jason Horowitz reported from the Vatican, and Laurie Goodstein from New York.

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