The Vatican envoy who was sent to Chile to gather evidence of sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church said it would be up to Pope Francis to decide on whether to release the report of their findings to the country’s civil authorities.
During a visit in February, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the Vatican’s top sex abuse investigator, conducted interviews with victims to compile a 2,300-page report which he handed to the Pope. It accused Chile’s bishops of “grave negligence” in handling allegations that children had been
abused and said evidence of sex crimes had been destroyed.
Asked if the Vatican would hand over the report or make it public, Scicluna said the “freedom and autonomy” of the Catholic Church should be respected.
“The report is not mine, it belongs to Pope Francis,” he told journalists in Chile’s capital Santiago as he prepared to depart for Rome. “Every demand and petition must be sent to him who as the leader of the church … has jurisdiction.”
The Chilean authorities have said they would request details of the alleged victims and perpetrators of abuse from the Vatican, according to an interview with the national prosecuting authority’s sex crimes chief in the local La Tercera newspaper.
Scicluna announced the creation of a “listening service,” made up of laity and church officials, that would hear further allegations of abuse. He said he had met “hundreds of people” over the past week, and received letters from others.
He said the Church was committed to finding “justice” for the victims through its own channels and through civil law.
“The invitation to recognize and admit the full truth, with all of its painful repercussions and consequences, is the starting point for authentic healing,” he said. “We must have justice for the good of the country and for that of the Church.”
Scicluna’s arrival last week coincided with a growing tide of abuse allegations against the Catholic Church in Chile.
This week, further allegations arose in the southern Chilean cities of Aysen and Temuco that saw clergy suspended and sanctioned, according to statements from the Chilean Church.
Chilean police and prosecutors launched unexpected raids on Church offices last week, seizing documents relating to allegations of abuse.
European Union leaders will try to reassure Germany and Italy over migration at a summit next week as a stand-off in Berlin threatens Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition.
The EU could take steps to stop asylum seekers moving on from the country in which they are registered and start deciding asylum requests at centers to be established beyond EU borders in the future, according to a draft summit statement.
The proposed steps come ahead of the June 28-29 summit in Brussels at which EU leaders will attempt to agree on a joint migration policy three years after more than 1 million people arrived in Europe, causing a crisis for the union.
Their joint draft statement is not public and its wording might change. But it showed the bloc is trying to accommodate a new, anti-establishment government in Italy, as well as Berlin where Merkel’s coalition partner issued an ultimatum for an EU-wide deal on migration.
If the summit fails to reach a satisfactory outcome, Berlin would issue a unilateral ban on refugees already registered in other EU states from entering the country, said the junior governing Christian Social Union that has the interior ministry.
German police data suggest any such ban would only affect several hundred people a month and hence have no big impact on the overall number of refugees in Germany.
The EU border agency Frontex said more than 90 percent of current arrivals in Italy, Greece and Spain register for asylum there. Many still often go north, including to Germany. This “secondary movement” violates EU law but has been widespread.
“Member States should take all necessary internal legislative … to counter such movements,” the text said in an indirect response to German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.
Merkel opposes the proposal that comes from a party facing a tough vote in its home base in Bavaria in October against a resurgent far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has advocated harsh anti-immigration line.
The AfD on Tuesday accused the CSU of copying its ideas on how to deal with the migrant crisis.
French President Emmanuel Macron and Merkel called in a joint statement on Tuesday for a European solution on migration and said secondary movement must be tackled.
Immigration low, tensions high
The EU is bitterly divided over migration. It has struggled to reform its internal asylum rules, which broke down in 2015, and has instead tried to tighten its borders and prevent new arrivals. To that end, it has given aid and money to countries including Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Niger.
Next week, EU leaders will also agree to look into opening “disembarkation platforms” in regions such as north Africa to decide asylum requests before people get to Europe.
European capitals from Rome to Budapest advocate such centres but concerns that processing people outside EU borders could violate the law have long blocked any such initiative.
“Such platforms should provide for rapid processing to distinguish between economic migrants and those in need of international protection, and reduce the incentive to embark on perilous journeys,” the draft statement said.
Italy closed its ports to rescue ships and said it prefers Frontex to work in Africa to prevent people from coming rather than patrol the Mediterranean and rescue those in distressed boats.
Tripoli already runs migrant camps in Libya where the EU pays the U.N. migration and refugee agencies to help resettle people to Europe legally or deport them to other African countries.
But reform of EU internal asylum rules is stuck. Southern and wealthy central states demand that all EU members host some new arrivals but eastern states refuse leading to a stalemate.
In evidence of that division, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Tuesday the CSU demand for internal border checks is unacceptable.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said it would be “very difficult to reach a solution” on hosting asylum seekers next week. There is, however, agreement on strengthening external borders and bringing together the border protection databases.
“So much progress has been made, we can’t let all slip away now. So we need to give key countries something to keep them on board,” one EU official said of the proposed text.
Russia has announced retaliatory measures in response to the U.S. move to impose tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.
Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin said a statement on Tuesday Moscow has decided to apply retaliatory measures in line with the World Trade Organization’s rules to compensate for damage incurred by the U.S. tariffs.
Oreshkin said that additional tariffs will be applied to a range of U.S. imports, but he declined to immediately name them. He added that the tariffs will be applied to the U.S. goods that have domestic equivalents to avoid hurting the national economy.
The European Union, India, China and Russia all have applied to the WTO to challenge the tariffs that took effect March 23. Washington argued they were for national security reasons.
Italy’s new right-wing interior minister Matteo Salvini said his department has to look into “the Roma question” in Italy — a comment the opposition said reminds them of Italian fascism.
Salvini said Monday he wants to take a census of Italy’s Roma population.
“Unfortunately, we will have to keep the Italian Roma because we can’t expel them,” Salvini told Telelombardia television.
Center-left politicians immediately jumped on Salvini’s comments, likening it to ethnic cleansing.
“You can work for security and respect for rules without becoming fascistic,” lawmaker Ettore Rosato tweeted. “The announced census of Roma is vulgar and demagogical.”
But Salvini said he wants to help the Roma, an itinerant ethnic group. He said he wants to know who they are and where they live, and protect Roma children, whose parents he said did not want them to integrate into society.
“We are aiming primarily to care for the children who aren’t allowed to go to school regularly because they prefer to introduce them to a life of crime,” he said.
The interior minister said he has no desire to take fingerprints of the Roma or keep index cards of individuals. He also said he wants to see how European Union funds earmarked to help the Roma are spent.
Many Roma live in camps on the outskirts of Italian cities. They complain of lifelong discrimination, being denied job and educational opportunities.
But officials say many Roma are responsible for petty crimes, such as pickpocketing and theft.
Salvini’s comments about the Roma came a week after Italy refused to let a shipload of migrants dock at an Italian port. Spain gave permission for the ship to dock in its country Sunday.
France’s finance minister promised to cut red tape on companies, open up more financing for them and create incentives for employee profit-sharing under a new bill presented on Monday.
The proposed law is part of President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-business reform drive that has already eased labour laws and cut companies’ and entrepreneurs’ taxes.
“The law’s ultimate objective is more growth and the creation of a new French economic growth model,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters.
Le Maire said that by 2025 the overhaul of French corporate law was expected to boost overall gross domestic product by one percent over the long term.
The new law aims to address one long-standing complaint from business owners about a complex system that imposes new charges in multiple stages as companies increase their workforce.
The bill would simplify the system, Le Maire said, by halving the number of those stages to three — bringing in new charges and obligations when a company has 11, 50 and then 250 employees.
It would also make it easier, cheaper and faster to register a company, giving entrepreneurs a single online platform to replace the current round of seven administrative bodies.
Liquidation of insolvent companies will be sped up so business owners can move on and bankruptcy law will give more power to creditors who have a stake in seeing the firm survive, the minister added.
The government aims to boost the more than 220 billion euros French people currently hold in long-term retirement savings, which it hopes will make more funds available to be invested in companies’ capital.
To do that, employees’ voluntary contributions will largely be made tax-deductible for all types of savings products and they will be able to transfer savings from one money manager to another at no cost, potentially boosting competition, according to a statement on the bill.
The government aims to make profit-sharing much more common in small companies by scrapping charges employers currently have to make on payouts to employees.
Largely because of that measure, the new law is expected to cost the government 1.2 billion euros annually, which Le Maire said would be paid for by planned cuts in subsidies to companies.
The law also sets the stage for several large privatizations with the proceeds already earmarked for a new 10 billion euro innovation fund.
It will in particular lift legal restraints on selling down stakes in airport operator ADP and energy group Engie while allowing the national lottery FDA to be privatized.
While some left-wing and far-right politicians have said the sales amounted to selling the family jewels, Macron’s party has a sufficiently large parliamentary majority to pass the bill with little trouble early next year.
The remains of fascist dictator Francisco Franco could soon be removed from a state-funded mausoleum under a plan by Spain’s new socialist government to transform the monument into a place to remember the civil war rather than glorify the dictatorship.
This would be the latest of a raft of high-profile measures launched by Spain’s new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to cement his power and lure left-wing voters ahead of a general election due by mid-2020.
Sanchez, who toppled his conservative predecessor Mariano Rajoy in a confidence vote last month, controls less than a quarter of the seats in parliament.
“The decision about exhuming Franco’s remains is quite clear,” Oscar Puente, a senior member of the socialist party who is close to Sanchez, told a news conference.
The civil war still casts a shadow over the country nearly eight decades after its end. Lack of accountability for the war has left wounds unhealed, and pressure has grown to turn the site into a memorial honoring those who died on both sides.
Puente said the government’s plans were to transform the state-funded Valley of the Fallen mausoleum into “a place of recognition and memory of all Spaniards.”
The 150-meter cross of the monument, built by prisoners of war, towers over the Guadarrama Sierra, a mountain range just outside Madrid.
Opened by Franco himself in 1959, the Valley houses a Catholic basilica set into a hillside, where the founder of Spain’s fascist Falange party, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, is also interred. It has long been a site of pilgrimage for far-right groups in Spain.
The conservative People’s Party has opposed attempts to exhume Franco’s body when they were in power, saying it would only stir up painful memories more than four decades after his death and nearly 80 years after the end of the war.
The Spanish parliament, however, passed a motion last year to remove Franco’s remains as well as those of tens of thousands of other people buried at the mausoleum.
Many of those interred there fought for the losing Republican side and were moved to the monument under Franco’s dictatorship without their families’ permission.