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Pope cuts penalties for paedophile priests – including one let off with just a lifetime of prayer for abusing five young boys

  • Pope Francis said to be applying his vision of a ‘merciful church’ to sex offenders 
  • He reduced sentence for Rev Mauro Inzoli from defrocking to lifetime of prayer 
  • But Vatican spokesman said abusive priests are also removed from the ministry

Pope Francis has been slammed by church officials and sex abuse survivors for cutting penalties for paedophile priests.

The Pope is said to be applying his vision of a ‘merciful church’ to sex offenders by reducing punishments to weaker sentences, such as a lifetime of prayer and penance.

It has been revealed by church officials that Pope Francis overruled advice given to him by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about two priests  – allowing them to be punished by a lifetime of prayer.

One of the priests was the Reverend Mauro Inzoli, who was found guilty of abusing young boys by the Vatican in 2012 and was ordered to be defrocked.

However, he appealed, and in 2014 Francis reduced the penalty to a lifetime of prayer, prohibiting him from celebrating Mass in public or being near children, barring him from his diocese and ordering five years of psychotherapy.

Rev Inzoli was then convicted by an Italian criminal court for his sex crimes against five children as young as 12.

He is now facing a second church trial after new evidence emerged against him.

A church official has said some paedophile priests and their high-ranking friends appealed to Pope Francis by citing the pope’s own words about mercy in their petitions.

They said: ‘With all this emphasis on mercy … he is creating the environment for such initiatives.’

Marie Collins, an abuse survivor and founding member of Francis’ sex-abuse advisory commission, expressed dismay that the congregation’s recommended penalties were being weakened.

She said: ‘All who abuse have made a conscious decision to do so. Even those who are paedophiles, experts will tell you, are still responsible for their actions. They can resist their inclinations.’

Many canon lawyers and church authorities argue that defrocking paedophiles can put society at greater risk because the church no longer exerts control over them.

They argue that keeping the men in restricted ministry, away from children, enables superiors to exert some degree of supervision.

But Ms Collins said the church must also take into account the message that reduced canonical sentences sends to both survivors and abusers.

‘While mercy is important, justice for all parties is equally important,’ she said.

‘If there is seen to be any weakness about proper penalties, then it might well send the wrong message to those who would abuse.’

Comparatively, his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, rarely granted clemency petitions and defrocked 800 priests, who had raped and molested children, during his eight-year papacy.

According to the church official, Pope Francis also ordered three staffers to be dismissed – two of whom worked for the discipline section that handles sex abuse cases.

But Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said they will be replaced and staffing is set to be strengthened after the Pope approved hiring more officials.

He said: ‘The speed with which cases are handled is a serious matter and the Holy Father continues to encourage improvements in this area.’

He also dispelled rumours that sex-abuse cases would no longer be handled by the congregation, saying the strengthened office would handle all submitted cases.

Mr Burke added the Pope’s emphasis on mercy applied to ‘even those who are guilty of heinous crimes’ and priests who are found to be abusers are permanently removed from the ministry but are not necessarily defrocked.

He said: ‘The Holy Father understands that many victims and survivors can find any sign of mercy in this area difficult, but he knows that the Gospel message of mercy is ultimately a source of powerful healing and of grace.’

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Robert Agostinelli’s Response to “Trump’s New Start With Russia May Prove Better Than Obama’s” by John Bolton.

Trump’s New Start With Russia May Prove Better Than Obama’s The new president’s reported disdain for his predecessor’s arms deal is an encouraging sign Media tittle-tattle about President Trump’s telephone calls with foreign counterparts received new fuel last week after details leaked of a conversation with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The usual anonymous sources alleged that when Mr. Putin raised the 2010 New Start arms-control treaty, Mr. Trump asked his aides what it covered—and then, once briefed, declared it to be one of those bad Obama deals he planned to renegotiate. If so, Mr. Trump got the treaty right. From America’s perspective, New Start is an execrable deal, a product of Cold War nostrums about reducing nuclear tensions. Arms-control treaties, properly conceived and drafted, should look like George W. Bush’s 2002 Treaty of Moscow: short (three pages), with broad exit ramps and sunset provisions. Although President Obama had considerable help from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in this diplomatic failure, Russia was hardly blameless. Moscow subsequently exploited the treaty’s weaknesses to rebuild and modernize its arsenal of nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles, while Mr. Obama stood idly by. Republican senators opposed New Start’s ratification, 26-13 (three of them didn’t vote), as did 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Mr. Trump’s remarks are therefore squarely in the party’s mainstream. Not so, however, are some of Mr. Trump’s comments—or at least the inferences drawn from them—on Mr. Putin’s political and military adventurism in Europe. Many Republicans worry that, rather than strengthening the international economic sanctions imposed on Russia for its belligerent incursions into eastern Ukraine and its 2014 annexation of Crimea, Mr. Trump may reduce or rescind sanctions entirely. This apparent difference is no small matter. Legislation to codify the existing sanctions is pending in Congress. It has overwhelming—most analysts think veto-proof—bipartisan support. Commentators wonder whether the remarkable Republican solidarity on Mr. Trump’s cabinet nominations might be shattered if Russia policy is the first area in which the new administration faces off with the Republican congressional majorities. The sanctions on Russia for its interference in Ukraine are already under assault in Europe: Germany, France and others appear close to succumbing to their apparently hard-wired inclination to sacrifice geostrategic imperatives for economic ones. Elections across the Continent this year may produce results even more favorable to Moscow (possibly, in part, because of Russian meddling). By contrast, the Baltic republics and other NATO members in Eastern and Central Europe are alarmed that Russia’s adventurism would increase if its Ukraine aggression were brushed aside and sanctions lifted. Yet amid the breathless press accounts about Mr. Trump’s purported fancy for Mr. Putin, one thing is clear: The Trump administration’s policy toward, and even its strategic assessment of, Russia is still under construction. Most important, if the substance of Mr. Trump’s comments on New Start was accurately reported, it shows him resisting items on Mr. Putin’s wish list, and not for the first time. Mr. Trump has, for example, unequivocally opposed Mr. Obama’s Iran nuclear deal. On Feb. 1, National Security Adviser Mike Flynn put Iran “on notice” that the deal was on life support. New U.S. sanctions against Iran underlined the point. The White House is reportedly considering listing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, which should have been done decades ago. Such a move would have a significant political and economic effect on Moscow’s military-industrial complex, particularly Rosoboronexport, its international arms-sales agency. Washington should be also push back against Russia’s inserting itself militarily and politically into the Middle East by using the Syria conflict as a wedge. While Ukraine may seem an unrelated issue, it is not. Moscow’s diplomatic efforts to “solve” the Syrian conflict are in substantial part an effort to “help” Europe with the Syrian refugee problem, providing yet another inducement to wobbly Europeans to roll back sanctions. Any perceived American weakness on the sanctions would embolden Russian efforts to further penetrate the Middle East, increasing the dangerous, destabilizing effects of Moscow’s tacit alliance with Iran. Significantly, Mr. Trump has said he doesn’t know what his relationship with Mr. Putin will ultimately be, and he must surely recognize that national interests, not personal chemistry, underlie great-power foreign policies. America doesn’t sacrifice its national-security bottom line just because a foreign leader “may smile, and smile.” So let’s raise our glasses to Mr. Trump’s disdain for New Start, not to mention the Iran nuclear deal, and hope for more of the same. The new president ought to strengthen the sanctions, reassure NATO allies (while juicing them to meet their commitments on military spending), and then have coffee with Vlad. Negotiate only from positions of strength. Response to “Trump’s New Start With Russia May Prove Better Than Obama’s” by John Bolton. Ambassador Bolton once again demonstrates a lucidity and clear minded even handed thinking that we have come to expect. His description of the albatross known chillingly as “New Start” could not be more on point. The Obama/Clinton team had their pocket and emotions picked by Putin. In a duel between serial liars, Russia has exploited the gaping holes in this most amateurish agreement to modernise and escalate their weapons stockpile while ours have continued to regress and decay. Whereas Trump has sought a spirit of solidarity with our brave Eastern European allies, the Obama crew left them exposed to Putin’s wrath. The discipline of our support must be reasserted. As for Iran and this is even more monstrous agreement, the sooner it is reneged the better. Sanctions should be applied not only to the IRG but asserted against any move by any European who would conduct business with this rogue regime. Until and unless we affirm peace through strength and place American interests first we will be vulnerable to the encroachment of these equally diabolical forces. Robert F. Agostinelli Palm Beach , Florida

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