On Tuesday, the Vatican released its first public tally of priests it has laicized (defrocked) or otherwise sanctioned for sexually abusing children. Over the last 10 years, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said, the Holy See has defrocked 848 priests and otherwise punished another 2,572. These are just the cases handled by the Vatican, not individual diocesan tribunals, so the actual global number of sanctioned priests is higher.
The occasion for this exercise in transparency? Tomasi, the Vatican ambassador to the U.N., was appearing before the U.N. committee overseeing how signatories of the U.N. anti-torture treaty — including the Vatican — are implementing that treaty. The committee is considering trying to classify the rape of minors as torture, a decision that, among other things, could provide another potential avenue for litigation by victims of clergy sex abuse.
The lesser penalties the Vatican hands down to accused priests can include a lifetime of penance and prayer in an isolated facility with no contact with children — a sanction, The Associated Press says, that is typically reserved for elderly or infirm priests. Abuse victims' groups welcomed the new numbers, but said they also want names and locations.
"Given where the church came from — with the pendulum swung squarely to the side of the accused priest whose explanations were almost always believed — this is a move away from that and more toward giving credibility to victims, which is progress," Nicholas Cafardi, a canon lawyer who led the U.S. Catholic bishops' abuse-monitoring board, tells the AP. "Maybe not perfect progress, but progress." Peter Weber
President-elect Donald Trump promised Thursday to bring the country together, and if you're skeptical, just look what he's already done to his hometown's two rival tabloids:
Now this is rare. They match. pic.twitter.com/AKqiYouMWC
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) January 20, 2017
"Don of a New Day" isn't the world's greatest headline pun, but it was apparently irresistible for the editors at the New York Post and New York Daily News, who even chose similar photographs. Next up, Congress? Peter Weber
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were frequent guests on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and to mark their last day in the White House, the host shared a video filled with highlights of their appearances, including a trip to CVS, a push-up challenge, and lots and lots of dancing — both real and computer-generated.
DeGeneres began her tribute by thanking President Obama for changing her life. "I am legally married woman because of him, and so is my wife," she said. "His courage and compassion created equality for everyone. He moved us forward and made more happen in the past eight years than I ever dreamed possible." The montage included clips from a very youthful looking Barack Obama's first visit to the show in 2007 and his meeting with a child presidential expert, plus a very personal Valentine's Day message from POTUS to FLOTUS ("I ObamaCare about you more than you even know"). Watch the touching — and funny — clip below. Catherine Garcia
President-elect Donald Trump was modest at his official inaugural concert on Thursday evening, telling the crowd gathered at the Lincoln Memorial that they had made his election possible: "I had something to do with it, but you had much more to do with it than I did." He said that he and his supporters "all got tired of seeing what was happening and we wanted change, but we wanted real change," adding: "It's a movement like we've never seen anywhere in the world, they say."
The headliners for the concert were Toby Keith, Lee Greenwood, and the band 3 Doors Down, and Trump was seen dancing and fidgeting through the performances. Several big performers had publicly said they turned down invitations to perform, including Elton John, Kiss, and Celine Dion, and Broadway star Jennifer Holliday backed out amid an uproar from her fans. But Trump was upbeat. "This started out tonight being a small, little concert, and then we had the idea, maybe we'll do it in front of the Lincoln Memorial — I don't know if it's ever been done before, but if it has, very seldom," he said. "And the people came by the thousands and thousands, and here we are tonight, all the way back."
Preinaugural concerts at the Lincoln Memorial are actually pretty common for incoming presidents — Presidents Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton all had them — and the crowds at Obama's 2009 Lincoln Memorial concert were notably much bigger. Here's the view from Obama's box in 2009:
And you can see the same view from Trump's box on Thursday, after he walked out to greet the crowd to the music of The Rolling Stones' "Heart of Stone" (which begins: "There's been so many girls that I have known / I've made so many cry, and still I wonder why / Here comes a little girl, I see her walking down the street / She's all by herself, I try to knock her off her feet").
That's not necessarily a knock on Trump. Obama's Lincoln Memorial inaugural concert, after all, included Bruce Springsteen, Beyoncé, Garth Brooks, Jon Bon Jovi, Stevie Wonder, U2, John Mellencamp, Sheryl Crow, James Taylor, and other stars, plus a slew of actors including Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Trump had some celebrity help, too. "This is some day, dear friends," said actor Jon Voight, who went on to tell the crowd that Trump's victory was a sign of divine intervention after "a parade of propaganda that left us all breathless with anticipation, not knowing if God could reverse all the negative lies against Mr. Trump." Peter Weber
Police officers used chemical spray against protesters gathered outside the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Thursday night after they began throwing trash at Donald Trump supporters leaving the "DeploraBall," The Washington Post reports.
Several protesters raised their middle fingers at the supporters, the Post repots, and shouted "racist" and "Nazi." Other protesters were silent — one group projected phrases onto the side of the building, like "Bragging about Grabbing a Woman's Genitals" and "Impeach the Predatory President," and another inflated a giant white elephant with a banner that said "racism." Organizers of the DeploraBall, named after Hillary Clinton's description of some Trump supporters as "deplorable," said they had nothing to do with the white supremacist movement, although rumors swirled across social media that well-known members of the alt-right movement would be attending. Catherine Garcia
On the eve of his inauguration, Donald Trump gave a familiar speech at a dinner for his donors, in which he boasted of breaking records, made jabs at political opponents, and effusively praised his family, including son-in-law Jared Kushner, whom Trump believes will solve all the problems in the Middle East.
Speaking at a candlelight dinner at Union Station in Washington, D.C., Trump called his win a "big victory," claiming "records were set that haven't been beaten since Ronald Reagan." Trump, who won the electoral vote but not the popular, said he believes he "outworked everybody who ever ran for office," and said he's already looking ahead to 2020, when he will "win the old-fashioned way, win because we did so well, because it was so overwhelming the thing that we did."
When discussing his Cabinet selections, Trump said he was a fan of all of them. "There's not a pick that I don't love," he added. "And if there was, I'd tell you right now." There's never been a Cabinet like his before, Trump said, and because of that, "the other side is going absolutely crazy." He singled out several people to thank, including campaign manager Kellyanne Conway — he told her "Thank you, baby, thank you," after calling her "my Kellyanne" — and Kushner, a senior adviser. "If you can't produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can," Trump said. His hair also received a shout out. "It may rain, it may not rain, I don't care, it doesn't matter," he said. "The truth is if it really pours it's okay, because people will realize it's my real hair and that's okay." Catherine Garcia
Izzy went from having one owner to dozens, after she was adopted by the residents of the Brookdale Kingston assisted living community in Tennessee.
Izzy, a 10-year-old mixed breed with vision problems, moved to Brookdale with her owner last fall. Staff and residents quickly became enamored with Izzy, a social dog who enjoyed visiting with people around the building. When Izzy's owner died and family members were not able to take her in, the community quickly came up with a solution. "We realized her home was here with us and so she has stayed," Lesa Fuller, Brookdale Kingston's sales and marketing manager, told WVLT. "She is part of the family here now. The residents always want to know where Izzy is and what she's doing. There's never a shortage of people to pet her." Izzy now spends her days greeting people at the front door, attending parties, and playing with her favorite toy — a rubber chicken. Catherine Garcia
U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been looking at intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a counterintelligence investigation into potential links between Russian officials and at least three of Donald Trump's close associates — former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, and longtime Republican operative Roger Stone, The New York Times reports.
The Times says that while it is unclear if the intercepted communications have anything to do with Trump or his campaign and which Russian officials are involved, the investigation centers at least in part on business dealings. The FBI is leading the multi-agency investigation, revealed Wednesday by the McClatchy news service, and after Trump is inaugurated, he will have the authority to redirect or end some of their efforts; six current and former officials who confirmed the investigation's existence told The Times they were sharing the information because they "feared the new administration would obstruct their efforts."
Manafort and Stone both told the Times they do not have relationships with Russian officials or the government, and Page said he "did nothing wrong, for the 5,000th time." Catherine Garcia