The week at a glance ... Europe
BrusselsMassive bailout: European Union governments this week announced a massive $1 trillion loan fund to ensure that their common currency, the euro, doesn’t collapse because of Greece’s debt crisis. The euro countries’ economies are highly interdependent because their banks and pension funds have bought up bonds issued by one another’s governments. Analysts worried that if heavily indebted Greece went bankrupt, other indebted countries that use the euro, notably Spain and Portugal, could follow. But it was unclear whether the announcement of the fund—intended to offer loans to any euro country that needs them—would restore confidence in the euro. Unless the euro-zone nations deal with their “underlying structural problems,” especially their massive deficits, said financial analyst Michael Hewson, “the bailout package merely kicks the can down the road.”
Vatican CityPope accepts blame: In his strongest statement yet on the global sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI said the church has to accept blame for the molestation and rape of thousands of children by priests. “The greatest persecution of the church doesn’t come from enemies on the outside but is born from the sins within the church,” Benedict, aboard a plane to Portugal, told reporters. “The church has a profound need to relearn penitence, to accept purification, to learn forgiveness but also justice.” The acknowledgement of the church’s guilt stands in contrast to statements by other top Vatican officials, who have dismissed criticism of the church’s handling of abuse cases as “petty gossip.” In recent months, a new wave of sexual-abuse cases has come to light across Europe and the U.S.