Making The World A Better Place

Grind for February 28th, 2019
“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.”

– William Shakespeare.

Getting Worse

The Headline

Venezuela: Maduro breaks ties with Colombia over aid attempts

The Grind

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Saturday the severing of diplomatic relations with Colombia.

“Patience is exhausted, I can’t bear it anymore, we can’t keep putting up with Colombian territory being used for attacks against Venezuela,” said Maduro, referring to the Colombian government as “fascist.”

Maduro gave Colombian diplomats 24 hours to exit the country, after which Colombia’s foreign minister described Maduro as a ‘usurper…responsible for any aggression or violation of the rights of Colombian officials in Venezuela.”

The Details

Maduro’s announcement follows violent clashes between Venezuelan troops and opposition activists in border cities last weekend. At least six people were killed and hundreds injured.

The activists – with support from the US – have been using Colombia and Brazil as staging areas to prepare humanitarian aid for the suffering people of Venezuela.

Nearly all attempts have been blocked by Venezuelan troops, who remain loyal to Maduro.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself acting president in January, said Saturday he had given up hope that troops would abandon Maduro and allow aid shipments into the country.

“They are soldiers who at some point had an illusion for the military career and are now prisoners of terror,” he tweeted.

Guaido will meet with US Vice President Mike Pence Monday to discuss the crisis.

Searching For Solutions

The Headline

Catholic Church holds summit on sex abuse

The Grind

Pope Francis this week is hosting the Catholic Church’s first-ever summit on sex abuse.

Nearly 200 bishops and other prelates from around the world will gather in Rome to discuss transparency, responsibility, and accountability as related to clerical sex abuse.

In his opening address on Thursday, Francis called on his audience to discuss “how to address this evil that afflicts the church and humanity.”

The world is expecting the meeting to produce “not simple and predictable condemnations, but concrete and effective measures to implement,” he said.

In a document provided to attendees, Francis outlined a list of discussion points including:

— Establishing rules for handling accusations

— Involving experts outside the Church to conduct investigations

— Increasing the minimum marriage age to 16

The summit differs from ordinary Catholic meetings in that participants won’t make speeches from the floor or vote on a final document. There is no clear procedure for making proposals. And while Vatican officials have portrayed the event as a turning point in the sex abuse crisis, many are doubtful the summit will achieve any real progress.

“It’s not enough to be encouraged, inspired, and energized,” said Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge. “We will need some concrete measures, not final measures, but concrete steps in the right direction and some of them I think will have to come from the Pope.”

The Details

One of the biggest challenges in preventing clerical sex abuse is the current distribution of responsibility between local dioceses and the Vatican – a system which makes it easy for those in power to defer accountability for abusive clerics and to cover up accusations.

Perhaps this is why the sex abuse crisis exists worldwide.

Among the goals for victims and activists is for the Church to implement the “zero tolerance” policy adopted by the United States in 2002. According to the policy, abusers are immediately removed from the Church if found guilty of a single act of abuse.

The first high-ranking Catholic to suffer this punishment in the US was Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was kicked out of the Church this month after having been found guilty of soliciting sex during confession.

The Vatican favors a less punitive approach and in years past has reduced the sentences of abusers.

Last November, the Vatican asked the United States Conference of Bishops to delay a vote on measures that would have held bishops accountable for abuse committed by priests in their diocese.

Did you know… There was a bear called Wojtek who was adopted by Polish soldiers during WW2. It carried ammunition, wrestled with soldiers, and drank beer.