Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will abdicate his position on February 28.
During his papacy, Pope Benedict came under scrutiny for the Vatican's handling of sexual abuse by priests in the United States and throughout Europe. In 2011, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Survivor Network of Those Abused By Priests (SNAP) filed a case against the pontiff in the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity in cover up by Vatican leadership in cases of sexual abuses of children by priests. David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, told the Guardian "[Pope Benedict] has read thousands of pages of reports of the abuse cases from across the world. He knows more about clergy sex crimes and cover-ups than anyone else in the church yet he has done precious little to protect children."
The pontiff also promoted an explicitly anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-reproductive health agenda during his eight years as Pope. For example, he expressed conflicting views on the use of condoms in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. In 2010, Pope Benedict suggested that the use of condoms might be acceptable in certain circumstances, such as in disease prevention. However, in 2009, the pontiff argued that condoms "increase the problem" of HIV/AIDS. Reportedly, he said, "you can't overcome this problem of AIDS with just money. It helps, but if there is no soul, the money cannot help. You cannot overcome it just by distributing condoms. You will increase it."
In addition to ideological controversy, the Vatican came under financial scrutiny in 2012 when the Pope's personal butler released private documents of the pontiff in an attempt to expose the corruption of the church.
The Pope cited his advanced age as his reason for leaving the Vatican. He was elected to the position in 2005 follow the death of Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict will be the first Pope to resign since 1415 and the first to leave voluntarily since 1294.
Media Resources: Guardian 2/11/2013, 2/11/2013; Los Angeles Times 2/11/2013; ABC News 10/6/2012; Feminist Newswire 9/14/2011, 11/8/2010
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .