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
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .