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周六 4月 08, 2023 9:52 pm
On the day after Easter, the pastor of a Roman Catholic parish in Maryland that was home to a dozen priests accused of sexual abuse will be saying the rosary for their victims.

The Rev. Santhosh George made the announcement on the homepage of the St. Mark Church in Catonsville on Thursday, the day after that the state’s top prosecutor accused the Archdiocese of Baltimore of covering up the sexual abuse of more than 600 children for over a half-century.

“I write with a heavy heart to share the news of the release of a report issued by the Attorney General of Maryland, which outlines horrific abuse by some priests of the Archdiocese of Baltimore in years past,” George wrote. “In particular, is the sickening notification of several sexual abusers of children living and working here at St. Mark between the years of 1964 and 2004.”

Of the 156 priests in the report, 12 served stints at St. Mark, which was founded in 1888 about 10 miles west of Baltimore in downtown Catonsville. The attorney general said 11 accused priests served at St. Mark, but NBC News counted 12 in the report.

George, in the note to his flock, did not say how many of the 600 victims accounted for in the report were past or current parishioners. But he apologized to them all.

“While there is little I can do to make amends for this, I do offer you my prayers and extend myself to you should you want to talk,” he wrote, adding that the rosary service would be held at 7 p.m. Monday and that several more services for the victims would be held over the next few weeks.

George, which is an Anglicization of his given last name, Kozhippadan, has only been pastor of St. Mark since July 2021, long after the bulk of the alleged sexual abuse described in the report occurred.

And, unlike most of his predecessors, George had to prove he wasn’t a sex offender before taking the helm of the parish, archdiocesan spokesman Christian Kendzierski said in an email.

“St. Mark’s employees and Fr. George and anyone employed at St. Mark’s follow the same policy…criminal background checks — including a check of the sex offender registry,” Kendzierski wrote. “All employees and volunteers must complete training on preventing and reporting child abuse.”

David Clohessy, a sex abuse victims advocate at the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said that because the Catholic Church is struggling with a severe shortage of priests, the bishops “let their clergy slide on matters like this.”

While the AG’s report noted that St. Mark had been home to the biggest number of accused priests, Kendzierski insisted the parish was not a magnet for predator priests. He said the archdiocese did not know these priests were accused of sexual abuse when they were assigned to St. Mark.

“While recognizing the horrific scope of past child sexual abuse, it is not true that the 11 priests were sent to St. Mark’s after the Archdiocese had knowledge of an allegation of child sexual abuse,” Kendzierski wrote.

State Attorney General Anthony Brown, in his damning report, named 12 priests who served at St. Mark. He also said the leaders of the archdiocese knew that problem priests were being moved from parish to parish.

“Time and again, members of the Church’s hierarchy resolutely refused to acknowledge allegations of child abuse for as long as possible,” he said. “When denial became impossible, Church leadership would remove abusers from the parish or school, sometimes with promises that they would have no further contact with children.

“Church documents reveal with disturbing clarity that the Archdiocese was more concerned with avoiding scandal and negative publicity than it was with protecting children.”

Back in 2002, when it was first revealed that a large number of accused priests had served at St. Mark, church officials dismissed it as a coincidence and noted it is one of the archdiocese’s biggest parishes, so it makes sense that a lot of priests would log time there.

Terry McKiernan of Bishop Accountability, a nonprofit that monitors abuse allegations against Catholic priests and officials, said it may not be a simple coincidence that so many alleged predators wound up at St. Mark. He said “clusters” of predatory priests have been found in certain parishes.

“Yes, priests who do this kind of thing do tend to congregate, they seek each other out,” McKiernan said. “But the bigger issue are the higher-ups who are aware of these priests and assign them to parishes that have had other problem priests.”

And one of the higher-ups in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the report stated, was a now-dead former priest accused of abuse named Thomas Bauernfeind.

A federal judge in Texas on Friday suspended the Food and Drug Administration’s longtime approval of the drug mifepristone for use in medication abortions, a ruling that is set to go into effect on April 14 unless a higher court intervenes. That would leave only one abortion drug, misoprostol, available in the United States.

But how effective is misoprostol when used on its own for medication abortions?

Medication abortions using both mifepristone and misoprostol are the most common method for ending an early pregnancy, according to Guttmacher Institute, a research group that advocates for abortion rights. In 2020, more than half of abortions in the U.S. were medication abortions, according to the group.

Mifepristone is given first, followed by misoprostol one to two days later. Mifepristone blocks a hormone called progesterone, which the body needs to support a pregnancy. Misoprostol causes the uterus to contract and empty. As a two-drug regimen, the medications successfully end a pregnancy nearly 100% of the time, according to a 2015 study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Friday's ruling, issued by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, would prevent health care providers from prescribing mifepristone for medication abortions. That would mean misoprostol will need to be used as a stand-alone treatment for women who want to end a pregnancy, experts say.

“It could be very problematic for women seeking abortion in states where it’s permitted,” said Arthur Caplan, the head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

Does misoprostol work in medication abortions?
Using only misoprostol to end an early pregnancy is not unheard of. In some countries, mifepristone is not available, and misoprostol is the only option for medication abortion.

But misoprostol used alone for abortion is not as effective as mifepristone and misoprostol used together, according to Dr. Abigail Aiken, an abortion researcher at the LBJ School Of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin.

Studies on the effectiveness of misoprostol alone for abortion vary, Aiken said, but typically range from 84% to 98%.

Aiken co-authored a study published in February in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health that looked at misoprostol as a stand-alone treatment for abortion in the U.S. That study found it was 88% effective.

“So it is a dip in effectiveness,” Aiken said.

Dr. Rachel Blake, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, said that the lower effectiveness carries an increased risk of incomplete abortions.

“That’s the main thing we worry about,” Blake said.

In those cases, patients may be at risk for vaginal bleeding, infection and damage to the uterus, she said. Sometimes patients may need to take an extra dose of the medication to empty the uterus entirely or need surgery to complete the abortion, she added.

It can be “emotionally traumatic” for patients, Blake said, “because they’ve chosen this method for abortion.”

Studies also suggest that misoprostol alone, compared to the two-drug regimen, can sometimes cause more severe side effects, possibly because people may end up taking more of the drug, said Dana Johnson, a researcher at the University of Texas in Austin who studies misoprostol use.

BALIKPAPAN, Indonesia — As the small red car came to a halt, the window slid down and a hand emerged, tossing some yellow crackers on the ground. Seconds later, a group of southern pig-tailed macaques, a monkey species native to the island of Borneo, swarmed the area and devoured the food in an instant.

Until recently, this road in the wilds of Indonesia was seldom used by either people or macaques, an endangered species that spends most of its time in trees. But with its repairs as part of the development of a new national capital, Nusantara, it is drawing macaques who have discovered the road’s new users are a reliable source of food.

“They were rarely seen before that,” said Satwika Satria Prahita, a resident of the nearby port city of Balikpapan.

The Indonesian government says the new capital is necessary because the 11 million residents of the congested current capital, Jakarta, face environmental threats including pollution, sinking land and rising seas. Construction has started on the chosen site 1,200 miles away in Borneo, an island shared by Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei that has some of the world’s highest levels of biodiversity.

Officials say Nusantara will adopt a “forest city” concept, in which more than 75% of the area is green space, and that it will be carbon neutral by the time construction is completed is 2045. But conservationists worry about the impact on orangutans, dolphins and other wildlife in and around the new capital, citing the public’s lack of conservation knowledge.

“Our big homework now is figuring out how to educate the people,” said Hadi S. Alikodra, a professor in the faculty of forestry and environment at IPB University in Bogor, Indonesia.

Experts have urged the government to protect wildlife from construction workers, as well as the 1.9 million people who are expected to eventually live in Nusantara, which is set to be inaugurated in August next year. Otherwise, there could be some disastrous conflicts between humans and animals, said Muhammad Ali Imron, a wildlife expert at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

“And it will lead to biodiversity loss,” he said.

Wiratno, an official with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, acknowledged the concerns but said the government was making wildlife protection a top priority.

“We will intensively educate the workers and all of the people about conservation and how to live among wildlife in this forest city,” said Wiratno, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.

He said Nusantara’s 75% forest cover would make it an attractive place for animals to live. As a safeguard against conflict between humans and animals, he said, the government is establishing a wildlife response unit and call center.

Some of those potential conflicts can be dangerous. Conservationists say large-scale mangrove clearings and an increase in activity by large ships have already spurred crocodile attacks on local fishermen, putting them in a bind.

“If I can choose, I would rather go fishing in daylight to avoid encounters with crocodiles,” said Hasanudin, a fisherman in the village of Gersik. “But the outcome will be less than doing it at night or before dawn.”

According to the Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning, the new capital — whose name means “archipelago” — could one day encompass almost 1,000 square miles of East Kalimantan province, or four times the size of Jakarta.

About 125 square miles of that land is classified as primary forest that has been untouched by human activity, according to Auriga, an Indonesian nongovernmental organization focused on biodiversity. There are also about 75 square miles of mangroves, about three-quarters of which is considered nonforest, meaning it can be converted for agricultural, residential or industrial use.

High winds toppled three massive trees at the Masters on Friday, forcing the tournament officials to halt second-round play and evacuate the grounds.

No one was injured, and the second round will resume at 8 a.m. on Saturday, tournament organizers said.

Wind gusts of 26 mph were moving through Augusta around the time the trees fell.

"The safety and well-being of everyone attending the Masters Tournament will always be the top priority of the Club," the Augusta National Golf Club said in a statement. "We will continue to closely monitor weather today and through the Tournament."



The course was cleared once for 21 minutes by an earlier band of storms. The air horns sounded again at 4:22 p.m., forcing the evacuation of patrons and sending players and officials searching for cover.

Just before the second horn sounded, three enormous pines slowly fell near the 17th tee box, sending about 50 people below them scattering.

On the nearby 16th green, Harrison Crowe saw the tree falling and started to backpedal in surprise, while on the 15th green, Sergio Garcia stopped and stared at what seemed to be happening in slow motion.

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