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          With Vatican In Turmoil Over Abuse Allegations, Questions Remain About What Pope Knew      Cache   Translate Page      
For centuries, the words "Vatican" and "intrigue" have gone hand in hand. But the Holy See's centuries-old code of secrecy ensured that scandals and conspiracies usually remained hidden behind the tall and sturdy Renaissance walls of the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, unbeknownst to the faithful masses around the world. Now, in the era of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, mudslinging between rival church factions is being waged out in the open. "It's as if the Borgias and the Medicis had Twitter accounts," Christopher Bellitto, a professor of church history at Kean University in New Jersey, told the National Catholic Reporter. The power struggle has been simmering ever since the Argentine-born Jorge Maria Bergoglio became Pope Francis in 2013. He signaled a break with his two predecessors by promoting a message of mercy over strict dogma, of inclusion over punishment. The anger of a traditionalist faction critical of the pope's more welcoming church broke out into
          Pope Francis calls clergy abuse summit as issue imperils papacy      Cache   Translate Page      
VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis summoned the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences Wednesday to a summit on preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children, responding to the greatest crisis of his papacy with the realization that Vatican inaction on the growing global scandal now threatens his legacy.

Francis’ key cardinal advisers announced plans for the summit early next year the day before the pope meets with U.S. church leaders embroiled in their own credibility crisis from the latest accusations in the Catholic Church’s decades-long sex abuse scandal.

The meeting, scheduled for Feb. 21 to 24, would assemble more than 100 churchmen to represent every bishops’ conference. Its convening signals awareness at the highest levels of the Catholic Church that clergy sex abuse is a global problem, not restricted to some parts of the world or a few Western countries.

Victims’ advocates immediately dismissed the event as belated damage control, an action publicized hastily as allegations regarding Francis’ record of handling abuse cases – and accumulated outrage among rank-and-file Catholic faithful over covered-up crimes – jeopardize his papacy.

“There’s absolutely no reason to think any good will come of such a meeting,” given the church’s decades of failure to reform, David Clohessy, former director of the victims’ advocacy group SNAP, said.

“Criminal prosecutions, governmental investigations and journalistic exposes – stemming from brave victims and church whistleblowers – are the best way to protect kids, expose wrongdoers and end cover-ups,” Clohessy said.

The summit was announced as Francis still works to recover from his botched handling of the sex abuse scandal in the Chilean church, sparked earlier this year when he repeatedly discredited victims of a notorious Chilean predator priest.

Francis eventually admitted to “grave errors in judgment” and took steps to make amends, including securing offers of resignation from every active member of Chile’s bishops’ conference.

Even as actions to address Chile were underway, Francis’ papacy was jolted last month by accusations from a retired Vatican ambassador that Francis himself rehabilitated a top American cardinal accused of molesting and harassing adult seminarians.

The Vatican hasn’t responded to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s allegations against the pope and some two dozen other Vatican and U.S. officials, but has promised “clarifications” that could come after Francis’ meeting Thursday with the U.S. delegation.

The U.S. delegation will be headed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and includes Francis’ top adviser on the clergy abuse issue, Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

DiNardo has said he wants Francis to authorize a full Vatican investigation of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was removed as cardinal in July following a credible accusation that he groped a teenager.

The Vatican has known since at least 2000 that McCarrick invited seminarians to his New Jersey beach house and into his bed, but was made a cardinal anyway.

DiNardo has also said Vigano’s accusations deserve answers.

Amid such turmoil, a gathering of the global church leadership to discuss a specific problem – in the tradition of church synods and councils – is a good idea, but should take place sooner than February, said Christopher Bellitto, a church historian at Kean University in New Jersey.

Francis, he said, “has enormous amounts of what (German theologian) Hans Kung has called ‘capital of credibility,’ but he’s losing it fast,” Bellitto said. “This is an excellent action, but I think it should happen quicker than six months from now.”

An open question in advance of the summit is whether the Vatican will issue a universal call for bishops and religious superiors to report suspected abuse to police; currently, it advises church leaders to report suspected abuse when it’s required under local laws.

In 2011, as part of Pope Benedict XVI’s attempts to take a tougher stand against sexual misconduct, the Vatican ordered the bishops’ conferences to develop written guidelines on preventing abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. The guidelines were supposed to specify how bishops should tend to victims, punish offenders and keep pedophiles out of the priesthood.

While most conferences obliged, some have not. Vatican City itself has no such policy, even though the Holy See promised the United Nations five years ago it was developing a “safe environment program” to protect children inside the 110-acre Vatican City State.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a policy in 2002 that is regarded as the gold standard policy. It required accusations of abuse to be reported to police and the permanent removal from ministry of any priest found to have abused a minor.

But the U.S. plan has looked less like a model recently, given it exempted bishops like McCarrick. The McCarrick scandal and a Pennsylvania grand jury’s allegations that some 300 priests had abused more than 1,000 children since the 1940s have left the credibility of U.S. church leaders in tatters. The grand jury. The report found that a string of bishops in six dioceses covered up for the predators, including the current archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

The past of the Catholic Church is being dug up in other countries. German media reported Wednesday that a church-commissioned study detailed 3,677 abuse cases between 1946 and 2014. Every sixth case involved rape, more than half of the victims were 13-years-old or younger and at least 1,670 clergy were involved, Spiegel Online and Die Zeit said. The news outlets said the report was due to be released Sept. 25 and they obtained it in advance.

In their conclusions, the German researchers said there was evidence that some church files were manipulated or destroyed. Many cases were not brought to justice, and sometimes abuse suspects – primarily priests – were moved to other dioceses without new congregations being informed about the pastor’s past, they said.


          "Solidarity Six" in Rome Should Resign      Cache   Translate Page      
You will not be surprised at all to read the names here.

...six cardinals “expressed full solidarity with Pope Francis in the face of what has happened in the last few weeks, aware that in the current debate the Holy See is formulating possible and necessary clarifications.”

(Oh, really?  "Possible and necessary clarifications"?  Like "Yup, it's real.  We resign!"  THAT would be the "necessary" clarification.)

The council has convened as the Vatican is reportedly preparing a response to a letter released by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States, which links both the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis, as well as ensuing coverups by its bishops, to an extensive “homosexual network” within the church.

The six cardinals present for the meeting Monday were Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Sean P. O’Malley of Boston; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; and Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State....

Marx is in up to his eyeballs, just like Maradiaga.  O'Malley has been caught lying like a rug about what he knew and when he knew it.  In the Vatican, the Sec/State is the 2nd most powerful figure, so Parolin knew all about the problems.  The other two?  Well, folks, they're keeping bad company, IYKWIMAITYD.

          Pope Finally Agrees to Meet With Head of US Bishops      Cache   Translate Page      
Pope Finally Agrees to Meet With Head of US Bishops: Announcement follows weeks of silence from Holy See
          BREAKING: Pope Will Receive President of US Bishops Cardinal DiNardo on Thursday Sept. 13 - ZENIT - English      Cache   Translate Page      
BREAKING: Pope Will Receive President of US Bishops Cardinal DiNardo on Thursday Sept. 13 - ZENIT - English: In Evening Statement, Holy See Press Office Director Greg Burke Says Cardinal O'Malley, Archbishop Gomez, and USCCB Secretary General to Be Present
          The Patriarchate of Constantinople Started a War That Cannot Be Stopped      Cache   Translate Page      


The Patriarchate of Constantinople Started a War That Cannot Be Stopped
September 11, 2018

The Constantinople Patriarchate appointed two exarchs “for the preparation of the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church”. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church responded to this decision with a statement that is unprecedented in its sharpness.
It included words about the deadlock in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Constantinople Church, and also about the threat to the unity of global Orthodoxy. The arguments given by the Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew in defence of his position were called false.
If not to delve into the essence of the problem, then it is possible to say that such things have happened before. The Russian Orthodox Church in 2000 already expressed deep concern about the actions of the same Bartholomew in Estonia, where he, encroaching on the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, also promoted a split in the church.
Now, however, it is not about concern, but about a resolute protest and deep indignation. Taking into account that the church always chooses its words much more accurately than diplomats do and always tries to start with small things in order to not immediately bring things to a deep confrontation, we can ascertain that Bartholomew committed a deed that, if we draw an analogy between the church and state relations, could be called direct and barefaced aggression.
In other words, in 2000, the Constantinople Patriarchate was engaged in petty theft in Estonia. But today it is not about theft, not about a robbery, and even not about banditry, but about the beginning of open war. And not against the Russian Orthodox Church, but against all of world Orthodoxy.
If Patriarch Bartholomew simply wrote out Tomos to some abstract Ukrainian Orthodox Christian, then it would be troublesome for his relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, but not a catastrophe for world Orthodoxy. Because, of course, the fight for canonical territory between the actual leading orthodox force (Russian Orthodox Church) and the nominally “first in honor” Constantinople Patriarchate would touch all world Orthodoxy, but it wouldn’t be critical for it. It would just be a conflict between two orthodox chairs, similar to those that often happened in the past. It terms of its scale it would be larger than the Estonian one, because the church and political value of Ukraine is much more, but in general it would keep within this same framework.
The problem is that Bartholomew took not a church decision, but a political one. He laid down claims to “orthodox papacy”. The Patriarch of Fener individually determined himself as being not just “first in honor”, but also the chief of all Orthodox Christians, having the right, in his arbitrariness, to interfere in the affairs of any church, and in reality – of any diocese.
He didn’t just intrude into the canonical territory of others (which in itself is bad). He accused the Russian Orthodox Church of provoking a Ukrainian split, having actually put at the same level the pseudo-Patriarch DenisenkoMetropolitan Onufry, and Patriarch Kirill. He stated that he doubts the fairness of the anathema of Denisenko and that he is going to consider this question personally. I.e., for him the Russian Orthodox Church, the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and the self-proclaimed Patriarch Filaret (Denisenko) are equal parties to the conflict that he is going to judge. In order for this to be understandable for people who are distant from church problems, this is worse than when it is declared in the West that Stalin and Hitler are equal parties to the conflict. It is even worse than if, having reached the limit of “tolerance”, in the West it is declared that Roosevelt, Churchill, and de Gaulle also bear responsibility equal with Hitler for the Holocaust, the genocide of Slavs in occupied territories, the initiation of war, the tens of millions of victims, and even repression in Germany. It is worse because in the case with Hitler’s evaluation there would be talk of a terrestrial political example, of a temporary phenomenon. But in the available case we are dealing with eternity, with the problem of the immortality of the soul. And it’s not even about one soul, but millions of orthodox souls being plunged into split.
If to go straight to the point, Bartholomew suddenly decided to allocate to himself the same (and even vaster) powers than the ones the Pope has in the Catholic world. At the same time it is necessary to understand that the Pope isn’t just the Supreme bishop of the Catholic church, but also a secular sovereign governing the state of Vatican. The Pope is only half (as the head of the church) monk and half (as the head of state) politician. Contrary to the precept of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s, the Pope tries to combine in himself the divine and the political.
With Bartholomew it is worse. Firstly, he has no territorial state (unlike the Pope, who has the Vatican). He lays claim to political influence within the borders of other states. At the same time, his influence is initially destructive, since he can obtain it only by influencing existing churches. And the mechanism of influence available to him, making him allegedly an “arbitration judge”, is giving support for splits. In the same way that he is unable to pave his way to the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church if he doesn’t support the pseudo-orthodox sectarians of Denisenko, he won’t be able to influence neither Serbian, nor Bulgarian, nor any other orthodox church without the support of such schismatics. Splits are his pillar of support. Only the equation of a bandit with their victim in terms of responsibility (or even the bandit’s justification) allows this Turkish subject working (according to local, Turkish legislation) with a status of nothing more than a tourist attraction to claim to be the supreme all-Orthodox judge and the individual determinant of the canonicity of any heresies. The head of a structure that signed uniatism three times – at a minimum – on the terms of the Holy See, whose “Orthodoxy” was recognised by other churches rather out of charity and the unwillingness to create additional split, suddenly decided to become “holier than the Pope”.
He can’t but understand that he initiates a split in Orthodoxy. At the same time, he understands that he violates not just canons and traditions, but also the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, which established not only the rules of relations between episcopal chairs, but also the symbol of faith. If today it is possible to ignore one of the decisions of these Councils, then tomorrow it will also be possible to rewrite the symbol of faith. Especially since the Constantinople Patriarchate already three times signed uniatism with the Roman throne, each time recognising its subordinated position towards Rome.
Bartholomew is not a child small. He knows very well that he acts against the canons of world Orthodoxy and that he touches the interests of all orthodox churches, each of which has its own schismatics who, on the basis of the latest statements of the Constantinople Patriarchate, Bartholomew (as he considers) can recognise as being rather canonical.
Bartholomew knows what he risks. He also understands that the US weakened and can’t provide him with comprehensive support, and that Turkey – which he is a citizen of – won’t be delighted by his actions directed not just against the Russian Orthodox Church, but also against political Moscow, being the ally of Istanbul. It’s also not a secret for him that practically all orthodox churches refuse to support him and to recognise the competency of his actions in Ukraine. Everyone understands that it can become the next victim of the Constantinople “peacemaker”.
Constantinople also ought to understand that the influence of the weak and unpopular (the “pro-European”, or to be more exact – pro-American governments of Eastern European countries) on the church situation is minimal. The church in these countries enjoys bigger authority than the government does. Politicians there have no chance of forcing local churches to support Constantinople. Of course, supporters of Bartholomew can be found among local hierarchs, but this will only create additional lines of split, dividing world Orthodoxy in a worse way than the Great Schism of 1054 divided Christianity.
For Ukraine, Bartholomew’s actions unambiguously mean religious war, in which not streams, but rivers of blood will be shed, and already not only the Ukrainian state (which already burst) will be destroyed, but also the people living on territory that is formally subordinated to the current Kiev authorities. And Fener already knows this. They understand very well that they are provoking a horrible civil religious conflict, thus standing on the side of schismatics and sectarians against true Orthodox Christians. The Istanbul bishop isn’t mistaken. He is aware that he acts against his own faith and hundreds of millions of orthodox believers over the entire world. He sacrifices his immortal soul for the sake of momentary political benefits. Such a decision can be made only by someone whose belief is dead and who stopped being a monk, a priest, a bishop, but who became a politician, who stopped being a servant of God, and who started to serve the knight of this world [the devil – ed]. The Constantinople Patriarch lays claim to the laurels of pseudo-teachers and pseudo-prophets that John of Patmos describes as the forerunners of the Antichrist.
Bartholomew’s actions already don’t correspond even to the interests of the US (which always acted as a supporter of the Ukrainian split). This is much more than the US would’ve liked. The situation stops being controlled from Washington. The Constantinople Patriarch starts laying claim to the status of an independent political figure who is no less influential than the leaders of the largest faiths and heads of leading states. But he tries to obtain this status without having the corresponding opportunities in orthodox sobornost, as a teacher of split. Bartholomew builds his political career precisely by plunging millions and even tens of millions of Orthodox Christians into split, sacrificing not only his, but also their souls, standing on the side of world evil.
His actions are much more large-scale than the split initiated by Denisenko, and is thus more dangerous. In comparison with Bartholomew, who strives for the status of a pseudo-patriarch, the pseudo-patriarch Filaret is a mere child.
Bartholomew’s split is caused by Constantinople’s understanding of the simple fact that the US, which before this served as the base of the ambitions of the Istanbul Patriarchate and gave via its support considerably bigger influence to him than what his weight allows, becomes weaker and is no longer a factor of force.
Only split, only destruction, only pitting orthodox believers against each other – both in a global context and within the framework of every church – can create for Constantinople a new pillar of support. Bartholomew is not the first to try to become equal to God by acting against God. And he is not the last to try to exchange influence bought in this world on the back of bloodshed for immortality of the soul. At his age and with his rank, spontaneous decisions are simply not made. He weighed up everything: both the possibilities of countering other orthodox faiths and the probable reaction of an anti-American orientated Erdogan – who is the situational ally of Russia in the Middle East, and the inevitability of the bloodshed initiated by him in Ukraine. He weighed things up and made his choice, and he will see it to the end.
That’s why the Moscow Patriarchate, although it doesn’t opt for an immediate severance of relations, starts responding with statements that are more rigid than what happened in previous such cases. The Russian Orthodox Church reasonably doesn’t want to assume responsibility for inciting a conflict, but shows absolute understanding of the fact that Constantinople won’t cool its passions any more and will go to the very end. Hence the phrase about responsibility falling on the Fener Patriarchate and its leader Bartholomew.
It is a affirmation of fact that the Second Rome, following the First Rome, definitively (not only in a political, but also in a spiritual sense) turned into a stronghold of world evil. Sooner or later this will be said openly. The church isn’t in a hurry since it is obliged to admonish and heal, and only in second place, if the schismatics and heretics remain incorrigible and stagnate in sin, does it punish and denounce. But we, already now, are obliged to live with the realisation of the fact that the unity of world Orthodoxy once again was subjected to a test and that another split became as inevitable as there being hundreds of thousands, or maybe even millions, of its future victims.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
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          Reported China-Vatican deal will not affect ties: MOFA      Cache   Translate Page      
Taipei, Sept. 13 (CNA) Taiwan is closely monitoring a reported deal between China and the Holy See that could be sealed soon, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Thursday.
          Pope accepts resignation of West Virginia bishop as inquiry into abuse claims launched      Cache   Translate Page      

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 / 04:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis Thursday accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the pastoral government of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, and asked the archbishop of Baltimore to launch an investigation into allegations of abuse.

Archbishop William E. Lori was named apostolic administrator of the diocese and instructed by the Vatican to investigate allegations of “sexual harassment of adults” against Bishop Bransfield, according to a Sept. 13 statement from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

Accusations of abuse against Bransfield arose in 2012 during the criminal trial of two priests.

The diocese said the archbishop was asked by the Holy See to announce the forthcoming investigation. Upon its announcement, Lori stated that his “primary concern is for the care and support of the priests and people of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston at this difficult time.”

He pledged to conduct “a thorough investigation” of the allegations against Bishop Bransfield, “in search of the truth,” and “to work closely with the clergy, religious and lay leaders of the diocese until the appointment of a new bishop.”

Bransfield’s resignation was accepted just eight days after he turned 75, the age at which diocesan bishops are requested to submit a letter of resignation to the pope.

Bransfield is a Philadelphia native and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1971. He served in parish ministry and at Lansdale Catholic High School before he began at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., in 1980, eventually becoming its rector.

He was appointed bishop of Wheeling-Charleston in 2004 and was consecrated Feb. 22, 2005.

During the 2012 criminal trial in Philadelphia of Fr. James Brennan on child sex abuse charges and of Msgr. William Lynn for conspiracy and endangerment, accusations of abuse against Bishop Bransfield arose.

Two witnesses and a prosecutor alleged that Bishop Bransfield “may have known about sexual misconduct by [another priest] or abused minors himself,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The witnesses said they were sexually abused as teens by Fr. Stanley Gana, who was highlighted in Philadelphia grand jury reports in both 2005 and 2011.

The 2005 report mentioned in passing that “Father Gana demanded and received fellatio at the rectory and at a beach house belonging to a friend of Fr. Gana’s, Fr. Mike Bransfield.”

At the 2012 trial, one witness said that Fr. Gana would call Bransfield after assaulting him in his rectory: “They would be talking, and Stanley Gana would have me get on the phone and talk to Father Bransfield,” the man said. “Father Bransfield would jokingly say, ‘I’m going to have Stanley put you on the train to come down and see me sometime.’”

The other witness said that once at Fr. Gana’s farmhouse, Bransfield pulled up in a car with several teen boys, and that Fr. Gana later told him, “They’re his fair-haired boys. The one in the front seat he is having sex with.”

Bishop Bransfield denied the allegations made against him.

“To now be unfairly included in that group and to hear the horrific allegations that are being made of me is unbelievable and shocking,” he said April 19, 2012. He added that the allegations, “the nature of these statements and the manner in which they were released . . . go way beyond any sense of fairness and propriety.”

“I have openly been an advocate for the eradication of the abusive behavior of priests in every diocese, and have demonstrated this in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.” He said: “I have never sexually abused anyone.”

Bransfield also stated that the witnesses’ statement regarding abuse by Fr. Gana taking place at the beach house he owned in Brigantine, N.J., is “misleading” because it fails to mention that he allowed many people to use his home and that he was neither present nor aware of the incident.

Bishop Bransfield said the 2012 trial was “a circus” and that prosecutors were smearing his name “to bolster their persecution of the church.”

 


          Pope accepts resignation of West Virginia bishop as inquiry into abuse claims launched      Cache   Translate Page      

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 / 04:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis Thursday accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the pastoral government of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, and asked the archbishop of Baltimore to launch an investigation into allegations of abuse.

Archbishop William E. Lori was named apostolic administrator of the diocese and instructed by the Vatican to investigate allegations of “sexual harassment of adults” against Bishop Bransfield, according to a Sept. 13 statement from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

Accusations of abuse against Bransfield arose in 2012 during the criminal trial of two priests.

The diocese said the archbishop was asked by the Holy See to announce the forthcoming investigation. Upon its announcement, Lori stated that his “primary concern is for the care and support of the priests and people of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston at this difficult time.”

He pledged to conduct “a thorough investigation” of the allegations against Bishop Bransfield, “in search of the truth,” and “to work closely with the clergy, religious and lay leaders of the diocese until the appointment of a new bishop.”

Bransfield’s resignation was accepted just eight days after he turned 75, the age at which diocesan bishops are required by canon law to submit a letter of resignation to the pope.

Bransfield is a Philadelphia native and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1971. He served in parish ministry and at Lansdale Catholic High School before he began at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., in 1980, eventually becoming its rector.

He was appointed bishop of Wheeling-Charleston in 2004 and was consecrated Feb. 22, 2005.

During the 2012 criminal trial in Philadelphia of Fr. James Brennan on child sex abuse charges and of Msgr. William Lynn for conspiracy and endangerment, accusations of abuse against Bishop Bransfield arose.

Two witnesses and a prosecutor alleged that Bishop Bransfield “may have known about sexual misconduct by [another priest] or abused minors himself,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The witnesses said they were sexually abused as teens by Fr. Stanley Gana, who was highlighted in Philadelphia grand jury reports in both 2005 and 2011.

The 2005 report mentioned in passing that “Father Gana demanded and received fellatio at the rectory and at a beach house belonging to a friend of Fr. Gana’s, Fr. Mike Bransfield.”

At the 2012 trial, one witness said that Fr. Gana would call Bransfield after assaulting him in his rectory: “They would be talking, and Stanley Gana would have me get on the phone and talk to Father Bransfield,” the man said. “Father Bransfield would jokingly say, ‘I’m going to have Stanley put you on the train to come down and see me sometime.’”

The other witness said that once at Fr. Gana’s farmhouse, Bransfield pulled up in a car with several teen boys, and that Fr. Gana later told him, “They’re his fair-haired boys. The one in the front seat he is having sex with.”

Bishop Bransfield denied the allegations made against him.

“To now be unfairly included in that group and to hear the horrific allegations that are being made of me is unbelievable and shocking,” he said April 19, 2012. He added that the allegations, “the nature of these statements and the manner in which they were released . . . go way beyond any sense of fairness and propriety.”

“I have openly been an advocate for the eradication of the abusive behavior of priests in every diocese, and have demonstrated this in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.” He said: “I have never sexually abused anyone.”

Bransfield also stated that the witnesses’ statement regarding abuse by Fr. Gana taking place at the beach house he owned in Brigantine, N.J., is “misleading” because it fails to mention that he allowed many people to use his home and that he was neither present nor aware of the incident.

Bishop Bransfield said the 2012 trial was “a circus” and that prosecutors were smearing his name “to bolster their persecution of the church.”

 


          In Mountain State, A Fresh Scandal – Pope Bumps WV Prelate Over Harassment Claims      Cache   Translate Page      
As the leadership of the US bishops entered the Papal Apartment for their first crisis talks with the Pope, the storm of these weeks broke out on yet another front: at Roman Noon this Thursday, the Pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston five days after the West Virginia prelate turned 75, sending in Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore "to conduct an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of adults" by the now-retired cleric.

Though the Vatican did not disclose the rationale behind the move in its announcement, Lori revealed the context in a subsequent statement, saying he was "instructed" to do so by the Holy See.

"I pledge to conduct a thorough investigation in search of the truth into the troubling allegations against Bishop Bransfield," the archbishop said, "and to work closely with the clergy, religious and lay leaders of the diocese until the appointment of a new bishop."

Having already made the trip to West Virginia's statewide church, the Baltimore prelate will spend the next two days gathering preliminary information in Wheeling. Lori's first public appearance isn't slated until Saturday night, when he'll celebrate the diocese's locally televised 6pm Vigil Mass in St Joseph's Cathedral.

The first US prelate to leave office over explicit reports of misconduct with adults since 2002, to date, the specifics of the claims against Bransfield have not been made public. Together with this morning's announcement, the Wheeling Chancery opened a hotline to receive new allegations or tips for the coming probe.

Long known as one of the American hierarchy's top financiers, Bransfield – a Philadelphia native – first came to prominence over his two decades as rector of Washington's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, transforming the nation's largest church into one of its most prominent worship-sites. Over his decade-plus at the helm of the West Virginia fold, the accused prelate often made news for his use of the diocese's ample reserves to fund initiatives for health-care and education, as well as relief efforts, across one of the nation's poorest states, which has become one of the hardest-hit venues of the ongoing opioid epidemic.

Developing – more to come.

-30-
          Pope accepts resignation of Bishop Bransfield as inquiry into misconduct claims launched      Cache   Translate Page      

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 / 04:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis Thursday accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, and asked the Archbishop of Baltimore to launch an investigation into allegations of misconduct.

Archbishop William E. Lori was named apostolic administrator of the diocese and instructed by the Vatican to investigate allegations of “sexual harassment of adults” against Bishop Bransfield, according to a Sept. 13 statement from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

The diocese said the archbishop was asked by the Holy See to announce the forthcoming investigation. Upon its announcement, Lori stated that his “primary concern is for the care and support of the priests and people of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston at this difficult time.”

He pledged to conduct “a thorough investigation” of the allegations against Bishop Bransfield, “in search of the truth,” and “to work closely with the clergy, religious and lay leaders of the diocese until the appointment of a new bishop.”

Bransfield’s resignation was accepted just eight days after he turned 75, the age at which diocesan bishops are required by canon law to submit a letter of resignation to the pope.

Bransfield is a Philadelphia native and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1971. He served in parish ministry and at Lansdale Catholic High School before he began at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., in 1980, eventually becoming its rector.

He was appointed bishop of Wheeling-Charleston in 2004 and was consecrated Feb. 22, 2005.

Accusations of abuse against Bransfield arose in 2012 during the criminal the criminal trial in Philadelphia of Fr. James Brennan on child sex abuse charges and of Msgr. William Lynn for conspiracy and endangerment.

Two witnesses and a prosecutor alleged that Bishop Bransfield “may have known about sexual misconduct by [another priest] or abused minors himself,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The witnesses said they were sexually abused as teens by Fr. Stanley Gana, who was highlighted in Philadelphia grand jury reports in both 2005 and 2011.

The 2005 report mentioned in passing that “Father Gana demanded and received fellatio at the rectory and at a beach house belonging to a friend of Fr. Gana’s, Fr. Mike Bransfield.”

At the 2012 trial, one witness said that Fr. Gana would call Bransfield after assaulting him in his rectory: “They would be talking, and Stanley Gana would have me get on the phone and talk to Father Bransfield,” the man said. “Father Bransfield would jokingly say, ‘I’m going to have Stanley put you on the train to come down and see me sometime.’”

The other witness said that once at Fr. Gana’s farmhouse, Bransfield pulled up in a car with several teen boys, and that Fr. Gana later told him, “They’re his fair-haired boys. The one in the front seat he is having sex with.”

Bishop Bransfield denied the allegations made against him.

“To now be unfairly included in that group and to hear the horrific allegations that are being made of me is unbelievable and shocking,” he said April 19, 2012. He added that the allegations, “the nature of these statements and the manner in which they were released . . . go way beyond any sense of fairness and propriety.”

“I have openly been an advocate for the eradication of the abusive behavior of priests in every diocese, and have demonstrated this in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.” He said: “I have never sexually abused anyone.”

Bransfield also stated that the witnesses’ statement regarding abuse by Fr. Gana taking place at the beach house he owned in Brigantine, N.J., is “misleading” because it fails to mention that he allowed many people to use his home and that he was neither present nor aware of the incident.

Bishop Bransfield said the 2012 trial was “a circus” and that prosecutors were smearing his name “to bolster their persecution of the church.”

 


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Russia
DECR chairman meets with Apostolic Nuncio to Russia
Russian Orthodox Church
On 13 September 2018, at the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk met with Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio to the Russian Federation. The participants in the meeting discussed the current agenda of the relationships between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Holy See and other issues of mutual interest for the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. (...)

          Minister of State Annen visits Rome      Cache   Translate Page      
BERLIN, 13 September 2018 / PRN Africa / -- Minister of State Niels Annen is travelling to Rome today (13 September). The central focus of his trip will be talks in the Vatican on current foreign policy issues. The crisis in Nicaragua will form the main topic of discussion between Mr Annen and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See. The Minister of State issued the following statement prior to his departure:
          09/13 Links Pt1: Haley: All the Palestinians Have Ever Done Is Ask for Money and Badmouth the U.S.; UNRWA perpetuates the refugee problem; Oslo Accords: 25 years of naivete      Cache   Translate Page      
From Ian:

Haley: All the Palestinians Have Ever Done Is Ask for Money and Badmouth the U.S.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday justified the US State Department’s closure of the Washington mission of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, saying all the Palestinians have ever done is ask for money and badmouth the US.

She also said that Washington is still waiting for them to come to the negotiating table.

“All they’ve done is have their hand out asking for money, badmouth the United States, not come to the table on the peace deal — why would we have a PLO office?” she in an interview with Fox News. “Why would we continue to fund the Palestinians?”

Asked if she thought President Donald Trump’s strong-arm tactics would change the policies of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has shunned American officials since Washington recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December, she said it was “totally up to the Palestinians.”

Haley said that the US was ready to negotiate a peace deal as soon as Abbas was prepared to join the discussions.

“If the leadership of the Palestinians came to the table, automatically you’re going to have a peace plan. Negotiations are going to happen. Neither side is going to like it,” she said. “But the Palestinians have more to gain than Israel ever will.”

Haley said that the Trump administration was continuing to work on its long-awaited peace plan, even though Abbas has washed his hands of it.

CAMERA Op-Ed The Inconvenient Truth About Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Terrorism
Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the entity that rules the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) has been appointed to lead a terrorist organization. Although the press has frequently called Abbas, who also leads the Fatah movement and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a “moderate” and the PA a “peace partner,” not a single major U.S. news outlet has reported the PA chief’s new job.

According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), a non-profit organization that monitors Arab media in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, on Aug. 2, 2018 the official newspaper of the PA reported that Abbas was now “the one responsible for the Palestinian National Fund.”

Israel’s defense ministry designated the PNF a terrorist organization in March 2017, noting: “The fund has a crucial role in the financial support for Palestinian terrorist operatives imprisoned in Israel, and it is used as the most significant route for transferring money.”

Times of Israel reporters Judah Ari Gross and Eric Cortellessa have noted that although the PNF “is said to contain billions of dollars from wealthy Arab donors and profits from various investments,” nonetheless “there is little transparency or oversight in the management and use of funds.”

Abbas’s appointment should be newsworthy. As PMW pointed out, the PA president is now in violation of Israel’s Counter Terrorism Law 2016-5776, which stipulates that “one who heads a terrorist organization or manages it or takes part in directing the terror organization in general, directly or indirectly” faces “25 years imprisonment.” In other words, a nominal U.S. ally is now leading a terrorist organization.
IsraellyCool: Re Boot
Columnist Max Boot argues in the Washington Post that the Trump administration’s pro-Israel moves (like closing of the PLO mission in Washington and defunding UNRWA) are big mistakes, opening the door to radicals. One part of his argument is thus:

They also don’t understand that the Palestinian Authority, for all its problems, is vastly preferable to any conceivable alternative. Yes, it is corrupt and undemocratic and, yes, it engages in anti-Israel propaganda. But, far from sponsoring terrorism against Israel, the Palestinian Authority is working closely with Israel to squelch terror. In May, after the U.S. Embassy relocation, thousands of Gaza residents tried to storm the Israeli border fence, resulting in 62 fatalities. There were no such attacks in the West Bank, because the Palestinian Authority worked there to prevent them. By gratuitously insulting and defunding the most moderate Palestinian faction, Trump is opening the door to the radicals. That’s a Rosh Hashanah present Israel could do without

Yet the very same Max Boot had this to say only a couple of years ago, in a post now flushed down the memory hole (thank you Google cache!):

Predictably, Obama is even more scathing when it comes to Israel, which, unlike Saudi Arabia, is a democratic country that respects human rights. It will surprise no one who has followed closely this administration’s foreign policy that Obama blames Prime Minister Netanyahu for the failure to achieve a peace treaty, giving a pass to the leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority who refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state or even to condemn terrorism against Israel. According to Goldberg: “Obama has long believed that Netanyahu could bring about a two-state solution that would protect Israel’s status as a Jewish-majority democracy, but is too fearful and politically paralyzed to do so.” If Obama has stern words for Mahmoud Abbas and the leaders of Hamas — who are the actual obstacles to peace — Goldberg does not record them.

Does Mr Boot really think the PA has changed its tune in just two years?



UNRWA perpetuates the refugee problem
No longer can it be considered purely a relief organisation. It has become highly politicised agency seeking to preserve the status of second and third-generation Palestinians as refugees. The original number of refugees supported by UNRWA is, according to its website, some 700,000. As refugee status tumbled down the generations it now extends to five million people through the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and other countries. These Palestinians do not live in the vast tent cities to be seen on Syria’s borders with Jordan and Turkey. They inhabit well-maintained apartment blocks and the children are educated in well-appointed schools.

The biggest funder of UNRWA has been the United States, with Britain not far behind. In a gesture designed to demonstrate the anachronistic nature of the organisation, the Trump White House as suspended some £232m of annual funds.

The administration is the first to recognise that an organisation with the main purpose of preserving refugee status is out of keeping with the rest of the world, where permanent settlement and integration is the goal. It makes peace in the region more difficult by encouraging the multiplication of numbers. That makes the promises of ‘return’ in any peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians infinitely more complicated.

Britain has dipped into its big overseas aid budget and increased its contribution to UNRWA by £90m to help make up the shortfall, along with the Germany. Palestinian peace envoy Saeb Erekat says the decision to reduce or even close down funding ‘aims at closing schools, clinics, hospitals and starving people.’ No one wants to see any of that happen and there is no reason why, if UNRWA was to uprooted, other UN and global agencies could not take up the baton.

That would end the current position where Palestinians are the only group in the region and across the world which has a specific agency which aims to preserve refugee status which is unnecessary and inequitable.

The real hope for the Palestinians are programmes such as those run by the World Bank which seek to unleash enterprise and economic development not to preserve a dependence culture. The US has struck a blow in this direction.

That should be regarded as a positive approach for the New Year.
IDF says it detonated large bomb placed on Gaza fence, foiling attack
The Israeli military on Thursday detonated a large bomb that had been placed along the Gaza security fence by Palestinians during a recent riot, the army said.

The Israel Defense Forces said the placement of the improvised explosive device showed that the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group was trying to keep up the clashes along the border, despite the reported ongoing ceasefire talks with Israel.

The large IED, which was placed inside a blue jerrycan, was found earlier this week by the IDF next to the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip.

On Thursday morning, the military destroyed the bomb in a controlled explosion, the army said.

“The cell of terrorists that planted the explosive device planned to injure IDF soldiers and interrupt the operations of forces working in the area,” the army said.

“IDF soldiers foiled the attempted terror attack. There were no injuries, and no damage was caused,” the military said in a statement.

According to the IDF, the bomb was placed along the fence during a riot earlier in the week.

“The planting of the explosive device by the terrorist cell under the cover of a violent demonstration is further evidence that the Hamas terror group is working to maintain the conflict in the fence area and to injure IDF soldiers, while using residents of the Gaza Strip as human shields and as cover for terrorist activities,” the army said.


JPost Editorial: 25 Years Later
It was a day 25 years ago filled with such enormous hope, so much potential, so many dreams, as the world witnessed the signing of what came to be known as the Oslo Accords.

On the front page of the next day’s Jerusalem Post was a box of comments by various public figures, commenting about the historic signing on the White House lawn. Some of the quotes made sense then, reflecting the hope, potential and dreams we wanted so badly to be fulfilled:

“I feel like it’s November 29, 1947. We didn’t know then where we were heading, but we knew we were heading for great things.”
– communications minister Shulamit Aloni

“The signing of the accord is a courageous and necessary act. The Holy See is aware of the present and future difficulties, but it is convinced the signing of the accord signifies the opening of a path to peace.”
– Vatican chief spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls

Some were less starry eyed and more cautious:

“All the substantive issues still have to be resolved. Only the psychological barrier has been passed.”
– Henry Kissinger

“It’s a day of great exhilaration for us, but at the same time great apprehension… I’ve got a lot of questions in my mind about the ability of the Palestinians to implement the accord.”
– US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Lee Hamilton

And then there were those who said then that it was all just a dream, with no hope and no potential:

“The signing ceremony in Washington is a day of mourning for the Jewish people, and one must tear one’s clothes for the destruction of Eretz Yisrael.”
– former chief rabbi Shlomo Goren

“The impetuous rush to embrace an enemy who uses the language of peace for the purpose of war, in the long term will be seen as an historic blunder.”
– Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu

For 25 years, the world has placed all its chips on the gamble that Oslo would succeed. It has not. The outlines of the agreement that day called for dual recognition, two states, and a modus operandi to move forward toward a true lasting peace. It hasn’t happened.

For 25 years, every American president – following in the footsteps of Bill Clinton, who convened that signing ceremony – has attempted to build an infrastructure of peace on top of that signing and handshake. Despite the best of intentions, all those efforts failed to resolve the conflict.

Nevertheless, it has not been a complete failure. While Oslo may not have succeeded as we had hoped and dreamed, there are successes upon which to build.


25 years after Oslo, HBO shows behind scenes account, with final Peres interview
Twenty five years have passed since the historic handshake between the now dead Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat on the south lawn of the White House, under the watchful eye of former United States president Bill Clinton.

Many remember September 13, 1993, as a day of hope, when for a while, peace seemed closer than ever. The series of negotiations that followed, the tensions and eventually the collapse of the peace process with Palestinian terrorism and Rabin’s assassination, have been documented and analyzed by many over the years. But Israeli documentary filmmakers Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan are now offering an unprecedented look at what went on behind closed doors of the Norwegian castle where the first talks secretly took place.

The Oslo Diaries, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, will debut Thursday, exclusively on HBO. The documentary chronicles the journey of the select group of Israelis and Palestinians who gathered for clandestine meetings, through their own eyes, using their private diary entries and never-before-seen archival footage shot from 1992 to 1995.

“In Israel, and I think all over, people have just had enough of talking about the peace process,” Daniel Sivan told The Times of Israel on Tuesday. “It just brings so much sorrow and agony and frustration.”

“As filmmakers we’ve done all these films about the wars of Israel and suddenly we realized that there is actually no film done to date about the peace process,” Sivan said. “We really wanted to know not only why it failed, but how it worked backstage.”
The lesson of the Oslo Accords
Over the course of the past 70 years, Israel has com- mitted its fair share of grave miscalculations, many of which continue to haunt the country and harm our national security. From the failure to annex Judea, Samaria and Gaza in the immediate aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, to the refusal to believe that Egypt would dare attack in 1973, and on to the inconclusive 2006 Second Lebanon War, the Jewish state’s indecision has often proven to be costly in both blood and tears.

And yet, as we mark the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords with the PLO this week, it is clear that even these blunders pale in comparison with the capricious capitulation that took place on the White House Lawn on September 13, 1993.

Simply put, Oslo was the worst strategic disaster in Israel’s history and we have yet to fully extricate ourselves from the damage it continues to wreak.

The tragedy began when, with reckless disregard for logic, morality or even common sense, then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and foreign minister Shimon Peres tossed a lifeline to PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and magnanimously agreed to give him control over parts of the Land of Israel in exchange for an empty promise of peace.

Overnight, the reviled revolutionary, whose resumé included ordering plane hijackings, school massacres and the slaughter of civilians, was granted international legitimacy.
25 years on, Oslo Accords peace hopes a fading memory
As Palestinians prepare to lower the flag over their shuttered mission in Washington, no one can predict when they will return to the city where just a quarter of a century ago a diplomatic triumph was celebrated on a sunlit White House lawn.

Hosted by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, Palestinian and Israeli leaders came together on Sept. 13, 1993 to sign the first of the Oslo Accords, designed to be the foundation of a permanent peace deal within five years that would create two states, side-by-side.

The three men who would win the Nobel Peace Prize the next year – Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of Israel and Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat – did not live to see peace in their time.

Now, with relations between U.S. President Donald Trump and the Palestinians, who see him as an unquestioning ally of right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, at a breaking point, the Oslo deal seems like a relic from a bygone age.

As if to drive home the flaws inherent in Oslo's original Declaration of Principles, 25 years later it is the very issues that were postponed for later resolution that are now dominating the headlines once again.
Oslo Accords: 25 years of naivete
Peres even wrote to Norwegian Foreign Minister Johan Jorgen Holst vowing not to shut down Palestinian institutions in east Jerusalem. Above all, the Israeli leadership (especially the national security apparatus) showed that it was not overly concerned by the PLO's ideology.

Rabin saw the peace process as a means of establishing nothing more than Palestinian autonomy. But his very willingness to sign a deal with the PLO unleashed all the demons: the Palestinian "right of return," refugees, Jerusalem, and the armed struggle against Israel.

The modern Palestinian identity formed following the Six-Day War and coalesced around terrorism and armed struggle. Did anyone really expect the Palestinian Authority, formed by the PLO, to turn its back on the roots of the Palestinian nationalist revolution?

Even today, some Israeli security officials, especially on the Left, refuse to accept that the Palestinians are playing the long game against Israel. Some have referred to this as a phased plan that combines diplomacy with terrorism, but that is no longer a suitable term. It would be more appropriate to describe the PA's approach as a consistent policy that combines terrorism, diplomatic warfare, psychological propaganda and no less important, legal warfare.

Israel, and especially the Left, gave the PLO international legitimacy.

Just as no one in 1993 thought the Gaza Strip would become a hub for missiles and suicide bombers, no one thought the PLO would be in a position of being able to deny Israel its international legitimacy.

A quarter of a century later, it has become apparent that a coalition of terrorist groups has managed to create a major internal schism within Israeli society.
25 years on, how do ‘Oslo babies’ see peace accords?
Precisely a quarter of a century ago, on September 13, 1993, the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat stood on either side of US President Bill Clinton in front of the White House and shook hands, marking a historic moment after the signing of the Oslo I Accord. For many, that moment was one that brimmed with hope that a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians could be within reach.

Crucial aspects of the accords included Palestinian recognition of Israel’s right to exist, and Israel’s recognition of the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

The partition of the West Bank into areas A, B and C, each with a different level of autonomy, and the declaration of Israel’s intention to eventually withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza Strip were other unprecedented developments.

Palestinians and Israelis born that year can only relive that moment through the euphoria or skepticism that had been felt by their parents at the time. They were just two years old when Rabin was assassinated by one of his own people, seven when the peace process broke down at Camp David, and they transitioned from elementary school to middle school as the over-four-years-long Second Intifada - named by some as the Oslo War or Arafat’s War - raged.

The Jerusalem Post spoke with several “Oslo babies,” who today are young adults aged 25 years, to learn how they view the Oslo Accords and the reality they paved as they joined the world.
Palestinian youths disrupt joint Palestine-Israel Conference on 25th anniversary of Oslo Accords
A group of 20 Palestinian protesters disrupted a joint Palestinian-Israeli conference Wednesday at east Jerusalem’s American Colony Hotel marking the 25th anniversary of the Oslo accords just as former member of the Palestinian Legislative Council Ziad AbuZayyad began to speak.

The conference marked the launch of a special issue of the Palestine-Israel Journal, which is co-edited by AbuZayyad and Hillel Schenker.

Shouting slogans in Arabic, the demonstrators – all of university age – initially congregated in the hotels’ courtyard beneath the conference room. Their combined voices drowned out AbuZayyad. Still shouting, the demonstrators stormed the second floor conference room, where foreign journalists, diplomats and left-wing Israeli activists were sitting with representatives of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, which co-sponsored the conference together with the Palestine-Israel Journal.

The leader of the group ordered everyone out, saying no one present was authorized to speak in the name of Palestinians.

Saying he could understand their anger and frustration, AbuZayyad tried to explain to the demonstrators the conference was being held to protest the failure to implement principles laid down in the Oslo Accords. But the activists wouldn’t listen, and insisted the audience disperse.

Almost everyone, including Norwegian Ambassador Jon Hanssen-Bauer, left immediately, presumably out of concern that the protest escalate into violence.

Only minutes earlier, Schenker in a welcome address singled out Bauer as the representative of the country which had facilitated the Oslo Accords.
Poll: Most Palestinians oppose renewed dialogue with US
A majority of Palestinians oppose renewed dialogue between the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership and US President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a public opinion poll published on Wednesday.

Sixty-two percent of Palestinians are against a resumption of dialogue, while 27% are in favor, the survey found.

Since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and initiated the relocation of the US Embassy in Israel to the city last December, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and several top Palestinian officials have refused to meet White House officials, including US Vice President Mike Pence, and other American government personnel.

However, senior Palestinian security officials including Ziad Hab a-Rih, the head of PA Preventative Security, and Majid Faraj, the chief of the PA General Intelligence Services, have recently held meetings with CIA officials, according to two Palestinian sources who spoke to The Times of Israel.
UN bemoans 'unsustainable' Palestinian economy
Palestinian citizens are trapped in an economy of jobless growth with no prospects, especially in Gaza, which is undergoing "de-development," the United Nations trade and development agency said in an annual report published on Wednesday.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report said unemployment in the Palestinian territories was the highest in the world in 2017, at 27.4%, while agricultural production fell by 11%. Half of Palestinians under 30 were unemployed. The economy grew 3.1% but was flat on a per capita basis.

Speaking to journalists in Geneva, Mahmoud Elkhafif, coordinator of the report, said the major reason for this situation from an economic development point of view was a set of Israeli restrictions such as permit systems for Palestinians to work in Israel.

UNCTAD Deputy Secretary General Isabelle Durant described the economic situation in Gaza as "absolutely unsustainable."

A customs union between Israel and the Palestinian territories has isolated the Palestinian economy from the rest of the world and left it dependent on Israel, the report said.

In Gaza, where real incomes have fallen 30% since 1999 and production capacity has been hit by successive military operations, households got an average of two hours of electricity daily, and only about 10% had drinking water.
U.N.: Donor funding for Palestinians dropped by a third in last decade
Donor funding to the Palestinian Authority has dropped by one-third in the last decade, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

It spoke out on the matter as the UN and the PA are scrambling to make up for the Trump Administration’s decision to halt funding to the Palestinians, both in direct bilateral assistance and through UN contributions.

“In 2017, budget support from donors dropped by 10.5 per cent from the 2016 level,” the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) stated in a 16-page report it published on the Palestinian economy.

“Total international support was $720 million, only one-third of the $2 billion in 2008.

“For the same period, budget support shrank from $1.8 billion to $544 million, a 70 per cent decrease,” the UNCTAD said.
It did not break the data down by donor country. But according to a Congressional report, the US in 2012 set aside $396 million in bilateral assistance to the PA through its Economic Support Fund.

That number dropped to $290 million in 2015, $370 million in 2015 and $230 million in 2017, before the US said it would not pay out $200 million of that sum.

The UNCTAD stated that in addition the Palestinian Authority lost about $300 million a year because of its shared custom envelop with Israel, which collects taxes on behalf of the PA.
US Congress votes $38 billion defense aid to Israel into law
A bipartisan bill that would cement the U.S. military aid to Israel into law has passed a major hurdle on Wednesday night.

The U.S. House of Representative approved the measure, known as the Ileana Ros-Lehtinen U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018, several weeks after it passed the Senate. It will now head toward the president's desk.

Under the proposed legislation, the $38 billion in military aid over 10 years spelled out under the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding, would be funded through a special mechanism that would be separate from the annual budget.

The bill would also give Israel increased access to sophisticated U.S. technology to ensure it maintains its qualitative edge in the region through the U.S. war reserve stockpile in Israel, which Israeli forces can use under certain conditions.

It also authorizes the president to bolster the stockpile with $1 billion worth of weaponry, as well as with precision-guided munitions to use against Hezbollah. The bill further allows the president to establish a collaborative U.S.-Israel counterdrone program.

The law ensures that U.S. aid would not be cut so long as the memorandum comes into effect starting in 2019, ensuring that the funds would not be influenced by the budget wars Congress and the White House have. It also means that presidents would not be able to suspend U.S. aid as a means of pressuring Israel.
EU: Israel must compensate for demolition of Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar
The European Parliament called for compensation from Israel should it demolish the illegally built West Bank Bedouin herding village of Khan al-Ahmar, and warned that it set a dangerous precedent for 46 such communities in Area C.

In a 320 to 277 vote, the Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday approved a harsh resolution against Israel.

It stated that “the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and the forcible transfer of its residents would constitute a grave breach of international humanitarian law.”

“Ten EU Member States are supporting humanitarian programs in Khan al-Ahmar, including the construction of a primary school, and an estimated 315,000 euros worth of EU-funded humanitarian assistance is now at risk,” the resolution stated.

Parliamentarians called on the EU to more strenuously object to the demolition, including insisting on compensation of the loss of EU-funded structures in Khan al-Ahmar and other such herding villages.

The resolution stated that “should the demolition and eviction of Khan al-Ahmar take place – the EU’s response must be commensurate with the seriousness of this development and consistent with its long-standing support to the community of Khan al-Ahmar.”
IDF razes five protest shacks near Khan al-Ahmar
In a pre-dawn West Bank raid the Civil Administration demolished five white shacks that activists had placed in the area Khan al-Ahmar Monday to protest the pending demolition of the illegal Bedouin herding village.

Civil Administration official took apart the shacks, loaded the pieces onto trucks and carried them away.

Their activity brought awakened activists and Khan al-Ahmar residents who are expected the IDF to arrive at any moment to evacuate their village of 180 people, located just off of Route 1, near the Kfar Adumim settlement. The security forces left as the sun rose.

The Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said, “This morning (Thursday), the Civil Administration's Supervisory Unit carried out enforcement against five movable structures that were illegally transported to, and erected in the vicinity of Kfar Adumim over the past few days. This enforcement activity was carried out in accordance with regulations and according to the law.”

“The erection of these structures was advanced by representatives of the Palestinian Authority in protest and defiance of the decision of the High Court of Justice, and in opposition to the enforcement of Israeli law in Area C.”
Czech leaders endorse Israeli embassy move to Jerusalem
Czech leaders on Wednesday endorsed moving the country’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following a similar move by the US administration earlier this year.

In a joint statement, the Czech president, prime minister, parliament speaker and the foreign and defense ministers said the opening of a “Czech House” there in November would be “the first step in the plan to move the Czech embassy to Jerusalem.”

Jiri Ovcacek, spokesman for President Milos Zeman, told AFP that the Czech House would shelter government institutions including the foreign ministry’s Czech Center, the trade agency CzechTrade and tourism agency CzechTourism.

“The Czech House in Jerusalem will be ceremonially opened by Mr. President during his visit to Israel in November,” he said.

Zeman, a 73-year-old veteran left-winger known for his staunch pro-Israel stance, promoted the embassy move even before US President Donald Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem on May 14.
Israel denies report that Saudi Arabia purchased Iron Dome
The Defense Ministry denied on Thursday an Arabic media report that Saudi Arabia had purchased the Iron Dome missile defense system.

“We deny the existence of a deal to sell Iron Dome to Saudi Arabia,” the Defense Ministry said in an emailed statement.

Al-Khaleej Online, an Arabic news site with offices in the UK and the Persian Gulf, had reported earlier in the day that Saudi Arabia bought Iron Dome from Israel, citing unnamed diplomatic sources.

The report did not specify how many Iron Dome batteries Saudi Arabia had allegedly purchased. However, it asserted that the first battery will arrive in Saudi Arabia in December and be placed near its border with Yemen.

For more than the past three years, a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting a war against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The report also claimed that Saudi Arabia had “convinced Israel to sell [Iron Dome]” through American interlocutors in “secret tripartite meetings that took place in Washington.”
PM’s spokesman Keyes taking ‘time off’ after sexual misconduct claims
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesperson to the international media, David Keyes, said Thursday that he was taking time off from his job to fend off various allegations of sexual misconduct.

“In light of the false and misleading accusations against me and in order not to distract from the important work of the Prime Minister, I have asked to take time off to clear my name,” he said in a statement sent to reporters. “I am fully confident that the truth will come out.”

Minutes later, the Prime Minister Office issued a separate statement saying that it had “accepted David Keyes’ request to take time off.”

It was not immediately clear how long his absence would last, or whether it was open-ended.

Keyes’s decision came after four Knesset members called on Netanyahu to suspend Keyes until the reports about his alleged sexual misconduct had been clarified.

It also came shortly after The Times of Israel asked him to comment on a fresh allegation — that he made an “aggressive, sexual” advance at a woman in Israel weeks after he became Netanyahu’s spokesperson in 2016. The woman involved, an immigrant from North America, spoke with The Times of Israel earlier Thursday.

On Wednesday, The Times of Israel published an investigation citing 12 women who described a pattern of inappropriate behavior by Keyes toward themselves and other women.
IsraellyCool: Latest Palestinian Blood Libel: The Case of the Murdered “Attacker”
Those propagandists over at the Palestinian Information Center have posted the following claim:

Extrimist Jewish settlers on Wednesday night attacked a Palestinian child with pepper spray near his home in al-Khalil city.

A local source told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that 10-year-old Ahmed Jaber was rushed to hospital after settlers from the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba attacked him with pepper spray in his face.


The lack of consistency is usually one sign the story is probably not true. But in this case, there is another reason to doubt it.

Let’s look at the above photo again.

The man in the white shirt, near the center, was this man..Rabbi Raziel Shevach [who] was murdered earlier this year by one of those the Palestinian Information Center idolizes.
Hevron Jew who retaliated against rock-throwers convicted
The Magistrate's Court on Thursday convicted Hevron resident Noam Federman and his son of deliberately sabotaging a vehicle, after the two were documented throwing rocks at PA vehicles in Hevron and damaging their windows in response to Arabs who threw rocks at their car.

The judge ruled in his decision that there was no justification for the throwing of the rocks and that the response of the Jews was illegal.

Federman told Arutz Sheva upon leaving the courthouse, "I entered with a smile before the verdict was handed down and I left with a smile afterward. There is a contradictory message from the judge, who on the one hand said I did something heroic and on the other convicts me. I am satisfied with my actions and if a similar event happens tomorrow, I will act again in the same way."

Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, who represented Federman's son, added, "There is a contradictory message in the verdict. On the one hand it praises the heroism of the Federman family and on the other hand the judge decided on a conviction. We believe that throwing the rocks was right and will appeal the verdict."
MEMRI: On Visit To North Korea, Palestinian Foreign Minister Conveys Greetings, Messages Of Solidarity From Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas To NK Leader Kim Jong-un; NK Official To Al-Maliki: The U.S. Is The Enemy Of Peace
Riyad Al-Maliki, the Palestinian Authority's minister of foreign and diaspora affairs, visited North Korea recently to attend its 70th anniversary celebrations and met with North Korean officials, including Leader Kim Jong-un, Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and Kim Yong-dae, Vice President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly. According to the Palestinian news agency WAFA, during his visit Al-Maliki delivered a letter and a gift from Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas to North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un.[1]

During their meeting, Al-Maliki and Kim Yong-dae both stressed that the Palestinian and North Korean people are in a similar situation, withstanding pressure by the U.S. Kim Yong-dae stated that the U.S. is the enemy of peace and cannot serve as mediator in the peace process.

It should be noted that PA and North Korean officials exchange letters and greetings occasionally. In the recent years, 'Abbas has sent Kim Jong-un greetings on North Korea's Liberation Day, and the latter recently conveyed a letter to 'Abbas via the Palestinian embassy in Egypt in which he commended him and the Palestinian people for "their just struggle to restore all their legitimate rights to establish an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital."[2] The President of the Supreme People's Assembly Presidium, Kim Yong-nam, sent 'Abbas a letter congratulating him on the anniversary of the Palestinian declaration of independence.[3]

It should be noted that, in June 2018, MEMRI published a translation of an article penned by 'Atef Abu Saif, a Fatah spokesman living in Gaza, in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's June 12 summit with Kim Jong-un. In the article, Abu Saif praised North Korea and Iran as two countries that have retained their honor in the face of American and international pressures and stuck to their goals despite sanctions and boycotts, forcing the world to heed their position. He lamented that the Arabs do not learn the lesson of history and follow the example of Iran and North Korea.[4]
Haley Warns Syria, Russia, Iran About Using Chemical Weapons: ‘Don’t Test Us Again’
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday warned the regime of Syrian President Bashar al- Assad, along with its allies Russia and Iran, not to use chemical weapons against the last rebel stronghold in Syria, suggesting the Trump administration will respond with military action if they do use such weapons.

Haley issued the warning on Fox News' "Special Report," where she discussed a range of issues with host Bret Baier, including the possibility of the Assad regime using chemical weapons against the Syrian people in an offensive to retake Idlib province in northwestern Syria.

"Twice we have warned you not to use chemical weapons, twice you have used them, and twice President Trump has acted," Haley said. "Don't test us again, because I think the odds are very much against them."

Haley was referring to two different times when the Trump administration launched military strikes against the Syrian government in response to it using chemical weapons on civilians—first in April 2017, then in April 2018.
Kerry: ‘We Knew That Assad Had Kept Some’ Chemical Weapons
Former Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that the Obama administration knew that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad kept some of his chemical weapons despite an international agreement brokered to remove the entire stockpile by mid-2014.

"We said we got a hundred percent of the declared weapons out, which is what the Organization for the [Prohibition] of Chemical Weapons was able to track," Kerry said on Fox News. "We knew that Assad had kept some, and we tried to go to the [United Nations] Security Council, and, unfortunately, Russia played games and we didn't get there."

In 2013, the United States and Russia struck a deal to remove Syria's entire arsenal of chemical weapons from the country by the middle of 2014. Kerry and other Obama administration officials publicly touted the deal as a major success.

"We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out," Kerry said on NBC's "Meet the Press" in 2014.

In 2015, however, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) told the Obama administration that it had found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at the Syrian government's Scientific Studies and Research Center in the district of Barzeh, near Damascus.
UN Amb. Nikki Haley: Iran Is "Feeling the Pain" from Revived Sanctions
Iran is "feeling the pain" from the sweeping sanctions revived by President Trump in August, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, told Fox News exclusively in a wide-ranging interview on Wednesday.

"They feel weak and we are suffocating them to the point that they have to address ballistic missiles; they have to address their support on terrorism," Haley told "Special Report" anchor Bret Baier.

The Trump administration this summer restored major sanctions against Iran in the areas of automobiles, gold and other key metals. The sanctions had been suspended under former President Barack Obama's 2015 nuclear deal, pummelling the value of currency there and threatening to further unravel the Islamic country's already-struggling economy.

Trump pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear deal in May, saying its enforcement and monitoring mechanisms were too lenient and calling for Iran to return to the negotiating table.

Even more severe U.S. sanctions against Iran's banking and energy sectors are slated to go into effect in November, including restrictions on Iran's oil industry that could cut off a crucial source of hard currency.
Kerry Meeting With Iran to Salvage Nuke Deal With Rogue Diplomacy
Former Secretary of State John Kerry disclosed that he has been conducting rogue diplomacy with top Iranian officials to salvage the landmark nuclear deal and push the Islamic Republic to negotiate its contested missile program, according to recent remarks.

Kerry, in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt to promote his new book, said that he has met with Iranian Former Minister Javad Zarif—the former secretary's onetime negotiating partner—three or four times in recent months behind the Trump administration's back.

"I think I've seen him three or four times," Kerry said, adding that he has been conducting sensitive diplomacy without the current administration's authorization. Kerry said he has criticized the current administration in these discussions, chiding it for not pursuing negotiations from Iran, despite the country's fevered rhetoric about the U.S. president.

Kerry's comments are in line with previous reporting on his behind-the-scenes attempts to save the nuclear deal and ensure that Iran continues receiving billions in cash windfalls. These payments were brought to a halt by the Trump administration when it abandoned the nuclear agreement and reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran that have nearly toppled its economy and sparked a popular revolution.

Kerry said he met Zarif in Norway, Munich, and other international forums.

As Iran continues to plot terror attacks across the globe and transport weapons to regional hotspots in Syria and Yemen, Kerry has tried to help Zarif preserve the nuclear agreement with European nations.
Fox News’ Dana Perino Presses John Kerry on if He Told Iran to Wait Out Trump Presidency
Former secretary of state John Kerry gave an interview to Fox News’ Dana Perino today, where he was asked about reports that he has been speaking with Iranian officials in an attempt to salvage the nuclear deal.

The Fox host asked Kerry about the reports, which hold Kerry is reassuring Iranian officials that President Donald Trump will be out of office in 2020.

Kerry didn’t exactly deny it, saying “everybody in the world is sitting around talking about waiting out President Trump.”

Perino tried to press Kerry further, though he maintained the idea applies to other diplomatic policies beyond the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
MEMRI: Egyptian Daily: According To The Egyptian Interior Ministry, Muhammad 'Atta, One Of The Perpetrators Of The September 11, 2001 Attacks, Died In 2008
On September 11, 2018, the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm, which is affiliated with the Al-Sisi regime, published an investigative article titled "On the Occasion of 17th Anniversary of 9/11: Documents from the 9/11 File Reveal that the Commander of the Operation, Muhammad 'Atta, Died in 2008." The article states that the Egyptian interior ministry refused to record September 11, 2001 as the date of the death of Muhammad 'Atta, an Egyptian national who was one of the planners of the attacks and one of the hijackers of the plane that hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Instead, the ministry issued a death certificate noting October 29, 2008 as the date of his death, and even this was done only after the family appealed to the courts to demand the issuance of a death certificate so they could arrange matters of inheritance, and following an investigation by the State Security Investigations Service.

The article is accompanied by photos of official documents, including the aforementioned death certificate, which are implied to cast doubt on 'Atta's involvement in the 9/11 attacks. The article also states that the attacks are still shrouded in "secrets," and mentions speculations about the possible involvement of the Mossad or the FBI in them.

The following are translated excerpts from the article:

"Although 17 years have passed since the 9/11 attacks, or 'Black September', as America called them, secrets [regarding them] continue to emerge. This incident in 2001 served as an excuse for destroying countries in the Arab world. The flag of terror passed from one organization to another. During the subsequent years, some people believed – while others denied – that the Israeli Mossad had been behind the events [of 9/11] and had planned them in order to stoke conflict between the U.S. and the Middle East and Arab world. A former interior minister, Habib Al-'Adly, in his court testimony, accused the U.S. even of involvement in the destruction that befell Egypt in January 2011.[1] He [also] claimed that the FBI had received warning from an FBI source within Al-Qaeda that a large terror operation in the U.S. was being planned, but did not heed this warning, and that [the source] warned them again in August 2001, but to no avail.



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