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Catholic Cardinal Steps Down Amid Sex Abuse Scandal

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In a nearly unprecedented move, one of the most prominent Catholic Cardinals in the United States resigned from his position today amid sexual abuse allegations.

“Pope Francis on Saturday accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, one of the U.S. Catholic Church’s most prominent figures who has been at the centre of a widening sexual abuse scandal,” according to Reuters.

McCarrick was the former Archbishop of Washington D.C., and is believed to be the first Cardinal to resign since French theologian Louis Billot in 1927, who had a disagreement with Pope Pius XI.

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He stands accused of sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy more than 50 years ago, accusations which the Catholic Church say are “credible and substantiated.” Another alleged victim has come forward claiming the McCarrick abused him at age 11, and several men have alleged that the Cardinal forced them to sleep with him at his New Jersey home while in seminary school.

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“A Vatican statement said the pope ordered McCarrick’s suspension from the exercise of any public ministry,” according to the report. “This means he remains a priest but will be allowed to say Mass only in private. Francis also ordered McCarrick to go into seclusion “for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial.”

McCarrick said he has “absolutely no recollection” of the alleged abuse from 50 years ago, and has not publicly commented on any other allegations.

“The New York Times reported last week that two dioceses in New Jersey, where McCarrick served as bishop before being promoted to Washington in 2000, had reached financial settlements in 2005 and 2007 with men who said they were abused by McCarrick as adults decades ago,” says the report.

“Last Tuesday, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston said he was ‘deeply troubled’ by the McCarrick case, saying it and others pointed to ‘a major gap’ in Church policy on sexual conduct and sexual abuse by bishops or other top officials.”

 

Good News

Endangered California Condor Seen in Sequoia National Park for the First Time in 50 Years

It’s the largest bird in North America.

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One of the most endangered animals in the United States has been observed in a national park that is part of its historical range. The National Park and U.S. Fish and Wildlife services confirmed in a joint statement that six California Condors have been seeing flying above the Sequoia National Park in Eastern California.

The birds were also photographed by park personnel.

A biologist of the Santa Barbara Zoo confirmed that specimens being GPS-tracked by the zoo had been geolocated in the national park.

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We use GPS transmitters to track the birds’ movement, which can be over hundreds of miles on a single day,” said Dave Meyer. “On this particular day we documented the birds’ signals around Giant Forest, and we are excited that park employees observed the birds and confirmed their use of this important historic habitat.

The Sequoia National Park consists of more then 400,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The rare vultures, which feed upon carrion, had once been known to nest in the great Sequoia trees of the park, before disappearing from the habitat around the 1970’s.

The California Condor is a New World vulture, and an exceptionally large bird, the largest native to North America. It range once broadly consisted of the entire western United States, spanning from Canada to Baja California in Mexico.

It had been declared to be extinct in the wild in 1987, but a preservation program to save the species has proved successful in reintroducing captive individuals to the wild in northern Arizona and Utah. Poaching, habitat destruction, and poisoning from manmade chemicals have severely eroded the population of the birds in the wild, and it’s currently listed as critically endangered. Preservation efforts have increased the wild population of the California Condor from merely 22 animals to more than 400 today.

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