- The Washington Times - Monday, April 26, 2010

CHILE

Cardinal pledges probe of clerical sexual abuse

SANTIAGO | A top Roman Catholic official in Chile acknowledged in a letter Sunday that he suspended an investigation into suspected abuses by a priest because he was looking for more evidence.

But Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz assured parishioners that the church investigation is again under way into the retired Rev. Fernando Karadima, who also is the subject of a Chilean prosecutor’s criminal probe.

“After an initial investigation … I suspended the matter to wait for new evidence, analyze more deeply what we already had and hold new consultations with experts in canonical law,” Cardinal Errazuriz said in the letter, which was read aloud to all parishes in the archdiocese of the capital, Santiago.

The accusations against Mr. Karadima were first reported last week by La Tercera newspaper, which said a former altar boy accused the ex-priest of sexually abusing him in his residence at the Sacred Heart of Jesus church in the capital’s elegant Providencia neighborhood.

The man, now a doctor, said the abuse started when he was a child and continued for nearly 20 years.

Four other men, all active participants in the parish, then came forward with similar accusations, the doctor’s attorney said.

CUBA

‘Ladies in White’ march blocked again

HAVANA | A small group of carefully choreographed government supporters shouted down an even smaller contingent of wives and mothers of imprisoned opposition activists Sunday, preventing their traditional march for the third straight week in another ugly confrontation that may be becoming a Cuban weekend tradition.

After seven years of peaceful protests following Mass in Havana’s upscale Miramar neighborhood, Cuba has begun blocking the “Ladies in White” from marching because the group never obtained written permission to do so.

Officials first broke up their demonstration on April 11, with a pro-government mob and buses that eventually gave the women a ride home. The subsequent Sunday, counterdemonstrators surrounded the women, refused to let them march and shouted insults in an hours-long standoff that ended with the women again being driven home.

This time, six members — down from nine last week — left the Santa Rita de Casia Church and crossed swank Fifth Avenue to hold their demonstration on a sidewalk that runs down the middle of the boulevard. A state agent in a Che Guevara T-shirt said they couldn’t march.

Two waiting groups of about 50 counterprotesters each came up the sidewalk from both directions hoisting large Cuban flags. The women marched until they ran into one group, then retraced their steps until meeting the other.

PHILIPPINES

Thousands lose homes in slum fire

MANILA | A huge fire swept through a shantytown outside the Philippine capital, destroying about 300 houses and leaving about 7,000 people homeless.

Metropolitan Manila Fire Marshal Pablito Cordeta said about 200 firetrucks battled the fire, which started at midafternoon Sunday and was still burning at nightfall. It spread rapidly in the slum in Quezon city because of strong winds and the scorching heat.

Firefighters struggled to penetrate alleys, which were clogged by people trying to save their belongings. Residents wept as they watched their homes burn.

Marshal Cordeta said at least two residents were reported missing.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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