The most feared and effective rebel group battling President Bashar al-Assad, the Islamist Nusra Front, is being eclipsed by a more radical jihadi force whose aims go far beyond overthrowing the Syrian leader. Article
FACTBOX - Sex abuse scandals in the Catholic church
REUTERS - The Roman Catholic Church is under increasing scrutiny as allegations of child sexual abuses by priests have emerged in several European countries.
Following are details of some of the major abuse scandals:
* NETHERLANDS: More than 200 Catholics have come forward in the past week with reports of abuse after a report by Radio Netherlands Worldwide and newspaper NRC Handelsblad that three priests from the Salesian order abused pupils decades ago at a boarding school.
* GERMANY: The Regensburg diocese said last week in a statement that one priest abused two boys sexually in 1958 and was sentenced to two years in jail. Another clergyman served 11 months in jail in 1971 for abuse. It mentioned three men who claimed to have suffered sexual abuse in the early 1960s by several unnamed teachers while they were at boarding schools connected to the "Regensburger Domspatzen" (Regensburg Cathedral Sparrows), the official choir for the diocese.
-- Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, head of the German Bishops Conference, apologised last month for sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests after more than 100 cases were reported in Jesuit boarding schools around the country.
-- April 2002 - Bishop Brendan Comiskey of Ferns, one of Ireland's best-known clerics, resigned over his handling of charges against a priest of his diocese who committed suicide in 1999 while facing 66 charges of sexual abuse.
-- May 2009 - The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse issued a five-volume report that took nine years to compile. It said priests beat and raped children during decades of abuse in Catholic-run institutions.
-- Nov. 2009 - The Murphy report, a government-commissioned inquiry into abuse in Dublin from 1975 to 2004 released on Nov. 26, 2009, said church authorities covered up widespread cases of child sexual abuse until the mid-1990s.
-- Dec. 2009 - After meeting two Irish Church leaders, Pope Benedict said he shared the "outrage, betrayal and shame" over the scandal in Ireland.
-- Last month, Benedict held crisis talks with 24 Irish bishops at the Vatican. A Vatican statement after the talks called child sexual abuse by priests a "heinous crime" and said the bishops had promised the pope they were committed to cooperating with authorities. Four bishops have offered their resignations and the pope has so far accepted one.
* UNITED STATES:
-- Dec. 2002 - Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law resigned over charges he transferred clerical abusers to other parishes to cover up the scandal.
-- June 2002 - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops directed dioceses to investigate all charges of sexual abuse.
-- Feb. 2004 - Independent researchers commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said a total of 10,667 people had accused U.S. priests of child sexual abuse from 1950 through 2002. More than 17 percent of accusers had siblings who were also allegedly abused. Among accusers, 47 percent said they had been abused numerous times.
-- July 2007, Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million to 500 victims of sexual abuse dating as far back as the 1940s, in the largest compensation deal of its kind.
-- April 2008 Pope Benedict met victims of sexual abuse by priests during his visit to the United States. The U.S. church has paid some $2 billion in settlements to victims since the scandal first broke in 1992.
-- Oct. 2009 - The diocese of Wilmington, Delaware filed for bankruptcy protection. It later agreed to provide documents to alleged sex abuse victims to postpone the start of about 80 civil cases. Since 2002, the Wilmington diocese has settled eight cases for an average of about $780,000 each.
* BRITAIN - July 2000 - London Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor acknowledged making a mistake in a previous post in the 1980s by allowing a paedophile priest to continue working. The priest was jailed in 1997 for abusing nine boys over a 20-year period.
* AUSTRIA - July 2004 - Austrian News magazine Profil ran pictures of priests kissing and groping seminarians at a Roman Catholic seminary in the St. Poelten diocese.
* AUSTRALIA -- July 2008 - On a visit to Australia, Pope Benedict apologised for sexual abuse by clergy, condemning it as "evil" and saying abusers should be brought to justice. At that time there had been 107 convictions for sexual abuse in the Catholic church there.
* MEXICO - March 2009 - Pope Benedict ordered a probe of the Legion of Christ priestly order whose founder was discovered to be a sexual molester. In 2006, Pope Benedict told the founder, Father Marcial Maciel, to retire to a life of "prayer and penitence". Maciel died in 2008.
* CANADA - Oct 2009 - Bishop Raymond Lahey of Antigonish in Nova Scotia was charged with possession and importation of child pornography. Earlier that year, he had overseen a C$13 million ($12 million) settlement with clerical abuse victims in the Antigonish diocese in a case dating back to 1950.
Sources: Reuters/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
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