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News Briefs

Catholic Church Hires FBI Official To Monitor Abuse Policies


The highest ranking woman in the FBI has been hired to police the Catholic Church as it enacts policies aimed at preventing a repeat of the sexual abuse scandal this year that removed hundreds of priests and undermined parishioners’ trust.

Kathleen McChesney, 51, who has led the agency’s efforts to improve relations between federal and local law enforcement, was named Thursday director of the U.S. bishops’ Office of Child and Youth Protection.

The creation of the office was a key part of the sexual-abuse policy adopted by the bishops in June and revised last week by a joint committee of bishops and Vatican officials. The bishops will vote on the revised policy next week in Washington.

At a news conference Thursday at the Washington headquarters of the U.S. bishops’ conference, McChesney drew a parallel between the crisis in the church and recent scandals that have beset the FBI.

“I believe the Catholic Church has suffered because of acts of a few. I come from an institution where we have suffered for the acts of a few,” she said.

Turnout High in Referendum On Gibraltar Sovreignty


Most of this British territory’s more than 20,000 eligible voters turned out Thursday to cast ballots in a referendum on Britain’s plans to share sovereignty with Spain. Final results were not expected until early Friday, but local officials predicted that an overwhelming majority would vote no to any power-sharing arrangement.

Voters included about 600 absentee residents casting ballots by mail from London, and a dozen inmates at Her Majesty’s Prison, who were allowed to vote inside the facility.

To demonstrate this enclave’s near-universal rejection of any change in their British status, many shops and apartments hung Union Jack flags and many residents sported red-and-white T-shirts, hats and flowered lapel pins. Even dogs were draped in the red-and-white Castle and Key flag of Gibraltar.

The ballot-counting Thursday night was turned into a carnival-like spectacle, with a giant screen set up in Gibraltar’s main square to carry a live broadcast of the 12 ballot boxes arriving one by one, in taxicabs, at the counting center.

The referendum complicates the next move of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has wanted to settle the Gibraltar issue this year and see it removed as a lingering sore point in relations with Spain, a fellow member of the European Union. Several members of Blair’s Labor Party are here as observers, urging the government to respect the wish of the Gibraltarians to remain British.