Church changes abuse policy
Pope John Paul II has approved changes in Vatican policy that will expedite dismissal of some clergy accused of sex abuse and give lay people a greater role at the church trials of alleged molesters, a Vatican official said Wednesday.
The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which oversees clerical abuse cases worldwide, now has the authority to oust particularly egregious offenders from the priesthood without a church trial, said Monsignor Charles Scicluna, a prosecutor with the congregation.
Previously, only the pope had that power.
The change, approved by the pope Feb. 7, is meant to help American bishops deal swiftly with the worst offenders and give smaller dioceses more resources to combat abuse. U.S. church leaders are still trying to recover from a year of molestation scandals.
Bush economic adviser quits
Glenn Hubbard, the chief architect of the Bush administration's tax cut package, resigned Wednesday as head of the president's Council of Economic Advisers.
The White House quickly announced a successor, Harvard economist Gregory Mankiw. The job requires Senate confirmation.
While Hubbard's resignation had been expected, it comes at a sensitive time for the White House. The administration is trying to persuade Congress to pass a $674 billion economic stimulus plan that Hubbard had a major hand in developing.
An expert on the economic effects of taxes, Hubbard was a strong advocate for the proposal's centerpiece -- elimination of the double taxation of stock dividends.
This idea, however, is the most contentious part of an overall plan that Democrats contend offers little immediate help for the ailing U.S. economy.
They also charge that most of the $360 billion in tax breaks over 10 years would flow to the wealthiest investors.
Breast cancer link to abortion refuted
Contradicting a belief widely promoted by abortion opponents, top scientific experts concluded Wednesday that there is no link between ending a pregnancy and developing breast cancer.
Some 100 epidemiologists, clinicians and basic scientists, convened in Bethesda by the Bush administration's cancer czar to review the evidence, quickly agreed that a woman who terminates her pregnancy does not face a higher risk of the devastating disease later in life.
Although some early, smaller studies had found an increased risk, larger and better-designed studies found none, they said.