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Cologne Cathedral at sunset
Cologne Cathedral at sunset
Roland Preuss*

MUNICH - A major research project set up to shed light on sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Germany has been shelved, according to information obtained by Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Germany’s Catholic Church has cancelled the project, and a letter to that effect has been sent by the German Bishops’ Conference to the Criminal Research Institute of Lower Saxony, which had been mandated by the Church to handle the project.

Project director Christian Pfeiffer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that the project failed because of the Church’s "wish to censor and control." Contrary to the original agreement, Church authorities were insisting on a right to choose researchers and determine how and if results would be published.

An agreement had been signed to proceed with the study in July 2011. According to the Criminial Research Institute, the project was to be the most thorough investigation into the subject ever conducted anywhere in the world. The files of all dioceses in Germany – some of them going back to the end of World War II -- were to be examined. In-depth interviews with abusers and victims had also been planned.

However criticisms from clerics led to the Bishops’ Conference legal offices asking for changes in the agreement. Pfeiffer also said he had sent a letter to the Bishops stating that in some dioceses files of abuse cases had been destroyed, and that the letter had never been answered.

Church official Hans Langendörfer presented a different picture. "I don’t have any indication of destroyed files,” he said, adding that the project had failed for data protection reasons among others. The Church had been open to compromise on the issue of publication, he said, but now its confidence in Pfeiffer had been "shattered."

*This is a digest item, not a direct translation.

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China has endured two months of scorching heatwaves and drought that have affected power supply in the country. Spooked by future energy security, Beijing is reinvesting heavily in coal with disastrous implications for climate change.

The Datang International Zhangjiakou Power Plant shown at dusk in Xuanhua District of Zhangjiakou City, north China's Hebei Province.

Guangyi Pan and Hao Yang*

Two months of scorching heatwaves and drought plunged China into an energy security crisis.

The southwest province of Sichuan, for example, relies on dams to generate around 80% of its electricity, with growth in hydropower crucial for China meeting its net-zero by 2060 emissions target.

Sichuan suffered from power shortages after low rainfall and extreme temperatures over 40℃ dried up rivers and reservoirs. Heavy rainfall this week, however, has just seen power in Sichuan for commercial and industrial use fully restored, according to official Chinese media.

The energy crisis has seen Beijing shift its political discourse and proclaim energy security as a more urgent national mission than the green energy transition. Now, the government is investing in a new wave of coal-fired power stations to try to meet demand.

In the first quarter of 2022 alone, China approved 8.63 gigawatts of new coal plants and, in May, announced C¥ 10 billion (around $1.4 billion) of investment in coal power generation. What’s more, it will expand the capacity of a number of coal mines to ensure domestic supply as the international coal market price jumped amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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