Gay sex scandal at the Vatican

In his FP piece on the decline of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Patsy McGarry described the disatisfaction of Irish catholics with the Pope's tepid response to their country's priest sex abuse scandal. Now Benedict may have to do some damage control on a scandal much closer to home:

Angelo Balducci, a Gentleman of His Holiness, was caught by police on a wiretap allegedly negotiating with Thomas Chinedu Ehiem, a 29-year-old Vatican chorister, over the specific physical details of men he wanted brought to him. Transcripts in the possession of the Guardian suggest that numerous men may have been procured for Balducci, at least one of whom was studying for the priesthood.

The explosive claims about Balducci's private life have caused grave embarrassment to the Vatican, which has yet to publicly comment on the affair.



What other countries think of the United States

A few weeks ago, I blogged about what the United States thinks of other countries -- its rather cruel view of Afghanistan being one of the less fortunate things about that Pew Poll.

Today, Andrew Kohut, the head of the fantastically useful Pew Research Center, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight -- and let them know just what everyone else thinks of us. He included this chart in his testimony:

Some things to note:

  • Kenyans like Americans better than Americans like themselves.
  • Just one in a hundred Jordanians thought favorably of the United States in the wake of the Iraq invasion.
  • In Middle Eastern countries, support for the United States plummeted as soon as it invaded Iraq. Support for the United States dwindled over time in European countries, as the two wars dragged on.
  • The Obama bounce was biggest in France and Germany.
  • The average variance of opinion is 25.5 percent. 

The chart also allows us to determine the United States' most fickle friend -- that is, the country whose opinion of the United States has varied most over the course of the past decade. The honor goes to Indonesia. The country most steady in its views of the United States? Palestine, which has never cared for Washington much, apparently. Chart after the jump.