VATICAN CITY -Pope Francis on Tuesday announced sweeping changes to the way the Roman Catholic Church deals with cases of sexual abuse of minors, abolishing the rule of “pontifical secrecy” that previously covered them. Advocates for the victims of a sex abuse scandal that has rocked the church for nearly two decades applauded the move as being long overdue but said it had to be applied broadly. Two documents issued by the pope back practices that have been in place in some countries, particularly the United States, such as reporting suspicion of sex abuse to civil authorities where required by law. Pope accepts resignation of archbishop accused of molestation The documents, which put the practices into universal Church law, also forbid imposing an obligation of silence on those who report sex abuse or allege they have been a victim. “This is an epochal decision,” Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta and the Vatican’s most experienced sex abuse investigator, told Vatican Radio. The lifting of “pontifical secrecy” in sex abuse investigations was a key demand by Church leaders, including Scicluna and German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, at a summit on sexual abuse held at the Vatican in February. They argued that secrecy in cases of sexual abuse of minors was outdated and some Church officials were hiding behind it instead of cooperating with authorities.

Najib ordered killing of Mongolian model, says former bodyguard

KUALA LUMPUR - A Malaysian police officer on death row for the 2006 slaying of a Mongolian model has accused former prime minister Najib Razak of ordering him to kill the woman, according to media reports and the policeman’s lawyer. Azilah Hadri and another police officer, who were serving on Najib’s security detail at the time of the murder, were sentenced to death in 2015 for killing 28-year-old Altantuya Shaariibuu. Najib, who lost a general election last year and is also facing charges of corruption on a massive scale, has denied knowing the woman, but the question of who ordered the killing has never been answered. Azilah, in a court filing seeking to set aside his conviction, said Najib had ordered him to “arrest and destroy” Shaariibuu, who the former premier had allegedly described as a foreign spy, news portal Malaysiakini reported on Monday. “I asked (Najib) what he meant by arrest and destroy the foreign spy, he responded: “Shoot to kill”, and indicating it with a ‘slit the throat’ gesture,” Azilah said, according to Malaysiakini. Azilah’s lawyer J. Kuldeep Kumar on Tuesday confirmed the report, but declined to comment further. Malaysia’s Federal Court will hear Azilah’s application on April 20. Najib denied the allegations and accused the Malaysian government of using Azilah to orchestrate a political attack against him. “I have been told that this new tale will provide a way for the government to arrest and imprison me without bail, as no bail is allowed for murder cases,” Najib said on his Facebook page. Shaariibuu was shot dead and her body was blown up by military grade explosives in a forest near Kuala Lumpur.