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March 14, 2013

Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires elected as Pope Francis

Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires elected as Pope Francis

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Jorge Mario Bergoglio in 2012
Image: Sandra Hernandez.

The Roman Catholic Church has elected Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires as the new pope. He is to take the papal name Francis and take over from the recently retired Benedict XVI.

White smoke rose from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 7:06pm (Rome time) yesterday, signifying that the conclave had elected a new pope after four unsuccessful attempts. Following his election, he appeared at a balcony in St. Peter’s Square to greet crowds of onlookers.

Introducing himself in St. Peter’s Square, Francis was jovial: “Brothers and sisters, good evening. You know that the work of the conclave is to give a bishop to Rome. It seems as if my brother cardinals went to find him from the end of the earth. Thank you for the welcome.” He went on to say: “Let’s begin this long road from the Bishop of Rome to the people. Let us all behave with love and charity. Let us pray always not just for ourselves, but for others, for everyone in the word”.

Born in Buenos Aires on December 17, 1936 and now aged 76, the new pope became a bishop in 1992, and was elevated to cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. As a child, he lost a lung due to an infection. He is the first Jesuit pope and the first from the Americas. He was the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina from 2005 to 2011.

US President Barack Obama made a statement about the election of the new pope: “On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy.” Obama’s statement noted the new pope was a “champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us”, and “[as] the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world”.

US House Speaker John Boehner also pointed out the new pope came from the Americas: “I think that reaching out beyond the traditional continent of our church is another big step in the right direction of our church.” British Prime Minister David Cameron said that the papal election was “a momentous day for the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the election of a new Pope was of “great significance to Christians everywhere, not least Anglicans”. He went on to describe the new pope: “Pope Francis is well known as a compassionate pastor of real stature who has served the poor in Latin America, and whose simplicity and holiness of life is remarkable. He is an evangelist, sharing the love of Christ which he himself knows.”

In Argentina, he was outspoken against socially liberal policies including the provision of free contraception and gay marriage. Bergoglio said plans to legalize gay marriage in Argentina were “a plan to destroy God’s plan” and “a move by the father of lies to confuse and deceive the children of God”.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said Francis would be known as Pope Francis; “It will become Francis I after we have a Francis II”.



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February 26, 2013

Scottish Cardinal Keith O\’Brien resigns amid sex abuse allegations

Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien resigns amid sex abuse allegations

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

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Keith O’Brien in 2007.
Image: Gavin Scott.

Following accusations that he engaged in “inappropriate acts” with three priests and a former priest, Cardinal Keith O’Brien resigned yesterday from his post as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh. O’Brien had been expected to take part in the papal conclave to decide the next Pope and to retire shortly thereafter.

O’Brien had tendered a resignation to the Pope nunc pro tunc (now for later) on November 13. He stated yesterday that it had taken effect: “The Holy Father has now decided that my resignation will take effect today, 25 February 2013, and that he will appoint an apostolic administrator to govern the archdiocese in my place until my successor as archbishop is appointed.”

The sexual abuse allegations were published in The Observer and stem from incidents alleged to have happened as long as three decades ago. The former priest alleges O’Brien approached him inappropriately when he was a seminarian at St Andrew’s College in Drygrange in 1980. The former priest claims his resignation from the priesthood was the result of O’Brien’s elevation to bishop: “I knew then he would always have power over me. It was assumed I left the priesthood to get married. I did not. I left to preserve my integrity.”

The three priests allege they were also the subject of unwanted sexual advances from O’Brien. The four complained to Antonio Mennini, the Vatican’s ambassador to Britain. After the story was made public on Sunday, the Vatican confirmed Pope Benedict had been made aware of the complaints.

O’Brien disputes the allegations. Following the publication of the allegations, he chose not to preside over Mass on Sunday. The auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Bishop Stephen Robson, gave a statement: “A number of allegations of inappropriate behaviour have been made against the cardinal. The cardinal has sought legal advice and it would be inappropriate to comment at this time. There will be further statements in due course. As always in times of need such as this we cannot but be saddened by the events of the last 24 hours. It is to the Lord that we turn now in times of need.”

The cardinal had been outspoken in his condemnation of proposals to legalise same-sex marriage, calling it a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”, and saying gay relationships are “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of those involved”. Last year, the gay rights charity Stonewall awarded O’Brien the title of “bigot of the year”.

The gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell described O’Brien as “hypocritical”: “He appears to have preached one thing in public while doing something different in private. Several other prominent opponents of equal marriage are guilty of double standards and vulnerable to similar exposure. They include anti-gay clergy and politicians. It is estimated that around 40% of Catholic priests in Britain are gay, which makes the church’s opposition to gay equality so two-faced and absurd.”

O’Brien has questioned whether the continued requirement that priests be celibate and unmarried should continue. In an interview with BBC Scotland, he said: “There was a time when priests got married, and of course we know at the present time in some branches of the church — in some branches of the Catholic church — priests can get married, so that is obviously not of divine of origin and it could get discussed again.”



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February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI resigns effective February 28

Pope Benedict XVI resigns effective February 28

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI during general audition in 2007
Image: Tadeusz Górny.

Earlier today, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI plans to step down from his position as leader of the Roman Catholic Church effective February 28.

The Pope gave reasons in a statement: “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”

Reports of the news appeared quickly on Spanish and French language television. The Vatican had not immediately updated their website with the news. There will be a press conference this afternoon where additional details will be provided.

The news quickly became a trending topic on Twitter in Spain, France, and Italy. Within a half hour of the news being released, it had become a trending topic world wide.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope aged 78 in 2005 after the death of John Paul II.



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Gambling sites favor Cardinals Marc Ouellet, Peter Turkson, Francis Arinze as next Pope

Gambling sites favor Cardinals Marc Ouellet, Peter Turkson, Francis Arinze as next Pope

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Coat of arms for Pope Benedict XVI.
Image: PioM .

With news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation only hours old, online gambling sites have already published odds for who will become the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church, with Cardinals Marc Ouellet and Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson as early odds-on favorites.

Online Australian gambling site SportsBet has Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet as their favorite with 7/2 odds. The Irish Paddy Power brokers has 11/4 odds with the Canadian Cardinal being chosen as Pope. Bwin has Ouellet becoming the next Pope with odds at 7/2. British SportingBet also has odds for Ouellet at 7/2.

British Ladbrokes has Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze with 7/2 odds.

SkyBet has the betting odd for Ghanian Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson at 7/2, its best odds for any potential Papal candidate. BetVictor also has the best odds on Turkson with 5/2. Stan James has the best odds for Turkson at 3/1. You Win has odds for Turkson at 5/2.

Bets are also being taken by Paddy Power for the name of the next Pope, with Peter their odds-on favorite at 2/1. It is followed by Pious at 5/1, and John Paul and John at 6/1.



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March 29, 2012

Pope Benedict visits Cuba urging openness, religious freedom

Pope Benedict visits Cuba urging openness, religious freedom

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

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Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba on Monday beginning a three day trip in which the leader of the Catholic church met with Cuban leaders and publicly spoke on the need for religious freedom. Pope Benedict spoke before a large audience yesterday in the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana. Benedict called for change in Cuba and the rest of the world.

Pope Benedict XVI
Image: Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland. (2010)

Cquote1.svg Cuba and the world need change, but this will occur only if each one is in a position to seek the truth and chooses the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity. Cquote2.svg

—Pope Benedict XVI

“Cuba and the world need change, but this will occur only if each one is in a position to seek the truth and chooses the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity,” he said.

Benedict’s arrival in Cuba comes 14 years after the first papal visit by Pope John Paul II. The late pope addressed the nation in 1998 and said that Cuba should “open itself up to the world, and may the world open itself up to Cuba.” Benedict’s speech in Havana focused on the rise of religious freedom in Cuba since the 1990s – when the country dropped official atheism – as well as the need for more religious freedom in the country.

“It is with joy that in Cuba there have been steps so that the church can carry out its mission. … The right to freedom of religion, as an individual and a community, manifests the unity of a human being, citizen and believer at the same time,” he said.

While Benedict kept the speech mostly apolitical, during the trip he made comments that could be interpreted as criticism of the communist country.

“There are those who wrongly interpret this search for the truth, leading them to irrationality and fanaticism; they close themselves up in ‘their truth’ and try to impose it on others,” Benedict said.

Also during the trip, the pope prayed for greater freedom for Cubans at the statue of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre in Santiago. The pope also said Cuba’s political system “no longer corresponds to reality.”

Cquote1.svg In Cuba, there will not be political reform. Cquote2.svg

Marino Murillo

In response, Marino Murillo, vice president of the island’s council of ministers, said Cuba is sustainable and will not change. “In Cuba, there will not be political reform,” Murillo said.

According to groups on the island, 60 individuals were detained or put on house arrest during Pope Benedict’s televised Mass. Amnesty International also reported that Cuban human rights organizations, such as the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, were unable to communicate via phones or mobile-phones starting Monday.

Cquote1.svg … some have had their houses surrounded to prevent them (from) denouncing abuses during Pope Benedict’s tour. Cquote2.svg

—Amnesty International

“The clampdown has seen an increase in arrests, activists’ phones have been disconnected, and some have had their houses surrounded to prevent them (from) denouncing abuses during Pope Benedict’s tour,” Amnesty International said.

In addition to visiting various cities in Cuba and celebrating Mass in Havana, Benedict also met with former Cuban President Fidel Castro yesterday. According to a Vatican spokesman, Castro asked for a “modest and simple” meeting with the pontiff. The two spoke for 30 minutes in which the former president – who stepped down in 2006 due to illness – asked the pope about the evolution of the Catholic church over the years and what life is like as a pope.

Castro spoke of the pope in a positive light: “…a man whose contact with children and humble members of society has, invariably, raised feelings of affection.”

Pope Benedict left Cuba Wednesday evening.



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March 21, 2012

Mexico gunmen kill twelve police

Mexico gunmen kill twelve police – Wikinews, the free news source

Mexico gunmen kill twelve police

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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Twelve police officers were killed as the result of an ambush by gunmen in Guerrero, a state in the south of Mexico, authorities confirmed yesterday. The police officers were examining the area to find the bodies of ten individuals, whose separated heads have previously been discovered, at the time of the attack.

Map of Mexico with Guerrero highlighted in black.
Image: Yavidaxiu.

According to Arturo Martinez, speaking on behalf of the state police force of Guerrero, six of the policemen killed in the attack were local, while the other six were working for the state. In the attack, which occurred in the city of Teloloapan Sunday, an additional nine police experienced injuries for which they were hospitalised, BBC News Online reported. Eleven officers involved in the incident experienced wounds, according to The Associated Press.

Martinez explained that the officers, who were occupying six police vehicles between them, were searching for the bodies of three females and seven males after their separated heads were abandoned and discovered at a slaughterhouse in Teloloapan. Amongst the severed heads, threats directed at La Familia Michoacana, a drug-related business located in neighbouring state Michoacán, were discovered.

Guerrero is a state known for containing plantations of opium poppies and cannabis, as well as violence related to drug cartels. In excess of 47,000 deaths have been recorded across the whole of Mexico since current President Felipe Calderón commenced the Drug ‘War’ in December 2006.

Pope Benedict XVI has a visit to the country scheduled for Friday. According to BBC News Online, comment about violence relating to drug businesses in Mexico is anticipated from him.



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May 22, 2011

Pope speaks with astronauts in orbit for first time

Pope speaks with astronauts in orbit for first time

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

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Astronauts receive a call from the Pope
Image: NASA.

The International Space Station
Image: NASA.

Pope Benedict XVI spoke with astronauts aboard the International Space Station yesterday, marking the first time a pope has conversed with astronauts in orbit.

Organized by the European Space Agency (ESA), the call originated from the Vatican Library at 7:11 am Eastern time. German ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter, president of the Italian Space Agency Enrico Saggese, and General Giuseppe Bernardis of the Italian Air Force were also in the room at the Vatican. Aboard the spacecraft were Italian, U.S., and Russian crew members of the Endeavour STS-134 mission and Expedition 27.

Endeavour commander and U.S. astronaut Mark Kelly greeted His Holiness aboard the spacecraft. The Pope wished Kelly’s wife, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, well as she recovers from an assassination attempt that took place in January. Doctors inserted a hard plastic implant, or a bone flap, into Giffords’s skull last Wednesday. The Pope also asked of the astronauts’ impressions of the planet from space.

“We fly over most of the world and we don’t see borders, but at the same time we realize that people fight with each other and there is a lot of violence in this world,” Kelly said. The Pope sent his condolences to Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, whose mother died earlier this month while he was in space.



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November 29, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI to visit Benin in 2011

Pope Benedict XVI to visit Benin in 2011

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Monday, November 29, 2010

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Pope Benedict in 2010

It has been announced that Pope Benedict XVI will make a three day visit to Benin, Africa. Starting on November 18 next year, it will be his second Papal visit to Africa, the continent where the Roman Catholic Church is growing fastest.

An announcement made by The Vatican on Friday says the Pope will deliver guidance for the Church of Africa to several Catholic leaders. The document had been discussed at the synod of African Bishops last year.

The pontiff’s prior African trip was to Angola and Cameroon last year. That garnered controversy after he said condoms were complicating anti-AIDS efforts. Recently he has accepted their use to be morally justifiable in some circumstances to prevent spread of the disease.

So far four visits have been announced for the Pope, with visits to Croatia, Spain, and his homeland of Germany as well as Benin planned next year.



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September 20, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI departs from UK

Pope Benedict XVI departs from UK – Wikinews, the free news source

Pope Benedict XVI departs from UK

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Monday, September 20, 2010

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File photo of from 2007.
Image: Tadeusz Górny.

Pope Benedict XVI concluded a journey to the United Kingdom on Sunday. During the four-day tour, the Pope presided over Mass in Westminster, London, performed the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Birmingham, and spoke with UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Speaking about the sex abuse cases which have brought criticism on the Catholic Church, Benedict XVI described his “deep sorrow” at the “unspeakable crimes” that had caused “shame and humiliation” onto him and his church.

As the Pope departed from Birmingham International Airport on Sunday night, he pledged better diplomatic relations between Vatican City and the UK. Cameron said the Pope had “really challenged the whole country to sit up and think, and that can only be a good thing.” The Pope thanked the UK for hosting him before departing without his Popemobiles, which are to follow over land.

During his last speech in the United Kingdom, the Pope proclaimed: “As I take my leave of you, let me assure you once again of my good wishes and prayers for the peace and prosperity of Great Britain. Thank you very much and God bless you all.” He then proceeded to take an aeroplane ride back to Rome.



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September 15, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI heads to the UK amid protests

Pope Benedict XVI heads to the UK amid protests

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Benedict XVI travelling (USA, 2008)
Image: Shealah Craighead / White House.

The Roman Catholic Pontiff is visiting the United Kingdom for the first time since 1982, when his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, was in Britain. The Catholic Church has been preparing an official visit of Benedict XVI for some time, with the visit starting tomorrow. The initial plans were made last September; the visit was only announced on March 16, 2010 when it was officially confirmed by the Vatican. The tour extends through Sunday, and includes stops in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, and Birmingham, at the latter of which the Pope is going to celebrate the Beatification of Cardinal Newman.

Portrait of Cardinal Newman by Sir John Everett Millais

When Pope Benedict departs from Rome Ciampino Airport at 8:10 am, he will first head to Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, to meet Queen Elizabeth. After he has presided over several celebrations in Scotland, including an open-air Mass at Bellahouston Park, he will fly to London.

On Friday and Saturday the papal delegation and its leader will remain in the British capital to meet several religious authorities, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, leader of the Church of England. Furthermore Benedict XVI will receive courtesy calls from Prime Minister David Cameron as well as the leader of the Opposition Harriet Harman and other political and institutional personalities.

On the last day, Sunday, the Pope will travel by helicopter to Cofton Park, Birmingham, for the Beatification of Cardinal Newman (1801–1890), a priest in the Church of England who converted to the Roman Catholic Church. Newman was defined as “man of conscience” by the Pope in his speech for the centenary of Newman’s death, in 1990.

The first recent source of conflict between British policies and Vatican positions emerged in February in the form of the Equality Bill, aimed at preventing discrimination against heterosexual, homosexual, and transsexual people.

Richard Dawkins
Image: Marty Stone.

In the same period, the National Secular Society launched an online petition called “Make the Pope Pay”. At the deadline of the petition, June 6th, 2010, it counted 12,340 signatures.

On April 11th Richard Dawkins, with Christopher Hitchens‘s support, interviewed by The Sunday Times, said that they were trying to initiate criminal proceedings against the Pope – on the occasion of his visit to UK – over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

David Miliband, Foreign Secretary until May 11th, 2010
Image: Shelley and Alan Heckman.

A further incident happened at the end of April 2010 when a British Foreign Office internal memo (attached to an official document which listed brainstormed ideas for the Pope’s tour) suggested many sarcastic ideas for Benedict XVI. This included launching a condom brand marked “Benedict”, or, during his visit in UK, inaugurating an abortion clinic, blessing a homosexual couple, or ordaining women as priests. The Ministry immediately apologized and explained that the document was only brainstorming that didn’t represent the political positions of the Foreign Office. The Vatican answered via Benedict XVI’s spokesman the Rev. F. Lombardi who said “[a]s far as the Vatican is concerned, the case is closed. There never was the slightest doubt about the trip.”

In the United Kingdom in July, many of the people opposing the Pope’s State visit gathered thanks to a new web site named Protest The Pope, which intends to organize protests against the visit. The events suggested and organized by the site include marches, protests, and cultural events.

Protest The Pope plans the biggest march for Saturday in London, when the Catholic Pontiff will stay in the capital for his tour. The march will start at 1:30 pm from Hyde Park (Piccadilly side) toward Piccadilly Circus, then to Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and Downing Street.

The British Government is expected to spend for public safety and public policy in general more than £12 million (14 million). £1.5 million (€2.2 million) alone is for the evening at Hyde Park.



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