Pope says he won’t judge gay priests
On his trip back from Brazil, Pope Francis gave his first press conference to journalists in his plane and shocked them all by saying he wouldn’t judge priests for their sexual orientation. ”If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” he asked. The Pope was asked about reports on a “gay lobby” within the Vatican and stressed lobbies are a problem, but hinted homosexuality is not to be marginalized.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI signed a document in 2005 to defend that homosexuals should not be priests. Francis was more conciliatory and said gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten. The first Latin American Pope made his first trip to Brazil for the World Youth Day. More than 3 million people were on Copacabana beach to see him on Sunday.
Israelis and Palestinians dispute format of peace talks
Officials offer different formats for the peace talks due to resume in Washington on Monday. Israelis and Palestinians are back to the table for the first time in nearly three years. ”All of the issues that are at the core of a permanent accord will be negotiated simultaneously”, Silvan Shalom, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu’s cabinet, said on the radio. A top official linked to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the U.S. letter of invitation had not specified which disputes were to be discussed.
The Palestinians want their future state to have borders approximating the boundaries of the West Bank, adjacent East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Israel has so far rejected that possibility. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry should join the negotiators later on to restart talks that broke down in 2010 over Israel’s settlement of occupied land. Previous attempts to solve the issue ended up in violence.
Cameron says vans urging illegal immigrants to “go home” are working
The official spokesman for Prime-Minister David Cameron said the use of vans with adverts urging illegal immigrants to “go home or face arrest” are working. He also said the Home Office was “looking at what they can take forward” from the London pilot scheme. Days ago Cameron’s Business Secretary Vince Cable said the scheme was “stupid and offensive.” British Immigration Minister Mark Harper, however, had described the new initiative as “an alternative to being led away in handcuffs” last week.
The Home Office didn’t offer any figures to support their view the idea was working. Seven London boroughs were visited by the van with the ”go home” posters. There is a phone line for illegal immigrants to get in contact to arrange their departure. Immigration is probably a major issue in the next general elections in the UK, which are to be held until 2015.
Oil demand “in continuous decline” at OPEC members, Saudi says
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said his country needed to diversify its revenues as rising U.S. shale energy supplies cut global demand for its oil. He said in an open letter that oil demand from Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members was “in continuous decline.” The Prince owns international investment firm Kingdom Holding. Shale technology allows the U.S. and Canada to tap unconventional oil deposits.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest crude oil exporter and their decisions impact the market globally. Alwaleed’s analysis is controversial because other specialists say shale technology could actually push demand for Saudi oil, as well as global oil prices. Saudis have tried to develop the economy beyond oil. Saudi officials say they are not worried by the shale threat, but the OPEC has recognised that it needs to deal with the matter.
Baghdad car bombs kill dozens
More than a dozen car bombings in central and southern Iraq killed more than 50 people during morning rush hour. Authorities believe the attack was co-ordinated by insurgents. The blasts are part of a surge that brings back the fears of sectarian violence just like in the wave that put Iraq to the brink of civil war after the 2003 US-led invasion.
No groups took responsibility at first, but the early signs are similar to actions taken by a group linked to Al-Qaida. The Islamic State of Iraq often uses co-ordinated blasts to target the country’s Shia-led government. The explosions happened in predominantly Shia districts of Baghdad within an hour of each other. The cars were near markets or in parking lots.