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Giant John Paul II crucifix falls and instantly crushes young man to death in Italy

An Italian man was crushed to death on Wednesday by a giant crucifix honouring John Paul II that collapsed during a ceremony ahead of the late pope’s canonisation. A piece of the 30-metre (98-foot) high wooden cross fell during the event near an Alpine village, killing the young man on…

Vatican spokesman says Pope Francis’s personal phone calls creating confusion

Pope Francis’s habit of picking up the phone and cold calling people who write to him is landing the Vatican in hot water and spokesman Federico Lombardi has had enough. Lombardi said on Thursday the calls were part of the pope’s “personal pastoral relationships” and “do not in any way…

Afghan policeman guns down three U.S. citizens at Kabul hospital

An Afghan policeman opened fire at a Kabul hospital run by a US charity on Thursday, killing three Americans, including a doctor in the latest deadly attack targeting foreign civilians in the city. The gunman was injured in the incident outside the CURE International hospital and detained by police, officials…

Obama reaffirms commitment to Japan on tour of Asian allies

U.S. President Barack Obama assured ally Japan on Thursday that Washington was committed to its defense, including of tiny isles at the heart of a row with China, but denied he had drawn any new “red line” and urged peaceful dialogue over the islands. His comments drew a swift response…

Cornish people win minority status in Europe

Cornish people are to be recognised as a national minority group for the first time, giving them the same rights as the country’s other minorities, Chief Secretary Danny Alexander announced Thursday. They will now be classified under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities along with the…

Brazil ramps up security in Rio de Janeiro after deadly unrest

Just 50 days before Brazil hosts the World Cup, authorities beefed up security in Rio de Janeiro after a violent clash between residents and police in a slum near the tourist haven of Copacabana beach. Dozens of military police, including members of a feared special forces battalion, moved into the…

Debris found on Australian beach not from missing Malaysia Airlines jet

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau ruled out Thursday any link between material found on a beach in southwestern Australia and the missing Malaysia Airlines jet. Debris described as “unidentified material” was found Wednesday on a beach near Augusta, more than 300 kilometres (180 miles) south of Perth, by a member…

Bishop Desmond Tutu tells South Africans: I’m not voting for Nelson Mandela’s former party

Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu Wednesday celebrated 20 years of freedom in South Africa as a “heck of an achievement”, while confirming that he would not vote for the ruling party in upcoming elections. Anglican archbishop emeritus Tutu, 82, is still regarded as a moral beacon for South Africa in…

Rome braces for 800,000 to make pilgrimage to double canonization ceremony

Rome is getting ready for hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and dozens of foreign delegations visiting the Vatican on Sunday for an historic event — the double canonisation of popes John Paul II and John XXIII. Italy’s interior ministry said it is expecting 19 heads of state, 24 heads of…

Syrian lawmaker becomes Assad’s first presidential challenger

A communist lawmaker has registered as the first challenger for the Syrian presidency in an upcoming election expected to return incumbent Bashar al-Assad to power, the speaker of parliament said Wednesday. “We have received information from the higher constitutional court that member of parliament Maher Abdel Hafiz Hajjar has filed…

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