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Cardinal’s luxurious Vatican apartment a stark contrast to pope’s call for a ‘poor Church’

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An Italian cardinal is moving into a 600-square-metre (6,500 square foot) Vatican apartment in apparent contradiction with Pope Francis’s call for a “poor Church”, Italian daily La Repubblica reported on Sunday.

Tarcisio Bertone is the Vatican’s former Secretary of State, a role equivalent to prime minister, and the report said his luxury lodgings were stirring unease as Francis has pushed for clergymen to be more humble.

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The flat also has a 100-square-metre roof terrace and is next to St Martha’s Residence — a Vatican hotel where Francis has taken up home, spurning the grander Apostolic Palace where popes usually live.

La Repubblica said that Bertone’s flat would be about 10 times bigger than the apartment where Francis is living and that he was planning to move in before the summer after extensive building work.

It said the house combined an apartment of up to 400 square metres formerly inhabited by the head of the gendarmerie under John Paul II and the roughly 200-square metre flat where a Vatican monsignor lived.

Bertone’s stint as Secretary of State under Benedict XVI was highly divisive in the Vatican administration and top clerics had asked the then pope to dismiss him.

He was accused by critics of being too authoritarian and too connected with sleazy Italian politics.

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Just before his removal by Francis in October last year, Bertone lashed out saying he was the victim of “moles and vipers” in the Vatican system.

Francis last month accepted the resignation of Germany’s controversial bishop of Limburg, who had come under fire for his luxury lifestyle.

Franz-Peter Terbartz-van Elst, nicknamed the “bling bishop” by the media, was criticised for his official residence, which included a museum, conference halls, a chapel and private apartments.

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The project was valued at 5.5 million euros but the cost ballooned to 31 million euros ($43 million) — all using the revenue from a religious tax in Germany.


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Expert explains how Dems can mobilize righteous anger and fight Trump’s claims on ‘the economy’

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After months of denial regarding the spread COVID-19, Donald Trump first embraced the role of being a “wartime president,” then shifted again to wanting the war over immediately, saying, “We don’t want the cure to be worse than the disease.” A chorus of conservative voices quickly echoed him, suggesting older Americans should be happy to die to save the economy “for their children.” Although Trump has temporarily retreated on that front, he appeared to feint toward that message again this week, and we’ll be hearing echoes of it again, repeatedly.

This new line of argument vividly reminded me of the “South Park” episode “Margaritaville,” discussed in striking fashion in Anat Shenker-Osorio’s 2012 book, “Don’t Buy It: The Trouble with Talking Nonsense about the Economy,” which I enthusiastically reviewed at the time. “Don’t Buy It” was based on three years of research into how economists, journalists, advocates, think tanks and others think and communicate about the economy, and the breadth of Shenker-Osorio’s research made it all the more striking how well that episode captured a fundamental truth about our pervasive economic confusion — a confusion that’s now deadlier than ever.

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Trump launches bizarre attack on mail-in voting — after admitting he voted in Florida by mail

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President Donald Trump Tuesday evening attacked voting by mail—a solution many rights advocates argue is particularly necessary amid the ongoing public health crisis—as a "terrible thing" even after admitting that he cast a mail-in ballot in the 2020 Republican presidential primary in Florida (presumably for himself) just last month.

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‘Didn’t understand the danger’: Israel health minister under fire over ultra-Orthodox COVID-19 crisis

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To some, Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman is guilty of a "catastrophic failure" of leadership for not urgently conveying the coronavirus threat to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community that elected him.

Milder critics have described Litzman as a "tragic" leader, whose limited authority compared to ultra-Orthodox rabbis' hindered his ability to persuade constituents to embrace science-based protections against the outbreak.

The coronavirus crisis presented the 71-year-old Litzman, himself ultra-Orthodox, with daunting challenges -- even before he and his wife tested positive for the virus.

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