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Pope rails against ‘vengeance’ as he ends Mozambique visit

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Pope Francis on Friday told tens of thousands of faithful at a packed stadium not to resort to “vengeance” as he wound up a visit to Mozambique, ravaged by a 16-year civil war and now the target of jihadist attacks.

His maiden visit to the poor former Portuguese colony came a month after the government and the former rebel group Renamo, now the main opposition party, signed a historic peace treaty.

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Brutal jihadist attacks in northern Mozambique have claimed more than 300 lives over two years and forced thousands from their homes.

“We cannot think of the future and build a nation” with violence, the pope said in a homily to a crowd of about 60,000 at the Zimpeto stadium in the Mozambican capital Maputo.

Speaking in Portuguese, he asked them not to follow the old law of retaliation “an eye for eye, a tooth for a tooth.

AFP / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA The stadium was jampacked and many had travelled hundreds of miles to see the pontiff

“No family, no group of neighbors or ethnic group and even less no country has a future if the motor that unites them… is composed of vengeance and hatred,” he said.

Denouncing reprisals cloaked under the guise of legality, the pope warned that violence was “an endless spiral without end with a very high cost.

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“You have the right to peace!” he said.

Mozambique is a mainly Christian country and 28 percent of the population is Catholic.

Earlier Friday, the pope visited an AIDS care centre on the outskirts of Maputo, hailing the carers for responding to their “silent cry” for help in a country ravaged by the disease.

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AFP / Tiziana FABI The Argentinian pope addressed the crowd in Portuguese

According to UNAIDS, 2.2 million Mozambicans — 60 percent of them women — were HIV positive in 2018 in the southern African nation of 27 million people.

There were 150,000 new infections last year and 54,000 AIDS-related deaths.

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– ‘Restoring dignity’ –

Francis hailed the “compassion” of the health workers for responding to “this silent cry, almost inaudible, of innumerable women and all the people living in shame, marginalized and judged by everybody.

Francis thanked workers at the AIDS centre for “restoring the dignity” of women and children suffering from HIV and AIDS and for “hearing their cries and intervening personally.”

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AFP / Tiziana FABI He also visited a hospital which hosts a program for HIV-positive people and AIDS patients

He did not however touch on the delicate subject of prevention — an issue riddled with minefields given the Catholic Church’s stand on contraception — especially in a largely conservative and traditional continent.

Francis is the first pope to visit Mozambique since John Paul II in 1988 and is on a three-nation tour that includes Madagascar and Mauritius.

On Thursday, the pontiff visited a brand new hospital in Zimpeto, a poor outlying district of the capital, where 23 percent of adult residents have been hit by HIV.

– ‘Dream’ –

The complex, inaugurated last year, comprises a state-of-the-art laboratory and hosts a program for HIV-positive and AIDS patients, especially pregnant women.

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This program, named “Dream”, was launched in 2002 by the Italian lay Catholic association Sant’Egidio which is very close to the Vatican and is dedicated to social service.

It runs 13 health centers in the country. The “Dream” project is spread across 11 African countries.

Mozambique and Madagascar are among the world’s poorest countries and Francis’ decision to visit is seen by commentators as an act of solidarity from a cleric who was a frequent presence in the shantytowns of Argentina and is now called the “pope of the poor”.


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US begins blood tests for coronavirus immunity: reports

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The United States has begun taking blood samples from across the country to determine the true number of people infected with the coronavirus, using a test that works retrospectively, according to reports.

The new tests are based on serological surveys, which differ from the nasal swabs used to determine if someone currently has the virus.

Instead, they look for whether certain antibodies are present in the blood which shows that the person fought and then recovered from the illness -- even if they never showed symptoms.

These tests are seen as key to gradually easing lockdown, by allowing those who have proven immunity to re-enter society.

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Trump says governors are ‘very happy’ with the job he’s doing — even though they’re begging him for more supplies

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At the latest coronavirus task force press briefing on Monday, President Donald Trump boasted that "every one" of the state governors in America are "very happy" with the job he is doing to help them combat coronavirus.

His claim is at odds with numerous governors who have complained that the federal government is not doing enough to coordinate the delivery of medical equipment and forcing them into bidding wars with other states.

Trump even tried to add later in the speech that Gov. J. B. Pritzker (D-IL) was "a happy man" even though "he may not be happy when he talks to the press."

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There’s a horrifying history of leaders saying there’s a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’

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President Donald Trump rang out in an all-caps tweet Monday morning "LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL!" It was a comment he echoed from his Sunday press conference saying that the U.S. is in the home stretch of the coronavirus crisis. He went on to say that he anticipated the country reopening in a few weeks.

The quote was one that Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty noted was one that many other leaders have used at frightening times.

"It is difficult to imagine a poorer, more chilling choice of words," she wrote. "Or one that more illuminates, if inadvertently, the consequences of the mixed-messages that Trump continues to send."

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