Pope Francis used his New Year’s message on Saturday to issue a clarion call for an end to violence against women, saying it was insulting to God.
Francis, 85, celebrated a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the day the Roman Catholic Church marks both the solemnity of Holy Mary Mother of God as well as its annual World Day of Peace.
Francis appeared to be in good form on Saturday following an unexplained incident on New Year’s Eve where he attended a service but at the last minute did not preside over it as he had been expected to.
At the start of the Mass on Saturday, he walked the entire length of the central aisle of basilica, as opposed to Friday night, when he emerged from a side entrance close to the altar and watched from the sidelines.
Francis suffers from a sciatica condition that causes pain in the legs, and sometimes a flare up prevents him from standing for long periods.
Francis wove his New Year’s homily around the themes of motherhood and women – saying it was they who kept together the threads of life – and used it to make one of his strongest calls yet for an end to violence against them.
“And since mothers bestow life, and women keep the world (together), let us all make greater efforts to promote mothers and to protect women,” Francis said.
“How much violence is directed against women! Enough! To hurt a woman is to insult God, who from a woman took on our humanity – not through an angel, not directly, but through a woman,” he said, in a reference to Jesus’s mother Mary.
During an Italian television programme last month, Francis told a woman who had been beaten by her ex-husband that men who commit violence against women engage in something that is “almost satanic”.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began nearly two years ago, Francis has several times spoken out against domestic violence, which has increased in many countries since lockdowns left many women trapped with their abusers.
Public participation at the Mass was lower than in some past years because of COVID restrictions. Italy, which surrounds Vatican City, reported https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/italy-reports-record-144243-coronavirus-cases-155-deaths-2021-12-31 a record 144,243 coronavirus related cases on Friday and has recently imposed new measures such as an obligation to wear masks outdoors.
In the text of his Message for the World Day of Peace, issued last month, Francis said nations should divert money spent on armaments to invest in education, and decried growing military costs at the expense of social services.
The annual peace message is sent to heads of state and international organisations, and the pope gives a signed copy to leaders who make official visits to him at the Vatican during the upcoming year.
(Reporting by Philip PullellaEditing by Peter Graff)
U.S. charges man with human smuggling after 4 freeze to death near Canada border
U.S. authorities on Thursday charged a man with human smuggling of Indian nationals from Canada, the day after four people including a baby were found frozen to death in a remote part of Canada close to the Minnesota border.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota said 47-year-old Steve Shand had been arrested just south of the border on Wednesday while driving two undocumented Indian citizens.
U.S. border patrol agents soon came across five more Indians traveling on foot, one of whom was carrying a backpack belonging to a family of four who had become separated from the group as they all tried to cross the border.
They alerted Canadian police who found the victims – a man, a woman, a teenage boy and a baby – about 40 feet (12 meters) from the frontier with Minnesota. First indications are that they died from exposure to the cold.
“These victims faced not only the cold weather, but also endless fields, large snowdrifts and complete darkness,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy told a televised news conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Wind chill had driven down the temperature to minus 35 C (minus 31 F), she said.
The U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement that the four victims had tentatively been identified as the missing Indian family.
The five Indian nationals explained they had walked across the border expecting to be picked up by someone and estimated they had been walking around for over 11 hours.
Shand has been charged with one count of human smuggling. He is next due in court on Jan 24.
(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)
Canada agency says Russian-backed actors targeting infrastructure
Network operators of critical Canadian infrastructure should boost their defenses against Russian state-sponsored threats, Canada’s signals intelligence agency said on Thursday.
The warning from the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is the latest in a series of bulletins from Canada’s two main spy agencies accusing Russian actors of trying to hack into sensitive computer systems.
“(CSE) encourages the Canadian cyber-security community —especially critical infrastructure network defenders — to bolster their awareness of and protection against Russian state-sponsored cyber threats,” it said in a statement.
Russian actors and others are targeting critical infrastructure network operators as well as their operational and information technology, it added.
Operators should be prepared to isolate components and services that “would be considered attractive to a hostile threat actor to disrupt” and boost vigilance, CSE said.
Canada has had poor relations with Russia since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Ottawa fears armed conflict could break out in Ukraine and is working with allies to make clear to Russia that any further aggression towards Kiev is unacceptable, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
Canada adds jobs for fifth month in December -ADP
Canada added 19,200 jobs in December, the fifth straight month of gains, led by hiring in the professional and business services and leisure and hospitality sectors, a report from payroll services provider ADP showed on Thursday.
The November data was revised to show 102,100 jobs were created rather than an increase of 231,800. The report, which is derived from ADP’s payrolls data, measures the change in total nonfarm payroll employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.
(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
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