Pope Francis cancels planned retreat due to ‘cold’

first_imgPope Francis said Sunday he would not be taking part in a planned six-day spiritual retreat south of Rome after coming down with a “cold”.The 83-year-old pontiff suffered two coughing spells that forced him to turn away from the crowd and cover his mouth with his fist on a windy and cloudy day on Saint Peter’s Square.”Unfortunately, a cold forced me not to take part this year,” he said after reciting the traditional Angelus Prayer and addressing the unfolding migrant crisis on Turkey’s border with Greece. There have been 29 confirmed deaths and 105 people were receiving intensive care treatment in hospital — all of them in three adjacent northern regions near Milan.The Vatican quickly shot down speculation that the pope himself had come down with COVID-19.”There is no evidence to suggest a diagnosis of anything other than a slight ailment,” a Vatican spokesman told AFP Sunday.The pope himself looked relatively strong on Sunday despite the coughing fits.He smiled a few times and addressed a range of theological issues before turning his attention to the plight of thousands of migrants from Turkey who have been blocked at the rugged frontier with Greece. “I am a little saddened by the news coming from many displaced people, so many men, women and children chased because of war,” Francis said.The pontiff asked the faithful to share a prayer for “so many migrants who seek refuge in the world — and help”.Faithfuls listen to Pope Francis’ speech as he delivers the Sunday Angelus prayer from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican on March 01, 2020. (AFP/ Filippo MONTEFORTE) Italy shuts down Concerns about the pope’s health have been mounting for days in a country where mass closures of public institutions and businesses due to the coronavirus are affecting the lives of millions.He first looked like he might be sick on Wednesday and lightened his workload for the rest of the week.The Vatican used the “mild ailment” term for the first time on Thursday to explain why the pope was spending his day around his Saint Martha’s guest house in the Vatican.But he still continued celebrating the morning mass and receiving visitors even as football matches were being cancelled and businesses were telling their employees to work from home.He met with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church head Sviatoslav Shevchuk on Saturday and spent almost 15 minutes speaking on Sunday from his Vatican window.The Argentine-born pontiff has enjoyed a life of good health despite losing part of a lung as a young man and suffered from sciatica — a nerve condition that causes pain in his hip.Yet he rarely cancels appointments and normally takes extra time to mingle with supporters and the faithful.Topics : The annual retreat will still start Sunday but only include members of the Roman Curia administration team of the Holy See.The pope will be staying home while the rest of Italy battles Europe’s worst outbreak of the novel coronavirus that has spread from China to every continent except for Antarctica.Pope Francis wipes his nose during the Ash Wednesday mass which opens Lent, the forty-day period of abstinence and deprivation for Christians before Holy Week and Easter, on February 26, 2020, at the Santa Sabina church in Rome. – Pope Francis postponed his official appointments on February 28 and was working from home, the Vatican said, a day after cancelling a scheduled appearance at mass because of “a mild ailment”. Francis, 83, had appeared earlier in the week to be suffering from a cold. He was seen blowing his nose and coughing during the Ash Wednesday service, and his voice sounded hoarse. (AFP/Alberto PIZZOLI)The number of cases in Italy surpassed 1,000 on Saturday and the toll continues to mount.last_img read more

India bans 118 Chinese apps in new backlash over border dispute

first_imgIn June, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in hand-to-hand combat in the Ladakh region. An Indian special forces member was killed in one of two incidents at the weekend.China has also suffered casualties in the high-altitude battle at more than 4,200 meters but has not given figures.India had already banned 59 Chinese apps — including the video-sharing platform TikTok — after the June battle. Another 47 were added in July.The PUBG mobile app has millions of young users in India. The company said it had been made aware of the government action but had no comment. PUBG was developed by a South Korean company, but the mobile version that has taken off around the world was developed by Tencent. India on Wednesday banned 118 more Chinese apps as the backlash intensified against Beijing over an increasingly bitter border showdown between the giant neighbors.The government said the apps — including the popular video game PUBG and other services provided by Chinese internet giant Tencent — promoted activities “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order”.India and China, which fought a border war in 1962, have been embroiled in a series of deadly clashes and showdowns on their disputed Himalayan frontier in recent weeks. Chinese selfies banned Other apps targeted by India include games, online payment services, dating sites and even software to edit selfies.The IT ministry accused the apps of stealing user data and moving it abroad.The “mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defense of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures”, it said.India has increasingly used economic weapons against its neighbor in the dispute.On top of banning the apps, India has frozen Chinese companies out of contracts including for its 5G mobile phone infrastructure and blocked Chinese goods at ports and customs posts.India has warned that relations risk permanent damage unless China pulls its troops back to positions they held before May.Tensions at the border are now at some of the highest levels since the 1962 war.Both sides have sent tens of thousands of troops to the region with India dispatching more since the weekend, according to sources in Ladakh.Indian and Chinese military officers held a third day of emergency talks at the border Wednesday but no progress in easing tensions has been reported.India accused Chinese forces of seeking to take more territory at the weekend, but its troops, including special forces, seized a number of hills that dominate a strategic valley.China reacted with anger again Wednesday.”Since the start of this year, India has repeatedly violated bilateral agreements and important consensus” on the frontier, foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in Beijing.”It has tried to unilaterally change the status quo by force, undermined the peace and stability of the border area, and caused tension in the border area. The responsibility is undoubtedly solely on the Indian side.” Topics :last_img read more