Pope removes two cardinals hit by sex scandals from group of close advisers

Cardinal George Pell walks to a car in Melbourne on December 11, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 13 December 2018
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Pope removes two cardinals hit by sex scandals from group of close advisers

  • Chile’s sexual abuse scandal prompted all of the country’s 34 bishops to offer their resignation to the pope who has so far accepted seven

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis has removed from his group of close advisers two cardinals hit by sexual abuse scandals, including his economy minister, Australian George Pell, the Vatican said on Wednesday.
Pell has taken an indefinite leave of absence from his job as head of the Secretariat for the Economy, one of the most powerful posts in the Vatican, to defend himself from prosecution for historical child sexual offenses in Australia.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said: “The Holy See has the utmost respect for Australian judiciary. We are aware that a suppression order is in place (on media reporting on judicial procedures) and we intend to respect it.”
Asked if Pell, 77, was still economy minister, Burke suggested he was, saying there had been no announcement to the contrary.
The other member removed from the so called C-9 — a group of nine cardinals that meets periodically with the pope in Rome — is Francisco Javier Errázuriz of Chile.
Errázuriz, 85, the former archbishop of Santiago, has been accused by abuse survivors in Chile of discrediting victims and not investigating their cases, which he denies.
Chile’s sexual abuse scandal prompted all of the country’s 34 bishops to offer their resignation to the pope who has so far accepted seven.
A third C-9 cardinal, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, 79, of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was also leaving the group, Burke told a briefing on the C-9’s latest meeting, which ended on Wednesday. None of the three attended.
Burke said the six remaining members — from Italy, Honduras, the United States, and India, would continue to advise the pope. There were no immediate plans to appoint new members, he said.
The pope told Reuters last June in an interview that he planned to use the five-year anniversary of the C-9 to “to renew it a bit.”


Trump-Xi meeting at G20 raises hope for trade truce

Updated 54 min 17 sec ago
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Trump-Xi meeting at G20 raises hope for trade truce

  • Chinese president said the problems between US and China won’t benefit either sides
  • US and China raised tariffs on some of each other’s goods and companies

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have agreed to meet at the G20 summit in Japan next week, raising hopes for a truce in the bruising trade war between the world’s top two economies.
The two leaders spoke on the phone on Tuesday, weeks after negotiations broke down when Trump accused Beijing of reneging on its commitments, hiked tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods and then blacklisted Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
The US president took a conciliatory approach this time.
“Had a very good telephone conversation with President Xi of China. We will be having an extended meeting next week at the G-20 in Japan,” Trump said on Twitter.
“Our respective teams will begin talks prior to our meeting,” he said ahead of the June 28-29 summit.
Xi noted that bilateral relations had encountered difficulties that were “not in the interest of either side” but he warned that dialogue must be conducted on “an equal footing.”
“China and the US will both gain by cooperating and lose by fighting,” Xi told Trump, according to state media.
Global shares were buoyed by the announcement, with Wall Street rallying on Tuesday and Asian stock markets surging on Wednesday.
The White House readout of the call said the leaders “discussed the importance of leveling the playing field for US farmers, workers, and businesses through a fair and reciprocal economic relationship.”
“I think we have a chance. China wants a deal. They don’t like the tariffs,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “I have a very good relationship with president Xi. We’ll see what happens.”
The White House repeated that the focus of the talks will be to address “structural barriers to trade with China and achieving meaningful reforms that are enforceable and verifiable.”
The United States and China seemed close to an agreement when talks collapsed last month.
Beijing retaliated to Trump’s tariffs and moves against Huawei by increasing custom taxes on $60 billion in US goods, creating its own list of “unreliable” companies and individuals and threatening to ban exports of rare earths to the United States.
Xi told Trump that the two countries must “accommodate each other’s legitimate concerns” and that “China hopes the US side can treat Chinese firms in a fair manner,” according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Trump had requested the call between the two leaders, according to Xinhua.
A week before the G20, Xi will visit North Korea on Thursday and Friday, his first trip there as president.
China is North Korea’s sole major ally, and analysts say Xi could use any leverage Beijing may have in the nuclear standoff between Washington and Pyongyang as a “bargaining chip” in his talks with Trump.
Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow warned that there are “no guarantees” of any resolution in Osaka, Japan.
“Our position continues to be (that) we want structural changes,” Kudlow told reporters.
“They’ll have a good conversation. The fact that they’re meeting is a good thing.”
In an editorial, the state-run China Daily said Communist Party decision-makers, like White House counter-parts, “want to evade a full-blown trade war.”
“Since neither side appears ready to really slam the door shut on further negotiations, they should refrain from escalating tensions, and engage each other in a more constructive manner,” the daily said.
Global markets are concerned about Trump’s threat to impose more steep tariffs on an additional $300 billion in Chinese imports, which could hurt the already slowing Chinese economy and spread the gloom worldwide.
Trump last week threatened to “immediately” jack up tariffs should Xi fail to show up at the meeting. The United States already has 25 percent duties on more than $250 billion of imports from China.