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Pope Francis waves upon his arrival in Santiago

Pope Francis expressed his “pain and shame” on Tuesday over a sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in Chile, seeking forgiveness for a crisis that has scarred its credibility and left many faithful sceptical of reform.

“Here I feel bound to express my pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the Church,” he said in the presidential palace, drawing sustained applause from his listeners.

Francis was making his first official address of the trip in the presence of President Michelle Bachelet, other Chilean top officials, cardinals, bishops and foreign diplomats.

“I am one with my brother bishops, for it is right to ask for forgiveness and make every effort to support the victims, even as we commit ourselves to ensuring that such things do not happen again,” he said.

Catholics have been upset with Francis’ 2015 appointment of Bishop Juan Barros to head the small diocese of Osorno in south-central Chile. Barros has been accused of protecting his former mentor, Father Fernando Karadima, whom a Vatican investigation found guilty in 2011 of abusing teenage boys over many years. Karadima has denied the allegations and Barros said he was unaware of any wrongdoing.

But the scandal has gripped Chile, and, along with growing secularization, has hurt the standing of the Church that had been praised for defending human rights during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

A poll by Santiago-based think tank Latinobarometro this month showed that the number of Chileans calling themselves Catholics fell to 45 percent last year, from 74 percent in 1995.

A group opposed to the visit posted on Twitter: “No more abuse, no more cover-ups, no more hypocrisy.”

At least eight Catholic churches have been attacked in Chile over the past week, including one with a homemade bomb where unidentified vandals left a pamphlet reading: “Pope Francis, the next bomb will be in your robe.”

No one was injured in the attacks and no one has claimed responsibility.


Hours after the pope arrived, two churches were attacked and burned to the ground almost simultaneously in a small village near Temuco that the pope had planned to visit on Wednesday.

A church in the capital was also attacked during the night, causing minor damage. Vandals burned Chilean and Vatican flags at the site and tossed pamphlets with threats against the pope.

Graffiti on one church in the capital read “Burn pope and “pope accomplice.”

But the welcome most Chileans have given the pope has been warm, with thousands of mostly young people lining the streets of the capital and hundreds of thousands attending a Mass in a Santiago park.

Francis read the speech in the Moneda palace, which Pinochet’s forces bombed from the air and with ground artillery on Sept. 11, 1973 while democratically elected President Salvatore Allende was inside.

The pope referred to that dark period, saying the country had “faced moments of turmoil, at times painful.” He praised the consolidation of democracy but said more had to be done to help the unemployed and native people.

Bachelet told the pope: “How wonderful to be able to tell you that today Chile has changed … we strengthened our democracy, with more tolerance, more freedom and more transparency.”

Chile, with a population of about 17.4 million, is the world’s top copper producer, the fifth-largest economy in Latin America and one of the region’s most stable.

After a private meeting with Bachelet, Francis said Mass for tens of thousands of people in the capital’s sprawling Parque O’Higgins.

Angelina Soto, 67, of San Francisco de Mostazal, south of Santiago, said she and her family arrived before sunrise. “We are very committed Catholics, we’ve been singing all morning,” she said. “I think (the visit) will change Chile, it will make us more generous, and help to close the gap between rich and poor.”
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Peter Madsen

Danish prosecutors will seek to have inventor Peter Madsen jailed for life for killing Swedish journalist Kim Wall on his homebuilt submarine in a premeditated murder, possibly by either cutting her throat or strangling her, police said on Tuesday.

Wall, a 30-year-old freelance journalist who was researching a story on the entrepreneur and aerospace engineer, went missing after Madsen took her out to sea in his 17-metre (56-foot)submarine in August last year.

Later that month, police identified a headless female torso washed ashore in Copenhagen as that of Wall, but the cause of death has not yet been established.

Madsen has been charged with the murder and dismembering of Wall along with a charge of sexual assault without intercourse of a particularly dangerous nature, police said Tuesday.

Police said in October investigators had found 14 interior and exterior stab wounds to the journalist’s genitals.

Madsen has admitted to dismembering Wall on board his submarine and dumping her body parts in the sea, but he denies murdering or sexually assaulting her.

A police statement said that, according to the prosecution’s indictment, the murder had taken place “with prior planning and preparation”.

“This is a very unusual and extremely brutal case which has had tragic consequences for Kim Wall and her relatives,” said Special Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen, according to the statement.
A photo of slain Swedish journalist Kim Wall

Prosecutors would ask for a life sentence to be passed on Madsen, which in Denmark is typically around 15 years without parole. They also called for him to be held in “safe custody”, which can imply indefinite imprisonment.

The prosecutor also sought the confiscation and destruction of Madsen’s submarine, one of three the inventor built and one of the largest privately built in the world. It can carry eight people and weighs 40 tonnes fully equipped.

The prosecutor has asked for Madsen to be held in custody until his trial begins on March 8.

On October 5, police said they found images “which we presume to be real” of women being strangled and decapitated on the hard drive on Madsen’s computer in a laboratory he ran.
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File photo

Some 1,400 migrants were plucked from overcrowded boats off the coast of Libya on Tuesday, Italy’s coastguard said, and two bodies were recovered.

Vessels belonging to the Italian coastguard and finance police, the European Union anti-smuggling operation, Sophia, and ships run by humanitarian groups took part in 11 rescue operations, a statement said.

No details about the nationalities of those rescued were given, nor was there further information about the deaths.

Though hundreds of thousands of migrants have reached Europe via Italy after setting off in boats from North Africa over the past four years, it is unusual to see so many rescued on a single day during the winter when the seas tend to be rough.

So far this year 974 migrants had reached Italy by sea, down from 2,393 during the same period last year, the Interior Ministry said earlier on Tuesday before the latest rescues.

Immigration is one of the hot-button issues ahead of a national election on March 4. The ruling Democratic Party has pointed to a sharp fall in arrivals from Libya since July as proof that it is now managing what before seemed like an endless flow of migrant boats.

Arrivals fell by a third last year to 119,000 compared with a year earlier, and they tumbled by two thirds in the second half of the year. The declines came after a deal with the Tripoli government sealed in February, which foresaw aid and training for the Libyans to fight people smuggling and to bolster their coastguard.

More than 20,000 are estimated to have died attempting the crossing to Italy in the past four years, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates, making it the deadliest border for migrants in the world.

The Northern League, which is a member of the centre-right coalition leading in polls ahead of the vote, on Monday vowed to stop the migrant “invasion”.
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Rafa Nadal takes centre stage on Rod Laver Arena for his Australian Open second round match against Leonardo Mayer on Wednesday but anyone looking for a wild atmosphere would be better off waiting for the last match on Hisense Arena.

The second Melbourne Park stadium court is a multi-purpose venue that also hosts cycling and netball but the more intimate arena has become a firm favourite of iconoclastic Nick Kyrgios, Australia’s best hope of a first home champion since 1976.

The volatile 17th seed had a quiet evening by his standards in his opening match on Monday, with just the one violation for unsportsmanlike behaviour when he asked spectator, in no uncertain terms, to be quiet while he was serving.

His second round opponent, Serbian Viktor Troicki, has also had his moments, as his meltdown at Wimbledon two years ago amply illustrated, and a packed house can expect sparks to fly.

Kyrgios will expect much of the backing of the crowd, even if Melbourne’s Serbian community has been vocal in support of their compatriots in the past, and three-times Melbourne winner Mats Wilander thinks the Australian will be energised by it.

“It’s a different crowd at Rod Laver Arena,” he told Reuters. “They obviously root for him but they’re not as young and as wild, they’re more neutral.”

Rod Laver Arena is usually expected to host the cream of the ties and day three of the 2018 championship is no different, with Nadal’s clash with Mayer and Grigor Dimitrov’s meeting with American Mackenzie McDonald the highlights.

A rash of upsets depleted the bottom half of the women’s draw on Monday but second seed Caroline Wozniacki survived and will pursue her quest for a maiden grand slam title against Croatian Jana Fett.

Fourth seed Elina Svitolina opens the day on the main showcourt against Katerina Siniakova with Nadal-Mayer the final match of the afternoon.

Top seed Nadal has beaten Argentine Mayer in all four of their previous meetings, including a four-set victory at Flushing Meadows last year on his way to his 16th grand slam title.

Another intriguing match-up pairs Denis Shapovalov with French 15th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a losing finalist at Melbourne Park a decade ago when the Canadian was eight.