Friday, March 15, 2013

British Media Focus on Bergoglio’s Falklands Remarks

During his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio did not see eye-to-eye with Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, on several issues like gay marriage and birth control.  Yet one of the topics where both Fernández and Pope Francis share the same opinion has apparently unnerved some in the British press.

Several media outlets across the Atlantic have republished remarks made by Bergoglio at a 2012 mass commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the Falklands War.

"We come to pray for those who have fallen, sons of the homeland who set out to defend his mother, the homeland, to claim the country that is theirs and they were usurped," he said.

During the service, 649 red roses were placed on the altar in tribute to commemorate the hundreds of troops killed during the war that affirmed Britain’s control over the Falklands.

“The country cannot exclude from its memory any of those who were called; it has to take care of so many hearts with scars and say thank you, to those who remained on the islands or submerged in water, all of them,” Bergoglio added.

While Bergoglio’s comments may have raised some eyebrows some British analysts like Victor Bulmer-Thomas, an associate fellow at London-based think tank Chatham House, doubt that the new Pontiff will issue any strong opinions over Las Malvinas:

Daily Headlines: March 15, 2013

* Mexico: Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission called for an investigation of twenty-one current and former law enforcement officials over possible abuses in the Florence Cassez case.

* Latin America: Helen Clark, the head of the U. N. Development Program, praised the “very useful” debate in Latin America regarding changes to the “war on drugs.”

* Puerto Rico: U.S. Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer hinted that they would consider the possibility that a “natural-born” Puerto Rican could legally run for president.

* Peru: Susana Villaran, the mayor of the Peruvian capital city of mayor, risks being ousted in a recall vote set to take place on Sunday.

Video Source – YouTube via user JewishNewsOne

Online Sources- Huffington Post, Reuters, NBC News, LAHT

Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Pope Preaches “Courage” to Catholic Cardinals

On Thursday, newly elected Pope Francis issued a message to his fellow cardinals over their role to the Roman Catholic Church.

“When the Church does not walk it falls apart like a sand castle,” said Jorge Mario Bergoglio at a mass held roughly twenty-four hours after he was elected as the next Pope.

“I would like all of have the courage to walk in the presence of God,” added the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in his homily to 114 other cardinals gathered at the Sistine Chapel.

Prior to today’s mass, the Pope issued a letter to Rome’s Rabbi Yona Metzger expressing his desire to help improve “relations between Catholics and Jews.”

“I hope to contribute in the improvement of ties between Jews and Catholics…in a spirit of renewed collaboration,” read part of the missive issued by the Pope.

The international director of interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee praised Bergoglio’s ties to the Jewish community in Argentina including his remarks over the deadly bombing of a Buenos Aires AMIA Jewish center in 1994.

"(Bergoglio) was forthright not only in his condemnation of the act but in his solidarity with the Jewish community," said Rabbi David Rosen to the Religion News Service.

Among the many messages of congratulations sent to the new Pope were statements from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, (OIC) and Al-Aznar.

OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu wished that “the relationship between Islam and Christianity will regain its cordiality and sincere friendship” under Bergoglio while Al-Azhar called for the resumption of “dialogue with the Vatican which was suspended in early 2011”.

Argentines including several thousands of Buenos Aires residents celebrated the election of Cardinal Bergoglio as the next Pope. Among those overjoyed at the news was Bergoglio’s sister, María Elena, who alleged that her brother “didn’t want to become Pope.”

The new Pope will have plenty of problems to tackle including financial problems, corruption and a litany of sexual abuse scandals.  (On the first day of the Papal conclave the Los Angeles Archdiocese reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with abuse victims).  But he will also have to face the challenge from evangelical churches in a traditionally Catholic Latin America:

Daily Headlines: March 14, 2013

* Guatemala: A Guatemalan court upholds a Supreme Court ruling allowing ex- dictator Efrain Rios Montt to stand trial on charges of genocide.

* South America: Brazil and Bolivia agreed to play a charity soccer match in April with proceeds heading to the family of a fourteen-year-old fan killed at a Copa Libertadores game last month.

* Ecuador: Indigenous rights groups and environmentalists are worried over reprisals against an “uncontacted group” in Ecuador after the recent murders of two natives.

* Venezuela: Interim leader Nicolás Maduro accused “far right” figures in the U.S. for plotting against opposition leader and presidential candidate Henrique Capriles.

Video Source – YouTube via user Emisoras Unidas (Guatemalans last month commemorated the thousands of victims of the Central American country’s thirty-six-year long civil war).

Online Sources- Huffington Post,, National Geographic, GlobalPost

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Argentine Cardinal Bergoglio Named as Next Pope (UPDATED)

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina will become the next supreme leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Archbishop of Buenos Aires will take on the name of Pope Francis I after he was elected elected by at least 77 of the cardinals attending the Papal conclave this week at the Vatican.  

The 76-year-old Bergolio will become the first Latin American, non-European and Jesuit to become Pope.

According to CNN:
Bergoglio is considered a straight-shooter who calls things as he sees them, and a follower of the church's most conservative wing. He has clashed with the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over his opposition to gay marriage and free distribution of contraceptives.

Bergoglio has not shied from defending Argentina's poor and youth and once said that the South American country's "social debt is immoral, unjust and illegitimate".  

The son of Italian immigrants, Bergoglio speaks Italian and German aside from his native Spanish and was named as cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.

Bergoglio allegedly received the second-most votes after Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 papal election.

The new pontiff, who takes over for Benedict XVI, was chosen on either the fourth or fifth ballot taken on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of Catholics gathered in St. Peter's Square and welcomed the new Pope with a great cheer and celebration.

One of the new Pope's first major trips will be when he travels this July to the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day.

Update (4:10 PM): The newly elected Pope Francis I called on "all men and women of good will" to help him guide the Catholic Church.

"As you know the duty of the conclave is to give Rome a bishop. It seems that my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world," joked the former Cardinal Bergoglio in front of a massive crowd at St. Peter's Square.

Update (4:40 PM): Moments ago Argentine President Cristina Kirchner issued a public comment over the bestowed upon Bergoglio.

Kirchner, who did not meet eye-to-eye with Bergoglio over issues like birth control and gay marriage, issued a congratulatory message via her Twitter account.

"It is our wish that you have, upon assuming the leadership of the Church, a fruitful task carrying out great responsibilities related to justice, equality, peace and friendship of humanity," read part of the message. 

Prior to Kirchner's letter, the new pontiff has received messages of congratulations from the European Union, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, interim Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina and Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.

Update (5:50 PM): Bergoglio may have finished as runner up in the 2005 conclave that chose Joseph Ratzinger as pontiff.  Yet the selection of the Argentine as the next Pope was a surprise for bookmakers such as William Hill, which gave Bergoglio odds of 25-1.

Though Bergoglio has yet to go through his first twenty-four hours as Pope, Irish-based firm Paddy Power placed odds on who his replacement could be.  Italian Archbishop Angelo Scola is the frontrunner at 5-1, followed by Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana at 6-1 and an 8-1 tie between Cardinals Sean O'Malley of the U.S. and Marc Ouellet of Canada.

The top Latin American picks to succeed Francis I according to Paddy Power are Cardinals Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras and Brazil's Odilo Scherer and Joao Braz de Aviz.

(More updates after the page break)

Daily Headlines: March 13, 2013

* Chile: The world’s biggest radio telescope, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, will be officially inaugurated on Wednesday though it has been in use for the past two years.

* Bolivia: Should the next Pope accept Bolivian President Evo Morales’ suggestion and try wine made from the coca leaf?

* Venezuela: According to the International Energy Agency, Venezuelan oil spending will likely decline if interim leader Nicolás Maduro wins next month’s presidential election.

* Argentina: Former military strongman Reynaldo Bignone was sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity committed under his rule during the 1980s. 

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources- Huffington Post, Sky News Australia, Bloomberg, TVNZ

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Abuse Allegations Hang Over Latin American Cardinals

One hundred fifteen cardinals started meeting on Tuesday at the Vatican in order to decide who will become the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church.  At least sixteen of these cardinals come from Latin America and several of them have been dogged by allegations of abuse.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) last week named twelve cardinals who should neither vote for a pope or be elected as the next pontiff.  Among those named on the “Dirty Dozen” blacklist are Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, Mexico’s Norberto Rivera and Leandro Sandri of Argentina.  

According to SNAP, Maradiaga has turned a blind eye to possible abuse done by Honduran priests.  He supposedly said that he would “prefer to go to jail before hurting any priests” even if they’ve been accused of abuse or other wrongdoing.

Maradiaga, who has not shied from providing to diplomatic support to ousted Honduran president Manuel Zapata and the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, reportedly blamed “Jewish interests” in the press for focusing so much on sex scandals in the church.

In addition the SNAP accused Rivera of covering up the abuses committed by several priests including Marcial Maciel, the late founder of the Legionnaires of Christ (LOC) who sexually abused minors and fathered three children with two women.

“(Rivera) not only ignored Mexican victims who were abused by Marcial Maciel and other priests, but he also slandered, defamed and accused them of being part of a plot against the Pope and the Church,” read part of a letter sent by SNAP to the Mexican catholic archdiocese.

Rivera replied to the SNAP’s accusations by denouncing the organization’s “propaganda” and pointing out that he has been cleared of accusations in U.S. courtrooms.  Yet a SNAP member who was abused by a priest protected by Rivera vehemently disagreed

Daily Headlines: March 12, 2013

* Mexico: Mexico’s three main political parties have reportedly backed a proposal from President Enrique Peña Nieto to enact major reforms to the telecom industry.

* Venezuela: The State Department ordered two Venezuelan diplomats to leave the U.S. in a retaliatory action done several days after a pair of U.S. officials was expelled from Venezuela.

* U.S.: A poll found that most Latinos support gun control measures including 84% of respondents who endorse requiring criminal background checks before gun purchases.

* Cuba: Timothy Roche, consul general at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, said that the U.S. immigration policy toward Cuba would not change despite recent travel reforms by the Castro administration.

Video Source – YouTube via Bloomberg (The excommunication reform proposed by the Mexican government would likely affect businesses run by the world’s wealthiest man, Carlos Slim).

Online Sources- Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Xinhua, Newser, The Latin Americanist

Monday, March 11, 2013

Daily Headlines: March 11, 2013 (UPDATED)

* Venezuela: “Nicolas, I won't leave you an open path,” said a defiant Henrique Capriles who announced his bid as the main opposition candidate for Venezuela’s April 14th special presidential election.

Update: Miranda state Gov. Henrique Capriles, interim president Nicolás Maduro, and at least four others on Monday registered their candidacies to run for next month's presidential election.
* U.S.: A recent Gallup poll found that respondents in the U.S. view Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela more unfavorably than favorably.
* Caribbean: Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic qualified to the second round of the World Baseball Classic while Cuba was shockingly eliminated early

* Brazil: Apple and IGB Eletronica may be close to settling a legal dispute over the iPhone trademark in Brazil.

Video Source – Al Jazeera English

Online Sources including Update-, Gallup, Washington Post, CNET News, Miami Herald