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Pope declares 10 new saints, including Dutch priest killed by Nazis

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© Reuters. Pope Francis attends a Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Square as he canonises ten new saints at the Vatican, May 15, 2022. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Sunday declared 10 people saints of the Roman Catholic Church, including an anti-Nazi Dutch priest murdered in the Dachau concentration camp and a French hermit monk assassinated in Algeria.

The 85-year-old pope, who has been using a wheel chair due to knee and leg pain, was driven to the altar at the start of the ceremony, which was attended by more than 50,000 people in St Peter’s Square. It was the one of the largest gatherings there since the easing of COVID restrictions earlier this year.

Francis limped to a chair behind the altar but stood to individually greet some participants. He read his homily while seated but stood during other parts of the Mass and read his homily in a strong voice, often going off script, and walked to greet cardinals afterwards.

Francis read the canonisation proclamations while seated in front of the altar and 10 cheers went up in the crowd as he officially declared each of 10 saints.

Titus Brandsma, who was a member of the Carmelite religious order and served as president of the Catholic university at Nijmegen, began speaking out against Nazi ideology even before World War Two and the German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940.

During the Nazi occupation, he spoke out against anti-Jewish laws. He urged Dutch Catholic newspapers not to print Nazi propaganda.

He was arrested in 1942 and held in Dutch jails before being taken to Dachau, near Munich, where he was subjected to biological experimentation and killed by lethal injection the same year at the age of 61. He is considered a martyr, having died because of what the Church calls “in hatred of the faith”.

The other well-known new saint is Charles de Foucauld, a 19th century French nobleman, soldier, explorer, and geographer who later experienced a personal conversion and became a priest, living as a hermit among the poor Berbers in North Africa.

He published the first Tuareg-French dictionary and translated Tuareg poems into French. De Foucauld was killed during a kidnapping attempt by Bedouin tribal raiders in Algeria in 1916.

The other eight who were declared saints on Sunday included Devasahayam Pillai, who was killed for converting to Christianity in 18th century India, and Cesar de Bus, a 16th century French priest who founded a religious order.

The others were two Italian priests, three Italian nuns and a French nun, all of whom who lived between the 16th and 20th centuries.

“These saints favoured the spiritual and social growth of their nations and the whole human family, while sadly in the world today, distances are widening, tensions and wars are increasing,” Francis said after the Mass.

World leaders had to be “protagonists of peace and not of war,” he said in an apparent reference to Ukraine.

Miracles have been attributed to all the new saints.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that only God performs miracles, but that saints, who are believed to be with God in heaven, intercede on behalf of people who pray to them.

Several other Catholics killed in Nazi concentration camps have already been declared saints. They include Polish priest Maximilian Kolbe and Sister Edith Stein, a German nun who converted from Judaism. Both were killed in the Auschwitz camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

World

Tedros re-elected as head of World Health Organization

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addresses the 75th World Health Assembly at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, May 22, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) -The World Health Organization’s (WHO) members re-elected Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as Director General by a strong majority for another five years, the president of the World Health Assembly said on Tuesday.

The vote by secret ballot, announced by Ahmed Robleh Abdilleh from Djibouti at a major annual meeting, was seen as a formality since Tedros was the only candidate running.

Ministers and delegates took turns to shake hands and hug Tedros, a former health minister from Ethiopia, who has steered the UN agency through a turbulent period dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The president had to use a gavel several times to interrupt the applause.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach tweeted on Tuesday: “Just re-elected as ⁦Director General of #WHO: @DrTedros⁩. 155/160 votes, spectacular result. Congratulations, fully deserved. Germany recently overtook the United States as the UN health agency’s top donor.

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U.S. Senate candidate sues over mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania midterms primary

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Republican Party U.S. Senate candidate David McCormick speaks to reporters after voting in the primary election at a polling station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. May 17, 2022. REUTERS/Quinn Glabicki/File Photo

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(Reuters) – Republican U.S. Senate candidate David McCormick (NYSE:MKC) has filed a lawsuit in a Pennsylvania court to compel counties to count undated mail-in ballots in his primary race against TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, whom he trails by less than 1,000 votes.

The race between McCormick, a former hedge fund executive, and Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, for the Republican party nomination is close enough to trigger an automatic recount under Pennsylvania state law.

While McCormick is slightly behind Oz after the May 17 vote, he is well ahead of his opponent in absentee ballots, according to polling firm Edison Research. McCormick has received 45,794 mail-in votes, compared with Oz, who has 32,944.

In a statement, McCormick’s campaign said it sued on Monday in Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court “to compel the counties to follow the Republican-leaning (Third Circuit Court) order from last week stating that undated ballots returned on time be counted.”

The statement added that the ballots “are postmarked upon arrival to county boards of elections and, therefore, already dated and proven to be timely.”

It was not clear how many mail-in ballots lack a handwritten date, and whether counting them could help McCormick or make a recount less likely. State election officials expect to know this week whether a recount will be needed.

Pennsylvania’s Department of State, which oversees elections, said it agreed that undated ballots must be counted in the May 17 race, but advised they be “segregated” and “appropriately logged pending litigation.”

“A determination on whether the segregated tabulations will be used in certifying elections has not yet been made, given the ongoing litigation,” it said.

The Pennsylvania Republican Party said on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) that they “absolutely object to the counting of mail-in ballots. Pennsylvania law and our courts have been very clear that undated ballots are not to be counted.”

In a statement on Twitter, Oz called McCormick’s lawsuit “a tactic that could have long-term harmful consequences for elections in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

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Does the Commonwealth have a future after Queen Elizabeth?

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth leaves after watching the Royal Windsor Horse Show Platinum Jubilee Celebration at Windsor Castle, in Windsor Britain, May 15, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

By Sarah Mills

LONDON (Reuters) – As Queen Elizabeth celebrates her 70th year on the throne, there are questions about whether the Commonwealth of Nations, which she was instrumental in creating and remains one of her proudest achievements, has a future when her reign is over.

The Commonwealth evolved out of the British empire, and Elizabeth became its head in 1952 when she became queen, three years after the London Declaration formally created the voluntary association in its current form.

Now it is one of world’s biggest international organisations, made up of 54 countries, almost all of which were former colonies of the United Kingdom, covering some 2.5 billion people or about one third of the world’s population.

The 96-year-old queen has always been at its heart, but there are suggestions it has already become outdated and irrelevant.

“I think perhaps the Commonwealth has historically run its course,” said Philip Murphy, professor of British and Commonwealth History at the University of London. “And what you’re really seeing now is the ghost of an organisation.”

Commonwealth members range from wealthy nations such as Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada – who still all have the queen as their head of state – to populous India, as well as tiny Pacific republics such as Nauru.

Supporters say it provides a network to foster international cooperation and trade links, with a focus on promoting democracy and development, and addressing issues such as climate change.

So when Barbados cut its ties with the British monarchy last year when the Caribbean nation became a republic, it was keen to remain part of the Commonwealth.

“The Commonwealth is beneficial to many Caribbean nations as well as many African nations and it links us into countries like Australia and New Zealand and Canada,” said Barbados-based David Denny, general secretary for the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration, a non-government organisation.

The organisation was regarded as playing a significant role in helping to end apartheid in South Africa, and Murphy says it has uses for smaller, less powerful members. But he remains unconvinced of its wider benefit.

“The Commonwealth talks about the importance of promoting democracy, tackling climate change, tackling gender inequality,” he told Reuters. “But the Commonwealth isn’t necessarily a logical framework internationally in which to deal with any of those problems.”

Where the organisation could have a role, Murphy says, is in dealing with the legacy of the British empire and colonialism, with a new purpose of dealing with issues such as reparation and restitution.

‘MASSACRED’

“We were massacred and killed for the economic development of Britain,” Denny said.

“The nation states within the Commonwealth should demand reparation for that sufferation from the royal family, from the British government, all of the British companies that would have benefited from slavery and the exploitation of our African people throughout the Commonwealth nation states.”

Another question the organisation will have to address is who will lead it, with Denny arguing it should not be the British royals, despite Commonwealth leaders agreeing in 2018 that Elizabeth’s son and heir Prince Charles should be her successor although the role is not hereditary.

Charles’s eldest son Prince William, after a difficult tour of the Caribbean nations earlier this year when he faced protests, calls for reparations and an apology for slavery, suggested he might not get the job.

“Who the Commonwealth chooses to lead its family in the future isn’t what is on my mind,” said William. “What matters to us is the potential the Commonwealth family has to create a better future for the people who form it, and our commitment to serve and support as best we can.”

However, in the meantime, there is no question of the importance of the organisation to its current head.

“Today, it is rewarding to observe a modern, vibrant and connected Commonwealth that combines a wealth of history and tradition with the great social, cultural and technological advances of our time,” Queen Elizabeth said in her annual message to the Commonwealth in March.

“That the Commonwealth stands ever taller is a credit to all who have been involved.”

Murphy said he suspected it would survive, but with even less attention that it attracts now.

“I think it will stagger on,” he said. “I don’t see the will to draw a line under it, and I don’t see who would really have the authority to do that. I think the danger is that it will just gradually become less influential, less important and less interesting to its citizens.”

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