The news stories and videos are coming out faster and in more numbers than allow for individual posting. So wherever possible we’re going to combine them.
Thanks to Kathleen, Len, and Brian and to Suzi on Buy me a Coffee for their research.
Children’s Protest in London, June 28, 2021
London Protest outside No. 10 Downing Street, July 2, 2021
Cardinal and nine others indicted by Vatican for financial crimes
The cardinal, formerly a senior official in the Vatican administration, as well as two top officials at the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Unit will go on trial on July 27 over a multi-million euro scandal involving the Vatican’s purchase of a building in one of London’s smartest districts
Philip Pullela, Reuters, Jul. 3, 2021
Cardinal Angelo Becciu, formerly a senior official in the Vatican administration, as well as two top officials at the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Unit will go on trial on July 27 over a multi-million euro scandal involving the Vatican’s purchase of a building in one of London’s smartest districts.
The trial will inevitably bring a swirl of media interest to the tiny city-state surrounded by Rome, and appears to underscore Pope Francis’ determination to cure the rot in Vatican finances, even if it involves messy public hearings.
Becciu, 73, whom the pope fired from his senior clerical post last year for alleged nepotism, and who has always maintained his innocence during a two-year investigation, becomes the most senior Vatican official to be charged with financial crimes.
The pope personally gave the required approval last week for Becciu to be indicted, according to a 487-page indictment request seen by Reuters. The Vatican announced the indictments in a two-page statement.
The charges against Becciu include embezzlement and abuse of office. An Italian woman who worked for him was charged with embezzlement and the cardinal’s former secretary, a priest, was accused of extortion.
Becciu said in a statement that he was a victim of a “machination” and reaffirmed his “absolute innocence.”
Two Italian brokers, Gianluigi Torzi and Raffaele Mincione, were charged with embezzlement, fraud and money laundering. Torzi, for whom Italian magistrates issued an arrest warrant in April, was also charged with extortion. There was no immediate response to attempts to reach their lawyers, but both men have consistently denied wrongdoing.
Four companies associated with individual defendants, two in Switzerland, one in the United States and one in Slovenia, were also indicted, according to the document.
The investigation into the purchase of the building became public on Oct. 1, 2019, when Vatican police raided the offices of the Secretariat of State, the administrative heart of the Catholic Church, and those of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF).
The then-president of the AIF, Rene Bruelhart, a 48-year-old Swiss, and AIF’s former Italian director, Tommaso Di Ruzza, 46, were charged with abuse of office for allegedly failing to adequately protect the Vatican’s interests and giving Torzi what the indictment request called an “undue advantage.”
Di Ruzza was also accused of embezzlement related to alleged inappropriate use of his official credit card, and of divulging confidential information.
Bruelhart said in a text message that he had “always carried out my functions and duties with correctness” and that “the truth about my innocence will emerge.”
Di Ruzza did not immediately respond to a voicemail requesting comment.
In 2014, the Secretariat of State invested more than 200 million euros, much of it from contributions from the faithful, in a fund run by Mincione, securing about 45% of a commercial and residential building at 60 Sloane Avenue in London’s South Kensington district.
The indictment request said Mincione had tried to deceive the Vatican, which in 2018 tried to end the relationship.
At the time, Becciu was in the last year of his post as deputy secretary of state for general affairs, a powerful administrative position that handles hundreds of millions of euros.
All told, the Secretariat of State sank more than 350 million euros into the investment, according to Vatican media, and suffered what Cardinal George Pell, the former Vatican treasurer, told Reuters last year were “enormous losses.”
Torzi was arrested in the Vatican in June 2020, and spent a week in custody.
According to the indictment request, Becciu is charged with five counts of embezzlement, two of abuse of office, and one count of inducing a witness to perjury. About 75 pages of the document are dedicated to Becciu.
6 fully vaccinated people have died from COVID-19 in one of the world’s most-vaccinated countries
Vidya Gappy, Antony Sguazzin, and Bloomberg, Fortune, July 2, 2021
The coronavirus has killed six fully vaccinated people in the Seychelles, which is suffering heightened Covid-19 infections despite inoculating a greater proportion of its people than almost any other nation.
Of those, five had taken Covishield, a version of the AstraZeneca Plc vaccine made in India, and one had been given Sinopharm, Jude Gedeon, the island nation’s public health commissioner said at a press conference on Thursday. Covishield has mainly been reserved for people over 60 in the Seychelles. All of those who died had serious underlying conditions, he said.
The rise in infections, which surged at the beginning of May and has remained at elevated levels ever since, is likely due to the arrival of the highly-transmissible delta variant, which was first identified in India, Gedeon said.
“It looks like delta came in Seychelles in May which explain the surge at the beginning of May,” Gedeon said. “We presume that the majority of cases we got in May was from that variant.”
The palm-fringed archipelago had rushed to inoculate its 98,000 people so that it could reopen to tourism, the lifeblood of its economy. It had to impose restrictions on gatherings and opening times for bars and restaurants after the initial surge and has maintained those.
“For the last three weeks a team of experts from World Health Organization and Africa Centers for Disease Control have been working with us to evaluate our vaccination rate, data and response,” Gedeon said. “They will produce a report which will help us decide on the strategy to be used moving forward in terms of vaccination, measures etc.”
More churches burn down on Canada indigenous land
Yahoo News, June 27, 2021
Two more Catholic churches burned down in indigenous communities in western Canada early on Saturday.
The fires at St Ann’s Church and the Chopaka Church began within an hour of each other in British Columbia.
Officers said both buildings were completely destroyed, and they were treating the fires as “suspicious”.
Last Monday two other Catholic churches in the province were destroyed in fires, as Canada marked National Indigenous People’s Day.
“The investigations into the previous fires and these two new fires are ongoing with no arrests or charges,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt Jason Bayda said.
It comes after hundreds of unmarked graves were discovered at sites of former residential schools in Canada.
The government-funded compulsory schools were run by religious groups in the 19th and 20th centuries with the aim of assimilating indigenous youth.
Indigenous groups have demanded a nationwide search for more graves.
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Lower Similkameen Indian Band Chief Keith Crow told public broadcaster CBC he had received a call early in the morning saying that the Chopaka Church was on fire. It had burned to the ground by the time he arrived half an hour later.
“I’m angry,” the chief told CBC. “I don’t see any positive coming from this and it’s going to be tough.”
Many in the community are Catholic Church members and are very upset about the blaze, he said.
In May, the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced the discovery of the remains of 215 children at a school in British Columbia.
They found them at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, which was opened under Roman Catholic administration in 1890 and closed in 1978.
And on Thursday, the Cowessess First Nation said it had found 751 unmarked graves at a former residential school in Saskatchewan. The Marieval Indian Residential School was also operated by the Roman Catholic Church.
Deaths in Canada’s compulsory boarding schools were due in large part to the squalid health conditions inside. Students were often housed in poorly built, poorly heated, and unsanitary facilities.
Between 1863 and 1998, more than 150,000 indigenous children were taken from their families and placed in these schools throughout Canada.
A commission launched in 2008 to document the impact of this system found that large numbers of indigenous children had never returned to their home communities. The commission’s landmark report said the practice had amounted to cultural genocide.
The Canadian government has formally apologised for the system.