Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 28th 2015 Contents A21
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CAIRO---Egypt said yester-
day that 55 of its citizens are
among the more than 700
people who died in a crush of
Muslim pilgrims during this
year s hajj in Saudi Arabia.
Minister of Religious En-
Mokhtar Gomaa told the
state-run Middle East News
Agency that 120 Egyptian
pilgrims are still missing and
26 are receiving treatment
for injuries sustained during
the disaster in the town of
Mina, near the holy city of
Mecca. Saudi authorities say
at least 769 people died
when two large waves of pil-
grims converged on a narrow
road, in the deadliest event
on the annual pilgrimage in a
quarter-century. The hajj
annually draws some 2 mil-
lion pilgrims from 180 coun-
The largest number of ca-
sualties identified thus far is
from Iran, which has accused
Saudi Arabia of mismanag-
ing the annual pilgrimage
and vowed to take legal ac-
tion against it.
Iran s hajj agency yester-
day said 155 Iranian pilgrims
died in the Mina incident
and another 103 were
wounded. It said 321 Iranians
are still missing. (AP)
PHILADELPHIA---Pope Francis met with
victims of child sexual abuse yesterday on
the final day of his US visit and promised
to hold accountable those responsible for
the scandal in the church, delivering a
powerful warning to American bishops
accused of covering up for pedophile
priests instead of reporting them to police.
In a gesture of reconciliation just hours
before he was to return to Rome, the pope
told the victims he is "deeply sorry" for all
the times they came forward to report the
abuse and weren t believed. He assured
them that he believes them.
"I pledge to you that we will follow the
path of truth wherever it may lead," Francis
said in Spanish while in the City of Brotherly
Love for a big festival on the Catholic family.
"Clergy and bishops will be held account-
able when they abuse or fail to protect chil-
It was Francis second such meeting: He
received sexual abuse victims at the Vatican
in July 2014. But in an apparent effort by
the church to reshape the discussion, the
Vatican said not all five of the victims yes-
terday were abused by members of the cler-
gy; some of the three women and two men
had been victimised by relatives or educators.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been
hit hard by the sexual abuse scandal and
has been the subject of repeated grand jury
investigations, including one that accused
it keeping on assignment more than three
dozen priests facing serious accusations.
A monsignor was found guilty of endan-
gering children by not removing pedophile
priests, becoming the first American church
official convicted of such an offence.
The pope has agreed to create a new Vat-
ican tribunal to prosecute bishops who failed
to protect their flock, and he has accepted
the resignations of three US bishops accused
of mishandling cases.
Victim support groups were unimpressed
by Sunday s meeting, which took place a
day after the pope celebrated Mass with
Cardinal Justin Rigali, who was the leader
of the Philadelphia archdiocese when it was
accused of sheltering pedophiles.
The main victims support group, SNAP,
dismissed the meeting as an exercise in
"Is a child anywhere on Earth safer now
that a pope, for maybe the seventh or eighth
time or ninth time, has briefly chatted with
abuse victims? No," said SNAP s David Clo-
The Rev Tom Doyle, a canon lawyer who
worked at the Vatican embassy in Wash-
ington and is now an advocate for victims,
said that including more than just victims
of abusive clergy "seriously minimises" the
problem in the church.
"We don t think we re going to get any
real support to change this from the lead-
ership in the Vatican," Doyle said in a phone
interview. "They re having this big meeting
of families. But there s been no real room
for all the families that the Catholic Church
has destroyed through sexual abuse."
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev Federico
Lombardi, said the pope met with the vic-
tims for more than a half-hour at the St
Charles Borromeo seminary. He said the
pope prayed with them, listened to their
stories and expressed his closeness in their
suffering and his "pain and shame" in the
case of those abused by priests.
Separately, the pope met with American
bishops in town for the family festival and
repeated to them face-to-face his vow to
hold them accountable for their misdeeds.
"God weeps," he said. (AP)
BEIRUT---When world leaders convene for
the UN General Assembly this week, it will be
a year since the US president declared the for-
mation of an international coalition to "degrade
and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State group.
Despite billions of dollars spent and thousands
of airstrikes, the campaign appears to have made
The extremist group may control slightly less
territory than a year ago, but it continues to
launch attacks and maintains key strongholds
in Syria and Iraq. The militants reach has
expanded to other countries, including Libya,
Egypt s Sinai Peninsula and Afghanistan.
US-led airstrikes helped Syrian Kurds hold
the strategic border town of Kobani in January,
and seize another key border town, Tal Abyad,
But a much-touted offensive to oust IS mil-
itants from the Iraqi city of Ramadi remains
stalled; there have been grave losses among the
few Syrian rebels trained by the US to fight IS;
an IS-free zone announced by Turkey and the
US has failed to materialise.
At the same time, growing concern about the
Syrian refugee crisis and reports that IS may be
planning attacks against Europe may spur some
countries to get more involved in the anti-IS
Yesterday, President Francois Hollande
announced that French jet fighters had carried
out their first airstrikes against IS targets in
Syria. France had previously limited its air cam-
paign to IS targets in Iraq.
But short of sending in ground forces---an
option Western countries are not willing to
entertain---the stalemate in the war against the
Islamic State group is likely to persist. (AP)
JERUSALEM---The Israeli military says it has
suspended an officer after soldiers were caught
on camera assaulting a pair of Agence France-
Press journalists in the West Bank.
The army said yesterday that after a prelim-
inary review, it determined the officer in charge
"did not conduct himself in accordance with
professional expectations." It called the incident
"grave and in contravention of its code of ethics"
and said the investigation was continuing.
The Foreign Press Association, which repre-
sents journalists covering Israel and the Pales-
tinian territories for international news organ-
isations, has said the AFP photographer and
cameraman were beaten by Israeli troops Friday
in an unprovoked attack. The soldiers smashed
a video camera and a still camera.
The army has a long history of ignoring com-
plaints of alleged violence against journalists.
Egypt death toll from hajj disaster rises to 55
Pope Francis touches a woman in a wheelchair
after he addressed a gathering in Saint Martin's
Chapel at St Charles Borromeo Seminary
Sunday in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. AP PHOTO
UN General Assembly
Clergy to be accountable for sex abuse
Israeli officer suspended
after journalists abused
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