Monday 16 September 2019

Pope Francis is given pause for thought while trapped in Vatican lift


Concern: Pope Francis appealed to the faithful for their support. Photo: AFP/Getty
Concern: Pope Francis appealed to the faithful for their support. Photo: AFP/Getty

Josephine McKenna

It has long been claimed by supporters of the Catholic faith that God moves in mysterious ways.

But so, apparently, does Pope Francis's personal lift in the Vatican - which broke down yesterday, trapping the world's most powerful clergyman inside for 25 minutes.

The 82-year-old pontiff had to be freed by Vatican firemen after an electrical fault brought his tiny private lift to a halt inside the ornate Apostolic Palace, making him 10 minutes late for his regular Sunday audience.

"I have to apologise for being late, but there was an accident," the Pope said with a smile.

"I was trapped inside an elevator for 25 minutes. Thank God the firefighters arrived, I want to thank them so much."

The relieved pontiff asked the pilgrims in St Peter's Square to give the firemen a round of applause.

He used his Sunday address to appoint 13 new cardinals in a surprise move, again putting his stamp on the future of the Church.

Ten of them are under the age of 80 and may one day be called to elect Francis's successor, increasing the possibility that the next pope will continue his policies.

The new group, which includes bishops and archbishops from Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia and Guatemala, will be installed at a ceremony known as a consistory on October 5.

The 10 who are aged under 80 and thus eligible to vote in an eventual conclave after Francis (82) dies or retires, are known as cardinal electors. The other three were given the honour for their long service to the Church.

Francis has now chosen about 70 of the nearly 130 electors.

In a separate statement yesterday, Francis called for urgent action to stop the planet's environmental destruction and warned that the Amazon was "gravely threatened" in a reference to the fires ravaging the region.

He challenged governments to take "drastic measures" to combat global warming, blaming "sin, selfishness and a greedy desire to possess and exploit" for the damaging effects of climate change in a message to mark the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

"We have caused a climate emergency that gravely threatens nature and life itself, including our own," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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