UK envoy in Washington backs probe into origins of pandemic, WHO reforms

first_img“We would see these sorts of reviews and reforms and investigations as something to come later,” she said.The US government has repeatedly criticized China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which began late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has grown into a global pandemic. The outbreak has killed nearly 217,000 people globally, including more than 27,000 in Britain and over 58,000 in the United States, according to a Reuters tally.US President Donald Trump has suspended US funding of the WHO, accusing the U.N. agency of promoting China’s “disinformation” about the outbreak. WHO officials have denied this and China has said it has been transparent and open.  The committee asked if the government planned to make representations at international gatherings such as the World Health Organization, Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies or Group of 20 (G20) major economies to “hold China accountable for its attempts to mislead the international community in order to control the narrative around COVID-19.”Asked about the issue during an online event with The Washington Post newspaper, British Ambassador Karen Pierce said an investigation was certainly needed into how the virus emerged and the health risks associated with wet markets in China, which have spawned at least three virus outbreaks since 2000.The British government also favored a review of the WHO’s handling of the outbreak and reforms of the organization, she said. “We need to learn after all these crises, just as we did after Ebola in 2014. We need to learn how we can always do things better,” she said.However, she underscored that it was crucial now to focus on bolstering international cooperation to respond to the pandemic. Britain’s ambassador to the United States on Wednesday backed calls for an investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus and the response of the World Health Organization, but said the first priority should be containing the outbreak.The comments came after Britain’s foreign affairs parliamentary committee asked the government whether it plans to use international bodies to hold China to account over the COVID-19 pandemic.The cross-party body asked for the government’s strategy in dealing with China, taking into account Beijing’s role in giving early information on the pandemic, its role within medical and industrial supply chains and the reliance of the UK and its partners on the country.center_img Topics :last_img read more

BPJS Kesehatan to return to previous premiums as of May 1

first_imgThe Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan) has announced that it will return the premiums for the national health insurance (JKN) program to their original rates on Friday, in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling.The ruling reinstates Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 82/2018 on health insurance, which applies premiums of Rp 80,000 (US$5.35) per month per person for first-class service, Rp 51,000 for second-class service and Rp 25,500 for third-class service.BPJS Kesehatan spokesman M. Iqbal Anas Maruf said the company would return excess payments paid by participants in April. The regulation took effect in January this year. However, in March the Supreme Court granted a judicial review of the Perpres, effectively revoking the decision to increase the premiums.The judicial review petition was filed late last year by the Hemodialysis Patients Community — one of the many groups and individuals who protested against the premium hike, which they claimed were too high.Iqbal said that the BPJS had calculated the participants’ excess payments and had adjusted its information technology system for their insurance bills.The government is currently planning to issue another Perpres on health insurance that will better regulate the fairness and balance of the premium contribution for JKN participants.”We don’t want health services for JKN participants to be hampered, especially considering the current socio-economic conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Iqbal said. (nal)Topics : “Premium overpayments disbursed from January-March will not be returned or refunded. However, excess payments paid in April will be compensated in the following month’s premiums,” Iqbal said in a statement on Thursday as quoted by October last year, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo signed Perpres No. 75/2019 on health insurance that stipulated a 100 percent rise in JKN premiums. The move was designed to help the insurer overcome financial losses.Read also: BPJS premium increase stirs controversyUnder the new regulation, the government initially doubled the premium for the first-class service to Rp 160,000 per month per person, while raising the cost for the second-class service to Rp 110,000 and for the third-class service to Rp 42,000 per month.last_img read more

Gearing up for Singapore GP with live audience despite uncertainty amid COVID-19

first_imgTopics : While the fate of this year’s Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix remains up in the air, preparations are under way for it to go ahead with a live audience.At least four tenders related to the set-up of viewing facilities and ancillary activities for the Sept 20 Formula One race were put up by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) between February and last month, according to checks by The Straits Times.These include the construction and fitting out of the Temasek and Singapore suites at the F1 Pit Building, shuttle bus services for suite guests and precinct parties to be held in Orchard Road and Clarke Quay. Other tenders relate to works to be carried out at the F1 Pit Building and storage site in Tampines.Promoter Singapore GP said last week that it is not feasible to conduct the race behind closed doors, given that it is a street circuit.The Formula One season is expected to kick off in Austria in July without spectators, after a series of cancellations and postponements.The request for proposal to organize and execute precinct parties is part of the Grand Prix Season Singapore, scheduled to happen from Sept 11 to 20.center_img Race-themed parties were first extended beyond the racetrack in the lead-up to last year’s event, which drew 268,000 spectators over three days. Fringe activities including racing simulators, a carnival and live music were held in Orchard Road, Kampong Glam, Clarke Quay and Jewel Changi Airport.Examples of the desired scale and variety of activities this year include a “mega outdoor party” in Clarke Quay and partnerships with nightclubs in the area, as well as branded race-themed activities in and around Orchard Road, according to tender documents seen by The Straits Times.STB noted, however, that tenderers should factor the Covid-19 pandemic and any related regulations in their planning and proposals.A contractor is expected to be appointed by early next month, according to the request for proposal, which closed last Thursday with seven bids.The budget for the precinct parties is listed as between $490,000 and $590,000.The tourism board said in response to queries that it is working closely with Singapore GP and other government agencies to assess the feasibility of proceeding with the race.”Being a street circuit, more lead time for planning and preparation is required, which includes procurement,” STB said.If the event is called off, any awarded tenderers will be paid for work done, it said, adding that it will explore options to deploy the works for future use.Asked about safe distancing measures at the parties and whether entertainment establishments in Clarke Quay are anticipated to reopen by September, STB said the Government will monitor and assess developments in the global and local Covid-19 situation to determine the appropriate timelines for the gradual resumption of more businesses and activities.The Republic will be undergoing a phased reopening of its economy when it exits a two-month circuit breaker on June 2.The first phase, which will last for at least four weeks, will allow more people to return to the workplace, while the second phase, which will span several months, will see shops and sports and recreation facilities reopen.Social, cultural, religious and business gatherings are expected to resume by the third phase, with limits on gathering sizes.last_img read more

UK’s Johnson says will not ignore anger over racial injustice

first_imgBritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson has acknowledged the “cold reality” behind angry protests against racial injustice, but warned he would not tolerate violence or the breaking of coronavirus distancing laws.Demonstrations have broken out across Britain following the death of George Floyd in the United States, most of them peaceful, although clashes in London left 35 police officers hurt.”We simply cannot ignore the depth of emotion that has been triggered by that spectacle of a black man losing his life at the hands of the police,” Johnson said in a statement late Monday. Topics : He said while Britain had made “huge strides… there is so much more to do — in eradicating prejudice, and creating opportunity, and the government I lead is committed to that effort.”However, he warned the country was “in a time of national trial” as it battled the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed 40,000 people in Britain. ‘Bygone era’ “I will not support those who flout the rules on social distancing,” he said.”And no, I will not support or indulge those who break the law, or attack the police, or desecrate public monuments.”London protesters defaced the statue of World War II leader Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, and in Bristol, southwest England, crowds pulled down a statue of a notorious local slave trader.”We have a democracy in this country. If you want to change the urban landscape, you can stand for election, or vote for someone who will,” Johnson said.London mayor Sadiq Khan on Tuesday announced a review of the capital’s landmarks, including statues and road names, many of which he said “reflect a bygone era”.”We must ensure that we celebrate the achievements and diversity of all in our city, and that we commemorate those who have made London what it is — that includes questioning which legacies are being celebrated,” he said. “In this country and around the world his dying words — I can’t breathe — have awakened an anger and a widespread and incontrovertible, undeniable feeling of injustice, a feeling that people from black and minority ethnic groups do face discrimination: in education, in employment, in the application of the criminal law.”And we who lead and who govern simply can’t ignore those feelings because in too many cases, I am afraid, they will be founded on a cold reality.”He continued: “And so I say yes, you are right, we are all right, to say Black Lives Matter.”And to all those who have chosen to protest peacefully and who have insisted on social distancing, I say, yes of course I hear you, and I understand.”last_img read more

New generation of Liverpool fans prepares for title glory

first_imgWhen Liverpool were last crowned English champions, in April 1990, Margaret Thatcher was prime minister and the Premier League was two years away from its glitzy launch.Now Jurgen Klopp’s runaway leaders are a Manchester City stumble away from once again ruling the roost after seeing off Crystal Palace 4-0 on Wednesday.If City fail to beat Chelsea on Thursday, then it will all be over. TV riches The football landscape was also radically different three decades ago, with the English game yet to be flooded with the TV riches that came with the launch of the Premier League. Bryan Robson remained the most expensive footballer traded between English clubs, nine years after his £1.5 million ($1.9 million) transfer from West Brom to Manchester United.Moran said the 1990 World Cup in Italy was a catalyst for the “complete transformation” of football.”I think the commercial changes to football since 1990 are in some ways a more extreme version of what happened in society,” he said. “They were a sort of turbo-capitalism, a hyper-mercenary trade” in which a small group of clubs powered away from the rest financially.Manchester United, under Alex Ferguson, were in prime position to take advantage of the money flooding into the game, establishing a dominance to match Liverpool’s in the previous two decades.But they are just one of seven different clubs who have won the English top-flight since 1990 on a list that includes Blackburn and Leicester.Joe Blott, chairman of the Spirit of Shankly supporters group, says Liverpool’s last title is a fading memory.”You have to be about 40 years of age to remember the last time Liverpool won it,” he said. “There’s almost a generation-and-a-half of fans who are waiting to see Liverpool win the league for the first time.Blott, 59, said the game itself had changed from a national league to a “global commodity”.Chelsea, backed by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, and Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City have invested huge sums to win seven Premier League titles in the last 10 years.Liverpool are also now American-owned, but Blott believes the Fenway Sports Group has invested wisely after the troubled days under previous American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.Blott reserves special praise for Klopp, who he says has produced a side that mixes flair and steel to stand alongside the great teams of the past.”At the moment we have got for the first time since the heady days of winning everything the Holy Trinity of manager, players and fans pulling in the same way,” he said.”He just gets us,” he said, talking about Klopp. “He’s immersed in the Scouse, Liverpool mentality. He understands what it’s like to be a football fan. “He ensures everyone is part of the victories, part of the losses. If ever there was a son of [former manager Bill] Shankly it’s certainly Klopp.” Topics : Britain still faced a threat from the Irish Republican Army and was heading for an economic recession.center_img In 1990 it was business as usual for Kenny Dalglish’s dominant Reds, who had finished in the top two every year since 1973, apart from one season.Their triumph came a year after the trauma of the Hillsborough disaster, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans after a terrace crush.Off the pitch, Britain was in the final months of Thatcher’s long premiership.Fierce opposition to the ruling Conservative Party’s plans for a “poll tax”, which included riots in London, contributed to her downfall in November 1990. Liverpool change The city of Liverpool suffered high unemployment and rioting during the turbulent 1980s.Joe Moran, professor of English and cultural history at Liverpool John Moores University, said northern cities suffered during Britain’s accelerated economic transformation under Thatcher from a traditional manufacturing base towards a more service-based, consumer-oriented economy. Liverpool’s long-term decline as a port exacerbated the problems.”The year 1990 wasn’t the bleakest year in the city’s history but it was just coming out of it,” said Moran.”Hillsborough happened a year before and it wasn’t really until the mid-1990s that the city was being transformed, partly because it was coming out of recession, and through European funding.”Winning the title, it was more important because the city was going through quite a hard time.”last_img read more

Govt proposes new bill on state ideology agency, delays controversial bill on Pancasila

first_imgThe BPIP bill arose amid controversies surrounding the deliberation of the HIP bill, which has received backlash from members of the public who questioned the timing of its deliberations as well as some of contentious articles in it.Read also: :Communist phobia sinks Pancasila bill at HouseOn Thursday, several Islamic groups, including the 212 Rally Alumni – a group formed from people who participated in the 2016 rally against then-Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama who faced prosecution for blasphemy – even hit the street outside the House compound to express their opposition to the HIP bill.Supported by the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the HIP bill was initially intended to regulate the values of the Pancasila ideology and the functions of the BPIP, the steering committee head of which is the party’s chairwoman and former president Megawati Soekarnoputri.Activists, scholars and various groups have voiced opposition to the bill, with some prominent Islamic organizations in particular questioning the draft bill’s failure to include the 1966 TAP MPRS, which they feared could open the door for the reemergence of communist ideology in the country.The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) went as far as to deem the contents of the draft bill “secular and atheistic”, arguing that it degraded ideology of Pancasila itself.The government subsequently decided to halt deliberations of the HIP bill.Puan, who welcomed the ministers with the House deputy speakers on Thursday, said she expected the agreement between the House and the government on the BPIP bill to end all debate among the public about the HIP bill.”I hope that after this, all the controversies surrounding the HIP bill over the past few weeks will be over and we can work together in harmony to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts,” the PDI-P politician added.Topics : The government submitted its newly proposed bill on the Agency for Pancasila Ideology Education (BPIP) to the House of Representatives on Thursday as both parties sought to end the controversies surrounding the much-criticized Pancasila Ideology Guidelines (HIP) bill.Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD visited the house complex in Central Jakarta on Thursday and met with House of Representatives speaker Puan Maharani, during which they agreed to delay the deliberation of the HIP bill and move forward with the BPIP bill instead. Mahfud asserted that the BPIP bill was different from the controversial HIP bill, saying that the latter included the Temporary People’s Consultative Assembly Decree (TAP MPRS) No. 25/1966 on the banning of communism in Indonesia as one of its underlying foundations.”We also emphasize the Pancasila ideology that we officially use here in Chapter 1, Article 1 and Point 1 of the bill,” Mahfud said, before mentioning the five principles of Pancasila.Mahfud visited the House together with some of the top brass of the government, namely State Secretary Pratikno, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, Home Minister Tito Karnavian, Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly and Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Tjahjo Kumolo. “We agree to be as transparent as possible so people can discuss and criticize the [BPIP] bill,” Mahfud said.last_img read more

Chinese law could see UK judges stop serving at HK court

first_img But China’s introduction of a controversial new security law targeting acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion has caused concern among Western powers.UK Supreme Court president Robert Reed said the Hong Kong court had ruled on civil and commercial cases, as well as those about rights of protest and free speech.”The new security law contains a number of provisions which give rise to concerns. Its effect will depend upon how it is applied in practice. That remains to be seen,” he said.Reed said he was sure Hong Kong judges would “do their utmost” to guarantee judicial independence and the rule of law, and said they had the backing of their UK counterparts. Britain’s Supreme Court on Friday suggested its judges could stop serving in Hong Kong unless judicial independence and the rule of law were guaranteed in the city.Two British judges have served on the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal since 1997 as part of the agreement that saw control handed over to China.The Court of Final Appeal also includes retired judges from Britain and from other common law jurisdictions, including Australia and Canada. “[The Supreme Court] will continue to assess the position in Hong Kong as it develops, in discussion with the UK government,” he added in a statement.”Whether judges of the Supreme Court can continue to serve as judges in Hong Kong will depend on whether such service remains compatible with judicial independence and the rule of law.”Reed is currently the only serving British judge provided under the agreement following Brenda Hale’s recent retirement from the Supreme Court.But he has not been scheduled to sit this year.Britain has angered Beijing by offering visas to millions of Hong Kong residents, along with a possible route to citizenship in response to China’s introduction of the security law on the territory.Beijing, already angered by Britain’s blocking of telecoms giant Huawei from Britain’s 5G network, has vowed to take unspecified “corresponding measures”.About 350,000 people in Hong Kong currently hold British National (Overseas) passports, which allow visa-free access to Britain for up to six months, Johnson wrote.Another 2.5 million people would be eligible to apply for one.Topics :last_img read more

Rare arch-shaped cloud over Aceh goes viral, sparks concern, ‘fake news’

first_imgMeanwhile, user Agus Maulana (@a_mantu71) posted a video clip to his account on Monday afternoon, calling the “uncommon phenomenon” a “tsunami cloud”.Fenomena yg tdk lazim, awan tsunami di Mbo Aceh Barat— Agus Maulana (@a_mantu71) August 10, 2020Weather forecast and early warning head Miming Saepudin of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) identified the rare weather phenomenon spotted over Meulaboh.”It is a relatively rare phenomenon called an arcus cloud,” Miming said on Monday as reported by said that arcus clouds formed as a result of atmospheric instability caused when air masses of different temperatures and humidity met A large, greyish white cloud appeared on Sunday morning over  Meulaboh in Aceh province to shock the city’s residents, some of whom thought that the low-lying, horizontal cloud formation resembled a tsunami. Videos and photos of the strange cloud made their rounds on social media, sparking some concerns among local residents.Twitter user Arief Arbianto tweeted using the handle @masawep on Monday morning: “Let us pray that Meulaboh city will be all right. A view of a this morning’s cloud above Meulaboh, West Aceh regency.”Mohon doanya Kota Meulaboh baik2 saja. Pemandangan awan pagi ini di atas kota Meulaboh, Aceh Barat.— Arief Arbianto (@masawep) August 10, 2020 “The cooler air masses push the warmer air up to form horizontal clouds,” he said, adding that an arcus cloud could be a sign of bad weather in the area where it appeared, such as strong winds and thunderstorms.”So we urge all residents to stay alert, especially fishermen, as the cloud could cause strong winds and heavy rainstorms accompanied by thunder,” he said. Miming debunked suggestions by several social media users that the cloud signified an impending earthquake or tsunami.“Such a cloud is purely a [natural weather] phenomenon due to atmospheric dynamics and has nothing to do with potential earthquakes or tsunamis or mystical things,” he stressed. (nal)Topics :last_img read more

Safe bet? Sovereign funds rethink once-reliable real estate

first_imgThe nature of property investments is also shifting, with funds increasingly investing in logistics space, such as warehousing, amid a boom in online commerce during the pandemic, while cutting back on deals for offices and retail buildings.Read also: Residential property sales, prices rise cool as pandemic hits economySuch shifts in behavior can have seismic effects on the global real estate market, given such funds are among the largest investors in property and have interests worth hundreds of billions of dollars in total. Three sovereign funds sit within the top 10 largest real estate investors, according to market specialists IPE Real Assets.A big question is whether the changes are structural for the funds, for which property is an asset-class staple at about 8 percent of their total portfolios on average, or a temporary response to a huge, unexpected and unfamiliar global event. “Real estate is still a big part of sovereign wealth fund portfolios and will continue to be so,” said Diego López, managing director of Global SWF and a former sovereign wealth fund adviser at PwC.“What COVID has accelerated is the sophistication of SWFs trying to build diversification and resilience into their portfolio – and hence looking for other asset classes and industries.”Sovereign funds have been more bearish on property than public pension funds, another big investor in the sector, Global SWF found. While they have outstripped the pension funds in overall investment across most industries and assets this year, by two to one, that ratio is reversed for real estate.Future of the office Funds are nursing hits to their existing property portfolios stemming from the introduction of lockdowns and social-distancing restrictions. While other parts of their portfolio, such as stocks and bonds, have rebounded from March’s trough, a real-estate recovery is less assured.Property capital value globally is expected to drop by 14 percent in 2020 before rising by 3.4 percent in 2021, according to commercial real estate services group CBRE. Analysts and academics question whether the pandemic’s impact may prove long-lasting, with more people working from home and shopping online.Read also: ‘We are dying’: No new shopping center openings, leasing grinds to halt“I think there’s a real threat to some commercial business districts in the big cities as I can’t see us all return to the 9-to-5 schlep in, schlep out,” said Yolande Barnes, a real-estate specialist at London university UCL.The value of property assets of some funds has fallen in 2020, with those experiencing the biggest drops including Singapore’s Temasek Holdings and GIC, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), according to data compiled for Reuters by industry tracker Preqin.Those four funds have collectively seen the value of such assets drop by $18.1 billion to $132.9 billion, the data showed.Reuters was unable to confirm whether the fall was due to lower valuations or asset sales. The funds either declined to comment or did not respond.Many sovereign funds do not publicly disclose data on property investments, with Norway’s one of the exceptions.The Norwegian fund, which has around $49 billion invested in real estate, up from $47 billion at the end of 2019, said last week its unlisted property portfolio returned minus 1.6 percent in the first half of 2020.Sovereign funds have also largely steered clear in 2020 of new direct investments in London or Los Angeles, hotspots in normal times, according to property services firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), which said SWFs were “on the defensive”.Logistics and biotechThe funds’ advance in logistics properties, such as warehousing and goods distribution centers, comes at a time of high demand as people have bought everything from toilet paper to trainers from home during lockdowns.So far this year, logistics have accounted for about 22 percent of funds’ real-estate investments by value, compared with 15 percent in 2019 as a whole, the Global SWF data shows.Meanwhile, investments in offices have fallen to 36 percent from 49 percent last year, and in retail property to zero versus 15 percent.Read also: Millennials fail to benefit from slower rise in house pricesMarcus Frampton, chief investment officer at the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC), told Reuters that real-estate deal volumes had “slowed down substantially” in general, but that, anecdotally, he saw activity in industrial facilities like logistics and “multi-family” apartment blocks.The wealth fund’s holdings have risen to $4.7 billion, up from $4 billion at the end of June, after the purchase of multi-family and industrial REIT stocks on July 1, Frampton said.“Commercial warehouse activity is strong,” he added.In a sign of the times, Temasek participated in a $500 million investment in Indonesia-based e-commerce firm Tokopedia in June.In contrast, physical retail, a significant part of many funds’ holdings, has been hit hard. QIA-owned luxury retailer Harrods in London has reportedly forecast a 45 percent plunge in annual sales, as visitor numbers plummet. Many other retailers have sought to renegotiate rents.The outlook appears brighter for some fledgling sectors such as biotech, which has come to the fore during the pandemic.“We have seen significant demand for life sciences space. That’s ranged from office to specialist lab and warehouse space,” said Alistair Meadows, JLL’s head of UK capital markets.Distressed opportunitiesThe United States office market is expected to face its first year since 2009 of more space becoming vacant than leased, according to CBRE.Still, investors are betting on a rebound of sorts in some quarters. For example, Canary Wharf Group, partly owned by the QIA, unveiled plans last month for a large new mixed-use development, including business space, in London’s financial district.And while hotels face huge challenges, occupancy rates are expected to rebound near to pre-COVID levels – but not until the end of 2021.Read also: Property market to bounce back next year: MarkPlusThe Libyan Investment Authority has experienced problems with the operating expenses of some of its properties, including some hotels in Africa owned by its subsidiary, Chairman Ali Mahmoud Hassan Mohamed told Reuters.But it remains committed to its real-estate portfolio, estimated at $6.6 billion in its latest valuation in 2012, as it was able to restore its value, he said.Crises can also present opportunities, however.In the aftermath of the pandemic, some funds may look for bargains as distressed properties emerge.The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which operates a fund, told Reuters it would “closely monitor market conditions with a view to capturing appropriate opportunities”.And in an uncertain world, some academics argue that property remains a solid bet for savvy investors.Barnes of UCL said sovereign funds could be “lighter on their feet” than some other institutional funds and more able to adjust their behaviour to suit changing circumstances.“Real estate is one of the better sectors to be in, in a world of turmoil,” she added. “But it’s very much about picking the right real estate.”Topics : The COVID-19 pandemic has forced sovereign wealth funds to think the previously unthinkable.With prime office blocks lying empty around the world, hotels half-vacant and retailers struggling to stay afloat, the funds are retreating from many of the real estate investments that have long been a mainstay of their strategies.Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) invested US$4.4 billion in the sector in the first seven months of 2020, 65 percent down from the same period a year ago, according to previously unpublished data provided to Reuters by Global SWF, an industry data specialist.last_img read more

Pleasures of food and sex ‘simply divine’, says Pope Francis

first_imgFrancis — born Jorge Bergoglio in Argentina — said that there was no place for an “overzealous morality” that denies pleasure, something he admitted existed in the Church in the past but insisted is “a wrong interpretation of the Christian message”.”The pleasure of eating is there to keep you healthy by eating, just like sexual pleasure is there to make love more beautiful and guarantee the perpetuation of the species,” the pope said.Opposing views “have caused enormous harm, which can still be felt strongly today in some cases,” he added.”The pleasure of eating and sexual pleasure come from God.” The pleasures of a well-cooked meal or loving sexual intercourse are “divine” and have unjustly fallen victim to “overzealousness” on the part of the Church in the past, Pope Francis says in a book of interviews published Wednesday.”Pleasure arrives directly from God, it is neither Catholic, nor Christian, nor anything else, it is simply divine,” Francis told Italian writer and gourmet Carlo Petrini.”The Church has condemned inhuman, brutish, vulgar pleasure, but has on the other hand always accepted human, simple, moral pleasure,” he added. Francis, the spiritual leader of 1.3 billion Catholics around the world, singled out a 1987 Danish film called “Babette’s Feast” as reflecting his message on pleasure.Set in the 19th Century, it tells the story of a lottery-winning chef who invites a group of ultra-puritan Protestant worshippers to a sumptuous banquet.The film is “a hymn to Christian charity, to love,” the pope said.Wednesday’s book, “TerraFutura, conversations with Pope Francis on integral ecology” was written by Petrini, the founder of the global “slow food” movement created in the 1980s in opposition to “fast food”.The interviews focus on the pope’s vision of environmentalism with a social face, outlined in his 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si”.center_img Topics :last_img read more