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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

UK & World

Pope breaks with tradition by going off-script

March 18 2013

Breaking with tradition, Pope Francis delivered off-the-cuff remarks about God’s power to forgive, instead of reading from a written speech, for the first Sunday window appearance of his papacy. He also spoke only in Italian beginning with “buon giorno” (good day) and ending with “buon pranzo” (have a good lunch) instead of greeting the faithful in several languages as his last few predecessors had done. His comments and humour delighted a crowd of more than 150,000 in St Peter’s Square, drawing cheers and laughter. Earlier he made an impromptu appearance before the public from a side gate of the Vatican, startling passers-by and prompting cheers, before delivering a six- minute homily brief by church standards at the Vatican’s tiny parish church. Before he entered St Anna’s Church to celebrate Mass, he heartily shook hands with parishioners and kissed babies. After Mass he put his security detail to the test as he waded into the street just outside St Anna’s Gate. As the traffic light at the intersection turned green he stepped up to the crowd, grasping outstretched hands. The atmosphere was so casual that several people even gripped him on the shoulder. A few minutes later, as the traffic light turned red, he ducked back inside the Vatican’s boundaries to dash upstairs for the window appearance from the papal apartment in the Apostolic Palace. Hundreds of extra traffic police were deployed yesterday morning to control crowds and vehicles, for it was also the day of Rome’s annual marathon. Bus routes were rerouted and many streets were closed off in an attempt to channel the curious and faithful up the main boulevard from the Tiber river to St Peter’s Square. Giant video screens were set up so the huge crowd could get a close-up look at the Pope, and dozens of medical teams were on hand for any emergencies.

UK & World

Vatican magazine denounces treatment of nuns as domestic servants for bishops

March 1 2018

A Vatican magazine has denounced the treatment of nuns as indentured servants by cardinals and bishops.The March edition of Women, Church, World, the monthly women’s magazine of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, highlighted that nuns cook and clean for senior Catholic clergy for next to no pay.The expose on the underpaid labour and unappreciated intellect of religious sisters confirmed that the magazine is increasingly becoming the imprint of the Catholic Church’s #MeToo movement.One lead article said of the nuns: “Some of them serve in the homes of bishops or cardinals, others work in the kitchens of church institutions or teach. Some of them, serving the men of the church, get up in the morning to make breakfast, and go to sleep after dinner is served, the house cleaned and the laundry washed and ironed.”A nun, identified only as Sister Marie, describes how sisters serve clergy but “are rarely invited to sit at the tables they serve”.While such servitude is common knowledge, it is remarkable that an official Vatican publication would dare put such words to paper and publicly denounce how the church systematically exploits its own nuns.Women, Church, World began six years ago as a monthly insert in L’Osservatore Romano and is now a stand-alone magazine distributed for free online and alongside the printed newspaper in Italian, Spanish, French and English.Its editor, Lucetta Scaraffia, told the Associated Press: “Until now, no-one has had the courage to denounce these things. We try to give a voice to those who don’t have the courage to say these words.”While Pope Francis has told Ms Scaraffia he appreciates and reads the magazine, it is by no means beloved within the deeply patriarchal Vatican system. Recent issues have raised eyebrows, including the March 2016 edition on “women who preach”, which appeared to advocate allowing lay women to deliver homilies at Mass.One of the authors had to publish a subsequent clarification saying he did not mean to suggest a change to existing doctrine or practice.

UK & World

Pope says his farewells as pontiff

March 1 2013

Benedict XVI has become the first pope in 600 years to resign, ending an eight-year pontificate shaped by struggles to move the church past sex abuse scandals and to reawaken Christianity in an indifferent world. The Swiss Guards standing at attention in Castel Gandolfo shut the gates of the palazzo shortly after 8pm local time, symbolically closing the doors on a papacy, the legacy of which will be marked by the way it ended in resignation rather than death. In a final farewell to his cardinals as pope, Benedict tried to dispel concerns about the unprecedented future awaiting the Catholic Church, with one reigning and one retired pope living side-by-side. Benedict flew by helicopter to the Vatican’s vacation retreat just hours before resigning. Earlier in an unexpected address inside the Clementine Hall, the Pope appeared to be trying to defuse concerns about his future role and the possible conflicts arising from the peculiar situation of having both a reigning pope and a retired one. Benedict also gave a final set of instructions to the “princes” of the church who will elect his successor, urging them to be united as they huddle to choose the 266th leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. “May the College of Cardinals work like an orchestra, where diversity an expression of the universal church always works toward a higher and harmonious agreement,” he said. It was seen as a clear reference to the deep internal divisions that have come to the fore in recent months following the leaks of sensitive Vatican documents that exposed power struggles and allegations of corruption inside the Vatican. “Among you is also the future pope, whom I today promise my unconditional reverence and obedience,” Benedict told the cardinals. His decision to live at the Vatican in retirement, be called “emeritus pope” and “Your Holiness” and wear the white cassock associated with the papacy has deepened concerns about the shadow he might cast. But he has said that once retired he would be “hidden from the world” and living a life of prayer. Vatican spokesman, the Rev Federico Lombardi, said the Pope’s pledge was in keeping with this effort to “explain how he intends to live this unprecedented situation of an emeritus pope.” “He has no intention of interfering in the position or the decisions or the activity of his successor,” Lombardi said. “But as every member of the church, he says fully that he recognises the authority of the supreme pastor of the church who will be elected to succeed him.”


Sporting legends kick off sport and faith tie at St Andrews

November 29 2017

French football legend Lilian Thuram had a kick about with St Andrews students at the launch of a sport and faith union. The World Cup winner was among a trio of international sports stars in Fife to a global movement promoting the values of faith and sport in uniting communities. Former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick and South Africa’s Francois Pienaar, both rugby World Cup winners, were also at the University of St Andrews Sports Centre. They helped launch sports promotion society ISPS Handa's patronship of the Sport at the Service of Humanity Foundation which was formed last year following a Vatican conference. Former Parma, Juventus and Barcelona player Thuram, who flew in from Paris, founded the Lilian Thuram Foundation to tackle racism. He said: “Helping young leaders tackle the major issues of our times is invaluable. “You have to explain to children that we are not born racist; we become racist because racism is a cultural thing. It is time to consider ourselves, first and foremost, as human beings. “And whether in sport or in faith, SSH is built on the greatest values we can adhere to as human beings.” Also at the event with an audience of student athletes was secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, Bishop Paul Tighe. Bishop Tighe said: “The Vatican PCC, in conjunction with the SSH Foundation and its partners, celebrate the value of sport, its capacity to bring joy to participants and observers, to promote physical and mental well-being, and to create bridges between people.” As global patron, ISPS Handa will support the development of a youth mentoring program where global leaders in sport, education and non-profit organisations will work with youth leaders to develop skills for success. The University of St Andrews will collaborate with the SSH Foundation. It is already connected with founder and chairman of ISPS Handa, Dr Haruhisa Handa, who is a supporter of its Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, now known as the Handa CSTPV. Dr Handa said: “We believe that sport has the power to inspire, transform and unite people across social, racial and socio-economic barriers. “The SSH Foundation is a partner that shares these values with us.  We look forward to working with them to change the lives of young people.” At the launch student Maddie Tarr, a member of the university’s basketball team, described teaching sport to children over the summer with Volunteer Zambia. She said: “Spending each day with incredible and inspiring Zambian peers, as well as the kids from the community, completely reshaped my world views, personal life goals and skills. “Aside from the honour of representing my university, I had the privilege to pass on my knowledge of culture, English and basketball to some truly incredibly loving children.”

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

UK & World

Ex-Vatican Bank president indicted over £44.6m losses from real estate sales

March 3 2018

The former president of the Vatican Bank and his lawyer have been indicted on embezzlement charges, as prosecutors hold them responsible for losses of more than 50 million euro (£44.6 million) from real estate sales.Angelo Caloia and his lawyer Gabriele Liuzzo were charged with alleged embezzlement and self-laundering between 2001 and 2008, when the bank disposed of “a considerable part of its real estate assets,” said the Institute for Religious Works.The alleged scam involved the suspects selling Vatican-owned real estate under value to offshore companies which resold the buildings at market value.The suspects allegedly profited from the difference, said a person familiar with the investigation.The IOR, as the bank is known, is joining a civil case alongside the criminal trial to try to recover some of the losses.The Vatican announced the criminal investigation into Caloia, the IOR president from 1989-2009, attorney Liuzzo and the late bank director general, Lelio Scaletti, in 2014 after bank officials found irregularities in IOR accounts and operations.The two surviving suspects, whose trial begins on March 15, have denied wrongdoing.This is the latest bid by the IOR to try to recover money it claims it lost due to the crimes or bungled decisions of its former managers.Just last month, the Vatican’s civil tribunal found two other former bank heads, Paolo Cipriani and Massimo Tulli, liable for mismanagement for bad investments during their tenure and ordered them to repay the institution. The two resigned from the bank in 2013.The IOR launched a massive internal overhaul and reform of its operations as part of a process launched by Pope Benedict XVI to clean up its reputation as a scandal-plagued off-shore tax haven.

Mary McAleese denied access to Vatican conference

February 2 2018

Organisers of a Catholic women’s conference in the Vatican have claimed former president of Ireland Mary McAleese has been denied access.The Voices of Faith group said the former head of state was one of two names not approved after a list of attendees was sent to a senior cleric in the Holy See.The Why Women Matter conference, in its fifth year, is the only event linked to International Women’s Day (IWD) ever held at the Vatican. A spokeswoman for the group said they still had no explanation why Mrs McAleese was not cleared to take part.Chantal Goetz, executive director of Voices of Faith, said: “It was disappointing to realise on IWD of all days, these women who have accomplished so much in their communities, could be turned away from respectfully sharing their stories and experiences as Catholics.“This event allows us to not only celebrate the wonderful work Catholic women are doing across the globe, but also create discussion and dialogue on the current power and leadership structures of our Church today.”It is understood Mrs McAleese has written to the Pope on the issue.It is not unusual for a senior Vatican official to vet a list of attendees and speakers for conferences.Voices of Faith was set up to empower and advocate for Catholic women to be involved in decision making in the church.It sent a list of names of speakers and attendees for its March 8 conference and a list was sent back with two names not included – Mrs McAleese and Ssenfuka Juanita Warry, who runs a non-profit organisation in Uganda, where to be identified as gay or lesbian can be life-threatening.Voices of Faith have decided to move the conference from the Casina Pio in the Holy See to the Jesuit Curia in Rome, outside the Vatican.Mrs McAleese was originally asked to take part in a panel discussion but has since been asked to be the keynote speaker.A spokeswoman for Voices of Faith said it was in correspondence with Cardinal Kevin Farrell over Vatican approvals for attendees but that it did not receive an explanation for the two women not being on the returned list.The women’s group states that it believes a key solution to many problems facing the Catholic Church lies in diversity of thought, expertise and education at the leadership level. They state that women and lay people can bring these skills if they were more welcomed.The Vatican press office, the Catholic Church in Ireland and Cardinal Farrell, the Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, did not respond to request for comments.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk