Pope Francis on Monday visited the Shrine of Divine Mercy in the Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil, where he prayed with the disabled, the elderly and the terminally ill.
He said “I will pray to Jesus so He may have great mercy on you and to the Virgin so she may be forever by your side.
“I leave you today with a blessing, but I won’t be charging you anything for that,” Francis joked.
“What I do ask you is to please pray for me. Will you promise me that?,’’ the pontiff asked.
The pope prayed alone at the shrine for several minutes and then said a Hail Mary with other people at the site, many of whom he hugged, kissed and blessed.
The shrine, which has a capacity of 11,000, was only open to invited guests.
Originally, the plan was to hold an open-air mass there, but the mass was moved to Los Samanes Park in Guayaquil for logistical and security reasons.
The pope left the shrine in the same Fiat Idea car he has used for many of his travels in Ecuador but then transferred to an open popemobile for the last stretch of the journey.
Francis arrived in Quito from Rome on Sunday and immediately broke protocol by joining a group who had gathered outside the nunciature building to cheer him.
“I am going to bless you so you can go and have a rest and let the neighbours sleep,’’ he said before praying with them.
Report says this is the first time the Argentinian-born Francis visits a Spanish-speaking country as pope.
He had already been in Latin America in 2013, although he travelled only to Portuguese-speaking Brazil.
Germany Election: Merkel Wins Fourth Term
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been re-elected for a fourth term in federal elections, exit polls suggest.
Her conservative CDU/CSU alliance has won 32.5% of the vote, remaining the largest party in Germany’s parliament, according to the ARD poll.
Its coalition partner, the social democratic SPD, has gained 20%.
Meanwhile, the AfD, a nationalist, anti-Islam party, was on track to win 13.5%, emerging as Germany’s third-strongest party. This is the first time that AfD will be seated in the German Parliament, the Bundestag.
Exit poll results:
CDU/CSU – 32.5%
SPD – 20%
AfD – 13.5%
FDP – 10.5%
Greens – 9.5%
Left party – 9%.
North Korea Launches Unidentified Missile Over Japan
North Korea fired an unidentified missile eastward from the Sunan district in its capital, Pyongyang, South Korea’s military said.
The South Korean and US militaries were analysing details of the launch, South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said.
Japan’s public broadcaster NHK said the missile passed over the northern island of Hokkaido and landed in the Pacific about 2,000 km east of Japan.
The government said there was no danger to people or shipping from missile debris.
South Korea’s presidential Blue House has called an urgent meeting of its national security council.
The launch comes a day after Pyongyang threatened to sink Japan and reduce the United States to “ashes and darkness” for supporting a UN security council resolution imposing new sanctions against it for its 3 September nuclear test.
Retired MI5 Agent Confesses On Deathbed: ‘I Killed Princess Diana
An 80-year-old retired MI5 agent, John Hopkins, has made a series of astonishing confessions since he was released from hospital in London on Wednesday and told he has weeks to live. Hopkins claims to have been involved in 23 assassinations for the British intelligence agency between 1973 and 1999, including Princess Diana.
Mr. Hopkins, who worked for M15 for 38 years as an operative, claims he was often used as an hitman by the agency, to discreetly assassinate individuals considered a threat to the domestic security of the United Kingdom.
Trained as both a mechanical engineer and munitions expert, Mr. Hopkins claims he also has extensive experience of less conventional methods of inflicting death and destruction, including chemicals and poisons.
The 80-year-old British man claims he was involved with MI5 assassinations between June 1973 and December 1999, during a period he says “the MI5 operated with less external oversight.” Hopkins says he was part of a cell of seven operatives who were trusted to carry out political assassinations across the UK. Most victims were politicians, activists, journalists and union leaders.
Mr. Hopkins says Princess Diana is unique among his victims, as she is the only female he ever assassinated, as well as the only Royal. She is also the only victim that the Royal Family themselves ordered to be taken out.
He claims to feel “ambivalent” about Princess Diana’s death. On the one hand, Diana was “a beautiful, kind-hearted woman” who did not deserve to have her life cut short. But according to Mr. Hopkins, she was also placing the British Crown at risk:
“She knew too many Royal secrets. She had a huge grudge and she was going to go public with all sorts of wild claims. My boss told me she had to die – he’d received orders directly from Prince Philip – and we had to make it look like an accident. I’d never killed a woman before, much less a princess, but I obeyed orders. I did it for Queen and country.”
The next stage of the high-level conspiracy involved the media, under tight Palace control, talking to each other to “square their stories, make sure everybody was on the same page. It was a well run operation.”
“British journalists all answer to editors who answer to oligarchs who all want knighthoods from the crime family at Buckingham Palace. There is no free press in Britain,” said Mr. Hopkins.
“We got away with murder.”
The 80-year-old, spending his final weeks at home, said he expects to be taken into custody following his admissions, but says “I can’t say that I care an awful lot.” Hopkins explained that any investigation into the affair would “take forever” and be “very complicated” because there are few written records around secret MI5 activities and “most of my colleagues are already dead“.
The most important witness in the case, Mr. Hopkin’s boss, died of a heart attack in “the early 2000s” and the alleged ringleader, Prince Philip, “will never be charged with anything, of course“
“If Prince Philip ever let himself be analyzed by a psychiatrist I’m sure he’d be diagnosed a psychopath. He has all the dark triad traits.”
Asked why he didn’t refuse the job, or expose the plot at the time, he explained “MI5 agents swear allegiance to the Crown, we can’t be impartial when it comes to the Royal family. At best I would have been done for treason, at worst Philip would have designed a grisly fate for me.”
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