Pope suspends bishop
Pope Francis, who has made humility and modesty his hallmarks, sent a swift and clear message to Roman Catholics around the world Wednesday, suspending a German bishop accused of spending millions on lavish renovations to his residence, and forcing the chief administrator of the bishop’s diocese into early retirement. The bishop, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, of Limburg, Germany, was reported to have allowed costs of renovating his residence and other church buildings to run to more than $41 million. The project drew ridicule in the German news media for luxuries like a $20,000 bathtub, a $1.1 million landscaped garden and plans for an 800-square-foot fitness room.
Unrest brews in Kashmir
India on Wednesday accused Pakistani troops of firing guns and mortars on at least 50 Indian border posts overnight in disputed Kashmir, calling it the most serious cease-fire violation between the nuclear-armed neighbors in a decade. The attacks began Tuesday night in southern Kashmir after India’s home minister visited the region to review security, a Border Security Force spokesman said. Indian troops returned fire, but one Indian guard was killed and six were injured by a shell. Both India and Pakistan have reported an increase in the number of cross-border attacks since the current Pakistani and Indian prime ministers met for the first time last month in New York and agreed on the need to reduce tensions.
Fire blamed on military
Fire officials defended Australia’s defense department on Thursday after investigators revealed a military training exercise ignited the largest of the wildfires that have torn across the nation’s most populous state over the past week. The Rural Fire Service said Wednesday that one of the more than 100 fires that have burned since last week began at a Defense Department training area as a result of “live ordnance exercises.” The fire it sparked near the city of Lithgow, west of Sydney, has burned 180 square miles and destroyed several houses, but no injuries or deaths were reported.
Compiled from wire reports.