Vatican begins push-back against

ex-ambassador over Davis

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican is starting to push back against Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, author of the bombshell accusation of a sex abuse cover-up against Pope Francis, with a statement from its former spokesman about a controversial 2015 meeting Vigano organized.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi and his English-language assistant, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, issued a joint statement late Sunday disputing Vigano’s claims about the encounter he organized with an American anti-gay marriage campaigner, Kim Davis, during Francis’ September 2015 visit to the United States.

The Vatican had sought to downplay the encounter after conservatives presented it as a papal stamp of approval for Davis.

Vigano, whose cover-up claims have thrown Francis’ papacy into turmoil, issued another statement saying Francis knew well who Davis was, and the Vatican approved the meeting in advance.

Duterte in Israel, first visit

by a Philippines president

JERUSALEM (AP) — Rodrigo Duterte, accused of committing serious human rights violations as part of his deadly crackdown on drugs at home, and who has stirred controversy with comments about the Holocaust, received a warm welcome in Israel when he arrived Sunday for a four-day visit.

Ahead of his departure, Duerte said he “looks forward to broader cooperation on a broad range of mutually important areas – defense and security, law enforcement, economic development, trade (and) investments and labor.”

Sales of Israeli weapons to his government are high on the agenda, according to Israeli media. Filipino officials have said the Philippines has recently acquired Israeli-made arms such as Galil assault rifles and pistols for its 120,000-strong police force, which is at the frontline of Duterte’s battle against illegal drugs and other crimes.

Duterte will kick off his four-day visit by attending an event of the Filipino community in Israel Sunday evening. An estimated 28,000 Filipinos live in Israel, mostly as health aides.

A Filipino living in Israel, Lisa Levi, told Channel 10 TV that she is “excited” and “proud” he is visiting.