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Pope shuns luxury in South Korea with small car

Pope Francis has surprised South Koreans during his visit to the country by shunning an expensive luxury car to travel in a compact car instead.

After arriving at the airport he climbed into the backseat of a a Kia Soul - the manufacturer's second smallest model.

Pope Francis has refused to use a bullet-proof "popemobile" like his predecessors in favour of low-key cars.

His choice of car has received wide coverage in South Korea, where ostentatious shows of wealth usually represent a person's status.

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Pope Francis makes historic South Korea visit

Pope Francis arrives in South Korea.
Credit: Reuters

Pope Francis has arrived in South Korea on the first papal visit to the Asian nation in 25 years, stepping off a plane on to a red carpet and greeting the president, Catholics and grieving relatives of the recent ferry disaster.

During his five-day visit, Francis plans to beatify 124 Korean martyrs and encourage a vibrant and growing local church seen as a model for the future of Catholicism.

More: North Korea 'fires projectiles' into the sea

North Korea 'fires projectiles' into the sea

North Korea has fired three "short-range projectiles" into the sea, just an hour before Pope Francis arrived in South Korea for an official visit, Associated Press have reported.

An official with the South Korean Defence ministry said the apparent test firing Thursday came less than an hour before rival Seoul welcomed the pope for the first papal visit to South Korea in 25 years.

The official says that the projectiles were fired from Wonsan on the east coast and flew about 220 kilometers (135 miles).

The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing official policy.

Pope Francis urges UN chief to respond to Iraq crisis

Pope Francis has urged the head of the United Nations to respond to the "heartfelt cries of despair of Christians and other religious minorities" in Iraq.

In a letter to Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, he said:

I write to you, Mr Secretary General, and place before you the tears, the suffering and the heartfelt cries of despair of Christians and other religious minorities of the beloved land of Iraq.

– Pope Francis

The pontiff, who is on a visit to South Korea, has been commenting on the Iraq crisis on Twitter in recent days, and has called on Muslim religious leaders to condemn the actions of Islamic State militants.

Pope appeals to world leaders to help end Iraq crisis

Pope Francis has called for world leaders to help end the crisis in northern Iraq after a sweeping advance by radical Islamic state militants forced thousands of residents of Iraq's biggest Christian town to flee their homes.

His Holiness addresses an urgent appeal to the international community to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway, to act to protect those affected or threatened by violence and to provide aid, especially for the most urgent needs of the many who have been forced to flee and who depend on the solidarity of others.

– Vatican statement

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Pope expresses 'grave concerns' over Gaza clashes

Pope Francis last month met with Mahmoud Abbas and Shimon Peres.
Pope Francis last month met with Mahmoud Abbas and Shimon Peres. Credit: Reuters

Pope Francis has spoken to Israeli President Shimon Peres and West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to express his "very grave concerns" over the conflict in Gaza, the Vatican says.

"A small group of fanatics are the cause of suffering in Gaza. Israel is doing everything to lower the flames and minimise civilian casualties," Peres replied during a telephone call, according to statement from his office.

Abbas, who held a prayer for peace with Peres at the Vatican last month, told the pontiff he was "exerting all required effort, together with Egypt and all other parties to halt the bloodshed and relieve out people's suffering", according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Pope Francis: 2% of Catholic clerics are paedophiles

Pope Francis has said he believes about 2% of clergy within the Catholic Church are paedophiles.

Pope Francis said he found paedophilia in the Catholic church "intolerable".
Pope Francis called paedophilia in the Catholic Church "intolerable". Credit: ABACA

The comments were made in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, during which he said he found the situation "intolerable" and would "tackle it with the seriousness it requires".

In the interview, the Pope says data suggests pedophilia within the Church is "at the level of two percent", and includes not just priests but "even bishops and cardinals".

"Others, more numerous, they know but they keep silent, punish, but without saying why," he added.

Abuse inquiry: 'More Church claims could come to light'

Pope 'begs forgiveness' from child abuse victims

Pope Francis. Credit: Reuters

Pope Francis has "begged forgiveness" from victims of child abuse for the "sins" of church leaders who failed to respond to the abuse.

The Pope told abuse survivors at a meeting that the Catholic Church "must weep and make reparation" for what it did.

He said the church's past attitude towards sexual abuse was "camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained".

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